Dream of Other Days

Author : David Zhou

“Have a good weekend, Mr. Lark,” he said, scooting his chair underneath his desk and shuffling his papers a bit.

“Don’t stay too late, y’hear?”

He laughed, and shook his head. Smiling faintly, he grabbed his bag and started for the door. He had a big couple of days ahead of him, and he wanted to be sure he was ready. His pace quickening, he called Susan.

The wildly swerving car barely slowed as it plowed into the man walking out of the office building, cell phone to his head, and quite suddenly, the world faded to gray and shifting black.

“Argh!” he shouted, throwing his visor and leaping out of the receptor. Grumbling to himself, he sat down at a neighboring console, and flipped through some screens. There it was.

Nathan Wilson. Twenty-four. Died of severe head truma.

“Figures,” he said. “What I get for choosing one of the younger ones.”

He sighed, and went back to the screen, switching away from group A, and into D. One of the profiles struck his interest.

William Lister, eighty-six. Died in his sleep. Peaceful enough.

He loaded.

Water. He needed to breathe, his head a pounding maelstrom of pressure and panic and he was sinking deeper, the light above dimmer and further and his vision, twisting and pulsating and that was it. The world faded to gray and shifting black.

He didn’t do anything at first. Just took big, heaping gulps of air. Once he properly made sure that he was not still drowning, he frowned and jotted down a note.

Categorization mistake. Group D element William Lister. Listed termination was not as experienced. Error corrected.

He leaned back in the receptor, looking around.

It wasn’t much, the Reentrant Room. Circular and ringed with consoles, the only thing that attacked the eye was the receptor in the middle.

The receptor. He grinned. It was the only thing that kept him at the job. Most people hated qualifying the reentrants. Something about the responsibility of mortality. But he didn’t mind.

He was the dam. He was the filter. He was the guard at the gate, turning away the filth from the grandeur that was the System.

Yes, it required him to possess a physical body, to be exiled and vomited from the System.

But he didn’t care. He may be all alone in the room, but in the end, he had ultimate control. He could dictate and manage which of these poor digital imprints of fragile souls would be allowed to reenter. Be reborn, and have another chance at the virtual life of a member of the System.

He smiled. It was worth it in the end. He flipped through another couple of profile screens. Hm. This one might be interesting.

Polenza Tipates. Fourty-five. Implosion.

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