Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Photon and the Flesh

A chapter excerpt from the YA contemporary science fiction thriller Video Noir.

Chapter 15 - The Photon and the Flesh

It was three o’clock in the morning, and Caitlin couldn’t stop thinking about her junior year literature class.

The class had been taught by a just-out-of-grad-school mega-hunk with a flash and dash personality, a man by the name of Coach Jimmy O’Brien. The “coach” part of his name came into play because was actually recruited by the school district to serve as the football team’s strength-and-conditioning coach. Teaching literature was more or less his requisite side job. It was necessary that he teach class in order for the district to utilize him as a coach.

But to Coach Jimmy O’Brien it was much more than a side job. His passion and unbridled enthusiasm for great fiction and knockout storytelling was so well conveyed and contagious that he managed to convert many of the students into big-time readers. That included Caitlin.

It was Coach Jimmy O’Brien who first introduced Caitlin to the bizarre world of Philip K. Dick.

Caitlin had already been familiar with the author via the many film adaptations of his work including Blade Runner, Total Recall, and one of her favorite films of all time, Minority Report. But once Caitlin began to read the author’s books, that is when her mind began to truly open.

Philip K. Dick novels were full of eccentric, haunted, paranoid, loopy characters who often found themselves trapped in alternate universes, simulacra, and virtual realities. Reality itself was usually presented as a concept that was elusive. Reality was perception, and that perception was often controlled my sinister, monolithic corporations and subversive government agencies.

At this moment, Caitlin felt like she was living inside one of those novels. Or better yet, she felt like she was living in an Oliver Stone adaptation of a Philip K. Dick novel, transforming into some kind of obsessive, paranoia-drenched female heroine who was about to become unhinged.

Caitlin wanted answers. She needed to be near someone who understood what was happening. She needed to be near someone who knew what she was going through.

She needed Rick Blazer.

He was the only person who could help her, and he was the only person who would understand what had happened to her earlier tonight at Tron.

Upon returning home, Caitlin had checked her e-mail. There were several video logs waiting for her in her inbox. The videos were marked “private” and were posted at both LiveVideo and YouTube. They were personal videos made by Rick for Caitlin. He must have made them just before embarking on his great adventure to Boca Raton.

Caitlin spent nearly an hour watching—and re-watching the videos.

She was captivated by Rick, his physical presence, and his delivery. Watching him on her monitor was a complete and shameless guilty pleasure. Besides finding joy in watching the videos over and over, she needed to watch them over and over. As Rick put it, the information he was giving her was “essential to her very survival.”

The videos were a thorough update about everything Rick had learned about VideoNoir, the sinister men behind it, and the surreal, hallucinatory powers of the technology known as Light Wave.

As Caitlin watched the videos, her eyes transfixed upon the monitor, she basked in Rick Blazer’s confident, comforting presence. Just knowing she had someone like him on her side made her feel better.

And she listened to him very carefully. She hung on his every word. She absorbed the new information he’d given her, sat back, and reflected on everything she had learned so far.

Caitlin had learned firsthand about the great power of Light Wave, a new video technology that incorporated the radical theories of an eccentric, renegade physicist named Troy Matheson. Matheson proposed his Light Wave theory; then he mysteriously vanished after publishing two books about his controversial discovery—Light Wave, and The Slipstream of Light… and of Life.

Matheson’s theories were first put to practical use by an independent filmmaker named JC Pezzini and his scientist friend, Harlan Beta.

The two men worked together on an experiment and created a special media room they called the anti-reality chamber. It was a room designed to employ Troy Matheson’s fantastic principles.

With Harlan’s help, JC attempted to travel back in time to solve a dark mystery in his own past. He wanted to go back, to interact with the past, and to learn the identity of a mysterious girl who had saved his life in 1983—a girl he only knew as “she.”

At this point, the details of the story (as told by Angela to Rick to Caitlin via Rick’s video) become fuzzy … dream-like … almost incoherent.

The anti-reality chamber was at least partially successful for JC and Harlan. They had successfully accessed the past. This is where JC met Angela and learned her true identity.

But as result of the experience, JC Pezzini was killed. He was murdered by someone who was trying to keep the dark past a secret.

Harlan went on to perfect the Light Wave technology in a desperate effort to try to undo the damage. According to Angela, both she and Harlan had hoped to use the Light Wave technology and the anti-reality chamber in an attempt to go back and save their fallen friend, but fate stepped in and altered their plans.

Somehow the sinister men in black had noticed what they were up to and had made plans of their own for this reality-altering technology.

But before they could implement their plans, they needed Harlan. They needed access to his mind, his talents, his knowledge, and his work. So they sent someone to recruit his services.

That someone was media mogul Jonathan Q. Bentworth.

His sales pitch was perfect. He claimed that he wanted to utilize Harlan and the Light Wave technology in a brand new video-sharing site he planned to launch—a site called VideoNoir. A site that seemed to be controlled by a subversive group of government men-in-black types. These were mysterious men who operated in the shadows and seemed to have a secret agenda for the Light Wave technology. They seemed more interested in memory creation and deletion.

When Harlan resisted the pitch, the group simply abducted him under the guise of inviting him to a weekend seminar.

One thing was for sure. Light Wave was for real, and the people at VideoNoir had found a way to use it.

Caitlin had experienced that firsthand tonight when she’d suddenly felt a new memory of Zeke’s party blaze to life in her brain. But she could also remember her original memory—the real reality.

But now, after her reality altering experience earlier in the evening, Caitlin felt the need to go further. She needed to take the next bold step into this fantastic and frightening new world she had entered.

Yes, Rick Blazer was on her mind all right. She wanted to tell him what had happened to her at the graduation party, and she wanted to tell him about her hallucinatory episode at Tron. But she also wanted to do more than that. She felt a sudden urge to be near him.

She wanted to be with him. She wanted to touch him.

She thought about what Troy Matheson had said in Light Wave. Matheson said that in order to access a recorded image, in order merge the photons and the flesh and to enter into the world of the past, energy was required to ignite the process. This had to be energy that was very focused, very raw, and very primal; energy that was comprised of primitive, basal emotions; energy that was borne of deep passion; energy that came from pure, raw, unfiltered lust.

It appeared that this guy, Harlan, and the people behind Video-Noir had somehow figured out how to bottle that energy, prepackage it, and incorporate it into their video-sharing software and servers.

But according to Matheson, accessing the Light Wave principles had very little to do with the technology and everything to do with the intensity of the emotion.

According to Matheson, there was another way to do this, a way that did not involve computers, software, servers, or VideoNoir.

She remembered back to something Rick had said in one of his video logs, something about the original Light Wave experiments that Rick’s client Angela had embarked on five years ago.

Harlan, JC Pezzini, and Angela had created an anti-reality chamber to harness the elusive powers of Light Wave, and they did it without the use of computer chips, software, or servers. They had only high resolution imagery, and sheer erotic energy to fuel their journey, and despite the tragic results, they had been successful. They were able to access the past. They had proven it could be done sans VideoNoir. And if they could do it, that meant Caitlin could do it too.

Caitlin quickly went to the family room, hooked up her Internet access to her fifty-inch plasma screen, drew the drapes closed, and cranked up the Dolby Digital Surround. Caitlin was about to create her own anti-reality chamber.

She was about to embark on a bold and daring experiment—a journey into the dark unknown.

Read more follow Caitlin's adventures to experience the mind-blowing terror and exhilaration of Video Noir.

James Caterino (2007-10-23). Video Noir (Kindle Locations 1272-1275). iUniverse. Kindle Edition. 

Copyright 2007, 2012 James J. Caterino All Rights Reserved

Video Noir at Amazon

Video Noir at Barnes & Noble

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