Fragments of a Hologram Rose by William Gibson

Fragments of a Hologram Rose

by William Gibson

Fragments of a Hologram Rose

by William Gibson


That summer Parker had trouble sleeping.

There were power droughts; sudden failures of the delta-inducer brought painfully abrupt returns to consciousness.

To avoid these, he used patch cords, miniature alligator clips, and black tape to wire the inducer to a battery-operated ASP-deck. Power loss in the inducer would trigger the deck’s playback circuit.

He brought an ASP cassette that began with the subject asleep on a quiet beach. It had been recorded by a young blonde yogi with 20-20 vision and an abnormally acute color sense. The boy had been flown to Barbados for the sole purpose of taking a nap and his morning’s exerciseon a brilliant stretch of private beach. The microfiche laminate in the cassette’s transparent case explained that the yogi could will himself through alpha to delta without an inducer. Parker, who hadn’t been able to sleep without an inducer for two years, wondered if this was possible.

He had been able to sit through the whole thing only once, though by now he knew every sensation of the first five subjective minutes. He thought the most interesting part of the sequence was a slight editing slip at the start of the elaborate breathing routine: a swift glance down the white beach that picked out the figure of a guard patrolling a chain link fence, a black machine pistol slung over his arm.

While Parker slept, power drained from the city’s grids.

The transition from delta to delta-ASP was a dark implosion into other flesh. Familiarity cushioned the shock. He felt the cool sand under his shoulders. The cuffs of his tattered jeans flapped against his bare ankles in the morning breeze. Soon the boy would wake fully and begin his Ardha-Matsyendra-something; with other hands Parker groped in darkness for the ASP deck.

Three in the morning.

Making yourself a cup of coffe in the dark, using a flashlight when you pour the boiling water.

Morning’s recorded dream, fading: through other eyes, dark plume of a Cuban freighter – fading with the horizon it navigates across the mind’s gray screen.

Three in the morning.

Let yesterday arrange itself around you in flat schematic images. What you said – what she said – watching her pack – dialing the cab. However you shuffle them they form the same printed circuit, hieroglyphs converging on a central component: you, standing in the rain, screaming at the cabby.

The rain was sour and acid, nearly the color of piss. The cabby called you an asshole; you still had to pay twice the fare. She had three pieces of luggage. In his respirator and goggles, the man looked like an ant. He pedaled away in the rain. She didn’t look back.

The last you saw of her was a giant ant, giving you the finger.

Parker saw his first ASP unit in Texas shantytown called Judy’s Jungle. It was a massive console in cheap plastic chrome. A ten-dollar bill fed into the shot bought you five minutes of free-fall gymnastics in a Swiss orbital spa, trampoining through twenty-meter perihelions with a sixteen-year-old Vogue model – heady stuff for the Jungle, where it was simpler to buy a gun than a hot bath.

Hewas in New York with forged papers a year later, when two leading firms had the first portable decks in major department stores in time for Christmas. The ASP porn theathers that had boomed briefly in California never recovered.

Holography went too, and the block-wide Fuller domes that had been the holo temples of Parker’s childhood became multilevel supermarkets, or housed dusty amusement arcades where you still might find the old consoles, under faded neon pulsing APPARENT SENSORY PERCEPTION through a blue haze of cigarette smoke.

Now Parker is thirty and writes continuity for broadcast ASP, programming the eye movements of the industry’s human cameras.

The brown-out continues.

In the bedroom, Parker prods the brushed-aluminium face of his Sendai Sleep-Master. Its pilot light flickers, then lapses into darkness. Coffe in hand, he crosses the carpet to the closet he emptied the day before. The flashlight’s beam probes the bare shelves for evidence of love, finding a broken leather sandal strap, an ASP cassette, and a postcard. The postcard is a white light reflection hologram of a rose.

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