Welcome to your Life
Bach looked at a cigarette, wondering if he had had one before. He guessed not. It didn’t look or feel familiar, as he examined it from every angle, turning the cigarette over and twirling it in his fingers gently, careful not to crush the soft paper. If someone had been watching, they might have thought he was a child, the way he looked inquisitively at the object, almost wondering if he dared try it. His eyes had the customary glaze that everyone first noticed about him; as though he saw the world from eyes hidden behind his own. The first thing he had noticed about his eyes were how they were cybernetic. But even cybernetic eyes maintain a light in them; a way of indicating sentience and thought. His looked blank. Not thoughtless, just blank. Finally, having examined the cigarette enough, he took out a lighter and dragged the smoke deep into his lungs.
He’d smoked before.
His body relaxed as the nicotene mixed into his blood and noticably his anxiety decreased. This was a bad sign, he thought, but at least he knew he was a smoker. Such small details are important, even if they left him with more questions. He blew the smoke out in a slow and controlled stream of frustration. Now he’d have to buy more cigarettes. Another expense, he thought.
He walked out of the doorway to his apartment building and onto the neon streets, lit with an eerie glow from lights that never go out, even during the day. He swayed past other pedestrians caught in their own electronic world; HuD glasses that connected them directly to a shopping network or some other triviality that amused them as they walked. Bach’s eyes calibrated distances and targets for him as he moved, identifying safe zones and monitoring other people’s speed, in case he needed to take out his weapon and defend himself. He was always vigilant.
Shops were good places, especially if you’ve never been in one before. Today’s was a coffe shop. He liked to move around, visit different restaraunts and areas so that anyone tracking him couldn’t predict his movements. It made life more interesting that way. He ordered something to drink (he didn’t even look at what it was) and then sat down, plugging into the network, watching as the real world faded into one far more vibrant and evocative than the emotionless faces he saw everyday. Did anyone even notice him, he wondered? Not that he was offended, of course, such anonymity was almost priceless.
Priceless only because he couldn’t remember how much he paid to have his SIN removed. Who removed him from the grid regularly? He didn’t know. He was searching for him (or her, he reminded himself, open to all options), but he didn’t know. Now he listened to the traffic of the wireless, buzzing like an ill-tempered animal as he looked for signals to block, monitor, and investigate. That was his job, after all. Sniffing out the right signals, encoding the wrong ones and decrypting lines that faceless employers paid him for. And always he looked for something else, a handwriting that seemed familiar to him without knowing where or why.
It was the handwriting of the first thing he saw when he woke up, written like the words of creation; Welcome to your new life, Bach.
And he needed to know the name of God.