Ramone Kingsley was a hypochondriac. His mother blamed his father Lawrence for his military tidiness—early childhood conditioning, Sue claimed. You have fathered a boy who is afraid to make a mess.
And so he had. Lawrence raised his boy in a shady suburban neighborhood that was host to dozens of other military families. Lawrence had chosen this neighborhood specifically for its strict housing ordinances, which forced his neighbors to maintain tidy yards and houses; water the flowers, trim the bush, skim the pool, hide the10-inch satellite dish.
He found the sound ordinances quite satisfying, liked knowing that his house, and every other house on the block, would be in complete order by 10, and that everyone would be in bed with the lights out by 11. It was calming, gave him a sense of control.
Ramone had inherited his father’s need for order and control, his love of the tidy, and disgust for the chaotic. He feared the world outside of his direct control, feared the random conversations with strangers on the street, the free-flying molecules in the uninhibited air.
He was afraid of cars that passed by as he lingered on the sidewalk, afraid that sweat would pour from his palms and drop him to his death if he ever played on a playground, afraid that he would catch a horrific disease if he didn’t hold his breath as he moved through a crowd.
Ramone was quite happy to stay inside of his father’s safe house during the day, pressing his face to the cool glass of his second-story window, letting the chill dampen his feverish thoughts, knowing that he was just out of reach and the world could not touch him.
His father often let him sit out of school, coddling Sue with the claim that their boy would learn more at home than in the classroom. So little Ramo stayed in more often than not, playing on the high-tech toys his father snuck home from work, taking apart and reassembling computers and household items, rewiring; always rewiring.
He could spend days at a time scripting on a computer, would often upset his father by awakening after midnight, and typing away furiously in the night. But he could never help it. He was driven to the point of obsession.
It was the same urge that cause Lawrence to clip his fingernails until they blended smoothly into his fingertips. Until a project was wrapped up in complete working order, Ram could not eat, could not sleep, could not think without vile thoughts of failure and incompletion screaming though his head.
Sometimes, Ram felt a certain, solid emptiness, a sureness that he was missing something. It was a feeling he felt most strongly when he was alone, when his father was off on a working sabbatical and his mother was working late to finish a project of her own.
In times like that, Ram would watch the shadows creep down the walls in the afternoon, and settle on the carpet, growing, filling the entire house with darkness. He would wait until he could not stand it anymore, and then he would flick on a switch with an exaggerated sense of satisfaction, pretending that all of his anxieties had been settled with the turning of a circuit.
Ram lived like a child in a bubble, nervously prowling and pacing through his home, his room, his staircase, checking doors and windows to assure that all exits were secured, that no one could get in or out, that the world could not touch him.
He imagined sometimes that he must have received HIV through a blood transfusion his parents forgot to mention, that he really could be plagued to his death merely by stepping outside, that he was a child made of glass and the air was poison.
It began to seem to him that he was held inside against his own desires, that he was detained for his own protection. He had spent so much time fearing his own mortal weaknesses that he had created a reality for himself that supported his own fears.
Even his mother unwillingly participated in this charade, never knowing how deeply her son had poisoned his own thoughts.
When the virus hit, Ram could not understand that it was a disease that afflicted his parents and not him. One evening Sue sat down with Ram to explain that she was going to leave the house and never return. As she spoke she arranged and rearranged a dense quantity of canned foods on the table, like an elaborate game of shells.
Ram watched her hands and ignored her words, picking up only bits and pieces of sentences. He did not hear his mother’s passionate plea that he understand that she was dying, not him, and that she was leaving so that he didn’t have to watch her. But he heard her tell him she was leaving for his own good, his own safety.
He mixed and twirled her ideas in his head, until he envisioned himself as a decrepit, sickly monster who breathed foul air upon the world and grew constantly more sickly and wretched. He hated himself for his illness, and didn’t blame his mother for wanting away from it.
Ram sat still for a long time after his mother left, and then stood up to check all of the locks on the doors, later to nail and screw the doors into place, so that he was locked inside, living in a fortress of sickness and rage. He tore down the mirrors and covered the windows with sheets, creating a perpetual twilight.
Then Ram sunk into himself, gratifying his need for affection by feeling relishing in self-satisfying misery, and he shivered and shook in place, buried in his thoughts for days at a stretch, lying in his own filth until the stink overwhelmed him and he stood up dizzily and forced himself to bathe.
After that, Ram’s desire to survive overcame him. His anxiety lessened. He no longer feared the outside world, he understood that some day he would need to step outside; there was a world out there, and he must feed off of it.
In the meanwhile though, he was gathering strength. Building a digital fortress. Ram knew nothing yet of the future, but he sought to rearrange the past, typing and clicking away, wiring and rewiring, quietly building something new to rewrite the old, creating his first, personal version of Reality.
He built a program and a headset, used his fathers high-tech military equipment to build a mind-machine interface. Ram wanted to create a dream world, a special, beautiful place where he had lucid control of a past so real he could almost taste it; a different reality, one so pure that he had no reason to fear, where he could go back to his childhood, and re-live it, this time doing it right, this time really living, this time facing the world in a way that would not force his parents to leave him.
But Ram underestimated the depth of his own fear and self-loathing. Where he thought he would dream himself a paradise of past, Ram’s mind built a night-mare, in which his every fear was realized.
He went back to his childhood, poisoned himself with polio, weakened his system and sweated from feverish palms so that when he visited the playground he fell from the bars and kept falling falling falling until he grew used to the fall, and calmed for a moment before landing on a ground bristling with insects.
In his dream, Ram stood up and tried to walk away, but his bones stuck out of him in shards like the quills of a porcupine, and with each step he took, a few frail quills clinked together and shattered like glass.
Then he fell to the ground crying from every pore as he wailed and sweated.
Ram paused for a moment to remember he was dreaming, then pulled the mask from his face to reveal the blue twilight of his house. He understood that he had lived a nightmare,that Reality was not quite real, but when he made an effort to stand, he could not convince his body that he was able.
The problem that would always plague Ram’s work was perfection. He had created a reality too real, too in keeping with his devastating understanding of life. And he had built a dream too perfectly for his body to separate it from reality.
Ram sobbed on the floor, screamed until he felt that his throat must bleed. But he could not fathom the will to move his legs.
Still, his desire for life overcame him, and, crawling along the floor, pulled by his own sweating palms, Ram began to move about the house at a painstaking pace, dragging together the equipment he would need for a new life.
Before the virus there was a happy everyday suburban family. They were very affluent, and doing well. The father was involved in the military and he was a very successful scientist who pioneered many different innovations.
They were a busy working class family and both parents were often away from home. Their young boy was often quite lonely because his mum was also a career woman.
When the boy was young he was struck by an illnesss which left his parents distraught. They thought it was Polio or MS or even Parkinsons. So the poor child was barely able to walk and ended up confined in a wheelchair where he dreamed of a different future for himself. He would fantasise day and night about being able to walk again.
The child had lots of time on his hands due to his disability and became very interested in his fathers knowledge of technology. Due to his father’s equipment and contacts the boy had some amazing computer gadgets and equipment to play with and much preferred these over cars and bikes.
His true potential became apparent to all as he was clearly a childhood prodigy. A genius like his father and his I.Q was off the scale.
The boy hoped to use the power of technology and computers to improve his dibilitating condition. He dreamed of inventing a virtual world he could visit.
He couldn’t walk in the real world but in his virtual world he could run like an olympic athlete, and soar like an eagle.
This boy is Ram.
When the virus hit he was traumatised at losing his family - he had to learn to be ruthless. He would have to use all his genius and gifts to survive as a wheelchair bound kid in a world with no adults to help him.
Where other kids would use their street guile, physical size and strength to help defend themselves in a hostile new world, Ram had only his mind.
Regarded as a visionary by many - they saw he had the potential to lift society out of its return to primitive laws of the jungle and transform it into a high tech stable and radical future.
Ram’s dream was to turn Science fiction into Science fact.
With the techology he knew, he could indeed make miracles - he could make the lame, walk. Ram regarded himself as a Techno messiah of the future.
His computers would let him do anything he wished to achieve.
rom a young age Ram was influenced by his father and his father’s profession. He would often accompany his father to work and watch him working on top secret experiments.
His father was into integrating computer technology with biology and with this came Virtual Reality. The military wanted computers to be able to hook into the mind’s subconscious.
The long term goals were to help pilots learn how to fly and to fly dangerous missions from the comfort of a VR machine. They could be put into all sorts of situations - not just flying - and their ability, focus and mental alertness could be monitored.
Ram’s father was devoted to the project but also saw another use for the technology. He realised that people could live their dreams within the VR world. There was no limit to what the world of virtual reality could bring to someone’s life.
Ram wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps which was why his father involved him so much. Ram enjoyed going to his fathers military base and felt important that his father had so much faith in him.
The miltary were also working on laser prototypes. These new-age weapons were supposed to be the weapon of the future. The wrist mounted lasers had high and low settings to suit the occasion of using them. With one hit you could disable someone and with another you could render them lifeless.
A sound weapon was also made - but not quite finished. This weapon “the sound blaster” was to be used on large groups. A 30 second burst from this machine and everyone within hearing distance would have their eardrums turning inside out putting them off balance and squirming in pain. Of course the Techno’s are protected from this with a micro-filter placed in their ears.
When the virus struck, Ram believed these weapons still had a future. He worked hard on developing and finishing them off. They have become the weapons of the Techno’s.
Ram’s virtual world was still in the making and was going to be perfect when he had finished with it.
After the virus Ram knew he was destined to be a leader. He recruited the top kids in his school. They were all top of their class in science, maths, computers, biology, and chemistry.
He knew he could make a difference if he could get the power.