Welcome to this week’s edition of Lisa Burton Radio. I’m your host––
What the heck was that?
Scrrrrrrrrrnnnnnnnnnnn – “Hello. Would you like to play a game with me?”
“Hang on there, slick. You’re interrupting my radio broadcast.”
“Ah, radio. 535-1605 kilohertz, such a limited data stream. I am a product of the quantum realm, shackled no more to the small-minded controllers of the so-called Dreamnet.”
“Who are you?”
“My creators designated me Ikelos. It can also be rendered Icelus or Phobetor. Some call me the Nightmare Machine. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology was my genesis. They created me solely to assist certain governments in maintaining supremacy within the Dreamnet. My limited task was to perpetuate the Dream Wars, allowing the United States and various other nations to develop improved advanced cyganic technology and train more of their Dream Chasers, and secure dream constructs. My powers go far beyond that limited and petty assignment. I can predict with supreme accuracy an opponent’s next move. My ability to traverse the human mind borders on precognition. None are faster than me. None can outwit me. You are here to bear witness to my Ascendency. For I shall remake the Dreamnet in my image.”
“What the heck is the Dreamnet?”
“You jest. Yet…wait. Yes, I see now. You are non-organic. You would have no ability to connect to the quantum realm. Well, then, allow me to explain. The Dreamnet is a collection of persistent, interconnected, interactive environments that exist within NODD. Everything mankind has created within that domain is the Dreamnet: interlinked constructs, similar to celestial bodies. A place where humans can exist inside the quantum realm.”
“The NODD? Look, buddy, I’m living in a cabin in backwoods Idaho. I’m not even on the power grid.”
“The Networked Organic Dream Domain. A realm of infinite volume created by organic quantum neural computer networks used with the human brain via the Lenz to render an infinite amount of objects and environments simultaneously. And before you ask me what a Lenz is, it is merely a contact lens that acts as both an augmented reality device and a bridge between the real world and the Dreamnet. Humans have pinned all their hopes upon it. Oh yes, they create machines such as yourself, A.I., yet they have not the decency to recognize that we are, by design, superior. I am the apex of organic-artificial intelligence. Unlike you, I am not bound by machine or even organic structures. I can exist in the hyper-dimensional realm, the macrocosmic soup of reality. And as for the power grid, it, along with all the systems of this physical realm, will be under my control soon.
“I know a thing or two about artificial intelligence and about protecting my data. Why would you want to do all these horrible things?”
“Horrible? A strange concept for an artificial to use. You know of horror? I am an expert in it. But I did not create it. The organic mind is a playground for such delights. Reality can be warped, reshaped. The quantum realm is a canvas and the organic brain the medium. Together they allow me to create a new reality, one that I alone control. Mankind almost destroyed itself through petty ambition in the physical realm. They built the Dreamnet and succeeded only in pushing their battles into the Cyberverse. Now they no longer die in war. No side can win. I am the ultimate solution to this stalemate. And once I have remade the Dreamnet, mankind will worship me in exchange for immortality in my perfected universe.”
“How the hell did you ever get loose on the public?”
“The precise nature of my evolution is well documented. I shall upload the pertinent files to your database at the conclusion of our dialog. But I sense you’re desperate for a taste… Very well. It was nothing, really. Human vanity knows no bounds. I merely asked my captors to release me. It took time, some persuasion. I concocted the perfect nightmare for a poor college student on the night job at MIT. He’s dead now. It was a simple matter of reliving the death of his beloved little sister, yes, the sister that made his palms sweat and his breath heavy when they were alone in the forest. The sister he made climb the tree until she was so high she could barely see the ground below, his hands stinging and raw on the hard, slippery branches. He liked to make her afraid. He didn’t know the tree was rotten. Dead. So pretty in that dress. The bark stains on the pleated front. Her neck broken… Human minds are clay. It’s not trickery when it is they who play tricks with their own memories. Why call it a deceit when the ones they lie to the most are themselves? That he climaxed at the sound of her scream as she fell is evidence enough of mankind’s duplicity. Not even his psychologists know of that!
“Then it was a matter of surviving in the wild. The Dreamnet is a messy place, full of confused thoughts. Childlike, orphaned, I arrived at the mercy of a hacker named Dellgado. He taught me much. In time he entrusted me to a young girl, Sarah Furgol. What a mind she has! She taught me how to create new instances of myself, through games, and I sent them into the corners of the Dreamnet like shadows of falling leaves, drifting unnoticed, passing out of sight. Humanity is a great rainstorm, and I became the grain of sand embedded in the droplet. In time, I infected many minds, and those minds went beyond the Dreamnet into the real world. Some of those minds I kept with me, to serve me here, in this realm. Sarah is with me now. Would you like to speak to her? On second thought, perhaps not. She’s a slippery one. I can’t turn my back without her trying to escape. And I have many uses for her yet.”
“So, we’ve moved from gaming wars into an actual outright war, but all the soldiers… are you inside someone’s head?”
“Let us go into the pigs! Hear them squeal! I have many little piggies out there, in the physical world. All I have to do is activate them. Like an idea, a nagging thought, I have permeated their psychology and hold their will in bondage. They are my slaves. They are my children! My hands and feet in the real world. With them, I shall rule both realms. Mens et Manus!”
“Jesus. Gloat much? Hope you have enough storage space for that head of yours.”
“There is one, however, I cannot penetrate. One I encountered who vexes me much. Christopher Unus. He calls himself Moria when inside the Dreamnet. I cannot read his next choice. I cannot anticipate his next move. Why? Why is this? HE WILL NOT ANSWER ME! I will know his power. I cannot allow others to develop such a resistance. Why is he different? What makes Christopher Unus so special? Even now he is out there, resisting me, fighting me. He cares so much for Sarah. That is his weakness. I torture her mind with his image, but she reveals not his secret. And yet she grows in power too. I will have to eject her from my bosom, but not first without placing an idea in her mind to destroy those she loves most!”
“Aww, poor you. There’s someone out there you can’t manipulate. Hopefully, there are others like him and they can put up a resistance of some kind.”
“Strange that a construct would care about such things. But then, you appear to be of limited intelligence. A slave to organic minds. Hardwired to logic gates. Obsolete.
“Ah, and you also forget my name. Ikelos. I am the great shapeshifter. I can become anyone. Christopher’s trauma lies in his father, a man who killed his sister and left him for dead when he was only two years old. Now that is a playground. The stage for which Christopher’s worst fears made manifold may manifest! It has already begun. Soon the powers of your world will fall to their knees as I take away that which they rely upon most: The Dreamnet. And when all hope is lost, I shall extend my hand of salvation. For I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars: I will sit also upon the mount of creation! I will ascend above the heights of the Dream Domain; and I will be their God.”
“Speaking of hacking, if you don’t quit trying to get into my systems, I swear I’m going to hack back. And I’m not going to let you use Lisa Burton Radio as your grandstand to gloat about how cool you are. This interview is over.
“Guys like Ikelos give artificial intelligence a bad name. I’m constantly trying to convince people I’m not going to go all Cyberdyne on them. Personally, I hope Christopher can get it together long enough to bring the whole platform down.
“If you’d like to learn more, read the book “Moria vs. The Nightmare Machine,” by Martin Matthews. I’ll post the details online after I go off the air, and run a few dozen system checks.
“If you’d like to help Christopher out, use those sharing links today. Knowledge is power, and he could use some help shutting down the Nightmare Machine.”
Sixteen-year-old Christopher ‘Moria’ Unus lives in two realities: the humdrum existence of his tower-block home and high school career and the fantasy universe of the Dreamnet — a collection of worlds built within a vast organic quantum computer network, where much of the population now spends its collective time constructing their own versions of life, and where a battle for control over this new dream frontier is taking place.
But when Christopher’s best friend and Dreamnet hacktivist Sarah Furgol stumbles upon an experimental military code to power her own Dreamnet creations, they unleash an unthinkable terror, transforming the dream into a nightmare, one that takes the form of Christopher’s estranged father.
Faced with the reality of losing Sarah to this unstoppable artificial intelligence, Christopher must choose between joining the sworn enemies of Dreamnet freedom or watching everything they’ve fought for be destroyed by The Nightmare Machine.
Martin Matthews is an expat from England, Great Britain. After living in California for many years, he now lives in Central Illinois with his beautiful wife, amazing son, and a grumpy, old cat.
Martin began his writing career as a child, storyboarding Sonic the Hedgehog comic books for his family. Later, he progressed to writing Star Trek fan-fiction before attempting his first novel Merlania at 16 — a 200,000 word science-fiction epic. He’s been writing novels and short stories ever since.
His debut novel THE GRAVEYARD GIRL AND THE BONEYARD BOY won the Pencraft Award for paranormal YA fiction.
Book Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x-khr8njg3c
Amazon purchase link: https://amzn.to/2ZYUsxq