TITLE: Within



SUMMARY: Ghost finds a way.

SPOILERS: Takes place pre-‘The Matrix’

DISCLAIMER: Ghost, Trinity, and the world of “The
Matrix” belong to The Wachowski brothers and the actors who
portray them, not me.

* * *

“The bud disappears in the bursting-forth of the blossom,
and one might say that the former is refuted by the
latter…. Yet at the same time their fluid nature makes
them moments of an organic unity in which they not only do
not conflict, but in which each is as necessary as the
– G.W.F. Hegel, The Phenomenology of Spirit

“I still don’t remember how this happened
I still don’t get the wherefores and the whys
I look for sense but I get next to nothing
Hey boy, welcome to reality…”
– David Bowie, Reality


My hearing was impaired and my breathing was labored. I
lifted my arm, albeit with great difficulty, and brought it
to rest over my eyes, blocking my vision from sights I did
not want to be my last. It was warm and clammy against my

My death was imminent, I was sure.

I found myself longing for the comforts of home. I wanted
my bed and I wanted my bedroom. I wanted my dog next to me,
my laptop next to him. I wanted my books on my nightstand,
even the ones from Buddhist School that I never wanted to
read. I would have given anything for those books now, for
even a few pages I could refer to. I wanted my soul to have
that guidance, as I couldn’t properly extend my knowledge
on the subject. My thoughts and consciousness had always
been wrapped up in another belief, another reality, one
which was sure to rot my brains, according to my mother. In
a way, it turns out she was right – it led me here, brought
me to this place, this place that is killing me. And I
can’t do anything about it.

“Hey, brother. How’re you feeling today?”

Her voice halted my medicated train of thought. I groaned.

“Stop it,” she said. “You’re so dramatic.”

I felt her hand, small and cool, gently wrap around my
offending limb and pull it away until my face was showing
once again. She let my arm fall back down to my side as she
studied me closely, her eyes scanning my reclining form.
Satisfied, she jerked her head in a nod and sat down in the
chair next to my bed.

“You look better,” she said. “And you don’t feel so hot.
Your temperature must be down.”

She twisted her head, looking for something, while I
struggled to keep my eyes open. How was I going to tell her
that the end was near? Our paths had only recently crossed,
but all we had was each other.

“I told you,” she said, standing. She walked a few paces
over to what I surmised to be my medical chart and pointed
to a spot on it. “99.8 today. Still not great, but better.”

I stifled a moan as she approached me again. She remained
standing this time, hovering over me, hands on her slim
hips. Her eyebrows furrowed.

“What?” she asked.

“I…I’m…I think I’m dying, Trinity,” I finally managed.

She rolled her eyes and sat down again.

“I’m serious,” I said.

“I’m sure you are.”

“Why didn’t you get sick like this?” I asked.

Sitting before me, she was the picture of health, her
cheeks rosy, her eyes clear, and her body lean. The light
fuzz of dark hair on her head gave her a masculine look
upon first glance, but once you saw the curve of her lips,
the high of her cheekbones, and the brilliance of her blue
eyes, the femininity washed over you.

“Because I’m not a wuss.”

Feminine, yes. Smart ass, even more so.

“Did you get up at all today?” she asked.

“Earlier this morning,” I said. “They had me take a short
walk around the building.”

“Outside, you mean?” she asked, her eyes widening a bit.

I nodded.

“What did you think?” she asked excitedly. “Isn’t Zion

“Zion gave me dysentery. I’m not too impressed.”

“Oh, once you get past that,” a new voice said. “It’s not
so bad.”

Trinity and I both turned to see a man enter the room. He
was older, his dark hair giving way to stark white strands
and his face, a smile upon it, was softened by wrinkles. He
wore standard medical garb and held a small canvas bag
under one arm.

“Ghost,” he said. “How are you feeling?”

“Apparently, he’s on his death bed,” Trinity said,
answering for me.

I shot her a hard glare, but it bounced off of her easily.

“He’s got a weak immune system,” she continued. “And he’s
milking it.”


“What?” she asked, looking back to me, highly amused. “It’s

The man laughed softly, his kind eyes taking in the two
teenagers before him. They had been unplugged the same day
and had been inseparable since. That had been just over
three weeks ago and he was surprised, pleasantly, by the
obvious connection they already shared.

“Trinity,” the man said. “Do you mind if I speak with Ghost

“Not at all,” she said, and then to me, “I’ll come back
later, okay?”

“Okay,” I said.

She left the room and I met the man’s kind eyes as he sat
down in the chair. He seemed to sense my confusion and

“You don’t remember me, do you?” he asked.

I shook my head.

“I’m Dr. Hamann,” he said. “I looked in on you the first
few days you were here.”

“Oh,” I said, dumbly. “Thank you.”

“How are you feeling?”

“I’ve been better.”

“You’re getting stronger, though,” he said. “That’s good,
isn’t it?”

“I suppose.”

He smiled again. He started to reach into his bag, but
stopped just as his fingers disappeared into the opening.
He stared at me and I could tell he was turning his
thoughts over and over in his mind.

“The nurses tell me you’ve been having nightmares,” he
finally said.

I shrugged.

“They say you cry out in your sleep sometimes.”

The beat of my pulse quickened slightly at his words. I
didn’t like the idea of anyone being privy to any part of
my subconscious, especially if I wasn’t aware of it.

“This isn’t an easy transition, Ghost, especially when your
body isn’t healthy. Emotional health is desirable at a time
like this, but with a lack of physical health, it can be
hard for your mind to remain strong.”

“Why are you telling me this?”

“You’re religious, aren’t you?” he asked, quietly
dismissing my own question.

“I was,” I said. “I mean, in…back in…my family was

“You’re not any more, then?”

I opened my mouth, but an answer escaped me and silence
filled the room.

“I was wondering if you’d like to borrow these for a
while,” Hamann said, now fully reaching into his bag and
pulling out two very old, very tattered texts.

He placed them down next to me and sat back, saying nothing
as I gently picked them up and rested them on my lap. The
top one was fairly thick and well worn, the corners rounded
with age, the pages yellowed and some torn. The cover was
plain, save for the title: ‘Toward a Philosophy of Zen
Buddhism’. The second was thin and in even worse condition.
It was simply titled ‘Karma’.

“Where did they come from?” I asked.

“Oh, I don’t even remember anymore. Probably smuggled in by

I ran my hand over their dusty covers. The memories of
being in class, my Master in the middle of a lecture,
flickered in my head and I could almost hear my mother
reciting a prayer:

‘By the power and the truth of this practice, may all
beings have happiness, and the causes of happiness,
May all be free from sorrow, and the causes of
May all never be separated from the sacred happiness
which is sorrowless, And may all live in equanimity,
without too much attachment and too much aversion,
And live believing in the equality of all that

“Thank you,” I said finally, picking up the books to hand
back to him. “But I shouldn’t.”


“I don’t know,” I shrugged. “It’s just…it’s all so
different here. It doesn’t seem like it would be of any

“Why?” he asked again.

“Because it’s so different here,” I repeated. “It’s not
anything like where I came from. I’m not the same here that
I was there—”

“Ah,” he said, interrupting me. “That’s it right there,
isn’t it?”


“It’s a common tendency to forget who you were in the
Matrix, to become a different person,” he said. “The
realities of each world are as different as night and day,
yes, but you can’t forget that what you are as an
individual, what we are as a whole, is, to some extent, an
extension of what we were when plugged in. There are those
who have been unplugged for decades and still hang onto all
that they were. But you see, there is the remarkable
advantage of being able to take certain aspects of
ourselves with us and leave others behind, if we so choose

“Were you born here?” I asked.

He pulled up the sleeve on his right arm, exposing one of
the black metallic birthmarks that many Zionites shared.

“You are free now, Ghost, free to become whoever you want
in every sense. Just remember that even those that were
born here in Zion adopt many of our traditions, our habits,
and our beliefs, all of which is rooted to that which we
lived by in the Matrix. Who we were doesn’t have to be

He stood then, and tucked his now-empty bag under his arm

“Keep those books as long as you need them,” he said. “And
just remember that who you were is what brought you here.
That in itself is a remarkable feat, Ghost. Don’t abandon
that which has set you free.”

I watched Hamann as he turned to leave and we both jumped
slightly as Trinity came rushing through the door and
almost collided with him.

“Sorry, Doctor!” she said. “I didn’t see you there.”

“Trinity,” he said, a greeting and a farewell as he exited
the room, an amused expression on his face.

As soon as I heard her voice, I quickly hid the books
Hamann had given me under my blankets. Underneath, I rested
my left hand down on them as she approached the bed.

“What is it?” I asked.

“Enrollment for the Academy starts next week!” she said.
“Do you think you can be out of here by then?”

I concentrated on the feel of the books again, hidden from
view. I knew I’d share them with Trinity at some point, but
for now, I wanted to keep them to myself, at least until I
decided whether or not to read them. They represented a
strength I had yet to completely open myself to and the
idea was daunting.

“Ghost?” she asked, waving her hand in front of my face.
“You still with me?”

“Yeah,” I said, finally, answering her first question. “I
think I can.”

Perhaps I had decided to read them, after all.