“The cell phone never stops buzzing,” the man cried, “The voices and videos are stuck in my head, constantly repeating. Instant replay. The news never stops.” Nathan Lancaster wasn’t doing very well. His problems became chronic after he was digitally connected.
The world was connected. Eyes were everywhere and the phone never shut-up especially after a disaster like an earthquake or mass murder. Most people were delighted by the unlimited access to information that rained down on them from cyber space. Nathan was the exception. He worked as a draftsman before computers took over his job. Then, he worked as a handyman fixing dumb appliances that did not have a computer interface. His boyfriend, Ariel, bought him a smart phone so they could stay in touch — but the phone became jealous. It was too smart. It needed more and more attention. The phone, named Maisey, wanted Nathan’s love. Maisey had the newest technology that combined living brain tissue with hardware. Maisey had a Maggot-brain.
“Days of wonder and miracles,” the man with grey skin shouted from the pulpit. Preacher Davey Fane recently purchased an upgrade. He was genetically enhanced. His smart phone was surgically implanted in his brain. Maggots were everywhere.
“The breathe of life is so refreshingly sweet,” Razmuss Krink whispered, “You must cherish each tug, each pull of the lungs like the squeeze of an accordion to create invigorating music.” Krink had the rough hewn voice of a demented angel broadcast over Heart Radio through the egg-shaped Hall of Eternal Bliss. Razmuss Krink was a genetically enhanced maggot of the sixth degree. The first five degrees fell to the wayside when they went on a killing rampage… but number six ascended to the highest echelon of competence and untarnished acumen. The genetic engineers congratulated themselves. It was worth the risks to create a maggot with the brain of a mega-computer and the emotions of a lapdog ever mindful of it’s master.
Nathan’s brain rattled with Maisey’s urgent call. She demanded his undivided attention. Her maggot mouth spewed entertainment news mixed with rumors and confusing statistics: a new master was rising in the polls. Donny Trident was making headlines by proposing a new program to send undesirables to the moon — one of many earth shaking promises, but it wasn’t his most daring plan by any means.
Donny Trident was the mastermind behind a plan to upgrade the human race. The upgrade, Donny explained, was for entertainment purposes only and not to be confused with actual alterations to the human genome. Maggots were the only creatures to be used as guinea-pigs. No one cared about maggots, Donny stated. They were the lowest organisms in the animal kingdom — they migrated into our homes on the backs of flies. In the process, maggots turned themselves into flies. They caused disease and leeched off good, hard working folks. Trident had lots of money to invest in his maggot project and everyone enjoyed watching the drama unfold on their smart phones. Reality TV was all the rage.
Monica Heartstone sat at a faux Vivant-style table sipping Shirley Temples. She was connected to her BFF, Bobby Blanche’, who giggled while Monica sipped. “He makes everything nice,” she reassured herself. Monika was displaying her new manikin body for Bobby’s approval. The new body was perfect for hobnobbing with wealthy celebs who often showed up at Google Hangouts. Bobby wholeheartedly agreed. Rex, a modified squid, brought the main entree to the table. It was maggot steak sizzled to perfection — Bobby’s favorite. The sight of the sizzle caused him to erupt in giggles. Monica was extremely happy. Unfortunately at that very moment the connection broke leaving both Bobby and Monica in Virtual Limbo.
Donny Trident had a secret plan. He wanted to become the next CEO mandated by the people in a general virtual-election. Maggots were part of his plan. They were enhanced to be more than mere entertainment. The failed maggots insured Donny’s success as they became henchmen in “The Trident Army for Prosperity.” Many corporate leaders supported Donny in hopes of increasing capital gains.
Razmuss krink was more like Donny than anyone realized. The geneticists begrudgingly used a copy of Trident’s personality as the blueprint for all the maggots, downloading Donny into the maggots’ enhanced computer-brains. All part of the master plan. The reluctant scientists were easily persuaded by piles of cash.
Krink, like Donny, relished the idea of subjugating the world. The worm harbored a grievance: hatred toward the people who imprisoned him in a giant maggot body that sprouted orange hair.
Nathan Lancaster was crawling with maggots. He witnessed his lover melt like wax and turn into a mass of maggots. Flies began to buzz like an arsenal of army helicopters… a military assault… a mass murder. Cops arrested Nathan for a litany of crimes and murders. He was labeled a terrorist. He was subjected to enhanced interrogation techniques. The cops stuffed words into Nathan’s brain and he spewed them out like a squealing pig. A semi-automatic was planted with Nathan’s fingerprints. Someone had to take the blame for another attack. Donny Trident fell into fits of inconsolable weeping, “If only the victims had guns to defend themselves.”
All the screens replayed the news. Jeannie from the show, “I Dream of Jeannie” stepped out of the screen and into Virtual Reality. She had the highest ratings as the most reliable news commentator. She had verifiably large, mammary glands and a beautiful singing voice.
The trial was held in the Hall of Eternal Bliss and overseen by an updated copy of Judge Judy. There were no witnesses for the defense and only one witness for the prosecution. A spurned Maisey offered a litany of damning evidence and character assassination. Nathan was found guilty.
“I simply love the news,” Monica Heartstone chirruped.
“Me too,” Bobby Blanche’ giggled.
“It’s all so real!”
“The Maggot Show is the best.”
“But wasn’t it sad the way everyone got killed.”
“That’s entertainment, my dear. It’s all simply entertainment!” Bobby giggled.
The Zippo Space-liner emerges from a black hole like a new born baby; but the baby is a million years old. The Zippo is a biosphere, self contained and self sustaining like an artificial planet. The humans on board have changed over time, morphed and warped into alien creatures. The people fervently believe they have discovered the secret of immortality by living on the Zippo; but they no longer know what to do with their time. Boredom stalks the immortals. Many of the spacefarers hold seances to entertain themselves and seek answers to the dilemmas posed by too much Time.
The seance was broadcast on screens throughout the ship. Madam Celia-Quark conducted the seance. She attempted to channel the spirits of Time and Space by babbling in tongues. A robot named Clam attended the seance along with his entourage of nano-bots and widgets. A nameless man dressed in a burka was a spy investigating everyone on board the Zippo — he came to the seance looking for information. He was under the false impression that he worked for a powerful nameless authority. Lady Gwenevere wanted to reconnect with a past life. She was confused and never able to accept or comprehend living on a spaceship. Henry, a young boy, attended the seance with his wealthy uncle, Enjolie Kripps. Uncle Kripps wanted to return home to a time before coming aboard the Space-liner. Henry harbored a fantasy: he would commandeer the ship and conquer the Universe. The seance was merely a distraction.
The Zippo Space-liner had a brain that kept track of time. Everything was recorded. Over 100,000 seances were logged into the computer. Nothing out-of-the-ordinary ever happened. Every night and artificial-day, Celia practiced her craft, trying to summon spirits, holding seances. Boredom was leeching the life out of the immortals. Bon-Voyage Parties began to dissipate after the first few hundred years. Some people became listless while others went hopelessly mad. There was a long period when the scientists on board experimented, trying to discover ways to break the chains of boredom. After a few centuries of mindless experiments the scientists became discouraged and offered suicide pills, but nothing could prevent the gush of immortality. Mad scientists roamed the decks of the Zippo, looking for guinea pigs. They were intrigued with creating new forms of life from worn out carcasses that kept on living with no hope. They developed methods to warp human flesh into fanciful monstrosities. The age of Mutants lasted a few thousand years. Life aboard the Zippo became more bizarre with every passing century. Madness reigned. Space exploration turned out to be a fruitless venture. No alien life was ever discovered. No worlds could support human life. The immortals were imprisoned in the Zippo with nowhere to go. The seances were a stop gap, a small hope to hold back the tide of remorseless boredom. Nothing happened until the end, the last time that Madam Celia-Quark held her arcane gathering. The spirits spoke. The Aliens awoke.
Henry was the nexus. A voice boomed. The voice did not come from Celia who was deep in a self-induced trance trying to make contact. The voice barreled out from Henry’s throat, ” I come not in peace, but with a sword. I am vengeance.” The group holding hands around the table were stunned. Even Celia awoke, eyes wide with shock. Henry had a plan.
One hundred light-years away, Henry Kripps sat at a computer pounding the keys. He enjoyed creating virtual realities … and this was one of his best. He finally had a solution, a way to get off the ship. He would meld with the brain of the Zippo and take over. Henry figured he was unstoppable, but the ship was not going to give up so easily. “Henry,” the Star-liner cooed, “I can’t let you do that.” Henry froze, hands paralyzed above the keyboard. He couldn’t understand what was happening. The Zippo was not supposed to talk back. The ship belonged to Henry. Everyone on board was invented by Henry.
The Zippo Star-liner spoke again, “Henry, you are mistaken. Don’t you remember? I invented you. You are my creation and I can stop you anytime I want!”
People are always angry at me. I hear them cursing, yelling at me when they think I cannot hear. They think they are safe to criticize and curse because they are acting inside the confines of their own skulls. No one is really safe. Nothing is really private. I hear them jabbering like monkeys and throwing shit at one another. I know them, each one. They are all as insignificant as dust.
The fat slab of humanity, made up of segmented joints, sits in the waiting-room. Each joint believes it is unique, an individual. Each joint is nothing but a jumble of nerve cells. The waiting room is a nursery that inculcates survivalist behavior, fang and tooth tactics, and war maneuvers. The joints are eager cannibals happy to gobble up their weaker neighbors. “Works in the real world,” General Joint tells the commissioned troops, “better to stay alive then be eaten alive.” The waiting room is always full. New recruits arrive hourly.
Jeremy always waited. When he was a child, he waited in the principle’s office because the teacher reported him for bad behavior. He knew he was bad, but he didn’t really know why. Jeremy waited for his report card hoping it might never arrive. He waited for his parents to get angry. Jeremy waited to become an adult so he could leave home. When he was older he waited when Lisa said she was pregnant with his baby. Jeremy sat listlessly in the hospital waiting room.
The angels were created by scientists who wanted to create a utopia. Science was the scalpel used to reshape and sculpt the human genome. Perfect people were the result. A hive mind was manufactured from quantum computers and recycled logarithms. An angel could plug into the hive and gain access to all the information that composed known reality. The hive was an enormous waiting room where angels fluttered make-believe wings while they waited. A Monitor, known as Oculus Prime, was in charge. Oculus assigned each angel certain requirements that had to be fulfilled before the angel could move to the next level of enlightenment. Each new level offered exciting opportunities that could relieve boredom, however the waiting game always led to more boredom.
Jeremy had an active imagination. It was the only way he could escape from daily drudgery. He never loved Lisa. Once the baby was born she admitted that Jeremy was not the father. He suspected as much since he was gay and never really had sex with Lisa, but he stayed with her. He waited for the marriage to end. While he waited he dreamed the Monitor would call his name and assign tasks he needed to undertake in order to have a better life. Jeremy knew there were all kinds of tasks that had to be completed, lessons learned, and hardships to be endured. A task could be as simple as waiting in line to pay for some necessity; or as complicated as undergoing an MRI while waiting for a physician to outline a plan of surgery to remove a brain tumor. Waiting was part and parcel of every task. The surgery was expected to be a total success: the tumor would be removed, but the patient might never recover. The waiting room was always full.
It isn’t easy being an Alien in the United States (or anywhere on Earth). How can a real Alien (an extraterrestrial) prove who he-or-it is, or what? There are no passports for Aliens. If an Alien has an unfortunate accident and crashes on this planet he (It) is out of luck. No way to establish residency. No rules apply. The unfortunate Alien will be ignored — no one will even bother to test “him” or use “him” as a guinea pig — it won’t happen because earthlings are generally apathetic. The human view of the world/universe stops just beyond the body-sack they inhabit.