3: Fool's Dream‎ > ‎

02: Prison

It's almost time to leave, but I can't just grab the prisoner and run. He's wired in; abruptly pulling him out could destroy his mind. I must enter his mind and provide context for his escape, bracing him for the shock.

Using my psychic powers, I reach in. Now most of my consciousness is in the prisoner's world, while a tiny bit is back in the cell, standing guard. Splitting my consciousness is tricky business; not only is it mentally draining, but there's a very real risk of losing the smaller bit of consciousness and becoming trapped in the world of the larger bit.

I find myself in the same cell, but I'm the only one here. I focus on the sliver of consciousness in the corner of my mind and remember that the wires lead to the command center.

In the prisoner's world, I start following the route back to the command center, but it's guarded. Why would this virtual world be more secure than the real one that contains it? I don't know, but it won't stop me. My powers seem to need less focus in this virtual world, so it's easy to invisibly phase through any obstacles. The hardest power to use now is keeping a link to the real world in the corner of my mind.

In the control center I see the prisoner in the seat of power. Why would he be the commanding the enemy's army? There must be some trick to this. The facts just don't add up.

I telekinetically make the prisoner's finger twitch in this virtual world while checking for a neural reaction in the real world. Reaction present. They're the same person.

This isn't right. There must be some layer of illusion to dispel. The problem is I cannot tell if the illusion is with me or the prisoner. Time for some discrete interrogation.

I carefully project a few thoughts into the prisoner's mind in this virtual control center and listen for responses. I'm careful with my tenses so my thoughts sound like their his. I can't afford for him to know I'm here.

Me: I'm ...
Him: ... just your typical abnormal person.
Me: I ...
Him: ... have my interests, my duties, my hobbies, and stuff I randomly do for no real reason.
Me: I have a name ...
Him: ... but it doesn't seem relevant here, where I can readily assume an arbitrary identity without anyone so much as pausing to notice the change.
Me (to myself): Déjà vu.
Him: You're not the only one.
Me: You perceive me?
Him: I perceive many things.
Me: Why are you working for the ones that hold you captive?
Him: You should ask yourself the same.
Me: Who are you?
Him: You'll find out in due time. This place isn't safe.
Me: What could go wrong in a virtual reality that strengthens my powers so much?
Him: You don't remember, do you? The virtualization is recursive.
Me: What?
Him: Time's up.

Then I awoke in my room.