Connection: Keep Alive - Part 1
Connection: Keep Alive - Part 2

The first thing he saw with his real eyes was a blinding green light, mottled and distorted with months of sleep crusting his eyes. He could feel the whiskers on his face stuck to his skin, the saline solution that filled the interior of the sensory deprivation inner chamber of his crèche feeling like a thick layer of mucus covering him from head to toe. He heard the whoosh of the crèche’s lid opening. Mu could barely open it, his arm filled with lethargic fatigue. As the lid swung open, its lights shut off and he was bathed in a muted darkness, like a bedroom whose only illumination came from a tiny night light. Every muscle ached with lethargy, but he managed to sit up. The gorge rose in this throat, and he promptly threw up over the side, a wracking spasm of dry heaves that shook him for long minutes.

Mu carefully crawled over the side, avoiding the puddle at the foot of the crèche. He could barely stand, but every second he stayed awake brought more feeling into his legs, dispelling the needles that crawled up and down his veins. He leaned over to steady himself. Underneath his hand sat another crèche.

The room he found himself in was probably forty feet square, unadorned and dark, like a prison or barracks. Crèches filled every inch of the place, all dimly lit, their inhabitants unaware of him. The room’s lighting flickered and Mu finally noticed the source of the illumination. One wall of the room had a gigantic hole blasted in it, the edges of the hole still smoldering with tiny flames.

Mu saw something then which led him to believe he might still be in the GlobalNet. Hovering in the hole, oblivious to the impossibility of his being, sat a man. About the same age as Mu, the levitating man was Chinese, dressed head to toe in dark clothing that glinted here and there in the light, golden runic shapes barely visible in the flickering light. A hooded cape draped over his back and fell to the floor. “Ah, you’re awake,” the man said, his legs dropping to the floor.

Stunned that the man actually existed, dismayed that he might still be in captivity, Mu replied, “Fuck, I’m still under aren’t I?”

The Chinese man flashed him a bemused smile. “No, you made it out. This is as real as real gets. Though our perceptions certainly cloud our grasp of reality, and perhaps trick us into believing this is the real reality, the quantam reality we all expect, but the math on that isn’t quite solid yet.”

“What?” Mu asked. His head buzzed.