Author : Morrow Brady

I surfaced from the suckling gel, my memories muddied like debris in a low tide canal. I know gelwork has long term memory risks but this post work haze was getting ridiculous.

“Shell clear”, I mumbled.

Layered, milky scales shimmered transparent, revealing an outside view that needed a warning. My single room cell clung to the rim of a stadium sized crater and overlooked a hundred-strong blisterpak of similar cells carpeting the crater’s floor and walls. Beyond the crater’s rim, a blackened landscape receded, pricked with skylon antennae.

Above the chewed horizon was an asteroid, its rusty silhouette orthographically sculpted by mining operations.

A metallic Hadfield truss, shaped like a long-chain chemical structure, thrust upward from the horizon across ten miles of space. It anchored beyond into a pink regolith wad on the red asteroid.

Faint memories emerged. I was on asteroid Alpha. Out there was Gamma, a motherlode asteroid, rich in ship building ores and riddled with gel linked Minerbots.

Following their capture, asteroids Alpha and Gamma were towed into a stationary earth orbit to become astellites. Everyone knew them as the Twins. Their pirouetting dance over Japan, now part of everyday life.

Memories of my past life in Japan crashed into my thoughts, forcing me to sit down in shock. Memories of a good home and a love for sushi. Memories of corporate giant FukuCorp, looking me in the eye as it pissed in my pocket.

FukuCorp owned the Twins. Populating it with miners shanghaied through their Earth based restaurant chain FukuSushi. Shokunin robots installed at each restaurant, screened diners for suitability. It was eighteen months ago when I walked in for lunch that day. By my third plate, I was marked. Perhaps it was my chopstick dexterity or maybe my choice of dish from the sushi train satisfied the visual acuity tests. Either way, my life was about to change.

The seemingly innocent salmon nigiri I savoured, was laced with the Taste. A nanite laden serum, designed solely to control humans through addiction.

When saliva, tongue and Taste met, my jaw seized shut and I panicked. Starbursts of pent-up adrenaline released and moments later, the lockjaw dissipated. Biochemical energy cascaded in bands of relaxing warmth down my cheeks making my jaw peacefully slump. The warmth seeped through my neck. Wriggling into my spinal column only to rocket upward and gush into my skull. It flooded my brain with pure ecstasy making me swim in eye rolling joy. A layered cascade tickled every nerve ending in my body, leaving my joints lubricated and free. Thoughts became precise and true. I remembered every experience of my life journey.

I opened my eyes, having no memory of closing them. The restaurant remained unchanged.

A shiver down my spine preceded a strange feeling that I came to recognise as an all consuming emptiness. An aftertaste that would drive me to the heavens.

The Taste lingered on. Gifmarking my retina with a looping animation of the Twins and barraging my body with waves of discomfort. This depleted what remained of my mental strength, finally defeating me physiologically on the second day. I signed my life to FukuCorp in the afternoon and was space bound in an ascent dirigible the next morning. By week’s end, with training complete, I was sealed into my cell and charged with operating over a dozen drillbot teams via gel-link.

The gel bath delivers Taste and sustenance. The immersion period grows the less I remember. Maybe I will stay under a while longer this shift.

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