Proud Infinity pt 22

How many annihilations ago was that?  A thousand?  A million!?

In the absolute darkness of my being and existence Proud had saved me from the darkness of myself, showing me my own light by simply exposing hers.  Taking a few deep breaths, trying to wipe the tears away I recalled some of the positive things I had figured out during the focus of every time after that, since I decided to actually get serious.

Right, remember the things I had figured out even during the darkness.  Like how my repetition of a hundred different phrases and conversation branches allowed me to sleep with numerous girls, showing me I could find out almost anything from anyone with exactly the right prompts.  What was initially fueled by dark sexual desire proved to be very useful in the fact I could use perfect conversation choices positively, and not having anything to do with sex.

The old guy at the fence?  Indeed he was in the Space Forces as he claimed, but he also was a special operator.  What did I learn?  I rubbed my eyes, trying to recall.  Definitely some stuff about infiltration and explosives.  What exactly had he taught me?

What was hard was that I could no longer separate ‘my’ knowledge with what I had learned from others simply teaching me.  A thousand repetitions with the same person, each ‘cycle’ simply advancing the conversation as far as I had learned from the prior cycle, allowing me to eventually learn everything a person was capable of teaching.

I got up and left, slightly energized by the memory I was actually making progress.  Normally later in the day the old man would be over-looking the pit, but long ago figured out where he lived.

I went to his house, knocked on the door and he was much more suspicious and cold compared to his more jovial act at the overlook.

“What do you want?” he asked through a chained door.

“Coding Alpha Delta,” I let it sink in a little.  “We need to talk.”

From my view, I saw the one eye looking at me through the chain blink once, then he unchained the door.  He put the pistol under the slot on the table like he always did, not knowing I had been killed by it quite a few times.

By playing the role of an agent from the highest reaches of Solarian intel, I was able to learn a lot from him.  At this point I was sure I had exhausted everything he had to tell me, but it was a good reminder.

Had I always known that an innocent nano block used to repair stuff could be overrode to create controlled directional explosions?  Had I always known my Liner pistol could be turbo charged simply by taking over the cover and turning the limiter off?

I doubted it, but there was no way to know. Knowledge was a strange thing to me that often hung at the edge of my understanding.  Given all the loops I had been through, what was ‘my’ knowledge melted away into this strange mixture of things I now knew from others.

The old man had just finished showing me how to take the limiter off my Liner pistol; I could probably do it better than him at this point.

“You still have the explosives you were tasked with, right?”

“Are you requesting transference, Operator?” he asked back.

At this point everything was growing dark.

“Negative, just need to make sure.  But I always knew you still did.”  I lifted my Liner pistol up.

“What…are you doing?” he asked, concerned.

“Resetting,”  I said.  I pulled the trigger as I ended my life in a far less painful way.

Proud Infinity pt 20

The killing sprees honed my abilities.  I learned to fight with my fists, knives, my Liner pistol.  Each cycle was a new challenge.  How many could I kill with just my hands, or could I beat my score using my gun?  It became this dark abyss where others only existed to see how many I could blow through.  It didn’t matter when I was maimed, shot or imprisoned, I was reset every morning.

With women it was another challenge and at this point I no longer cared about ‘knowing them’ as it was pointless.  It was easy at gunpoint but didn’t stimulate me the same way of manipulating their minds with perfect words and actions.  My respect for them tanked down to zero.  I could get any girl to be with me, it didn’t matter how loyal or pure she was.  Enough predictive power or perfect words and they all melted.  Eventually that game grew boring as well.

By the way, Proud?  It was easy.  I only had to ask.  She was more than happy for the overwhelming feelings of the physical realm, and indeed it was quite amazing from my end; but that was the largest regret I had.  Amidst my absolute depravity she represented perhaps the one untainted thing in this fractured world I inhabited, and I proceeded to destroy that as well.

My curiosities turned to sorrow and anguish.  The hedonism left me cold and empty, the shallowness overwhelming that I had given in to.  Soon it became a burden, thinking of all the crimes I had committed, even if they were not longer ‘actually done’.  The pointlessness of everything amplified by a thousand experiences I had now come to hate.  Especially what I did with Proud…or maybe it’d be better to say ‘what I did to Proud’.

We had come to love each other through the circumstance we were now in, a deep friendship from the stories we shared.  Our friendship was not one of two different races of a physical being and a near-energy being creating a physical body, but of two consciousnesses that liked each other from so much time together.

Then I had sex with her simply to satisfy a burning question of if she would.  And she did, and she loved it.  As soon as it was over, I started crying.  I was so stupid, so shallow.  Defiling the last totem of sanity in this world left me broken and under no more delusions of how messed up I had become.

What the fuck was wrong with me?  The universe was counting on my freewill to prevent this time fracture, and I was doing this to its incarnation?  I was murdering people, manipulating every woman I could into sex, and fucking LineGod Proud instead of doing anything productive.  I felt endlessly evil for taking advantage of her which I did many times ‘just to make sure’.  That sent me on an even darker spiral for many, many time fractures.

I swung my arm around, trying to grab something else.  I grabbed something soft, pulling it towards me; it was my white shirt.  On the floor, holding the white shirt and the desk brought forth more grim memories of the even further pits I fell into.

‘But she was the sensual one, she wanted it!’  I would lie to myself, trying to justify the single action I hated myself the most for.  My personal best for kills was over a thousand using just a pistol, most women was over ten, and that was due to my own physical limitation, but none of those compared to the final break in sanity by using Proud.

Her name was ‘Proud’ and that was nowhere near what I felt about my actions, only all-consuming regret and self-hatred.  The shame was overwhelming, and then it was eventually mixed with hopelessness of my position.  I had forsaken seeing Proud again because I felt so bad for what I did for so many times before I finally snapped.

Proud Infinity pt 19

But in a way, I was in a game that had a set boundary specifically tied to the time limit.  This made it hard, as I could not do ‘anything’ as there simply was not enough time in this singular day.  Was it even possible to pull off whatever Proud thought needed to be done?  So my options were not limitless, as there was a practical distance I could travel before my ‘time was up’ so to say.

‘Time was up…’

With those thoughts, a huge wave of experiences came flooding over me.  My eyes started watering and I fell backwards.  My eyes zoomed outwards as I fell out of my body.  The simple act of me sitting in my room faded away to nothingness as so much blanketed my mind.

This was not the fourth; this was not even the tenth, even a hundred would be low!  I had been though thousands.  All the experiences came flooding back.  All the cycles lived, and then died.

“Shit…”  I said, holding my head as I rolled down to the floor, my mind hurting so bad with this new awakening.

First were endless denials out of me, the ‘no way this is happening’ of thinking each cycle literally was new, and I had just been dreaming.  Hell, even the last couple of times I thought it was just a dream and I had already been looping thousands of times.

I could see why Proud made a comment about annoyance or something along those lines.  It was frustrating seeing myself constantly deny what was actually happening.  I was trying to ignore the important events like the guy at the fence, the android girl at the spaceport, and the whole bar scene or talking with Proud.  Even though little things like my banter with the android girl, or me gunning that guy down rather skillfully were a bit beyond my normal ability.  With grim realization it was probably hundreds of repetitions that had improved me.

My hand found something, maybe the leg of a desk, and I held on tightly like a sick child.  Even my most recent memories I was not sure had actually recently occurred.  I talked about winning against that guy, but if I had looped so often, I never would have got shot, or avoided it all together.  Thinking about it this way, I felt that there actually was a far deeper well of combat prowess inside me than I currently appreciated.  Honed over thousands of random battles.

The more my head swam, the more I realized how far down the line I was in regards to loops.  The denials lasted forever, but gave way to sadness before darkness.

When I started realizing I was looping, it was perfect to learn about people.  There were women I could get close with and my loneliness faded away for the cycle.  I had met a lot of girls and felt so close to many of them.  But each reset I was greeted with words that cut into my heart deeper and deeper each time hearing them: ‘who are you?’

Nothing that I had done with them remained.  No clever date, no laughs we shared, no talks about our past.  I would remember vague things about them, but no one else perceived the loop, I was just as unknown the hundredth time talking to them, as the first.  The closeness I thought I had with them was an illusion.  It was only in my mind.  That sent me down a dark road as I no longer had this to comfort me given the end I experience without fail.

The terror of dying every cycle started grinding on me until the desperation reached a breaking point.  I started trying to kill myself out of this nightmare, thinking that this simply wasn’t real.  If it was, I would rather be dead than be trapped in this fearful world where nothing I did mattered.  And it ended in absolute pain every single time.

Sitting here huddled on the floor, crying while this multitude of memories flooding back was not fun.  I wondered if every time was like this.  Probably.

The desperate loops were short lived, and then it became rampant hedonism and dark experiences.  When I realized I would indeed be reborn each cycle anew my curiosity took a dark turn.  How many people could I kill before I was stopped?  How many girls could I get within a single cycle knowing the perfect things to say to them from thousands of scripted conversations I had tried?

Proud Infinity pt 18

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“Uhh…” I woke up, looking at the beam of light on my colored pillow.  I woke up from something that had just killed me, of that I was fairly sure.  The longer I sat there thinking the clearer and more coalescing my thoughts became.  I had recalled variations of the unfolding day, at first thinking it was just dreams within dreams but they were too vivid, too painful.  On some level something really messed up was happening here.

I felt this aura or field around me, as if it was a physical medium.  It was dark and thick, like the feeling at graveyards but a thousand times stronger.  The more I lay there the more I could slowly start feeling experiences of sorts wash over me.  It was strong ones at first: fear, anger, lust.  But it had an instructive element to it, that I was relearning or recalling old knowledge or skills I had.  Like grabbing a bicycle after not riding it, I ‘remembered’ on a vague level of stuff rushing back to me.

What was this, the third?  The fourth?  My head swam, and I had a grim feeling somewhere in my mind it was much higher than that.

Maybe I had finally remembered simply by raw repetition of being unraveled.  It appeared to be true what that girl named ‘Proud’ had claimed: I was stuck in a time fracture.  Something at ReCorp had created a particle that was so destructive to our reality that either it or the universe somehow reverberated that destruction back into time to before it occurs to ensure it never actually occurs.

And according to Proud, I was the one who had to stop this.  My stomach dropped; the universe was probably screwed.

At this point I was seriously trying to decide how many times had I ‘lived’ this day.  I remembered the couple recent ones.  But it seemed like the further back ‘times’ I remember, the vaguer they were.  It was entirely possibly I had been through this a thousand, or a million times.

I got up and splashed some water on my face, helping remind me ‘this’ was real.  I sat down against the wall, trying to think critically.

Last time I actually seemed to gleam a lot of information.  I recalled the last loop in pretty good detail, but looking back on it, I knew things I should not have.  There were a lot of things I remember personally saying I was not sure I might normally understand.   I was accepting of a lot of Proud’s crazy ideas, and jumping to conclusions that did not necessarily follow.  What this meant to me is that somehow I knew things I normally should not have.  Maybe indeed I was many iterations into this fracture, and that knowledge was slowly accruing within my consciousness packets or whatever she said I had.

So, the question then was, when do I remember?  Right now I was piecing a little together, but not to the extent I was talking to her last time.  Wait….‘last time’ certainly isn’t the right word, but what else to call it?

I saw my white shirt on the desk and remembered her changing it to pink.  Today was definitely a new cycle, but her show definitely had something important to it, I just could not grasp it yet.  What did it mean that she could change a shirt, but I could not?  There was something profound I was missing.

Sitting there holding the white shirt I was thinking of the people I ran into this day, and how any of them could possibly help me.  One thing that was clear is that I seemed to only remember the most recent resets clearly.  There was no telling how many I actually endured, I might be really early, or really far in.  I’d have to keep that thought in mind.

There were a few major characters excluding Proud that stuck out and maybe had some clues for me.  There was the bartender, either of the two guys I fought, that old man at the pit, and the android girl.  They likely had some key to this.

Proud Infinity pt 17

The story has Trego talking to proud and at this point he is realizing he is stuck in a time loop , and she is the only one who realizes it.  Make sure to check out the past posts if you missed a section!  If you want the entire book it is available on Amazon for 3$ https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01MTB19WD?pldnSite=1

pt 17:

“So the base plane, this plane,” I slapped the ground hard to feel the pain, “is not only destroyed, but somehow affects everything else and consequently is prevented from coming to conclusion?”

“That is essentially it.”

“And for all intents, you cannot change anything, because this is not your actual realm.  You have to have a physical being do it because we are not bound by the ripple effects of our actions.  Any choice we make in this realm is the same regardless of what consequences might arise.  This seems to imply you are someone bound by the pathing of events: bound by what happens in the future, rather than just the now.”

She grabbed my hand and squeezed it tightly.  “Exactly.”  Her hand went to my leg and she started gripping it sensually; I stood up away from her.

“Are bodies really that interesting?!  Damn.”  She was pissing me off switching between her preaching, her innocence, and now trying to feel me up.

She nodded innocently. “You have no idea how amazing this feels.”

“Anyway, what if I don’t do it?” I asked.

“You will, eventually.  You have to.  A million to one probability comes out sooner or later.”

“I hate when people tell me what to do.”

“I am sorry; I don’t mean it like that.”  Her facial features dropped a bit, the outside part of her eyebrows angled downwards.  “I thought we were getting somewhere…This rebellious part of your persona is the one major negative that nearly ruled you out.”  She kind of shrugged to herself.  “It is what it is I suppose, I will try to be better.”

I really felt my anger rising at all of this but tried to stay calm because I hated making her sad.  “Can’t you just mind control me, or teleport my body into the reactor?”

“I cannot.  Why can you not realize that?”  Her eyes looked moist.

“What if I don’t?  What if I can’t?”

“Trego…” Her down turned face hid her soft voice coming from it

“You are asking me to deny everything I’ve known in my life to trust some crazy girl who shows me some tricks and makes me seriously consider she might be some god.  That thought alone makes me think I am the crazy one.”

She lifted her face up and her blue eyes were watering hard.  I was surprised how hard she was crying but how focused she still looked.  “These types of resets are always the hardest to endure.  So painful…it physically hurts when you don’t trust me.” She squinted her eyes closed; a burst of tears fell out as she shook her head a bit to regain her composure.  “We can be so close, yet so often you choose distance and anger.”

“Look, I’m sorry.”  Seeing my anger do this to the sad beautiful girl made my anger drain away.  “But you don’t seem too worried about all of this succeeding.”

“It already has,” she stated evenly as she wiped her eyes with the black cloth of her bodysuit.  She then bent down to rub her fingers on some different colored rocks that had caught her attention.  “It already has because it already will.”

“What?” I asked.  I had no idea what she meant.

“Not in a way you would understand due to your thoughts occurring linearly.  But it cannot be allowed to be brought to completion, therefore in the final loop it does not truly occur.  Because We will not let it happen, it will not occur on the true time path.”  Was I included in the ‘we’?  I was not sure.

I was legitimately confused if she was talking about victory but we had not done anything.  “To be clear, we are still stuck in this time fracture right?”

“Unfortunately yes and it will keep occurring until you stop it.  So in a way, your hand is indeed forced because the reset will occur until you decide, and figure out how to stop it.”

“Is this kind of like you know the ending, but you still have to get through the book first right?  You know the destination, but still have to make the journey.”

“Fairly accurate.”  She was colder now.  Women were really good at this kind of stuff, and unfortunately it worked.  I regretted making this playful girl act in this way.  I wanted her to go back to being friendly, even though it was me who was yelling at her.

“So what do I have to do?  How can I stop something that destroys everything?”

“It sounds much harder than it is.  It simple is a complex machine that is creating it.  Simply disable it and reality will march on.”

“Shoot someone, or drop a tool and that’s it?  And then what, reality goes forward and I end up in jail for the rest of my life?”

“I do not know.  We have never made it past today.  I cannot promise anything for you, that is the truth.  The other truth is that I will do everything in my power to help you and would not abandon you.”

The color of her bright ribbon and hair started draining.  The color of the world was disappearing.  “Damn, looks like it is starting.  I thought I might be prepared for this, but…nothing but fear.  When I died once, you said you would protect me.  Was that true?”  I asked her.

“It was.  To the best of my power I will.”

“Uh…so this actually is reality, right?” I asked her.  “I actually die here?”

“Unfortunately, it is.”

“Well I guess this is good-bye.”  This time it was my eyes watering, from a subconscious terror of my soon-death.  Now I really wanted to hold her.

“For now,” she stated.

“For now,” I agreed.  I stepped forward to hug her.  We held each other tight.  Part of my grip was based on fear, and that maybe getting as close as I could to her would somehow save me.  At the least she felt very good.  Warm.  Real.

“Save me, Prou…”

Proud Infinity pt 16

As usual her excuse was ready.  “The magnitude of the reality effect is proportional to the energy required.  I am strong, but not that strong.  Crashing that display machine was easy; its impact was small as only two were actual witnesses to it, and its overall impact to true reality is minor.  And actually the wall was even easier.  That male did not notice it, and to you it does not matter especially given the end to this thread we are rapidly hurtling towards.  But I cannot bring about massive changes to reality that will persist down through time.  Not alone anyway.”

I played along a little, but it was only a little.  I actually started wondering if this crazy girl and her crazy story might be real.

“Okay, so I understand that I think.  By stopping this, while the actual action of stopping it might be small, you are somehow bound by something that is related to the magnitude of its impact that it ‘persists through time’.  So since this is infinitely important given that the universe gets wiped out, it cannot be done by you?”

“You are quite adept at piecing this together Tre.”

‘Damn, talk about Chrono pathways, if this is true.  We really were onto something in my old research…’  In my own mind the various theories of time and ‘threads’ of intersecting time lines began to take on a much more real manifestation.

I bent down, grabbing a rock, then pitched it over the fence as it fell down and down.   “But why could I stop this then?  I mean you are a shape-shifting girl who can blow walls down, I’m a chump with a gun.”

A deep grin took over her. “I thought you were at least an ‘advanced chump’!”

I froze.  “How did you know that?”

Her smile was good-natured.  “You still don’t believe me, do you?”

“Would you believe me that something dumb like that made me believe you way more?”

“Our harmonic rate is finally increasing!  Anyway, what you have is the power of the physical plane inhabitants.  Where your freewill does exist,” and she tilted her head down to me, “and not to say it always does, your impacts are infinite in their potential magnitude.  You are not bound by what your actions may cause down the time thread.

“That kind of implies you lack freewill as well in some circumstances?” I asked her.

“Yes, but our definition of ‘freewill’ is far more different, let’s just leave it there.  But remember this physical plane is the base from which the others arise and affect.  I can affect this freely, in direct inverse proportion to what its impacts are.”  She teleported beyond the fence, and was hovering in the air, her hair and ribbon slowly swaying in a breeze from the updraft of the massive pit.  She lifted her hands wide to her sides, and had a playful grin on, like a kid at a playground.

“Whoa…”  My mouth was open, watching her silently floating in the air.  Okay, she definitely looked more ‘godlike’ in this simple example.  I had little doubt remaining something serious was occurring here.

“However, as a physical, your actions are inherently very limited in your options.  For example, you cannot do this.  However, the scope of your impact can be, and indeed is, limitless.  So in a way, you are the weakest, but also the strongest.”

“Ha, so it’s like we are in the steerage of a ship.  Everyone above us can dump their trash on us and do what they want, but if we sink the boat, everyone else is going down too.  Evidently, the ship sinking attracted at least someone’s attention.”  I sat down and crossed my legs, and she teleported over and sat next to me as we looked over to the building.  She put her hand on my leg.  The touch was a bit surprising, but it felt comforting.  I liked her.

It was a bit scary that the sunset had now begun.  Soon that sphere of nothingness would be created, and everything would end.

Proud Infinity pt 9

Hey guys thanks for reading, and commenting.  I love your comments, again I am a new(ish) writer to the world at large so love to learn and see how my writing comes off.  We last left our hero Trego wondering what he was experiencing in his ‘dreams’

 

“Unfortunately,” just with the first word my heart sank, “this spaceport has been decommissioned as a fully active port.  This stems from the fact this planet was demoted on the Solarian research colony status.”

I shook my head. “Tell me about it.”

“So while this does not have a ship off, down at Lest Rigo there is a small port with a ship that leaves about once every six or seven cycles.  Want me to come with you?”

I was a bit surprised by her request, the way she put emphasis on ‘come’ rather than ‘with’ caught me off guard.  Damn it, was that a double entendre like the Aelisha always are unloading?  “Uh, sure if you want to.”

“Haha, I’m just kidding.  My job is here; I just ask everyone to see what they say!”

I frowned a bit.  Dang, she was hot too; just teasing me.  I fell for that kind of stuff way too easy.  Might as well be a tricky fox girl.  “Well, hey, thanks for the info.  And I have a quick question, are you an android by chance?”

“Yes, I am.  What gave it away, out of curiosity?”

I was smiling that I finally had an edge on her. “A bit too-perfect of looks.”

“Aww…should I take that in the wrong way?”

“I don’t know, do you like taking things in…the wrong way?” I smirked at her, wondering if she would play along.

“I much prefer taking things in, the right way.”  Her smile widened.  “Is there anything else here I can give you a hand with?”  Whoa she was flirting right back.

“I’m pretty capable of doing it myself–”

“Me too!”  She interrupted.  Maybe I was reading into this, but she sure seemed like she was escalating the innuendo.

“But I am not one to turn down a helping hand.”

“Well my hands are extremely well taken care of.”  She offered her hand to me and I grabbed it, feeling how soft they were.  Our little banter and especially touching her hand turned me on pretty hard; it had been a while since I had explosive chemistry like that.  I’ll have to swing back here sometime and see if I can’t get with this girl.  Damn, I really wanted to take her out for some fun, if this weird mental thing wasn’t happening I’d be all over her.

I stepped back away from her lest my main mission get derailed.  “Anyway that reminds me of a random question I just remembered.  Is it true that androids either often have, or have to have, a secret phrase that can shut them down, or override their commands?  Sorry if that’s offensive or anything.”

She shook her head ‘no’. “Hardly.  I enjoy talking about our position in the universe.  You know there is not that much difference between an ‘android’, which may be completely made or restored from someone that died, and that of an engineered Solarian, implanted with nanites and so on.  In a way we are both made, just to different extents.”  I nodded to her point seeing as it was pretty true.  Anyone who hated androids didn’t really think about the subtle difference, her flesh and wit was real enough I was turned on by it.  “Anyway, yes, we do often have an override command.”

“Interesting.”  It was rumored that most androids had varying levels of combat capabilities installed in them ‘in case of emergencies’.  I had a very strong curiosity to reach over and touch her.  Could I feel difference?  Supposedly most androids could take bullets, but no one could tell the difference just by looking at one.

“You sure are curious.”  She put a hand on her slightly kipped out hip.  I tried to not look at how perfect her legs were, or how it seemed her hips were mathematically proportioned just correctly.  Ha, mathematically proportioned…that is definitely something I would notice.  Her long black hair was just so clean and straight.  As hot as she was, her intellect stimulated me the most.

“Yeah I used to be a scientist…” I might have continued flirting with her but then I heard a sound I was certain I had heard before, and it was unloading from the ship that had landed.  It was a supply vehicle with loose gravplates.  “I got to go,” I told her before I ran outside.  There was no way this was happening!

Proud Infinity pt 5

Hey guys thanks for reading and liking, please leave any comments about your thoughts on the story!  Trego now is at the bar, and is going to meet the playful by myterious Proud.  Things are heating up!

story:

I laughed loud once. “Just kidding man.  Like anyone has a job since damn ReCorp came in.  Bastards,” I said shaking my head.  It was so weird.  I agreed with my statements, but I felt more like an actor watching and carefully picking my lines than actually living life.  “Get me your cheapest drink, I’ll be back.”

I turned and saw ‘Infinity Girl’ in the corner and went to stand up.  This time the man who wanted to fight me stayed seated.  He nodded to me while I walked passed him.  Good choice.  I laid you out once, I’ll do it again.

This girl had a very powerful aura about her that was intimidating, but I was more poised about this figure she represented compared to what might be happening to me internally.

“Hi,” I said, taking the seat across from her.  She had a deeply knowing smile on as she looked at me.  I kind of frowned for a moment as my poise left me.  Damn, it’d been a while since I had been unsettled like this by a woman.

Her dark green hair came a bit long around the face, leaving just enough room for bright blue eyes to look through like a window as the hair hung softly around the cheeks, leaving her Strive to be completely unobstructed.  She had a playfulness to her with the sly smile on, vastly out of position at a dump like this bar. Her pink bow spoke to her presumed confidence, and her tight black bodysuit she wore left nothing to imagination.

‘Ahh, the wonders of genetic engineering, eh?  Damn right.’  I conversed with myself.

I was staring at the shadows and shines on her adequate chest when she asked, “Enjoyable?” before softly laughing.  “I hoped it would be.”

“Damn, sorry.” I closed my eyes and shook my head.  I opened my eyes back up and concentrated on looking at her eyes, which was actually rather hard.  “Look, this is kind of a weird question, but…do we know each other?”

“That is an interesting question.  It is tough to tell.”

“Uh…it is?  Why?” I asked.

“If you do not yet know, perhaps we do not yet know each other?”  Her tone indicted she was asking a question, but I wasn’t sure.  I mean what kind of question is that?

She was as mysterious as her appearance.  Her eyes had a deep level of intelligence to them, as we stared at each other I felt like she knew far more than she let on.

“Is that a question for me?”  I asked.  “I don’t remember you, but it kind of seems like I know you.”

“Hey.” A new voice, I turned and it was the bartender.  He had my drink I didn’t really want.  “Are you okay?”

“Yeah, why?”  I pulled out my credcard and he swiped it, deducting a few valuable credits.  I hoped it wasn’t the difference from getting a ticket off-world and not.

“Well you came in here before and ran off, now you are sitting at an empty table talking to the wall.”

My eyes flashed back to the girl, half expecting she would not be there and that I was going crazy.  Yeah, lock up ol’ Trego!  Ever since he lost his job he has just been on a downward spiral.  Next thing you know, he will be shooting people saying this was all a dream.

But she indeed was there, and perhaps that was even worse for my case of going crazy.  She smiled and nodded once.

“Uh, yeah, I’m fine.  Just still a bit messed up over losing my job and all.”

“Join the crowd,” the bartender said before he left.

I leaned forward to the girl.  “Okay, what the hell is going on?”

“That is also a tough question with many layers of complexity.”  I felt like she was playing me for the fool.

I balled my fist in anger; her coyness was pissing me off.   “Look, I get it.  My questions are ‘tough’ but start talking.  Why do these guys pretend you aren’t here, and why did I dream a scenario close to this, except I died and didn’t talk to you in it?!”  As soon as I released the torrent, I regretted it.  I didn’t even know this girl, and now suddenly I was acting like some crazy person.

I was glad she didn’t make an issue of it.  “Maybe you were supposed to talk to me then?” she asked innocently.

“It was a dream, you can’t control those things.  Maybe that’s why I am talking to you now, because of that vision.”  I was far more open with her than I normally ever would be, but the intensity of that dream kept me going.

“Vision?  Is that what you thought it was?” she asked, her eyebrows went up in a ‘what the hell are you talking about’ kind of look, kind of like everyone else had in the room.  For a moment I considered that maybe I was part of some reality show, or some military test to see if I would break.  No, I was tougher than this.  At the very least I had to see what she would say.

I gripped my fist hard, gritting my teeth.  This stupid bitch, I didn’t do good with coquette behavior.  I wanted to slap her.  For a moment I thought about threatening her with my pistol, but I left that idea on the table, so to say.  For now I’ll just try a different approach.

I sighed and tried again.  I wanted to get to the bottom of this mystery.  “Do you have a name?”

“I am a bit unsure on your standards, but isn’t it correct to give your name first?”

I frowned a bit; she was not making this easy.  “It’s Trego.”

“I know,” she stated flatly.

I raised an eyebrow.  “You already know?  Why would you even ask then?”  I realized that everyone in the bar had stopped talking and was looking at me.  I looked back at them, wondering how long they were going to keep their act up, and they went back to small talk.  Yes I get it; I’m probably part of a comedy show or some psyche experiment, go back to drowning your sorrows.

“Yes, I know your name,” she said.

“Uh, well okay, so what is yours?  Can you give it to me now?”  What was the point of her little show if she already knew mine?

“Proud,” she stated the single word and nothing more.

“ ‘Proud’?  That’s your name?”

She turned her head slightly, looked just a bit concerned.  “Is it not sufficient for a name?  Do I require something more?  I had hoped everything was sufficient, tailored specifically, in fact.  Does it need to be changed?  I’m sorry, this is my first time.  This is all new to me as well.”

“No, if that’s your name, it’s fine.  I just wasn’t sure I heard you right.”

Her tone of voice changed slightly, her pronunciation was now different.  “Is this easier for you to understand?”  It was not like adding or dropping an accent, which some people do, and it seemed beyond just a nanite filter of having them change the spoken words.  Her voice had changed.

My thoughts were racing, ‘What the fuck is going on here?’  I glanced behind me and everyone was staring at me.  I stared back at her, and half-expected her to be gone.