Welcome to the Outzone

The day starts slowly in the Outzone as the light from a distant star is reflected across the galaxy by a series of giant mirrors, rotating in minor increments to simulate the beginnings of light round about 3am on the place I call home. The old sun was moved for tax reasons a long time ago, its warm glow a distant memory, depleted by the early millennium attempts to brand it. The first giant coke logo went quite well, merely creating a dark zone in Africa where the kids grew up with no resistance to sun, an almost preternatural ability to see in the dark and an intense hatred of caffeine based products. The second mission from Nike went rather less well as halfway through drawing the ‘Swoosh’, a part of the sun blew off taking out the colonies at Rigel 3 and making the decision inevitable to move it to somewhere where its supernova brightness wouldn’t ruin the experience for tourists quite so much.

So now the light bearing down on the lonely figure comes from further away – Alpha Centauri and beyond, moving out in light tunnels ten thousand miles wide, bouncing off of the reflectors at the light hub constellations, increasingly known for their lawless behaviour and the threat of someone putting the light out, before hitting the filtering station at Saturn, which removes some of it radioactive properties, colours it according to the telephone vote of the previous day and sends it onward, warming people lying by the pool and enabling people going about their business to see. Branding is much easier these days because you can apply your logo directly at the filtering stage, removing much of the risk of destruction and merely causing waving of fists in the areas of the planet that end up shaded for up to a month by the ligature points of a logo, before the advert changes to something else.

Of course, none of this light stuff means all that much to the figure because he is totally blind and anyway, doesn’t really give a fuck about sunlight. An early convert to the virtual brainsets of 2042, photorealistic head pods that plugged directly into your brain to stimulate every experience of a game or televisual experience as though it were real life. Why go outside and meet people when you can load up fourth life and walk around wearing better clothes, meeting attractive women/men (delete as appropriate) who hang on your every word. Why not go out on a three day coke session when it doesn’t hurt your nose? Why get a job when in the world of the screen, you rule a mighty army, you’re hanging about like the rat pack, throwing out epithets like confetti, an endless hullabaloo.

Inevitably, there’s a catch because all the while you are hooked up to the mainframe, talking to the digital recreation of Lindsay Lohan, having custody battles with Britney Spears and scheming on caving in Pete Docherty’s face, somewhere back in your flat, your body is sitting in a heap, sweating and voiding itself, your eyes peeled back and your eyes slowly drying out from lack of blinking, your brain dying from lack of thinking about anything other than what colour tie goes best with a cerise Ralph Armani suit.

It was common around about that time to see the decaying bodies of the half alive slumped in the vid kiosks, their only hope that their phone credit would run out and some half scrupulous character at the banking corporations would pull their overdraft before they went past the point of no return. This rarely happened because the workers in the banks were on commission and anyway since the buyout by Starbucks had to divide their time between paying in cheques, giving unsuitable mortgages, not answering the phone, with making lattes and playing awful middle of the road jazz albums.

Patrick was lucky in some respects, 30 days into his epic voyage, 30,000 miles under your consciousness, a carrier of the B3 disease, saw him for a soft touch and attempted to pick his pockets on breaking into his apartment looking for a place to crash and shoot some mendephol. However, having no hands he fucked up the extraction process, pressing the wrong button on his hover cane, pumping a few 100 volts of electricity into Patrick’s piss stained tracksuit bottoms instead of magnetizing out his wallet. The result for Patrick was that his fucking of Shannon Docherty was interrupted as his headset rebooted, confused by the introduction of too much power. For a fleeting second Patrick knew who he was again, knew where he had been and knew that he was in trouble (at the same time he was regretting that it had all been a dream).

The B3 carrier sensed his target’s vulnerability was fast fading, dived in with both stumps, managing to put one in Patrick’s throat and one in the squishy part near the kidney’s. Patrick took umbrage from this, tore the headset off his face before bringing it down in a clattering fashion on his assailant’s head. After 30 days he was intensely weak, but he was lucky, B3 sufferers have soft heads from a chronic deficiency of iron and the erosive effects of the disease. The head in question popped like a grape and Patrick was left lying in his own filth, covered in stinking brains and rapidly starting to realise he couldn’t see shit. His headset was blinking out an unseen ‘Game Over’ message, his bank account was empty and that meant the enforcers from Claims Direct were already on their way.

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