Author : Willis Weatherford

Omni leaned back in his bowl, rubbing his furrowed foreheads with a long, many-jointed leg. He gazed at the large screen and tried to squeeze inspiration from the last few rotations of his boring life as a writer.

Shent froze as the Permissors implanted in his brain quieted to a low hum. At first, the remotely controlled diodes had been extremely uncomfortable, but once he learned to obey, it wasn’t so bad. The occasional blank spells, like the one he was experiencing now, were harder to get used to. His eyes were unaccustomed to fuzzy greyness, his ears grew restless in total silence, and his mind drifted without instruction. Sixteen years of external control had left him totally unused to creating original thoughts.

A fresh idea replaced Omni’s sluggishness with excitement. This one would get the networks buzzing! Might even result in a promotion, from writer to producer – Omni could feel his spines tingle at the thought. He began thinking new words onto the screen.

The Permissors buzzed at a higher frequency, and Shent jerked to attention, obeying each impulse as it arrived. He walked quickly to one of many bins labeled “Inventing Supplies”. He had been here before, but he had never been prompted to open the smaller bin labelled “Real World Goods”. Shent had dimly wondered what was inside before, but now, the diodes prompted him to open the small container and pull out a few of the items. First a heavy rod as long as his hand, then a long skinny reddish strand, next a circular black cyliner, and finally a silver box about the size of his palm. Shent recognized none of them, and wondered what to do.

Omni did a quick IntraMind search to confirm his design would work, and quickly found what he wanted in the mind of a science teacher. He furtively looked over his shoulders, making sure no one was watching his screen, and began feverishly typing.

Shent suddenly saw a picture of what to do in his mind. He coiled the long reddish strand of copper wire around and around the heavy iron rod until it there were only a few inches left. He covered all but the very ends of the wire with the some black tape from the cylinder. Then, he clamped both the copper tips to the silver battery.

Omni’s legs were trembling with excitement. He could see the electromagnet in his character’s hands. He wondered if any of his thirteen-thousand subscribing viewers foresaw the outcome of his new storyline. He doubted it. No human had ever escaped the control of the Permissors, at least not since the system had been finalized the earth-year after colonization was complete. Omni’s heat-sensing pits wrinkled in delight as he thought the last few words onto the screen.

Shent’s Permissors buzzed louder, and he immediately obeyed. Using his left hand to pull the slightly elastic collar away from his neck, he slipped the contraption underneath, securing it to the back of his neck. His blind finger fumbled along the side of the silver battery, and found the red button labeled “Power On”. He pushed it. The Permissors went silent, and Shent gasped as his eyes opened to stark reality.

“What have you done!” roared the producer, spraying a few flecks of mucus in Omni’s face. “Get him back!”.

“I can’t,” Omni replied defiantly, “he’s gone. The electromagnet disables his Permissor diodes. He’s out of our control.”

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