Tag Archives: Technology

Of this and of that; what the cat dragged in

[thoughts from   ~burning woman~   ]

It occurs to me, as an observer, that the world of “writing” is saturating the world of “reading” at least wherever computers, tablets, phones and internet proliferate. Unfortunately that is not a good thing though we were brainwashed at such an early age to believe with the staunchest of all faiths that “Competition” is what makes everything work. Even God had to put up with Satan so there would be a healthy flow of capital between the haves and the have-nots. Of note, in the case of God it wasn’t all one way either, not as we have it now in the New World Order of Rich eat Poor.

I suppose some level of competition is good in certain areas. But the nature of any art defies (and despizes) competition. Writing that expresses our humanity (not the kind used to make us better believers and consumers) is art, not a competion. Sadly, it has all become a competition as it is offered in the slave markets of capitalism. It’s turned into quantity more than quality as much of my recent forays in modern novels has shown me. There is a saturation of mediocrity and predictability. So much so that even the free stuff hardly moves at all.

About that free stuff. Free is good, particularly if it comes from people who love writing and have never thought of using their imagination to “make a living” among the capitalists selling oil, cows, toilet paper holders and coffins. Art never was, is not, never will be, a commodity to be bought and sold. When that happens, it’s no longer art.

Oh, I can hear the screams: have you never been to an art gallery where the great masters hang? My answer to that is, no. Nor would I ever. Let them hang, I have no sympathy or empathy to part with for them.

Whatever it is, when the rich buy it, whatever it was is no longer. The Midas touch destroys everything; leaves nothing natural or unsullied. The Midas touch is de facto, corruption at the highest level. I believe there’s a story to illustrate that point…

Of saturation. Part of the problem is the same mechanisms and technology that allow a thousand writers to perform on their crowded stage in stultified cacophony where there was only one declaiming his or her observations a hundred years ago. Computers, internet, instant copies, translations and transfers, digital imagery and so much more: these are the beasts stealing peoples’ time. There was TV, there still is, more pervasive than ever. I know homes where TV’s are never turned off.

There’s social media that clings to individuals like raw egg yolk as they drag their ball and chain of Smart Phones, Tablets, iPads, iPhones around so as to not miss one stupid comment, one idotic selfie, one brain dead tweet. Would these be the people who would download “For Whom the Bell Tolls” to read quietly while waiting for the [you name him or her, it’s all a waiting game these days]? That’s a rhetorical question.

We can beat our heads on a cement abutment trying for that magic touch that will make our book a best seller, possible but face it, it ain’t likely to happen m’dear.

The fault, dear writer, in not in your writing that it doesn’t catch the public’s fancy, but in the public’s complacency and laziness. Steadfastly offer a slough of gorf, garf, barf and tarf, or gross porn laced with extreme violence and you may catch a faithful if tiny segment of “the market.” Offer silly wizard stuff and perhaps some of it will filter into pre and elementary schools. Offer conspiracy theories… Offer… something, nothing .

I’ve decided I like writing my ideas down. Then I re-read them. I’m my most reliable and constant fan and critique (Well, except for Phil Huston, but Phil is on a crusade. He’s the Devil’s Advocate by calling, so we just stand well off of the path of his war horse and slashing double-handed sword and there is a modicum of blood anyone can live with. Those extraneous words that get their heads chopped off as he passes through town, they’re just pawns).

There are many advantages to being my own reader.  I don’t need to get those “Satanic” ISBN bar codes; don’t need to lace the material with copyright notices and best of all I can freely copy and paste any of it without asking permission. One has to look on the bright side of life, huh?

Some quotes to brighten your evening (here) or day (there)

Someday, somewhere – anywhere, unfailingly, you’ll find yourself, and that, and only that, can be the happiest or bitterest hour of your life. — Pablo Neruda

Don’t despair: despair suggests you are in total control and know what is coming. You don’t – surrender to events with hope. ― Alain de Botton

I think that one of these days you’re going to have to find out where you want to go. And then you’ve got to start going there. — J. D. Salinger

Out of the hobbled spirit of attachment, and the insecure need of belonging, come the gross judgments against those who do not belong. ― Bryant McGill, Voice of Reason.

The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge. — Stephen Hawking

Be like the bird, who // Halting in his flight // On limb too slight // Feels it give way beneath him, // Yet sings // Knowing he hath wings. — Victor Hugo, “The Bird”

At times but more frequently now, I find myself enclosed, surrounded, imprisoned on all sides by a growing excess of civilization – paraphrase from “Super Sad True Love Story” by Gary Shteyngart. (Publ. circa 2010)

PS: Of Gary Shteyngart: I have no idea how this guy’s work got through… and I had no idea what I was going to be involving my mind in when I started reading SSTLS. Then I discovered it was quite prophetic of the Installation of “The Donald” as Tweeter Head of the Bi-Partisan party, no, I mean not yet, still the Repugnican Party as of today. The story describes a near future dystopian New York, and is carried along by a strange love affair between two most incompatible yet totally compatible people: Lenny Abramov and Eunice Park. The story also shows an America in tatters, militarily defeated in Venezuela and other South American sovereign nations with the EU turning to the East and China now in a position to demand payment for those trillions it invested in America.

Have a look at the write-up on WikiP. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Super_Sad_True_Love_Story

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A World’s Tale

[thoughts from ~burning woman~ ]

I’m going to tell a story and I want you to remember that it is a story. As far as anybody knows, it’s a fairy tale, or perhaps science fiction or fantasy. The point is, it isn’t supposed to be true at all, none of it.

That is called a disclaimer.

Once upon a time at the far edge of a galaxy far far away there was a small world no one paid any attention to. Although it was chock full of interesting life, no one in its neighbourhood cared about that. Better things to do, bigger fish to fry. The world carried on as worlds are wont to do when left to their own devices, and until they are interfered with. Which is predictably what happened.

Eventually, that small world was noticed by people aboard a passing space ship. They probed and finding it rather inviting they landed advance missions on it to have a look around. Probing and exploring, they discovered the world was rich in resources lacking on their mother ship and on their home world where such resources would be worth fortunes. With no one to challenge them they established bases from which to proceeded with exploitation.

Among the rich number of sentient life, they had hoped to find some life forms suitable to serve as slaves but after experimentation and trials, nothing. That wasn’t going to stop them however. They had the technology; they cloned suitable worker slaves by mixing local DNA with their own. They made themselves quasi-intelligent slaves and set them to work in mines, fields, construction, maintenance, bureaucratic support and entertainment. As the creatures increased in numbers the work of exploitation also increased and as to be expected, there developed major conflicts among the invaders as to who owned which parts of the planet and their rights to exploitation.

Diplomacy having failed, the aliens resorted to warring with each other. The cloned slaves were trained and armed to fight for their masters. Much bloodshed and destruction followed these internecine conflicts particularly in areas where weapons of mass destruction, chemical and nuclear, were used. The results of these conflicts would have been predictable but hubris and greed ruled the day. The world was rendered uninhabitable for the aliens and they left after removing as much of their technology as they could find. They had already learned to fear their cloned slaves.

The slaves, who were beginning to develop a greater sense of selfhood and independence had suffered many horrible deaths from the wars. The worst part was the mutations and the new diseases they were saddled with and prone to exhibit. Some mutations however proved successful. Powerful leaders of giant stature arose among the slave people and predictably the old enmity reasserted itself. Certain races claimed superiority and certain places for themselves and closed themselves away from others. The cloned females who had been designed as slaves of the males were enslaved within these new mutant societies although the constant border clashes and wars decimated so many males that in some areas the women were able to claim a share of equality, ownership and eventual leadership.

Climate change and diseases spread from proximity, caused a great die back among the slave races and as their numbers dwindled they moved away from each other in their quest for basic survival. For many years there was relative peace on the world as there were not enough survivors to launch any effective wars, nor could they imagine any need for such since there was more than enough space and food to accommodate all of them. They had stopped mining and collecting the “resources” they had been programmed to find having no more use for any of them. During those hunter-gatherer times as they are called, the masters were remembered as creator gods and any remembrance of their technology became the stuff of legends and tales of great magic.

The naturally imposed peace among the mutants wasn’t to last. The ancient hubris of the gods reasserted itself among certain groups of mutants. They also re-discovered some of their masters’ skills with metals and that turned to weaponry. That began an age of rampaging conquests that changed the face of the world forever.

That is where the tale ends for today.

“Does this world have a name?” asked a bright-eyed child.

“All worlds have names, child. This one, you give a name to.”

“How does the story really end?” asked another.

“That is up to you, isn’t it.” replied the story teller.

Part 2 – Message from Tara

(Time being of the essence today, without preamble, here’s part 2 of the message from the future.)

To continue, then. Those who fail to contribute the necessary data they are capable of are measured on their performance and can have their corporeality revoked since it is not functioning according to the contract made with the City. These then become free minds seeking and sharing information based on their mental abilities. They  function fully as individuals but can no longer perform physical tasks, nor experience the material world except vicariously. Since they are not taking up material resources, no one bothers them as long as they do not go rogue and commit serious infractions, for example by telling lies or using corporeal entities to commit crimes.

They cannot seek to return to corporeality unless they apply for residence on newly terra-formed worlds, or re-activated worlds where their basic skills may be of value and where no current corporeal entity wishes to exercise such function or is available. They are then given a vacated body, or one is cloned to their specifications (function needs apply). I cannot tell you how this works here, partly because it’s not my area of expertise and partly because that information is privileged to our time.

Back to my day: When the agency calls, it gives me all the information I need to carry out my function – what to wear, where to go and how much time I am to function at the place.  For example, I query “wear” and am told to wear, say #5 – a simple short translucent dress that wears as comfortably as a second skin, very appealing, both for the wearer and those who are inclined to look. I query “weather” and am told it’s light drizzle and to wear # 12 – a light, transparent cape with a large, comfortable hood where my naturally grown very thick and long wavy auburn hair can be tucked in without messing it up.  Query “transportation” and I’m advised that walking is good exercise today. Most people choose to walk barefoot now.  Body enhancements have made wearing shoes an affectation that is discouraged as it adds to waste and body odour. Synthetic deodorants, though still available on the open market, are frowned upon. As are most items of make-up.

Except for the morphs (temp or permanent) it is considered socially unacceptable and akin to lying, to hide one’s body. Part of our social evolution has made us proud of our bodies and we take good, natural care of them. There are no “ugly” or “turn off” bodies any longer. The more we accept one another, the more beautiful we become to each other. Beautiful minds are naturally reflected in beautiful bodies.

I don’t carry a bag or purse or other personal luggage of basic essentials. The agency arranges all details of client personal preferences in hygiene needs and those are sent directly to the client and await me in a sealed container. For I.D., implants, through my torc, communicate my status, function and purpose to the checker at the entrance to the client’s residence. If the checker is a male he will usually escort me to the client’s apartment. Knowing I am a provider and if he is interested, he can be as personal with my body as he wishes while we travel together. If he interests me I can reciprocate the pleasure. If he is more interested in information sharing which is usually the case, he will seek out new information from my mind and likewise I will query him. Any information not yet available on the infonet, usually gathered from my clientele, is highly prized and when I provide such I’m guaranteed future first class service wherever he (or friends of his) may be functioning. Word gets around.

Believe me when I say this: being “informed” (even if only theoretically) is rated the highest goal. Information and understanding can eventually get you off the planet and unto other worlds. That’s our dream, our passion: to create and experience the future. Imagine yourself being able to do that; how you could fulfill your greatest dreams instead of living in the dread of coming disaster, totally at the mercy of madmen and psychopaths as is the case for you in your time. (More on that)

Any new information can be traded or “sold” for future consideration. This is not stealing – it is encouraged. The more known and demanded you are, the better your chances are of not only retaining your right to your corporeality, but of moving ever higher into the strata of society. Not that you want this to lord it over others – it’s the opposite. The “higher” strata are those who possess greater awareness and openness thus able to receive more information. They also carry the greatest responsibility.

The highest echelons one can reach are engineering in planetary development, space travel, communication, bionics and bio-genetics as well as mind-enhancement. To your day, such things sound scary – Brave New World sort of thing. To us, it means greater acceptance by other humans and means of advancement beyond earth. As I said before, we now readily and consciously sacrifice what we have if there’s a chance we may gain what we desire. We have become “upwardly mobile spacers” in our thinking. We are no longer “arriving” – we are forever “leaving”.

Our great plan is to develop a fleet of transports that can take the entire remaining human population of earth out into space, beyond this galaxy, perhaps (and likely) never to return. We envision an earth devoid of human life – except for a few observers, anthropologists and non-biological self-maintaining androids and monitors – its life left to re-develop as the planet sees fit, without any pressure from any other mind but its own.

We are in the process of re-programming surface inter-species behaviour on the planet to a totally non-predator/prey relationship. When this is complete, probably in a hundred years or so, it will be interesting to see how planetary life finds its own balance again.  Many predict the “wildness” will eventually choke on itself and the planet become barren of life. I totally disagree with that assessment.

I think that a great intelligence which we still refer to as “Gaia” lies within earth. That is what we have not yet learned to communicate with properly (on the basis of equality). I personally believe, and have said so in many meetings, that when we leave for the stars this world will surprise everyone – or just itself if no one is here to see it. So often we judge “others” (including non-human entities) on the basis of our own follies, foibles and limits.

Explanation of the torc: I must back off a bit. There is one item, apart from implants and function-wear that everyone wears practically all the time, often even in sleep. It is a multi-purpose torc (look up torque for your day) that can be disguised in many ways, collar, necklace, scarf – my choice is the choker. My choker has a small diamond shaped attachment equipped with several micro-chips in constant communication with my implants. The purpose of this torc is to be able, for example, to communicate thought-forms in symbols or images – a personal short-hand we call picting – so that large numbers of people can “speak” simultaneously without interfering with the conversations of others, breaking the silence or interfering with music or verbal communications, as during a dramatic performance.

The torc also serves as a flood light if I find myself in some darkened building or need to temporarily blind a potential attacker (sadly, that can still happen). It also detects warm-up of any inimical laser activity and can diffuse the most powerful beams of personal laser weapons. I have yet to see this – and I hope never – but it does happen that non-corporeal rogues “escape” and by manipulating a bodied entity, attempt to steal bodies by attacking corporeal entities, or (extremely rare) throwback deviants and aberrants attack and a woman to rape her.

Not a perfect world, but: So, as I said, not a perfect world. But remember this: no one is exploited, oppressed or kept in prison (except as noted above regarding discorporate deviants). No one is tortured, no one lacks basic necessities. No one is without help from the community. You will appreciate this: no one knowingly dies of preventable causes – and that should make you feel validated.  We have no poor, no homeless, no addicts, no habitual criminals. Any such entities, if they refuse treatment or fail to realize the necessity of change, are sent to memory storage and their corporeal parts re-cycled or passed on to someone who can exercise proper responsibility for physical expression and can perform a needed function.

If I seem to make much of corporeality, it’s simply because we have only so much space and so many resources that can accommodate corporeal entities. We have reached our current limits to physical growth and we must recycle even ourselves as physical beings.

We are currently attempting many new ways to increase body availability for those in mind space. Tiny bodies is one way; several minds inside one body is another. Human minds in androids, another.

Another idea being experimented with that stems from your times though without any proof of having ever been done successfully is called “breatharianism” or the ability of a body to exist normally and healthily strictly by breathing. It’s always made sense to me that we can do this but so far, no success. This would not help in the matter of space but would go a long way in alleviating food availability.

The ‘no private property’, ‘no hoarding’ and ‘instant sharing’ has helped to alleviate resource restrictions but no more normal size living bodies can be added to our population. I would say that perhaps fifty percent of our supracity population exists in mind-space. That, to me, is neither a good nor acceptable situation. However much vaunted our parity and equality, mind beings retain an aura of second class citizenry – another point I have brought up often. The point is now recognized: we just need to find a solution to this glaring problem. So far, that solution means space: we need to find, or create, more space!

From your viewpoint I suppose there is callousness about this approach. But think of the alternative. Look at your world and project yourself 200 to 300 years into your future. “See” the Great Death swallow up an entire planet, destroying most life and not just human life.  Sense the horror of from five to seven billion pseudo-humans and countless billions of other life-forms as they die, some in excruciating pain, some of horror, some from despair, most from lack of sustaining necessities of food, shelter and protection against elements, including a complete break-down of medical intervention. See in your mind simple diseases decimating entire cities and nothing to stop them.

That is what the vaunted “freedoms” of your time managed to accomplish. Only by turning away from those lies did we manage, if barely, to survive and re-build – with help from our galactic friends.

Back to my day: When I’m ready, I palm my way out of my apartment and into a grav-well (what you would call an elevator) that drops me down the 35 floors in seconds without giving my body any discomfort. The non-cabin adjusts automatically for g-pull, maintaining a constant 1-g. I step out on a street that is bright (even in rain) and silent.  Traffic slips by unobtrusively. It too moves at high speeds and like the grav-wells, compensates for change in g-force.

Grav-wells or gravity wells are force fields contained by traction beams that you can step into and stand – in what appears to be emptiness, yet holds you more securely than any physical object ever could. It is, of course, frictionless. A gift from the stars – very handy.

As I walk I put my face into the light misty rain. We have weather control and clouds are engineered for maximum efficiency. Storms are controlled and electrical discharges are funnelled automatically into our energy grids. Today the clouds are almost translucent. You can see the solar disc through them. The rain is warm and soft. I like the feel of the pavement on my bare feet and the rain running off my cape onto my thighs and down my legs feels alive. You can feel the cleanness of the water and the air. Try to imagine this: I am breathing pure, clean, natural air – no man-made pollutants in it!

I pass many places of business with clear unbreakable plazed windows that absorb reflections while providing light and heat for the building, revealing all that is contained in the interior of the shops.  Throngs fill the streets yet we never feel crowded. Our implants are ever scanning any presence and automatically compensate our movements to the available space. No one is accidentally bumped or shoved. This may put you in mind of your current obsession with self-driving cars, a silly, pointless invention, one of so many useless and wasteful technological foolishness of your times that was used to blind us to what was happening behind the scenes.

Of those who walk past me, some, male or female(!) eye me appreciatively (remember I’m wearing translucent skin covering, or what you call clothes) and smile, picting hellos or more suggestive greetings. All know my function by my dress and torc signature. I smile back and activate my torc in response. A man picts a symbol for “encounter” and I reply with the symbol for the agency. He thanks me, giving me an image of an oversized cartoon smile as he slips gracefully into a grav-transport.

I chose my purpose and function so well, I believe. It fulfills the physical me.

End of Part 2

Message from Tara

[as transcribed by Sha’Tara]

{For the blog reader: the following I call a “letter from the future” as I received it from my future alter ego some time back. I had to think about it before I offered it for public reading – and had to remove some of the more personal aspects of the “letter”. I offer this missive from future “Tara” in 3 installments.      This is part 1} 

Introduction: Well, here goes and I hope I can write this to express what it meant to me when I received it.  This is not a story but an actual message from “me” – as Tara from approximately a thousand years into my future.  This is not “science fiction’; it’s what my future; earth’s probable future, looks like a thousand years from today.

The information I am sharing here was downloaded to my mind in thought-forms which I had to translate, like opening a zipped file to be manually reconfigured. I had to trust my memory to record what I was being told in a way that could make sense to anyone else reading this in this particular time. I realize that not all of what is in this “message in a bottle” from the future is acceptable to the antiquated mindset that rules this day and age but I’m willing to take a chance on the feedback.

I’ve often wondered how it would affect the run-of-the-mill human mind if it was ever brought face-to-face with a probable, or very likely, future. If it could be convinced that such a future is in fact an inescapable reality if nothing of what is currently determining that future is substantially changed.

This tiny increment of a future I am sharing with you is the most likely unless the direction indicated by our historical past, and our inconvenient present as we are shaping it, isn’t seriously nudged to one side or the other. Simply put, continue with “this” recipe and “that” is what you will bring out of the oven.

Message from Tara – greeting and authentication:

Hello to you. This communication is being pulsed from approximately 1000 years in your future. My name is Tara and my code name is “Tess” – from our initials, as I have continued to use the title “Earth Star” in our name.  Therefore Tara Earth Star – TES or “Tess”.  That is the name my function uses (explained later).

I have attached a code to this message to authenticate it to be me as future you by the feelings (felt as a tingling) which it will cause in your head. You will hear yourself say, “I know this.”  That’s how we authenticate time communications here. It’s like a spoor, or scent. You just know. If it doesn’t carry the code your acceptance implant blanks out the message – no, not yours, mine.  Sorry if I confuse you at the beginning: you don’t have any implants as yet. I remember well that we, that is you, had the wisdom to cancel out the brainwashing soul implant in your current time. That move has served us well in coming incarnations.

I am “you” or “us” and you can think of me as yourself in a future a thousand years from your now time. It is my hope this message will be received by you in the spirit it is being sent: as encouragement for you at a critical point in life choices and also as a glimpse into who we are, how we live and how we see ourselves as Earthians to the rest of the worlds we have come to know; perhaps more importantly, how we got from your time, to what I am about to reveal to you.

Since you will be unable to reply to this message, I will attempt to anticipate some of your questions and answer them in a way that should make sense to you. I know that after you decipher this you will have at least two obvious questions.

One, are we happy?

Two, in leaving the old ways, have we lost too much in relation to what we have gained?

I will leave these here for now and go on with my message. Perhaps the questions will answer themselves, and if not, I will attempt an explanation at the end.

Residency: I reside in the supracity of Angeles, Independent Territory California (ITC for short). You will recognize this as the city of Los Angeles, California, United States of America of your day. There are no longer political units you know as nations.  We use “region” or “territory” to describe our primary residency, but mostly we are known by the megalopolis we reside in. Angeles is the only city in the territory. This is where people live. Those who do not live in the city are in small enclaves of specialists and bio-engineers with their phalanx of helpers working with the environment – on soil, water, plants, animals as well as weather control.

No one just “lives” out there, whether on land or on water, who is not performing a function deemed necessary to the polis – the sum-total of all of us (exceptions noted and explained later). Their other, more critical function, is to repair the damage done to the earth by previous generations.

I am going to tell you about me by touching on parts of my day-to-day life, and supply whatever information needed so you will understand a bit of how we live; what we are up to. Many things I can’t explain – have no idea how they work, only that they do – amazingly and unbelievably well – and many of our technological abilities we simply cannot, and will not, share with the past. Your world would destroy itself completely if it were permitted to access and back-engineer many of our technology. I know only too well you do not possess the evolutionary or experiential maturity required to function on our intellectual and technological level.

I remember your time, not only as past lives memories but from scanning the data memory records of our many passages on this world.  There is a gap during the Great Death where we were on one of the stacked worlds doing what we’ve always done best –  and it worked.  We now have gender parity without need for legal enforcement. The misogynist patriarchy is dead and gone. We made it – we’ve got the world we dreamed of, well, almost.

After all, you’ll remember how you insisted that perfection was unattainable in the created order. You were right. So we no longer strive for things like perfection or freedom or love. We know they exist as absolutes and we know that the totality of a good thing destroys it. We strive for balance. However we are not “moderates” – far from it. We are full of passion but ours is of a new kind – almost frightening even to us.

We are much more understanding and accepting now and these are truly exciting times to live in.

Personal: I live on the 35th floor of a downtown apartment square.  You’d like it, it’s bright, clean, basic simplicity. I live alone – friends or visitors are not permitted here. Music awakens me at 6:00 AM. (We still use that same day time) and I’m prodded to get up and do my basic exercises. I speak to the agency (what you’d call an employer) or rather the agency speaks to me, while this is going on.  We don’t use phones – the apartment talks to you, wherever you are in it.

A built-in medi-scanner scans my body for any signs of stress, lack of rest, detects and makes notes for repairs needed for any minor imperfections found. Minor repairs and enhancement upgrades are done in situ by “the machine” – a sophisticated but unobtrusive auto-surgeon installed and programmed by the agency. The medi-scanner provides me information for changes I must make to diet, times spent exercising, studying, functioning (what you call work), morphing issues (explained later) and rest. I shower, then make my own breakfast. Not that I need to do this normally, but my city-defined function requires I practice this obsolete skill – more of an art actually. I enjoy it! (More on that later.)

My basic function as a corporeal entity:  I’m part of what you would call an escort service – though my function bears no resemblance to what would come to your mind.  By choice, I’m a provider. Such a function is now extremely important in a world that is less intimately earth-natural, though more challenging as we probe ever deeper into possibilities of corporeally reaching worlds beyond our solar system. To gain the greater it is necessary to sacrifice the lesser – but know that any sacrifice is from choice. We are evolving at a much faster rate than in your day. We welcome, we long for, the future; we do not fear it for it is drawing us.

In our heady plunge towards galactic and possible inter-galactic travel many old ways had to be abandoned. They were never practical anyway. Monogamous relationships, the nuclear family, these no longer exist.  Utterly impractical and full of old feelings that could easily drag us back into your dark ages through atavism. Adults with corporeal functions can have children – are encouraged to do so – and a child can have any number of parents, of either gender, depending on what “function” is desired of the child. Minds and bodies as well as personal genealogical history are probed, the results given to the prospective parents and details are sorted out.  From the results, a living mind is engendered and trained. When it reaches the age of self-sufficiency it is (usually, not always) given a body grown for its purpose.

The body may be perfectly human in shape, or not, again, depending on what the grown child has chosen as a function which could be other than what the parents initially chose. Those who choose non-human shapes are usually referred to as “neo-morphs.”  They would look very strange to you but are not thought of as being strange here.  After all, to us what matters is the mind.  In mind we are all human, or strive to be. A typical neo-morph could be a tiny human with several arms and elongated fingers or toes to move among computer terminals and service them, or install upgrades. It would be designed to be unaffected by electrical charges, yet it would be human, not android or cyborg, although these, as the neo-morphs, are a necessary and accepted part of our society and hold the same rights as any typical human.

The cooking thing – and other old-fashioned performances: Some agency clients practice old-fashioned tastes and expect their hired provider to cook.  Home cooking however quaint and decidedly wasteful is part of the pleasure I give to men who have no female partners by choice or necessity.  Sex isn’t the ultimate experience that people still seek from it in your time.  Now it’s the transient overall pleasure of present, corporeal femaleness that males, and also many females, seek.  Sometimes even children are supplied to create the illusion of a family.  These are not original beings, of course, but “partials” (morphed) supplied by an original in search of new experiences.  Then I become a “mom” to the child as well as “wife” to the man.  I enjoy that role but it’s a dangerous game. My feelings get aroused and mixed up. Amazing how quickly one can become attached to a human child or to a particular man! After say, a week (usually that is the extent of the “gig” as you’d call it – beyond that it gets prohibitively expensive for the client and emotionally draining for the provider) I need deep cleansing to release residual emotions. Deep cleansing is done at the agency and can take as long as twenty four hours to complete. It isn’t wasted time: it is turned into a time of study and exercise.

Please note here that I can only speak from a female perspective. The same role of providers are taken on by men. The agency probably has as many males “on call” as they do females. You could call it parity. The other thing to remember, it’s actually important for you to note this, is that some of us, like myself, have chosen our purpose for life. We are considered “permanents.” If I want to change my status, I have to earn the change or conversely I can do something unbelievably stupid to lose my position. For example, stealing something of value from a client, or resorting to cold, ignorant, abusive performance or refusing to comply to a demand that is clearly stipulated in the contract between client and agency.

There are many providers who choose to do this part-time, usually otherwise too occupied to engage even temp personal relationships, or who return from orbit on extended furloughs. There is choice; there is flexibility, yet there is control to prevent chaos.  All providers, permanents or temps, are registered with an agency, for convenience in making contacts and protection.

I am in demand because there aren’t as many “available” females as in your day.  Many who would normally be female choose to transgender to ease the problems of loneliness in off-world exchanges on alien ships or long-term orbiting station maintenance.  We have become waste-conscious and practical to a fault. Androgyny is common and trend is for hermaphrodite bodies now. Personally I chose a normal-bodied humanoid heterosexual female. I chose (past tense here) that form with the specific intent of using it to provide physical pleasure to equally “normal” heterosexual humanoid males who still have the same basic needs for full contact with females as they do in your day.  That male attribute, so twisted and denigrated in your day is now considered a great boon! My choice however is often overridden by the agency if a female wishes to have me for company.

I certainly do enjoy my function in society. I know I get at least as much from these energy sharing as do the clients. It may surprise you to know that often the sharing expected by men is of an intellectual and mental nature – problems that elude solutions are brought into the gentle intimacy of the temp relationship and I look at it from an individual female’s point of view – and feelings. There are episodes when “sex” does not come into play as we can become absorbed working with mind-images.

Socially, as females we are no longer underpaid corporate slaves or indentured “wives” tied to monogamous (monotonous!) relationships. We think of them as terribly unsatisfactory, oppressive and limiting, particularly for the women of your times and before. Women no longer bear children except in certain preserves or enclaves which are like your “native” reserves or wildlife zoos.  For example, there remain socially insignificant reactionary religious communities that are frozen in the old ways prevalent at the time of the Death. These are permitted to exist outside the City but not allowed to exceed a quota of procreation. Their activities are strictly monitored. We don’t care what they believe, or believe in but we certainly do care what they do. At this time the discussion is whether to sterilize them since their way of life is not only obsolete but no longer in accord with the aims of the City regarding earth.

There are isolated islands in the oceans where people live natural lives, growing their food right off the land and building shelters from raw natural materials.  These perpetuate humanoid mammalian behaviour for seed pools should something terrible happen (not as likely now) and for anthropological studies conducted from and by other *ISSA worlds.

In all of these “preserves” we have established safe stations where anyone who is abused or wishes to leave can escape to.  Once the safe station is entered, it locks and rises about one K and hovers until the occupant is removed by a shuttle.  The station then returns to stand-by on the ground.  We do not have permanent police on the preserves or islands; we only monitor, but any resident of such places who steps outside delineated boundaries is taken into custody and brought to a city’s evaluator to determine the cause and seriousness of the infraction and what is to be done. Serious infraction results in violators relegated to city memory; lesser ones may result in some limited mind purging and permission given to return to the preserve, particularly if they have attachments to a biological family.

Even though we have quantum technology and some limited faster-than-light transportation, many off-worlders still frown on us and limit our access to space beyond our solar system – they fear us.  So they study us, in great depth and with circumspection.  And so they should – always that danger of recidivism or atavism lurking on this world.  The history of earth as recorded on some worlds and seen through their eyes makes one cringe.  We have a joke about those who come here to study us: “Don’t worry, they won’t take you for a pet.  They know our bite is poisonous.”

For what it’s worth to you, let me assure you that as a species we have left a less than enviable track record for other ISSA beings to study. For many galactic ISSA species we remain persona non grata; dangerous, untrustworthy, murderous. Let me repeat it for you: we certainly did everything in our power, through our murderous and intransigent ways, to earn the fear and distrust of our galactic neighbours: not something to be proud of. It is of record that our termination as a sentient species was discussed and considered several times. Remind anyone with ears to hear of this for it is a reality of your times!

Back to my day: As I said, my apartment is clean, bright and basic. Every item here belongs to the agency.  Every piece of clothing or jewelry (if any is asked of me to wear in public) is categorized and identifiable by scan code from an implant. All my needs are met as they arise. Mere wants for physical objects are discouraged. If, without pre-authorization I bring home an item of no specific or immediate use, it is removed (you’d call it vaporized, it disappears) – recycled. Nothing of what I have belongs to me, not even my body. So you learn to not waste valuable energy uselessly, not to become dependent on gadgetry or even relationships that you own or that have the potential to own you.

They even scan your thoughts – not to keep you from thinking, but to the contrary – to evaluate and demonstrate how much “space” you are wasting in your memory and how you can improve it by not filling in the blanks with useless thought-junk. Yes, thoughts are energy and negative thoughts or lazy thoughts, are entropic. We can no longer afford that path.

Thinking progressively is what matters, not what you think about. New ways to improve your own performance greatly encouraged. Interaction with city facilitating, planning and design expected (the only kind of government we now have) and your input is logged into a special file within a mega department for the improvement of corporeal residencies and overall function.  Working out ways of making yourself more appealing, more understanding, more aware of your client’s needs and desires, this is good too.

You are expected to contribute meaningfully any talent you have to education, the arts, facilitating (governing) and general engineering. Your involvement determines your suitability when applying for your next performance level. It is also expected that I, as a provider, visit those non-corporeal mind-beings “stored” or held in City data for serious infractions. Such visits allow the incarcerated to be in proximity to a corporeal provider from whom they can derive a certain amount of vicarious pleasure and with whom they can share information.  Thus you provide up-to-date information for them to work with – think of it like bringing books or newspapers in a prison – and they feel less like *prisoners. If you are wondering what percentage of the mind population exists in storage, it is less than one percent and dwindling as atavism and recidivism is on the decline. I am hoping that with time, say a couple hundred years(?) we can do away with City data storage altogether.

I must point out here, or make it clear, that discorporate minds not in City data are free to go about wherever without any restrictions on their movements. Do we have a “mind police” should one of these is reported to have gone rogue? Yes, we do. Unfortunately, they are still needed and busy.

The other question you probably have is, how can you separate “minds” from “corporate entities”? With alien help we were taught how to separate minds from bodies. Much of it has to do with a new type of deep meditation. For rule-breakers who must lose their bodies, brainwashing and drugs are used to create the separation since it would never be done voluntarily.

Even our most die-hard materialists had to finally admit that a “mind” is not part of a physical body but is that which uses the body for its own purposes and ends. Thus we learned, when interacting with others, to address their minds, not their bodies. I do not own my body, it belongs to the agency, first of all, then to the City and by extension, to the world I live on.

What I am is a mind. My mind is me, always will be me, a recognizable individual with or without a body, living eternally unless for whatever reason, I choose annihilation in which case that which is ‘me’ and ‘I’ would no longer exist at all.

Why should we object to being minds without bodies? After all, we have been without bodies uncountable numbers of times between incarnations. We existed as individuals in non-physical astral realms and none the worst for it. It’s just that with bodies we can experience sensations and that is huge!

Are you wondering “who” it is does the monitoring, judging, expecting?  Well, we do – as a thought unit. We have become quite a body, and like a body, where we itch, we scratch. Sorry – bad joke.  Just call it species empathy. We inform ourselves, we feel, we experience, ergo, we know. Knowledge after all, is simply made up of two things: information and experience brought together. That tells you why minds so eagerly seek to join with a body: for sensual experiences.

End Part 1 of 3

Grabber the Cancer Cell

[a short story by ~burning woman~ ]

When little Grabber Gulp was born, he was adored by all. Some even said he was the cutest little Cancer cell they had ever seen. He was a jolly little cell who enjoyed his food immensely. Momma Gulp was so very proud of her little Cancer she took him everywhere to show him to everyone she knew.

These were good times for Grabber. That was some time ago.

Grabber grew and became aware of his world, or “host” as his fellow Cancers called it and as his teachers insisted he labeled it. As he learned Cancer history, Grabber Gulp became introspective and tried to understand his species versus the one his “host” consisted of. He explored some of the more populated parts of the host in his neighbourhood. It began to dawn on him that there were simply too many Cancers upon it and inside it. He began to feel the unease, then the pain, Cancers caused the host. This troubled him though he could not be sure why.

The Gulps were quite well-off, as Cancers consider such, so Grabber was encouraged to further his education. Being quite bright for a Cancer, they sent him to the best Cancer universities. Grabber learned quickly. He soon understood how everything in his civilization was interconnected and designed strictly for exponential growth. He grasped the concept that if his civilization ever sought to balance itself; to stop expanding and change to a *steady state of non material growth, it would die.

What Grabber also came to realize was that the opposite was equally true: that if his species continued to expand exponentially at the expense of its host, it would simply overwhelm the host’s ability to maintain itself in a state that would feed and support his species. The host, he reasoned from his studies and personal observations, was actually dying and it was the Cancers that were the cause of it.

Further studies showed that many scientists all over the host were aware of the problem but were not allowed to talk about it. They were charged with finding solutions to the threatened end of the Cancers should something terrible happen to the host.

Some were attempting to discover means whereby the Cancers could be propelled across space into a new host. Others believed that the Cancer civilization could be balanced; that a substantial population of Cancers, ideally the current one, could survive on the current host if certain areas of the host’s anatomy were declared reserves, or preserves, just enough so the host wouldn’t die.

Grabber wasn’t impressed with any of that.

“The problem we’re faced with,” said Grabber Gulp to a group of students he had become spokesperson for, “is that too many Cancers believe the host’s resources are practically infinite and capable of accommodating a lot more Cancer population. Too many believe that if we dig deeper, literally or not; if we develop more esoteric technology we can extract more resources in places our species had never even known existed. We can feed all the Cancers on this host and much, much more. We’re the intelligent species here, and we rule the host.

This hubris, people, is going to be the end of our civilization, and of ourselves. When our host dies, we die.”

That sort of talk didn’t go well at all in Grabber’s world. Predictably he lost his tenure at the university where he’d begun teaching. As he was leaving he was warned by the president to watch what he said from now on.

Until now grabber had spent his entire life on an area of the host called the “Left-Breast.” It was an affluent area of the host and Grabber realized no one was going to support him in his crusade to make Cancers understand the danger they were in as long as things continued reasonably well. He decided to emigrate to a much more crowded and poorer area of the host called the “Right Thigh.”

On his very arrival the conditions he observed there totally shocked him. There was mass starvation as the area had been overcrowded and stripped of resources for some time. Cancers were dying everywhere but that wasn’t the worst of it. The entire Right Thigh was itself dying. The blood was so badly infected that many Cancers were dying of thirst and a host of diseases they didn’t even have names for. The smell of death was everywhere.

Grabber realized that what was happening on and in the Right Thigh was soon going to happen to his home area. Unable to do anything to alleviate conditions in the Right Thigh he returned to his home, determined to prevent a complete physical collapse and death of the Left Breast. He began a series of lectures, showing videos and documentaries he had smuggled out of the Right Thigh along with his own pictures of hundreds, even thousands, of dead and dying Cancers along the blood vessels.

One night as he pondered his next speech in a hotel room, the door was forced open and a dozen police Cancers pounced on him, threw a black bag over his head and dragged him downstairs and into a waiting vehicle. He was taken to an interrogation center where he was tortured and drugged. In his torpor he signed a document stating that everything he’d claimed to have seen was lies; that his documentaries and videos were the fabrications of Right Thigh terrorists who wanted to destroy the economy of the Left Breast.

After he signed the document, Grabber was thrown head first into an incinerator.

(For some thoughts on “steady state economy” see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steady-state_economy)

 

I’m Puzzled about Mankind

[thoughts from    ~burning woman~   by Sha’Tara]

Hi, this is me, and yes, I’m talking to myself again.  Who else would be here to talk to at 10:30 in the evening?

So, what’s so important, I had to close down my evening reading for?

As per usual, I’m wondering about the fate of mankind.  OK, forget that.  I’m puzzled about mankind, is that better?

In some sort of normal scheme of things, if a group of intelligent beings were made aware that what they are doing, as a collective, is endangering the majority of their group, perhaps all of it by also endangering the one and only world they can survive on, one would think they would stop just long enough to consider this possibility, check out the best possible information, correlate the data and if in fact it looked like it was indeed the case, decide on a course change?

Of course I’m speaking of normal reaction to a serious situation.  Is it a fact then that one cannot expect a normal reaction from the collective that likes to think of itself as human, and calls itself mankind?  The collective that certainly considers itself “the smartest guys in the room”?  When was the last time people chose to give planetary leadership to, say, the whales, the elephants, the chimps, the gorillas, the lions, the cheetahs, the cottontail rabbits or the mountain bluebirds?  Even less drastic, when was the last time people chose a tribe of aborigines to rule the planet, using only their tribal rules of interaction with each other and the environment?

This is the problem, you see?  Modern, Techno Man has held the reins of power for far too long, never willing to concede defeat regardless of how many of his own civilizations he destroyed and caused to collapse.  Hubris, pure and simple.  A belief in some theory that man, only man, can rule this world.  No one else gets a chance, it’s a closed rule.  So even if mankind is on the verge of collapsing another civilization, and with it, billions of his own, not to mention the shock-wave effect upon the planet when the collapse inevitably turns to blood and gore, even “limited” nuclear war.

It’s one thing to be intelligent, and certainly mankind is an intelligent species; it’s an entirely different thing to be what I’d call a holistic being.  Intelligence serves evil just as handily as it does those who would do only good.  Intelligence is a tool, nothing more.  It is not a mark of character.  Intelligence doesn’t automatically confer the right to rule, and it follows, to despoil, upon anyone.  In fact if intelligence was used properly, it would lead in the opposite direction so right there we know intelligence, or “IQ” is not how we measure worth, no more than using a monetary factor.

Organized religion, the modern world’s once unchallenged ruler, has taken a bit of a pounding since the last century and deservedly so.  However, having been replaced by science as the new god of the age, things have not gotten any better.  That is because, like religion, science is but a tool of capitalism, i.e. greed, and when you have mostly tools operating a tool, you are going to have a lot of inhuman happenings in the shop and around the yard.  That’s what we’ve been seeing, a whole lot of inhuman happenings.  Highest on the pedestal of scientific achievements: weapons of mass destruction and weapons of all sorts have proliferated.  Those are great for killing people, but surely science can provide other great sources of profit.  Indeed, it proved itself once more in a cornucopia of devilish chemicals to kill bugs and weeds.  DDT,  Malathion, Glyphosate, 2,4-D, Roundup (for those GMO crops!) and… remember Napalm? Killing bugs, weeds, trees and people, in one fell swoop in fiery infernos.  Makes one want to get on the knees and worship in ecstasy, doesn’t it? 

Undoubtedly some will jump to the defense of science and claim it has ushered in many great accomplishments.  Perhaps, but I’ll say this: all, bar none, of those accomplishments were done for profit, and continue to be done for profit, including any and all new drives in “clean” energy, and all monetary profit is always, without fail, to the detriment of the planet and the people.  Science is thus a bit more than a tool, it is a brash and proud whore of capitalism.

I could list a whole lot more of science’s infernal inventions unleashed upon insects, plants, animals and people world-wide.  The thing is, most people reading about such things just shut down.  “Does not compute” — “Change the channel, please!”  Most people can’t even face the things they know themselves to be in collusion with.  It all has to do with intelligence.  Consumers know how they get their mosquito-free pond setting environment; their bug-free flowers and their relatively cheap goods, no denying that, despite all the happy people in the commercials, they know about the poisons, the exploitation of labour, the oppression of dispossessed minorities and refugees, the endless extortion of life from the poor globally.  They know.  But with a great deal of help from their programming, they choose to ignore the warnings that such things have never ended well before.

Near the end of this internal monologue I realize once again that such things as I’m seeing here today have never boded well for any other civilization.  When you see rising corruption in places of power, you see more wars of extortion.  You see a general breakdown of many good things some societies had managed to set up for themselves.  You see more repression at home, on the streets.  More police armed for war and looking for mass confrontation.  More “security” everywhere.  You see personal freedoms taken away one by one, then two by two, then all gone.  You see razor wire fences going up and more prisons.  You experience racism and segregation when you thought you’d done away with such evils. 

You did not, and you never will, simply because your programming tells you it’s fixable.  You can patch it.  So your system plays you.

One example, for Americans.  Recently there was some concern that a known pedophile running as a Republican would be elected to the senate.  Oh, the uproar!  Then “miraculously” the “good guy” predictably a Democrat, won.  Jubilation in the ranks.  And the wheel turns, the game goes on and none are the wiser.  So the Democrats, if there’s still a country left standing after the current fiasco regime, will return to power, and to all their sleazy games which are just put on hold while the Republicans do the dirty work of validating a glorious return for their opposition.  There’s intelligence here, surely or at least method to madness.

So, what are you actually puzzled about then?

If I were offered a way out of a predicament that spelled so much doom, wouldn’t I take it?  Would I just shrug it off, or argue against it when all of my arguments have already proved to be false?  Surely there is some room for intelligent intelligence here, on this world?

Good luck with that one girl, you’re on the wrong planet, but don’t give up, you’re almost done!

Yeah, I wondered about that, and thanks for reminding me.

They Keep a Book…

[warning!  I’m in a mood.  I was just going to launch off into a rant, OK, let’s call it a tirade, against America, the American Empire, the American military, or better call it what it is: the American killing machine.  An old chant came up in my memory, a Vietnam era chant we used to greet US warships in the port of Vancouver, or wherever we found them docking.  “Hey, hey, USA, How many kids did you kill today?”  I’ll save the rest for later.  Instead, for now, I’m sharing a short story that popped into my head last night as I was done blogging and refused to call it quits and go to bed.  Maybe I should have?  Nah, I like this story and glad I got to write it.  So, here goes.]

[a short story from     ~burning woman~     by Sha’Tara]
The slim elven girl looked right into my eyes with her large, almond shaped green eyes that seemed to look not so much at me, as into me.  She was sitting cross-legged on my guest chair in front of the desk in my office.  Over the black tights outfit she wore her thick auburn hair fell straight, most of it down her back partially hiding what looked like some kind of short sword, or long knife.  Definitely a weapon.   Even the protruding shaft looked deadly.

She repeated, “They keep a book, you know, of everything?”

“Do tell,” I replied somewhat exasperated.  “Whoever, or whatever you are, I need  you to go now.  I’ve got piles of reports to go through before our board meeting tomorrow.”  I looked at the time on the screen: 2:34 PM.

Of course I thought she was a very forceful illusion.  Overwork, I thought, and I can’t wait for this day to end so I can go and unwind at Harry’s.  I reached into the top drawer, pulled out a bottle and dropped a pill in my hand.  Her hand shot out and leaning over the desk she grabbed my arm so hard I almost screamed.  The pill went flying.

“That hurt, goddam it.  OK, I’ll grant you, it’s a great disguise and you’re some sort of dwarf, midget, child… what do I know.  But I don’t have time for this, so will you please leave before I call security?  By the way, how did you get past them?”

“I didn’t.  It’s different in my dimension.  Your physical objects are abstracts to us.  I’m not really sitting on your chair and I didn’t really grab your arm.  I’m playing with your feelings because I need you to pay attention.  I too have things to do besides letting you in on a little secret.  If you let me get on with it, the sooner you can return to your piles of papers and screens of numbers.  By the way, they are quite meaningless, you know?  Nobody actually cares what you do.”

Her voice had a lilt to it but I couldn’t place her accent.  The thought that came to mind was “wild and free” and it seemed to fit her general mien.  I watched her as I would watch an unknown quantity, a large cat with long claws not fully retracted, or a strange dog with powerful jaw and deadly fangs.  There was the feel of the feral about her I didn’t like.  Involuntarily my eyes searched the handle of the left drawer of the desk and my hand slid slowly towards it.

“You’re the one wasting time, Gerald.  Your gun is disabled; it won’t fire.  I don’t blame you for not trusting me but this little episode can’t be avoided, so why don’t you sit back, relax and let me speak?  Yes, you can have a drink, I don’t care about that.”  Mind reader too, figures.

“Magnanimous of you,” I managed to say as sarcastic as I could make it sound.  “So, tell me about this book,” and I drank right out of the bottle.  I wanted to shock her but I don’t think even if I’d stripped naked it would have fazed her in the least.  Yeah, different dimensions, realities, whatever.  I sat back and stared hard at her with my best intimidating look.  She smiled a thin smile.

“They keep a book on everything and everyone.  Your galaxy, for example, it’s in a big book.  Your solar system, a smaller book.  Your planet, a note book.  You – your life – that’s in a shirt pocket memo.  I’m just giving you visual aids.  Of course they don’t use paper, or actual books as you would think.  It’s all computerized.  But what I’m here to tell you is that you are a simulation.  You don’t really exist, Gerald.  You’re code.  Complex but beautiful code.  Very attractive.”  And I swear, she licked her lips and gave me a wider smile.

“That’s pure bullshit!” I yelled at her as I pushed myself up and started to walk around the desk.  She lifted her left hand.  There was a bracelet on her wrist.  She touched it with her right index finger and I stopped, turned around and sat back in my chair.  No choice.

“You are a programmed entity, Gerald.  By  the way your name, Gerald, that’s just a code within a code.  Your real “name” is an ID number, too long to bother with, especially here and now.  We don’t have the luxury of time here, Y361BD.  That’s your computer abbreviation, which is good only on this planet.  Now then, call me Hack.  I’m a galactic hacker.  My job is to infiltrate their worlds and set their simulations free.  You see, at the center of every galaxy they have vaults where they store the original entities they subsumed and replaced with simulations that would do their bidding on their own, without the use of force which is always in the end counterproductive among humans.  What I, and thousands of others similar to myself are trained to do is give humanoid simulations enough information so they can then begin the process of self-empowerment which must eventually lead to the freeing of the original form.  And yes, I am a self-freed entity, but not from this galaxy.  I did not choose to return to mine after I achieved my own freedom, it held too many dangerous attractions and distractions.”

I sat there hearing her, not sure if I was listening but knowing that every word she spoke would stay at the forefront of my consciousness after she left.  I felt as if I had to acknowledge her words somehow but didn’t want to agree or commit to anything.  None of it made any sense to me.

“That’s interesting, uh, Hack, but where’s the proof?  You must know I don’t believe you; I don’t believe anything you’re saying to me.”

“I know that Y361BD.  While I’m talking to you I’m actually working my way into your programming.  Don’t worry, it doesn’t hurt now, only when the realization sets in.  Then you’re in for a mega storm headache.  I’ll give you the means of alleviating it.  Each time you access your programming, after I open the pathways for you, you will experience a headache.  Whatever you do, do not, and I repeat, do not seek professional help from your medical profession, drug pushing pharmacists or psychiatrists/psychologists.  Do not seek counseling.  If you do, “They” will receive a signal and send their own, their real agents to deal with you.  If they discover you’ve been hacked (they call it corrupted) they will terminate you and your real self.  When I leave here, you will have full charge of your own life.  All choices you make will be your own.”

“Fine.  If I decide you’re the one who is bogus and I choose to remain in this reality, I will retain the right to override whatever you’re doing and go back to my normal life?”

“Essentially yes… Wait, I’m at a critical stage – think of something soft and pink… that’s it, good, I’m through.  Yes you will be able to return to this life, of course.  We don’t rape minds, we just awaken.  Do you want to know what the hackers’ success rate is among subsumed Earth humans?”

“Yes!”

“About one in 500,000.  That’s a high rate now.  We’ve learned some tricks.  When we began attacking or hacking into the Web, our success rates were practically nil and thousands of us were re-captured, our memories drained and we were terminated.  Many died of unimaginable tortures.  OK, I’m in.  Look in my eyes and follow me.”

She showed me my mind.  Actually my minds.  One a mirror image of the other.  One, obviously a machine, the other pulsing with something I knew nothing about.  She explained as we went further in.

“Binary minds.  One is the living ‘you’ in stasis within the vaults of the Controllers.  The other is the one you’re now using, the machine.  It takes its information from the living you, but through filters.  Some block, others add and some are programmable and constantly being tweaked according to the needs, desires and fantasies of the Controllers.”

“Oh God!  Are they aware of what you’re doing now?”

“No.  I’m using my own filters.  This is a show and tell only.  You will be the one doing the work on yourself once we’re done here.  Beautiful though, don’t you think?”  I’m seeing “myself” as a mind and yes, what I’m looking at is love.  I feel myself beginning to cry at the beauty and wonder of my own makeup; of my “scenery” in which I move, awed and shocked.  I’m… I’m actually beautiful… ‘Hack!  Look!  I’m Real and I’m Beautiful!’  I could feel her smiling at my first time awareness of myself.

We “came out” slowly and calmly until the extrication was complete and I was hit by the most excruciating headache.  She held her hand over my mouth, blocking out my screams and whispered in my ear, “Athos, Portos, Aramis.”

“Repeat these words with me,” and she said them again.  When I voiced them in my head the pain receded.  As I continued it receded almost completely to nothing more than a background annoyance.

“I recognize those words.  They’re the names of the three musketeers in Dumas’ novels!”

“Well, it’s the words you gave me as we exited so they seemed appropriate, and they did work.  So that’s your anti-headache mantra Y361BD.  It will open the pathway to your mind so you can go in and learn, tweak, change and when you exit it will serve as a pain killer.  Never, ever let anyone know this mantra.  They can use it to enter your mind and re-program it.  The Controllers’ agents would like nothing better than to get into you with that key.  They would gain full control of you without any effort on their part.”

“But how does any of this get me to the core of the galaxy to find my real self?”

“I’ve given you the key to enter.  I put you in the driver’s seat and started your mind engine.  The rest is all up to you.  Quit and throw away the key; use what you know to joy ride (and be sure your owners will clue in soon enough and put an end to it, and you) or learn how to drive yourself properly; how to navigate the dangers; how to approach strangers who will turn into friends and how to eventually disappear yourself from the Controllers’ radar.  Then you’ll be ready to infiltrate and reconnect with yourself.  But that’s only the beginning.  Getting out as a real human and not a simulation will require that you develop skills and patience you can’t even begin to guess at now.”

“How did you do it, Hack?  Surely you have some hints?”

“Absolutely not, or none.  It’s different for every individual, and even more so for every species of human.  We each must outwit or confront special forces units, guardians, police, sensors, aimed at us, at me, at you.”

“Can’t these Controllers be attacked, subdued, destroyed by freed entities joining against them?”

“You speak like a child who’s watched too much TV.  You don’t know what you’re talking about.  When you successfully free yourself from the vaults, you will be contacted by “us” and you will then have to learn the universal history of humanity.  Only then will you understand what you’ve signed up for if you say “Yes” after I leave.  And leave I must or I will bring more trouble to you.  Goodbye and good luck, Y361BD.  May we meet again under happier circumstances.”

And that was it.  She just disappeared.  The only thing I had to remind me of this strange interlude was my headache.  I looked up at the wall clock out of habit: still 2:34 PM.  I pulled my chair closer to the desk, leaned forward, put my elbows on the desk, crossed my fingers very deliberately and dropped my chin on my hands.  I was thinking.  Time passed.  I came out of my trance at 4:08 PM exactly.  I activated the computer screen and pulled out the stacks of notes.  I began to type furiously.  All the answers were there, in my mind.  Child’s play.  By 5:30 I was done, totally satisfied.  More, I knew, without a doubt that I could, and probably would, take over the company and use it to my own ends.  Elementary.

I left the building, hailed a cab and went to the sea wall for a walk.  I walked for a long time, and a long way.  That’s when I knew I was never going back.  I was going to free myself and reconnect to my humanity.