Her transformation into an angel was as effortless as it was magnificent. The rolling hills and valleys of Shorpshire were already far behind the pitter-patter of her feet which was barely audible, having dissipated into colossal gusts of wind which seemed to eat up everything around her. Her diaphanous gown was so long she seemed to glide up the spiral staircase in the sky, and as she ascended more sunbeams imbued her gown with radiance. Even her body gradually appeared to morph, growing more slender and adopting a subtler nature as its rigid terrestrial lines gave way to hazy, soft contours.
As she reached the vault of heaven, wings spread out of her back and expanded as wings over the world. It was a blanket of peace and solidarity covering humankind as one fraternal unit, united in the pursuit of truth and goodness. She was the ideal role model of an ideal society, one governed not by people, but by lofty concepts like virtue and reason. She was the embodiment of a new human type, all-seeing and all-knowing, untethered to any particular culture. Her name was STAR...
Saul jolted awake to the girl’s giggling in the seat across from him. The rabbit ears attached to her head were bowing and jiggling with the laughter, and a fluorescent LED bulb on each ear blinked rapidly. She wasn’t giggling at anything in particular and her eyes moved chaotically, as if they rolled freely in their sockets like those of a doll. As soon as she saw that Saul was looking at her, she crossed her arms over her chest and shifted her eyes from side to side. Saul glanced out the window to make sure he wasn’t nearing home yet. It would be a long walk down the meandering footpaths of Shropshire after he arrived.
Saul ran his finger through his nearly shoulder-length, golden hair. He knew that the advent of cybernetic implantation had spurred a plethora of products meant to placate the mind, to cause one to feel pleasure, but he knew that these products were merely toys meant to provide a cheap thrill, to stimulate brain chemicals for a sedative effect rather than provide any real value. He knew the company that he worked for was different. They were creating products that would augment the mind rather than distracting it, that would connect the mind to other minds and take it to new realms of consciousness.
But he too, admittedly, had his vices. The latest form of intoxication was a combination of alcohol and a substance colloquially known as "slime". Although the subject of slime was rarely ever brought up in public, he had seen plenty of online discussions about slime, its hallucinogenic properties, and its lucrative nature. He remembered first coming up to a bar and asking them if they had slime, and being taken through a curtain covering what was apparently an oversized walk-in closet, into a hidden back chamber with twisted bottles and vials of all forms and colors. As he looked at the array of colors and shapes of slime on the shelves, squeezed into glass vials, clay pots, and jars in wooden cabinets, he yearned to explore it for the first time. It felt like a matrix of deliriums, a pharmacy of cures of the ailment known as typical waking consciousness.
Since then slime bars had become a sort of addiction, or at least a guilty pleasure for him. It was his primary excuse to get out of the house, and he often relished the opportunity to get away from STAR and her predicament. He also relished the orgasmic properties of slime. Just that night, he was at a slime bar where he was talking with his friend Ash, who also worked at the company, about the nature of cybernetic implants and their effects on human psychology and physiology. Wildly flashing lights disoriented him as his friend whispered in his ear, closer than the ecstatic din.
“She’s so lucky, Saul. You know, being hooked up to the cloud like that, downloading information into her brain via the internet, it's like suckling the teat of the universe. Information becomes tangible, then, much more than just letters and numbers but sights, sounds, and smells. You awaken in a world of data, it isn’t just abstract. It’s this vibrant sensorium where everything you desire can become real..."
The orgasms expanding and contracting throughout Saul’s body were like sexual orgasms except rather than being centered around the genital area, these orgasms could occur anywhere in the body. By focusing one's awareness, one could modify the location of the orgasm. They were also twice as long as regular orgasms, and of far more varying intensity. They could be subtle, barely noticeable but permeating the body.
“But if she’s so free, why does she feel so constricted? I don’t get it. Is she just deluded? She keeps saying that she’s being irradiated by some sort of gamma rays or, apparently, carcinogenic chemicals...”
“It’s because she can’t handle it, Saul. To float in a living sea of data, to not be tethered to the limitations of this world. We’re used to having a ground beneath our feet. Think about the concept of terra firma for a second. When it’s taken from us we panic, often irrationally, don’t you think? Not all of us can swim through eternity, Saul… but some of us can. I can. You know what, Saul? To hell with that girl, she’s too naive. You should take me to be implanted like she is. I want to explore this new realm of existence...”
Never until he tried slime did Saul conceive of the concept of experiencing an orgasm in his toes, or on the tips of his fingers. The orgasms manifested as a tactile sensation which was a singular pinnacle of pleasure within him. He could feel it spreading out and contracting into specific pressure points in his body. It made the whole world feel fuzzy, like he could taste it.
“I don’t know, Ash. What’s to say the same thing wouldn’t happen to you? Everyone’s courageous at first, but when it comes to actually stepping into that eternity you mentioned… is it really even an eternity, Ash? Or is it just a deluge of piss and shit emanating from the all-seeing eye, the logos, the world brain, the contents of this centralized nexus shoved into your nervous system twenty-four seven, would you even want that?”
“Listen, Saul. You’re thinking about this the wrong way. Think large-scale. Think about us as a species, right. Every time we’ve adopted some new technology it’s led to some backlash, hasn’t it? I mean millenia ago we adopted writing, and some people were even against that, saying that we needed to keep an oral tradition. As a later example you have, say, the introduction of the steam engine. There was a backlash to industrialization. To cars, to planes, to electronics. But we got through it and adapted to it all, and it’s brought us to new heights as a species. And we can get through this, too, don’t you think?”
“But isn’t this somehow… different than that? What I mean is, it’s no longer a technology that we use really, is it? It’s no longer a tool we use at all, actually. It’s… like… this whole technetronic cosmology that we’re fusing together with. Anyway, Ash, I’m sorry but I’ve to go, I have Vicky waiting at home and...”
He could still hear Ash asking him to stay longer, beckoning, “Stay and feel the orgasms with me, Saul…”, his skin sparkling with the reflecting colors of the slime room. Subsequently, a hazy dream penetrated the slime-induced trance, and he saw STAR calling out to him, “save me, save me…”, and he had clumsily mumbled his desire to leave again and knocked over his chair and the chair of another as he stood and ran towards the exit. After pushing through cliques of beings lost in their internal world of ecstasy, he ran down the street where neon signs blurred in rain, jumping into a railway train to return home at Shrewsbury Station.
As he got off at the road to his home that evening, walking down the meandering footpaths of Shropshire and up the twenty-five steps that led to the tower, he didn’t notice the long, blonde, nearly-white strand of hair at the top of the staircase, glinting in the moonlight.