The hippies, the hepcats, the freaks, the heads, the hipsters—they all loved it, because it allowed them to ignore their bodies and the physical world entirely, while they sought metaphysical bliss. Dealers loved it, because it was inexpensive and addictive.
Cassie wanted a sip of whiskey. She had poured two fingers earlier. That was before she shot up. It was some stuff that Bench had given her. Bench was a hepcat and a dealer. She knew him by acquaintance, a friend of a friend. She had been buying from him for a few months. He had given her this dose as a gift to a regular customer.
Cassie was a recreational user. She liked to get jacked up on dope and drink whiskey every now and then. The dope made her feel like she could fly off buildings. The whiskey made her not want to. “Every now and then” used to be once or twice a month. Lately, it was rather more frequent.
Now she sat there, in bra and flower-painted jeans, staring at the glass in front of her on the table. She couldn't reach it. Cassie couldn’t move.
“What is this stuff?” she thought inside her head.
She punched up Bench on her neural link. His name blinked in pink on the optic display, indicating the connection was going through.
“Be cool,” she heard his voice say.
This was Bench’s way of expressing the funk that he tried so hard to cultivate in his life. The word "funk" had become a slang term for a blissful state of being. A “funk” was any person who pursued this state of being or espoused the funk lifestyle. Bench was a funk.
“It’s Cassie,” she thought across the digital network that connected their brains.
“Hey, Cassie! How are you turning in the world?”
That was also Bench’s way of expressing his funk. He claimed to have read a hipster novel that used "turning in the world" as an analogy for general well-being. More likely, he had got it from someone else who had read the novel.
“I’m not turning at all, Bench,” she thought.
She was trying to match his funk and intimidate him at the same time.
“Whoa, girl!” he exclaimed, “That’s a good place.” Then, less emphatically, “What more can I do for you?”
“What is this stuff?” she asked in monotone.
She was distracted. She was negotiating with her mind the three-cornered node that connected her to the Hexagon.
“What the bother, babe,” he jeered, “are you feeling immobile?”
“Completely,” she said without thinking. She looked up the coordinates of his connection.
“It’s great, huh?” he said.
“Bench!” she thought firmly – she was regaining her attitude, “What did you give me?”
“Relax, doll. The high only lasts a few hours. You’ll be able to blink again long before then.”
Bench laughed. Cassie continued to stare at the glass. She had found the node where he was connected. She tapped the link.
She sent a mental barb into his neural link and said flatly, “What’s it called?” She felt the barb puncture gray matter like a needle popping a vein. She knew that the unexpected influx of digital data would temporarily interfere with the organic signals in Bench's brain.
“Cyberfunk,” he said blankly, suddenly not able to form a sentence.
She used this momentary lapse to enter his brain through the link.
Bench recovered. “Look it up on the Hex, girl. It’s good stuff. It’s straight.”
“Straight” meant that he hadn’t spiked it with anything. She believed him. Normally, a dealer would spike a weaker drug with something like this.
She looked it up. Cyberfunk was a new synthetic drug on the market. It temporarily shut down the motor cortex, the part of the brain that controls movement, effectively paralyzing the user. This paralysis produced a sensation of total relaxation, while leaving the cognitive functions of the brain intact. It was introduced in the bohemian shanty-towns and quickly spread throughout the funk community. The hippies, the hepcats, the freaks, the heads, the hipsters—they all loved it, because it allowed them to ignore their bodies and the physical world entirely, while they sought metaphysical bliss. Dealers loved it, because it was inexpensive and addictive.
“Bench,” she paused while she wound her mental tentacles into the gray coils of his consciousness and squeezed gently to get his attention. “I’m going to rip your heart out of your body through your anus.”
Bench’s diaphragm flexed and encroached unnaturally into his chest cavity. He exhaled in a breathless gasp. Cassie probed with his diaphragm and found his heart.
Bench’s eyes rolled back into his head. He saw his own thoughts there, as if from outside his body. He watched his thoughts get on the funky train of his life's memories.
Cassie took hold of his heart and pulled it down into his pelvis. Bench clenched. Before his inturned eyes, the funky train pulled away from the station. A spasm shot through his legs where he stood as his heart passed out his sphincter.
Bench's name blinked out on the optic display. Cassie stared at the glass. She couldn’t move. In her mind’s eye, she reached out with her hand, took the glass, and turned it over on the table in front of her, splashing whiskey across the table.