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Mind Over Matters

There was a hotel a couple of stops up the airbus route that Jacob usually visited after programming. Most of the people there knew him. They thought that he was some sort of drunk who came here whenever his wife kicked him out of the house. Jacob didn’t really care what they thought, so long as he got a room and some time to himself.

It took only a few minutes to get all of the arrangements in order, since Jacob was a regular. Once he was shown to his room, he quickly tipped the luggage boy and closed and locked the door. Inside, Jacob turned and pressed his back up against the door. He pushed against it with his feet and spread his palms out across the plastic surface. It seemed as if Jacob was trying to hold back the entire world from coming through that door. Sweat started to trickle down his forehead. Jacob’s breathing became more and more irregular and panicked.

The time, would come soon, thought Jacob. The flashbacks and the horrible dreams. Perhaps they were worse than going unconscious. At least when he was unconscious, he didn’t have to experience and remember.

Jacob shifted right there holding the door closed. His eyes fluttered shut and his entire body began to twitch nervously in sync with his REM.

Jacob shifted into a near reality. It was a familiar setting. He was strapped into what the lab coats so humorously called the “mind meld machine”. It was a huge monstrosity that looked like a huge electrical brain transplant device from some ancient horrific sci-fi vid. This was Jacob’s last mind jump, which occurred almost three months ago. It was a final attempt at the re-acclimatization of a military serviceman. Usually they didn’t bother with miltary types because they were either too screwed up to be saved or they had too much valuable information in their head to risk exposing. Either way, most military types just wound up dead, instead of re-introduced into society. This guy had to be some special sort of hero guy to risk Jacob’s neck sending him into that war-zone of a mind.

And a war-zone it was. As soon as Jacob had jumped in, he found himself cased into an armored encounter-suit jet-jumping across the plains of Mars. Laser shots came at him from the ground like water from a strainer. The encounter-suit was shaking itself apart with energy absorption from the laser shots.

“Shit!” thought Jacob, “I’m gonna be dead before I get started.”

There’s one cardinal rule for all mind jumpers. Dead in reality, or dead in a dream: dead is dead. Jacob was going to be dead before he even found his psyche. Since when was there a war on Mars anyway? After a while, Jacob’s suit piloted itself into a nook in the surface of Mars where another UWD suitman was waiting for him.

“Glad you could make it, Johnny,” said the other suitman on his com.

“This must be my military target,” thought Jacob.

Here is where a mind-jumper differs from the average unconscious civilian. A mind-jumper can have complete control of the environment, regardless of what mind he or she is in. It is simply a matter of working with what’s there. Jacob prefers the direct approach.

Jacob washed away the entire war-zone on Mars thing, and focused on his suitman buddy. Now he had a target to work with. Jacob went straight for the psyche, ready to erase whatever trouble he ran into. In a flash, he was standing before a giant face. This often happens. The psyche will manifest itself in the form of a body part, usually the face, but not always. What was strange though, was the fact that this face wasn’t human. It had two rows of green eyes coming down its head with a pair of huge mandibles jutting out from the side of its hard and shiny skull. It looked like a giant mantis.

“This is weird,” thought Jacob, “how am I supposed to communicate with this?”

Immediately, Jacob got a stream of foreign images floating through his head like a fog in a nebula. He couldn’t recognize anything. Jacob’s best guess was that it was some sort of symbolic language, only the symbols had no meaning that he understood. Whatever it was inside this military guy’s head, it wasn’t human.

However, it wasn’t Jacob’s mission to figure this alien thing out. All he was supposed to do was clean whatever was cluttering the guy’s mind. The big mantis-like head in front of him definitely seemed like clutter. Jacob wasn’t too surprised when the alien-head thing attacked him after he began the erasing process. That was why Jacob got rid of the mandibles first.

It took several hours of crawling through and scouring the military guy’s mind to get rid of every last bit of alien presence. He found that if he got rid of one piece, another would break off and start growing somewhere else. The damn thing was like a weed. Jacob had to go through several transformations to get the right killing combination. In the end, he felt something like a highly complex virus, which was everywhere and killing everything all at once.

When Jacob jumped out, the lab-coats were right there ready to haul away his latest victim. They had some ability to see what Jacob was doing through those machines of theirs, so they knew when he was about done. Jacob was always curious as to how much they were able to see. Just to be safe, he never went further into a target’s psyche than was absolutely necessary. The last thing Jacob wanted to do was know too much.

It had been impossible to avoid going “too far” this time however. Jacob knew everything about this guy. And he didn’t like it. The military guy was some sort of squad commander in a small and un-publicized war on Mars. Apparently, Earth is being threatened by an alien invasion. This guy and his squad got captured. During his capture, he was submitted to a string of physical and mental tests, or perhaps torture. This included what can only be described as possession by an alien being. Afterwards, he was released and managed to make it back to Earth. Jacob knew that he had gone insane from the possession and that he still wouldn’t be worth much after he cleaned him up. But, oh well, Jacob had done his part. His only hope then, was to go home alive.

For some strange reason, everybody seemed perfectly satisfied with his work, and nobody asked Jacob any questions outside of the normal string. He was always a bit confused about that.

And then the dream cycled, and it cycled again. When it was a reality, the job was almost fun, because it was a challenge to seek out and destroy the alien existence. But now, each time he went through, that alien face became more and more prominent in his memory. That stream of images that came from the alien face seemed to superimpose themselves over everything else he saw. They became stars. They became mechanical equipment. They became lab-coats. They became Natalie. Whatever he saw, there they were. Always foreign and unintelligible, but there just the same. It was fucked up, almost too fucked up for Jacob to handle.

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