He watched the beach inside the egg timer slow to a trickle and then he watched the last grain halt. Every particle invested with a meaning not obvious from a surface read. They called him and his kind Screens, because they occupied the blendspace between Reality Engineer and Chanticleer.
Build a physical metaphor space and you could assign it any significance. He rewound and replayed. You only really got a sense of what way the grain was woven in by playing around with it.
Amateur Dabble-Punks and Run-Gunners at the ragged edge of the Hunt Estate were making his job harder. They called it an Overclocked Zone or an OZ, time-damaged with narrative linearity failure. Hades Zinc had been trying to crack the underlay lock pattern for two decades now, and depending on the time-dialling he was closer or further from an answer at different points.
Out on the singularity edge he would sometimes find a tulpa echo, instructions rattling around inside it, pointing the way to the truth.
‘You know, I haven’t been the Oracle for a while now,’she said.’
‘What does that mean?’ he asked.
‘Just that I gave up the day job. What are you out here looking for?’
‘A pattern – something that tells me why this place locked up.’
She smiled. ‘You don’t get it, do you? There were a whole bunch of disparate threads, starting with the A to Z Streats gave you, and you are the shuttle weaving together the warp and weft.’
‘I’m the pattern lock?’
‘Yes, a necessary move away from life inside this glitch. A glitch city in the heart of a vector flower.’
‘You’re the grain aren’t you?’
‘Yes, and you’re cutting against me.’
He fell asleep. He dreamt, falling apart.