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"Stick me," I say, teeth clenched, breathing the sweat out through my screaming lungs. I’m so ready to burn in here. "Do it now," I demand.
There’s a fire in the back of my skull where the communications port is jacked in. The sweat doesn’t help. The itch. The screaming inside of my head as I attempt to reconnect with thousands of lost souls, with hundreds of thousands of terabytes of memories - not memories of data, you know, but the real thing: childhood birthdays and car crashes and first kisses, all converted at once into seemingly infinite rows of zeroes and ones. This is always the part that’s hardest to get through, the breaking point, for most, the addictive adrenaline surge from getting stuck. And I’m sweating the beast off.
"Amp it up; give it more gain," I’m demanding, though the voice I hear doesn’t really even sound like me, not anymore. I open my eyes for a second and catch an impressionistic smear of worry across the tech’s normally expressionless face. Fuck it. No one else will take it this far. No one else will touch NSI’s equipment; even less would hardwire it straight into their heads. Even if you can find someone crazy enough to gamble it all by going this far, you sure as hell wouldn’t find anyone willing enough to amp up, for chrissakes.
"Amp UP!" I scream, but I wonder if she can even hear me at all. I wonder if I’ve made a sound besides the cracking of the teeth as I grind them against themselves, waging war against my own body for the sake of what... I’m wondering, and the light is coming, and I reach for it even though it’s going to kill me… And then I’m through.
Dead on arrival.