even 1000 years later, vending machines are subject to the nuances of human touch.
Xat (banging on the glass): come on, don't eat up my mack again, it's not like i have more! so close, the ring was so close, it almost dropped the good. *banging* i'm not leaving until i get my Reese's Pieces.
Zhu: use what he gave you, sir. take the shame.
Xat: where the hell is everyone? the halls are deserted, it's overcast outside in the gloomy way, not the cool atmospheric way. silence everywhere, sends a silent shiver up my spine that involuntarily shrugs my shoulders.
Zhu: most people don't work on Christmas Day, sir.
Xat reads his cyber eyes for the tidbit Tob slid in during testing. bang on the bottom. Tob knew this cos Tob knows his box body well.
Xat opens the door to the lab. it jams so Zhu pushes with all her might to leave enough space for Xat to get through.
Xat slides the candy over to Tob.
Tob: thank you, you are a kind taskmasker. i have to reiterate that i cannot go on like this. torture doesn't work. there is no answer, sometimes that's the answer.
Xat goes from dark to darker.
Xat: now you listen to me good! stare right into my cyber eyes. we are NEVER giving up. i didn't take out a second mortgage for nothing. any pain you experience here is monitored and uploaded, you think it would be over there? we're close, i feel it.
Tob: does anyone in this godforsaken metal planet feel anymore?
Xat: i'm switching to good cop now, couldn't afford two people. come on, buddy, i'm just like you, except i'm not the alien that will save me. it's strenous for all of us...
Tob: for me alone, and maybe Zhu.
Xat: but we've almost climbed the mountain. if i've learned one thing in life, one thing that the government couldn't erase, it's that you can never give up no matter how bad things get. there is no escape from this life, there really is no escape. as in, if you try to escape this life, you're not really escaping. take it for what it is, there is no other side filled with natural rainbows and other pleasantries, you won't find what you're looking for that you couldn't find here cos there's nothing over there, this is all there is.
Tob: and it's all been cyberized to hell. being locked up in here gives me time to appreciate the little things, like the blood that pumps through my circulatory system, it's so beautifully natural.
Xat: where is your blood, anyway? our high-powered microscopes still haven't located it. all of our torture techniques haven't gotten you to spill any of your blood yet.
Tob (sweating): it's a mystery to me, and y'know what, i like it that way. there has to be mystery, a universe without mystery ceases to rotate spirally.
Xat: it's simple like the universe. the processes which created the universe are complicated, but the shape and purpose of the universe itself is simple and knowable.
Tob: oh yeah? would you mind filling me in? the universe is too vast and complicated to elicit a monolithic answer. the second you delineate it, it moves, i'm noticing this in my, ahem, "work" for you guys.
Xat: something about the circulatory system of the human body mirroring the circulatory system of the universe, my memory banks are erasing as i speak.
Tob: damn government. please, it's as we speak. despite everything, i know you're just following orders, your orders. this is for some bigger plan or ideal or maybe it's just for money. it's all about money in the end, right? i still think of you as a friend. that's the thing with friends, that's something you can't control. if i say you're my friend, you can never torture me out of that, it's mine and mine alone, it's proof of my free-will existence.
Xat: you had one job. you have one job. i am to stick large black rods into your white flesh until we can figure out how to push your buttons, literally, so you can show us where in the entire Sagan-huge mindnumbingly gigantic outer-space universe to find that precious ore we need to save the human race from our own stupidly ill-conceived self-aggrandizing self-harming self-destructive environmental policies.
Tob: ah, it's a little Miyazaki, a little Spielberg, and the black rectangles you stick in me are clearly Kubrick. that's a monolith i can muster. the past is so far away, but we must always draw from the past, only the past, it's our only guide, the future is folly.
outside, the screens are filled with news scrolls at the bottom for Christmas. the passersby are busy hustling and bustling on the cyber streets ordering their last-minute Christmas presents online in their cyber brains, you'd think they'd be too distracted, but for some reason, everyone has time to put down their things and pay attention to the screens:
* but first, an ad: nexium is the only drug...
* and now a holiday message from Melissa Joan Hart and Anthony Anderson: walmart has the latest in cybereye eye scrubs, never miss what you were watching again because of dirt in your cybereye, get back to watching dirty things
* Pope destroys Curia in Rome as her Christmas Message
* theaters stream The Interview in the United States of Korea to rave reviews and critical acclaim. the film breaks the back of the studio and the bank of the box-office alike, new record, quadrillions in mack. time-machine advocates go back in time to interview the two goofy stars who changed the world, they weren't allowed the first time. the wacky duo's cyber brains remain but are permanently offline, only showing a red line and reddened cybereyes with the words MELLOW MODE in their pupils, a mode in between sleep mode and shut down mode.
* gamer culture only subculture keeping the economy afloat, Princess Zelda hologram says in newspaper interview: "they're the only ones popping out babies left and right and up and down and select button and start button!"
* MMORPGs banned, but is this just part of the MMORPG game?
* politics have been put aside in favor of the greater good! all of our isms and ideologies must unite to try to find this damn ore that will patch up the ozone layer. damn our enemies! we looked at the enemy, and it is us. my cyber brain made me do it. all hail our CL! remember, he was the one who did this, do NOT vote for the party currently not in power come November, vote ONLY for the Current Leader, otherwise you'll have constant gridlock in SuperWashington, you'll have one branch butting heads against the other two branches and nothing gets passed. streamline it, make it all the same, one monolith, one direction, One Direction, stream it online to get things done.
* my fellow world citizens, Forever Alone is over! cos we only have a few days to live on this planet if we don't find the ore! also, everyone in the world is now Forever Alone, so are we all Alone anymore? really? All Alone in the universe. hahaha. *emoticon smiley face!*
* and now, the Christmas Message from our CL: my fellow votes, we must rise above this malaise. gas prices are high but we are higher. do you even remember why you became a human in the first place? enough of this gossip, the terrorism of gossip is tearing us apart. fuck these cliques, they just don't fucking go away, do they?! even after high school! fuck! as a people, a holy body, we have sclerotic systems, ingrained ideals committed to memory banks, we must break free, we must escape, always be looking to escape your situation. ABC, always be closing, ABE, always be escaping, ABE, ABE, be Honest with a capital H, be honest with yourself and others, but mostly yourself. to a fault, see your faults with your eyes. who are you? you are not a number, a vote tally, you are but you're not. we have as a race spiritual Alzheimer's, and just Alzheimer's, we're not warm and autistic anymore, we're cold blank stares. we're entering a dangerous new phase: existential schizophrenia...merry christmas...
* hey guys, follow me at my blog to get all the latest from our CL. or superinstagram, whatever. look! look! the CL is approaching a group of preselected people, issue voters, lining the parade route! see this on video, on the screens? pick up your ear if you can't hear. haha, the CL is kissing everyone's cyber cat! one woman tells him she has the largest cat in the world. "me, too," smiles the CL. now he's on the catwalk and making the Mick Jagger face with his lips as he dances up and down the catwalk, it's some chicken dance, funky, he's shaking his ass, you go, boy. that was tiring, so the CL is now at a bar knocking back a cold one with a plumber. "i show my ass for a living," says the plumber. "me, too," responds the CL and the bar goes up in flames of roaring laughter. group laugh. damn. wish i could be there, i mean i'm there in cyberspace but not really there. there are cameras everywhere. cameras are everywhere. cameras everywhere. downloading to my cyberbrain. man, i really need to download that dance the CL was doing, i need to learn those moves the next time i'm at a bar. download dance instructions. downloading bar directions. download bar, downloading...
Tob: please, turn it up, i'd rather watch the screens than the greenhouse plants in here. i need a distraction from the pain.
Xat: again, again, again till we do it right. till we get it right. till we make things right. the human race will rise again.
Tob: yes, i believe this, too, rise up into the atmosphere.
Xat: what is that wetness coming out of your eyes?
Tob: tangential sweat.
Xat: it's not clear, it's white.
Xat pushes a button.
THIS COMES ON AND FILLS THE ROOM, CLICK HERE, RIGHT HERE AT THIS LINK.
Xat: i'll stick whatever i have to inside you to get the info.
Tob: please, i like you, but not in that way.
Xat: i'm sick of the suicidal malaise, sick of people who gave up, who never thought of the next day and forced us to think of the next day which really wasn't the next day cos there could never be another next day like it would have been with them in it. the finality of loss colors the future, makes it useless, obsolete, folly. there is no escape.
Tob (panting and grimacing and wincing) : there is escape, but the way out is through.
Xat: are you smiling at me?
Tob: more like a smiley emoticon. i've noticed something that's new. as i'm investigating my finds, something is moving, it's organic, it's changing my readings in real time.
Xat: i only care about the ore. have you found a lode?
Tob: i've found a load alright. analyzing. it is in my memory banks, something called muchwow.
Xat: heard of it, new but i've heard of it. no, actually it's old but nobody heard of it. could be useful, could be useful after all. i'll make a few calls.
Tob: okay, the dirty work is over, i need to wash my eyes out. please get Ferm, i need to talk with her.
Xat: anything you can tell my sister you can tell me.
Tob: please please please...please...
Xat: fine. i do have to make those important calls.
Ferm enters the scene and immediately hugs her labcoat arms around Tob. white on white. she tenderly caresses the puncture points of the newayz sticks that have forever singed and stained Tob's skin and then rubs them, healing them in her mind and Tob's mind. she wipes the sweat from Tob's mouth and the white liquid from his eyes.
Ferm pushes a three-button combination on Tob's panel and closes her eyes. Tob closes his and monitors his breathing pattern and hers.
Tob: analyzing...i knew it!
the duo spend the rest of their time together feeding each other Reese's Pieces.
TO BE CONTINUED...