by thefourpartland

A short story written for fun over the weekend. Will appear over the course of the week. The title is entirely temporary.


Jonah checked the chronometer of the system he was running on. Some thirty five days since he’d gone into listen only mode. Quite a while for someone who could often measure time by processor cycles. But here was the voice again, and this time he was ready.

A quick scan to determine origin direction and the proper protocol and he was off, traversing from hop to hop, system to system. Five, six, seven, eight, each one a little closer to his goal.


Well, at least that narrowed it down, and gave him another message to keep tracking. Whatever this was, it certainly wasn’t purely electronic, unless it was a very strange computer.

More hops passed in quick succession, until his sense of things told him he was close to where the origin point had to be. Which made it a good time to stop and check his surroundings. He was in… Luxembourg? Not exactly a hotbed of medical research or criminal activity these days. Everyone here was too busy being rich and enjoying life to engage in actual labour. Although Jonah amended that thought immediately, since most of them had actually earned the life of leisure by inventing something brilliant.

Which meant that it could be a rather unusual experiment going on at the moment, after all. He shrugged, mentally of course, and continued on his way, tunnelling down from the network hub towards individual machines.


Every message hit him at once, and he staggered. Clearly targeted, but why?


The signal was so loud, so powerful, all of his systems fluttered. But now he knew where he was going, which meant it was time for a bit of scouting.

First, he called up a map of Luxembourg, or, rather, several, one for the internet, and another for the physical world. These two he overlaid upon another, and found that what he was looking for was a private residence on the third floor of a nice tower block. Nothing particularly remarkable.

Then he broke into the camera system for the building. Given that it, like everything else in this new world, was supposed to send data back to the number crunching machines, this was merely a matter of watching.

As for what Jonah saw, well…


White boxes surrounded him, walls made of cubes, barricades a meter high. Strange, that, he’d always thought in terms of hexadecagons, no doubt because of living in a world where everything still used base sixteen.


Jonah shuddered. That wasn’t him. That was something else. Something… near.

He turned his head (head?) to the left. There lay another nest of white boxes, taller than his own, which is why he could see them.

Lying on his back like he was made his head throb, so he sat up. The angle gave him a better vantage point over the world around him. White, clinical, definitely a research lab.


The cubes left of his flickered, and went out, now coloured a dreary brown-grey. Shadows played along the walls.

He rose from his bed (bed?) and stepped across the gulf. Nestled between the walls of cubes was a small puppy, its chest still.





Jonah returned to the bed, lay down, and slept.


He’d forgotten the scientists had come with him, had merged themselves together into a hindbrain. He always forgot. Perhaps it was for the best. Idly, he wondered how much of what he saw was real, and how much was the experiments. Did it matter?

Either way, there was always TV. Jonah turned on his soap opera.


Leave a Reply