This world is not the world I remember.
It has been some years, how many I do not know. But it goes beyond that. Changes over the time I’ve been away I could expect and understand. But this – these changes – go beyond mere alterations made by the passage of time. Something fundamental is different from this world to the one I left behind.
It should be a matter of subtracting the year I left this world from the current one to give me an idea of how much time I lost while I was… away.
But the calendar they use in this world is not the same one used in the world when I stepped away. Here, on this planet they call Earth, for some reason, it is 2018. Back on Gian, when I left, it was the decade of the Seventh Sun, 6753.
The technology here too is strange. They have things called mobile phones – small computing devices. None of the people, as far as I can tell, has implants like mine. I knew something was wrong when I stepped back and found no Mindweb filling my head with data. It was like being half-blind. Actually, I was half-blind with no data in my visual field as I stumbled about in this strange world with its roads, traffic and pedestrians. These pedestrians are far more dangerous than the crawling traffic as they blunder about and into each other, each carrying a small screen in front of them, absorbing them despite its crudity.
Some of them still even read and write.
I remember the history videos, explaining this unsophisticated system of transmitting and storing information. Writing is a massive waste of effort. First, having to translate the world into crude symbols that can only ever approximate the subject matter, then learning the long slow process of how to decode those symbols and turn them into meaning.
They have video here, of course, and sound recording too. They are even making the first tentative steps into what they call virtual reality, and we call normality. But it is all so crude, so slow, so antiquated.
None of this, though, explains how I got here. I went through the door on Gian, coming out on the other side as we are trained to do, and then I set off.
Some say the dimensions are real, real universes stacked side by side. So we use the doors to pass through from one dimension to another adjacent dimension. Others, the side I prefer in this interminable argument, say these dimensions are merely an artefact of what they on this Earth call virtual reality, that these other worlds are creations of the Mindweb itself. There are just as real, just as solid as the fundamentalists claim their real world is.
But what is the real world, anyway? Is it just a creation of our minds, a construction we build from our senses? Who is to say that this real world of theirs, is in any sense more real than any other world within the MIndweb?
Not that any of that matters much now to me. I am stuck here without any way of finding my way back to what I regard as my real world.