I’m back, after a busy Christmas/New Year. Today’s prompt really caught my imagination and I want to pursue this idea further.
Hannu was surrounded by an infinite sea of black. In every direction it extended forever, unbroken and unblemished. The black was so complete it seemed there was an absence of absence. Even knowing that he floated in the centre of a sensory deprivation sphere failed to effect the endless emptiness. The walls couldn’t contain this volume of space because they didn’t exist, so completely was he lost in his waking dream-state.
Out of the black-without-black came a single point. It lacked detail because no detail could exist in a one-dimensional space. But even without width or depth Hannu could still discern patterns within it. Someone else was in the void with him.
There was no way to tell where they were. Space extended in all directions, and didn’t exist at all. Reaching out with his thoughts, he bridged the gap, a synapse between two minds. Information flowed across the gap. Experience had taught Hannu to keep his mind empty. More than empty, a negative pressure space. When another’s thoughts touched his mind, they would expand out to fill the empty space. The thoughts carried information with them, only to leave much of themselves behind as sediment, like the tide returning to the sea, tide pools standing in its wake.
The other dreamer was different. Not the way every dreamer was different, not some fluke of cognition or neurology, but alien. Cold. Sharp. It poured into Hannu’s mind, no reticence for the parts of itself that would be left behind. This was the hardest part, not thinking about not thinking. Not thinking about the potential data to be remembered once the other was gone. Not thinking. Not. Thinking.
And then it was over. The bladed thoughts folded themselves away neatly and filed back out the way they came, all insectile efficiency. Hannu waited without knowing he was waiting because he was still not thinking. Waiting to make sure the strange mind had really gone. The point in the void seemed to move away, to recede without the limitless world having depth. When it was finally gone, Hannu allowed himself to think again.
The boundless realm he had inhabited moved inward. Walls existed once again. He opened his eyes to the absolute black of the sensory deprivation sphere. With a practised ease, he drew up his legs to his chest while extending his arms forward. The movements created a slow spin, and when the angle was right, he pushed his legs back out. His feet made contact with the side of the sphere and pushed him toward the other side. He reached forward and when they contacted the soft surface of the wall, he pushed. A triangular section hinged out, letting in a blinding spear of light. Anchoring his hands on either side of the opening, Hannu gently guided his body out, into the light.
Outside the sphere, Simone floated next an illuminated control panel. She didn’t even raise her head as Hannu drifted to a halt beside her. Still barely able to see, he reached for the fibre cable nib protruding from the console. It whizzed as it unspooled, and made a gentle click as Hannu inserted it into the access jack behind his right ear. A progress bar appeared on the screen immediately before his face. Slowly, Simone turned her head, meeting Hannu’s eyes. Not willing to speak yet, Hannu smiled, barely moving his lips. The moment between them seemed to stretch for an eternity, only ending when the progress bar completed its journey. The computer sounded a gentle tone, telling them its work was done, the recovered data ready to be reviewed. This would be a big score.