Friday, June 18, 2004

Yeah, yeah, this has been another Week of Suck when it came to updating my journal. In many ways, the week was uneventful; I worked, I came home, I exercised, I wrote a bit, I watched anime.

In other ways, this was a momentous week. I hired two animators this week, one to do in-betweening and another to work on the CGI intro shot of Matrix Experiments Lain. It scares me, frankly. I’m going to have to meet with these people, and figure out how to explain things, and pay them money, and avoid frightening them with any of my geeky ways.

For example, one female animator will be coming over to my apartment this Monday morning to work. I’m worried about the impression she might get about working in a basement apartment, alone with a guy, the heavy door closed. But I insist on having the animators physically work with me, if at all possible. I’ve had too many artists working from home flake on me.

Also, I have very high standards. I don’t know if these people can do it, and I don’t know if I’ll be able to explain to them exactly what I want. This is all so totally new.

So, I’m scared. But then, I’m pursuing my dream. I’m willing to experience a little fear to make that happen.

Anyway, here’s this week’s bit of the VR story (which I’d really like to name one of these days):

“He’s a client.” It was Doodlehopper’s voice, a warning growl from off to his left.

“So?” asked one of those holding a shocker. “Could still be dangerous. Might’ve tricked you.”

Thomas felt sweat pop out on his forehead. If any of those shockers touched him, he’d be in serious pain. Worse, if they decided to be nasty, he could be dead. He’d seen videos of gangs jabbing captured victims with shockers. After thirty or forty shocks, the nervous system gives out.

A husky, older woman’s voice came from ten or twenty feet in front of Thomas and said, “Let him go. We can trust Doodle.”

The neon spears drew back and away as their holders slipped back into the shadows of the warehouse. For that’s what it was, now that Thomas’ eyes had adjusted to the light. He could see the outlines of large moving trucks huddled all around the floor, and nearby, literally tons of computer equipment stacked in seemingly haphazard piles.

And now he could see the people, dozens of them. About half were sprawled in small knots of two or three, occasionally swigging from a can of beer or biting into a microwaved snack before setting it back down on top of a server or router. The rest of the occupants were dancing, swirling, gesturing, and enrobed in VR gear. First-rate VR gear from what he could see.

Doodlehopper grinned at him from where she was standing, arms crossed against her black vest, watching him. “Welcome to Safe House,” she repeated.

“You can stay here for the next twenty-four hours,” said the older woman, a chestnut-haired scowler named Dana who hadn’t lost her beauty as she aged into her forties. Thomas frowned as the ancient microwave chugging away on the floor near him went silent. His eyes clouded, and he absently pulled open the door to carefully remove a steaming Asiabowl.

“Whatever you say,” he replied, trying to keep his voice calm, ripping the top off and taking a whiff of the food inside. You had to check for freshness when dining with Young Hacker Types. It smelled very good, though he knew that was partly because he hadn’t eaten much lately. He nodded at the folks around them. “Can I ask you about this place?”

Dana smirked, but without humor. “You can ask.”

He willed himself to stay calm and grabbed a pair of chopsticks from a bunch sticking out of a Styrofoam cup. He stirred the cooked tofu and rice as he composed his thoughts. He recalled the Art of War. The clever combatant imposes his will on the enemy, but does not allow the enemy’s will to be imposed on him.

“What is your purpose?” he asked, almost casually, his eyes on his food.

Dana’s eyebrows furrowed for a second, then she gave him a broad smile. This had as much humor as her smirk. “Why do you think we have a purpose?” she asked, spreading her arms.

Doodlehopper shot Thomas a worried look over her plate of noodles.

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