It’s pitch black, the moon’s shot it and I’m getting the feeling I’m being watched by a great big circus tent. I’m running low on power again. Dragging the log up the beach wasn’t such a good idea, upon reflection. It was too heavy and waterlogged, as I discovered when we got it close to a streetlight near a park that somehow appeared on my left screen. Suddenly, the screen went blank.
Great, now I’m down to one eye, and I can’t even see a metre in front of me.
To top it all off, the tide’s risen three hundred metres up the beach, leaving us shin-deep in an increasingly frothy surf.
“Freaking tides, still got me jummoxed after eight years in operation,” I rallied bravely, “and yet they call me Davey Dreamnation, Mach 8.0, Ver. [xii] Beta [/fr.wr] !”
“Davey, I ask you,” comes AC’s voice dreamily later, out of the depths of sleep, “some of these relics, even I can’t cheat-code them. They’re like, beyond being digital.”
Yah, they’re so like, a blur, yah?”
No answer. And he was going to light the freaking fire. Just great.
Luckily Yogi’s master had a couple of magic blankets stashed away in his storeroom there, so we didn’t freeze. But we’d had to walk about three miles inland (insea really), to get to a dry street at all. The city’s suburbs, adrift in this freak moondriven engulfment, sagged like mint deprived of water. We waded on.
After tying AC to the nearest TV antenna, I finally got an opportunity to open the relic box. From the roof of our chosen brick house, I could see that the lights of the Sprawl were somewhat shrouded in smoke, or a haze. I popped the box’s antique lid and held it in my lap, keeping the Sprawl’s lights in the corner of my eye. Leftwards.
A kitchy tune erupted from the tinny speaker-mesh taped to the box’s exterior, which I silenced with a deft pressure. Hadn’t played with one of these for two years, yet I still had the touch.
Deft. Great word, that. Uninstall, indeed!
The trick with relic boxes was simple: traditionally, you simply inserted the bus and Bob’s your uncle. Unless, of course, you were a Droid, in which case you plugged the node right against your temple and flicked a small “VOLTAGE” switch on your sternum. Seems they didn’t design us Y2Ks to channel voltage, so we got the optics instead. Explains the eyes.
Which reminded me that I’d better get back to my “home”, my “humble abode” at some point, before I went completely blind.
I jacked in the pass code for my grid. Somehow it booted me, and I made it home unhinged. Where I grabbed the eyes from is anyone’s guess. All I know is, I had a dozen in my pockets when I could finally reach in, grab, yank out and see them, coiled in cotton wool and rubber bands, priceless as crystals, my digital orbs whirring in the dark.
Out the window, through the harmonica mist, I saw the Sprawl’s smokes rising, like good feelings from the barrell of a Scancil. When I fell asleep, the relic box sensed my unconsciousness, and quietly began the intricate mechanical processes which led to the activation of its screen saver, a small nod to history perhaps, in the depths of which, it is sometimes told, humans looked at relic boxes in their beds, before blowing candles and curling up to see the stories of their dreams played out.