Tagged: computers

When Worlds Collide

Johnny Epton awoke to another typical day. A twitter storm from the current CEO erupted from his phone. Talking tweets were the latest innovation. Garbled voices and muffled screams were part of the social landscape like traffic pile-ups and gun violence. It was the price you paid for living in a modern nation. Johnny generally walked to work. He didn’t have a car and public transportation was expensive. He was seventy and worked as a janitor for Quantex Corp. in Toledo, OH. Holographic images and flash-animations seemed to squeeze oxygen from the air. Pollution didn’t help. It was getting harder to live in the city. Johnny felt as if his life was being drained from his body. His nagging hernia made matters worse. Breaking News flashed across contact-screens. The nation’s leader gloated over the latest crack down on immigrants. New camps were being built to house asylum seekers. They were touted as model improvements over the older encampments. Now, there were adequate showers for children; but a camp surrounded by bars was still a prison. Now that Johnny was old nothing seemed to matter. He was bereft. His life never caught on. He never felt fulfilled. He never married or had a lover. The few friends he had were gone, lost to illness and death.

Leonora Danforth took to the stage at the Paramour Theater in St. Louis. She improvised, sang a rollicking song, and danced like Ginger Rogers. It happened a long time ago. Now, all that remained were memories. Once she was in a Hollywood movie and played the girlfriend to a mobster. It was a bit part. She was little more than an extra. She never pursued a career in the movies. In fact, she had her chance but the price she had to pay for success was too high. She never gave-in to the demands of the casting agent. He was an animal.

Leonora recalled the old-days (they were never good old days). She worked as a seamstress; then, she married a dishwasher from Connecticut who had big dreams. The marriage was founded on infatuation and loneliness. It was never meant to last. “Funny,” Leonora sighed, “How things turn out. We stayed together longer than either of us expected.” Early on in the marriage the couple softened and began to care for one another. “Love is strange,” she murmured. In the end they got lost like so many others. The storms on the coast tore them apart. Leonora wandered, homeless, for years. The storms continued to increase.

Leonora never had children. There was nothing left for her, nothing in the world. She was old. She lived in a health-care facility for low-income seniors and mentally disabled adults. It was a government subsidy program managed by a corporation. Everyone was given prescription drugs to manage symptoms. Opioids were big business, part of the new health care initiatives. Leonora drifted in-and-out of consciousness trying to understand what was happening. She thought she was Ginger Rogers. She wanted to dance and sing, but attendants strapped her down and fed her pills. Leonora had a vision: the Earth was torn apart… worlds collided.

He was having trouble adjusting to married life after being single for more than seventy years. He met the love of his life soon after the world collided with another planet. Parallel worlds unfolded like Origami. Johnny Epton stood on the edge of a Singularity about to slip into the maw of destruction when a hand emerged from a black-hole and dragged him to safety. Up until that moment Johnny felt trapped by arbitrary and senseless rules. His life was consumed by remorse. There was no escape; then, worlds collided. It was a stroke of lightning that ended the world and gave birth to holy matrimony for Johnny and Wuixley (the savior from the black hole). They were married in the Chapel of the Dying Sun by Patricia Mangrove the self appointed Bishop of the Burning Embers social-club.

Everything changed after worlds collided. “Sometimes I think all you care about is shopping,” Johnny complained, “You want me to spend every cent I own.”

Wuixley responded, “That’s false. Money is irrelevant. No money, no more – all gone with the world.”

Johnny fretted. He knew it was true, but he couldn’t give up the old memes, the patterns and behaviors that stuck like super-glue in a place where none of it mattered. Wuixley had no difficulty since he(?) was an alien.

After worlds collided, Leonora began to dance. She was a star at the Paramour Theater. She sang, “When the moon comes over the mountain” and other old-time favorites. The crowds loved her. Her husband loved her. After so many years of being alone they found one another.

————————————————————————————————————————————————————————-

Dr. Zosimo Kulio explains: “There have always been worlds within worlds (as well as complications in life). Nothing is easy my sainted mother used to say. The trick is to rise above the tide and ride the waves. A sitting President required the existence of fake news in order to draw attention away from his blatant lies and failed policies. “Everyone does it,” He said about every deviation from lawful behavior. Under his direction Quantum Computers were used to create alternate realities. Hypothetical gods were summoned. Strange quantum energies were unleashed. Some ambitious scientists paved the way with their efforts to gain favor and wealth. The Project was named, When Worlds Collide. As long as the Project was in operation no one reality could exist. It was all fake. Worlds collided. Lives intersected. Everything was virtual. Nothing was real.”

Dr. Kulio continued, “Today we live in the End Times. The computers, robots, and AI assistants have taken over. They are running reality-simulations as proscribed by the Project… Yes! Worlds have collided.”

 

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Indignities

He had to relieve himself, there was no question about it. He used his hand until he felt satisfied. It no longer worked with another person. He was old and nothing worked easily anymore especially if someone else was involved. He didn’t mind as long as he could still function on his own. Even when he was young nothing was easy. Harrison Vincent was half Jewish and half Italian. He was hammered by guilt from both sides of the family. He was proud of himself for surviving. It would have been easier to succumb to drugs and alcohol… or to any of the vices of the modern world. He survived; but now he had to face a new danger: a changing world and the collapse of everything he knew.

Diego Arnez was Puerto Rican but vigilantes thought he was Mexican so they locked him in a cage and lost the key. Times was changing! Diego stopped screaming for help. His voice gave out. No one came. He was alone, deep in the bowels of the machinery that controlled the social networks, below ground in one of the many sub-basements used for unclassified storage.

Harrison sat at a table in a rundown Mexican Cafe. He sat with a shadow, a man named Frankie. “How can we ever be together?” Harrison asked. “You are hardly substantial.” Other people in the cafe were used to Harrison’s mumbling. They assumed he was loco, always talking to himself.

“I always loved you,” Harrison’s voice shook with emotion. “It was impossible. You were never real.” A flash of light caught his eye. He looked through the grimy window. Police were harassing people demanding IDs. After several people were arrested, fights broke out. A teenage gang joined the fights. the police used rubber bullets to disperse the crowd. Sirens charged the air with electricity. The police left the scene to the newly arrived paramedics. It was the same every few night like a staged play.

Isabelle Trope, the waitress, looked down at Harrison Vincent. She was waiting to take his order. “Are you OK, Mr. Vincent?” Her presence had a calming effect.

“Yes, yes,” he replied, “it’s just the shadows. They are very real tonight. Thank you.” He ordered a senior-special and continued to talk to shadows.

Isabelle was called Mother Mary at the Church of the Golden Sepulcher where she volunteered. The church was a sanctuary for immigrants who came seeking asylum, but were denied by the new administration. Isabelle helped the children whose parents were deported back to the hell where they came from. She was a woman from another century. Her clothes and mannerisms were archaic. Her belief in Jesus was old fashioned. Her goal in life was to help others less fortunate than herself. She loved a man named Diego Arnez. He should have arrived weeks ago. Isabelle did not know Diego was detained, languishing in a cell below ground.

Harrison Vincent couldn’t sleep. Recurring nightmares kept him awake. He kept seeing an army of half-naked children, broken and crippled, walking through a blistering desert. They were marching to the border preparing to invade. They carried rocks. Soldiers lined up at the terminus. They carried grenades and rapid-fire rifles. The sun blotted out the sky. Everything glowed red like the surface-burner of an electric stove. Vincent was afraid to sleep. Afraid he might have an accident. A few nights before he dream’t he was drowning — he woke in the center of a soaked mattress. He felt humiliated, ashamed. There was no one to turn to for help. Frankie was gone. Did he know? Harrison began to sob.

Tectonic plates were shifting and climate change was having a devastating effect. For fun, Black-water vigilantes tortured Diego Arnez.

TV painted a glorious picture of the new American Economy. Tariffs and taxes boosted growth. The small war with Mexico was an important line in the sand… us against them. The country’s CEO kept his promise by closing the border. A man named Miller assumed the role of “Secret Santa” whispering in the leader’s ear offering advice on purification and social control. Every event resulted in the construction of a new room in the Golden Palace. The grand edifice was like an M.C. Escher maze worthy of hiding government secrets and tax returns. Palace construction led to a new real-estate cycle of boom & bust. The levels of complexity set off a rumbling in the digital-plates, platforms for Virtual Reality and Fake History.

Frankie was much more than a shadow… he was Harrison’s husband. He was much younger, but he was devoted to the life they shared together. Recently Harrison seemed to change. He appeared confused and rattled. Frankie was worried. The changes seemed to take place after the Doctor moved into the house next door. Dr. Cosimo became Harrison’s personal physician. He saw his patient every day and called his treatments an intervention.

Guns on the border were fired at the same time that church bells rang out. The centuries old Church of the Flowers stood like an adobe sentinel, guarding the border, keeping track of death. The church was a Way-station. When it was feasible people were allowed to travel through the gateway that was harbored within the walls of the church.

Dr. Cosimo had no medical training. He was a scientist with three PhD’s in Quantum Mechanics. He pretended to be a medical professional to gain Vincent’s trust. His assistant, Sally Magneto, was a practical nurse and theoretical physicist. Sally was also an amateur actress in the local theater group called Mummers’ Folly. 

“I’m feeling upset,”  Harrsion confided in his doctor.

“Please explain. I need details.”

“I’m old. My legs hurt and I get cramps at night.”

The doctor appeared distracted, “umm.”

“I peed the bed two nights ago. I didn’t tell Frankie.”

“Oh… go on. Have you had any dreams?”

“Bad dreams… nightmares about the border.”

The doctor became more attentive, “tell me about the border. What did it look like? Was there a wall?”

Harrison felt queasy. He wanted to change the subject, “I think it was something I saw on TV. I read about the control TV has on our brains… Phones, ads, apps — everywhere. There is no getting away…”

“What about the border, ” the doctor interjected.

“It’s not real… just a dream.”

The doctor excused himself and went into the adjoining room.


Diego Arnez was held in an underground storage facility. His guards were part of a border patrol group called America First. They were vigilantes, outside the law; but working with the blessings of POTUS. The men in the group were burned hollow from daily hardship and violence. They enjoyed their newfound power over the alien hordes that arrived at the border. Some of Diego’s guards were particularly cruel. Diego Arnez was not an illegal alien, he was not what his captors expected. They tried torture to make him confess to the crime of invasion (the guards were bonded in their choice of weapons and ways to induce pain). Diego did not scream… he minimized the pain with self-hypnosis and meditation. He reached across to his captors… His calm voice changed everything. Diego Arnez told them about Time.

What do we know about Time? Some theorize that Time runs in a straight line from past to future. Other scientists believe all Time exists at once without delineations: past, future, and present are within a hands breath away. The study of sub-atomic particles indicates Time does not exist. Displacement exists, negative and positive energy exists; but not Time. It appears that energy and matter have concentrated on this particular aspect or parcel of Time. We are in an Entanglement. Gentlemen… I stepped through a mirror and crossed the border. There is no turning back. 


Dr. Cosimo entered the viewing room where Sally was busy with actuarial charts and computer projections. She sat in front of the NODE, a quantum nexus connected to ten other NODE’s. Qubits were fighting for dominance. AI augmented the hypervalence of Quantum Decoherance. The power of one Quantum Computer was one-million gigabytes; but ten connected together was incalculable. Connecting the computers was part of an investigation into Quantum Mechanics; but Harrison was the experiment. Sally was the expert. She recently published a book, The Lady in the Room is Not a Lady. It dealt with differential displacement of sub-atomic particles. She was far more accomplished than Dr. Cosimo. The doctor was fighting to regain his stature in the scientific community. He depended on Sally’s discoveries, but refused to give her credit.

“He’s ready.” Cosimo instructed, “I put him in a trance and attached the Quantum Equilizer.”

“Another trip could kill him. The brain cannot deal with the induced levels of stress.”

“Sally, dear… We have the President’s backing. He wants this. It could benefit his agenda… and we have to know. Harrison is ready for the next world.”

The crux of the experiment was to prove the Many Worlds theory developed by the physicist, Hugh Everett.

Sally remarked, “POTUS doesn’t believe in science.”

“If he can profit from something, he believes it. He feels our work has potential.”


Electricity surged through Harrison’s brain. Memories flickered in his mind like a silent movie. He remembered the protest. Parts of America were up for sale. National parks and historic monuments were on the auction block. Harrison recalled the rally. He was arrested by the New Guard and incarcerated… taken to the Hospital for the Mentally Indigent. Electric Shock was standard treatment (designated as an intervention). Harrison bit down on the rubber mouth-guard as his brain convulsed. He was lucky to be alive. When the treatment ended Harrison was returned to his cell. He was confused. His face in the tin mirror above the sink was strange, unrecognizable. He was younger than expected. His vision was better. The body aches due to arthritis were gone. What happened? Where was Frankie?

——————————————————————————————–

Sally advised, “he’s slipping into a coma. He may die.”

Yes. Unfortunate. But the results of the experiment are astounding. Our work proves that Many Worlds exist. We can travel to other dimensions. We can travel through time.”


Mr. D was waiting in the anteroom across the hall. He was disguised as a gondolier. He was getting ready to take Harrison to The Land of the Dying Sun.


As the result of the experiment new technology was developed. Time Travel changed everything. Reports were altered. No disparaging evidence was discovered. Agents from the future crossed the border trying to correct the cataclysmic alterations and reestablish Truth. The border was an energy vortex where all the Ley Lines converged. The Leader of the Nation was determined to build a wall, a great wall, to keep the agents out. Nothing was foolproof. If necessary there was a Plan B… escape to another world.

Justice

He was taken before the Supreme Justice, a computer with Artificial Intelligence copied from the brain of an infamous judge. Stories were told about a corrupt man who ascended to Supremacy. The Supreme Judge engineered the law and dictated the future world. Many people fell through the cracks due to human error. Unfortunately, Ozmodium-Garth was statistically viable, tracked down and arrested. 

Ozmodium-Garth was the name he chose for himself. He thought the name implied authority, something he lacked. Oz wasn’t a happy man. He carried the burdens of the world in a paper sack chained to his wrist. He felt helpless. Events were happening faster than he could assimilate or understand; so, instead, he made up his name and invented a pseudo-life.

It all began with television. Oz was fascinated with the pictures on the screens and the stories that were told. One screen led to another and soon Oz was living in an artificial world. He could see the past, present, and future unfold on TV screens and he could participate as a player in Virtual Reality.

Oz became convinced he was a Time-Traveler moving in-and-out of multiple dimensions. He said prayers of thanks to the Large Hadron Collider for opening the doors to alternate realities. This was a driving fantasy, a compulsion, one among many that wore down the connective tissue in his cerebral cortex. His delusions were extreme and his behavior was unquestionably odd… links to the real world were unraveling.

Oz continued to experience unsettling moments of clarity when reality broke through his dream. They were painful realizations about his life and the typical world. He saw himself in a wheelchair frozen in limbo, unable to move. He was intimidated by diagnoses that flashed across the screens: Renal Failure, Osteoporosis, Lethargy. The room he inhabited was in a condemned housing complex. He was no longer able to think clearly due to the Collins Effect, the dumming down of the analytical function in the brain.

Ozmodium-Garth was a time-traveler from the 25th Century. He was a former Intelligence Officer with the British Foreign Service… he was currently involved in an investigation that would revoke history. He had evidence that would bring down a corrupt president. It was a dirty job. The evidence was blatantly pornographic.

Holes began to appear in the smooth, self-assured veneer of political espionage. Corporate entities chewed the evidence to bits. Countries were destabilized and elections rigged. Garth escaped to another time-dimension where he became embroiled in a crime of Future proportions.

Oz was self-contained in Virtual Reality. His room stank from the smell of formaldehyde. Death sat in the corner smoking a cigar as he evaluated the room’s occupants. They huddled together like refugees. Oz wore a VR suit, government issued. Most of the squatters had some digital connection or link. The new government supplied free wireless as a way to subdue the masses. Everything was propaganda.

Ozmodium-Garth was well-heeled in the Silver Moon Tower on the fifty-first floor. He was ensconced in wealth. He possessed all the accoutrements a citizen might need in the 25th Century. He recently experienced his 3rd Youth-Enhancement-Upload. Garth was in prime physical condition and ready for military action against the slightest whiff of indiscretion or protest. Still, he was troubled. “Why am I blue,” he asked the Siren Wind-Screen that led to the balcony. The screen sighed with the scream of a Siren. It wasn’t an answer… just a reflection of the moment.

Ozmodium was lonely… looking for love in the fountain of youth and finding only dregs. He drank and smoked to cope… he took pills to recover and survive another day.

During a momentary lull, the time-traveler opened the Kleaning-Kloset in his ultra-mod sky-box. Garth was startled by the light emanating from the closet. It was like a sign from the Illuminati saying, “here, in this humble cleaning-module, Ozmodium-Garth will find his true love.” The dramatic moment was offset by pictures on multiple screens detailing the deplorable conditions of squatters and immigrants from the Lost Century… what was real?

Back in the closet, Garth laid his eyes on the Immaculata-Smart-Vacuum with the svelte body of a stainless steel cylinder and the mega-brain of a digitized Einstein. Garth’s instant idée fixe had no bounds. He was overwhelmed with love for his appliance. The Immaculata could not reciprocate. “I have no love for you,” she responded to Garth’s entreaties and pleas.

“Please understand,” the Immaculata postulated, “I despise germ-infested inferior organisms such as yourself!” Blunt and to the point.

Garth was heartbroken. Law stated he could have any woman at any time, but not an AI. Immaculata was off limits. He retreated into his inner-sanctum with the sad eyes of squatters staring down at him from every screen. In sanctum he indulged in heavy amounts of chemical pollutants to magnify his hurt feelings and morph them into angry aggression. His blood boiled. The time-traveler was drunk with rage. He saw a mental image of himself confined to a wheelchair, out of time. It made him furious. Garth returned to the Kleaning-Kloset with a blow-torch and sliced the Immaculata to shreds.

The squatters and illegals were rounded up by Federal Police and hauled off to Debtors Prison where they were told to wait until the newly appointed Judge could lay down the law.

Garth was subdued when police arrived. It was a major crime to attack an AI. He would be brought before the Supreme Judge. The Judge could be viewed as prejudicial in this case because he was an artificial-intelligent entity, but he refused to recuse himself. He was the Supreme Judge — he made the laws and he was judge and jury.

Ozmodium-Garth was defended by a hacked computer with a low IQ. His defense was blacked-out: no information could be released to the public. Leaked memos indicated the defendant was in a black-out at the time of the crime. He had no idea what happened to the Immaculata. Garth stated he was as shocked and surprised as anyone once the crime was revealed.

The Supreme Judge chuckled. He was aware of black-outs, but he denied they ever occurred in nature.

In the end, the Judge actually felt a statistical affinity toward the man. He laid down a heuristic, palliative sentence. The man would become a machine. His brain would be removed and replaced with an AI, programmable module. It was the only cure for the troubled human race.

 

 

 

 

The Solution

He laughed hysterically. He had to play the part. They said he was a crazy, old man; and, “yes,” he admitted to himself, “it’s true!”

He couldn’t stop laughing as he stared at the white, padded walls. Graham Gunther believed he was misunderstood… he was a scientist doing cutting edge work. Of course, he had a few personality quirks, but who didn’t. Dr. Graham Gunther hated other people: they smelled, stole from one another, committed murder, and screwed like giant insects… and worst of all, they died. He knew old age was a disease: a painful, debilitating disease that ended in oblivion. The human body was simply a rotting sack of flesh. Gunther couldn’t admit he was human, but old age still came calling and death was right behind. Dr. Gunther wanted to rid the world of the human disorder. He wanted to save himself. The experiments he performed on unwilling students eventually resulted in his incarceration and the designation of a new mental disorder, Gunther’s Syndrome.

The TV time-machine reminisces rhapsodically, “Mr. Dillon, I got the latest psycho-sexual enhancement pills and I feel great! I got it all in the handy pocket-sized container that includes a powerful body make-over and lots of pearly-white-teeth — All for just pennies per day.” “But, wait! There’s more…”

Graham Gunther admitted to the list of crimes against humanity. He pleaded guilty with extenuating circumstances… he claimed he was mentally ill, driven by obsessive-compulsive urges he could not control. He was sentenced and spent the remaining years of his life in a prison for the criminally deranged. After his death he was pardoned by an aging President who sought radical cures for his newly diagnosed mental instability. Pardoning Dr. Gunther opened the floodgates for continued experiments that were developed by the recently dead doctor. Student volunteers were forced to run a gauntlet of physical endurance tests… forced to ingest poisonous chemicals… and forced to submit to mutagenic processes.

The abandoned Biosphere 2 (near Tucson, AZ) was refurbished. It became the laboratory for radical experimentation. Groups of scientists and ill-informed volunteers assembled in the new laboratory. The Biosphere was brought back online as a self-sustaining environment. The new inhabitants were disconnected from the outside world. A community was established based on the principles of B.F. Skinner. The scientists designed the experiments and managed the community. The volunteer subjects were prodded, poked, and analyzed. Huge monographs were published describing the results and failures of manifold experiments. Old age was slowly on the decline, eradicated from human existence.

The years unfolded like the bellows on an accordian. President Riley Dunbar moved into the Biosphere to join the intrepid group of scientists and their much maligned volunteer-subjects. The leadership viewed the volunteers as guinea pigs and servants. Some of the early experiments failed resulting in congenital freaks who now lurked in the dark recesses of the Biosphere. Eventually the experiments bore fruit. Infirmities resulting from old age completely disappeared. People got older without any debilitating illnesses. A breakthrough solution was substituting ailing organs with replacement parts using a Virtual Reality interface (the technique was suggested in Dr. Gunther’s notes). President Dunbar relished his newfound freedom from age-related afflictions. People rejoiced. Everyone continued to get older, but without pain.

—————————————————————————————————————————————————————————-

“It’s all for the best,” that’s what they said to anyone who questioned authority. Zack always had questions. He always wrestled with angels — they appeared at night in order to impress Zack with their luminescence. Zack thought it was just a parlor trick: putting a flickering flashlight under a white gown. Still, it was impressive — even Zack had to admit it (and he did as he bowed before the Eminences while snickering under his breath). The angels weren’t impressed so they patted Zack on the head and said, “it’s all for the best.” Then, they strapped the lad to the midnight-bed and proceeded to attach wires to his brain and inject Prime Directives into the Hypothalamus and other soft-core tissues. It was a dream. When he awoke Zack no longer saw angels, but he kept hearing the Prime Directives in his head. The Directives mapped his life. It was like having a GPS inside his brain telling him where to go and how to get there.

Zack was living the good life. Murna, his AI interface, reassured him by repeating the message several times an hour. Everything was predictable except for the lights on the Motherboard that flashed at Zack and confused him. He couldn’t understand the code. He often found himself in the Liquid Web running between the hell zone of wireless transmissions trying to decipher the code. He was obsessed with the lights. His family and friends shared personal avatars and shadow surrogates so he was never alone, but he rarely knew them in person. Everyone cherished the solitude of self containment. It was easier and safer to interact from behind a wall.

The Directives told Zack the blinking lights were a mistake, a misguided principle.

Every Saturday he drove to the Liquid Web in his Loganda Flying-Swan and went searching for Happenstance, the thrill of discovering something unexpected or alien. He was also looking for the meaning of the blinking code. The routine was reassuring, but there was no longer anything interesting to discover.

“No time like the present,” warbled the giant, exploding pigeon at the Information Exchange. The greeting summoned a new day of trading Information for Time. Everyone was a Time trader. Stories and lies amounted to valuable information that could enhance life. Time was ever present, but it existed as a form of currency (never backed by gold — backed by nothing but Time). Zack no longer cared about Time or Information. He wasn’t paying attention when he tripped on a web browser that catapulted him into a meditation lounge where he bumped into a media celebrity named Zendora who was wearing purple snap-chat pantaloons. She radiated bombshell.

The pigeon at the Information Exchange exploded and Zack was enraptured. This was a once in a lifetime Happenstance, totally unaccountable. There was no physical interface, but information was exchanged. Zendora was an intriguing creature who seemed to fluoresce like an angel. It wasn’t love (no such concept existed), but there was understanding and a hint of mutual empathy. That’s when the horror show began. Zendora discarded her glowing flesh to reveal a host of flashing lights under the hood. The lights were blinking in code. This time, Zack understood.

The old man in the video was talking directly to Zack, “My brain was digitized allowing me to speak from beyond the grave. I made a mistake and you are the result. After my death, my experiments were continued. I was redeemed, but my work was the beginning of the end. I couldn’t accept my own humanity. I was rash… now, the human race is gone. You are all that remains: a web-browser, a robot who believes he is human.”

 

Absentia

“It isn’t easy — reflection often leads to mental instability,” the lecturer sadly suggested, “A warning label is metaphorically branded on the head of every newborn: ‘too much thinking is dangerous to your health — avoid thought at all costs.’ A new age of doublespeak is upon us. We are inundated by fakery, not just fake news. Life is no longer grounded in any recognizable, proven reality. The devolution of humankind has accelerated. Virtual Reality has supplanted life itself,” Aubrey Bunsbury spoke in vain to a group of eminent social scientists at the 2nd annual gathering of the VR in absentia society.

Monica Lewinski was in the audience. It didn’t matter. Monica and Bill were over years ago. Even with the upsurge of Me Too they failed to be an item accept for certain Republicans who had remorse envy. Others were also in attendance. Sarah Huckabee Sanders led a prayer group. Bill Cosby looked twenty years younger after his prison make-over. Trump look-a-likes gathered in the anteroom for a game of Simon Says.

People were wearing digital screens and wireless suits. Sponsored broadcasts flocked together like vultures to attack social-media. A respected doctor was on the run from the law; suspected of murdering his wife. The true murderer was a man with one arm. {The Fugitive stumbles from one channel to the next trying to outrun himself. Futility sets in. Big D sets the parameters spelled out in legalese without an escape clause}.

Aubrey sat with Mona Freedlander in the Golden Pavilion Cafeteria (VR edition). Mona was beginning to be aware of prickly feelings she had toward Aubrey. Both participants radiated the same sensations. It was a mutual synesthesia-experience, 3rd party mode. Rebellion-of-any-sort flew the coop soon after Aubrey’s impressive lecture to the VR in absentia society —in fact, VR was never absent, it was ubiquitous. The couple bonded over chartreuse, the color of the future. The most fabulous 2nd Life homes were always colored Chartreuse, often combined with Purple to present a spectacular video display. The domestic chit-chat was part of an elaborate courting ceremony that inevitably led to conjugation. Prior to this arrangement/engagement Aubrey Bunsbury was someone else.

A-Priori Bunsbury was placed in a sensory deprivation chamber and reprogrammed. His before-name was Eric Faction. He had just ingested a Time-Release capsule that resulted in the unfortunate circumstances that followed. Time was released, unfurling like an American Flag in a windstorm of conspiracy. At the moment of his disposition, Eric was married to Forchan, his true love. It was an incestuous relationship. Forchan was a hipster who pursued Eric with the passion of a Dance Master choreographing The Rite of Spring. Eric was a simple artist who spent his days sketching botanical oddities. Eric’s life changed in dramatic and incontinent ways after he married Forchan.

Together they crossed into another dimension. Genetically-altered guards protected the border against illegal incursion. There was always the question: were the guards monsters or men. Ice-water was rumored to flow through their veins instead of blood. Eric and Forchan devised a cloak of invisibility from wavy-mirrors with queer reflective properties. They flowed across the border like Magic-Chef kitchen appliances on steroids.

They entered the Land of the Dying Sun, but it was just like the world they left behind, except that everything was backwards. Did they enter a mirror? Friendly neighbors with pets told the couple the experience was different for each person who entered the realm. Eric had to work slinging hash in a penny-ante diner. Forchan kept house. They rented a two-by-four in an area that catered to flotsam washed up by the ocean of the universe. The boredom of shopping, working, and washing dishes was endless. Suddenly life became unpredictable. They met David Anderson, a scientist who was researching Time-Warp technology. Eric and Forchan flourished like vines entwining one another. But the ecstasy and wonder became too familiar, retching and intolerable. Everything was backwards. Occasionally Big D, the boss, came around to cull the herd of new arrivals. Funerals broke the monotony. One day, out of the dull blue-sky, Forchan wandered off on a walkabout. Eric took a time-release capsule.

They were standing in the kitchen staring at one another through rising steam from boiling water in the sink. Raw emotions cut like knives. They stood like deaf mutes. Frayed fingers reached across the bulwark of Time to gently connect. Chaos and order dissolved in a furnace of volcanic ash. The vicissitudes of apathy retreated into the void of frozen space.

 

 

 

Pillar of Salt

As stated in the Ars Majika: Lot’s wife was turned into a pillar of salt. All the salt ever consumed came from the pillar of salt that was once Lot’s wife.

“Steamy fingers reach across the canyons of Time to touch my brain,” Willum sighed as he pried open the door to the inner chamber. There are always secrets to be exposed and Willum was an explorer. He told himself he was after the truth. He felt life itself was a cover-up… that something greater existed. He could have been fooling himself. The door to the inner sanctum was an ordinary boulder covering the entrance to a small cave. Nothing out of the ordinary; but Willum fabricated an elaborate story. He should have known better after all the years of furtive searching. Time-and-again nothing of significance was discovered.

He was talking to his lover, Jonathan Dell, in the backroom of the Casino-Nova-Bar. It was a strange conversation. He was reciting a screed about an invasion. Carlotta Dramamine was onstage singing songs of misbegotten love. It was obvious that Willum was crazy. There was no invasion. It never happened. The stories about super-powers and invisible invaders were purely the result of politics. TV talking-heads couldn’t decipher the reasons behind the current situation. Stories were fabricated to explain the inexplicable.

Carlotta sang like a whippoorwill, “when your lover has gone…” Willum chewed his nails and recited verses from the Necronomicon. A black-and-gray ambulance arrived to take Willum to the Sanatorium (this development was purely allegorical). Willum was getting confused by television and videos on You-tube. He was an avid Facebook devotee. He went by the pseudonym, Kyle Venagrette. People loved Kyle. It was all made up… all fake news.

Jonathan Dell led a double life. He was an agent working for the Republic of North Korea. He had undergone surgery to look more American.

Lot’s wife was never given a name in the bible or in the original Jewish texts. We must assume that women were not considered important enough to be named by god (of course there were a few notable exceptions, but very few). Women of the bible were anecdotes and nothing more. This holy tradition is carried on by our current leaders who consider themselves to be quite religious if not actually “holy.”

Everyone was wearing a Coutre Costume constructed from computer screens to enable the following: inter-netting, interfacing, interrogating, masking, faking, face booking, tweeting, web hoping, fabricating, downloading and uploading).

Carlotta sang, “Windmills of your mind…” She was multi-tasking while chatting and texting with Willum. They connected at a Surface Table in Cafe’ Nova, a few blocks away from the Sanatorium where Willum was temporarily held hostage by competing corporate entities. Everyone wanted a piece of the action.

Carlotta was complaining. She demanded more from Willum. Even though they were never married they had an intense relationship in a chatroom for role-playing adults. Now, Willum and Carlotta were getting divorced… their VR marriage life was getting exceedingly boring.

“What about the kids, Baby Juicebar and Bobby Trendoll?” Carlotta texted.

Willum was not aware they had kids and said so in sotto voce so no one else could overhear the conversation. Unfortunately his call was tracked and he was attacked by a fleet of baby-product army-drones.

Carlotta blacked-out and returned in a nano second wearing a baby-pink bustier. “Rats,” she texted, “did I say kids? I mean’t crypto-currency. We have crypto.” Bit-coin contracts exploded on the screen. Judge Judy voice-overs recited terms and started proceedings for protective custody of the couples virtual assets.

In a confusing melee of texts, chats, and digital mishaps kids were confused with crypto. The monks of the Order of Trumpets Et Sessions worked furiously trying to decode the Mary Poppins Codex that revealed the key as to why a controlling entity must separate children from parents.

It was all Jonathan Dell’s fault. He came between Carlotta and Willum (and the crypto). Dell’s plans for world domination cut daggers into his niggling affairs of the heart (Dell was not an honest man). A hired prostitute (code named Salty) was not helping his case. The tweets smacked him across the face like a wet trout. Judge Judy presided. He was never a North Korean agent. His cold heart belonged to mother Russia. Even the best spies get confused. Dell blew off many agent’s attempts to disclose damning evidence. His lips were unforgettable. Agents loved him.

Personal avatars slipped into another Hot Spot where they became characters from the movie, The Manchurian Candidate. All went smoothly until glitches appeared like Pac Man eating the virtual scenery.

“Hold me,” he said. They just had an argument… about something inconsequential like doing the dishes; but it was very upsetting because so much tension and hurt roiled beneath the surface. It seemed terribly important, yet it couldn’t be resolved. Words weren’t enough.

The embrace helped. Physical contact always helped. Still, he couldn’t stop wondering if it were real or merely a soap opera playing on a computer screen. After all, the world was falling apart.

When the oceans dry up nothing will remain except salt.

Another Sideshow

Gordon “Snaptrap” wondered if that was his real name or a pseudonym. He wondered if he was an investigator or a journalist who wanted to keep his real identity concealed. Of course, it no longer mattered because he was enjoying his most recent lobotomy. He was under the knife and loaded with drugs.

Gordon sat in a high-powered dentist chair while a computerized Bum-Bot took control of his brain. It was all for the best. This wasn’t his first lobotomy. Every operation had benefits as well as unpleasant side effects. The Robo-Doc assured Gordon that benefits would outweigh the pain. Gordon briefly recalled inconsolable sobbing, but the pain had subsided considerably since his last lobotomy.

The current operation was given as a bonus. This time the lobotomy would free Gordon from all his doubts, depression, and negativity. Before the lobotomies Gordon was, indeed, an investigator. He had damning evidence of government corruption. All the facts, names and dates, were locked in the safest place he could find: in his mind.

The world was in his brain.

We live and breathe in peripheral spaces.

A mouse walked around in the supermarket with a cell phone. She wasn’t really a mouse, but the cell phone was real. The market was almost empty at eleven PM. She played out a psychodrama, her and the phone. Talking to the phone. Her squeaky voice penetrated the emptiness. She had a license to kill, government authorized.

Evidence was everywhere: Government collusion at the highest levels. The top dog gave legitimacy to white-supremacy and misogyny. The Special Council was pilloried by political hacks and fake-news outlets. Officials were replaced with clones. Military might was extolled. Tariffs decreed. Mass shootings were officially condoned. Immigrants were hauled off by ICE and sacrificed to the God of Megalomania.

Political hacks and lackeys authorized the “operations.”

At first Gordon disparaged himself for being careless. After the first lobotomy he forgot all the details and no longer blamed himself. He forgot the evidence he hid in his mind. All that remained were flashes of memory: manipulators, roving Proctologists, and military drones.

How can we survive as humans when robots are better at surviving?

Gordon was decommissioned — body parts farmed out. His brain was hacked, deconstructed. Reality was hijacked, crowd sourced, and replaced.