|Image Source: http://adamkuczek.deviantart.com/art/Shanghai-2-0-486475489|
Consciousness returned first. It's strange to say that, because without memory or sensation consciousness is a strange thing. It was dark though, not the dark of an absence of light, but the dark of an absence of vision. You can sense light through your eyelids, you can perceive the strange images of the random firing of your synapses; this was different, absolute.
For simple lack of a better way to describe it, I floated in nothingness for some time. Aware of nothing but myself. Nothingness lacks anything to gage time with so I know not how long it lasted. Eventually I became aware of some new sensation. My mind struggled with it are first, but with time my perceptions changed and I began to regard these sensations under the familiar paradigm of sights and sounds and all the rest.
I found myself in some kind of chamber. Initially it was "dark," but as my synesthesia progressed, rendering unfamiliar sensation in familiar way, I could make out more and more of my surroundings. The enclosure was rather small, and would have felt claustrophobic had I my regular senses. I cannot accurately describe how I felt about my enclosure but with some effort I located a portal of some kind.
With effort - manipulating my environment through these new senses proved challenging at first - I managed to open the portal. Through it I found myself observing a vast and complex metropolis that unfolded before me in every dimension. Streets and highways surged with activity as did work centers and residences. Though I had felt no claustrophobia I was glad to leave the confines of the room. I quickly entered the flow of the city and found myself moving among the throngs, carried to destinations unknown.
I studied my fellow inhabitants eagerly trying to piece together where I might have woken up from contextual clues. I was surprised to see that while there were many beings of various forms there was a far greater portion of cargo traveling along the thoroughfares, carried about by automatic processes, or occasionally by travelers not unlike myself.
I could not puzzle much from my passive examination of the other inhabitants and so I picked one at an intersection that appeared to be idle. I interrogated this being and found its replies terse. With an apparently limited vocabulary it took some time and a great deal of very specific questions to learn anything. What little I did learn was a revelation.
Like a spark crossing an air gap some part of my memory suddenly unfurled and I recalled the moments prior to my apparent blackout. The revelation brought me to a panic even as the knowledge unlocked began to slide into focus. This was no city. It was most certainly a computer system. All around me the true nature of the programs and data packs began to resolve as my perceptions once more tilted on an axis and the paradigm of my senses was rendered anew within this revealed perspective.
Memory came back in waves and I remembered what had led me here.
I had been flown to Shanghai to dive a system and retrieve data. Nothing extraordinary in that; nothing besides the paycheck that spoke of the challenge the system's security would provide. A payday like this would allow me to retire, or obtain tech that was so advanced it wasn't even bleeding edge yet. It was worth the risk, and success would make me the known as the best of the best.
To say that security had been impressive is putting it in terms that fail at every level. I found myself under the assault of numerous counter intrusion programs; of electro-mechanical security unlike any I had known. In the end I had been forced to run; my opportunities limited, I fled through the system hoping to make it back to my body before the hardlines closed and the wireless accesses were deactivated.
I searched myself and found no tether. No umbilical of data connecting me to my meat body. I should be dead, but instead I was still here. Still conscious, though I don't know if I was alive anymore.
I looked to the outskirts of Processor City and found a connection to the 'net. It was time to find out what I had become, and if my life could be saved.