One night in a cramped office I was contemplating suicide while entering food prices into a restaurant database. I’m a manager and my neck and lower back were throbbing and aching. Scroll, click, type. My eyes felt like they were bleeding. Someone knocked on the door.
My eyes open and my head is thick. Not as thick as my hair must feel now that the twin sisters of sand and salt have done their work, but thick all the same. Tiny grains shift against my scalp in the breeze but I’m too full of slumber to worry overmuch. I lie back against the sand. Close my eyes.
The beach is quiet now. The laughter and shouting, the frenetic madness of noon has dissipated like the heat of the day. I can see the sun dipping over the water if I raise my head a little. Golden puddles melting into the horizon. For a moment the world is aflame and then twilight succumbs to night.
Victor sat on his bed. He looked out of his first-floor pod-flat bedroom window at the dual carriageway that was no longer a dual carriageway – not strictly speaking.
Electro-ped-cycles zipped. Freight trams glided. Electro-buses moved little by little, final phase commercial time drawing to a close – a fizz, a drone and a hum of noise.
I’ve sat here too long, Victor said to himself; just watching it move. I ought to get up.
Stuttering lights crossed the night sky as the drones floated above the spidery criss-cross of network cables, just a few inches above my head. I kept thinking about the cameras pointed at my house, wondering if I would get to see the recording of that moment when my life changed. I followed the movement of the hovering four-armed machines until my eyes stung.
3 AM. Time to eat. I went back inside my house and ate a dozen cold chicken nuggets from a box lying on the counter. My appointment with the filing officer was at 7 AM. I couldn’t sleep, even after dinner.
Roll up! Roll up! Widen your eyes, suspend your disbelief and step forward to be amazed and enthralled and in thrall you shall be! Such wonders await, such sights will abound! For this is no ordinary journey friends… this is the looking-glass, the time travelling, time unravelling, unparalleled and unrivalled… Monsanto Brothers Circus! And when I say circus ladies and gentlemen boys and girls I’m not just talking about your humdrum everyday bearded mermaid! I’m not just sending you through for a juggler or two… although for the record the mercury spinners in the anti-grav tent have to be seen to be believed! Conjurers aplenty! Strongman automatons! High wire hybrids for your eye-poppery and jaw-droppery!
You sir! Yes you there with the optical implants, what more dare you ask to behold? What’s that? Come now sir, don’t be shy, uncloak your aura for all to see and speak the words the rest of these fine folk are thinking. You’ve all seen him on the holosphere, and I’d take a strong wager – if I happened to be of the betting persuasion – most of you are scanning his bio on your cortex embedded readers as I speak! Well read on lovely people but this must be seen in the flesh and the flesh must be seen…
“At the end, all that’s left of you are your possessions. Perhaps that’s why I’ve never been able to throw anything away…” –Nicole Krauss.
“Don, you have to help me. I’m desperate. Isn’t there some drug I can take, or a therapy?”
Don’s longtime friend, a successful accountant named Avraham “Avi” Goldstein, asked the question of Donald E. Cashdollar, M.D., Ph.D., an eminent physician and researcher at the Brookline Center for Neurological Research. Cashdollar put his hand to his chin as though to reinforce his thinking in response to the question. As he did so, Cashdollar shifted ever so slightly, sinking deeper into Goldstein’s living room easy chair. “Careful, Don—“
Good morning, and welcome to Volume 12 of The Petrichor Instructional Film Set.
Today, we are going to discuss the subject of commerce. Do you know what commerce is? Have you ever used commerce before? Well, let’s find out together.
Jimmy is nine and three-quarters. He will be ten next January. Then he will be all grown up, but for now he is still happy to help Mother weed the plants, fetch Father his glass of lemonade at the end of the day, and play with his sister, Sally. Say “hello,” Jimmy. Say “hello,” Sally. Jimmy and Sally both say, “Hello.”
The soapbox prophets turn to bombs and the lines at the food pantries snake twenty blocks, but my algorithm cranks relentlessly. Markets go up. Markets go down. In either direction, the algorithm wins more than it loses. A few pennies shaved here. A few pennies there.
In makeshift markets, men relentlessly trade. Goods flow. Data flows. The algorithm churns apace. It seems as if the algorithm could function without electricity before it could go without its data. Its appetite is enormous. Its needs are great. Mine seem puny in comparison: a good night sleep. Peace on earth. A kiss goodbye. Safety for my children.
The bars of the cage sparkled. Each morning the cleaning detail scrubbed them from outside the building using long handled brushes. A clean cage kept life threatening germs away from the inmates, the same germs that caused the near extinction of the human race.
Alejandro knew he was dead but that didn’t stop him from wanting to come to America. His body lay on the dry dirt exactly where he’d fallen, the muscles rapidly losing their ability to stretch out and contract. His mouth was fixed, oddly enough, in a permanent grin.