Chapter 7: Ants

The trail of ants marched steadfastly around the front step of the townhouse. Silas was headed out the door when the line of movement caught his eye. For several minutes he sat in wonderment staring at the world that existed underneath him. From time to time, each ant would bump into another one going in the opposite direction, pause for a moment, exchange some information, and move on. There was no dwelling on their place in the universe, just a steady exchange of life, constantly moving forward.

Why couldn’t he be like these ants? Moving carefree through the world and not dwelling on questions which he knew may not be answered. Life might not be as hard to deal with if he could just focus on what was in front of him. He stuck his finger into the ant trail and scattered the ants into chaos. He removed his finger and watched as the ants collected themselves and fell back into line.

Maybe you and I are not that different after all, Silas thought to himself.

He was going to meet up with Isis and JoJo today and pick their brains about last night’s “adventure.” They were always giving him shit for daydreaming about the Old City, but they always listened to his fantastical ideas and gave their honest opinion no matter the topic. He needed to know if what he experienced last night was worth pursuing.

Silas walked through the main courtyard of downtown Zenith. There was a spanish-style gazebo that was lifted from part of the Old City, this housed a plaque listing the founders of Los Angeles, as well as a newer monument that commemorated the founder of Zenith, George Stonehurst. A small crowd had gathered under the gazebo engaged in rather heated discussion. This struck Silas as odd for two reasons: one, most people were indoors during the day hooked up to a feed; two, if they were outside, they were usually headed somewhere to hook up to a feed. A group of people spending their day outside conversing with each other in person was a strange sight indeed. Silas approached slowly to listen in on the commotion.

A tall, gangly man was standing on a platform holding both hands up, apparently trying to calm the crowd, “What you saw was just another feed, none of it was real! We’ve all experienced it before with virtual reality, it is called ghosting.  Your brain sometimes gets fooled into thinking that what you are experiencing is real.  But, please folks, nothing that you saw was actually happening in real time.  Actually you can thank the folks at Darkstar for making it so vivid.”

“How do you explain the fact that I didn’t choose that feed, and it just showed up when I was uplfited!” said a portly redhead, her face equally red in emotion.

“We saw Zenith from afar! Part of the Old City! People were trying to attack us!” several people yelled out.

“I assure you folks, we will have technicians at each of your homes checking your consoles to make sure there were no malfunctions,” said the tall man, “I assure you, Darkstar is there to address all your lifestyle needs. We make living….a reality!”  He ended with the popular Darkstar catchphrase that everyone knew through their jingles and commercials in the virtuasphere. The tall man’s tone, on the verge of patronizing, cause the din of the small crowd to rise, as they clamored to get a word in.

For a moment, Silas felt like he might be to blame for all of this, he accessed a strange feed as well, but he chose it himself. He saw Zenith from afar, but not within the Old City. It was confusing, but he had a sense of guilt welling in him, and for a moment he thought his father might be standing around watching. He backed away from the gathering, looking around, and ran to meet with JoJo and Isis.  They might be able to help him make sense of all this.

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~ by artofpeace on July 17, 2008.

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