Bryony dreamed of stars. Tiny points of light swirled around her head in streaks and spirals. One rushed past her face murmuring, “Unauthorised personnel shall not enter any laboratory without supervision from a designated technician.” Another whizzed through her head with a high pitched whine. The swirling became faster and faster.
“Laboratory personnel shall comply with article five-oh-three of the Atkinson treaty document.”
“Chemical laboratories shall enforce a dress code including closed footwear and protective clothing.”
“Individuals authorised for entry to any laboratory are to be recorded in the designated record space.”
“What in the asteroids did you think you were doing in there?”
The stars came closer and closer, faster and faster, until all Bryony saw was a blaze of light.
* * *
Melinda was duelling a robot. She danced back across the arena as it rolled toward her. She grabbed at the bright red life-rep pinned to its chest. Suddenly the robot stood a metre to her right.
“You’re not a fighter.” Its words immobilised her. “You can’t even handle a bit of bickering.”
This wasn’t the way she wanted things to go. As the robot reached out to her chest, Melinda fought off the compulsion and ducked. She grabbed its life-rep on her way down and tumbled into the oblivion of sleep.
* * *
Ken was in a world of numbers. A two floated past, written in careful schoolboy handwriting. Seven dots kept shifting to form yet another not-quite-regular pattern. An indeterminate quantity somewhere behind his left shoulder identified itself as x. Wherever he focused his attention, more numbers appeared. Ken sighed. These would take a long time to organise. He pulled open the filing cabinet beside him and began sorting the closest numbers.
* * *
Jaxon lay in the street, where his parents’ flat had fallen onto his head.
“I told you there was too much junk in that place,” his father said.
“If only Jaxon hadn’t kept fiddling with things, this wouldn’t have happened,” his mother replied.
Jaxon’s head pounded. If they wouldn’t help him out of here, he would have to do it on his own. He dug around in his pockets until he found the pieces he needed to construct a winch. As the building lifted from his head, he rolled over and tugged on his pillow.