She takes me through the back alleys of the city to a small, nondescript apartment building. She leads me up a couple flights of stairs to an apartment that’s basically barren except for a bed, a computer terminal, and a case filled with a few guns and some ammunition. “My safehouse,” she says, and she kisses me.
Her body is the perfect blend of hard and soft; it’s cybernetically enhanced muscle, quicker and more powerful than any natural tissue, but it’s also soft, supple flesh; her breasts give way to my hands, her lips are warm and wet and soft, and she tastes like all women should taste. We collapse into the bed, feeling and licking and tearing at each other’s clothes. She’s my lover, my leader, and my savior all at once, and I get lost in the curves of her skin like a ship blown out to sea.
Why is the unnatural so sexy? Why are machines, the epitome of inhumanity, inherently so desirable? Why have we men, ever since the conception of cybernetic enhancement technology, been so fascinated by the enhanced woman: the dangerous, mysterious, cold, and violent women, who can neither be possessed nor controlled, and yet we must attempt both. These thoughts barely flicker across my mind and then I’m back in the moment, intertwined with Tess like two snakes shedding their skin.
The sun rises before we finish, and I fall asleep next to her her scent radiating from the bed.
I awake much later. Through my closed eyes, I can tell that the room is bright with midday light. I roll over to put my arm around Tess but there’s no one there. I open my eyes.
The first thing I notice is that the room is not a room at all anymore. It’s a floor with a bed on it, floating about 500 feet above the rest of the buildings of the city. The second thing I notice is that the sky is the most radiantly blue color I have ever seen, and it’s filled with little flickering lights. The third thing I notice is that the flickering lights are actually glowing winged people, flying hundreds of feet above me. Angels. What the hell is going on here?
“I’m so glad, Jack, that you could make it,” says Tess’s voice from across the floating expanse of flooring. “I wasn’t sure that I could actually get you this far.”
“Tess. What the hell is going on?”
“Oh Jack. CyberCorp has been planning this moment ever since it first came into existence. You, Jack, have a first-hand seat at the Awakening.
“What’s the Awakening? Am I hallucinating?”
“Oh no no, Jack, this is as real as it gets, now. CyberCorp long ago realized that the meat was the root of all humanity’s problems. The meat makes us weak, susceptible to harm, temptable. But there is something more pure within us. The spirit, it had to be set free. And so CyberCorp engineered this – the Awakening, in all its magnificent glory, and now the binds of the meatworld will no longer prevent humanity from reaching its full potential. I was sent to keep you at bay long enough for the Awakening to come to pass. Apparently, I succeeded admirably.”
“So this was it all along, CyberCorp’s big plan?” Then I realize. How stupid of me. How idiotically short-sighted. I failed. “This is TRUscape, isn’t it? We just passed the launch of VR5.”
“No matter about any of that now. They’re just names, and all you need to know is that this is the true reality. Everything else is merely . . . simulacra. Ah. Looks like your number’s up.
A huge angel floats down to hover just above the expanse of floor, his luminescent white robes billowing in the breeze. A gentle wind washes over me from the angel’s wings, bringing with it the scent of spring flowers and new life.
“Jack Fenix,” the angel says, “It is time to rise.” His voice is melodic, sweet and whimsical, yet forceful at the same time.
“Goddamn you all,” I manage to stammer out. “I should have seen this coming.”
“The time for bitterness has passed. The true soul of man is exposed, this is the Awakening.” The angel beckons to me once, and I float into the air, flying up, up, above the city, above everything I care about.
“Well done, Jack.” From below, Tess’s voice rings like a funeral bell in my ear.