A GLIMPSE OF FOUNTELLION

from ‘In The Spiral: Connected Stories and Fragments from a Virtual Future’

He hadn’t had to access the old, linear web for some time, but everything had changed since he’d seen… another super world…

Whatever project it was, he would have to get involved.

Leaning back in his brown leather desk chair, he let the memory of it come back. It had felt so… alive. A coastline of sorts. No… more like an estuary. A shining blue sea running into a wide beach and he was looking down upon it, from a higher place; a breezy field of ripe barley. The detail and realism were just superb. He could look across the stalks and see them move in the light wind. He had moved — so naturally — a little through the field, towards a hedge that marked the field boundary. The grass had parted in his avatar’s hands and he had briefly made out the individual grains.

He was not sure how he’d landed in there. He had been trying to study something in a virtual world for inspiration and learning. It was for his new book. He had just been researching in his subject of ‘artificial life inside the virtual’, studying a text (on Natural Selection) in the Great Library of Alexandria space, when he’d turned a page on something — or else triggered it — and had suddenly fallen through the floor and out of the sky, clouds parting around his avatar. The sensation had been surprising, obviously, but also… exhilarating; liberating. The landing he feared would destroy his avatar but he’d lifted his hands out and landed softly and with some brief element of control. More evidence of just how powerful these interfaces had become. He wanted to know what this world was all about.

Then… what had the voices spoken of… Foundellion? Fountellion? He sipped some hot coffee and tried to remember exactly. He was sure it was something like this… Soft, whispered voices had come as though from the fields around him in the wind that blew and sighed resonantly around the landscape. It was more real than real; super-real.

Speaking the words into his console numerous times, something finally came up. He scanned the results that emerged on his aging terminal.

Foundgellion: (?) A mysterious game world created by a brilliant interface pioneer is allegedly nearing completion but mystery still surrounds the project and its development. It could possibly be one title for the updated ‘Game of Being’ and so is believed likely to form a fundamental part of The Spiral sales drive. [RedzGaming Magazine]
@SpiralWritings: Natter comment from Moderator: Reports of an actual realm outside the Spiral Tower? What we find most strange is that unlike most sims there has so far been no hype or promotion involved regarding ‘Foundgellion’(?) We are trying to bring you more information on this story and this title…

Could it be this? They originated from fairly decent sources but they were the only ones he could find… for now.

Damn it though; it wasn’t much. He just wanted to get back… To see more… Explore… Go down to that shadowy, sandy estuary below…

Maybe there was a glitch in the the Spiral fabric? Maybe someone had pushed him there… Or pulled him in? Why? And what would they want from him?

But what he had seen… Well, it was so different from many other games and worlds. The sensation was so real… natural… before it had begun to fade and he’d re-appeared back in the library again, looking bewildered. Some of the other avatars researching in deep study had looked up. He saw a few expressions change to ‘slight irritation mode’. But he had been more interested in the presence of barley, the little grains, still present in places on his virtual attire.

One thing only was certain… He would find it, if it didn’t find him again.

And, in fact, it was only shortly afterwards, as he was still sitting and planning a chapter about one of his projects for a major game company, when a notification flashed up on his AR lenses:

NEW EMAIL
Subject: ‘A Personal Invitation…’

spiraltimes…