Sunday, 7 July 2019

The Tube

I hope you’re able to read this. I don’t even know if this is the right Earth. Come to think of it, I’m not sure this is the right me.

Some really weird stuff has been going on! As Marvin the Paranoid Android once acerbically put it, “I think you’ll find reality is on the blink again.”

It began as I cloaked the Minicruiser and began descending towards the relay station, preparing to give it a brief but decisive dose of Quantum Field Disruptor, which would cause its wave equation to randomise, flinging all its constituent particles into their fields as incoherent energy (yes, it’s my favourite weapon).

As I reached for the trigger, I noticed something odd: the relay station had no antennae. Somehow, the scan hadn’t revealed this. Perhaps it had misinterpreted a rock as an antenna or something like that. Who knows? Anyway, it stayed my hand for a second or two – and during that second or two, I committed an error to which I too often succumb: I got curious.

So of course, after that, I simply had to land and explore the place. There was no other option.

It was pretty hard to find the door by eye: the facility had been well concealed, in such a way that even a future Martian colony might not discover it for centuries. When I finally spotted a triangular outline in the rock and found the catch hidden in a conveniently dust-storm-proof crevice, I entered with some caution.

The interior felt wrong. I immediately realised that the cushioned flooring and oak panels were hardly Maria T’s style. And besides, why would she furnish a simple relay station that way? My curiosity was burning by then, and I began mapping the whole place.

There were rooms made for dining, recreation, sleeping… clearly, someone lived there. Or had. No life signs had registered on the scan, nor signals that might emanate from an AI. I didn’t find any cryostats, so that left only two possibilities: either the occupant or occupants were away for a while, or they had gone for good.

And then, I found the fan room, and even I felt helpless and baffled.

No word of a lie: it was covered in memorabilia, images, screens rolling continuous news stories… the works. It was a homage to one person, and one person only. Whoever lived here had an unhealthy obsession such as I’d never seen. And the object of their adulation, dear reader, was yours truly.

That’s right. I’d stumbled on the living space of an Owota Dszira fan. And at this point, I could ask, “all right, which of you is it? Comment below please, and put me out of my misery!” Except that would be stupid. Nobody who reads this blog has a secret hideout on Mars, unless I’ve seriously underestimated my audience.

I just couldn’t grasp what I was looking at. There were images of me working on my Cockpoppies in my lab (where had they got those?); video of me piloting my Minicruiser; even photos from the Academy. Unbelievable. I felt like the introverted winner of a reality TV show.

At one end of the room was an odd device, of a design I’d not encountered before. It had a headset attached to it, and a simple interface consisting of a green button. The headset was about my size, leading me to suspect that my unwitting host was humanoid.

I’m not sure whether the bizarre surroundings had addled my brain, but I’m sorry to say that I was rather foolish. Yes, that’s right: I decided to put on the headset and press the green button, to see what happened. I regretted it immediately.

It’s very hard to describe what happened next, but the best I can manage is to say that it was like being launched in a railgun with magnetic loops, only the acceleration was insane, the loops got closer and more numerous until a tiny space within my head seemed full of an infinitude of them, and then… BANG! It happened.

Dear reader, I wish I could explain what happened, but I can’t. Something quite mystical, and currently still beyond my powers of analysis. It was like being infinitely connected to my surroundings. Every slightest twitch of my head made me extremely dizzy, as if everything had an odd sort of inertia to it, space and time lagging behind my movements. I tried pressing the green button again, but nothing happened, and I guessed that the only way to stop this thing was to speak a voice command. I also tried to see whether I might be able to remove the headset, but the moment I touched it, an alarm sounded – so I decided that might be a stupid idea. Who knew what the thing was doing to my brain?

And, believe it or not, I’m still sitting here in this room, trying to think of how to escape. I’m sort of getting used to the feeling of infinity, but it’s like looking through a tube of endless universes, and it’s starting to make me feel sick. I managed to use my comm pad and write this account, which I’ve sent off to Mike for publication. I’ll give you an update when – or if – I ever escape this surreal booby trap.