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Renegade excerpt

This is a small taste of Jamie Samms story ; Renegade.

Renegade excerpt:

I didn’t go to my quarters. I went to Briak’s because I couldn’t sleep, and if I was going to be awake anyway, I might as well be miserable too, right? The doors opened onto his dark rooms. There was nothing left of him here, even though his things were arranged around the room where they’d been the last time he’d walked out. The only change was that I’d made the bed and changed the sheets. I missed him, but I wasn’t quite that far gone. Not yet.

I didn’t ask for the lights, though Conee did raise the floor’s illum level a notch so I wouldn’t crack my shins on anything. Not that I needed them. I knew this room better than my own. Draping myself across the bed, I let the silence ease into me, became part of it. If I listened hard enough, I would hear him, drifting on the stream, trying to get my attention, telling me he wasn’t really dead.

I’m not crazy. Lonely, but not crazy.

Lonely enough to ache all the time and I never thought that would happen.

Lying there in Briak’s quarters, on his bed, staring at the ceiling, I couldn’t stop wishing for some way to bring him back. Or, at the very least, some way to not see him die every time I closed my eyes. It was such a stupid way to go. Lots of slippers get sucked into the stream and never come out. Not Briak. He was too good. So to lose him in the stream the one time I was too pissed at him to pay attention hit me where it hurt.

A person can’t avoid sleep forever, though, and eventually, I dozed off. The great thing about having the ability to touch the slipstream is that it also means you know when you’re dreaming. Doesn’t automatically let you do so lucidly, but at least you know.

So when I walked onto the bridge, I knew. This was a dream. The Dream. Briak was in his chair, already tied into Conee’s circuits. His eyes flicked my way, narrowed, and returned to the holoscreen floating over his chair. I walked past without a word, settled in my own chair, and took my bloody time tying into the neural unit myself. All I could do was watch while my ego dicked around and let him die, right there beside me, terrified, alone, and completely out of my reach.

By the time I realized something was wrong, it was too late to save him. He was trapped inside the stream, staring out at me from his own eyes but no longer able to disentangle his mind from the neural net. I panicked and fumbled with the controls but could only watch the stream pull him out of himself, watch his eyes go dark, watch him die, and scream my frustration at Conee as she—it—calmly refused to let me engage the neural unit.

“You cannot save him, Tom. There is nothing you can do. You will only get trapped too, and I do not want you… I do not want you….”

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