Caught in the Net

Maia looked very peaceful, lying so still in the hospital bed. Nurses floated around her, patients were carried past, the sun moved steadily across the room. Maia lay still. The machines that kept her alive whistled softly to themselves. When she did not recover, a doctor attached a neurocap to Maia’s scalp, plugged himself in, and uploaded into Maia’s head.

He found Maia sitting on a beach, throwing pebbles into the water. Seagulls dived down from above, collected the stones and returned them to a pile near to where she sat. She looked up as the doctor approached, and gestured for him to sit next to her.

“You’re in a coma,” he said. “Nothing here is real.”

“Figured,” replied Maia. “What’s my damage?”

“No damage,” said the doctor. “You had a type of aneurism induced by surfing the ‘net. Now you’re caught in a behavioural loop, trapped by a constant urge to search for more things.”

“I’m in a coma because I browse too much?”

“You’re continuously searching for new information. You’re addicted to it. Your brain is devoting almost all your resources to finding more.”

“How can I stop?”

“You can’t,” sighed the doctor. “It’s too late to engage with deeper ideas. You’ve lost that capacity forever.”

“Are you telling me I’m stuck here?”

“It’s what you wanted, isn’t it?” He gestured to the pebble pile. “A constant stream of new things? I’ll keep your life support going as long as I can. But you’re already dead, really. Sorry.”

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