Mindscape, SciFi Short Story Smackdown Round 2

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Mindscape - Part 1, Random Shuffle

The moulded door of his travel pod slid aside as he approached, the contoured metal sphere coded wirelessly to the chip buried deep in his cortex.

As he sat the pod tilted back slightly, the seat instantaneously moulding around his body and holding him gently cocooned for the journey ahead. His head settled into the jelly-like head rest and the pod's automatic systems connected to his synaptic port, re-establishing contact with the Mind. 

He mused on the events of the day as the pod began to move. Normally he plugged in and worked from home or occasionally one of the private booths in the gardens, the synaptic port allowing him to join the Mind as soon as he woke up and assist in the problem solving required of him. Today though had been different, but meeting with his peers was always a worthy if mentally exhausting process.

Message. Helena James.

He started to compose the message to send, but was interrupted by the Mind before he could finish.

- Helena James' connection has been Terminated. Sorry for any inconvenience.

What? Why has she been Terminated?

- She has committed a crime, further information is classified.

He sighed, bewildered by the unexpected news. He'd enjoyed working with Helena; she had been one of the few people who he'd really connected with during his long life. There had been so few over the years he had spent in the City. They had connected on an intellectual level that had led to a deep friendship and occasionally company of the more intimate sort, satisfying an itch that sometimes both needed to scratch. She had also been one of only two people who he had Shared with, connecting brain to brain via their implants, a breathtaking experience with someone so mentally dextrous.

The pod moved quietly along the minor transit tunnels and he sighed again, his thoughts troubled. Crime was rare in this day and age. The Mind was almost omnipotent, able to see virtually anywhere at any time, and access many of the uppermost thoughts and desires of the billions of souls who inhabited the City. Any crime against the Community was dealt with severely and instantly.

Music. Playlist 4. Random shuffle.

He relayed the command via his implant, and instantly soothing stanzas massaged away the minor stresses of the day, leaving him dwelling on the loss of Helena after the day's conference. The pod accelerated; the change in momentum barely perceptible inside his cushioning as it shot down the transit ramp at over three hundred miles per hour. It accelerated further to reach docking speed, and as this was attained the computer guidance systems of the Transit Network seamlessly locked his pod into the already moving Travel Module that would transport him and thousands of others to their destinations at just under the speed of sound.

He was semi-dozing to the strains of some twentieth century instrumental guitar music when the Mind quietly notified him, and presumably all the other passengers in the Travel Module, that there was a slight technical hitch.

The module slowed, gently moving to an almost imperceptible halt. Jay looked out of the small side window of his pod, humming gently to himself as his eyes adjusted to the gloom outside the transport.

There was a slight static to his music abruptly and he shifted uneasily in his seat as his skin began prickling oddly. Momentarily, there was a disturbance in the air in front of him and he rubbed his eyes, his returning vision confirming his thoughts that he was tired as the odd feelings dispelled.

He resumed his constricted view of the outside world. Normally, all you could see in the tunnels was the very faint glow of the bioluminescent walls that dimly lit the entire internal structure underneath the City. The cells were fed a faint trickle of power that kept them alive and glowing but there had obviously been an interruption in the flow and one side of the tunnel had virtually blacked out casting the lee of the train into deep shadow.

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