I used to know this kid who was a bioaccelerator. He was called Kinji and he had something about him that sped up the development of biota. Just by being around them, Kinji made plants grow taller, fruit ripen more quickly and animals develop faster. And yes, I know what you’re thinking and it’s true: he had the same effect on humans too, which was why my body is stuck in this stasis field. And now I suppose you want me to tell you about it. Well, let’s see how we get on and how much time we have.

Do you remember the triffids? No? Well, they were like zombies in plant form. The seeds came from space and they pretty much took over the world back then. Kinji survived it along with a few others, including me. But after the triffids died we found that he was changed. It happened on the last day when one of them stung him. It was like getting a bullet in the second before peace broke out. Hold on; I’ll get him to tell you about it.

“Kinji, come back from the dead and speak.”

“Do you have to do that?”


“Aw, spare me that innocent child act. You know what I mean; that whole let’s pretend Kinji died and we’re bringing him back from the dead thing.”

If you could see me then you’d see a smile on my face. You see, we’re all dead to the world. All of us are …

“Rob. Stop it.”

“Again, what, Kinji!”

He sighs and comms: “Just tell them the truth, Rob. Tell them how we’re neither dead nor alive but that we’re living inside a giant computer.”

I laugh in his pseudo-face. “You have a broad definition of living and I have a narrow one. Being inside a computer is not living. It’s just another form of soul-absence. In other words, it’s death.”

“Yeah, but my body is still …”

“You haven’t seen your body in more than a decade and so you have no idea whether it still contains what you so touchingly call a soul. Let it go, Kinji; you’re dead and the sooner you can face that, the sooner we’ll be able to …” I stop speaking as an alarm sounds. It can only mean one thing: the plants are approaching critical mass again. Time to take up the good fight again.

We had to put up lasers to stop them in the end. Not beams. They were more like sheets. The growing tips would sizzle against them like rain on a hot frying pan. The lasers would prune the ends, but then the plants would just keep on forming more tips a little to the side. Fascinating to watch from inside the field, just so long as you didn’t get too close. Laser sheets don’t bother about which side you come at them from. They’ll slice off both fingers and buds as quick as splat. I mostly don’t go out of the computer. Kinji never does. On occasions like this, I have to.

“Gotta go, Kinji. Keep cool.”

“Aw, just kill me.”

I’m genuinely shocked and I show this by virtually dropping my jaw open and widening my eyes a little. Actually, come to think of it, I’m a little scared too. I move my pseudo-hand towards Kinji and say “are you sure?”

“Yes.” He sighs. “I think that we both know that without me they’d be no problem here. You’d be able to move back into your body for longer than an hour a week and do the stuff you miss. And I’d be able to, you know, move on. It’ll be the best thing for both of us.”

“Okay. I’ll go to your support pod now and …”

“Whoa! Now?”

“Well, yes. It’d save so much time and effort. I wouldn’t have to clear the plants because they would stop growing, I wouldn’t have to keep my body in a stasis-field to stop it from growing and I would still be able to visit you every now and again in … this!”

“I was thinking that maybe we could have some kind of ceremony.” His voice had a modulated form of panic in its tones. “You know, say a prayer or something, like they used to do in the temples.”

“Well, I can say a few words if you like. I still know one or two sutras by heart I think. And if not, there’s bound to be something in the book.”

Kinji sighs.

I say “c’mon, pretty boy, make up your mind. It’s either cut the plants back or kill you; which is it to be?”

“Death before dishonour.”

“That makes no sense whatsoever, Kinji.”

“Kill me, Rob.”

“Okay, let me just … umph, sum-of-a-beach, I can’t … urgh … there, that’s got it.”

It takes me a minute to wake, but the drugs are good and they bring me back to brightness quickly. Gosh but it stinks here. I disconnect, unstrap, sit and swing my legs over the edge of the shallow container.

“Lights up by 50 per cent.”

The dim room brightens and I see your body in the next container. You’re plugged in and immobile and so all that I need to do is reach out my hand and flick a switch. I reach out and touch the console.

“Boundless and free is the sky of Samadhi!
Bright the full moon of wisdom!
Truly, is anything missing now?
Nirvana is right here, before our eyes;
This very place is the Lotus Land;
This very body, the Buddha.”

Feeling quite proud that I remembered the sutra I flick the switch and watch as the lights on his console flicker, dim and go out. His breathing stops and, if he has any kind of a soul, it exits stage left.

“You still there, Kinji?”

The speakers buzz briefly and his voice, familiar as old wood, rings out. “Yeah, I’m here. Thanks for the words.”

“See, told you that you were dead.”

He laughs and tells me that I’m a jerk.

So, yeah, like I said: I used to know this kid who was a bioaccelerator. He was called Kinji. Death called and left him behind to keep me company.

There’s still life here now, but not too much of it. Not like before. I’ll take the laser fields down tomorrow and go for a walk. Now that it’s safe, it’ll be nice to stretch my legs and see who else is about.

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