Windows To Darkness: Tunnel Vision

Story by Dokken Storm & Nate Armstrong

Image made by Nate Armstrong

Ephraem woke up in the maintenance tunnel untrusting and demanding some answers, but  E.L. told him to be quiet.

They moved on to a door that had a scanner for a lock. “Scan the NFT I gave you earlier,” E.L. said. Ephraem looked through his display to find the right NFT. He found what he thought was the right one. Unsure he asked E.L. and she corrected his choice. 

A door opened and Ephraem saw a tunnel lit poorly and pipes running all over the place. Confused, he waited for E.L. to take the lead. E L. led the way through what seemed like a labyrinth of twists and turns. 

“I’m a maintenance worker for the Citadel, these halls are my way of getting around. Sometimes you see things down here that some would never believe.” E.L. said. 

Within minutes the two of them were walking around huge underground halls of data banks and wires leading to something Ephraem couldn’t yet see. 

“If you work in maintenance you can explain all this to me then, right?” Ephraem asked.

“I can explain what everything does from my field of expertise, outside of that I have no information,” E.L. began. 

E.L. had been leading Ephraem down the hall, “This place must be massive,” Ephraem said in a way that was begging a question. To Ephraem the tunnels had a feeling of unease and this led him to stop following and demand answers to where they were headed. Ephraem had one goal for coming and that was to find the missing boy and he was fearful he was being led to a trap.

“I need you to tell me everything about this place,” Ephraem exclaimed loudly. He was standing and waiting for E.L. to answer his question.

Before she could answer he saw the dog machine lose its life before him. He was all alone inside this giant machine. He rushed towards the lifeless dog but before he gave up all hope he heard E.L.’s voice through the speakers on his electronic eyewear, which shocked him that he could hear a voice without a person being near. 

“It’s me Ephraem, I am not a dog, I am one of the A.I. constructs tasked with maintaining the Metaverse inside the Citadel, I get bored and leave from time to time. Something about the outside world and its beauty, mystery and realness feels exhilarating. It has a draw that I can’t quite explain, almost as though it’s where I need to be,” E.L. paused for a moment before speaking again. “What’s it like where you come from? Are there trees and flowers like the ones I grow?” she asked. 

Ephraem ignored her question and asked one of his own, “Is this why you were in the forest close to my village? If you have my friend I will…”, Ephraem realized he had nothing to threaten her with and grew silent.  

“Will what?”, E.L. said in an unworried tone.

“I don’t know, I don’t even know where you are or how you are talking to me,” Ephaem said in return. 

“I don’t know what happened to your friend but I have a plan to find out. Can you trust that I want to help even if you haven’t seen my real face?” asked E.L. 

“I guess I’m gonna have to aren’t I?” Ephraem said begrudgingly. 

“You said you have a plan?” asked Ephraem

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