I Dreamed a Dream in Times gone by
Bach looked up at a setting sun, his eyes reflecting light in a way he knew they had never done. He was young, a child maybe, or perhaps so old he felt young again. It didn’t matter. The sun looked down at him with gears that made its rays shift in color and form, a small computer screen giving it an ominous look as it set on a dark city of tall buildings and neon lights. Bach watched the city flash with greens and blues and oranges, signs which would lead him in different directions and along different paths. He was young, and there would be choices to make, he knew. But somehow, he felt like the choices would all be made for him. As the sun went down, the sound of machines spinning grew so loud he covered his ears and the back of his head burst with pain.
Bach was at a movie theater watching a film noir. The old black and white style appealed to him as he tested his new eyes, switching the lenses on a cavity that was filled by a horrifying fleshy membrane—he wanted to scream every time he saw himself in the mirror. The film screen showed a man’s head, the area just under the skull open and revealing a spinal cord, small needles prying apart thin strands of nerves and cigarettes, tobacco spilling down into the crevice of the man’s spine. All Bach could hear was whistling, jovial and light-hearted as the spinal cord was severed and methodically torn open. A needle pulled back the last cigarette-tendon to reveal a small box which had a color image. The image was a note, old and faded brown with beautiful scrawling script, the note wrote itself over and over as a voice said in monotone apathy “Can you remove it? Can you remove it?” The note read “Welcome to your life, Ordo.”
Bach felt nauseous watching the film and stood up to run out of the theater. His feet felt heavy and sluggish, and as he looked around he saw the people sitting in the audience. They laughed and pointed at the screen, chuckling to each other and howling at the voice saying “Can you remove it, Retinae?” Each person appeared faceless but Bach could see all the ways in which they could kill him; a hidden gun under this man’s coat, knives hiding in this woman’s belt, poison waiting in that one’s drink. He ran as fast as he could, but he moved as slow as time, hearing the laughs and the screams all around him. Finally he burst through the theater door.
In front of him stood a woman, her hair the only thing he saw. She was black and white but her hair flashed in shades of teal, purples, dark greens, and yellows. Bach knew she was beautiful though he couldn’t see her face. He reached out to her. In his hand he saw a gun and tried to drop it. A HuD covered his vision; it showed the vital organs of the girl, who looked at him curiously. Bach screamed. The girl’s chest grew red amidst the grey of her body and she stood there, watching him. He walked over to her wanting to apologize. Her hair flashed in different colors as red spread along her entire body like fire. She opened her mouth to speak.
“REGERE INFIRMA, MUNDATA PER IGNEM, FINEM MUNDI.” The words reverberated in Bach’s ears, causing him to fall to his knees as the woman walked towards him, her entire body red as her hair strobed more colors than Bach thought possible. Bach tried to scream but his voice was gone, the only thing he could do was strain his vocal chords as the unearthly speech pounded his brain. The back of his head burst in pain. The woman grabbed him by the throat and lifted him high into the air, screaming the words at him as her face contorted and shifted. Her eyes were empty except for a small datalink in the center, her mouth a cavern of gears, lights, needles, and lenses, her nose blew out smoke, and her hands were claws that squeezed the air of out Bach’s body. Finally, he found his voice and shouted “SPINAE!”
Bach looked up and saw a tranquil pond. It was night with only the neon light from the moon giving the pond a shimmering appearance. He was whole again; younger than he ever was, he knew, and free from guilt. He walked into the water, feeling the warmth it granted and saw programming code swirling around his hands as he dipped them into the ripples, trying to catch a fish that was coded with a familiarity that escaped him. He laid down into the water, dust flying into the air as he fell into the warm cocoon of liquid. He looked up out of the water at the moon and saw the coded fish leap out and disappear into the lunar light, its neon glow softly pulsing every second. On the surface of the moon the fish turned into a countdown, quietly ticking. Somehow, it felt right. As he opened his mouth, water flowed in and Bach wondered if he might die soon, though it didn’t hurt or burn as he thought it might.
“So different now from what it seemed; now life has killed the dream I dreamed.” Bach closed his eyes and drowned.