Read Ability (Omnibus) Online

Authors: Travis Hill

Tags: #urban fantasy

Ability (Omnibus)

Contents

Ability

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Epilogue

Author's Notes III

ABILITY

(omnibus)

By Travis Hill

Copyright February 2014

Cover Art by:
Yoly Cortez @ Cormar Covers

 

 

 

CHAPTER 1

 

January, 2043

 

The heavy bass hypnotized Brian to the point he could feel his heartbeat starting to sync with it. Each boom coincided with the thump of his heart. The black lights and strobe lights were each set to alternate flashes based on the beat, creating an almost cartoon-world effect for him. Brian had no clue what song he was listening to, or maybe it was even two songs, as the DJ was frantically working two turntables in alternating bursts of activity.

“Bri! This shit is insane!” Derry shouted at him from less than a foot away. Her bright red hair, neon eyeshadow and lipstick, and bright white tank top stood out to him like a spotlight.

“It’s pretty tight,” Brian tried to shout back to the girl dancing a frenzy, but his mouth couldn’t seem to form the words correctly.

Derry closed her eyes and swayed to the thunderous trance music after offering him a smile. It wasn’t likely that she’d heard him, and even if she had, it would have sounded even more garbled to her than it had to his own ears. Brian watched her, his eyes trying to follow the neon trails her makeup left behind. Every so often they would combine into a cohesive picture, but always of something odd. A buffalo. An airplane. Either an orange or a baseball. He decided to close his eyes to see what would happen. As his lids drew down, the trails and lights of the club were still in his vision. A slightly different view of reality for sure, but it was almost as if he could see with his eyes closed.

After the song ended, Derry led him to the juice bar outside. She had a sheen, an almost oily reflection about her. Brian rubbed his eyes and blinked a few times, trying to keep his balance while she ordered them both a PB&J. When she turned around with two large pomegranate and blueberry juices, the sheen was gone, replaced by a hard reflection. He squinted as she handed him his drink and took him by the arm to find an empty bench. He could feel his metabolism finally slowing down now that he was out of the strobe lights and atom-splitting bass. The crisp January air in central Texas, combined with the nearly frozen juice, seemed to improve his sobriety enough that he could have a semi-rational but articulate conversation again.

“Seriously, Bri, this is pretty intense stuff,” Derry said after chugging down more than half of her juice. “What is it?”

“So … I messed around a little with the recipe and got what I think is a hybrid MDMA-LSD type that also activates the cannabinoid receptors,” Brian answered between sips of his juice. “I had a little extra play left over after this week’s cook. Enough to mess around with anyway. I’m totally digging this, but it’s still missing something.”

“Missing something? Good God, Brian, it’s like being bent over and shagged in a parking lot by a hot stranger while he’s forcing you to snort cocaine!” Her eyes were black holes, and as glassy as a still mountain lake.

“I’ll assume in my case that it’s supposed to feel like a smoking hot female stranger,” he laughed, “though I’m not sure about the ‘being bent over’ part. But there’s something missing. Something I haven’t gotten right just yet. If I keep getting surplus components on my upcoming jobs, I think I can get it just right.”

“What exactly could be missing? This is the most incredible trip I’ve ever been on! What do you want it to do that it isn’t doing right now?”

“I don’t know exactly, but when I do, I’ll know,” Brian said in a cryptic tone, narrowing his eyes at her.

She laughed at his antics, then took him by the hand, leading him to one of the private booths lining the inside of the old expo building that had been converted into a rave club.

 

*****

 

March 2043

 

“What kind of goodies you got for me today, bro?” Garret asked his roommate.

“Check this out,” Brian said, clearing off a space on Garret’s computer desk. He laid a single pill on the surface.

“Seriously? What the fuck? One pill?” Garret asked, annoyed as he picked up the little white pill that was no larger than an aspirin.

“Do me a favor,” Brian said, laying a hand on Garret’s shoulder. “Make sure you have nothing to do for about thirty-six hours. And don’t go to class. Whatever you do, don’t go to class. That will completely ruin the trip.”

“Why would I go to class when I could be flying?” Garret asked.

He began to make airplane noises as he flew the pill through the air with his fingers, doing loops and figure-eights until he made a crashing noise as he popped the pill into his mouth.

“Jesus, Garret, don’t you have class in an hour?”

“Righty-so, friend. Righty-so. This will make Donaldson’s monotone lecture about fluid dynamics rather interesting, don’t you think?”

Brian laughed and shrugged. He dropped his backpack between the two computer desks that took up almost the entire living room of the small apartment they shared. After rooting around in the drawer of his desk, he found the pipe. It was still half-full of proper weed, the medicinal hydro from California and Colorado, not the compressed brick crap that came from Mexico and tasted like it had ridden in a gas tank, wrapped in packaging made out of dish soap.

“What’s that?” Brian asked as he blew out a moderate cloud of smoke without coughing, pointing to Garret’s monitors.

“This, my friend, is the future of learning,” Garret answered.

Brian passed him the pipe. Garret inhaled a massive hit and held it for a few seconds before he coughed out a thick cloud of smoke, nearly dropping the colorful glass pipe.
It wouldn’t be the first time
, Brian thought, watching in anxiety as his roommate fumbled with the pipe while bent over, hacking his lungs out,
but at least this time we don’t have concrete floors
.

When Garret recovered, he went on. “So I got this new idea while working on my project for Game Theory. Has to do with how fast data cycles compared to how quickly the subconscious brain can assimilate it, and then induce a permanent transfer into memory.”

“Uh huh. English, man, English.” Brian coughed this time, blowing out a massive thunderhead of pungent smoke. He handed the pipe back to Garret.

“Right. I’m trying to figure out how fast I can change the data on the screens to get it to sync up with the maximum rate the brain can identify and store the information forever without degradation. So, for example, if I
flash
a new math equation, complete with all the work done to arrive at the answer, say…every two seconds, but the brain can only process that kind of data once every four seconds, then the brain won’t have that information locked away in memory properly. I’ll remember some of it, nearly all of it, or nearly none of it, depending on the efficiency.

“If I flash the new information once every eight seconds, but the brain can process it in four, then I know to change the frequency of how long each problem stays on the screen to four seconds, so I can maximize information retention efficiency, with minimum cycle waste.” Garret was stoned out of his mind, but Brian knew that was when his roommate did his best theorizing. However, properly
explaining
‘Garret
Theory’ was not always a successful venture.

“Uh…so…” Brian paused while tamping out the ashes of the bowl and searching a drawer for his stash. “Say you want to teach someone how to fight with a ninja sword. You can play an instructional video for them, and ten seconds later they can do ninja shit? Like in ‘The Tiger of the Ten Kingdoms’?”

“‘I am your master now,’” Garret quoted softly with an exaggerated bow that the movie characters gave each other before fighting to the death, which got them both laughing. “Yeah. But compressed information. Like concentrated. And presented in a format that the eyes can imprint into the memory areas of the brain at their maximum efficiency. Like, I could learn an entire trig lesson and know the rules by heart to solve any example problem in ten seconds. Or maybe learn how to amputate an arm on the battlefield with just about any tools that might be available, by inducting the information right into the brain with a quick ten second flash of data.”

“That’s some heavy shit, man,” Brian said.

“It’s light shit right now. The heavy shit is trying to figure out how fast or slow the brain can process this compressed information. Or maybe it’s trying to find the right induction techniques that the brain can maximize. Who the fuck knows? There’s a lot of research papers I’m leafing through on the net to try to figure out why I’m getting hung up. From all I’ve been able to process so far, I might be looking for some kind of chemical enhancement, something to open up the mind to help the induction be successful, to retain it properly. Then there’s the fact that I’m nowhere near a ‘ten second flash’ time.

“I’ve watched some of these damn things over and over, and while I’m even better at trig than I was before, I’m still not retaining anything for more than a few seconds. I can just sense that feeling, like I know whatever I’m flashing as if it was instinct, but then it dries up or something. I need to figure out how to keep it from dissipating so quickly.”

“Brain lube.” Brian laughed, and Garret smiled at him. “Sounds kind of like what I’m working on. That pill you got is Receiver v3. It’s almost there, but I just can’t quite get all of the different effects together at once that I want.”

“If you cook up something that might help me, let me know.”

“If I could cook up something that helped people learn or retain memories, we’d be working in a billion-dollar lab, telling all of our puny employees what to do all day while sitting in our desks made of solid gold covered in high-priced call girls,” Brian said.

 

*****

 

April, 2043

 

Brian was the best methamphetamine cook in the southwestern United States. At least that’s what two of his clients believed. They brought him industrial-grade chemicals, direct from the manufacturer, still in their factory-sealed drums or canisters. Brian didn’t ask where they got the stuff. He only cared that they got him the best ingredients to make the best product. To hell with making shitty meth from a bunch of cold medicine. That had become so ghetto that the federal government enacted a complete ban on pseudoephedrine, which only killed the ‘shed meth’ or ‘trailer meth’ careers.

The flow of pseudoephedrine across both borders was still enough to allow a few enterprising cooks to make a living, but the game was now run by the big dogs, big dogs who could procure raw ingredients to make laboratory-grade dope. Brian was like that old television show about the chemistry teacher in New Mexico becoming a master meth cook. He’d had no idea about that old 2D show until Garret had linked him to the classics channel on YouTube.

Good old YouTube. Almost half a century of video goodness to root through, and still the major player on the net. Unlike social networking sites that rose and fell every five or ten years, all of their users eventually abandoning the platform for whatever was newer and shinier, YouTube was the golden king, the undisputed champ, and the one thing that had kept Google from falling over the brink into bankruptcy twenty years earlier.

YouTube had changed with the times, offering first full-3D video, then Holo-D when Google rebounded with their newest technology. Glasses, helmets, virtual goggles and then a hundred other products were all the rage, became vogue, then went out of style as fast as every other technological fad. Until Google unleashed their H-Vis wireless-ready contact lenses. Not only could a user call up his favorite stocks on the ticker with just a blink or a voice command, he could experience the
coup de grâce that had instantly made every other competing product and technology obsolete overnight
: Google’s
Holographic Visual Display
.

Other books

Holy Thief by Ellis Peters
The Phoenix in Flight by Sherwood Smith, Dave Trowbridge
Blind Witness by Knight, Alysia S.
The Noise Revealed by Ian Whates
The Dark Lady by Louis Auchincloss, Thomas Auchincloss
Popcorn by Ben Elton
Gideon's Redemption by Maddie Taylor