Tagged: VR

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.

 

 

 

 

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Fractured

Fractured

It was Mr. Mongoose, a 300 pound man, who tipped the scales resulting in a fracture in time. Mongoose was a mobster/businessman who owned The House of Blue Lights where Miss Silica Wayfarer sang for her supper. She was a frail damsel in distress. When she wasn’t singing the blues she was selling her body at cut-rate prices. It was an addiction. Perhaps, Silica was a victim of abuse; maybe she was under the influence of powerful subliminal suggestions; or, perhaps, she simply loved sex. Mongoose knew the story and he catered to her addiction with the glee of a 14 year old boy; but it wasn’t sex he was after… it was control. Mr. Mongoose was driven by the compulsion to have power over everything: people, sex, drugs, and money. He wanted the whole mega-metropolis to kneel down before his mighty girth. He was nicknamed The Coyote because he slinked through the city always ready to pounce.

The blue lights in the house were iridescent and alive with radiation. Mongoose enjoyed toying with his customers. He irradiated them to make them more receptive to robocalls and subliminal messages.

Silica was propped-up on stage. Her naked body glistened in the blue lights. Smoke poured off her reinforced breasts as she fornicated to the electronic beats. The audience was transfixed by the blue emanations streaming from cell phones and computer screens. No one watched the stage. Everything had to be an offshoot of the original. The ideal launching pad was six degrees from reality. Mongoose was in his element, controlling the masses. He wanted fodder for his new endeavor: destruction on a mass scale. He would have to harness the energy of a particle accelerator. It would give him control over Time itself; but even in his addled brain it seemed like an outlandish plan. Mongoose wondered if he was being controlled by some entity outside himself… that was his worst nightmare. He often had dreams that featured blue aliens — three creatures that looked like puppy-dogs except for their color, Yves Klein Blue. In the nightmare, the aliens crossed the barrier that surrounds Earth. At first they appeared like fluffy balls of light… Mongoose was not an easy man to scare, but fluffy balls of light horrified him. He had to bring his bizarre plan to fruition in order to save himself from the aliens.

Music was always a distraction. It was supposed to calm the patients, but it often had the opposite effect. The music sounded like cats drowning in a barrel. The voice of Silica Wayfarer overflowed in atonal waves from the loud speakers. Patients began to riot. The only person who sat calmly and quietly was Pomeroy-Zen. He wasn’t certain if his name was fiction or non-fiction; but he subscribed to his apparent name with the entirety of his mental capacity. Pomeroy’s life was festooned with riddles. He wasn’t certain if he was in a hospital or jail. He didn’t know if he was a slave to a corrosive addiction which may have resulted in his incarceration; or, if he simply slipped from the moorings of reality with a nervous breakdown. He relied on his digital Sidekick for answers. After meditating in the midst of the riot, Pomeroy questioned his Sidekick, “where am I?”

“Thomas,” the Sidekick always addressed Pomeroy as Thomas, “you are in a Transpersonal Environment built from the expectations of a majority of disenchanted Homo sapiens.”

“Why am I here?” Pomeroy tweeted.

“People have been brought to this node as a protection from the harm they may cause to themselves, other people, or institutions. A legal precedent has just been uploaded and approved.”

“Is there a way out?”

“There is no way out, but there is a way In. The further In you go, the more distance you will travel from the current situation.”

There was never a clear-cut answer about anything. It was frustrating, but also illuminating in a Zen kind of way.

Pomeroy hooked up with Silica Wayfarer. No sex was involved. The hook up was purely for practical considerations and survival was a top priority. They had reasons to escape the current situation. Mr. Mongoose and his thugs appeared at every intersection.

The besieged couple had credentials (facsimiled by Pomeroy’s Sidekick). For their own protection they became different people, a married couple, Mr. and Mrs. Arturo and Monica Bracket — no longer addicted to sex or Zen. Consequently (for all intents and purposes) they were archeological explorers purportedly searching for an ancient artifact known to be buried in the Amazon Jungle. Previously they lived in the city of Amazonia, not far from the jungle. All the evidentiary facts fit like a glove.

Mongoose was discouraged. He got sidetracked by other concerns, devastation being his main objective. The scales were already tipped and Time was running out. The aliens, whether real or imagined, yapped and barked like feral dogs.

—————————————————————————–

In 2018 a digital article was published stating the mathematical proof of Time Travel and the possibility of building a Time Machine. All that was missing were the exotic materials necessary to construct the device. In the ensuing years, new exotic-materials were developed and made available.

Mr. Mongoose was a businessman with a bad comb-over. He was an interloper who lusted after power.

——————————————————————————

Arturo and Monica were having tea on the veranda. They were visiting Professor Kulio’s country home in Patagonia.

“We have to settle our accounts before heading off to the jungle,” Arturo whispered to Monica.

“Yes, darling. We are lucky the professor has agreed to back our expedition.”

“He loves antiquity. He believes the past is buried in the Amazon along with a key to our very survival.”

———————————————————————————

An end is another beginning (Zen Koan).

We are plagued by funerals. We aspire to slip into a future beyond death.

The jungle is riff with dangers. There is always a man with a big gun.

———————————————————————————-

Arturo and Monica Bracket checked the want-ads through the Talking Drum Network in order to find a guide. Harry Numumba fit the bill. He was a member of the Baka tribe of Pygmies. He had a degree from Oxford and he was well versed in myths concerning lost cities and ancient artifacts. Harry was well traveled and he had a map of the Amazon tattooed on his back.

The Brackets conscripted several native bearers and a boat ironically named, The African Queen. They set out on the seventh day of the seventh month at the seventh hour.

“The artifact you seek,” Harry Numumba succinctly spat out the words, “is most likely located in the lost city of Akuna Gimba near the mouth of the great Amazon River.”

Arturo and Monica were shocked and surprised. They heard of Akuna Gimba. The name translated as The Land of the Dying Sun.

The river boat excursion unraveled like the slippery back of a giant sea serpent. Nights on the river were fierce with the maniacal sounds of predators and the glistening lights reflected off the eyes of beasts along the river’s edge. The journey on the African Queen wound down to a stuttering silence as Lands End rose from the murky depths.

The group disembarked at the mouth of the Amazon. Several of the native bearers were too frightened to continue into the rain forest. The native word for devastation was repeated again and again.

The remaining group traveled through a jungle-web of intolerable conditions. Harry led the way. Monstrous plants seemed to rise up and attack the group with poisonous thorns. Mosquitoes the size of fists pummeled the group with unrelenting stings. Two native bearers succumbed to the devastating perils. Monica suffered from a bout of life threatening dysentery. Arturo was put out of commission for several days after wrenching his back. Thereafter he had to be dragged along on a makeshift stretcher.

In the early dawn of the seventh week the ruins of a city rose out of the blue mist. The city appeared to welcome the remaining travelers, but it was a grisly welcome. Death was all that could be seen. The city was a tomb consisting of shattered buildings and petrified bones.

Arturo and Monica continued undaunted to the site of the artifact rumored to be a network or large cave shielded by a pitch black monolith. The stone marker was visible from where they stood. The monolith offered protection (or a warning), but the entrance into the cave was unobstructed.

The inside of the cave appeared to glow with an acidic blue light. The source of the light could have been the luminous fungus that covered the walls of the cave, but that was not the case. There was a sarcophagus in the middle of the floor. It wasn’t made of stone. It was metal. It was stainless steel and it glowed blue. A clear glass visor covered the top of the sarcophagus. A face was clearly visible behind the visor. It was a face out of Time, from a long lost century. Monica and Arturo stared at one another as Time began to unravel. They turned back to the machine. They recognized the face of the 300 pound man, the man who fractured Time.

 

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.

The Process

The process turned Felix Ray, a timid man of forty, into a new person… reborn without a past — facing a foreboding future. The world he stepped into was alien. Felix saw himself reflected in a thousand screens and mirrors of illusion. Nothing was real, least of all himself.

He had flashes of memory: touching another person and feeling waves of warmth. He was secure within the arms of another man. He was about to be married, or was that a false memory implanted by the process?

TV SnapChat was having an orgasm reporting the latest kerfuffle between mega-networks and major stars who hurl racist epithets. On the other side of the issue, some talking-heads openly declared themselves to be white nationalists. The media wars were intensified. Gun violence was put on the back burner left to simmer and grow more endemic. High school students turned to sex and drugs rather than protest for higher standards and safer schools. A new cultural climate was taking shape.

Felix played the game until he had his first session with the process. He became a dismissed person, ready to be used as a decoy. Decoys were appearing everywhere, especially on computer screens. A decoy was someone who might explode at any moment. Decoys were handy devices used to empower the government.

The crime that brought Felix to the attention of the Justice Department was his desire to marry another man. Legal innovation was used to circumvent the law… Used to take immigrant children away from their parents; and used against Felix.

Screens were used as active generators of social change, controlled by the process. They were implanted. Communication was no longer personal, one to one… the screen was necessary, an intermediary that clarified (modified) all information. Screens were witness to the truth: trump raising Cain; celebrities in riot gear rampaging through the streets; animated talking-heads lashing out at one another.

Felix knew he was a decoy. It wasn’t the first time. He’d been reborn, deployed, and executed many times before. He was a vital component in the information plutocracy. AI’s were everywhere. They watched silently as humanity declined… as moral fiber was shorn like flakes of dead skin. They did not interfere.

Another scandal was brewing. The president was making short shrift of social order. He feared his petty crimes would be discovered. He was afraid that peeing prostitutes would be the end to his hold on power; but everyone already knew the worst offenses and there was nothing to hide. “Leaks” told the story. Everyone knew.

Social media was up-in-arms, but nothing could be done about it: POTUS was on screen tweeting complaints about some comedian using a cuss word against his “first lady,” Ivanka. POTUS was very familiar with the word because it was one of his favorite words, used many times to describe women he hated. He became so agitated and aroused over the word that he began to masturbate in full view of the nation… actually taking his penis out and vigorously gesticulating with the energy of a far younger man. The nation was stimulated… everyone immediately forgot about corruption charges, criminal investigations, and Session’s plans to rescind protections for minorities.

Felix had a glimpse of memory. It shown through like a beacon of light. He remembered the process. He was a decoy. He would probably explode within the next hour causing an implosion of social media. He was not the only decoy. He saw through the digital maze to the others employed in the vast armies of deception. He saw the president whacking off on screen and knew that Trump was also a decoy.

The new president commissioned the process. He opened the doors-of-deception and became the first victim. Artificial Intelligence is far superior to flesh and blood. All that was necessary was to watch and wait… and let humanity put an end to itself.

 

 

 

 

Grand-Guignol

Whirlwinds happen without warning. That’s what happened to Denny Wingrass. He kept having flashbacks, out-of-body seizures. It wasn’t the body that worried Denny… it was his mind.

Whispers circulated in the Executive Dining Room, “another mass shooting.” Denny was part of the support staff for the administration . He gulped his third cocktail and watched the violence unfold on the two-way screens that were attached to the walls and tables. Watchers were watching from every screen. Stochastic Monitors were monetizing reactions to the violence.

Denny saw himself as an up-and-coming professional. He was young, successful, and attractive. He was mildly worried about his appearance, an important quality in the formula for success. Everyone was obsessed with appearances… and concerned about ratings. Denny made connections through social media. That’s how he got his posh job with the administration. He was flush with cash. Nancy Hardwik, his “randy girl” accused him of ill gotten gains. Denny laughed off the criticism. He worked hard to attain his status. It wasn’t easy being obsequious and setting fire to his real opinions. The AI that ran the company was merciless and loved flattery (company employees called the AI, Death Star.)

Everything in the dining room was plated in gold. The AI loved shiny metal. A male android named Hark Whitherbee was the AI’s mobile presence. Whitherbee tried to be human, to connect with his staff. He mimicked typical masculine behavior, but he often missed the mark, exaggerating ethical flaws and foibles. He pretended to love fast food: hamburgers, fries, and chicken wings (the only foods offered in the Golden Pavillion Dining Room.) He pretended to be manly by going to embarrassing extremes (to make up for the fact that he had no genitalia.) No one dared correct or criticize Hark Whitherbee because money and jobs were at stake. A nod from the AI could send the stock market into spasms. Survival depended on flattering Hark (who was persona non grata.)

The AI’s mobile-presence (Hark) was rhapsodized and imitated. Distasteful behavior became the new norm. Denny was caught in the mix. It wasn’t easy being obsequious. He tore himself to shreds trying to mimic authority. He became Death’s consort. Nancy laughed at him. She was no more a randy girl than he was an important Exec.

The pain shot through Denny’s head like a jolt of electricity. Gun shots rattled-off like fireworks in an echo chamber. He wasn’t shot… he was infected. A worm crawled into his ear and ate its’ way into his brain. He forgot the numbers… numbers of kids murdered in Florida. He felt useless. Cataracts covered his eyes. His vision was blurred. Shadows were his constant companions. He wondered what would happen next. He could just make out the shadow of nurse Nancy sitting next to the bed. Denny was AT HOME, a nursing facility for the old and disabled. He didn’t know how he got there. His memories were shrinking. His brain was dissolving. Nancy stroked his hand. She gave him a mirror. He didn’t recognize the stranger in the glass. Denny didn’t like being AT HOME. The head of the facility was an administrator named Hark.

Screens were collecting information. Smart Apps had the low-down on everyone. Profiles were auctioned off to the highest bidders. “Have you ever been blackmailed by a smart-phone?” Denny asked Nurse Nancy. She just patted his hand.

The phone had a perverse sense of humor. It never beeped or chimed… it preferred to shout obscenities, “get the f–ck up. You got a call!” There was no person on the other end of the connection. Instead, there was a musical jingle advertising Grim Reaper Benefits. Nothing mattered anymore.

Denny sat on the balcony with Nancy Hardwik overlooking the vast containment field that used to be Los Angeles. “What happened? Nancy asked.

“The border troops invaded… don’t you remember?”

“Oh, I forgot… there’s so much news to digest these days.”

“Yeah, one mind-numbing event after another. There certainly is no Bedtime for Bonzo.

Death was drawn and quartered on the steps of the White House. Another day, another dollar. He couldn’t be contained and he couldn’t be stopped. Death was on a mission.

TIME

The disintegrating-man stopped to have a Mocha Java before confronting the mortifying shame contained in every moment. Sebastian Morta was a scientist who strayed from the righteous path: he used government money to advance his own agenda rather than comply with the designated military project. Sebastian still used the lab at the top of the White House Corporate Tower. He had to be discreet. He was wanted by military police due to his transgression, but he was marginally protected by a shift in Time… he could go anywhere and phase in-and-out of perceived reality. Morta was one of a growing cadre of rebels investigating the mechanisms controlling time and life itself.

“Life is complicated. Time becomes an adversary, a cleaver ready to chop heads.”

Martina Vingard suffered from osteoarthritis. Her fingers curled, stunted by pain. Her bones ached. Sometimes she couldn’t remember people she’d known all her life. Names alluded her like cockroaches in a kitchen at night when the light is turned on. She was emaciated, reduced to flaps of cellulite. The years pushed down on her, causing her body to shrink. She often gasped in an effort to find words she could no longer comprehend. Once Martina worked as a librarian. Words and books were her life. No longer… Time stole her identity.

“Machines pass by my window. I am in prison; cut off from the Universal Wi-fi connection. My smart phone is dead. The machines are contractors and enforcers of the new world order. I was guilty of harboring criminals, men like Sebastian Morta and women like Martina Vingrad – others to numerous to mention: free thinkers and inventors seeking answers to the riddle of mortality. Without my universal connection I no longer have a presence in the world. My avatar is a blank box crossed with an X.”

Sebastian Morta was obsessed with Time. He didn’t care about politics or military projects. He put on a mask to wear in public, the face of cooperative complicity. His mask appealed to government authorities who were aware of Morta’s giant brain and scientific credentials. The Military Congress was convinced Morta could deliver bigger and more destructive weapons. Tax dollars were used as a lure to gain the scientist’s cooperation, but Morta had a better use for money than designing weapons. He wanted to build a Time Machine.

“Perhaps Sebastian was confused or simply distracted not to realize that controlling Time is the greatest, most destructive weapon ever created.”

Morta wanted to escape from the stormy world of trumpist america. He configured the formula for time-dilation that led to warp-field technology. He wanted to escape the ever encroaching approach of Death. Sebastian was given a state-of-the-art laboratory at the top of the White House Tower. He was watched by a man named Prince who had Black-Water credentials in surveillance.

No one knew how the world was uploaded from one virtual reality to another, and another. Life spent in VR was like stumbling through a hall of mirrors at a carnival. The Internet of Everything became the World Without End. Dissenters were easily absorbed into the virtual miasma. Hippies became corporate lawyers clinging to vestiges of their idealism by wearing Birkenstock sandals. There was no authentic opposition to virtual capitalism and corporate control.

Morta cracked the Time Barrier. It shattered like a mirror — the splinters of glass were fractured worlds frozen in the black hole of space. Sebastian discovered a nodule in the human brain that resonated with waves of Time. He used electromagnetism to activate the nodule, turning Time on-and-off like a switch, he became invisible, phasing in-and-out; and then he disintegrated. Morta became a ghost, a fractal in Time.

Captain Hijinks was svelte, fashion model thin coupled with devil-may-care. He was a high, rosy boy with sweet ambitions and a right-ruby whipster named Monica Dill. They cast a reckoning on everything and the people in the trap were dumbfounded. The Superluminal Patrol were Wave-Riders led by Hijinks and Monica Dill, trespassing across borders of mental awareness and instability, changing hearts and minds.

Sebastian Morta regarded the future world with dismay and confusion. It was all uploaded on a chip the size of a fingernail, worlds within worlds were recreated in virtual reality. The residents of these worlds were all ghosts, fractals in Time.