His hands never shook. It was something to do with bootlegging the Conduit in his brain throughout his body. The Conduit allowed him permanent mental access to the Web. That was not remarkable. Everyone with a Conduit had that. But, bootlegging the Conduit meant that he could ‘Deep Dive’ without needing a physical jack and while maintaining consciousness.
Imagine being able to dream on demand with your eyes open, and those around you could be affected by that dream? He was the Wizard of Oz, but instead of the Emerald City, he had the dual mental states of Surface and Deep Web.
The couple sitting in front of him was wide-eyed as he told them things that they thought he could never know: how she had cried after the baby had died, and how he had grown disassociative and run too many escapism apps through his Conduit. He sat before them while he slipped through big data fields, flicking out search algorithms and stalking through their app setups. He lifted his hand up to trawl through some files while, in front of the couple, his physical hand moved in mystical patterns in the air. He stopped at the file he was looking for, and his physical hand stopped moving too. He was both sitting in this dim room with the couple, and standing next to blazing encrypted databases that were whispering secrets into his ears.
“When you leave here, you will see a planetary shuttle. Get on it and go where it is going. Be open to new experiences, but close the door on old ones. Drink the tea and eat the biscuit, before the wine. Do not be scared of being scared and, Jenny, don’t worry, you will soon get what you want,” the last part almost made him laugh, it was his winning formula. Humans were never as unique or different as they liked to think. He briefly wondered if he still considered himself human? He could not actually remember ever being one anymore.
The lady gasped and the man leaned back, wide-eyed. They paid their Units and then they left.
They would catch that planetary shuttle. It was going to New Paris where they would wander before finding a hotel. While in the Deep Web, he had embedded a geo-trigger into their Conduits that would go off in any hotel. It was a minor hack but socially engineered for an optimal response. Its notification would get the hotel to bring them a certain tea that helped circulation and libido while the sugar biscuit made sure that they were not too tired and the wine helped ease inhibitions…
The rest was biology; she was due to start ovulating mid-flight.
It was not magic that he sold them, it part digital sleight-of-hand, part psychology and–if he admitted it to himself–also part showmanship.
As they walked out the door, he turned around to stare at a blank wall. Had he ever been born? He found himself wondering… He could feel data flowing by him, but the cold, blank wall allowed his biological eyes to look at something real and kept his mind from Deep Running away in the Web.
“Wiz, hey, Wiz, you still with us,” a gruff voice penetrated his consciousness and slowly the flowing lights and oceans of data streams receded into a blank wall in a square room with a noisy aircon rattling in the corner.
“Yessss,” he breathed out, his bodily functions appeared to have run sufficiently on the apps while he zoned out, “Yes, I am.”
He stood and turned around. His assistant, Luke, was there. Actually, Luke was more a caretaker and a salesman, actually. He needed someone around him that dealt with frustrating Slow World and kept him from falling fully into the Quick World of data.
“Right, what do we have next?” he asked, sensing the answer already.
“Uh, Wiz, well there is a couple–” his assistant answered before he cut him off.
“Show them in,” he said, already scanning the data stream outside, he could see their Conduits, which led to their names, and back into their entire lives…
Luke closed the door behind the couple and walked outside for a smoke. The Wizard’s apartment was just outside of the center of town and overlooked a river that flowed by. He liked the view, but mostly he just found the inside of that apartment bare, boring and mildly depressing.
How could a guy do that to himself? Luke would never understand, but then again he supposed that the guy did not actually do it to himself.
A flashing light and soft ping in his brain’s simulation of the inner ear told him that he was being called. It was the office. He pulled on his smoke and then flicked it off the roof, before thinking to answer the call and his Conduit did the rest.
“Luke, what’s the status?” his superior’s voice streamed straight into his cortex.
“The Wiz’s working an appointment, we had another one earlier this morning,” Luke paused and took out another cigarette, thank god cancer was cured he thought, “Uh, that’s bout it.”
There was a grunt of acknowledgment on the other side of the line. Luke could hear the faint crackle of encryption on the line. The office was getting increasingly paranoid these days.
“Right, when he’s done with the couple, bring him in. We have a job for him.”
Luke grunted confirmation and the office hung up. He finished his cigarette and, through the window, saw the couple leaving the room. They looked shocked. The woman was crying and the man was almost holding her up. The appointment must have gone well.
He flicked the cigarette off the roof. It was time to get the Wizard to the Boss. After all, the Boss owned the Wizard and all the hardware they had put in him. The Boss had owned the Wizard ever since the Wizard had owed the Boss money.
Luke walked back inside the apartment and inside the Wizard’s bare room. The Wizard was sitting with his back to the door staring at the blank wall again. Why did he do that, Luke wondered? Drunk on perma-data like some cheap data-junkie, Luke thought. But, at least it made him easy to transport, as Luke slipped a sedative out of his pocket and readied it for injection into the Wizard’s neck.
“I bet you regret owing the mafia money, eh Wiz?” Luke muttered, “But then again, you probably don’t even remember after the memory whipe, eh, do you?”