Author: Rosie Oliver

Grey-ghosted darkness. Not even a piece of dulled memory in the expansive nothingness ahead. Damn! Time is now against her completing her sculpture. She had been so sure the right shape could be found along her latest trajectory. Floating, she twists round to face the massive structure that extends in every direction as far as she can see.

Its building blocks are light grey part-built cobwebs with disced centres. Their radial threads interlink by touching, entwining or crashing together in a mess. Each web is different; flat, curved, tangly, nearly squelched into a solid shape. There is no pattern at all as to which shape is placed next to another, just pure randomness. Despite all the change and variety, the mega-web has the aura of lifeless desolation.

Her sculpture is the key to changing that. If only she can find the right piece in time. She rushes through a gap into the labyrinthine mesh, searching for it. What about that crooked bit there? Too thick. This bent bit here? Too curved. Time presses.

She rushes along a lacy conduit. There, the right shape. She grabs it. Too spongy, decayed beyond usefulness. She carries on.
Another piece the right shape. A gentle squeeze. It springs back with firmness. She snaps it off and flees back to her sculpture, webs blurring into surfaces beside her. No time to lose. Speeding up is all she concentrates on.

She erupts into a void-space and brakes hard to stop crashing into simply long networked sculpture. One end is already into the mega-web. She zooms to the other end. She feels tired, confused, insubstantial. No she can’t be out of time, not this close to completion.

She melds one spike of her piece tip of her sculpture. It takes effort, far more than usual. She reaches to join the other spike. Too slow. Must work quicker.

She can’t, but continues at max effort. Her view blurs. Out of time. She struggles to link it. The blur worsens. She strains to complete and hit the network into life. Blue spark. Darkness.

Cyan flash.


She gingerly removes her virtual hood. Eyes ache. Hands hurt from controlling her joystick. Her body stiff from lying eight hours on the couch.

The medtech watching the sedated man on the couch next to hers turns round. His face is sombre, full of regret. “You’d reached your time limit with the neural sculptor… sorry.”

“His brain was a damned mess, but I completed the bridge. Just. The rest’s up to him, but he’ll make it given time. He’ll recover.”