Ananda's Journal, Entry 34

August 13th, 2260 – Pre-dawn

I dreamt that I stood on the rooftops of the Terra Nova arcology. It was a wasteland of solar panels and air-handlers – lit by the odd indicator light, monitored only by machines. The sky was shrouded in clouds but I was aware of the stars hanging cold and bright above them. Motes of shadow swarmed in the air like gnats, cool to the touch. Faint relief in the oppressive heat and humidity of the monsoon season.

It was not yet raining. I had not yet been spotted. Neither of which meant that I could get away with being careless. I was barefoot on the ceramicrete and metal roof, bare-handed, unarmed. Carrying nothing but climbing equipment and water. The idiot-savant AI minding the security cameras wouldn’t care. I weaved through the sensors’ blind spots, a ghost among machines.

It started raining while I was partway up the radiator of an air-handler the size of an apartment block. I was less than ten meters from the top when I slipped. The fall left me hanging by one hand from a mag-grip anchor that I’d been standing on just a moment before. The other was… there. Right hand. Two points of contact. Squinting up through the rain, I could see the third a body-length above. I had dropped the fourth.

Thunder reverberated in the niche between radiator flanges as I hauled myself up towards the last anchor, inch by painstaking inch. It wasn’t useful to count the time between lightning and sound; they were too close to distinguish. I was shaking from the effort before I was able to draw a foot up onto that third anchor and take some of the weight off my arms. It would’ve been nice to shake the cramps out of my fingers, but I didn’t know if I’d be able to make them grasp again afterwards.

I rested there, face pressed against the warm metal. Then, searing brightness. Searing pain. Falling. Transcendence. A starscape filled with swarming motes of shadow. That finally touched my internal auditor. I slammed my arm down on a crossbar as I fell past; my sleeping body did the same. My hand landed on Zix’s stock and the feeling of cool gunmetal jolted me awake with a thought ringing in my head like the echo of a gunshot: “That’s not how it was!”

Ananda's Journal, Entry 34

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