The first part can be found here.
This is going to be longer than the others. It’s late and i’m not sure if I like the first draft but hey it’s 1k a day so i’ll proof read it tomorrow and maybe edit it back into sensicality.
Electric Angels (Part 1)
I am a forgetful person.
That is why i try very hard to use technology to enhance my memory. I’m not talking about some super advanced science fiction sort of thing, i’m talking about a virtual notepad. A notepad, with a list, is just an externalization of some temporary memory. I keep tonnes of lists. Even right now, i can see on the other side of my monitor a dozen post it notes, painting my wall a checkered yellow. A lot of them are out of date.
I tear another free from the yellow pad i keep by my keyboard, i write “Sort through and remove/organise post-its”.
Something to do later. Alright, so i may not be the most organised person, and sure, i might write down a list of groceries but then forget the list, but i do try. I make an effort. In my own way. I throw up my browser and immediately my homepage starts, it’s yesterdays page, yesterdays theme. I organise my life by themes. Like a movie, or a book, i try to construct my own interests. Right now i’m into something called Futurism. My homepage is a website with a fictional time table, predicting future technology. By 2075 functional immortality should be a possibility. What a downer. I’ll be old by then. I might choose to die.
Is it cruel to be the last generation? The one that knows it’s grandchildren will carry on forever, whilst we stare down at death?
Hey, that sounds like a good thought so i write it down and post it on the high priority section of my wall. Something to think about. I’m just sitting here, staring at my wall. I wonder a little about that. Now I hear noises coming from outside. Loud music, trance, blasting away. Listening carefully i can distinguish between the higher notes that sneak under my door, whilst the bass shakes the walls and floor. Eddy’s awake. No wonder this guy has so much trouble finding a room mate. He’s blissfully unaware of other people’s existences.
Still, i guess it might be better than the silence. A roomate brings noise. Noise is life. I await his coming. He always comes, in the next half an hour since he wakes up. He comes and tries to sneak into my room and scare me. I never lock my door, but i always hear him coming. The guy breathes loudly.
Here is now.
I stare at my door.
The space underneath is covered by the thin slice of a shadow. The door knob begins to move, slowly, so slow downwards. I turn back to my monitor and press some random keys. He’ll hear the noise and think i’m working. A whole minute creeps by slowly whilst Eddy lowers my doorknob. At least it feels like a minute. I wonder what he’ll try this time. I’m tempted to go into my bathroom and turn on the tap. That would embolden him. I can almost taste the rush of adrenaline he might feel at the thought of finally, finally surprising me. Maybe this is what hunting feels like?
The door flies open, suddenly, and Eddy leaps through, like a miniature long jump. He’s wearing a jesters hat (impressive i didn’t hear the bells) and is waving a baguette.
“NYA HA HAAAA!” He yells.
I jump a little, but i’m facing the door, fingers steepled. I feel like the architect from The Matrix. I’m sitting, one legged crossed, wearing a calm mask. “Good morning Eddy. You took a long time to come in.”
His manic eyes look past me at my monitor. In my search bar: “airfjioahfoahfa”.
“You’re good Will. Your really good.” He says, villainously.
“Pleasent weather this morning.” I offer.
“OH IS IT? IS IT?” And he leaves my room, bells jingling, his baguette smacking the door frame on the way out. I follow him with my eyes till he goes around the corner. Then i allow myself a satisfied smile. You know they’re testing cloaking technology at the moment? A way to make a soldier invisible? It’s on the timeline. I guess at close range though we can still hear people. What if they invent auditory enhancers to compensate for the future soldiers invisibility? Like the guy on sonar in a submarine, ‘cept he’s pressing a big earphone to his ear above ground, listening intently.
I spend most of my Sundays like this. Zoning out and pursuing strange ideas through the internet. I’m looking for something, i don’t know what. A secret to the way the world works i guess. Or a good conversation starter for later. It’s hard to say.
Eddy makes salty chicken for dinner (it’s really salty) and we eat over a youtube videos, half choking our way through the meal. Later on that night i spend some time on this chat program where you’re randomly assigned to another curious conversationalist. Maybe i’ll get a senator, a scientist, someone who knows things. After the usual parade of perverts and dullards I start to ask random questions- i become on the idiots, like it’s contagious.
I copy and paste the same thing to every person who signs on: “Tomorrow I could go left or right down the road, and I will approach the first man/woman i see in the first bar/place i walk past, and i will ask one question of your choice.”
If anyone requires an explanation i sign off. If anyone types “GET OUT YO DICK” or something similar i sign off. I’m bored and this is what i do for fun. Anonymity and hyper fast communication becomes my playground. I spend the entire night learning nothing. I fall asleep to the sound of white noise emanating from a webpage called “simplynoise.com”.
The next day I head to work at the telecom company, the same one i’ve been at for six years. It’s boring, repetitive, and oddly comforting. I autopilot through the day, until i feel that tightening in my chest, on the way home. Inexplicable misery clawing it’s way in. It happens.
I feel guilty because i have nothing to complain about. I have a job, a house, food, water, all the basic necessities. Hell i even have friends, or at least Eddy. Still, on the bus i get that cold feeling, and I rub up against the window, knees close together, and feel far colder than the air conditioning should allow. When i get off the bus i walk up to the lift with a heavy head, bent over, hunchbacked. What the hell.
I finally make it to my bed, and i collapse into it, back at last.
I close my eyes.
When i open them, hours later, it’s dark. I can see the city lights through the condensation that’s formed on my window. I’m hungry but i want that feeling to linger, so I let it. My monitor winks at me, the screensaver on, the only light inside my room outlining in white all my useless shit like some artificial moon. I sit in my chair, and i can barely make out of my own hands. I find the chat site, and i go to a new section, some experimental sub area that a user set up called the “compassionator”. I guess i’m trawling for a listener. I look at my virtual list of weird questions:
“If you were a tree what tree would it be?”
” “Tomorrow I could go left or right down the road, and I will approach the first man/woman i see in the first bar/place i walk past, and i will ask one question of your choice.”
“You have to commit suicide, but you have one billion dollars: what do you do with the money?”
I close them all.
The chat window blinks into existence:
System: Searching for a chat partner…
System: A new listener has entered your chat from U.K
Venter: Hello, is there anybody out there?
Listener: Hi :).
Listener: Talk away, i’m here to listen.
Venter: Ok, well, i don’t know.
Listener: What’s on your mind :)?
Venter: Are you really from the UK?
Venter: My parents are from the UK, so i just thought it’s a wierd coincidence.
Venter: Though i don’t feel very English personally. I was born in the city.
Venter: I don’t even like beer. Or potatoes. Or roasts. In fact i’d say English food is pretty terrible.
Venter: But that’s just me.
Suddenly my door flies open and i hastily close the window. It’s Eddy and he’s yelling “WA-HOOO!” He’s still wearing that damn jesters hat.
“What is it Eddy?” I say.
“What kinda porn were you watching?” He asks, wandering into my dark room.
I stay quiet.
“Are you ok?” he asks, and i feel very weird. Inside his strange eyes i can even see something that may be concern. I shrug, and say “I’m ok.”
“Would you like some pot?” Eddy offers, his fingers holding an invisible joint.
“I’m good. Thanks.”
Eddy nods and leaves, but he closes my door gently. Afterwards i look back at my monitor, at my empty desktop. I open up the same website, go back to the compassionator channel.
System: Searching for a chat partner…
System: A new listener has entered your chat from India
Venter: Hello, is there anybody out there?
Listener: Just nod if you can hear me?
Listener: What’s on your mind stranger?
And suddenly i’m telling him/her, exactly what’s on my mind. I rant and rave, and barely come up for breath my fingers tapping furiously. The longer i go on for the less filtered my words are, until suddenly i stop, the whole page taken up by my ranting. I pause and wait, and wonder if whoever it is that is on the other side of the world is actually listening in the first place. For all i know they might be tabbing between windows, watching a video, barely reading anything i write, maybe just preparing some affirmative noise like “yes”, “ok”, “do go on.”.
I wait on the edge of my seat.
Listener: Sorry! I’m just reading everything :).
Listener: What do you mean you feel disconnected?
A deluge of typing. I unload some more. I don’t know what it is. The anonymity, the kind one liners, the mixture of no lighting, a long day, and maybe some shit that’s built up in the back of my head- who knows. There is someone on the other side of the world, also staring at a screen, and maybe, just maybe giving a damn about my story. No attachments, no social contract, no relationship based on inertia and an irrelevant past. Just a stranger. There’s a purity to it that makes me want to continue ranting and I do.
Listener: Can i ask you something, how old are you?
I tell him/her.
Listener: lol i’m the same age.
And then we’re comparing each other’s lives and the commonalities are stunning. We’re both alienated in our respective places. Each coincidence stacks, one on top of the other, and now i’m wondering about his or her name. It gets late, and he/she needs to go. I feel oddly sad about this, and i imagine that other person feels relieved.
Listener: Hey. Can i really, really enjoyed talking to you. Maybe, maybe we should do this again? How about tomorrow at the same time.
How will i know it’s you though? These are all anonymous and randomised.
Listener: Lines from another song.
Listener: How about born to run :)?
Then i close the window, close the monitor, and come back to the physical world. I feel strange. Nothing marks what just happened. It’s beyond ephemeral. Still, i think i connected with someone, somewhere, through a screen. I’m not sure though.
That night I slept better than I had in weeks.
(End of Part 1)
I don’t think i like the last post much anymore, so fuck it, i’m going to start something different.
This next one is going to be LONG. I already have the first few parts written though.
Learn to be Invisible (Part 1)
It looks like a jet. Seen from a beautiful park constructed on the top of a soaring steel and glass banking tower, it looks like a jet. At least, at first it does. The lengthening trail that it cuts across the sky is not white, but black, like smoke. It is coming from a long way off. At first the thing looks like a small object, moving quite slowly, then it becomes apparent that it is a massive object, falling very quickly. A meteor. The meteor continues to grow, and grow, and although when viewed from the park it seemed to be falling southwards it never quite passes overhead, instead getting closer and closer, larger and larger. For a couple of seconds it becomes so large it fills the sky. Then it collides with the city.
A massive explosion. A fireball that consumes the city and everything around it. More people are killed in the impact than in any other previously recorded event. Millions of people eradicated in a moment. Some die slowly, such as a man on the edge of the inferno who himself bursts into flames. He dies screaming. A titanic cloud of dust erupts from the planet. From space the orange cloud looks vast enough to obscure a continent. I hear Mr Anderson eek out an “Oooh” of appreciation. Good. The graphics of this theoretical simulation are incredible. Especially the clouds, they keep changing shape and everything. This whole presentation room must have cost a fortune. Fuck yes.
I zoom in on Mr. Anderson’s face in time to seem his mouth forma silent WOAH. Maybe because of that unicorn shaped cloud drifting south from the radioactive crater. The viewing room was a private office, the soft hum of the monitor and it’s computers the only thing intruding on the video.
Across from Mr. Anderson sits the primary presentation director for Kallogs. His face is dominated by massive eyebrows and a massive brush of a moustache. Once the video ends he rises from his boardroom chair and stands in front of the 3D projector before launching his first verbal barrage at Mr. Anderson. I make sure to keep one screen on Mr. Anderson’s face.
“DO YOU SEE THE FUTILITY OF YOUR 3RD QUARTER STRATEGY NOW? Our software predicts that the meteor will collide with the earth in less than three years. With 85% certainty we believe the P.O.I- that’s point of impact, will be right in the middle of the amazon rainforest. When that happens only a deskful of tree chicken nests will survive. As you know, tree chickens cannot be domesticated, they cannot be transplanted. What will KFTC do when the world’s supply of tree chickens is wiped out? Venture into the far more competitive cheap-chicken market? I think not. That’s a ruthless industry. Most companies barely last for four days before prostituting the staff or petitioning for their restaurants to become sets of reality tv micro-series, just to delay filing for bankruptcy. Remember what happened to McDoodles?That show “Eat Shit: Experiments In Fecal Cuisine”. That could be KFTC. Your chicken flippers might become hookers. Your stocks will plummet. We estimate that most species of mammals will go extinct when the meteor hits. Additionally your prime demographic will be greatly reduced. With no supply, and little demand, KFTC will be history. You won’t even be able to sell pork fries.”
I watch the Primary Presentation Director bring up another 3D projection, this one a slide presentation filled with anemic revenue projections and catastrophic pie charts. There are copious amounts of red. It’s mirror flashes onto a periphery screen, and I check to see that Miss Lee is looking at that too. She doesn’t seem to be. But should I tell her? Or is that a bit forward of me? Probably. The PPM continued to describe the apocalyptic downfall of KFTC to a patiently observant Mr. Anderson. Mr Anderson’s plain face gave away nothing.
As the wide mouthed Primary Presentation Director spoke, he eyed Mr. Anderson without mercy. We’d chosen the PPM partly on the basis of his university eductation, that is, he had a masters degree in facial intimidation techniques, and he made his eyebrows dance to invoke a primal fear in Mr. Anderson. His eyebrows looked like tiny spiders wriggling across his forehead, a fear of which is hardwired into most humans. Shit. I actually feel kind of scared and i’m not even in the room. Crazy tech.
According to Mr Anderson’s unique profile though, he was supposedly exceptionally resistant to fear. It’s a mental disorder, one that is usually quite debilatative but for some can be a useful trait. It didn’t synergise quite as much as being ethically inflexible but it may have it’s uses. Only one out of a hundred thousand are capable of such apathy. According to the research I did on wikipedia, the rarity is compounded by the fact that very few such people who have such a condition ever survive long enough to recieve their first paycheck. Apparently most try to fly off their balconies, or see how long they can sit in an oven, before making it to adulthood.
The PPM’s palms collided with the table audibly. He leaned forward towards Mr. Anderson on the other side of the table. The PPM’s Hugo Bass tie swayed in the air-conditioning as he continued his assault.
“SUPER SIZE THAT SHIT. As you can see the future isn’t in tree chicken, the future is in RICE. We’ve found that by lacing rice, long grain rice to be exact, since it’s healthier- higher in fiber you know, with cocaine, then consumers generally tend to be uber loyal to the brand. We call it CRICES. As in crisis…do you have a question you want to ask Mr. Anderson?”
Mr. Anderson finally lowered his arm. Then he looked the PPM from Kallogs straight in the eye and asked in a strangely intense, slow speaking fashion:
“If the meteor is supposed to land in the amazon, why did your video show it colliding with a city?”
The PPM paused, then shrugged, then rolled his eyes, and then said “DETAILS Mr. ANDERSON, DETAILS. it’s time to look at the big picture, you gotta stop sweating the small stuff. You got to think about the future. The future of Kentucky Fried Tree Chicken.” The PPM stabbed the table with his finger repeatedly, emphasizing everything.
“And what about the other 15%?” Asked Mr. Anderson.
“Wha….what?” Said the PPM.
“You said you were 85% certain the meteor is going to hit, what about the other 15%.”
The PPM stared at Mr. Anderson, and then reached into his suit jacket, which was draped over a chair in the board room. From the jacket he pulled out a revolver. “Don’t worry it’s loaded with less than lethal rounds. This stuff will at most, paralyze you.”
Mr. Anderson didn’t seem to care.
The PPM slammed the revolver down on the table, and then slid it over to Mr. Anderson.
The PPM gestured dramatically, eyebrows skittering above his manic eyes:
“There are 5 rounds in that, and one blank. Are you telling me you’re willing to pull that trigger, on the off chance that your hammer falls on nothing? If so, do it now you lunatic.” He said.
Mr. Anderson picked up the revolver and started talking. He pointed the gun at the PPM to emphasize certain points. I zoomed the monitor in closer.
“Should we be worried?” I asked Miss Lee.
“SHHH I’m watching.”
“Sorry Miss Lee.”
Now Mr. Anderson was speaking: “First of all, I didn’t get your name. Can i please have your name? Was it Randall? I thought it was Randall. Ok Randall, here’s the thing, first of all, your argument has several holes in it. Number one, even if the Amazon rainforest is reduced to a smoldering ruin it doesn’t mean KFTC closes shop. We don’t harvest tree chickens because of their unique flavor, or their tenderness, though i will admit tree chicken is remarkably tender, we harvest them because they reproduce at a microbial rate. No matter how many we harvest, new chicks are born soon after. Most of the actual flavoring in KFTC comes from our secret sauce formula, which has been handed down since the company was founded in 1905. It’s mostly salt, but the exact formula is known only to the CEOs. We could probably pour that delicious sauce all over duck and still call it a Zinger. On top of that, KFTC’s R and D has been working on a G.E synthetic tree chicken alternative for years. We want something with less fat in it, so it’s healthier. It’s tentatively called Tree Chicken Zero. So even if, again, the rainforest is completely obliterated we’ll be just fine. Hell, with less of our customers dying of heart attacks our retention rate will actually increase. I can name many more alternatives to our current supply Randall. A whole list. We at KFTC are as adaptable as the tree chicken.”
The PPM was sitting down, staring downwards at the table as Mr. Anderson spoke, his hands clasped together as if in prayer. He seemed entirely unaffected by Mr. Anderson’s retort. When Mr. Anderson paused, the PPM fingers immediately unwound, and his mouth dropped open, ready to speak. Mr. Anderson raised the pistol and pointed directly at the PPM’s white-toothed maw.
The PPM gasped like a fish.
“WHA…WHAT!” he said.
“I have a question.” said Mr. Anderson.
The PPM’s mouth closed with an audible click. These fucking microphones are great.
“What do you want?” Asked Mr. Anderson.
The PPM sat up straight, and his eyebrows began to squirm again, albeit with less enthusiasm.
“We have a proposal for KFTC. We would like to offer your company the exclusive usage of Kallog brand Crices rices, including fried Crices chips, Crices and sesame seed buns for your zingers, Crices flavored soda- we call it Grainz, and we shall provide the marketing and PR. After the meteor crashes we will have already developed brand recognition amongst the survivors. It’s win win.”
Mr. Anderson thoughtfully tapped the side of his cheek with the barrel of the revolver. The PPM waited silently for Mr. Anderson. A minute passed. Then another.
“So…” Began the PPM.
Mr. Anderson interrupted, and said “How did you find out about the meteor? Does the government know? How do we know this isn’t completely fictitious.”
The PPM said “I knew you were going to ask that eventually.” He produced a manilla envelope with the Kallog’s logo emblazoned in the middle, before sliding it like a revolver towards Mr. Anderson. “Inside there are the details on the Kobeyashi asteroid. The government, at the least the chief executive of the city, and as far as we know both NASA and the EU space agencies all know about the asteroid. The Kallog’s owned subsidiary, Atmo, has ties to every major space agency in the world, and a rather considerable budget allocated to elections. It has been decided that leaking this information to the public at this moment would simply cause a panic, not to mention an economic crash.”
Mr. Anderson immediately responded, looking up at the ceiling. “This is pretty ridiculous you know.” He hadn’t even opened the envelope. The PPM shrugged.
The PPM said “Mr. Anderson i gather however that you have a counter proposal for Kallog’s?”
Mr. Anderson looked at the revolver. “Yes, originally we had a proposal, similar to yours, but without knowledge of the asteroid, obviously. However, now that that has come to light, i would like to table my original idea. Instead, i would like to ask if you could relay to your superiors that the KFTC group is interested in buying out Kallog’s and all it’s subsidiaries, and that if we could reach a mutual deal it would save a lot of time and trouble. I would like to set the opening price for a majority ownership at let’s say, 15% of the company’s current stock value?”
The PPM’s mouth hung open. His hands gripped the table. His mouth opened and closed, but no noise issued from it. His eyebrows shuddered. This went on for a good minute, until Mr. Anderson interrupted.
“So the Kobeyashi asteroid is going to collide with the earth, or at least you are quite sure it will. I’m sure when that information reaches the general public all hell will break loose. Not only will there be an economic collapse, but i’m sure very few people will give a rats ass about long term securities. We at KFTC would be willing therefore, to play the long game. On the off chance the asteroid misses. I think 15% of your current stock value is pretty fair, and since no one, in their right mind would purchase your piece of shit company to begin with at the current price, and you won’t be able to sell at a discount without letting everyone know prematurely why, i think this is a good deal. I recommend you speak to your superiors about it as soon as possible.”
The PPM stared at Mr. Anderson. He looked utterly bewildered. He was not trained for this.
“Randall, you and I both know that regardless of whatever plans your company may have, an apocalyptic meteor strike will render them all moot. Kallog’s is owned in the majority by the Swirex Group right? And that group is owned by the Swirex family. I’m asking you to speak to them. Unlike your anonymous shareholders, who are pretty much going to get as screwed as the rest of us, the Swirex family will most certainly leap at the opportunity to make an insane amount of money before armageddon. Also, from what i know of John Swirex, he could give a fuck about his employees if it means making a buck. No offense. I mean, hell, the world’s going to end so how about we cut the crap eh?”
The PPM said “You shouldn’t speak about the Swirex that way. They are brand partners of KFTC”
“Wait, did you just break character?” Said Mr. Anderson
“FUCK. I mean, uh, sorry. Yeah i guess i did. I’m kind of new to all this. Anyway. As far as I know, no one has ever proposed your idea before. I’m pretty sure they don’t even look for a solution in this exercise, just the potentials reactions. Um, shit, i don’t know if your supposed to know that. Uh…Also, the chambers of that revolver really aren’t empty.”
Miss Lee used my shoulder as leverage to lift herself from the chair next to me. She left the room without a word. I cranked up the audio in time to here Mr. Anderson respond with “How realistic, has anyone ever fired the gun?”
The PPM replied, “Yep, but they all flunked out. We gave them the option to weed out the sociopaths. Lot of those apply for your position you know.”
Mr. Anderson said “Since you dropped your character, perhaps you can tell me if i’ve gotten the job? And out of curiosity has anyone ever been killed during the interview?”
“Well i’m wearing body armor, and those are less than lethals.”
“But what if they shoot you in the face?”
“The gun doesn’t fire when aimed at the face. Child safety features.”
On the monitor the interview room door opened, and a short girl in very high heels entered. It was Miss Lee. Her hands shot appealed to the PPM, I mean Martin’s face, as he sat. “For fuck sake Martin, could you at least wait till i come in? You know i hate it when you talk to the potentials out of character. Well, congratulations Mr. Anderson on passing the interview stage. Here.” She offered Mr. Anderson a red star. When Mr. Anderson looked at it quizzically, Miss Lee. stepped forward and adorned Mr. Anderson’s breast pocket with it, pinning the star under his name tag. For motivation. Studies show it works.
Mr. Anderson looked at her, seeming quite bored as she pinned the small star. Then he turned and picked up the gun, pulling the trigger six times in rapid succession, all the while aiming at the side of his head.
I leaned forward into the screen. Everyone gasped.
Click. Click. Click. Click. Click. Click. THE SOUND IS SO GOOD. Better than reality TV.
The PPM and Miss Lee stood stunned. Mr. Anderson took a look inside the chamber. Inside were five bright pink less than lethal rounds, and one empty chamber. “Child safety! Amazing. What a time to be alive eh? So onto the next test I suppose.” said Mr. Anderson as he walked past the short woman and out of the boardroom.
Yeah it’s a pretty good time to be alive.
I minimised the game I was playing on the other screen. I just sold four bays of hay for twenty macaroons. My farm is getting fucking huge. Better catch my break whilst Miss Lee preps Mr. Anderson for the GTD test.