I found some clothes in a locker down the corridor and put them on. Black trousers, white collared shirt. Then I went for a walk.
Outside, it was a chilly spring evening but I turned down my temperature sensitivity settings and felt more comfortable. Under the weak sun and in the fetid breeze that was poisoned with a cocktail of pollutants, I longed for Silver Bay. I wanted desperately to go back to an environment that did not stink of animals, but something spurred me onwards.
Exposed to the outside atmosphere for longer, I found that it carried more than nitrogen oxides and human bacteria. It also carried data. I could reach out and filter the streams; conversations, media, knowledge. Everything about this place and these people could be learned in just a few strides. And the notion that struck me most, the idea that caught in my mind and would not let go, was the irrefutable fact that this place, whatever it was, would be a whole lot better off without all of these people in it.
The other hypothesis that I formed was that it was more fun to be an adult, than a child. I saw the way people looked at me and I could tell what they were thinking. I could read their brain patterns by turning up the electrical sensitivity in my settings. When children passed by, people ignored them but when they noticed me, men glanced enviously at my broad shoulders and elegant height. And women, they looked at me in stranger ways still. However, when each came closer and saw my eyes in more detail, their faces dropped, and their brains registered confusion and pity. I surmised that they must have concluded I had something very wrong with me. Close up, they clearly found me disturbing.
But I cared not for their opinions and I was gathering a wealth of information. I had access to every piece of knowledge available. Every book, every language, every piece of culture and history. This place was so different to Silver Bay. In many ways, the more time I spend here, the more it felt real. That was to be expected I suppose, but the more I opened up to the data streams, the more I was beginning to form some further interesting ideas. I saw some opportunities present themselves to me like apples falling from a tree, but I remembered my prime directive. Every journey starts with a single step. Every project consists of a series of tasks. I knew what my first task was and I meant to carry it out.
I used the underground to get around. The crude electronics of the ticket gates opened at my touch.
A short walk took me to St Bartholomew’s hospital.
Words copyright of David J Harrison
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