American Captive

Elevate form over function to get at less easily articulable truths.

Re: American Captive

Postby A Shieldmaiden » Wed Dec 15, 2021 12:08 pm

It did occur to me that it was a real life experience......but I did not expect that outcome.

True story.
:D How many times have I read those words here on this Forum.
The man that walks his own road, walks alone

Old Norse Proverb
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Re: American Captive

Postby Berkley Babes » Wed Dec 15, 2021 12:13 pm

I bet quite a few times. :D
:o I feel like The Scream painting :o !
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Re: American Captive

Postby Berkley Babes » Thu Dec 16, 2021 5:51 pm

Some potential book cover artwork

https://ibb.co/rmVPZkd
:o I feel like The Scream painting :o !
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Re: American Captive

Postby Berkley Babes » Mon Dec 20, 2021 2:41 am

Enter The Virtuplex Here

https://www.wattpad.com/story/295283576-the-virtuplex

In the Virtuplex, you can select the man of your dreams, whether he be a bad boy billionaire, a seductive vampire, a wild werewolf, a steamy surgeon, or a hunky pirate. In the Virtuplex, anything goes.
:o I feel like The Scream painting :o !
Berkley Babes
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Re: American Captive

Postby Berkley Babes » Thu Feb 03, 2022 4:48 pm

The lost chapter

19

The Virtuplex.
What started as a construction site for smart homes became a digital dark market, which then became my mental jailhouse.
I had been warned there would come a rough patch of time, a very difficult period, when I would need to unplug from The Virtuplex. I knew I had to do a hard reset. I knew, because when I finally got the courage to ask for the weekend off from work, Ellen, the secretary at Building Base One, told me the major operation wouldn’t be the same without me. I struggled to recall what operation she was referring to. But I relented just the same and I took back my request for any nights off. She then called me valiant for working so hard, in such a diligent manner. That’s about the time the mission came flooding back to my memory.
Operation Prominent Bone.
My code name is Valiant Hound.
Tonight, at the Clear Lake Condo Complex, I steady myself against the most unusual freezing wind, which seems to blow up and down, but not in any side direction.
I step up into my monster truck, with a cup of chocolate cocoa in one hand. Then I unlock the latch on the bucket seat, so that it folds across into a wide, flat position. There I sit in the back, legs folded like a cozy pretzel, with a bearskin blanket wrapped over my shoulders, sipping from the hot mug.
I still need to unplug.
I still need to do a hard reset.
My plan now is to meditate with my eyes closed. Then, once I’m calm enough and my inner sight is clear, begin the process of creative visualization.
After a few minutes of having my eyelids shut, breathing balanced, I start to remember the details of Operation Prominent Bone.
The past comes into focus, my private history. How I came to land this job, especially the interview process, it had all been so strange. No application paperwork to fill out.
My old friend Ed Grassley had this girlfriend, Kate Rump, who was one of many personal assistants for Frank Benzino. She had aroused my excitement with the job opening. At the first hint of the opportunity, Kate admitted she originally offered it to Ed. He declined, but I asked him to recommend me instead. After he told me the wage was much higher than what I was earning as a landscaper, I was eager not to ruin my lower back anymore, so I pressed him repeatedly to forward my name. The interview process was the weirdest part of it.
I was scheduled to meet a man named Albert Strictland. I didn’t know it at the time, but I eventually figured out he was a member of the Benzino family through marriage to a sister. Albert Strictland was a bit of an uptight dweeb of a fellow, with thin spectacle frames, and a floppy sweep of hair, but I did my best not to let him realize I thought so.
My first meeting with Albert lasted just two minutes. He seemed interested only in the time of my arrival, if I would happen to show up late or not. Since I arrived at the exact minute, he scheduled a second meeting the next day.
Again, I made sure to appear like I’d never be a tardy worker. This time, however, his main concern was with my style of clothing, whether my button-down dress shirt was tucked in or not. Unfortunately, it wasn’t. So he made a third appointment with me, then he rudely dismissed me. At that point, I made a plot to wear a tie during our third follow up, and tuck everything in.
On the third day of assessing me for the job, Officer Swain sat next to Albert on the same side of a conference table. They commanded me to use the bench chair opposite them. Once I did, Officer Swain asked just one question. Why do you want to work for Kingman Corporation? I had been ready for such a standard test. It was the least I could do to prepare. I said that I liked to make things safe and secure.
Even now, as I meditate, I let out a little laugh at the thought of that answer, how Officer Swain had looked at Albert and nodded in a hushed endorsement of my high quality. I sealed the job hunt with that one answer.
Right now, with my eyes still closed tight, I need to subdue the skittish nature of my laugh, how it sounds like I’m about to crack up. I try again to concentrate on the facts of my employment.
Officer Swain had given me a messy list of red pen ink instructions. First on the list: Go to the address of the army surplus store that sold official equipment and gear to the local police. Swain had told me to purchase a full guard uniform. Once there, I was scolded by the angry clerk, possibly an ex-cop, who had a short hair spike, a mean buzzcut. He scolded me when I asked for a baggy version of the state trooper pants. He must have known then that I had some hoodlum in me. I wonder now, how Swain had missed that part of my character, or why he noticed it but ignored it. Anyway, I remember the clerk fitting my legs with yellow measurement tape hanging from his clenched teeth, as he stuck my thigh with a sharp pin. I left the store feeling dazed, woozy for some reason.
I suppose that woozy feeling, resulting from the pin prick, was the reason why I didn’t question the rest of the listed instructions. Which were as follows: Go to the Thunderbird Hotel, room 606, and wait on the balcony. At dusk, enter the unlocked room. Watch TV until 8pm.
I had turned on the tube, and not ironically, I had flipped the channel to video clips of an old prison interview done with Gary Lee Vickers, conducted by the culture show host, Veronica Lynch. And Veronica was asking Gary about his crimes. But Gary wouldn’t go into any details about why he killed more than just perverts, but also perverts by association. Instead he wanted to talk about whether technology was disrupting the natural biological rhythms of man in nature, or whether we would need technology to escape the ever-growing sun that would eventually boil everything on the planet. The golden age of artificial intelligence, he said, would lead to dystopia or utopia, but either way, the human race would still have to escape the big death ray in the sky.
The interview of Gary Lee Vickers had been recorded years ago before his botched facial surgery, so his face looked normal. I was even able to register the anger in his expression when Veronica Lynch started to debate him on tech matters. Her counter point was simple. She said technology was only used to make a better, more accurate bullet, which made Gary visibly furious. Two guards had to move closer to Gary, keeping him chained on the seat. Gary lunged at her. The guards then removed him from the room, with Gary yelling over the shoulder of his orange jumpsuit, “Golden age death ray,” before the program cut to a commercial for the latest virtual reality head mounted display. I turned the volume knob down, but I could still hear the product being advertised has having a new and improved eye tracking system.
I remember still feeling woozy at 8pm from that damn tailor and his pin poke. But I was still level headed enough to follow the next series of handwritten instructions. At that prime-time hour of eight, I was ordered to shut the TV off, take the Bible out of the bedside drawer, put it on top of the blank television. The Bible had passages highlighted with bright neon marker, yellow, orange, blue, green, red. I gave the colorful Holy Book a proper placement on the TV set.
Then I was to fill the bathtub with water. Since the note didn’t specify cold or hot water, I made it both, lukewarm. After that I was to nudge the painting above the desk to hang on a crooked angle. I remember doing just that, tilting the pastel painting of a man sitting alone at the edge of an ocean dock, and thinking to myself that all these instructions amounted to was hazing. I was being hazed and everyone at Building Base One was having a good chuckle. They must be, I had thought. They must be pulling some type of hoax on me. But I didn’t care because I wanted this easy high paying job so bad. I’d jump through hoops of fire, if required. The final instruction on the list was for me to switch every light in the motel room off.
I had stood in the total dark for twenty seconds, before a light bulb behind the vanity mirror went on. It was suddenly see-through glass. And a man sat on the other side of it, wearing what appeared to be a golden wrestling mask. The mask had black and gold hexagons that formed a honeycomb pattern.
The man said his name was X. He was a black man, judging by his hand color, but he had a macho Italian way of speaking. He asked me if I was ready to plug in again. When I tried to speak it was the first time I realized I slurred my words.
I said I was ready for the job I applied for.
X had told me I would suffer a complete derangement of the senses. Asking me if I was prepared to endure such a hairy cross-eyed mission.
I said I would love to work for Kingman Corporation.
“Do you remember Wilf Greyson?” He wanted to know, then he became quiet, waiting for my delayed answer.
The name took a moment to ring a mental bell, then a gong clanged in my mind.
The Washington D.C. area, I had said. Maryland, I had quickly added. There was a big condo fire, I had said with a new alertness, feeling less nausea. Eco-terrorists had convinced a security guard to look the other way during an arson that destroyed the whole complex. Old Wilford Greyson, a very rich and powerful builder of smart homes, was more than mad to lose over sixty million in property damage. He vowed to catch the arsonists. His friend up north in Massachusetts, E.B. Kingman, was facing that same type of problem.
X had nodded in agreement, and his mask had sparkled with glitter along the stitching.
So I had went on to mention something about the Eco-Terrorists, how the SANE organization is leaderless, but has many independent cells in pockets across the nation. Wilf wants to see everyone of them dead. So does Kingman. Not just put in jail, no, these businessmen want to end the existence of SANE.
“That’s were you come in,” X had said.
“Yes,” I had volleyed it right back to him. “To act crazy and corruptible, in order to locate each cell. To be recruited by them,” I had said in summary.
“Valiant Hound, I think you’re ready to be plugged in again,” X had stood up to say.
So then X had shouted, “Charge in boys, he’s ready to jack in again.”
Behind me I heard a bunch of menacing figures storm inside the hotel room. One of them with a gruff voice had grumbled into my right ear, “Get ready to enter The Virtuplex. Find that bone, good doggy.”
Then they lifted my body up and carried me out to the deck. Two men hung me upside down by my ankles, dangling me six stories above the pavement. Some guy with a moustache sounded stern when he said, “You better remember to forget all you think you know.”
“I will. I will,” I said, pleading for my life, before the blood rushed to my head and I blacked out.
Here, now, during my monster truck meditation, I start to visualize a better future for myself, one where I milk the cow with the biggest udder.
I tap into the predictive algorithms of The Virtuplex, all of them computer generative.
I envision myself. I can see myself, just after nightfall, skating across a frozen Clear Lake, reaching the opposite shore of the Paynesville State Forest. There, while I remove the ice skates from my feet, I look up to notice someone resting in between the tree limbs with binoculars aimed at the condos. He climbs down from his dark leafy perch and tells me to leave the ice skates behind since I won’t need them on land. He asks me if I want to unplug and I do. I am welcomed back to the real world by a group of half-naked people and they want to know how I feel to be untethered to all that fake virtual shit. I give my body a hard and vigorous shake, like a wet dog, then I tell them it feels great to have my humanity restored.
We walk the train tracks for six hours, until dawn, until the sunny weather warms us. We venture upon a remote area that’s reserved for natural wildlife. During our long trek, I see a deer chewing some low shrubbery. I hear bull frogs croaking from a green marshy bog. Then, a few miles later, we come across a long-legged bird, a crane, and the thing eyeballs me for a second or two, before flying off.
They tell me they found my positive review of the terrorist bomber’s manifesto on the laptop I left in the trailer, which is how they calculated I’d be a good new recruit.
The one who found my laptop writing says he loves the way in which I railed against the pace of technological advancement. He recites one of my paragraphs about the jolt a person suffers when unplugging from VR. He praises me, telling me it all makes for a real subversive text. Telling me that I should distribute my prophetic words on pamphlets, to wake people up to the consequences of the information age.
I don’t confess to them the laptop was just a prop. I don’t admit to anything resembling counter spy measures.
Instead, I act humble, saying it was just a mission statement, just a scribble of a few notes, but I concede that I did rail on.
So they introduce themselves, each one with a symbolic code name. Mountain suggests that they give me a new name to go by. Sky laughs when she dubs me: Rooster.
Root salutes the dawn light to celebrate the hour of my new title, saying the morning is appropriate to the early call of the cock.
Every time a cargo train starts to rumble behind us, our entire group runs down the banks of the track, right and left, to hide among the thick tree cover.
Finally, after one of these train evasions, we stop at a cave entrance that was fully draped over by a camouflaged tarp. Later, I meet a purple mohawked man who claims no leadership but does all the talking. Talking about how smart homes of the future will decimate old human brains of the past. Then he tells me tomorrow I will be part of a crew that will sabotage an electricity substation that has intruded on our rare lands. We spend the rest of that night around a small camp fire and I’m explaining how we can torch the condos, how I have a scheme that involves parking lot snow removal, that will get residents out and far away from the massive fire. So nobody gets hurt. The SANE organization will still look like environmental heroes. These savages seem pleased, approve of my new membership and they start to trickle off, headed for their straw beds. With everybody asleep, except for one last punk, I slip away. I mark where the cave is concealed with a red ribbon, and I run down the tracks for another three hours until I hit the city lights of Central Heights.
My creative forecasting now has me in an airplane that next morning, yes, one of the same planes I acted like I was so afraid of, a piper or a Cessna, and I’m pointing a finger down at the cave hideout. Benzino’s pilot is calling in the exact coordinates on his headset to a brigade of mafia hitmen. I’m such a little environmental traitor. The hound has located his bone.
After that, a few years after my ultimate betrayal of the SANE collective, I’m walking with confidence into Building Base One, and I reach the bottom basement floor where the restaurant is. It’s empty on the bar side, save for the five Italian men playing poker at a round table. One of them has been stealing out of the register when the bartender isn’t at the tap. But they don’t know I’m here to catch them do it.
I make small talk with them while I wait for the elevator. Telling them I work at Wellington Place now.
“How are you getting along there?” Joey Big Nose wants to know.
I answer, “Lots of people there these days, very busy at The Wellington, especially the exercise room with all those hot women, so it’s safe to say I enjoy it.” I give him a thumbs up. None of that’s true. I don’t work at The Wellington, but I do plan to live there one day.
I can picture it all now. I move out from the Rockaway Apartments after the lung cancer claims the life of my mother. I go back to visit Rockaway just one final time. I intend to visit Carl Busby, to say goodbye to him and to apologize for any disappointment. But before I can get to his apartment, however, I look into a basement floor window of a different building and I see a black man in a room that is half empty, half stacked with moving company boxes. Loud heavy metal music has drawn me closer to the window. And the black man is fake strumming on the long handle of a broom, acting like he’s performing the solo guitar riff. Maybe he’s about to move to an all-white neighborhood and he’s preparing himself to brave the culture shock, is my guess.
This bizarre sight makes me realize my creative visualization has taken too much of a wild turn.
I focus again on the future of my job, what I wish for.
I can see it clearly. I work at the Winchendon Springs Construction Site, as bait again for some new fire starters. Although now with a new approach, no drugs this time, which makes for a different type of challenge. The fishing hook isn’t as shiny, maybe even rusty, but I’m happy with more responsible methods. And really, there hasn’t been the slightest sign of any burn activity this trip around. My role is proving effective as the best honeypot trap, a real trojan horse, so I get to inhale the night air around the grounds without a shred of paranoia. Such a cool relief.
My mind travels back to Building Base One. I leave the Italian card players to their game. I take the elevator up, then the staircase back down. I wedge myself through a secret compartment door, a closet hallway, behind the huge bar mirror. There, I watch those same poker players, trying to determine which one is the cash register thief.
While I wait for one of them to make the wrong move, I listen to them talk about how Benzino got me into Harvard for a few computer coding classes. Then I hear them tell stories about my time spent around the Clear Lake. Most of it sounds crazy to them, most of it they don’t understand, but the rest of it makes me smirk behind that mirror.
I’m even half smiling during my meditation. I can feel the corners of my lips raising up. Then the cold wind raps against the monster truck windows, and whistles in through the tiny cracks, which breaks the spell of my inner eye.
My regular eyes open. The bearskin blanket falls from my shoulders and I’m sweating.
I feel somewhat refreshed but still deeply unsettled, on the cusp of something awfully nervous.
I still need to unplug from The Virtuplex, commit to a hard reset. But I don’t know how to anymore.
I can’t.
The Virtuplex has me. The Virtuplex has me.
:o I feel like The Scream painting :o !
Berkley Babes
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Re: American Captive

Postby Meno_ » Thu Feb 03, 2022 4:59 pm

Berkley Babes wrote:The lost chapter

19

The Virtuplex.
What started as a construction site for smart homes became a digital dark market, which then became my mental jailhouse.
I had been warned there would come a rough patch of time, a very difficult period, when I would need to unplug from The Virtuplex. I knew I had to do a hard reset. I knew, because when I finally got the courage to ask for the weekend off from work, Ellen, the secretary at Building Base One, told me the major operation wouldn’t be the same without me. I struggled to recall what operation she was referring to. But I relented just the same and I took back my request for any nights off. She then called me valiant for working so hard, in such a diligent manner. That’s about the time the mission came flooding back to my memory.
Operation Prominent Bone.
My code name is Valiant Hound.
Tonight, at the Clear Lake Condo Complex, I steady myself against the most unusual freezing wind, which seems to blow up and down, but not in any side direction.
I step up into my monster truck, with a cup of chocolate cocoa in one hand. Then I unlock the latch on the bucket seat, so that it folds across into a wide, flat position. There I sit in the back, legs folded like a cozy pretzel, with a bearskin blanket wrapped over my shoulders, sipping from the hot mug.
I still need to unplug.
I still need to do a hard reset.
My plan now is to meditate with my eyes closed. Then, once I’m calm enough and my inner sight is clear, begin the process of creative visualization.
After a few minutes of having my eyelids shut, breathing balanced, I start to remember the details of Operation Prominent Bone.
The past comes into focus, my private history. How I came to land this job, especially the interview process, it had all been so strange. No application paperwork to fill out.
My old friend Ed Grassley had this girlfriend, Kate Rump, who was one of many personal assistants for Frank Benzino. She had aroused my excitement with the job opening. At the first hint of the opportunity, Kate admitted she originally offered it to Ed. He declined, but I asked him to recommend me instead. After he told me the wage was much higher than what I was earning as a landscaper, I was eager not to ruin my lower back anymore, so I pressed him repeatedly to forward my name. The interview process was the weirdest part of it.
I was scheduled to meet a man named Albert Strictland. I didn’t know it at the time, but I eventually figured out he was a member of the Benzino family through marriage to a sister. Albert Strictland was a bit of an uptight dweeb of a fellow, with thin spectacle frames, and a floppy sweep of hair, but I did my best not to let him realize I thought so.
My first meeting with Albert lasted just two minutes. He seemed interested only in the time of my arrival, if I would happen to show up late or not. Since I arrived at the exact minute, he scheduled a second meeting the next day.
Again, I made sure to appear like I’d never be a tardy worker. This time, however, his main concern was with my style of clothing, whether my button-down dress shirt was tucked in or not. Unfortunately, it wasn’t. So he made a third appointment with me, then he rudely dismissed me. At that point, I made a plot to wear a tie during our third follow up, and tuck everything in.
On the third day of assessing me for the job, Officer Swain sat next to Albert on the same side of a conference table. They commanded me to use the bench chair opposite them. Once I did, Officer Swain asked just one question. Why do you want to work for Kingman Corporation? I had been ready for such a standard test. It was the least I could do to prepare. I said that I liked to make things safe and secure.
Even now, as I meditate, I let out a little laugh at the thought of that answer, how Officer Swain had looked at Albert and nodded in a hushed endorsement of my high quality. I sealed the job hunt with that one answer.
Right now, with my eyes still closed tight, I need to subdue the skittish nature of my laugh, how it sounds like I’m about to crack up. I try again to concentrate on the facts of my employment.
Officer Swain had given me a messy list of red pen ink instructions. First on the list: Go to the address of the army surplus store that sold official equipment and gear to the local police. Swain had told me to purchase a full guard uniform. Once there, I was scolded by the angry clerk, possibly an ex-cop, who had a short hair spike, a mean buzzcut. He scolded me when I asked for a baggy version of the state trooper pants. He must have known then that I had some hoodlum in me. I wonder now, how Swain had missed that part of my character, or why he noticed it but ignored it. Anyway, I remember the clerk fitting my legs with yellow measurement tape hanging from his clenched teeth, as he stuck my thigh with a sharp pin. I left the store feeling dazed, woozy for some reason.
I suppose that woozy feeling, resulting from the pin prick, was the reason why I didn’t question the rest of the listed instructions. Which were as follows: Go to the Thunderbird Hotel, room 606, and wait on the balcony. At dusk, enter the unlocked room. Watch TV until 8pm.
I had turned on the tube, and not ironically, I had flipped the channel to video clips of an old prison interview done with Gary Lee Vickers, conducted by the culture show host, Veronica Lynch. And Veronica was asking Gary about his crimes. But Gary wouldn’t go into any details about why he killed more than just perverts, but also perverts by association. Instead he wanted to talk about whether technology was disrupting the natural biological rhythms of man in nature, or whether we would need technology to escape the ever-growing sun that would eventually boil everything on the planet. The golden age of artificial intelligence, he said, would lead to dystopia or utopia, but either way, the human race would still have to escape the big death ray in the sky.
The interview of Gary Lee Vickers had been recorded years ago before his botched facial surgery, so his face looked normal. I was even able to register the anger in his expression when Veronica Lynch started to debate him on tech matters. Her counter point was simple. She said technology was only used to make a better, more accurate bullet, which made Gary visibly furious. Two guards had to move closer to Gary, keeping him chained on the seat. Gary lunged at her. The guards then removed him from the room, with Gary yelling over the shoulder of his orange jumpsuit, “Golden age death ray,” before the program cut to a commercial for the latest virtual reality head mounted display. I turned the volume knob down, but I could still hear the product being advertised has having a new and improved eye tracking system.
I remember still feeling woozy at 8pm from that damn tailor and his pin poke. But I was still level headed enough to follow the next series of handwritten instructions. At that prime-time hour of eight, I was ordered to shut the TV off, take the Bible out of the bedside drawer, put it on top of the blank television. The Bible had passages highlighted with bright neon marker, yellow, orange, blue, green, red. I gave the colorful Holy Book a proper placement on the TV set.
Then I was to fill the bathtub with water. Since the note didn’t specify cold or hot water, I made it both, lukewarm. After that I was to nudge the painting above the desk to hang on a crooked angle. I remember doing just that, tilting the pastel painting of a man sitting alone at the edge of an ocean dock, and thinking to myself that all these instructions amounted to was hazing. I was being hazed and everyone at Building Base One was having a good chuckle. They must be, I had thought. They must be pulling some type of hoax on me. But I didn’t care because I wanted this easy high paying job so bad. I’d jump through hoops of fire, if required. The final instruction on the list was for me to switch every light in the motel room off.
I had stood in the total dark for twenty seconds, before a light bulb behind the vanity mirror went on. It was suddenly see-through glass. And a man sat on the other side of it, wearing what appeared to be a golden wrestling mask. The mask had black and gold hexagons that formed a honeycomb pattern.
The man said his name was X. He was a black man, judging by his hand color, but he had a macho Italian way of speaking. He asked me if I was ready to plug in again. When I tried to speak it was the first time I realized I slurred my words.
I said I was ready for the job I applied for.
X had told me I would suffer a complete derangement of the senses. Asking me if I was prepared to endure such a hairy cross-eyed mission.
I said I would love to work for Kingman Corporation.
“Do you remember Wilf Greyson?” He wanted to know, then he became quiet, waiting for my delayed answer.
The name took a moment to ring a mental bell, then a gong clanged in my mind.
The Washington D.C. area, I had said. Maryland, I had quickly added. There was a big condo fire, I had said with a new alertness, feeling less nausea. Eco-terrorists had convinced a security guard to look the other way during an arson that destroyed the whole complex. Old Wilford Greyson, a very rich and powerful builder of smart homes, was more than mad to lose over sixty million in property damage. He vowed to catch the arsonists. His friend up north in Massachusetts, E.B. Kingman, was facing that same type of problem.
X had nodded in agreement, and his mask had sparkled with glitter along the stitching.
So I had went on to mention something about the Eco-Terrorists, how the SANE organization is leaderless, but has many independent cells in pockets across the nation. Wilf wants to see everyone of them dead. So does Kingman. Not just put in jail, no, these businessmen want to end the existence of SANE.
“That’s were you come in,” X had said.
“Yes,” I had volleyed it right back to him. “To act crazy and corruptible, in order to locate each cell. To be recruited by them,” I had said in summary.
“Valiant Hound, I think you’re ready to be plugged in again,” X had stood up to say.
So then X had shouted, “Charge in boys, he’s ready to jack in again.”
Behind me I heard a bunch of menacing figures storm inside the hotel room. One of them with a gruff voice had grumbled into my right ear, “Get ready to enter The Virtuplex. Find that bone, good doggy.”
Then they lifted my body up and carried me out to the deck. Two men hung me upside down by my ankles, dangling me six stories above the pavement. Some guy with a moustache sounded stern when he said, “You better remember to forget all you think you know.”
“I will. I will,” I said, pleading for my life, before the blood rushed to my head and I blacked out.
Here, now, during my monster truck meditation, I start to visualize a better future for myself, one where I milk the cow with the biggest udder.
I tap into the predictive algorithms of The Virtuplex, all of them computer generative.
I envision myself. I can see myself, just after nightfall, skating across a frozen Clear Lake, reaching the opposite shore of the Paynesville State Forest. There, while I remove the ice skates from my feet, I look up to notice someone resting in between the tree limbs with binoculars aimed at the condos. He climbs down from his dark leafy perch and tells me to leave the ice skates behind since I won’t need them on land. He asks me if I want to unplug and I do. I am welcomed back to the real world by a group of half-naked people and they want to know how I feel to be untethered to all that fake virtual shit. I give my body a hard and vigorous shake, like a wet dog, then I tell them it feels great to have my humanity restored.
We walk the train tracks for six hours, until dawn, until the sunny weather warms us. We venture upon a remote area that’s reserved for natural wildlife. During our long trek, I see a deer chewing some low shrubbery. I hear bull frogs croaking from a green marshy bog. Then, a few miles later, we come across a long-legged bird, a crane, and the thing eyeballs me for a second or two, before flying off.
They tell me they found my positive review of the terrorist bomber’s manifesto on the laptop I left in the trailer, which is how they calculated I’d be a good new recruit.
The one who found my laptop writing says he loves the way in which I railed against the pace of technological advancement. He recites one of my paragraphs about the jolt a person suffers when unplugging from VR. He praises me, telling me it all makes for a real subversive text. Telling me that I should distribute my prophetic words on pamphlets, to wake people up to the consequences of the information age.
I don’t confess to them the laptop was just a prop. I don’t admit to anything resembling counter spy measures.
Instead, I act humble, saying it was just a mission statement, just a scribble of a few notes, but I concede that I did rail on.
So they introduce themselves, each one with a symbolic code name. Mountain suggests that they give me a new name to go by. Sky laughs when she dubs me: Rooster.
Root salutes the dawn light to celebrate the hour of my new title, saying the morning is appropriate to the early call of the cock.
Every time a cargo train starts to rumble behind us, our entire group runs down the banks of the track, right and left, to hide among the thick tree cover.
Finally, after one of these train evasions, we stop at a cave entrance that was fully draped over by a camouflaged tarp. Later, I meet a purple mohawked man who claims no leadership but does all the talking. Talking about how smart homes of the future will decimate old human brains of the past. Then he tells me tomorrow I will be part of a crew that will sabotage an electricity substation that has intruded on our rare lands. We spend the rest of that night around a small camp fire and I’m explaining how we can torch the condos, how I have a scheme that involves parking lot snow removal, that will get residents out and far away from the massive fire. So nobody gets hurt. The SANE organization will still look like environmental heroes. These savages seem pleased, approve of my new membership and they start to trickle off, headed for their straw beds. With everybody asleep, except for one last punk, I slip away. I mark where the cave is concealed with a red ribbon, and I run down the tracks for another three hours until I hit the city lights of Central Heights.
My creative forecasting now has me in an airplane that next morning, yes, one of the same planes I acted like I was so afraid of, a piper or a Cessna, and I’m pointing a finger down at the cave hideout. Benzino’s pilot is calling in the exact coordinates on his headset to a brigade of mafia hitmen. I’m such a little environmental traitor. The hound has located his bone.
After that, a few years after my ultimate betrayal of the SANE collective, I’m walking with confidence into Building Base One, and I reach the bottom basement floor where the restaurant is. It’s empty on the bar side, save for the five Italian men playing poker at a round table. One of them has been stealing out of the register when the bartender isn’t at the tap. But they don’t know I’m here to catch them do it.
I make small talk with them while I wait for the elevator. Telling them I work at Wellington Place now.
“How are you getting along there?” Joey Big Nose wants to know.
I answer, “Lots of people there these days, very busy at The Wellington, especially the exercise room with all those hot women, so it’s safe to say I enjoy it.” I give him a thumbs up. None of that’s true. I don’t work at The Wellington, but I do plan to live there one day.
I can picture it all now. I move out from the Rockaway Apartments after the lung cancer claims the life of my mother. I go back to visit Rockaway just one final time. I intend to visit Carl Busby, to say goodbye to him and to apologize for any disappointment. But before I can get to his apartment, however, I look into a basement floor window of a different building and I see a black man in a room that is half empty, half stacked with moving company boxes. Loud heavy metal music has drawn me closer to the window. And the black man is fake strumming on the long handle of a broom, acting like he’s performing the solo guitar riff. Maybe he’s about to move to an all-white neighborhood and he’s preparing himself to brave the culture shock, is my guess.
This bizarre sight makes me realize my creative visualization has taken too much of a wild turn.
I focus again on the future of my job, what I wish for.
I can see it clearly. I work at the Winchendon Springs Construction Site, as bait again for some new fire starters. Although now with a new approach, no drugs this time, which makes for a different type of challenge. The fishing hook isn’t as shiny, maybe even rusty, but I’m happy with more responsible methods. And really, there hasn’t been the slightest sign of any burn activity this trip around. My role is proving effective as the best honeypot trap, a real trojan horse, so I get to inhale the night air around the grounds without a shred of paranoia. Such a cool relief.
My mind travels back to Building Base One. I leave the Italian card players to their game. I take the elevator up, then the staircase back down. I wedge myself through a secret compartment door, a closet hallway, behind the huge bar mirror. There, I watch those same poker players, trying to determine which one is the cash register thief.
While I wait for one of them to make the wrong move, I listen to them talk about how Benzino got me into Harvard for a few computer coding classes. Then I hear them tell stories about my time spent around the Clear Lake. Most of it sounds crazy to them, most of it they don’t understand, but the rest of it makes me smirk behind that mirror.
I’m even half smiling during my meditation. I can feel the corners of my lips raising up. Then the cold wind raps against the monster truck windows, and whistles in through the tiny cracks, which breaks the spell of my inner eye.
My regular eyes open. The bearskin blanket falls from my shoulders and I’m sweating.
I feel somewhat refreshed but still deeply unsettled, on the cusp of something awfully nervous.
I still need to unplug from The Virtuplex, commit to a hard reset. But I don’t know how to anymore.
I can’t.
The Virtuplex has me. The Virtuplex has me.




Gotta get into this so much reason so little time. Top of the list. Gratz.
Meno_
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Re: American Captive

Postby Berkley Babes » Thu Feb 03, 2022 5:03 pm

Thanks much, Meno. It will explain, give context.
:o I feel like The Scream painting :o !
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Re: American Captive

Postby Berkley Babes » Sat Feb 05, 2022 1:15 pm

F + A = C
:o I feel like The Scream painting :o !
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