Traveller lived the sweet life.
He didn’t remember what had happened to bring him to the meadow. One moment he’d been sleeping in a heap of sand, and the next, poof! His face was buried in the bosom of a comely country lass with creamy blonde hair. She was not screaming at him, either, which was for Traveller a fantastic change of pace. They made love, and Traveller slept the sleep of the stupid.
The next day, when Traveller awoke, the creamy-blonde was gone. In her place lay a redhead. Traveller repeated the process, though this time he did not fall asleep when the lovemaking was done. Instead he rose from his grassy bed, occasionally staring down at the redhead’s luxurious body, and took a look around.
The meadow was one of the most beautiful places he’d ever visited, and Traveller had visited a lot of lovely places. Stretching further than the horizon and sporting only the most attractive clouds, its endless grasslands dotted with billions of vibrant flowers, the meadow seemed a dream come true. It was never too hot nor too cold, food seemed to rise unbidden from the ground whenever Traveller wanted it, and a lovely log cabin waited nearby to provide him with comfortable shelter. The cabin followed Traveller’s wanderings, never more than a hundred feet away - though he could never catch it on the move.
Home, he thought. This is a great home. I like it. This is what I wanted. Or… well, wait, it’s missing something…
As if pulled straight from his mind, a raven-haired temptress appeared behind Traveller and stroked his back. When he turned, Traveller noticed that she was nude, save for a pair of oversized boots on her legs. He took them from her, kissing her legs as he did, and strapped them on himself.
Perfect. Just perfect.
Day and night, night and day, Traveller made love, ate, exercised, and fell asleep under the stars. When it rained - and it only rained because Traveller wanted it to rain - he retreated to his cabin, watching water droplets spill from the canopy as he sipped beer from a mug made out of bacon. His was a simple life, and he revelled in it for what he considered to be an eternity. He’d never been so happy.
Wherever Traveller went, and whatever Traveller did, things watched him. They hid in the meadow, under trees and in tufts of grass, and unlike the other doe-eyed animals populating the place, their expressions were neither joyful nor vapid.
He is ours, one said. It had watched over Traveller since the beginning. Necessary adjustments are minimal. Controlling him is easy.
Good, the other replied, a new arrival. He will make a fine breeder. Our army will be unstoppable. Balance is inevitable.
Has the collective come to a consensus on the effects of his double being a Non?
It should not make a difference. They have no connection beyond causality.
Indeed. The first paused, watching Traveller skip through a waterfall that had sprouted out of the ground. Its water fell upward, splashing Traveller in the face. What of his overseer?
The second bristled. It failed in its task. It will be executed with its Non conspirator. We do not know why you even ask such a question.
The first sighed, twitching its whiskers. Do not forget, I have been controlling the mind of a moron for weeks. It is a trying experience. No small wonder his previous overseer lost its mind.
Perhaps you should be relieved for a time. There must be no failures. We cannot let this one slip from our grasp again. He is too powerful.
Agreed. Call for a replacement and I shall reintegrate with the collective.
The rats watched Traveller frolic. He would not have suspected anything had he noticed them anyway.