John Milton has abandoned his life as a wealthy trader to be wired into the virtual universe of the shadowy Dreamers, the unseen community guarding and guiding Avenir Eclectia. They’re convinced the colony is on the verge of failure and are preparing to launch the Avenir station into deep space in search of a world more compatible with human life. John shares that vision, and wants to help bring it about.
He expected to wake up inside their simulated paradise, but something’s not quite right…
Anya said he’d awaken into a world both vivid and boundless, as subjectively real as the mundane, sterile, hopeless environment of Avenir, but so much more. So much better.
Myriad horrifying possibilities began scampering about his mind, pursued by a fear that ever-so-slowly took form—lithe, feline, and clawed—from somewhere deep within his imagination. It crouched and bristled, ready to pounce. What it ensnared would become real.
He needed to take a deep breath, steady himself.
He couldn’t expand his chest to pull in a fresh lungful of air. He couldn’t even tell if he had a chest or lungs to fill with air. He was drowning in a viscous soup of nothingness.
He screamed, soundlessly. Again and again and again.