He knew he was dreaming. It was the same dream he had the night before, and the night before that, and every night since he'd had the procedure.

It wasn't unpleasant. It was disturbing, though.

Some of the details varied, but not by much.

Tonight Belan found himself sitting at an old-fashioned computer desk, his fingers flying over a vast keyboard. The air around him shimmered golden. He looked up and saw the same man he saw in all the dreams, a pleasant, almost ordinary looking man, but all golden: his hair burnished gold, his eyes a bronzey golden color, his skin ochre and peach colored. The man looked Belan over with an approving smile and said, "Mine."

"Yours," Belan replied. "Your hands."

I am his hands, Belan thought, wonderingly, as though it were a great blessing.

Belan's head throbbed all morning. But the headache didn't disturb his concentration as much as the constant flow of information from his new embedded network terminal. He could shut it off, but the doctor who had implanted it in his brain had discouraged that. "Use it lightly, but let it flow around you till you get used to it," he said. "Let it become part of you and -- become part of it."

He saw his friend Freddie after work. "Did you have weird dreams when you got your embed?" he asked.

Freddie laughed. "I sure did. Colors, shapes, smells, sounds, even weird sensations, all night and some of the day, for a couple of days afterwards. I still have some of those dreams now and then, and it's been a year."

"Any erotic ones?"

"Not exactly. Erotic sensations, but nothing specific or concrete. Are you getting erotic dreams? Lucky duck."

Belan shook his head. "Not exactly here, either. But there's this guy keeps showing up and saying I'm his, and then I say I'm his eyes, or his tongue, or his hands, or something. But there's no sex. I'm working at some really ordinary job, but it feels sexual."

"That's odd. You never said anything about liking guys, before."

"I haven't liked guys before. But it feels like that in the dream."

"Maybe he's a personification of the network," Freddie said. "And he's male because he's really you."

"Maybe," Belan said. "Maybe." It didn't seem likely, he thought. Belan didn't look anything like the golden man. Belan was stocky and spare, his eyes and hair ordinary brown, his skin an ordinary tan. Like Freddie, except that Freddie's coloring was light and rosy.

The man of his dreams looked like nobody Belan had ever seen before.