The Swimmer

Dreamsoup head, she lifts it and the pearlescent drops fall from her hair like liquid mercury. Her eyes are alight with story, stacked layers of reality filtered through the retinal slice she had implanted fifteen years ago.

Post Burn Paris is not something that people seek to have as a memory anymore. This is not the place where the psychic clutter of postcard pictures gather. Hagen is here to meet The Swimmer – the girl who has been rescuing vagrants from the ideational space of art.

The Differential Collapse that blew apart the difference between different layers of reality had been centered here, where a Situationist Terrorist group that had a tame quantum physicist and  an aspirational Reality Engineer sit down and pull the world apart.

The Swimmer, that was the only name on record for her. She was a by-product of the disaster as much as anyone he had ever met. She moved through the room like it wasn’t quite real, and shook his hand in the drugged somnambulistic manner of many who had survived.

‘I have found a key,’ he said.

Her eyes swam into focus. Someone awake behind them.

He handed it to her. It was shaped like the symbol that he had seen buried in most of the promotional materials that she had made to tell people of the services she could provide.

‘Why did you bring it to me?’

‘Because you have it in everything that you do.’

She smiled.

‘It is a charm. It holds me steady. I am lucid enough now to tell you that you have made a mistake. It explains why I have been waking up more. It wasn’t supposed to happen.’

‘What does it mean?’

‘I would tell you if I could remember, but I can’t. And I won’t.’

‘But?’

‘But this is the end.’