It took me a few minutes to adjust to where I was when I opened my eyes and I was laying in a chair staring up at a white sky. When my eyes finally focused, I realized I was back in the Metacortex lab with the real Sarah sitting next to me holding a clipboard taking notes.
"Hey", I mumbled, "What happened?"
"Hi, John. You came out earlier than planned, we ran into a hiccup", she replied nonchalantly.
"Huh? What hiccup? How long was I out?" I questioned.
"We're not exactly sure what went wrong, but this is what happened. We plugged you in and Seth jumped on his console to give you your intro. After about ten minutes, your data feed lost sync and the server was racing on overdrive to keep up, which it was designed to do so no problem there. Then the user interface monitoring daemon crashed hard and auto-rebooted itself", Sarah explained in detail.
"Yeah, that's when everything went black again", I nodded.
"Well, we monitored the system for the next five minutes because at this point the data stream was so fast, we thought another crash might happen. Then you woke up."
I did the math in my head, "So you're telling me I was in the machine for a bit over fifteen minutes?".
"Closer to twenty, but yeah. Let me take you to the lounge so you can relax while we discuss tomorrow.", she clearly had no idea I had experienced about five hours of time in the machine.
I decided to keep this to myself for now.
I got to the lounge area and had a snack and a soda while waiting, reflecting on my time in the machine. It was so vivid so real, yet so surreal all the same. Thinking back, had I really interacted with my subconscious whatever and my ego?
I was deep in thought when Sarah walked in and sat down.
"We're going to take the rest of the day and ensure the machine doesn't crash again. The variable data flow is something we expected and within normal parameters, but we want to take a look at the logs."
I nodded, "It was really amazing. I've never experienced anything like that"
"I know, it's going to change everything.", Sarah looked at her watch, "I got a follow up meeting, but initial data suggest your mind is an unusually natural match to the machine's interface and we'd like you to come in tomorrow for another round, are you interested?"
"Uh... hell yeah.", I tried to curb my enthusiasm... I failed.
With that she escorted me out and I stood outside the building looking around with this feeling like everything felt new, everything was different.
I couldn't help but feel like I was wasting time walking around the city when I really just wanted to get back into the machine. I felt a sense of desperation and even depression being here in this simple reality.
I sat down at one of the benches in Bryant Park, closed my eyes and an odd thing happened. I almost instantly went into a deep meditation. This never happens, I'm usually struggling for minutes if not an hour to get this deep, but there I was on the park bench with stillness.
I imagined minutes passed but my sense of time was weak at this level, I started hearing the voices of ego again, but this time it was more clear than usuals.
"So you think you're special now, well you are special... you're better than ... ooh look at that chick in the red dress... red like blood... are you sitting on blood? Why don't you look... you should look... look around you... you might miss something.", of course this was ego's typical nonsensical disjointed thought stream.
I let the voices pass, and they did. In the stillness I paid attention to a voice more dim... it whispered. "You found something profound. This is going to change everything. Get ready.", then the scent of vanilla drifted by.
I sat up, head spinning, checked the time, and headed towards my first interview.
I had four interviews and the day went by so painfully slowl. I answered all their questions, giving them a ten minute career story. Of course I asked the important questions that made it seem like I understand what they're all about and that I care.
I didn't care.
How could I care about their projects, their offices, their success when I wasn't even part of their world? But I knew what was important to each of them and I knew what they needed to hear.
I've been on the other side of that table, I've interviewed kids right out of college all the way up to seasoned code ninjas. If you're green, you're not fooling anyone but you think you are, but inside we're laughing our asses off at your inane attempts to portray yourself as knowledgeable and experienced when you haven't made all the mistakes a vet has.
But I knew this, and the really good interviewers would know that I knew this.
I got home at around eight forty, exhausted. Exhausted but my mind was racing with what was going to happen tomorrow.
Tomorrow is going to change everything.