(Authors Note; it's obvious I'm not making any money from this, after all, who in
their right mind would pay me? I'm also aware this starts off like a Mary Sue, but I
promise it gets better. There are quite a few OCs, and if you get confused (as some
people have) leave a question on the reviews page, or e-mail me.)

She sits at her desk, typing. It's late, past midnight. She's on a forum, under
the name Nanu. It's daytime somewhere else in the world, and she's arguing with a
guy that calls himself Noah. He made some comment, like "That's the way life goes;
that's the real world," and now she's mad. She punches the keys as she types, fast,
[Noah, you can't know that for sure, this could all be a lie. Don't you ever think
about that?]
[No, I don't. It's enough for me to have a good life here, and do something
worth while with it, and enjoy it. If I can do that, then it doesn't matter to me if
it's a lie.]
[How?!? How can you possibly be happy if you can't trust the world to be real?
Don't you ever question? Don't you ever wonder if this isn't real? If you wonder,
you can't be sure, and how can you be happy if you can't be sure??]
[Look Nanu, it's simple. I don't wonder.]
And he leaves. She snarls a curse, and closes the browser.
She's up late the next morning; she slept through her alarm. Her mother yells
down the hall,
"Naiomi Harper, you're late for school again! Hurry up!"
She stumbles into her school clothes and packs two sandwiches for the day – one
for breakfast, one for lunch. Then she throws them in her bag and heads for the
On her way to school, on the train, she notices a man sitting several seats in
front of her. He has his head down and his back to her, and she wonders if he's
sleeping, but he looks up sharply as she slides into the back seat. He wears a black
trenchcoat, his hair is black, and she can see the arms of shades behind his ears.
The train slows, approaching the next station, and he gets up. The carriage is
almost empty. As he turns and walks closer, he looks at her, but she can't be
completely certain of where his eyes are behind the shades. And is it her
imagination or is his mouth tweaking in a smile?
She looks quickly out the window.
School is not worth the telling. Work she doesn't want to do, teachers she
doesn't want to listen to, people she doesn't want to see. Then the last bell rings
and students flood out toward the gate.
Stepping onto the train she looks around, half hoping to see the man again. But
he's not there. An abandoned newspaper lies on the ground; she picks it up, flicks
pages. There! On page six, a small blurred photo of a man, black sweep of coat, a
shaded glance over the shoulder, and the title: INTERNATIONAL MANHUNT
She skims the article, but finds nothing new, only re-hashed information -
International Terrorist Neo, most dangerous man alive, responsible for the deaths
of hundreds of people, sighted recently in the City (that was a new place) eluded
authorities (yet again!).
She tears out the page and puts it in her bag, then leaves the paper on the seat.
When she gets home, she puts the article in a folder under her desk, taking a
moment to leaf through the other ones she has collected. All have similar titles and
information, but in almost every one the place and the death toll are different.
She boots up her computer and checks her e-mail. Nothing from Noah, but one
from a new name, Oen. She opens it. There is no "from" address.
[Nanu – I noticed your "discussion" with Noah last night, it was interesting, to
say the least. It caught my attention because Noah reminded me of a man I once
knew. He wondered about reality, but when he found out the Truth, he began to
resent it. After nine years, he decided he preferred to live with the lie.
Please don't think me too forward if I say I would like to meet you, although I
cannot really blame you.
I cannot say where it will be, not here. I cannot say why I would like to talk to
you, for this connection is far from secure.
So wait, feel free to sleep in tomorrow. And catch the same train you did today.
The answers are coming.]
She stares at the screen. Then she hears her mother coming in the front door,
and she pulls out her homework.
She hangs around the next morning, dallying. She cannot convince her mother
she is not ready, and has to run for the car with a half-open bag and no lunch to
avoid being left behind.
When at the station, she watches two trains go by before she sees the one she
was on yesterday. She gets in the last carriage, in the back seat. It's empty except
Him. He is there.
As she looks at him, he stands, turns, walks to her. He pauses in the aisle beside
her and hands her an envelope. She takes it with a shaking hand.
He speaks,
"Do you know who I am Nanu?"
She whispers, "Oen?" But he smiles and shakes his head, the movement fluid.
"I'm actually quite the opposite," he gestures toward the envelope she still holds
in front of her. "Read it carefully, and show it to no one. No one."
She nods faintly, and he smiles again.
"I'll see you around," and he leaves, stepping off onto the platform. No one gets
into her carriage.
She looks at the envelope. It's plain, white, with a typed name – Nanu – on the
How on earth had he found her? How had he known it was her on the train?
She tears open the envelope, pulls out a sheet of paper, and is surprised to see
the letter is handwritten, in green ink.
I have a place and time arranged. You will be picked up from the north east
corner of the City Park at 2400 hours on the 25th.
This Thursday, tomorrow night!
Please come Nanu, this is an offer that will only be given once. If you choose not
to meet us, then unfortunately we may never meet again, and you may even forget
our brief encounter, but of that path I cannot see beyond the present.
You stand at a crossroads, the first of many. Only you can decide your fate.
PS, Enclosed is your train ticket. Don't lose it.
And that is all. No name, no signature. She reads the letter over and over, until
she almost misses her stop. She notices that, as she stands to leave, the carriage is
still completely empty.
All day she chafes at every delay. She does the normal things, classes, books,
jostling to get to her locker. But today, teachers look disturbed at her stony
expression as they hand her homework to her, other students move aside for her in
the corridor, and the library where she spends her lunch break is strangely quiet.
She barely notices.
She's sitting at a desk in the reference section, writing. Making list of crazy
ideas and plans. How in hell can she sneak out of home at 11:00 at night, catch the
11:09 to the City, walk to the Park through streets she barely knew, and wait until
she was 'picked up'? The phrase makes her think if Star Trek, "Beam me up
Scottie!" Or maybe there are aliens involved. At this point in time, nothing would
surprise her.
Oen. Such a strange name, like Owen, but changed. She guesses, with such
strange spelling, it must mean something. She begins muddling the letters around on
She drops the pen. Neo; the "International Terrorist", the one that every
authority in the world is searching for, the most dangerous man alive. Coincidence?
Yeah, maybe.
She shuts her folder and moves her books to a computer. She logs on quickly,
opens a search engine and types in "Neo". She comes up with hundreds of articles,
all with similar headlines to the one she found on the train yesterday. Everything
she hears about this man is negative. He isn't always front-page news, in fact, word
of his exploits is beginning to wear thin, and it's always the same now. But at least
once a fortnight, something will come up. An explosion in an overseas city,
attributed to him. A new rumour perhaps. Or something slightly different, maybe a
breach of security somewhere, a hacking job. But all fingers are pointing to Neo.
She opens an article, with a picture. It's of the face of a young man, in his early
thirties at the most, with black hair spiking at odd angles and hair falling in his
eyes. He wears a black coat, and shades that are slanted like something feline.
She stares, her breath catching in her throat. She selects the image, prints it,
and stuffs the paper in her folder as the bell goes for class.
She walks to the station, a breeze messing up her hair as she goes. The letter is
in her coat pocket, and she fingers it, thinking. There must be a connection she's
missed, Oen and Neo. Is Oen just a name? They have to be the same man; the face
is what has convinced her. In the picture his expression had been carefully
schooled, showing nothing; seeming hard in that narrow face. That same face had
smiled at her that morning on the train, the same pale, flawless skin; same short
black hair, never quite neat; same nose; same ears; same mouth. A face with more
angles than curves; an amazing face.
She shakes her head. These thoughts help not at all.
Oen . . . Neo . . . Oen . . . Neo . . .
He had asked her, "Do you know who I am Nanu?" She had given a name, and,
what had he said? "I'm actually quite the opposite." Quite the opposite. Odd thing
to say. Then she frowns, thinks, and smiles. Of course, how dumb is she? Oen is Neo
backwards, opposite.
So then, is Oen a name he uses to avoid being noticed by the authorities? Maybe.
It is at that moment that she realises she is being watched. She glances over
her shoulder, sees a man in a brown suit following her. There are many others on
this street, but this suit holds no briefcase and he is looking straight at her though
his square shades. She walks faster.
Entering the station, she is looking at her feet as she descends the stairs. She
sees a coin. She picks it up, glances at the food joint before her, inside the station.
It's not enough money for a doughnut or bun, but enough for an apple. She's
hungry; she hasn't eaten at all today. She walks over, places the coin on the glass
counter and asks for a red apple. She takes it, shining it on her coat as she climbs
the stairs onto the platform.
She checks her watch, dumps her bag at her feet and leans against the wall to
wait for the train. Lifting the apple, she bites into it. It's crisp, making a snapping,
crunching sound as she bites, and juice fills her mouth. She chews, swallows, her
stomach contracting and burning with the reaction of acids. She looks at the apple.
There is a worm in it. It's long, metallic grey and thick, it looks like a power cord
or something. It's rearing, its blind head almost looking at her. From the corner of
her eye, she can see the man in the brown suit not far away. He is just standing,
watching. And without her wanting it to, her arm lifts the apple to her mouth, her
jaws open and she takes another bite. Her mind is yelling No! but all she can do is
shut her eyes as the worm slithers and curls against her tongue, and then squirms
and writhes down her throat. She makes some small sound, and then the world goes
quiet and still.
She wakes, it's dark, and she's in her room, on her bed. She explodes out of it,
into the bathroom, and throws up in the toilet. There is almost nothing.
Was it all a bad dream? If so, when did the dream begin? And the guy in the suit,
what did he have to do with anything?
She rinses her mouth out in the sink, splashes icy water on her face. She sees
herself in the mirror. Long, dark hair, falling out of a braid, pale-ish skin and light
brown eyes, almost with a yellow tinge to them. Wolf-eyes, someone had once said,
and she cherishes the insult as if it were a compliment.
She jumps as, suddenly, the phone rings. Her mother is not yet home, and it's
past 7:00.
She goes to her room and picks up the extension.
"Nanu, we're out of time, it has to be tonight – "
"Neo – ?"
"You must decide now, do you still want to meet?"
Her mind blanks; empties. "I, I think..." she hears a crack of thunder and rain
begins to lash at her window.
"Then I'll see you soon. We'll find you as long as you get to the City, don't
forget your ticket Nanu."
And he hangs up.
She looks at her watch, thinking. A train leaves for the City in about ten minutes,
just enough time for her to get to the station. She changes her school shoes for
boots, grabs her coat and keys and checks that the letter and ticket are still in the
pocket. She takes a cookie from the tin on the kitchen bench, and runs out the
She arrives just in time for the train, swiping her ticket and running up the
stairs two at a time, then leaping for the closing doors. She makes it.
She receives some odd looks as she stands there, dripping water from her hair
and coat, holding a damp ticket in one hand. She slides into a seat, shivering as the
cold air conditioning chills her wet clothes. Forty-five minutes to the City.
Forty-five minutes suddenly seems a very long time.
She's lost. It's dark, raining, cold, and she's scared. She's lost.
She stands in a bus shelter, pulling out her ticket from her pocket for about the
fifth time. It looks like any normal train ticket.
So why did the ticket gate spit it out with the message – HAVE A NICE DAY –
instead of eating it like it should have?
She puts it back in her pocket. She checks her watch, again, it's now 8:30; she's
been wandering around for half an hour, and she still can't find the Park.
"I should've a brought a road map or something," she mutters.
"You sure move around a lot kid," says a voice near her. She spins around. The
speaker is a young man, twenty or so, with white-blond hair, green eyes, and a slight
accent she can't place.
"I'm here to pick you up Nanu," he smiles, gestures; "the car is this way."
"But, Neo – "
"Don't say his name. I'm taking you to him, it's not safe for you or him if he
comes to you directly."
"But he has already," Nanu protests, following him now. The rain has slackened to
a drizzle. "Twice, on the train."
"God," the man says quietly. They turn off the main street and down an alley.
She's not quite so scared any more. "He said Trin would do that," he continues, half
to himself.
"Trinity. You'll meet her. Soon."
They continue, emerging out of the alley into a dim, narrow, back street.
Driveways to underground carparks gape at their feet, brick walls, roller doors and
graffiti surround them. Nanu suddenly realises she doesn't know the man's name.
"Who are you?"
He laughs, "Subtle aren't you? My name is Gavin."
Suddenly he stops. An old, black sedan emerges from a carpark exit before
them, and as it slows, Gavin opens the back door and nods to her; "Get in."
She obeys quickly, and he follows her, slamming the door. A woman with black
hair and blue eyes is in the front seat, with a gun. She is aiming it at Nanu.
She stiffens as the car continues moving; another man with long red hair is
driving. Three against one. Not fair.
"Do you still want to go through with this Nanu?" Gavin asks her. She swallows,
and glares at the woman's impassive face.
"So long as she doesn't shoot me, yes. He asked me to come."
The woman's face doesn't change, but her eyes do. They go a little colder, a
little harder.
Gavin takes a metal container from the floor, like a wide necked drink bottle, and
unscrews the cap. He hands Nanu the container,
"You have to drink this."
"You've been bugged, we have to get rid of it or they'll trace you. Drink it."
She takes a sip, and swallows. The drink fizzes and tingles down her throat. It
tastes bad.
"Drink it all," says the woman.
Defiantly, Nanu tilts back her head and skulls the drink down, swallow after
swallow. She can feel it gurgling and bubbling in her guts.
Suddenly, she feels something solid in her stomach. It moves, twisting, writhing,
rasping against the bottom of her oesophagus. It begins to move up, and she gags,
feeling like she's choking. Nanu feels hands on her shoulders, and realises Gavin is
making her lean forward with the container in front of her mouth, and he's saying.
"Get it out Nanu, cough it up."
She chokes, it's almost in her mouth, then he thumps her on the back and she
spits the worm out into the container. Gavin takes it, winds down the window and
tips the contents out into the rainy night.
"The old bugs were easier," muses the woman, her gaze still sharp on Nanu.
The girl shivers. "I thought that thing wasn't real," she whispers.
"Your perception of reality is going to be tested tonight kid," the woman replies,
her voice as cold and as hard as her eyes. "You're going to have to show a little
more guts than that to cope with it."
Nanu looks away.
They pull into the loading dock of an abandoned warehouse or factory, Nanu
can't tell which in the dark. The BUILDING CONDEMNED sign on the wall is faded and
the paint is cracked, but the building is whole aside from several broken windows.
Gavin and Nanu walk up the stairs and through the door first, the woman and man
following them.
The inside of the building is cold and empty. The roof is high, with sarking poking
out through gaps in the steel rafters. It is so dim inside that Nanu, standing by one
wall, cannot see the far end, and can only barely see the two armchairs in the
middle of the room. Red leather armchairs, old, torn and stained.
When she glances around for Gavin, Nanu sees he is gone. She is alone.
"Nanu," she hears a voice. It's him. She looks back toward the chairs, and sees
him standing there. A hole in the roof lets a shaft of moonlight down, faintly
highlighting the two chairs, and the tall man in the long black coat. She walks over
to him, her hands in her coat pockets. She still feels damp, and she's getting
"Neo," she says. He smiles. His eyes get a light in them when he smiles.
"I'll have to tell Trinity that you're smarter than she thought."
"Yes," his voice is mesmerising, no matter his words. "She doesn't approve of you
being here. Usually we find hackers, people who have computer skills as well as the
questions you ask."
"Please Nanu," he gestures to a chair. "Sit." She does so.
"What I mean," he continues, "is your attitude to accepting the world around you.
You question if this world, this air, these chairs, this City," he raises his hands to
encompass everything around him, "even this darkness, you question if they are real.
You ask, how can anyone know that this is not a dream?
"I'm telling you now Nanu, you can't know."
"Are you saying that this isn't real?"
"If this world isn't real, what is it?"
Nanu halts. She sits with her elbows on her knees, rubbing her hands together.
"Then, we're dreaming, or something," she says slowly.
"You've heard of virtual reality I assume?"
"What if the whole world was one incredibly complex virtual reality game? If,
instead of a dream, we were plugged into a virtual reality, then what would you
She thinks.
"I'd want to know who was controlling it and why."
He laughs at her blunt words; "You're a really subtle person aren't you?"
"Subtlety subx."
"Good point," he smiles. "But unfortunately I cannot answer those questions, not
"Why not?"
He continues as if he didn't hear her.
"If you were offered a way out of this virtual world, would you take it?"
She doesn't hesitate; "Yes."
"Even if it meant you could never go home, never see your family or friends
again?" he speaks softly, as if he has been through this pain. "What if the world you
go to is cold, dark and hostile?"
"If I knew this world wasn't real, it wouldn't matter if the truth was horrible."
He comes around his chair, takes a silver pill case from his pocket, and sits down.
He turns it over and over in his hands.
"Have you ever heard of the Matrix, Nanu?"
"Do you have any idea what it is?"
"I read an entry on a forum once, someone called The One was talking about the
world being a computer program we were in, he called it a 'neural interactive
simulation', and he said it was known as the Matrix. But I didn't really get what he
"No one can be told what the Matrix is, you have to see it for yourself," he
whispers the words, half to himself. "Just as you cannot believe in the real world
when you are dreaming; you have to wake up to learn the truth."
Nanu sits frozen, trying to understand what he has just said. Neo opens the pill
case, tips out two capsules, a red one and a blue one. He holds one in each hand, blue
in the right hand, red in the left.
"This is your ultimatum, you take the blue pill – "
"No – " she jumps out of her chair, moving away as Neo gets up also. "You're not
going to drug me – "
"They're not drugs Nanu, neither one will harm you. If you want to find the truth
you have to choose. Do you want to know or not?"
"Adam and Eve got thrown out of Eden when they found out the truth."
"What if Eden was a lie?" he is standing before his chair, still holding a pill in
each hand. "If paradise was a lie, would you rather the lie or the truth, no matter
how harsh the truth is?"
Slowly, she moves closer, out of the shadows.
"Which pill do I take?" she asks.
"The blue pill will stop all this," he lifts his hand, palm up. The capsule lies still.
"You'll wake up at home and believe, whatever you want to." He raises his left hand.
"You take the red pill, and I show the truth, no more than that, no less."
Nanu stands in silence for a moment, then reaches out and takes the;
Red pill. There is no water; she swallows the pill dry. It is warm and slightly salty
from Neo's hand.
Neo smiles.
"Come with me," and he leads he into the dark. They go up a flight of metal stairs
built into the far wall, and reach a small office with a large window that overlooks
the factory floor. Nanu can see the two chairs, a circle of light in black
Inside the office, Neo clicks the light switch, and harsh fluorescent lights
flicker into being. The window becomes a dim mirror.
The room is cluttered with equipment; several computers, an odd machine made
from an old rotary phone, and jumbles of other technological things Nanu cannot
identify. There is also a chair, like a dentist's chair, but altered.
Gavin, the woman and the red haired man have come into the room by another
door, and are now working. Another woman comes up to Neo, she is holding a black
cell phone.
"Key," he asks her, "are we on line?"
"Just about," she answers and hands him the phone. Taking it, he gestures to the
"Take a seat Nanu."
Gavin takes her coat, helps her clamber into the chair. He begins to fix ECG
monitors to her neck, then, as she pulls up her sleeve for him to attach one to her
left arm, he freezes. His fingers reach out, trace the circle she had drawn on her
"Neo - ?" he whispers, but Neo is already there. He glances at the circle, then
looks up at Nanu with a strange expression on his face, like he is seeing her for the
first time.
"Why would you draw something like that?" he asks her. The room is very still.
"Of all things, why a . . . plug?"
Nanu looks at the circle again, at the pattern of lines in and around it. She
noticed before how it looked like a socket, like one in the back of a computer, but
slightly different.
"It's only pen," she shrugs. "I can rub it off."
Neo looks at her again, then abruptly moves away. Gavin continues with the
monitors, then goes to his computer, and the awkward moment has passed.
Nanu feels very strange.
The chair is set apart from the old tables with the computers and other
equipment. To one side of her, the monitor wires are plugged into a box with meters
and screens, the woman, Key, stands over it. Neo is by the phone-machine thing. He
dials a number, then sets the receiver on a stand. He looks thinner somehow, then
Nanu sees his trenchcoat is gone. It is dumped in a pile near her chair.
She looks at it closely, it almost starts to move. Her eyes go wide, her breath
stops, it is moving! She makes a sound, and Gavin looks up from behind his computer,
seeming worried.
Something begins to writhe out of the coat sleeve, something long and black; a
Nanu jerks, trying to get out of the chair, but she's strapped in, at her waist,
ankles and wrists. Why hadn't she noticed that?
The snake hisses, a long, pale, forked tongue flicking out of its mouth and in
again almost too fast to see. It raises it's head, it weaves back and forth, hypnotic,
Neo's voice cuts through to her, "Why are you so certain that this is real Nanu?
How can you know anything for certain?"
But she hardly hears him; she's struggling, straining against the buckles that
hold her down. She closes her eyes and her head tips back as the snake coils around
her leg. Then there is another touch on her hand and her eyes open; another snake!
More, too many, all over. Their touch is cold, icy; it numbs her skin.
Dimly, she can hear voices, orders being given, and she cries out as the snakes, a
snake, a long black cable, rears back and strikes and she feels a burning cold pain in
the back of her head.
Sluggish, warm, red. She can see, but not clearly. Her hands move, weakly,
pushing against a membrane above her that stretches then bursts. Coming up, a
vague sensation of dizziness, then she's ripping out the tube that reached down her
throat and she's gagging and she's covered in slime and she's cold.
She can see around her now, it's dark. Walls of black dotted with red spots. All
the same, all pods. They seem to go on into oblivion.
Her mind is reeling and she wants to scream, "Not people not minds not souls!"
but she has no voice.
A machine flies up out of nowhere before her. It has no face and too many arms.
Claws grab her neck, another arm screws the plug out of the back of her head, then
the machine lets go and cables pop out of her like black snakes and she knows she
has no use any more.
The she's sliding down a pipe and into a river and she's floundering, then she
sees a light above. She's scooped out of the water by another claw, and then it's
light all around her.
Rough blanket, cool air, faces, so many faces, and only one stands out. A man,
with short black hair, pale skin, dark eyes.
"Welcome, to the Real world."
Neo . . .
She can hear voices above her, a woman, and a man. Slowly she remembers their
owners; the blue-eyed woman, and Neo.
"I know you don't approve – " Neo is saying.
"Since when did you ever need my approval to do anything?"
"That's not what I meant, that's not the point – "
"What the point is Neo, is that she doesn't belong here, she knows nothing about
computers, she was into fantasy chat rooms for God's sake, she's no hacker – "
"Okay, she's no hacker, I know that. She couldn't hope to hack the Pentagon or
the goddamn IRS d-base, but could you at sixteen?"
"I was seventeen when I cracked it but that's not what I'm talking about. Why
didn't you wait until she was older, twenty even, maybe she would have been
something then."
"Trinity, you don't understand – "
"Understand? Neo she's a liability to us!"
"Please," his voice is not loud, but it's strong, angry and asking the woman,
Trinity, to listen. "Please, let me explain, let me try to explain."
There is a rustle of cloth and Nanu guesses Trinity has folded her arms.
"Go ahead. Enlighten me."
"She," he pauses, collects words. "She has a mind, she has a mind like you've
never seen, Trinity. She understands the concept of the Matrix already I'm sure.
When she's in there Trin, her coding, it's, it's like nothing I've ever seen. You
don't know what that's like, to find something new in a world where you know what
everyone is doing, not just in one place but everywhere. Every time a person dies, I
know how they died, every time a child is born I know what their name is. Nanu I
had, have, never seen before."
"Surely everyone's coding looks different?" her voice is softer now.
"Well, to an extent yes, but there are parts that are similar, like I can tell if
someone will consider the red pill, or if someone just needs a hint to begin
wondering about the truth. Some people don't ever want to wake up. I can see that
part of their character in their coding. And other parts, like if they're open and
welcoming to other people, or mean, or outgoing, or shy, sometimes I can tell that
"And what did you see in her?"
"She questions. Questions everything."
"Everyone questions, every Jack has questions."
Nanu has to consciously keep her eyes shut; she doesn't want to interrupt this.
"Not like her. Not any I have ever seen. It's like she's always asking about
everything, looking for answers. She wants to know things."
"I still don't see what's different."
"I had to unplug her, to save her. She would have been destroyed."
"Why? She's only a kid."
"I was only a computer nerd."
"You were the One."
"Not then I wasn't"
"But – "
"I wasn't ever the One in that life."
"I'm not getting you."
"I died Trin, remember? You were there."
There is a brief silence. Nanu listens – how could someone die? Is he talking
metaphorically or what?
"Everything the Oracle told me was true. She told me, indirectly, that I wasn't
the One, and she said I was waiting for my next life. The second time round I was
the One."
More silence and more questions rise in Nanu's mind. Who is the Oracle? Neo
speaks again.
"But we still haven't resolved Nanu."
"Are you saying she will be something, like you weren't the One when we
unplugged you but you are now?"
"I honestly don't know. But she's not like anyone else, I do know that. And I
know the AI were watching her. They couldn't have known she's been contacted but
they bugged her anyway."
"Couldn't they have followed Gavin on the train?"
"Uh," he hesitates. "I contacted her, not Gavin. The e-mail and the train."
There is cold quiet. Then light footsteps leaving quickly. Nanu opens her eyes and
sees Neo watching her.
"You heard all that?" he looks sad.
"Yeah," her voice is rough. "She's angry because you lied to her about the train?"
He looks mildly surprised, then nods.
"I've been in that pod for sixteen years haven't I?" she tries to distract him,
she doesn't want him thinking about Trin and then feeling bad. Again, he looks
surprised, and asks her;
"Don't your eyes hurt?"
"Yes they do, and my throat, and my muscles feel all numb and not quite there.
But if you tell me I have been in a pod all my life, then I'll know why everything else
is weird."
"Yes you have."
"And somehow I was also in the Matrix, right?"
"Your mind was, yes."
"How didn't I know about the pod me, how didn't my mind know about my body?"
"The plug in the back of your head," he comes closer, looking down to where
she's lying on her back with a blanket over her. "It feeds the information of the
Matrix directly into your central nervous system, so it overrides what your real
nerves are trying to tell your brain."
"And all the other people in those other pods, they're the same? Still in the
Matrix?" She looks up at him. He has brown eyes.
Nanu shuts her eyes, breathes out. She hears him step away, and she says,
"Don't go – ", but Neo is already gone.
Eventually she falls asleep.