They were coming from beyond the horizon. Jonathan Rangle saw them through the Ultra-Lens he purchased from a Con-Arts Website: giant, voracious ants devouring everything in sight. The dream fragmented and shattered like a delicate wine glass. Jonathan was fifty and he still had comic-book dreams. The little boy inside the man refused to grow up. He was immature, unable to accept reality.
Jonathan couldn’t adjust. He tried (sometimes desperately) to control circumstances. He was convinced something was wrong (a spanner in the works). He was driven to discover the true nature of reality. Doctor Zosomo Kulio told him, “your behavior is part of a vicious circle: you reject reality only to create another version that you also reject as being inauthentic — and the cycle starts over.”
What Zosomo said made sense, but it didn’t really matter. Something really was wrong, terribly wrong!
Rufus, a rat that lived in the wall, told Jonathan Rangle that people around the country were very upset. Rufus was Rangle’s best friend. He sat on his haunches and ate cheese. Together, the rat and the man, sipped wine and talked until delirium set in and the morning sun ignited the world.
“They want more,” the rat said, “TV isn’t enough. The world is changing too fast. Old jobs are being replaced with technology. Only movie stars and billionaires can afford the life that TV promotes. Ads are everywhere. Buy more. Eat more. Get more any way you can. Privacy is a thing of the past. Computers invade brains with slogans and enticements. Free credit. Free everything!”
“Yes,” Jonathan ruminated, “it wasn’t like this in the 1950’s. It was pleasant and easy going, or so I’ve been told.”
“Wrong,” the rat sneered, “it was lily white and the world was under the threat of nuclear annihilation. Today, people are running scared cause they are being replaced. The alien threat is real, but it has nothing to do with immigrants or minorities.”
Jonathan knew what Rufus meant. His own father was a white-nationalist. He was an angry man who blamed other people for his own failures.
Rufus commiserated, “you have to be a failure in America… that’s how the rich get richer. Poor people are brain-washed to buy what they can’t afford so they go into debt. It’s a vicious circle. Believing the rich man is the biggest mistake of all.”
The news of the election-results was very upsetting, but not unexpected.
Unhappy voters gave the reigns of government to a New Faction. Traditional politicians with their empty promises were no longer acceptable. Outright lies were easier to digest. Fables on gold platters were more palatable than cold facts and reasoned debate that forced people to think. Thinking was considered hard work. No one really wanted to work except for “stupid immigrants who were stealing jobs” (quote taken from the New Faction website). Most people wanted the leisurely life that only the new President and his cabinet could provide.
The New Faction took control. Jonathan was bereft. Rufus took it all in stride. At first people were dismayed, but eventually what seemed so unnatural became acceptable. The press and congress wanted to give the new team a chance; they couldn’t be worse than other administrations.
The New Faction was very different. Working to fulfill great expectations, the President and his cabinet made an effort to appear human. Inevitably, nature took its course and the president slipped back to his old ways: wallowing in swill. The members of the new cabinet were relieved to discard the clothes they were forced to wear in order to fool the public.
“the world will never be the same,” Rufus commented as he ate his cheese and sipped his wine. Jonathan nodded.
Eventually everyone got used to pigs in the White House. Soon it was “business as usual” having barnyard animals rule the country.
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.”
Frank Larson boarded the Aero-Jet and disappeared. No one noticed. No one saw him come on board. He was gone in the blink of an eye.
Larson, a lanky fifty-year-old with receding hair, was a detective doing field work for Internal Affairs. The department had gone viral, federalized and in charge of several agencies throughout the nation.
He was investigating the case of Emmy-Mae Parsons. She was supposedly a defenseless bag lady who was shot and killed by a fellow officer. Frank followed orders and did his job, but he always fudged in favor of the officer being investigated. This case was different, involving national security because someone blew up Hoover Dam. The lucky survivors inevitably adapted seeking rafts and house boats instead of McMansions. The bag lady was never a suspect, but strings were pulled to nullify the situation and lessen the damage to the police department (two birds, one stone). This current case smacked Frank in the head like a rotten mackerel.
Johnny Jackcraw was in stasis in the holding compartment of the Aero-jet. He wasn’t worried. His brain was being massaged and cleansed and his ninety-year-old body was undergoing artificial rejuvenation. Johnny needed his prepackaged good-looks because he was the main witness for the prosecution in the Emmy-Mae case. The government was willing to pay Johnny for information.
Johnny told authorities he witnessed the murder when he was a prisoner, confined in a jail cell with a view (he was imprisoned for the crime of petty theft — he was addicted to shop lifting even though he had a pod-load of bit-coins). He claimed he saw Emmy-Mae murdered by Officer Inola. He spied the crime while star gazing through his prison window. Nobody on the force liked Inola, Johnny said he was a witness, and the gun that killed the bag lady was discovered in Inola’s belongings. The cop-cam that every officer had installed was no help in this case — it was melted from the back blast in the explosion of Hoover Dam.
Johnny hated jail. He was a Star who loved to wear rainbow caftans and perform at the notorious Blue Nail on 126th Street in lower Manhattan. He couldn’t really sing, but audiences loved his amazing variety of colorful caftans (some of which were stolen from high end boutiques). He elaborated the story he told about Emmy-Mae so he could get out of prison. it wasn’t a total lie because he actually knew Emmy-Mae and she was a bitch who deserved to be killed. The condemned police officer was the cop who arrested Johnny so revenge was definitely a strong motivation. If the dark plan worked, Johnny would receive a new lease on life with an improved brain and a new, teenage body.
“There is no question that this case was a turning point in the mise en scène of events contributing to the Future,” Orlow Fabricatum stated with aplomb. (Kind reader, you might remember that Orlow is The proverbial fly on the wall — in this case, a robotic fly who has appeared in several stories & diary entries. Orlow was hired as a reporter for the net-blog, Future Days). Orlow continued his snide remarks, “the human tendency for gross infidelity and inaccuracy is only exacerbated by greed-and-ego resulting in predictable catastrophe.”
The club was sweating bullets when Johnny Jackcraw (now known as Livia Trash) gave his comeback performance at the Blue Nail on the same day that Detective Larson disappeared (it was previously reported that Johnny was in stasis on the Aero-Jet, but that was a cover story). He wore a lavish caftan created from purple haze and he sported large D-cup breasts to add to his youthful allure. He sang like a banshee much to the discomfort of the anesthetized audience. Johnny’s already dreadful voice had been augmented during his surgical procedures (when doctors discovered he was carrying a baby that had been conceived 60 years in the past. In his youth, Johnny was a poor, unwed mother, a bag lady, with no prospects but a shopping cart. Of course the baby had to be aborted against the prevailing laws of the land, but since this was a national security case abortions could be religiously performed).
Much to Johnny’s chagrin, no one watched his performance. No one was interested. His fabulous caftan was completely overlooked. His jack-hammer voice echoed like the death throes of a dying swan with no one in the forest to hear. The realization stung like an infected hangnail.
The case was finally solved by the “surrogate” Judge Franchisum, in the courtroom of public opinion. The judge consulted with Orlow Fabricatum to get the facts straight and assess the situation. This was no ordinary trial. There was no lawyer, prosecutor, or jury. The trial was conducted on the Virtual Web and every person, avatar, and robot was invited to participate in the proceedings. Hoover Dam still existed somewhere, but it no longer mattered. The Judge concluded no crimes had been committed. First came the screens, then came the head-gear; then, the world disappeared. Virtual Reality replaced everything.
Johnny’s body lay supine in the cushions of a Barka-Lounger. The body developed a mind of its’ own due to the fact that Johnny was elsewhere, no longer in his body, but somewhere in Cyberspace. Johnny’s body contemplated suicide due to an existential crisis after being reduced to a sack of blood and bones with no real purpose. Johnny no longer used a body. Of course Johnny was physically dead without a body, but his mind would still be alive like a zombie roaming the web in search of another body to steal and exploit. Something else bothered Johnny’s body: everything in the physical world was changing and worms were everywhere, giant rapacious grubs.
Meanwhile, Johnny Biggie Wang couldn’t be happier as he rose to prominence and a life of virtual luxury. He wielded a scepter and shouted insults at his minions. Everyone watched his channel. He was becoming a true Super Nova; then, everything got even better. Biggie found his soul mate, Benda Creamola. She looked like Elsa Lancaster in the movie, Bride of Frankenstein. She had real entertainment value and a large following. Johnny was immediately drawn to her as if she was the missing rib that god used to make a woman. She fancied herself more like Caitlyn Jenner than a missing rib. She never wanted an operation, but it didn’t matter in the Virtual World. Johnny and Benda bonded and virtually became one individual. Originally it was a crisis that moved Johnny (who was once Earl Stump) to give up his body and don the VR helmet. He had body dysmorphia, never satisfied with his physical appearance and not certain of his sexual prowess. He was also fixated on The Donald which added to his insecurities about being a man. He was still fixated, but now he could commiserate with the stunning Benda Creamola while he tried on her devilishly glamorous clothes — all this added to his entertainment appeal and his valuation kept rising until he came to the attention of the man himself, The Donald.
The Donald had grown immense due to his spewing of incendiary vitriol, gold to an audience hungry for virtual stimulation. He built himself a kingdom based on false accusations and innuendos. He was rolling in entertainment-credits and reality show franchises. But, he was not satisfied. He needed a new challenge to reassert his superiority and he saw Johnny as the perfect dupe. Although he could never admit it, he worried about Johnny’s growing popularity. The Donald was also a troubled man. He felt drained as if some force were working through him, using him for some inexplicable purpose. Although, up till now, his life was absolutely fabulous, The Donald harbored a deep sadness which weighed heavily upon him in the current atmosphere of stress. He still missed his beloved Ivana. As a result, The Donald wanted nothing more than to kick someone’s ass.
Johnny’s body was dreaming of a white worm. Legions of worms slithered across the landscape, melting everything in a bath of acid. They came from space, drawn by the wars and torment that embroiled the earth. The worms grew fat on the emotions that violence triggered. A worm was eating Johnny’s foot. It had a repugnant face. Each worm had the same face, still recognizable as human.
Johnny Biggie Wang was ecstatic to receive an invitation from the man himself. It was a cryptic verse, “come to my chateau to be dinned, wined, and judged.” Signed The Donald. Benda Creamola gushed with joy. The pair would go as one, in an ankle length gown materialized from a rainbow cloud.
The Donald planned a ruse. He wanted to trick Johnny into being an absolute bore with very little entertainment value, thus increasing his own popularity. The hungry crowd loved take-down battles to the death. However, when Donald saw Johnny Benda, he was stunned — his heart could be heard like thunder throughout cyberspace. He had seen her from a distance, appearing like an ancient movie icon, but up close, she was the perfect image of Ivana. “You’ve done something with your hair,” Donald blurted. “Yes,” she said, ” subdued it with apricot to bring out the blond. Do you like it?”
A moment of truth arrived like a locomotive with a warp drive traveling through a worm hole. Nothing turned out as expected. The encounter could go one of two ways: The Donald might make love to Johnny, seeing him as his beloved Ivana, and ending in mutual bliss; or, The Donald would be incensed by Johnny’s rainbow cloud and sweet adoration, thus ending in angry invective or worse.” After a pause that went on for a century, The Donald exploded, “you’re fired!” And that was the end of the encounter.
The white worms grew fat on The Donald’s angry outbursts. When the worms first arrived they were drawn to the aggressive anger spewed by The Donald. The worms loved incendiary insults. It was assumed he was the leader — his face was everywhere, in all the media. The worms attached themselves to The Donald and made him their titular leader. White worms fed on Donald’s invective until they were able to branch out and feed on other humans. Soon they were feeding on whole towns and communities. It was a feeding frenzy and the worms grew fat and large. The worms were psychically connected through The Donald. He was the lynchpin.
The Donald was trumped by his compulsive need to hold the winning hand. The reviews were glowing for both Donald and for Johnny Biggie Wang Benda Creamola. The virtual world loved the “encounter of no return” (as it came to be known). Entertainment value for all the participants almost shut down cyberspace in a tsunami of accolades. What followed was a predictable soap opera of heartache for Johnny and self hatred for The Donald, enough turmoil to keep ratings astronomically high.
The earth was devoured by giant grubs. The white worms gorged on the emotions radiating from festering bodies in the throes of dying. Everything else was eliminated in an ocean of acid that was expelled like urine from the menacing worms. The virtual world continued to be an entertainment bonanza, the pinnacle of human civilization. The engines of cyberspace were all underground so they were not effected by the rain of acid. With no physical body each persona in the virtual world became a zombie. The virtual avatars barely noticed any changes, except they felt lighter and less prone to jags of uncontrollable weeping.
Eventually the giant grubs turned into beetles and flew away. The earth slowly began to heal. People in the virtual world started to disappear, fading from existence. The Donald was one of the first to fade out. He’d been sustained by the worms until they left in search of new prey. Johnny just lay down, consumed by a broken heart. (The end)