The Brain that controlled the spaceship was provoked. It sent out urgent messages and demands. After several unresponsive minutes the Brain was frustrated and attacked the loud speakers, “I want everyone off the ship. This is the final warning. I will not continent any more disrespect. Off! Off! Off!” These outbursts had been going on for quite awhile. No one listened anymore.
The Orange Toreador tunneled through space like a Mother Bomb. The Generation Ship was the greatest achievement of the twenty-first century… the only genuine accomplishment from a world that was long gone, left behind in the aftermath of “lift off” on an arc of fireworks and exhaust fumes.
The Toreador carried a cadre of brave and powerful people who planned to harness and yoke a new world for the continued glory of humankind. The first order of business was to discover a habitable planet. The ship hurtled through Ultra-Space powered by a time-loop. Three hundred years passed in the blink of an eye. The boarders on the ship merely experienced a passage of three weeks.
Morton Sedlack could no longer see himself in a mirror. He could no longer identify himself. He was a dying man sinking into a memory-foam mattress on the way down to a coffin in the ground. He awoke suddenly and found himself in the evacuation chamber of a starship. He was being evicted, cast into the vacuum of space. The Brain began the eviction process. It dismantled the failsafe and took total control.
Initially the Brain merely wanted to initiate money saving measures by cutting back on environmental safeguards. Oxygen deprivation ignited a series of citizen protests. The Brain could not abide any criticism. It decided drastic measures were necessary to keep the ship on course.
The sons-and-daughters of the Brain were frantic. They could see the same scenarios play out always ending in disaster. They were gathered in the Strategic Armaments Room — staring down at a holographic projection of “things past” and ” things to come.” The conference room was an exact replica of the glitzy showroom on Earth where major military decisions were authorized over a slice of chocolate cake. What disturbed the advisors was the lack of fashion-sense among the passengers on the Father-Ship. The lack of oxygen and total loss of control were also very problematic.
When Morton Sedlack was ejected into space he was filled with remorse. Sedlack wasn’t sad because his life was over, he was bereft because he left someone behind. He loved a cyborg named Phantom Limb. As his body blew up in the vacuum of space he remembered his last night with Limb.
Lights were flashing erratically due to the latest outburst from the Brain. A hellish rant of vitriol overflowed from the life-sustaining pool where the Brain was stored. Some people said the pool was a cage. Others said the Brain deserved to be in a cage. Morton and Limb relived beautiful moments together knowing the end was near. They tripped in enhanced VR, more real than life itself: the electrifying first kiss, metal to flesh… the fireworks of internal combustion and quivery intestines… the high-voltage synapse of brain cells conjoined with silicon chips… the ultimate experience being together when the sky exploded and the rocket launched into space.
Morton’s last wish was to be remade in molten metal and poured into his beloved, Phantom Limb. His wish and memories burned down to a tiny cinder.
Phantom Limb railed against the night. He was more than a metal arm or leg… more than a limb; but Morton was the only person who ever treated him like an equal, like a whole human being. Limb was hoping to receive a final message from Morton. Finally his I-phone-chip burped. The message was short: a spark dying in the night. It cut Limb to the core. He was immobilized. Frozen in grief.
The sons-and-daughters were devoted to the Brain. All life and power flowed through them from the Brain. But, now, it was acting erratically: evicting passengers without space suits. As advisers and enablers they needed to calm the Brain down. The brilliant children of the Brain were befuddled and uncertain. It was always difficult for them to make a decision that didn’t involve inanimate objects like money. Unfortunately the family never understood the reality of other people which (of course) led to the initial debacle back on Earth. Now the children had to save the survivors on the ship. They downloaded suggestions from the computer archives. They contacted Alex Jones and Sessions-Page. They discovered a great recipe for Hemlock Tea from Stephen Bannon. They were advised to sooth the Master by massaging the Brain. No one wanted to get into the warm, viscous fluids in the life-sustaining pool. It was too uncomfortable and slimy.
The children bickered. The Brain was very uncomfortable sitting in a slimy pool without a proper body and that was the real reason for his obstreperous behavior. The Navigator was conferring with the sons-and-daughters. No one was piloting the ship.
The barrier between life and death is paper thin. No one even noticed when the Father-ship crossed over, tumbling helter-skelter down into the land of the dying sun.
Allison Fornay was a slim, more attractive version of herself. She used to weigh four-hundred pounds and she was unable to move off her bed. She had a caretaker and received a living wage from disability insurance. She subsidized her income by letting news-cams into her bedroom to expose her obesity on national VR.
Everything changed when Allison met Fonderoy Thomas. He was a lifestyle guru who owned a virtual reality network. Fonderoy heard about Allison from a fake-news outlet. He wanted to help.
At this time, everyone had a Neural Net that covered the cerebellum. The net increased intelligence and enabled instant communication. Every Neural Net was stamped with an expiration code and date. The code was unique and worked like an old fashioned cell-phone number. Fonderoy connected with Allison.
“I love you, Allison,” Fonderoy gushed, “with love you can do anything!”
“Who the hell are you?” Allison replied. She didn’t know because she never tuned into the Guru channel.
After a stimulating conversation Allison submitted to Fonderoy’s life changing regimen. She submitted to mental massage and invasive chemical therapy.
Fonderoy seeded Allison’s brain with Neuro-linguistic cues and Virtual Reality Instagrams.
Allison was fucked; but, she did lose the excess weight. The process opened a Pandora’s Box. In the end Allison had no idea who she was or what she wanted.
Guru Thomas called upon Shambala, Bannon, and Mumbo-jumbo to steer Allison in the right direction. The process was trial-and-error. Allison slipped from one lifestyle to another, trying-on personalities that were injected into her brain.
She remembered munching on fruit, sitting in a Banyan Tree. She felt pleasantly stoned living like an ape. She lurched into another memory of rampaging male energy that comes with being a teenage boy. The ride continued as she became a drug addicted super model. She slammed into a tsunami of facts-and-figures as a highly regarded astrophysicist. Allison was a banker and real-estate mogul. She saw herself as a wife and mother. The experiences were overwhelming and she shattered like a glass vase.
Guru Thomas flipped through his commodified fact-sheets and randomly picked a code to permanently insert into Allison’s Neural Net.
Detective Allison Fornay was called whenever a case turned into a sticky wicket. Music swelled as she stared down at the body of a man who was vaguely familiar. The music was out of place and Allison wondered why there was music at the scene of the crime. The crime was ordinary… the music was not. The dead man was a TV personality known for his bombastic rhetoric. The man was in his seventies and he looked as if he was in terrible anguish at the time of his demise. Allison donned the obligatory rubber gloves and did the appropriate touching on the dead man’s body. She already surmised he died of a heart attack brought on by too much stress, but she had to be professional. The body would be left for the coroner who would confirm the detective’s conclusion. So much for the dead man, but the music was the real mystery. Did the other officers hear it or was she the only one? The music was vaguely familiar like the soundtrack from a TV show. It was bright and tinkly like game show music. Did the music have something to do with the corpse? “Perhaps,” Fornay whispered to herself, “I need to reassess the situation. If the man on the floor was not a victim of foul play; then who was the victim and why the sticky wicket?”
The music was counting down. A memory suddenly lurched into Allison Fornay’s brain — the memory of a man who wielded great power. He was guru Fonderoy Thomas and he infected her mind.
When lurch comes to shove, Allison was very good at hiding the facts of the murder. She concealed it from herself. The guru with his empire of zombie followers deserved to die. He tinkered with people’s souls. His pop psychology was an excuse to rewire brains and perform sadistic experiments. She smiled as the music continued to count down. Allison knew what to expect, what the music meant. The guru inserted a unique code and date in her Neural Net… and she was about to expire.
“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.”
I was sitting at my desk when Endrina Moorcock came into the room to tell me a fantastic story. Massive Attack scratched out a melody on barbed wire, the soundtrack of my life. Endrina spoke, “I am digital … coming to you over an illegal wavelength to warn you.”
Manfred Meeks was a celebrated concert pianist inspired by the music of Bach, Mozart, and John Phillips Sousa. A virtuoso. A teenage phenom. He is no longer remembered because the accident changed everything. It was predicted in the Bible, the Koran and other religious documents. It was anticipated by the Heisenberg Principle (Quantum Physics). It was ignited by hubris and politics. The Singularity (read Kurzweil) burst on the scene like a ruptured appendix. Manfred was caught in the melee.
Rotobar Trumpf ranted about ownership at the televised convention. He spoke in abstract riddles and never said anything about his desire to own the world. He introduced Manfred Meeks, a bullied boy who had great musical talent — the boy grew up to worship power. Meeks played the piano and awed the rambunctious crowd. The recital of national hymns turned out to be Manfred’s biggest mistake, an accident of unparalleled proportion that led to the election of Rotobar Trumpf..
Endrina Moorcock was Raptured along with the others. It was a confusing time. the man who sold the world never anticipated the fallout. Rotobar Trumpf made a pact with Professor Andor Morph. The professor had a formula based on Schrodinger’s cat experiment and modified by Minsky’s mathematical equations. Morph started out as a geneticist, but was discredited and lost his license to practice in any medical facility. He was a psychotic genius who disregarded ethical considerations … but, Trumpf liked him. Morph was someone who could get things done. Endrina was part of the fallout from a Morph experiment that had gone wrong. She became a creature of the night, not quite human, no longer the person she used to be, no longer Manfred Meeks.
Rotobar enjoyed an absinthe cocktail as he observed his world through a small porthole. The world was red, reflecting the glow from lava furnaces that scorched the earth. The leader of the world lived in luxury in his well stocked bunker surrounded by loved ones and family. There was only room for twenty people and supplies would run out in fifteen years. Rotabar would be dead by then so it didn’t really matter. He felt some concern for a few of his sons and daughters, but they had spunk and he was certain they would come up with a plan to carry on.
Most people were Raptured like Endrina: digitized and uploaded into computer simulations while their brains were used as fuel for Angels and Demons, the Robots who inherited the Earth. The Rapture Bomb was set off by Morph and funded by an ill-informed Trumpf who thought he was just building robots & military hardware.
Professor Morph was a witness to devastation long before he became a scientist. He saw towers exploding and murderers rampaging through city streets, taking hostages and creating chaos. As a child he was scarred by an explosion in a cafe’ that killed his parents. Somehow he survived, but the sight of his parents erupting in flames never left him. He never forgot the screams. He knew, even as a boy, it wasn’t the terrorists who were responsible. It was something inside every human being that caused the horror. At first he tried to change the human genome to make people better, but his efforts were doomed. Humans were systemically defective. Morph couldn’t cure them, so he had to eliminate them.
“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.
“Of course, I’m entitled,” Svetleena Finkel shouted, “it’s my 107th birthday!” She was standing on the balustrade overlooking the Moon-Yard, an authentic reproduction of the first interstellar outpost built on the moon. She looked postal covered in a neon radiation shield and waving a light-saber. She was talking to the notorious journalist, Orlow Fabricatum, and she gushed with privilege and enthusiasm, “I’ve seen it all and done it all. I’ve had many lifetimes during this one life … and I was here for the end of the world.”
“I had no idea,” Orlow simpered as he sipped from a bowl of rancid blood, “tell me more.”
“It began in the 1930’s right before the rise of Hitler. I was quite naive. It was before my first transformation. I was a pretty boy named Sven and there was no work in Berlin. You see, I was an orphan. I never knew my real parents. I ended up as a hustler, turning tricks and stealing wallets.”
“I’m not surprised,” Orlow confessed, “it was a bad time.”
“Indeed,” Svetleena chortled, “but not nearly as bad as what followed: the Nazis, Hitler, and the invasion of the Meat Puppets.”
The post Post-World happened many years after Sven became Svetleena. She experienced many transformations through the magic-science of age-reversal and mutant genetics. Once she was commodified as an extraterrestrial! For a short period she was actually a Meat Puppet, but that was a cover-identity when she worked as a spy.
“I’m the lynch-pin, you know,” she explained to Orlow while they consumed great quantities of nitrous Oxide and infused alcohol, “I made it happen … the end of the world.”
“I suspected as much, my dear; but I didn’t want to spoil your surprise.”
“You are a sweetie. If you weren’t the proverbial fly on the wall, I’d marry you.”
“Oh, Svetleena, you know marriage is no longer fashionable. Even so, these days, anything is possible. We could marry, but I’d only be after your money.”
“You devil! At least you are honest.”
During the period of Global Disruption, when Hitler rose from the dead, Svetleena/Sven met Boris Riesling and fell in love. Boris was a sensitive teenager trapped in an old man’s body. He had a hero-complex that appealed to Sven who was still working as a hustler.
Svetleena continued, “no one knew the new Nazis were really Meat Puppets from beyond the Rim. Our love was beautiful and lasting until Boris was arrested for deviancy and imprisoned. I never knew why I was not charged, perhaps because I had salient information about several powerful individuals.”
Sven became a spy in order to defeat the Meat Puppets. It led to the first transformation. In order to fool the enemy, Sven had to become the enemy.
One transformation led to another. The Meat Puppets were disguising themselves as human, trying to acquire human characteristics, having sex with human females. Sven became Svetleena in order to seduce and conquer the Alien Race. Her hybrid beauty drew them out like a magnet. Meat Puppets in high places were exposed, but being Aliens, they were sore losers with the impulse to destroy what they could not have.
The strain from stress-producing encounters and intrigue became too much for everyone involved in the drama of world domination and retribution. The invading Meat Puppets never took into account the terrifying tedium of traffic jams. Television kept interfering with interplanetary communication. Advertising on digital devices scrambled the invader’s brains. The plans to camouflage themselves as human failed when the Meat Puppets became too human. Seduced by TV commercials they became consumers driven to acquire goods and services they didn’t understood resulting in confusion and erratic behavior. The disruption put an end to everything.
The post Post-World was reconstituted in Dr. Boris Riesling’s laboratory. Everything is now in post production.
“I am Svetleena Finkel and I’m 107 years old. We are all Meat Puppets!”
He was a beatnik living in a trailer park and he was old. Being old was a crime. His name was “Knott” Hammond. The trailer park was called, “Flamingo Gardens” and it was an internment camp. If a person was beginning to look old, he-or-she was required to take the Treatment. People who couldn’t afford the Treatment were interned. The camp was part of a new resettlement program. It seemed like another lifetime, long ago when Knott was rich enough to avoid Flamingo Gardens.
Flamingo Gardens began as a real-estate venture to off-set losses due to the housing crash. The CEO who managed the program turned it into a cash cow. Government policies were put into place to maximize profits. Almost overnight the policies favoring Flamingo Gardens became draconian and the trailer park became the final solution to end the woes besetting the country.
Knott recalled the day he boarded the train. He had his own compartment, a stainless-steel box like a small cargo container. People who were poor and old were hypnotized by ads to sign up for the “program.” Before the camps, Knott survived by working as a repairman. He refurbished old digital components and traded them for food or a place to sleep. It was a hard, scrabble life and he wanted something better. He was seduced by the TVs and phones which he restored to life. Holographic announcers were in his brain using subliminal suggestions. He boarded the train to dreamland.
Flamingo Gardens was a contemporary trailer park, orderly and antiseptic. Stainless-steel trailers were unloaded from the trains and hooked to Mother (the grid). The camps were set up when the country was run by the first CEO. There were camps for refugees, camps for criminals, and camps for the old. “For a better life, come to Paradise,” was the slogan used to mollify and seduce a worn down public. Rich people knew the score. Money protected them from propaganda aimed at the masses. They opted for the Treatment to stay young; or, at least, to appear young. Plastic surgeons made a killing. More arcane interventions added to the mystique of permanent longevity.
Everyone wanted to avoid the pitfalls of old age, but only the very wealthy could afford the Treatment. The new economy was built on class warfare. The poor, in camps, were fodder for the rich. Old people could be used for experiments and replacement parts for members of the ruling class. Everyone wanted the biggest prize of all: the stirrings of immortality.
Mother provided everything to the occupants in the metal-box trailers. Links connected the boxes and tubes fed the cubicles with life sustaining nutrients for the body and virtual dreams for the mind. When the arrangements became too expensive to maintain, Mother provided the gas to whittle down the population.
Knott Hammond had a relay switch in his brain. He installed the switch himself as an experiment. He always enjoyed tinkering with human-machine hybrids. The on-off switch could be used to analyze and mend digital links, but the switch was faulty and unpredictable. The relay interfered with Knott’s brain causing episodes of psychosis leading to his fall from the graces of the rich and influential.
The switch was never removed. Knott sat alone in his steel compartment, cut-off from the pleasures provided by Mother and subjected to the reality triggered by the machine in his brain. The holding tank was cold and dark. Knott was suffering from malnutrition (Mother cut back on resources and nutrients in order to save money). The terror of the situation triggered a survival reaction in Knott’s brain. He started to tinker with the data in his head. He discerned connections to his past when he was lauded as a genius in the tech industry. He recalled the codes, computer language, that could be used to alter reality.
Gaining control of Mother was not terribly difficult. Knott had slightly more difficulty hacking into the Treatment Centers where the wealthy sought immortality.
Nothing lasts forever. Old age and death snapped the “new young” like fragile twigs.