Slow Meta

Slow Meta

A Story by Jordan Jones
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Explore the most tantalizing aspects of future culture in this story set sometime after 2020, where neuroethics have been violated by a government which drugs and surveils the characters.

"

Cover letter

I've been writing since second grade. I was diagnosed with schizophrenia at age 19, and I just turned 23 in March. I have self-published a book before under the name Caesar Naples. This story was inspired by my journey into and out of a mental hospital, which landed me in the most unattractive of places to live: rural Oklahoma. I made the best out of it by creating this piece. Explore the most tantalizing aspects of future culture in this story set sometime after 2020, where neuroethics have been violated by a government which drugs and surveils the characters.

Slow Meta 1 - Novels

               

                She was fascinated by the rotating colors in the magazine. She thought of magazines, and how guns used magazines, and chuckled.

                “But we read magazines.”

                Sudden alarm showed itself in her shoulder blades. It was difficult to control her anger about the night before. The fright was overwhelming. In the bed, under a wild sun going against the axis of the earth, the room was orange and green.

                The magazine models were children and their parents, who loomed larger than the kids disproportionately and out of perspective. She would have been frightened by parents that tall. Their faces were smiling more than the children's, she noticed and it was ill-comforting. It wasn't hard to imagine the parents as robots, and the children as calculating knockdowners-of-blocks. Parents never know that their children have minds. Mind-hack was impossible on children. Was the magazine designed by  mind-hackers, cyber-punks, big-eaters, professionalmen, govzone-fedmen, fashionistas, mafiosos, South Americans, East Asians, Europeans, or sov-bombs? It actually seemed to be a contemporary mind-hacker making more jokes about autonomous parents. Or a warning from govzone-dutymen on the dangers of children and how to keep them good.

                Mind-hackers were usually mean-docs. Lisa was a mind-hacker.

                She may have felt sad that the children were actors, and the adults very much out-of-control like herself, mind-hackers taken by govzone-fedmen, whose model-children-colleagues were future sov-bombs, being chosen as American, Japanese, or some other form of superstar for the world stage. To be famous, to win wars; such was the life of a sov-bomb.

                The night before came flooding back. Taking a DRM after the other cyberpunks left, not f*****g David, and going to sleep. No different from the night before that.

                David had opened his eyes when she grabbed the magazine from the shelf, and now that he was waking up, things began to go too fast. Heady, swirling images projected themselves from the pages. She wasn't overwhelmed by him, she noticed. It was those professionalmen who had brought the magazines. There were more in the shelf. Their friend Steve was a professionalman. He sold com devices. Cells, vid ringers, holo-phones. She quickly erased the idea that Steve could start a magazine business for the cyber-punks like David and his other friends, because he was too cyber-punk. Steve could act like a professionalman, but never had the privileges of a real one. No fashionista contacts or mafioso deals.

                David mumbled something.

                “Me too,” she said quietly, but he was still asleep.

                Nobody could hear them, and they couldn't even understand themselves. She was going to throw the magazine away. Professionalmen bothered her. They were the middle guys to a culture obsessed with media consumption. It was obvious life had gone to hell for everybody, and the holographic televisions impressed no one, and so most people read magazines.

                Lisa coughed and David Sprouts awoke all the way.

                “Good morning,” he whispered.

                She spoke aloud. “I was thinking about starting a magazine.”

                “You can do it.” His head crushed down on the pillow again. “What do you call them? Professionalmen? That's brilliant really. You've really got society pinned down.”

                This hurt her. She didn't like acknowledging her abilities, especially after. . .

                “Steve could help,” he said.

                “Steve isn't a real professionalman,” she said.

                “Or sov-bomb.”

                She felt more pain, and lowered her body to her pillow. Was he making fun of her? “Or sov-bomb, yes, David. Will you want to come to the grocer with me?”

                This was what she remembered from the last week.

                “I don't know, I have stuff to do. Well, I can hold it off for a while. But I still shouldn't go. No, I'll go. I should stay. Do you want me to go?”

                “You do whatever you want.” She wanted him to go.

                “OK. I'll stay. Have a good time.”

                It was piercing and final the shame, and she dropped it.

 

                There were security cameras. This was fine. She saw a man who knew like her the security cameras were being sent to a remote location. He was putting on airs for the show, and it was quite humorous to her, and she acknowledged him.

                “Remember when surveillance used to scare us? I know the guys who monitor this store.” They had met around the rabbits-lettuce. Lisa couldn't control her voice when it said,

                “We'll soon be afraid of rabbits-lettuce!”

                He didn't know what she was talking about, so he lifted his hat, and started off.

                He was a grocer-drone, and his friends that were watching the cameras were grocer-drones too. Many men were grocer-drones; ex-cops, ex-marines. It was quite a feat to pull off a fake-grocer-drone because all the other grocer-drones watch you on surveillance cameras for code signals. Created by the govzone-fedmen, the grocer-drones weren't prioritized at all, and would probably die off with the advent of new security systems. Lisa believed the most likely candidates to replace them were mean-docs. It would of course signal the end of an era of kind, invisible security guards and their kind, visible counterparts quietly showing the colors of true-Americanism, or as she liked to call it:

                “True-true Americanism.” She hoped the grocer-drones heard her. Going undercover as a fake grocer-drone was a fantasy of hers.

                Checking out with oranges and rabbits-lettuce, she went home to cell Steve.

                “DRM manager govzone-Steve here.”

                “Very funny. By the way, did you take the DRMs last night?”

                “Yes. I'm on an exponentially larger amount of the stuff.”

                Steve was a dullard.

                “Can you help me, Steve?”

                “I don't know. Can I?”

                The cell perked up red and blue. It was Steve's cell-theme. He was pressing the “I'm late for an appointment” button, as if he was a real professionalman and had things to do.

                Stopping herself, she just asked for more magazines.

                “Sure thing. But I'll be your number one guy from now on, right?”

                “You're already my number one guy.”

                They really were friends.

                Up and at 'em, David was psyched for the new 'zines. A big box of them came in, copies of five for each one. She took one and began cutting. He stacked a copy of each 'zine in front of him and slowly said. 'IIIIIII fffffffeeeeeeellllllllllllll gggggggoooooooddddddd.”

                “Mme too,” but she stole away.

                She brought the magazine she was scissoring but found boredom quickly. She was looking for signs of grocer-drones, but couldn't grab each magazine and  quickly scan it like the boys. Her interest piqued when she saw an advertisement for cyber-punk literature, known as cyber-fi. The story was entitled, Con Defeat, and rendered on the page as a cyber flick of magnanimous proportions. The ad said, IT IS LIKE NO MOVIE YOU'VE EVER READ. She sighed and thought of the curse of modern advertisement. Books were meant to be read as movies, as most actors were children and most movies geared toward children. Eventually the publishers had replaced the word book with movie and the authors followed suit with new styles similar to movie scenes. She called Steve back.

                “Can you get me a free copy of Con Defeat?”

                “I can get you 20 free copies, if you agree to distribute the extras.”

                “You know I can't do that.”

                “Oh yes, you view med-dibs with disdain.”

                “Professionalmen.”

                “You know the fed-govs want us to call them med-dibs.           

                “Them?”

                “Always a joy, Lisa.” She was sure he smiled. “I'll send you and David 5 copies tonight. They should be in by meal.”

                'Thanks Steve. You are wonderful.”

                He was really a cyber-punk. And so was she.

 

                The book was decent.

                "Do you think I could write cyber-fi?" she asked David.

                “Yes! We all want you to. What you did on Punk-Page was out-of-this world. We all really liked it.” David was hiding his disdain for her fiction. It was cute.

                "I have a story idea."

                “Yes?”

               "A grocer-drone takes a walk to the sec-center."

                “You know we're not supposed to talk about the information we gathered from mind-hacking.”

                "That -I- gathered, David. But you're correct. We did sign our digital signatures."

                “And that's the most important signature there is!” His sense of humor almost made sense.

                Everything David said was literally true, but his life was so ironic that it passed off as sarcasm. David's greatest joke ultimately brought tears of sadness to her eyes. Or it used to..

                "Tell me your best joke again."

                “I've forgotten to ask you which one was best.” It was part of the joke. “And so I'll have to ask, was it the dolphin f*****g one or the one about pool-rape?”

                She played along. “Dolphin f*****g is pool rape."

                “I had forgotten.” And that was the joke, and David was considered a funnyman of the age, but she didn't cry. She could see the humor in it this time.

                "Ah," she reached for a smile. "So meta."

                She started working on a graphic novel.

 

                Lisa had low energy, according to the mean-docs. She found it was a self-fulfilling prophecy and in her haze that evening, she was having a hard time downing the DRM.

                "Already." She was talking to herself.

                "A."        

                "Comic"

                She was referring to David, and wondered where the crush had gone. Down the throat with the DRMs, for sure. And the laziness was the mean-doc's ideal image of her, Lisa Drone. She gave them a fake name like all cyber-punks. When they found out her friends and she was just another group of cyber-punks, the meds went up, and the meandocs started watching them with new surveillance systems. David knew. He thought it was her fault. He had a sense of humor about it.

                “I see the cameras and I don't like them,” he laughed with James last week at dinner. They both chuckled for a long time like idiots. “IIIIIIII wwwwwwwwiiiiiiiisssssssshhhhhhhh IIIIIIII  wwwwwwwwwaaaaaaaaatttttttttcccccccchhhhhhhhheeeeeeeeeeddddddddd mmmmmmmmyyyyyyyyysssssssssseeeeeeeeeelllllllllllfffffffff.”

                It was horrible. She and David still weren't together. Lisa and David still brought up memories for their friends, who couldn't swallow their guilt about the entire situation. James said later that night that Lisa looked much better.

                "James, you know I was helping us," she had said but was ignored. She wondered if James was a meandoc. He had something against her. They all did now, really, and that's why she was working on the cyber-fi docs.

                Swallow. Swallow. Swallow.

                "Ddonne."

                Morning after morning she read magazines, trying to take mind-hack principles and turn them into cyber-punk design potential. Cyber-punk design had all the caveats of programming language; she couldn't contradict herself, and that became very difficult by the end of the story. In fact, that's what had characterized the success of Con Defeat. The main arc of the story was incredibly complex, and the hacker who wrote it didn't break any programming rules for the ending. It wasn't up to par with the com-gen stories, but those were never cyber-punk and always hosted online by fashionistas who played by entirely different rules. Meandocs loved com-gen stories. They represented a challenge for her.

                The first frame was finished. It was a circular head displaying itself in front of the kid-coliseum. A new, young smiley. A visitor to the games in South America, which everyone knew had the gnarliest kid-coliseums. The smile was upside down, but still looked like a smile in a illusory way, and she was proud of the black ink drawing. The text read thus:

                The child had never seen murder or trickery. The child was an innocent. The child was sad. The crowds observed the child and thought him a future champion. The child was not a model. The child was an adult robot inside a child-suit. Meet “The Child.”

                She thought the intro might work. The next frame was going to imitate the fashionista style of counter-points, which she thought of as lies.

                The child was completely human, and found comfort in knockingdown-blocks. The child was  a future cyber-punk. But for now, he was his own parent, because his parents had died as children in the kid-coliseum. His parents were dead. The child was a clone. The child was human.

                She smiled. It had the brainwashing sound of fashionista literature. Next was the introduction of the kid-coliseum. People love to relearn things, and she would introduce the arena as if to someone who had never heard of it.

                Enormously,

                She chuckled again.

                the kid-coliseum worked into his spine, and filtered his remarkable brainstem. The child had logged in for the first time, and felt shaky. He had drank no sugar. He had pounded no beer. He was perfect. But today, he was just watching.

                "This might be up to par with the com-gens!" she told herself, to keep herself motivated and busy. The frame was a spine-implant going into the boy. The next one took a while to draw from memory. Several neuron were represented in thick black ink.

                The child's brain was very active and wise. It had been untouched by the kid-coliseum.

                She didn't feel fear, even though any govtype would arrest her on the spot. She had a plan for the next frame, something less illegal and closer to cyber-punk.

                The child wasn't affected by the kid-coliseum because the child was part of the kid-coliseum. The child was a robot. The child's parents were dead, and the fed-govs had created him. All praise to the fed-govs.

 

                She finished the novel the next day. It was marketed for children. She knew they wouldn't notice the frame about praising the fedgovs; that's not how unsupervised children's minds worked. And the adults would skip through the book and read those words, and make a purchase immediately. She just had to convince the professionalmen she was a govzone-fedman. Or at least a fashionista. David read it.

                “You'd be better off faking that you're a fash-star.”

                No panic. No anger. She just said, "They aren't the stars."

                “I know the children are the stars. Yes, what do you call them?”

                "The children? Children."

                “You get me.”

                "I got you?" He was wearing his tightly fitting orange and blue clothes in the orange and green room and the heat-lamp was making everything more orange and she wanted him to leave. "It's so hot in here."

                “Alright, I'll unplug the heat-lamp. Your personality is changing, Lisa. Make another book and try to sell them both. Steve told me he would help you. James is coming over tonight. You have all the support in the world.”

                "Great. I can't wait to have him." She was having trouble breathing but it was nothing.

                “Yeah, I thought you'd like that.”

                He left for his awesome job and she quit faking they were dating. The meandocs thought they were dating. She put a record on and started with the next graphic novel. When James came over that night, she showed him the completed second novel and he liked it a lot.

                “Hell, if you can't fake a fash-star you might as well make a few copies yourself and give them to all our friends.”

                She beamed. She ate. She saw him out. She went to her room.

                By ten months, those strange men you see in grocery stores will create a rebellion.

                By twenty months, caretakers (meandocs) will use the camera system to watch us instead of security guards.

                She finished the third one and called up Steve.

                "Can you print copies of my novels?" She couldn't understand his response, only that it was surprise. "Can you?"

                “What?”

                "Can you make copies of my graphic novels for all of us?"

                “Only if it's cyber-fi. I know a cyber-fi publisher. Is it cyber-fi?”

                She cocked her head very slowly..

                "No."     

                “Then I can't. But show me a cyber-fi and they'll print it. They love new authors. Are you writing?”

                "Yes. Thank you Steve. Goodbye."

 

 

 

 

Slow Meta 2 - Stoned

 

                Taking a long fresh walk could take so much time that she'd miss out on whatever David was doing, no matter if she went just to the end of the block and back. She felt a little trapped in the house, but it was her own problem. David was being terribly interesting this week.

                “Gggggggggoooooooooddddddddd mmmmmmmmmooooooooorrrrrrrrrnnnnnnnnniiiiiiiiinnnnnnnnnngggggggggg,” he said when he finally was awake.

                "Good morning," she replied.

                “You're meeting with Sean today. Do you want me to cancel?”

                "No."

                “Great. I love you sweetie.”

                Sean was going to publish her future novels. They loved new authors at his publishing company. The plot wasn't planned out but she hoped to ask Sean for advice on her first cyber-fi novel. The main plot device was a computer which simulated reality but she didn't know how many worlds-within-worlds-within-the-comsim to create. It wouldn't be a hard question for him. She knew the answer was around 3, and it was more of a test than anything. She didn't think he was a professionalman, or as David preferred, a med-dib: medicine distributor. A misnomer for them, it was odd he didn't use her word. Most people received magazines or 2D movs from professionalmen, and were oblivious to the medicines people like her and the cyber-punks were forced to take. They actually thought of the 'zines and movs to be medicine for their trouble. Most middle class neighborhoods were subscribed the exact same material, creating little teams of families from different areas.

                The middle-class were some of the most privileged people in the country. The cyberpunks were recognized as being a higher class because they were capable of faking it, and needed a different type of medicine to “function” in society. Of course, the mean-docs and big-eaters were even higher class than the cyber-punks, possibly on some other form of medication subscription, or, as she suspected, those two groups were the top of the ladder, and made medicine for themselves. She hoped Sean was a big-eater.

                 She had been reading cyber-fi to get prepared. This weekend she would try finish the novel; it would be longer than the ones she had been making.

                David was playing around with the DRMs today.

                “I'll have five, I'm feeling rather ill,” he said but smirked. He was doing this for the mean-docs. Of course it was impossible to communicate with the security system, so he was entertaining her by making her guess the real motivation for it. He gave it away rather quickly. “I just want to get high, really.” Monotone. His sense of humor was edgy, and she was sure they were stars for the mean-docs. She played along once more.

                "Oh, I'm sure you're just saying that for the security systems. You don't have to act like an addict. You don't feel well, and that's all there is to it." They shared a muted laugh.

                “But dear, I've been classified as a Type 1 Addict. The motivations unknown by me will surely be understood by the. . . What do you call them?” A drop in a her stomach. He didn't include her in his jokes.

                "Mean-docs."

                He may have been making fun of her, but she didn't care.

                “Yes, the mean-docs. Perhaps you're feeling ill? Will you take five too, hon?”

                Of course she wanted to. “Yes.”

                It was this kind of behavior that got them in the mean-doc system in the first place. The only way to fake it anymore with the security system was to make sure the faking led to medicine-taking. Lisa still wondered David's real reason for getting high. The medicine was not very good for it. It may have been for Sean. Maybe he was desperate for a game with her.

                "I think I'll take six,” she said.

                “But your limit is seven!”

                "Seven then."

                “Well, my limit is five. My personal limit.”

                They waited for the speakers. Sometimes when they faked it, odd mechanical laughter could be heard for half a second or so from the speakers. No sound. He usually had sex with her when there wasn't a sound.

                "I'm proud of you, David. I don't have a personal limit because I'm not a Class 1 Addict," they had taken their meds when they were waiting for the laughter, "but it is good for yyou to care so mmuchh abouuuttt thheee meannnn-ddooccccs ppllannns fffoorrr. . ."

                “Uuuuuuuuuuussssssssss.”

                It was frightening taking so much medication for her. David really was more of a user, even before he was zoned a Class 1 Addict.

                Living in America wasn't a free decision. Lisa had heard that in other countries, the early surveillance systems were still in place, and most people lived like stars in a movie. No mean-docs, just crowds of grocer-drones. Third-world countries couldn't produce sov-bombs, with no big-eaters or mean-docs. Large performances would be held in protest, some violent, in city streets. Hackers like David had downloaded the data, and created little movs using all the cameras, sometimes from very odd angles. The govzone-fedmen of that country would face all the cameras towards the performance, and even had large stages set in  cities to host them. Some of the best movs of the century were created by hackers, but only  cyber-punks cared about watching them.

                David unloaded a file of a newer one and put it on the 2D screen in the kitchen. Chowing on eggs, he started commenting out loud.

                “The ninth installment of the revolution nobody saw. Sequel after sequel filmed in the same Nicaraguan platform; only a few hackers saw this one. Of course, every federal government on the South American continent saw, and had a good laugh. We can't even sell this one to med-dibs for plot ideas.” He added, “Truly a desperate situation,” then faked that he was trying to hold in the laughter from his joke.

                "Wasn't this one a farce?"

                “Yes. They knew the med-dibs quit buying their shows, and had a laugh. A hateful, rebellious laugh, still. It's quite complex, really. They all were. Nicaraguan Rule 9 was sketched as a cccccccccccooooooooooommmmmmmmmmeeeeeeeeeeedddddddddddyyyyyyyyyyyyy, however.”

                "A comedy with shooting?"

                “It's one of the most brilliant I've ever seen. Just very dangerous to distribute.”

                "What were the others ones like?"   

                “In Nicaraguan Rule 1, fifty people lined up to get shot by the same person voluntarily. The last one died five hours into it, because the shooter was telling the story of his country from as far back as modern history could reach. And when he killed the last one, identified as no more important than the 49 citizens behind him, the leader shouted 'I am president-elect!”

                This seemed to make her sad, but she wasn't sure.

                “He's the star of each new episode. It's hard to keep him alive but they have some mafiosos organizing the whole thing, now. Very pissed off mafiosos.”

                "Because they're not making any money?"

                “Exactly. And what do mafiosos do?”

                "Protect fed-govs?"

                “Yes, in America. Not in Nigaragua. The mafiosos hired the fashionista for the rebellion. It's looking like the fed-govs are giving in, and Nicaragua is going to become fashion capital of the South American continent. And then we'll have entire neighborhoods in America looking like Mexican gangsters.” It was important he said Mexican for the mean-docs. “I'd say it was a better governmental system if I wasn't high right now.”

                That triggered the speakers. No sex tonight.

                "Then why is nobody buying the movs? Isn't that pissing off the mafiosos?"

                “It's all a ruse. The mafiosos will get so angry that any of of these sequels could be a real coup. They'll replace the current fed-govs in Nicaragua with fashionistas.”

                "That sounds very entertaining."

                “It is. Or it was until the govzone-fedmen in America started censoring the data. It's some of the most expensive entertainment in the world, and the Nicaraguan rebels know it. It's like their gold, except it's essentially priceless. The first one was a core-dump of governmental history and drama. Americans could be watching and reading about the history of Nicaragua in 'zines and movs for a long time. It will be Americanized, and, we're guessing from Nicaraguan Rule 9, hilarious.”

                "Good. I love comedy. Especially fashionista comedy.”

                He raised his voice. “Better shut up, b***h!”

                “Hmm?”

                “The mov's about to start.”

                The speakers groaned.

               

                  A two dimensional man wearing a wide-brimmed hat busted through a doorway with a machete.  He started running along a white hall with another door at the end of the hall with weapon raised . After blazing forward twenty feet, he was shot by an invisible gun. The screen switched to a large image of a man wearing a blazer and booty shorts, sitting over a salt-shaker-cam. He was the shooter�"a large sniper rifle was propped against his leg.

                “Begin Nicaraguan Rule 9! Thou shalt not murder.”

                David piqued up. “He's playing God! Oh, ha, ha.”

                "I wonder which commandment he leaves out."

                “You already picked up on that?” he said.

                “Mind-hack principles taught me to be perceptive.”

                The man with a sniper arose from the table and walked slowly down the hall to the door. When it opened, he didn't allow the camera to see the intruder. Ripping open his jacket, he launched two knives through the threshhold. “Thou shalt honor thy mother and father!”

                David, “That one was insane, he always mentions his parents were killed by an invisible US soldier.”

                "Ah. When does this get funny?"

                The hero approached the man whom he sniped and offered his hand. The man had been shot right below another camera, and it could be seen now that he was not dead. He accepted the help, and rose. They walked arm and arm through the door at the end of the hall. A white light sillhouetted their bodies, and they went outside. The camera lingered on the hallway with both doors open, one to the inside and one to the outside.

                "That was sweet."

                “Keep in mind, it's been predicted these movies will make Nicaragua one of the richest countries in the world when it all blows over.” He shut the mov program down. “We can't watch the rest of it with Sean coming over. He might not be able to handle sensitive information. Like I said, this information is extremely valuable.”

                "OK Commander."

                “Cccccccccccoooooooooooommmmmmmmmmmmmaaaaaaaaaaaannnnnnnnnnnnnddddddddddddeeeeeeeeeeerrrrrrrrrrr?”

                She kissed him. He went for it. "Yes, baby. You're the best govzone-fedman ever. Why can't we just watch it?"

                “Because I hacked millions of dollars worth of software just to download these movs illegally.”

                "But what's Sean going to care. . .?"

                “Sean? We barely know him! It sounds like you're cheating with him by that tone of voice, anyway. Do you two know each other outside of your second-degree of separation through James?”

                “Maybe the two of us do.”

                “Does he care if you have sex with young hackers in your free time?”

                She couldn't contradict herself in front of the mean-docs so she said, 'No,' and launched into his lap. He stood up out of his chair but she grabbed on. 'The mean-docs want us to.'

                “You sound seriously desperate!”

                She got off him. “I was trying to be funny.”

                He brushed his shirt like a mime. “You're just high.” Of course that joke never got old to the mean-docs. They had heard the speakers twice today anyway. She knew it was futile. She wanted to ask if he thought meds made men funny and women horny but he was so caught in this weird web of his own hilariousness that it didn't matter.

                “I thought we could cook some food for Sean. We should make a good impression. Apparently you're cheating on me with a CEO publisher.”

                She snapped her head toward David. “Why didn't you tell me he was a big-eater?"

                “I didn't want you to get too nervous.”

                "We're meeting a big-eater? Do you understand the power of big-eaters?"

                David surreptitiously walked into the nearby kitchen. “What did I say about making a good impression? I know this is important. It's for you, hun. You could--”

                She lurched towards him a second time and whispered, "What will the mean-docs think?"

                “That I'm selling him a dangerous and illegal mov?”

                "What do you mean?"

                “I'm not going to show him what is contained in  Nicaraguan Rule 9. However, I've told him its security level, and his head almost exploded over the phone. That's the main reason he's coming over. He had never heard of Nicaraguan Rule 9 but was very pleased I had it. It's worthless to him, by the way.”

                "Why is it worthless to a publisher?"

                “He wants it for his own med subscription. The content is unusable to a . . . big-eater."

                She knew this was true. In fact she knew that any big-eater already had a copy of Nicaraguan Rule 9. David was lying. The two o f them were very used to mean-doc security.

 

                Sean arrived.

                Big man.

                He ate well.

                There was little conversation.

                He made small plans with Lisa to see a rough draft, downloaded the mov, and he left.

                He was a big-eater.

 

                New DRMs came Sunday. It was shaped in tiny foods. Microwavable bacon and Rite-Egg and hamburgers and juice boxes. They didn't want to take them. It wasn't because they didn't have the same shape, as if they were addicted to that certain mushroom cap of the DRMs. The short way in which the new DRMS squashed a little bit more joy made them indescribably hatable.

                “Multi-vitamins?” She asked.

                “No. Bento DRMs.”           

                “Ah.” More sadness. They had to take them.

                Her novel was coming along. She wanted to include the film, Nicaraguan Rule 9 but knew David would protest rightly. If they wanted to survive, they could only mention the film to cyber-hackers and big-eaters. She wanted Sean to come over again, and remembered what David had asked about cheating. They weren't really in a relationship, but things would really have to fall apart for her to have sex with anyone else. It was a secret they weren't together, a semi-dangerous game they played for the mean-docs.

                The real danger was if she had kids. Of course they would have to register the pregnancy, and probably would be relocated forever to a truck-farm, or a facility where cyber-hacker children raised by the kid-coliseum pwere eventually trucked to gas-mining or miltiary-zone locations to live the rest of their lives, until they escaped. Usually an escape required follow-through from a big-eater or fashionista or even mafioso; otherwise they'd get arrested and taken to a pris-zone.

                David and Lisa's escape had been on account of talent. The mean-docs actually freed the two themeslves.

Drawbacks: DRMs and mean-doc surveillance. It wasn't that bad until the DRM stacks overtook their senses, and their talents became useless. This would result in a transfer to pris-zone, because the DRMs and their lifestyle was essentially illegal. During the times when they became too drugged to function, they had to fake that they were taking the medication but not take the medication. She hated the harsh dive into reality then super-reality. Reality she could handle. It reminded her of how sov-bombs must live. Peacefully. After a few days, the crystal clear perception wore off and the world became a very big mess.

                They would make that dive next week. David had already mentioned issues with focus.

                Slipping out of the DRM headspace was like having a swollen brain, or a distended sense of time and space. The brain compensates by becoming overactive when on DRMs, and if they're taken out of the psychotrpic valley, it's like having too much coolant in the skull. The stuff freezes and comes out of the ears like old stalagtites finally removed from a cave, and in their stead are cold holes filled with anxiety and hyperactivity. She thought of the consciousness manipulation with real fear, because what was she after all but a consciousness?

                Predicting a bad bout of DRM “suffocation” when they would quit taking them (because the DRMs were easy to kill, like brain cells,) David was loading up on jazz and other complicated type of music to keep his brain active. Lisa liked to listen to this music when off the DRMs because it occassionally seemed to give her a glimpse of a world before mean-docs and fashionistas. In this world she could fly and swim and be happy, even if she was a little oversensitive.

                Food helped but they couldn't eat much more than normal or the mean-docs would get suspicious.

                They finished Nicaraguan Rule 9. It seemed like mostly a celebration, with no killing or heroism. David said Nicaraguan Rule 10 could possibly be the last one before the government takeover. They lived like the generous donors they were for that week. Sunday morning came again, and they pawed the DRMs into their cheek to get pushed into the bathroom sink later.

                The unthinkable happened Sunday night.

                A mean-doc came over. He was enormous, and most definitely a mean-doc because of his red attire. Perfectly nice, he could have also been a govzone-fedman, that is a mean-doc with higher authority than simply the surveillance team. He was going to give them a test. The written test was very long, and they felt enourmously lucky to be off the DRMs.

 

1.       What is the desired color of the sky?

2.       What must avoid water? Name 3 industrial examples.

3.       What year did an American buy the first television?

4.       How many wars have been initiated by other countries since 2020?

                etc...

 

                It was the verbal test that proved most challenging.

                “If I were to tell you I was a news reporter, what news story would you want me to report?”

                “If you became famous, how would you support China?”

                “What's the earliest memory that has an influence on who you are as a person today?”

                David was an expert at these. Lisa, because she wasn't on the DRMs, felt very confident in both of their answers, except the last one.

                “If a publisher came to your house, would you ask them to leave?”

                Of course they both said yes. The fact that Sean was a publisher wasn't supposedly known to them. The surveillance was completely ignored by mean-docs in person even though cameras as large as a thumb could be found tacked to the walls. When he left, David re-adjusted the salt-shaker cam and said, “Boy, I felt like I was in high school again.”

                “What do you mean?” Lisa asked.

                “Filling out answers, giving my responses.”

                “Did you like high school?” She asked.

                “Tough to answer. Is this part of the test?”

                “No.”

                “Not that my answer would've changed. But yes, I did like high school.”

                Their loft seemed shamefully bare and exposed without the DRMs. Hard edges and harder shadows. It really made them depressed. Sean couldn't ever come over again because when the mean-docs let on they know something about something, they usually do. They braced themselves for a few more days of reality, then super-reality, or highly sensitive mania, until their brains cleared out the DRMs.

                Sean called. David apologized. Sean insisted on coming over. David said tomorrow in the morning.

                “This better be worth it,” David said.

 

Slow Meta 3 - World-building

 

                “So you two are getting off the DRMs?”

                David jumped. “Jesus Christ!” Then added, “What the hell are you talking about?”

                “You've been taking medication supplied to you by the government called DRMs and you've recently decided to quit taking them?”

                “Medicine? From the government?”

                Good job David, Lisa thought. My turn. “He means the mean-docs.”

                David was furious for a second then controlled himself. “Oh, the mean-docs?” He sounded hysterical.

                “Yes, and the professionalmen.” Lisa smiled. Gotcha!

                Sean told David to sit. “If you're getting off the DRMs, you might die. Did you know that?”

                Only Lisa could respond. “If you're a mean-doc, we have to tell you everything. Are you a mean-doc?”

                Sean seemed confused. “No.”

                “Then please leave.” Lisa was almost as alarmed as David but knew she could handle a situation like this better than he. She seemed to improvise a fake plan better than David, who honestly spent a lot of time memorizing what he was going to say.

                “I would feel obligated to leave if you asked me to. However I have a mushroom-cap of a chemical very similar to the DRMs that can help you with the consequences of quitting your stack.”

                David was genuinely offended. “As if we would take any drug you gave to us!”

                “I'm going to mail you the substance. It should come in the same tube the DRMs come in, and you shouldn't receive any DRMs tomorrow. Trust me on this. Take the medication. I'm worried for your health.” He rose from his own chair. “And Lisa, I trust you're still working on the book for me?”

                She didn't answer. When he left, they had nowhere to hide. They knew the cameras saw the conversation between them and Sean, and considering they couldn't re-record anything for the mean-docs, they only hoped that the same denial by the mean-docs of surveillance would help them. Maybe Sean knew something they didn't. Maybe he was a mean-doc hmiself. A new regimen would make sense coming from the “government” as he so candidly said.

                “That was fun!” Of course David was faking it. “He should come over more often. Do you like him?” This was a loaded question.

                “Yes, very much.”

                They couldn't mention what he said about the DRMs and had no idea what would be coming in the mail the next day.

 

                They were blue.

                And they were taken with regards to the regular DRMs in a fashion out of sync with reality.

                Mushroom-caps of new DRMs were soft-gelling in their esophagus and David felt much better, and Lisa was exuberant. The test they had taken the day before was the topic of conversation, and Sean wasn't on their minds. They weren't high on the new DRMs. They were simply grounded in a reality that seemed to them the closest thing to a normal way of being than they had experienced since very early childhood. She had answered the question about early memories with a story about losing her mother and father. What really would affect her the most was the pre-conscious state of being that she was always looking for again; the clear reality of what she was experiencing right then.

                The color of the sky should be blue, she thought. But it was orange. And she had answered orange. And she was terrified of that. David was on the computer. She went to the grocery store alone.

                She heard from a book that someone once said in the future everyone will be famous. How could anyone be famous with so many drones walking around? Grocer-drones, skater-drones, family-drones, truckdriver-drones, office-drones. They didn't notice her, yet she knew she should stand out being alone. The effect was that they were so absorbed in their own lives, they couldn't let anything penetrate them. Is that how people became famous: to themselves?

                She was bagging rabbits-lettuce when the new DRMs started intensifying.

                She realized she was famous as a drone, as all drones were famous as drones. The cameras watching her celebrated their public duty invisibly, cheering them all on to become world-famous movie stars. Lisa was very aware of every movement of her body, even more so than she was aware of the dull nature of everyone surrounding her, and prickly hairs on her neck told her she was being watched more closely than the others.

                But it was the blues. And for a split second, she hated the red DRMs, and the mean-docs, and grocer-drones.

                Maybe she was questioning the possibility of staging her own coup.

                She took her car by the hospital and set her eyes on the windows, opening and shutting as people died and were let into rooms. She came to the hospital because the sick and dying were some of the most free people in America. Freedom from the mean-docs could be found if she could just answer the questions the right way and be released. She longed for another test, and her longing seemed to float its way through those hospital windows.

                Like the speakers from her loft, her car began to create vocal sounds. Alarmed, she turned the engine off but the sound kept buzzing through.

                "It is a curve-ball. Loaded. Ready to tear into your gut. It's a machine, trudging along."

                She jumped out of her car and began to call David on her cell.

                "It's astronomical. Brain. Heart. Bone. Forget those things, you're watching life unfold."

                Putting herself back into the car, not reaching David, she decided to drive home because the mean-docs had obviously changed tactics again, and this is what she heard:

                "Reach for the stars, feel the dust on your fingers. I can feel the dust right now, falling from my hands as I push into the of a pillow-fish in the aquarian sky. The stars are that fish's eggs, strewn about by my hand. We're taking you to the base, Lisa."

                She kept driving home.

                "Answer one question, Lisa. What's the one way to get out of your life in the loft with David?"

                She said nothing. The voices were coming from the insides of her vehicle.

                "The answer is to play God."

                She was running out of gas. She slammed on the breaks and cursed, trying to take the car to the right side of the road. She couldn't see well. Objects were different colors than they used to be, and she was becoming more and more detached from her body. She became very afraid she would be pulled from her warm muscles and frame, and watch herself collapse on the ground from above.

Sean rescued her.

                He left her car and her cellphone by the side of the road, and carried her to his truck. He drove to the nearest gas station and splashed water on her face. "Wake up!"

                Nothing seemed right.

                "We're taking you to our base, Lisa."

                She was dazed. "Was it your voice through the speakers?" she asked.

                "There weren't any speakers. We were communicating telepathically to you."

                Still confused, she did manage to show some hostility. "What the hell were you thinking coming to our house talking about the government? Who the hell are you? Are you one of David's friends playing tricks on us like mean-docs? Are you a mean-doc?"

                "If you're referring to the government officials who monitor your daily life, then no. I am not a mean-doc," Sean said. "I am CEO of a nearby publishing house. We want you to write stories for us. We've seen the footage. You're classifiably a social expert. We need you."

                He really was a big eater.

                She had so many questions, but she was too out-of-it to make any come together. Except one. "Why us?"

              "It's really just you, Lisa. David can be useful, if you decide to use him. However, you don't have to go back to him if you don't want to," Sean said. "You have a lot of decisions to make. We're creating another world, Lisa, with people like you at the center. The only freedom we've managed to achieve is in our own minds, and so the government has been drugging us. The mushroom-caps I sent you put your mind into a normal place. The hallucinations you were experiencing will subside. So what do you want to do?"

                Lisa had no idea what she wanted to do. Could she really leave David? Pangs of remorse for her partner-in-crime were drumming inside her. She was very attached to him, with all of his idiosyncracies. Those were to be expected with cyber-hackers. But was she different than him? More versatile, perhaps, and definitely not as hilarious. It hurt to think of that, and to think of what David would say if she was really thinking about how funny he was, when she could be freeing herself.

                She said, "O.K." and the voices started coming back...

                "Take it slow, Meta. You might be God, now. Have mercy on us all. Nation-breaker out."

                It hit her then.

                She was a sov-bomb!

Epilogue

This story is about taking huge concepts and packing them into just a little space. I had just been to a psychiatric hospital, and the grandiose ideas I had in my head after visiting such a place were incontainable. I wrote out the synopsis and worked from that, with the names of the different types of people in the story already planned out. The first part actually assumes I'm going to continue on the plot of her creating a book, and doing a social engineering experiment on the future version of Facebook.

The world can be described as a 1984-like state with 3 global tiers: regular joes at the bottom, cyber-hackers and medicine distributors in the middle, and mafiosos, fashionistas, sov-bombs, big eaters and mean-docs at the top. It's arguable whether or not all mean-docs are above the cyber-hackers, so we'll say they're future human version 2.1. Mean-docs aren't med-dibs; mean-docs are the invisible watchers who, Lisa assumes, gets entertainment from the security footage.

The idea is based on a simple concept: social awareness. The regular joes at the bottom (in america) have no idea they're being fed media from televised revolutions in South America. The cyber-hackers and mind-hackers above them are simply more aware, and thus are medicated by the ones above them�"the mean-docs. The mean-docs get their medicines from big eaters, fashionistas, and mafiosos in turn, in a caste cycle of consciousness.

About the sov-bomb: I wanted to take the idea of nuclear warheads being converted to people. Instead of an actual bomb, there were sov-bombs. These people were selected from mind-hackers to save the world and fight other countries. At the end, it's pretty clear there's a rebel group of moralistic Americans trying to free the world... the big-eaters.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

© 2013 Jordan Jones


Author's Note

Jordan Jones
There's an epilogue

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Featured Review

You have a good concept here, and you execute it fairly well. You also have a clear message with this and you're conscious of this, which is a kudo to you. I'd just take care to make sure you avoid passivity and maybe not delve so deeply into the made-up words. Other than that, very well done.

Posted 8 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Jordan Jones

8 Years Ago

Thanks for a great introduction to writerscafe! I'll keep the "passivity" in mind on rewrite



Reviews

You have a good concept here, and you execute it fairly well. You also have a clear message with this and you're conscious of this, which is a kudo to you. I'd just take care to make sure you avoid passivity and maybe not delve so deeply into the made-up words. Other than that, very well done.

Posted 8 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Jordan Jones

8 Years Ago

Thanks for a great introduction to writerscafe! I'll keep the "passivity" in mind on rewrite

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Added on April 7, 2013
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Tags: science fiction, cerebral

Author

Jordan Jones
Jordan Jones

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I've been writing since second grade. Always preferring length to brevity through middle school and high school--which does go against writing rules--I actually managed to develop pretty strong imagin.. more..

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