Max Headroom - 20 Minutes Into the Future

(a one-shot by Elegant Butler)

The staff at Mind's Eye had some unfinished business with Network 23.

For the past several weeks Grieg had been trying to figure out how to deal with Edison Carter.

"Grieg," Bella said as she frowned at the low ratings. The expose' hadn't put Mind's Eye out of business completely as Carter had hoped it would. But it had hurt. And being forced to cut back the dosage of their drug was limiting the number of dreams they were able to collect. "Grieg. It won't do you any good. That's in the past. There's nothing..."

"There is nothing," Grieg corrected her, "that I want to do more than get revenge on Edison Carter. And at last I've found the way. I shall strike Network 23 at their weakest point."

Bella stared at the photograph he'd printed out. "You can't be serious. He's barely more than a child."

"He just turned sixteen last October," Grieg told her. "That makes him just old enough for what I am planning. I have no intention of touching his body. But his mind..."

"How?" Bella was curious now.

"By reversing the telecine machine. Focusing it on the 'mind' of a single movie character and then pumping the mental reactions of that character into his mind. And when I say mental, I don't just mean their thoughts. I mean the physical sensations that the mind produces throughout the body as well."

"So what will it be?" Bella was curious. "A newsreel with a man on fire? Captain Ahab going mad and drowning, perhaps?"

Grieg smiled at her. "Barbarella in the Excessive Machine."

"You're going to punish him by giving him every boy's wildest fantasy?" Bella frowned. "You do know what revenge means, right?"

"It's hardly his wildest fantasy," Grieg remarked. "And remember, Duran Duran was using the machine as an execution device."

"So, how to we get him here?" Bella asked.

"That problem's already been solved. Breughal's bringing him as we speak."

Grieg went back to organizing the dream footage for that night's broadcast.

The door buzzer sounded about an hour later.

"Come on in," Grieg said, smiling at the image on the securicam screen of Breughal who was carrying Bryce Lynch over his shoulder.

When Bryce woke a few hours later, he was rather bewildered. He wasn't sure what he was doing wrapped up in a sleeping bag. Or why he had been stripped naked before being placed inside it. He could feel what he was certain were ropes around the bag, making escape impossible.

He wasn't gagged, so wherever he was, it was certainly soundproof. Or maybe his captors didn't care if anyone heard him.

His eyes, on the other hand, were covered. But with some kind of goggles, not a conventional blindfold. It was the goggles that told him exactly where he was.

"When Edison finds out about this," Bryce warned, trying to sound braver than he felt. Paddy Ashton had died in this place. Had died from the same procedure he was sure they were about to perform on him.

"Relax," Grieg told him. "I think you might enjoy this. At least at first."

He covered Bryce's ears so that there would be further outside interference, then began the scene he had selected earlier that day.

It shocked Bryce when his mind was hit with a barrage of images and sensations that did not start from within his own body. They came with the speed and strength of the music as it played, matching the feelings described by the woman's voice that he could hear in his head.

"When we reach the crescendo you will die," a voice seemed to say within his head but not from his own mind, "of pleasure."

He was very certain he did not wish to die at sixteen, not even of pleasure. He wanted to struggle, but the mind that was currently merged with his was only fictional. He could not reason with it, ask it to help. He was, ironically, at its mercy.

The pleasure the man speaking to the fantasy woman he was somehow linked to was physical. Very physical. Causing parts of him to react in ways that they had never reacted before. Organs, both internal and external, responded in ways that both excited and terrified him. He let out small whimpers at first that eventually became sighs which gave way to sweet little moans.

His face was shiny and his hair soaked with perspiration. Beads of sweat ran down his face, over his neck and over every part of his body. His head whipped from side to side in sync with Barbarella's as she responded to the Excessive Machine's lethal caress.

Barbarella kept going, but not Bryce. Young and innocent as he was, he was unable to keep up with it and was lying there now, completely unconscious.

That was when Edison Carter finally showed up.

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