Miranda Kate’s Picture Choice: Both
Title: Time and Motion - Finale
Their minds saw the man in blue walking, but it seemed like a stream of snap shots as he got closer. He moved so fast that it felt like a steam train barrelling towards them, arriving before they had the chance to duck to the side. He stopped at the end of the table – but the glass window end of the table. It was as though it wasn’t there - or that he was built into it.
The colour of his suit swirled violently up close. Vladimir felt the malt start to churn in his stomach. He diverted his eyes to the man’s face to try and stop it, but looking into the eyes was like looking down a corridor that seemed to go on forever.
Vladimir wrenched his eyes away and looked back into the restaurant. He noticed how nothing else was moving around them. It was like someone had hit pause on the TV. The waitress juggled two coffee cops with one foot off the ground - but there was no wobble, or jitter.
“You have activated the Control Panel Wizard.”
Vladimir’s head spun round. The man had clearly spoken the words, but they seemed to be inside his head rather than spoken out loud.
The professor’s eyes met Vladimir’s, seeking reassurance that he wasn’t the only one to have heard it. Vladimir matched his look. Neither of them knew what to do, or understood what it meant.
The man looked at them both.
“I can help you access the reality run you require. Please provide the binary code you were allocated.”
Vladimir glanced at the Professor again and then spoke. “We have no code.”
A glitch seemed to run through the suit of the man, like a line on a screen. He smiled and spoke again. “A binary code is required.”
“We were not provided with a binary code.”
The man took a slow blink. When his eyes opened again they were black with flashing red pupils.
The professor and Valdimir caught movement behind him as the men from the car came running across.
Then a white flash that left the Professor and Valdimir blinking rapidly.
Valdimir kept blinking but his eyes didn’t seem to clear. He realised he was lying on his back and assumed he had been thrown back although he couldn’t recall the movement. He heard the professor’s voice.
“Vlad? Vlad? Are you there?”
“Yes Professor, I’m here. Are you alright?”
“Yes, but I appear to be lying down.”
Vlad moved his hands up to his eyes, continuing to blink, hoping to start seeing something soon. When his hands reached his face he jumped, a cry escaping from his lips.
“What is it Vlad?” The professor started to move himself, and then let out a similar cry.
Vladimir’s hand pushed at the thing across his face, which seemed to be suctioned on. Eventually it moved. When it did, he heard a series of bleeps. He heard the same bleeps come from where the Professor was lying. This time when he blinked he could make out shapes and slowly the Professor came into view. His eyes also found the source of the light; candles on a table between them.
Vladimir took in the room; it was little more than a cell with two cots, and a pile of wires leading to a large machine against the wall. On his body there were tubes and plugs attached, and he was horrified to find he even had a catheter. A needle into the main artery in his arm led to a hanging bag.
He swung his legs over the side of the cot. They felt weak and flimsy under him. But as he moved around, so did his mind. When he thought about his home and the University in Russia, it crossed over with thoughts a different home; a plusher one out in the country – a country that was in the West.
The details of his life in Russia seemed to be fading, like a dream he couldn’t quite catch. The name David came to him; it seemed to match him better. The details of another life belonging to David flooded his mind.
The Professor sat across from him, looking at everything with the same dazed look. Then he said, “David? Is your name David?”
“Yes, and you’re Augustine, or Ozzy for short? Is that right?”
He nodded, laughing out of disbelief.
“What the hell is this?”
They heard footsteps outside in the corridor and then a clinking sound as some kind of lock was activated. A strange little man put his head round the door and grinned at them.
“Hey guys, how you feeling? Seems you went down the wrong rabbit hole?”
They both looked at him, not fully understanding what he was talking about. The guy laughed at them, and came into the room. He started removing all the tubes and attachments to their bodies.
“Sorry you’re not quite back yet, are you? You tripped the Control Panel Wizard, you weren’t meant to do that. Seems you lost this round.”
Images of virtual world gaming came into David’s mind. “This is a game?”
“Yep. I know you thought you’d just found the answer to life, but sorry to disappoint you, it was all just a game. Why don’t you go put your names down, maybe you can try again in another month or so?”
The man pulled out a bag from under their beds and unzipped it.
“Here are your belongings. Take your time. There’s no rush.” And with that he departed.
David and Ozzy sat looking at each other, waiting for it all to come back.
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