What if you didn't believe in the afterlife promised by the religions of the world, and science offer an alternative? What if you had to fight to keep paradise?
What if you didn't believe in the afterlife promised by the religions of the world? What if science could give you guaranteed eternity? What would you do to keep it, if others try to take it away?
Gary Jeffers was a genius at electronics, and all of his money could not stop the cancer that was eating his life. Afterlife corporation promised him the chance to live, love and work for the rest of eternity. But his wife and his church are convinced that mind uploading is assisted suicide, and that Gary will condemn his soul to hell. Gary finds all he is looking for In the virtual world and more. All his dreams, all his fantasies, and a mind and memory like he had never imagined.But the religions of the world stand against Afterlife, rallying around the fundamentalist President of the United States. It becomes a fight to the finish, the quantity of the real world versus the quality of Afterlife. Can the virtuals survive, to enhance the world with their knowledge and wisdom? Or will ignorance and superstition wipe the grand experiment from the face of the Earth?
The tentacle sprung forward, moving with incredible speed, aiming at the center of Gary's body. He jumped to the side, moving as fast as he could. The spine on the end of the tentacle scraped the side of his body, burning like a red hot poker. Gary grunted and he fell into a roll, away from the tentacle. He sprung to his feet, moving back, and the damned thing quested his way again. He knew he was being set up for another attack, unless he found some way to leave this room.
That's it, he thought, thinking of another place. Anyplace but here. The room faded, another blinked into existence, and the tentacle was still floating in the air in front of him.
"Son of a bitch," he yelled, watching the thing spring forward. He spun and fell away. This time the spike went through the skin on his left arm, burning. Blood dropped to the floor of the room and Gary's arm felt like it was going to fall off.
He blinked into existence in an open field; it looked like grasslands, a steppe, or the high plains of America. The damned tentacle was still in front of him. This is not working, he thought, trying to come up with any way that he might be able to escape this thing.
"Escape is not possible," said the voice of Fulcher in his head. "Forget the limitations of an organic and fight."
The tentacle moved forward again, aiming for his center of mass. Forget the limitations of an organic, thought Gary, moving away from the tentacle with a blur of speed. The tentacle missed handily. It came around again, setting up for another attack. This time it came in with a blur of motion, almost striking Gary, who avoided it by the smallest of margins.
It speeded up, he thought, blowing out a breath. I need a weapon to fight this thing, or it will get me.
He felt something in his hand and glanced down. A katana was clenched in his right hand. It looked real. The blade had a razor edge and it felt well balanced in his hand. And he didn't have a clue on how to use it.
I better figure it out fast, he thought as the spiked tip moved toward him, going lower this time and aiming at his legs. Gary jumped away, the blade almost getting tangled in his legs. He fell down and the sword flew off into the grass. He was on his feet in an instant, looking for the blade.
Why isn't this like that movie, he thought, scrambling for the sword he saw shining in the sun. He was wishing for a program that would make him a master swordsman, but it was not coming to him. He picked up the sword, started to stand, then fell on his stomach on an instinct. The tentacle flew overhead as Gary rolled over on his back. He thrust upward with the sword, feeling some resistance as its razor blade cut into the hide of the thing. He grabbed the long hilt with his other hand and pushed upwards, slicing into the muscle. The tentacle jerked away, almost pulling the sword out of his hands. Pulling away with the blade, Gary sliced out of the tentacle in a shower of green ichor.
Gary jumped to his feet, the katana held to his front in a guard position. He kept the two handed grip, afraid he might lose the blade otherwise. The tentacle continued to quest. He thought it was moving a little slower. He wasn't sure whether that was because it was damaged, or just cautious.
The tentacle moved again, as aggressive as ever. Gary moved to the side, keeping his feet spread as he raised the katana overhead, rising to his tip toes. The tentacle stopped for a moment at the end of the strike, and he brought the katana down with all his weight and strength. The blade sheared through the half meter thickness of the tentacle. The spiked end fell to the ground, writhing for a moment before fading away. The other end pulled back, waved in the air, and followed its severed end into oblivion.
Gary blew out a breath, trying to still his heart, and wondering why the program was allowing his heart to beat at that rate anyway. He took his left hand off the hilt and wiped the sweat from his brow, thankful that it was over. Thankful that is until the next tentacle materialized in the air to his front and started questing in his direction.