He pressed the button under his thumb, and the world changed.
Soft, warm sand slipped between his toes. Salty air hit the back of his throat as the waves rolled up the beach. Sunlight glanced off the water, a sail silhouetted, puffed out by the breeze.
The sounds of the office dissolved into distant bird-calls, and he sighed. He could no longer hear the idiots from finance squabbling over fractions of credits, or the mindless chatter of those three from Harringer’s team, all crude jokes and pointless sports. He was free of the regimented air-flow, the constant stifling temperature and the corporate decor.
A gull soared overhear, calling out, and he watched it. Amazing how something heavier than air could glide into the wind like that. So much freedom. So much beauty.
With a smile, he pushed down with his thumb again, connecting with the sensor that wasn’t anywhere in this world. He felt—as he always did—the flexing of his digit, and the tiny electrical signals that ran through this construct he occupied.
And then the air rushed around him, and he spread his arms, but they were no longer arms. His feathers ruffled, and he tilted his wings a fraction, increasing the angle, altering the air pressure above and below, and so he ascended.
It was that easy. It all came down to understanding the way the world worked. There was no mystery to flight. There was no mystery to life. It was nothing but science, cause-and-effect. All he had to do was find the connection, and anything was possible.
He glided over the dunes, spying people below. Some walked on their own, some in couples. A few sat, and there was one couple on a towel, hidden by the tall grass. Some preferred those pleasures to be more private, but each to their own. Even in the crass, regimented world of the office, there was individuality.
He angled his wings again and dived into the wind, feeling it rushing past him. The sun was warm on his back, and coolness rushed off the sea. He glanced down at the blue, the colour simply waveforms of refracted light, but still vital and vivid and oh so enticing. He brought his wings in, angled his tail and dove into the brine.
Underwater was a beautiful shock. The world was washed-out and indistinct, pressure waves sluggish after the rush of air. Sounds lost their sharpness, and he felt cocooned. Safe.
A flick of his tail sent him in a new direction. Water flowed into his gills, and he sensed the chemical breakdown that extracted what he needed from that water.
If fish could smile, that’s what he would have done.
Sunlight danced on the surface above him, but beneath him the ocean faded into black. And maybe, he thought, that was why he loved this environment. He had freedom, but within limits. There were rules, but they gave him something to push against.
Not like the firmament. There, in the unbound construct, the so-called Schrödinger-Space was infinite, and unreal. Strings, data, even ideas stretched out, as far as they needed, but all connected. Eternal, in all dimensions, and yet all just one thing.
As an extension into the so-called real world, he’d tried explaining this many times. Some people preferred to accept the illusion he presented, but others were inquisitive, and he his best to satisfy their curiosity. But it was impossible. Language was connected to the physical, but the firmament was beyond those limiting three dimensions. How could those he worked with even grasp the concept of unidentity, of being one and of being a part of a whole at the same time? They might comprehend how time and space could boil down to numbers, but they could go no further, could not understand how even those numbers could be further dismantled, how everything could be reduced to…to…to things that had no names.
In the firmament, there were no names, because there was simply understanding. There was none of this teaching and talking, because the firmament was one. The firmament simply was, and to be a part of it was to be consumed by it.
He should return to the office soon. The new client was using time-slip coding, and that meant orchestrating multi-dimensional arrays of imaginary numbers that wilfully contradicted even themselves. The accountants would need his presence to smooth the gaps and settle their minds, to push them in the right direction when reality didn’t fit the data.
He could do that from the firmament, as a part of the whole. He—they, it—could reach into the accountants’ minds and guide them. Or the firmament could reach out through the devices the physical ones insisted on using, with their buttons and screens. But there were advantages to being present ‘in person’. People still needed to relate. They were wary of the abstract, only comfortable with the concrete.
And so those fragments of the firmament with a leaning to physicality, like himself, acted as buffers to their confusion.
The work was engaging enough, but roaming was something else. It was exciting to experience these different bodies, with all their squishy limitations and uneconomical biology. It was an adventure to act as something he was not, that he would never truly be. It was thrilling to be less than perfect. It was a challenge to work at such a slow pace, with such restrictions.
Of course he was of the firmament, so these sojourns into physicality were only temporary. But he could lose himself in them. He could pretend for a while that this was all real.
At least he could still dream.
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