The Endless Day
by Thuan-Jin Kee
Newsflash: Today, the last cyanobacteria on Earth died in a lab in Sayn Shanda, Southern Mongolia. And today I’d just lost my job. Oh well, that’s life in the contemporary era.
Midwest Weather Inc. laid off 1600 Dryad-type Weather Technicians without warning in the small hours of the morning (my local time), leaving me to go to work and have Security treat me as an incoming hostile. They made it clear that I was leaving with my life and two week’s pay. No negotiation, no comment. Previously I’d been a part of their planetwide forest, a network of over a billion thinking trees, designed to use the Butterfly Effect for commercial gain. You know, flap a leaf here, alter the amount of heat re-radiated in to space there and prevent a hurricane halfway around the world?
Apparently the fund managers said there was no economic rationale for my continued employment so they’d let me go as part of the corporate version of blood-letting with leeches, and hoped that the malaise on their balance sheet would go away. I was now forbidden from using my old body - a proprietary tree-form issued by Midwest for weather work but I managed to snag a public domain Tyro-class shell and downloaded into that. Thus equipped with nearly nothing I packed up and left my comfortable plot beside Main Street.
Not much had changed in 2kTown since Midwest posted me here, a new bar and bistro had opened up across the street, but that was pretty much it.
To be expected, I guess: 2kTown was a working metropolis on the one hand, and a period drama theme park on the other. Technology for these people had effectively ceased to advance and they were comfortable and happy with the modern conveniences that the early 21st century could afford. After all who could want more than automatic doors, beer on tap, nuts sealed for freshness in foil, electronic poker and a jukebox by Wurlitzer glowing with neon kitsch in the corner?
I climbed up onto a stool, and still found the bar to be level with my chin. It was a skill in it self to sit on the tacky burgundy plastic that coated the seat, the whole slippery-sloped contrivance seemed to be designed to make pants pockets fold up tight like origami, poking wallets and keys into places the Surgeon General would warn against. The uniformed barkeeper came over.
---- Hey, he said, can I see some ID?
I dutifully gave him one finger for his print reader. He pressed my digit into the depression on the KiPass unit’s upper surface and looked at the display. He bit his lip.
---- Is there some kind of a problem? I asked.
Techno shock. Sometimes if you jiggle the man a little he’ll snap out of it.
---- No, he said reading my my age was in the mid-three digits, That’s… That’s fine. Whadaya want?
---- A glass of the finest wine available to humanity.
---- We’ve got Stanleys.
---- Nothing else?
---- We’re a theme pub. There’s a bottle shop up the street…
---- It’ll have to do. Leave me the cask.
He punched up the order on the till, and offered me the KiPass again. I used it, and wondered why I was torturing myself with a wallet in an era like this. All it contained were the dummy items that came with it, cardboard mock-ups of the contents of a successful person’s wallet: Your Visa Card Here. Your Amex Here. Your Master Card Here. Your Discover Card Here. Your Phonecard Here. Your Diner’s Club Card Here. Your Cashcard Here. Your Family Here.
The barkeep turned and showed his back. Across the cotton crawled the fading words:
The Queen of Blades Hotel
When he turned around again, holding a cask of Stanleys in one hand and a plastic goblet in the other, there were two faces at chin level with the bar. And then a whole lot of Tyros flowed in through the automatic doors.
The Tyro next to me was called Tilney. He was also part of the local bleed-off from Midwest Weather, like me, but from a different department that I’d never visited. Something called Spin Control.
---- So, I asked, what exactly is it that you do?
---- I’m a wordsmith. I engineer words and terminology for the media sound bytes.
---- Oh. A spin doctor. Like with that whole cyanobacteria extinction thing last year.
---- Nah. Spin doctors deal in lies. I work on using etymology to communicate the truth.
---- Cool. I’m a Weather Technician.
---- You were, you mean.
---- You know what? I hope a hurricane rolls over all six continents throwing off tornadoes left, right and center and wipes Midwest off the face of the planet.
---- Whoa, I’m sorry. If it makes you feel any better I’m looking for a job too.
---- I hope that the tornados drop a house on top of Midwest’s headquarters so the CEO and CFO and the Board of Directors legs are found sticking out from under it, like on The Wizard of Oz.
---- Easy man, Breathe. Peacefocushope.
I calmed down. Fractionally.
---- Besides, he said, you know you’ll get caught if you start a tornado.
We went job hunting together, Tilney and I. It was pure hell, stuck in our Tyro-class shells which were permanently fixed in some paedophile’s vision of an 11 year old. Big brown infantile eyes, small milk-tooth mouth. No hair. No nails. No genitals. These tiny cat-muscled arms that couldn’t lift and skinny legs that would pitter-patter instead of walk.
Well, hell, at least the designers of the Tyro didn’t require us to pay a licence fee to wear them.
Besides, there were some good features for the patient jobseeker: the Tyro could fold up flat with arms tucked in the sides and knees up against the ears for easy bulk transport. And the Tyro was among the first to feature tun-state suspended animation: with all the blood in us dried up and the cellular machinery packed in a sugar scaffolding. You could store Tilney and I in hard vacuum for decades, before rehydrating us and putting us to work.
Tyro. Latin for Recruit.
At the end of each fruitless day we’d spend what little credit we could muster at The Queen of Blades, at the booth behind the pool table. Tilney fiddled with the little plastic spigot on the cask wine and let the crimson flow. We toasted each other, and drank of the communion of the unemployed. Dear Sir/Madam, This is my blood, which was poured out for your utter stupidity. Drink this, as often as you will, in remembrance of me.
---- I had a dream last night, he said.
---- I had a dream where I was a protester up in Camp2k. Chained to the blade of a bulldozer and singing through a megaphone. I saw this pristine-look Midwest Systems Engineering WorldLung-quality rainforest and on the trunks, every knot and fungus began to resolve into faces of my former co-workers… The CEO of Midwest Weather got in the bulldozer, which started and began to roll towards the forest… Damn, I’m supposed to be a writer and I don’t even have original dreams.
---- Camp2k you say? You know, I think they pay people pretty well to be Protest Leaders up there…
We checked their site.
---- Yup, he said, Award rates, with full benefits and a lease on a company shell.
I looked at him. ---- You know, I think you’d look pretty cute wearing a ProtesterPaul.
---- Ah, to hell with it. I can’t be passionate about something I’m paid to be passionate about, I’m a serious artist.
He’d only become a serious artist after 10 weeks looking for work but something in his demeanor told me it was all he’d ever wanted to be, and all I'd ever be hearing about from now on.
---- So tell me what happened in the rest of your dream?
---- Well, I came closer to one of the trees, carried on the bulldozer blade, and the bark bore the face of one of my dear friends. There was sap running down from his closed eyes, so I asked him why he was crying.
---- What did he say?
---- He turned to me and opened his eyes, which were bright crimson and said: These are not tears. I am dying.
We sipped cask for a while.
---- Banal, isn’t it? Not anywhere near good enough for recording.
We went to a recruitment rally for HelpHaven, a technical support and maintenance company. We all paid down almost week’s worth of severance pay, packed into the hall and sang unfamiliar company anthems. The rally organisers passed around trays of shot-glasses filled with this grape juice stuff that Tilney and I drank heartily. Then we sang some more songs for what seemed like forever, until the speaker at the front shouted out:
---- All of you who have oil dripping from your fingers! You have the gift of Healing! Come forward!
Tilney nudged me.
---- Now would you look at that.
He was pointing at my hands. There was a clear liquid seeping out from fingertips, wetting them.
---- Hey man, the genes you swallowed in the vector drink are expressing!
I felt warm to the touch but cold inside, like I was running a fever.
---- Come Forward!!!
I came forward. The speaker lay her hands on the group of us and spoke the words that would activate our new genetic plug-ins. I felt my body go runny for a second, like it was melting, and then firm up again. Then we were allowed to go back to our seats.
---- Cool, said Tilney, now you just have to find a job for me.
I missed my old job. Midwest Weather was a great company. We did fun things. Like parties. Yeah.
We’d gotten some part time work manning a stall at the local Midsummer Festival. The whole gig was organised by the wealthy upper-middle-class Eclectic Wiccan Coven up Main Street and the proceeds were going towards a number of worthy causes, including a campaign opposing the legalisation of a controversial genetic treatment for male erectile dysfunction.
The pay wasn’t great, relying mostly on bonus and tips, and it was a one off job: next big festival would be at the Equinox and even if we hadn’t been forced to rent a U-Store-It and fold up into tun by then we still wouldn’t be guaranteed work.
Yet the job was interesting: Standing up in checkout chick position for 12 hours, with mind boggling amounts of money passing through our hands. The change our boss gave us would have settled a small republic’s national debt.
We were selling trinkets mostly: One shot head highs. Charms. LuvGetty tattoos. Tickle-Me-Voodoo dolls. Various things made with ephedrine and guarana. One thing that caught my eye was a Sega Dreamcatcher: You use it whenever you have something interesting passing through your head, and then send the recording off to Sega be processed. Then you could play it back and pass it to your friends. I had seen better made units back in The World. It was good that this tech had finally trickled into 2kTown. It came with some free titles and an extra recording that left you with a working knowledge of how to make entertaining media with the device.
I asked the boss if I could have one. She said yes.
We went out to watch a re-enactment of the Canberra Multicultural Festival at the 2kMusic Bowl. All these people from different 21st C nations and cultures came up on stage and paraded around holding hands. There were Native Americans in Fubu jackets, Ravers dressed by Strange Days and Wonkywear, Honkies wearing Giordano and Australians clothed in Saba and Bonds. Bogans in Nike. Donnyboys in Kappa Jackets. Aryan Brotherhood in Levis and black leather. Dykes and gayboys in cargo-pants and T-Shirts. Italians in Fila. Goth punks freshly pierced by Peril Underground. West-Side Homeboys in bullet resistant ZiggyPhat. Wiggers in Freshjive. SCAdians in Maximillion and Crusader armour. Cyberpunks in chip jewellery and leathers. Hells Angles. Guardian Angles. Clubbers in polyester. Triads in tattoos. European WASPS in cargo pants, puffa jackets, cK and Fruit of the Loom. Surfies in 26red and Mambo. Singaporians wrapped in Armani. A distinct lack of any kind of anime fans.
And 2kTown personnel wearing “The Year 2000 Experience” T-Shirts and baseball caps.
It was horrible.
I asked Tilney a personal question:
---- Tilney, what were the cyanobacteria?
---- They’re an ancient form of life, arising about 2.3 billion years ago. The only thing older than them are the Archaeobacteria, which are anaerobic and die on contact with oxygen. The Archaeobacteria now live in areas where oxygen never reaches… caves… the bottom of the sea floor. Anyway, the Cyanobacteria started a process which ended around 1.8 billion years ago, while they were as far as we know the only photosynthetic organisms around.
---- The chlorophyll pigments they originated are still used by photosynthetic organisms today. Even the dryad forms use the same photosystems right?
---- Right, with a few modifications. The Cyanobacteria churned out millions of tonnes of oxygen, which was to the Archaeobacteria a deadly poison. They changed the world, replacing the old slow way of life with a radical high speed oxygen breathing biology, and eventually giving rise to human beings. In doing so, they eradicated the conditions under which life first arose. Later when too much phosphorous from agricultural run-off got into the water, they would multiply and form poisonous blooms which can kill fish all the way up and down a river.
---- So how’d they die?
----Ironically. They died out when a few illegal self-replicating nanites designed to stop algal fouling on the load bearing skins of Whale-forms went rogue, changed targets and hunted them down. Every last one.
He went thoughtful for a while.
---- You know, he said, If you tried to release an organism with the kind of world changing power the Cyanobacteria had today, the EPA would stop you dead.
We watched a pair of fluorescent hotpants wiggle past. Worn with flip-flops, suspenders and no irony.
---- If the Environmental Protection Agency had any power 2.3 billion years ago, I said, they could have prevented a lot of problems.
---- It’s perfect, Tilney said when we got back to our booth at The Queen of Blades.
---- You like it? I call it… Night of the Living Furbies. I got the idea on the way home….
---- No! The machine! It’s the way of the future. It’s like, a total passing fad.
---- How can it be both the way of the future and a total passing fad?
---- Look. When people get themselves up to market a passing fad they always overproduce tonnes of incredibly badly made stock.
---- What about desktop manufacturing?
---- This is 2kTown, remember - the manufacturing base is tuned to simulate the old economy. The units then get sold, first in stores, and then in grey goods markets like the one we just worked at. They sell until they reach saturation point.
---- Which won’t be long more with 2kTown’s population.
---- And then the units start turning up in car boot sales, yard sales, you name it. Circulating like the blood of an animal.
---- But this is different somehow?
---- Yeah. Remember those glass bead memory charms we sold?
---- The ones that slow-released drugs through your skin to stimulate the hippocampus?
---- Right on. So what’s the difference?
---- These new units, I realised, aren’t just memory aids. They’re a recording format.
---- Fuckin’ A. The Super-8 of memory transfer.
HelpHaven gave me my first housecall a week after that, a small office in the backstreets of 2kTown. It was actually a converted house in the BurbZone, a totally historically accurate reconstruction of the final expression of Thomas Liddy’s suburbia. White picket fences. Ornamental plants. Duplex units on 1/8th acre plots. Product promoters handing out candy to strange children. Automatic gates. Hot and cold running security with 24 hour surveillance. Worshipers going to the mall five times a day.
Signs that say:
---- No Junk, Male.
---- Caution: Elderly People.
---- Children left unattended may be stolen.
---- Snipers at Work.
---- Beware the Drugs.
Woolworths even had a brothel section to represent the well documented 21st century attitude to commodified sex. I bought a towel (unflavoured) and a few litres of nutrient concentrate on the company tab before going to the house. When I got there the clients were producing optically-perfect hemispherical beads of sweat on their brows. They thanked me profusely before showing me down a corridor with threadbare carpet and ornately molded and fashionably moldy ceilings to the bathroom.
As a Tyro, I was strictly a faith surgeon when it came to hardware issues. I’d delve my hands into the side of the machine, and sometimes a thin trickle of blood would run down from my wrist and drip off my elbow. Then I’d pull out holding some defective component in my palm like a trophy. It was all just plug and pray. So nothing prepared me for what I was about to see.
The fools had managed to kill a box which secretly carried a lot of traffic critical to the infrastructure of 2kTown and other parks run by Trans-Temporal Entertainment. You know, important stuff like sanitation, earthquake warnings, government & general communication and weather control. Just about any other box in the system could fail safely but, thanks to a bit of lousy network topology and a budget cut, the alternative pathways around this one were never built.
When they realised what they’d done, they called HelpHaven who sent a veteran troubleshooter out to see them. The HelpHaven representative took one look at the situation and, rather than letting 2kTown do an Atlantis and sink under the waves in earth-quaking ruin, decided to patch herself into the net to carry the traffic.
HelpHaven allowed her to download a Spider-form, the office people got her a bathtub full of nutrient solution. And she stepped right in. The people of 2kTown only noticed a brief outage known as the Great Blackouts of ’86. (Eleven totally innocent 2kTown residents were arrested, had their property seized and were tried on charges of computer intrusion. A number of them were convicted and, as I understand it, are rotting in prison today.)
Now the nutrient solution was running low. The first and easiest thing to do would be to throw a bucket of fresh solution into the filamentous mass sitting in the bath, which I did. That done, I was supposed to repair or replace the old box (currently used as a doorstop) and install it without sending 2kTown and most of the west coast to the bottom of the ocean.
I laid my hands on the side of the box. The porous access surface of the box seemed to my touch to be insubstantial, like a gap through which I could reach freely. My hands liquefied on contact and passed themselves one cell at a time through the tiny capillary tubes on the access surface which were designed to chemically trap any unauthorised particles less than 80 micrometers across, and physically deny any object of greater size.
On the other side of the selectively permeable barrier, my hands had changed: slender tentacles which could poke and prod and pull on the various internal components. I could repair any macroscopic damage, and anything wrong at a more fundamental level could easily be isolated and should disassemble little drama. Once it passed through the access panel, the reconstituted component could get sent off to Histopathology for analysis.
The box’s internals were fine.
All that went wrong was in software, and that was supposed to be my area of expertise.
Tilney called me from the payphone at the Queen. He was pretty excited. He’d been playing with my Dreamcatcher and it appeared he’d gotten a positive response.
---- When are you coming back?
I looked up from my work for a little while and gave him a fair split of my attention.
---- When the day ends and someone comes to relieve me, I guess.
---- There’s some stuff I want to show you, he said.
---- Yeah? Can’t you shove it down the phone?
---- Nah. Not enough bandwidth.
---- So what is it?
---- Just a few dreams I had. I’ve found that once you stop trying to dream original dreams, then you can come up with some really riveting stuff.
---- What kind of new ideas?
---- New ideas? No way! I’m just recirculating old ideas. It’s as natural as breathing.
There was a silence.
I’d ordinarily attempt to reinstall only the stuff which was broken on the box, but since there was another HelpHavener with her life on the wire, I opted to do a full backup and then a clean reinstall of everything. Why not take the safest, albeit the most tedious, option?
Tilney broke the silence ---- You know, I remember the day when the quotation mark died. It was one day in the early part of yesteryear, when every piece of reading matter I picked up had all the dialogue preceded with a dash, and not a single inverted comma this side of an apostrophe in sight.
It was almost as if they’d given up and recognised that all speech is reported speech, and all dialogue is first manifest in your inner monologue. No speech can be truly represented literally verbatim, and so all the commas were relegated to their proper positions under the line. Memory is text, as it turns out now we have the technology to capture it. When you forget something, that’s editing. When you imagine something, that’s an effect. When you dream random dreams, you still subconsciously address your audience, purpose and style. Some theorists argue that dreams are genre fiction.
I was wired to the HelpHaven head office and automatically sent this argument to them. The duty support staff on the desk laughed and responded.
---- Well, I dunno, I asked my supervisors and they think that the danger with this style is ambiguity.
After all, someone could just feed you two all beef patties of bullshit burger, with (artificial) cheese, pickles, onions, special sauce all on a confectionery sweet bun, and if their voice doesn’t match the patterns of speech exhibited before, you lose track of who’s talking. Conversations wind up in danger of just dropping away into isolated fragments of speech. I dunno, what do you think?
---- There’s nobody talking. All interlocutors are coming through your point of view, so you are the one whose bias is strongest. Yet you and your bias are only one voice among many in the collaborative work of your life. It’s all about ambiguity. Ambiguity of attribution. It’s a beautiful thing, ain’t it?
At 16:00 I asked HelpHaven if I could be relieved and go home.
They said ---- It’s over when it’s over.
At 17:00 I asked HelpHaven if I could be relieved and go home.
They said ---- It’s over when it’s over.
At 20:00 I asked HelpHaven if I could be relieved and go home.
They said ---- It’s over when it’s over.
At 24:00 I asked HelpHaven if I could be relieved and go home.
They said ---- It’s over when it’s over.
Life became difficult. I spent the whole next day, all 24 hours of it, breaking and patching connections; testing and thumping hardware; updating and checking firmware; building, installing and configuring software; feeding and comforting wetware; hoping and waiting on vapourware, and cursing the fools who sent me there. It was hard work, requiring all the patience and steady hands of the bomb squad. And none of it could wait.
To give myself a treat, I multitasked, I went online with my first 27 hour’s pay that had been streaming into my account at a pittance an hour. I bought and downloaded one of the oldest genetic modifications in history: SmartHair.
SmartHair was invented in the early third millennium CE, and has since fallen into obscurity. It’s just genetically doctored hair follicles that, on detecting the presence of stress hormones, sequentially switch off the many genes that control hair darkness. They will evenly fade from the original “happy” brown, through light brown, dirty blonde, blonde, bleached blonde and platinum; the idea being that you get stressed, you turn blonde, blondes have more fun and the negative feedback loop will stabilise your hair colour at a around a tawny brown.
I got the Asian® not because it suited my big, infantile, almond shaped brown eyes that came with my freeware body but because the Asian® went day-glo orange instead of platinum. Another 30 hours later, I looked at the stubble that was sprouting from my head in the bathroom-cum-machine-room’s bassinet mirror.
I had stressed myself bone white.
I gave Tilney the address.
He’d earned some fame from his dreams, and his unique style. He was toying with a stage name, maybe dj Remix? You see, he didn’t actually dream up any new stuff. All he did was get catchy fragments and loop and mix them, the way a late 20th C DJ called Moby once did with music.
He walked in the door, carrying a satchel full of dreams, and wearing my Dreamcatcher on his head. I started a new thread so I could talk to him, while still working.
---- Tilney, I said, you’re not supposed to wear that on your head.
---- I had it modified, so I don’t have to be sitting down to use it.
---- Oy vey! Oya Oya! I held up my palm in his face pretending he was a paparazzi camera, Nobody’s safe from your roving eye!
He looked appreciatively at the figure gradually emerging from the tangle of white fibres and spent nutrient in the bathtub. The white fibers, each representing a fairly impressive amount of bandwidth, turned into a thick rope that plugged into a socket in the wall. A hand stuck over the edge of the tub, just over where the box sat on the floor. A large data hose ran from the box into the tub, and another from the box into the wall. I’d been doing my work diligently, phasing in the partially reinstalled machine and cutting fiber connections which were now redundant, but so far only one hand was free.
---- The one in the tub looks almost as cute as you, he said running a hand through my new crew-cut, but she’s not my type.
The hand reached out and pinched his ass.
---- Yeow! Goose ex machina!
---- She’s conscious and aware of her surroundings in case you hadn’t figured that out. She’s got more eyes in here than we have, but she’s really busy now so don’t try to talk.
He put down his satchel, and flipped it open. Inside were dozens of dreams, with bold chunky designs on them, all bearing his name.
---- You’ve cut singles.
---- Cool aren’t they?
---- I don’t have time for this, I said.
I brushed aside the offered Dreamcatcher.
---- Come on man, he said, try it out.
I looked at the jacket. The single seemed to be inspired by Nick Cage’s 8mm.
---- I remember that film. I saw it on the midday movie once.
---- Come on man, there are some things that you can see that can’t be unseen. It’ll change your life. It won’t take much resources. Try it.
---- If 2kTown slides quaking into the abyss, the first thing I do on the way down is take your satchel and stomp on it. OK?
He gulped, but to his credit didn’t waver.
I ran the recording.
---- Good isn’t it? he asked.
---- Guess so. I wasn’t bored.
---- Ok, now, what’s the Capital of America?
---- Simpleton, Redneck USA.
I watched him begin to smile.
---- It’s Simpleton, right?
I watched his grin threaten to split his head in half before I got the chance.
---- What the fuck have you done to me?
Before going back to play at the main room of The Queen of Blades, he gave me the recording that rewrote the information in my head back to something closer to truth. He called me up and shouted over the wire while right in the middle of a mix.
---- Back in the olden days, people wanted to manipulate other people by hiding suggestive information in their media. Backmasking. Subliminals. Once I listened to the whole of Stairway to Heaven backwards twelve times to try and find the guy saying “Choose to smoke marijuana” and “Satan is my god.” I didn’t find them, but by the end of the day I was convinced that there was a lady who knows all that glitters is gold and she was actually in the market for a stairway to heaven.
The crazy thing is it was always possible insert hidden messages into a work. After all, when you enjoy a text, you penetrate the author’s subjective universe. In order to break through the pluralism of reality, you’ve got to enter the author’s mind with a profound understanding of the beliefs, prejudices, misinformation and bigotry which make the author tick. Sometimes these beliefs would stick, insidiously, silently, forever. It wasn’t subliminal. It was direct connection with another intelligence.
Like that quote on the bookseller’s book mark: “These are not books, lumps of lifeless paper, but minds alive on the shelves.”
Only writ large. Much larger.
My body complained. It sent blood to the brittle areas around the mouth, around the skin behind the folds of my knees. The blood immobilised my worn joints with swelling and pain. Blood dripped without warning from my nose. Blood sweat from my skin, and left a crucifix of blood on the back of my white uniform shirt. It fell into the sink, and the droplets split into two parts: a slick that floated, and a red ink that sank. It drifted in the toilet like the blue green algae blooms of cyanobacteria, a former pest which we couldn’t even keep alive on Earth. It fell on the tiles in spreading puddles. It stiffened in the towel. It dried black and clotted cracked like desert clay.
I was working a 168 hour week. Still only half way there. My hands weren’t healing from all the access panels I’d shoved them through, and blood was seeping out of the palms. Whoa, I thought, be the first kid on your block to have the stigmata.
I called HelpHaven, but apparently my diagnostic telemetry only showed acceptable levels of damage to my structure and substance, so it would be uneconomical to remove and replace me. It was getting to the point where I wished I worked for God. At least God is merciful. I thought about quitting, but I was saving up for a holiday to some place far, far away where roving bands of guerrillas stole from the haves and gave to the have-nots. Maybe ThailandTown.
Desperate for some kind of relief, I called up Tilney and borrowed my Dreamcatcher for the afternoon to record a dream of my own.
Newsflash: Today genetic designers have found an old copy of the cyanobacteria genome and were debating whether or not to reconstruct the ancient organism responsible for both toxic blooms and the oxygen we breathe. And today I just lost my job.
Three days ago, our sleeper awoke. She was beautiful in that expensive sort of way and must have been pretty well compensated for her time to afford a body like that. Sensing the last connections going offline, she tore herself free, wiping stale nutrient from the cargo pants of her ruined uniform. She did a quick check of my work, shook my bleeding hand and said:
---- Well thanks, and be proud of work well done. Now if you’ll excuse me, I haven’t had sex in ten months.
And with that, she was out the door.
Two days ago, I got dj Remix to run my dream as part of his set. It was a Friday night and so a whole bunch of Dryads from various companies had pulled up their roots, converted to walk-forms and went clubbing. They swallowed the dream. Some went out to the record site the next day and took a copy home. I didn’t see a cent of that money. On the other hand I got a message from our famous troubleshooter talking about her night out and how much she enjoyed my work.
Last night, over 20,000 of Midwest Weather’s best Dryads mysteriously forgot how to do their jobs. The Great Southern Ocean Heat Sink and the Dryland Atmospheric Control Station both simultaneously made erratic decisions, causing a huge low pressure system to sweep across the oceans for the first time in over a thousand years. Baby, it was the story of the hurricane. Love busted nature free again.
Tornadoes ran right over the headquarters of Midwest Weather and HelpHaven, and the biggest part of Midwest Weather’s CEO they found was a leg, jammed under the door of a house eight hundred miles away. Just like in the Wizard of Oz. Stock prices fell, but rallied later today when it was announced that the leg was in intensive care in a critical but stable condition and the old bastard would be whole and back on the job in no time.
Now nobody knows when it’s going to rain.
And I guess nothing really changed. HelpHaven got me to uninstall my plugins, which stopped the bleeding. Now I’m just a plain auburn haired Tyro: looking for work, lounging around at the Queen, and sponging money off Tilney.
It’s just life in the contemporary era.
I mean, people thought that history would end when my kind started churning out tonnes of information at a rate of change that was toxic to the humans that ruled the planet before us. At the end of the age of Modernity, people thought that history would end when the last human died.
But the humans didn’t die. They migrated to safety, like the Archaeobacteria fleeing from oxygen. They wound up in places like 2kTown, and discovered the true meaning of the end of history: History ends when you get entities who live long enough to remember it from start to finish, and see the recursion, the endless loops.
Plus ça Change? The big things change, the small things stay the same?
More like as the Philosopher said ---- All is vanity and there is nothing new under the sun. When all of history is in living memory, it’s all part of your contemporary present. No yesterday, no tomorrow - just the eternal sunshine of the endless day.
And I kinda like it that way.