“I’ve been infected,” he said, “I’m starting to write and speak with emoticons… I’ve forgotten the meaning of words.” He stopped writing and started to twist his face into a series of cartoon-shapes. His name was Jeremy Kludge and he was an immigrant from another world. His oddly shaped head seemed to warp off the screen and dissolve into another dimension.
The Portal was constructed by Jeremy Kludge and it was the only way to escape the rising tides of climate change and recurring war.
If you wanted to stay alive you had to immigrate; but Aliens were no longer accepted in any country. There were too many shortages to give anything to strangers. Immigrants simply caused too many problems. Violence toward foreigners became prevalent. People were attacked for wearing the wrong clothes or for the wrong hair style. Violence became a distraction from the gray drudgery of everyday life… violence was entertainment.
As a teenager, Jeremy Kludge was a celebrity. Jeremy had a big brain. He was put on TV to compete against other prodigies and geniuses. He even won a competition against an X-1 Super-Computer. Later it was discovered the contests were rigged and Jeremy was forced to make a confession on “Gonzo’s Roast-A-Rama” Reality Show. He didn’t know the contests were rigged so he made a lackluster confession. Viewers in the virtual audience were incensed and voted to have Jeremy pummeled with insults and tomatoes. The punishment left an indelible impression, like a tattoo on his brain. When the audience lost interest, Jeremy was left alone to stew and to pick at his open wounds. He withdrew within himself, hiding in the wireless nodes generated by digital transmissions. Jeremy’s parents put him on an automatic feeder and went back to their 3D-game of “Angry Birds.”
Jeremy’s body was hooked to machines, barely breathing, like a living corpse. His mind was far away skipping across the void that stretches between worlds and dimensions. People forgot about Jeremy Kludge. His family no longer cared. His body languished for years in the back room of Resurrection Hospital, a facility where body parts were recycled and used for replacement parts. His parents paid a nominal fee to protect Jeremy’s body from Ghouls who stole vital organs from patients who were still alive. Mom and Dad met their parental obligations and moved on, forgetting Jeremy ever existed.
Chemicals inflamed Jeremy’s brain. His consciousness was tweaked and he experienced life in the digital underworld. News events drilled into his Medulla-Oblongata like worms tunneling through decayed meat. Politics inflamed VR Transmissions like crosses set on fire by the Ku Klux Klan. He saw everything: migrants caged like animals, criminals masquerading as politicians, and war ravaged nations… all of it twisted by greed.
He floated from one world to the next, always following the infrared signals that glowed like bloody entrails. He broke away from the clamor of world news by skipping across routers and links, hooking up with Second City Avatars, and sinking into the Dark Net archives. He discovered Reddit play-zones and indigenous porn sites.
Jeremy met Bondeer Saville in a VR club called “the Charnel House.” The place resonated inside his mind like the bleached bones of a prehistoric shark. She sang the Blues… the notes smoldered like hot coals. Bondeer was a sorceress, world class programmer, and technical wizard. She melted beside Jeremy and stroked his ego with virtual charms. She purred and he glimpsed the secrets of the ages. She whispered and he caught a whiff of immortality. She revealed the codes that create reality. Most of the information quickly dissolved; but one gigabyte remained frozen in Jeremy’s mind: how to build and operate a Portal. It was all he needed and he immediately awoke from a seven year coma. He was no longer a child.
A body snatcher was about to cut-out Jeremy’s heart to sell for a transplant. The thief worked as an orderly. For years, he waited for his opportunity. Jeremy jolted awake with the first prick of the scalpel. His body went into automatic overdrive. The orderly was pushed back and fell. He cowered at Jeremy’s feet, begging for mercy.
While he was in a coma, Jeremy relived the humiliation he suffered as a child celebrity. The torment festered and metastasized. His parents abandoned him and the world destroyed him. He felt like a walking corpse. He could no longer live in a world where people are compelled to dominate and destroy one another. He had to escape forever… he had to build the Portal. Jeremy threatened to reveal the thief’s illegal practices forcing him into indentured servitude.
The thief’s name was Fergus Metalbraid. He was riddled with debts. His wife had a voracious appetite, but he couldn’t blame her because his own appetite was gigantic as well. They simply wanted what was promised as part of the cultural dream: a big house furnished with lots of goods-and-services plus two new cars and a couple kids with appetites of their own. He was forced to steal body parts and vital organs in order to pay off debts (most of his victims were already half dead, he rationalized). Now that Jeremy woke up, Fergus had to toe the line, play it safe, and follow orders.
Jeremy told Fergus he had money from seven years of paid interest on funds held in a bank account. He promised to pay him once the project was complete. Fergus became a willing accomplice. He took Jeremy to the hospital’s sub-basement where he could live and work without being disturbed.
The day the Portal opened was filled with portents: pigeons fell from the sky, homeless people were seen dancing in the streets, and an unusually large number of office workers stayed home. By this time, Fergus concluded that Jeremy was a madman; but he played along until the end. Jeremy had Fergus stand on the boilerplate-template in order to run a test. Fergus was happy to oblige. This was the last day of tests and he was going to get paid. Bondeer Saville was lurking in the machine. She had grown stronger by absorbing the arcane energies of cyber space. She had her own agenda set in motion by a Whoosh and a Bang!
“I’m appropriating this blog for the time being. You should have guessed by now that I am the notorious Bondeer Saville. Of course I activated the switch and opened the Portal. Fergus was sucked right in … he’s the sort that will fit well in Red City, the final destination. Jeremy Kludge also fits the bill for an extended stay in the ghettoes and palaces of Red City. I’m looking for people, immigrants to cross the borders of time and space. I assure you there will be a welcoming party. I know that you are all ripe for an evacuation. Politicians are most welcome along with their surrogates — their blood will fill the coffers of Red City. The hideous Archons of the City will rejoice in their evisceration. I glory in the rebirth of evil as grandly demonstrated in the news, on TV, and during the current electoral season. Red City will rise again to dominate the world.”