Click on image to enlarge.
by Lee Gimenez
Category: Science Fiction/Fantasy
Description: Virtual ThoughtStream is a page-turning thriller set in the year 2085. In a future where a horrific virus has killed off most of the people on Earth, advanced androids run the world. To keep the remaining humans safe and ensure the survival of the species, the benevolent androids force people to live in luxurious but confining Parks.
Jack Walker, a former Army captain, escapes from one of the Parks to seek his freedom. An android police detective, Agent Tesa, is assigned to capture him and bring him back. The beautiful Tesa is a series 19, the most advanced type of android, with human-like appearance, but also with Virtual ThoughtStream, a synthetic thinking process that makes them smarter than people and allows them to feel human emotions.
eBook Publisher: Double Dragon Publishing/Double Dragon Publishing, 2010 Double Dragon eBooks
eBookwise Release Date: September 2010
16 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [301 KB]
Reading time: 185-259 min.
New Eden. June 3, 2085
Jack Walker opened his eyes and knew today his life would change. He'd been thinking about it for two years, planning it for one. Now the time had come. For better or worse, there was no going back.
He glanced at Maria, sleeping next to him on the bed. Beautiful Maria. If only he could have convinced her to go with him. Then he looked through the sleek glass walls at the end of the luxurious bedroom, seeing the darkness of the night, dawn not yet broken. Noting the time on his wrist comp, he slipped quietly out of bed.
"Don't go," she whispered. The room was dimly lit, but he could still see the outline of her delicate face as she sat up.
"I'm sorry, Maria. I can't stay here anymore."
"But we're safe here."
Jack nodded. "That's the point."
"It'll get better. You'll see. Just give it time...Zurk says --"
"Zurk's a liar."
"Please, Jack, don't go..."
"Come with me."
Her eyes showed fear, and she shook her head slowly.
He walked around to her side of the bed and caressed her face with his hand. "I'm sorry it has to end like this."
Jack turned and walked into the dressing room, where he picked out his clothes. He dressed in black clothing and filled a backpack with the supplies he needed. Then he took out a small knife and looked closely at his right thumb. Gritting his teeth, he jabbed the knife into the thumb, cutting deep into the skin. With the knife he pried out the locator chip imbedded there and placed the chip in a closet drawer. Then he bandaged his thumb, slipped the backpack on and headed toward the front door.
"Open," he said.
"I'm sorry, Mr. Walker," it said, "your sleep segment is not complete."
The door slid open and he walked out into the night, rounding toward the gardens in the back. Slowly, his eyes adjusted to the darkness. It was a cloudy night, the moon casting a faint light on the elaborate gardens, pools and fountains that sprawled on the grounds of his assigned estate.
He hugged the back wall of the mansion and slowly approached the cluster of security cameras mounted on the wall, ten feet up from the flagstone deck. Reaching into his backpack, he took out a cable cutter and cut the thick cable that snaked down from the cameras. The red light of the backup camera came on, and he cut that cable also.
Glancing at his comp, he knew he didn't have much time. Jack sprinted south through the gardens, to the back gate a mile away. Halfway there, a security android drove up in a carbox. The carbox stopped in front of him, and the droid got out. It was wearing the usual blue security uniform.
"Mr. Walker," it said, "your sleep segment is not complete."
"I know," Jack said. "Couldn't sleep. Thought I'd take a stroll -- clear my head."
"Mr. Walker, the security cameras have malfunctioned. You need to go back inside, sir, where you'll be safe."
Jack smiled. "I thought I'd go for a walk, outside the gates."
"You know that's not permitted, sir. Not without an escort."
"Maybe just this once?"
"I'm sorry, sir."
Jack shrugged. "Okay, have it your way." He turned around and started to walk toward the house. Then he stopped, took off his backpack and took out a laser weapon. Turning back toward the android, he leveled the gun at it.
"Sir, you're not allowed to have weapons."
Jack pressed the trigger, and a bolt of red light struck the droid, burning a deep hole in its torso. The android crumpled to the ground, and the acrid smell of burnt plastic and metal hung in the air.
"There's a lot of things I'm not supposed to have," Jack said. Then he walked to the carbox, got in and drove toward the gate.
Southeast Security Control Center. June 3, 2085
The alert light came on over the image of estate 319. Tesa looked at the wall of images at the end of the room and tapped her control board keypad. The hundreds of small images dissolved, replaced with a large one of 319.
She spoke into the open com. "Director, we've got a problem in New Eden, estate 319."
"What's the problem?" Zurk replied into her headset.
"The house cameras are down, and the security guard is not responding to my signal."
"Who lives at 319?"
"Jack Walker and Maria Walker, contract partners." "I'll be right down," Zurk said.
Using satellite cameras, she zoomed tighter on the house, checking the front lawn, then moving to the back.
Zurk walked in the room and sat down next to her at the control board. "What do you have?"
"Nothing yet," she said, still glued to the image in front of her. "I dispatched a security team -- they'll be there in a minute. I'm checking the grounds for anything --"
"Look, Tesa, in the back gardens. You see that?"
Tesa zoomed in for tighter look. "It's the security guard..."
The android was on down on the ground, not moving. It was an older model, a Series 16. Its badge number and series number were clearly visible on the lapel of its uniform.
"What the hell's going on, Tesa?"
"Don't know, sir."
"Check the locator chips -- I want to know where they are."
Tesa tapped on her keypad, and a series of numbers superimposed over the image of the grounds. "Maria is still in the house," she said. "In the bedroom...but Walker...his chip's malfunctioning. It appears it's not embedded anymore."
Zurk slammed his hand on the control board. "That's impossible. Re-scan."
Tesa tapped again, but the results were the same. Just then they saw the security team arrive at the estate. Half of the team went into the house, the other half fanning out over the property. A few minutes later, they heard the security team leader over the open com. "We've got a serious breach," he said. "The locks on the back gate have been blown off, the house security guard is inoperative and there's a missing carbox. We can't find Jack Walker."
"What about Maria?" Tesa asked.
"She's here, but she refuses to talk."
"Damn it," Zurk said, "this can't be happening. Tesa, I'm putting you in charge of this. I'll assign someone else to manage the control center. Go to 319 immediately. And you report only to me. No one else."