the future is one of those things. when you witness a vision of the future onscreen in the present, you gawk and awe and imagine yourself there, imagine you are anywhere else, because where you are is horrible, things are the worst, they've never been this bad, and technology just highlights the deep problems more clearly. there is no solution, that's what the leaders don't realize, or rather they do realize this. there is a solution: escape. now when you are in that future, or rather when you are in a future, it's not quite like the movies. if only life could be like the movies. when you are in the future, say 1000 or so years from the time you saw that sci-fi epic for the first time in your one hometown dungy dark filmhouse on a cracked screen at noon on the day when there is no sunlight, the awe isn't there. it's just your normal present. the flickering of the bad film and the flickering of your imagination have given way to rote. that is to say bad film quality, not bad film. humans are capable of many things, but their most damning is the ability to forget the wondrous, to categorize miracles, the rush to make everything in the universe known and criticized. the four-leaf clover goes from the open fields to a a lab beaker to a studio for all to enjoy, digitally, on the internet. humans are tiring like that. there is a need in this time of the future, 1000 years hence, for more than human. not superhuman, we tried that once and it was all too human. we humans are all dried up, we need an alien perspective, a wet alien perspective, the perspective from a wet alien.
Ferm (glistening sparkles coming off her cyber eyes): that's it, that's it, gentle as a baby engineer's bottom, lower the winch onto the platform.
the nameless workers with dark eyes, which is to say they didn't have enough mack for cyber eyes so that area was left dark, manipulated the invisible white lasers, or rather pushed the necessary buttons to have the computer gently lay the boxed white specimen down on the pod. the thing was boxed but for a moment, the invisible forcefield became visible and freed it, and it could move around again. it squirmed and tossled and protruded its T-rex arms and protruded them back and generally went back into its square shape. it was soaking wet from being dunked in water tests and was shivering.
Ferm: Tob, it's me, Ferm. all requisite language barriers are broken, the translators are in place overhead, all the sci-fi junk is taken care of by the usual computers as usual, we can really talk now. you won't be hurt. i know you've heard that before. the CL is a bastard, i didn't vote for him not that that matters, they poked and proded you because that's what they see in ancient bad sci-fi, they wanted to make sure you weren't a bomb. i live in the real world, this world of sci-fi, i bleed like you, i think. i'm a woman of science, i am all science, reason, and rationale, not a hint of messy human emotion. i want to study you in another way, as equals, you tell me about you and i'll tell you about me, me and my boring life. i'm here to help. i care about keeping you alive and well.
Tob's real shape was unknown, even to him. all Tob had known since he last regained consciousness was life in a cage, having eyes on him constantly, dirty filthy human eyes. the bad scientists, the ones who worked for the CL, didn't regard him as human. he wasn't human, but he wasn't an animal. they lab-tested him to death, figuring out his breaking point, carrying him to the edge of rage and anger and explosiveness and then dialing it back just enough so he would be bendy again. it's no wonder Tob assumed this square shape, it was some sort of alien fetal position. he didn't trust anyone, he didn't trust the humans who had fished him from space, he didn't trust the government but that was a given, he didn't want to do anything for his captors, he wanted to go home, but he didn't know where home was.
Tob: let me stop you right there. i don't care about your mission. i want to be returned to my kind. please tell me i have a home planet. please tell me i'm not another statistic, not another cliche, not another one of those who is the last of his kind. i want to settle down with a nice female of my kind, get off the internet, delete all blogs, stop lifecasting my usless life, and live in peace and quiet.
Ferm: i know it doesn't feel like it, but you are lucky. you've been through it and survived. it's easy street from now on. yes, the government wanted to keep you under permanent lock and key until you died serving them for their nefarious money-making schemes. we here at this lab also believe you are the key to our survival, but we recognize your worth, we praise it, we worship you as a god because that's what you are, our savior.
Tob: oh god, i'd barf if i was biologically able to, that's even worse! see to the right of my face, where my face melts into the block? there's a panel of six buttons there: red, green, yellow, turquoise, black, and white. go ahead and push any one of those, or push three at a time, combo them, do the Konami code on them, see if anything happens. i've forgotten what they do, obviously, thanks to your government's amnesia sticks.
Ferm: you're strong, you are here and able to remember about your amnesia so they didn't get all of you. your soul is intact and the soul is all. thanks to our generous benefactor, or rather his son, we were able to buy your freedom. you are worth a pretty penny but what is money really if the planet is doomed. we bought you from your federal shackles and now you are in our care. Tob, you are a very special...thing...you have the singular ability to locate rich mineral resources all around outer space. our planet has dried up from its arrogance and denial, we need these resources to mend the gaping ozone layer and fill our rivers back. time is not on our side, we wasted our precious years glorifying ourselves and winning elections, there is no future in this future, the future is now. without you, our blue ball will explode.
Tob: not my problem. i'd shed a tear if i could. humanity is getting what it deserves. can't you all just zoomjet off the surface and seek another homeworld?
Ferm: oh you have been asleep, huh. we tried, we tried colonizing on the moon but that place is forever owned by oil barons who snap continuous instagram pics of themselves in space suits nailing holes-in-one on their lunar golf courses. the entire surface of the moon isn't made of cheese, i wish it were, it's now 153 contiguous golf courses. we tried Mars, but after all this time, Mars still needs another 1000 years before the gas process we laid on it by redirecting comets makes the air breathable and the water drinkable. we explored and explored, two solar systems over, but our hearts have been broken every time: there wasn't another race except us silly humans.
Tob: space violins. what about the Hgilthasians?
Ferm: yes but they're more pets, though they did lead us to you. they sniffed out a certain Dog star cluster where you were hiding, sleeping. they have incredible noses but only in a very tiny concentrated area, they can't infinite-scan the way you can. you can locate a small piece of ore 1000 light years away.
Tob: 1000 is the standard. i wish my amnesia came back. i don't want these powers, i want to be normal.
Ferm: you are normal my dear, normal to you, we are the freaks, unfortunately the freaks outnumber. don't think of yourself as special, think of yourself as the one charged with saving the world.
Tob: your world, not mine. when do we get started? let's get this over with.
Ferm: it will take some more time than a second. the answer must lie in one of these buttons, right? everything is insta-click these days, more so than before, the greatest answers are the simplest ones. it's gotta be as easy as pushing your buttons, right?
Tob: don't count on it. the buttons are there, but what is the correct combination? the brilliantly sadistic gubmint docs couldn't figure it out, so why will you? speaking of cheese and the moon and the government and everything, where's my gubmint cheez?
Ferm: worry not, you'll be fed and bathed and upkept. what do you eat? don't tell me, i don't want the answer to be human flesh. yes, one of the drawbacks of the food machines: pills for every occasion, unlimited pills, but because the government doesn't have to anymore bear the burden of feeding its ungrateful citizens, all of that gold is hoarded by the central office, where the CL sleeps. technology wins again.
Tob: the biggest loss was the art of cooking, lost to a one-size-fits-all plastic cup of mechanized pills for each growing boy and girl each day, no savoring a bite of chicken in your mouth, letting your saliva mix with the chicken juices, feeling the drink of a too-cold cola enlarging your adam's apple and making your long breath short as it passes down your gullet, crystalizing your stomach with its wintery wind.
Ferm: no adam's apple for me, small one, eve's apple. at this point i envy the kids, they get more pills than we adults who actually don't need to swallow pills anymore, it's all done through wifi by the government computers, regulated during our sleeps.
Tob: when i get out of here, i have one demand for my spaceship home. no, not green M&Ms, i want a personal chef to prepare all my meals. get me Ramsay's descendant on speed dial.
Ferm: become what you want, an ancient saying i still hold in my memory banks. you should just go to school to become a chef. i'd eat at your restaurant. guys, let's move him to the greenhouse, it's more serene and tranquil over there, more green, you'll at least have lush scenery to look at as we perform on you. let the tests commence.
Tob: yes, by all means, come on boys, lift me to the promised land. i don't remember being a treehugger, but i suppose there are worse relics from your planet that could use some reviving. let the button-mashing begin!
by the lab a ballleaper whizzes by, manufactured by LLL LLC. it wasn't that special, Xat's ballleaper was among many in the sky in celebration of the CL's birthday. sky traffic is the big problem/campaign issue these days. a ballleaper is run by a ball in the engine that is modeled after the ball that Tyson offered as the size of the ball of everything at the moment before the Big Bang. Xat is with an unknown female companion as usual and they are joyriding like tardy schoolchildren down any lane they can find, which aren't many since the sky is congested. the sky is filled with a monotone gold, all the ballleapers look exactly the same, they are all manufactured by the same company after all. Xat's looks exactly like them, too, except for what's on the inside. look under the hood and you see that there's an extra component to Xat's ball, Xat's ball is bigger.
girl: you are crazy today. i like crazy.
Xat: don't sip my wick in crazy. it's all the xtra juice for the empty ceremony. it comes but once a year so everyone gets in their ballleapers and riles up. sky accidents increase tenfold but no tickets are written cos it's the cops who are in most of the accidents. everyone smiles and exchanges insurance information. nothing can bring us down. it's the most wonderful time of the year.
girl: turn up the ear, i can't see anything.
Xat: i'd rather keep it manual, i feel this DJ speaks to me.
the DJ (over the radio): boys and girls out there, this one's for you. children, lucky children, you are our future, so you deserve the best. only the finest music for you, educate your litle minds so you can lead us to the stars. i'm a hack, a has-been, the sky is cluttered with the old and frail, we are done, you young must pick up the electric guitar and make new music, fill outer space with new chords, new melodies, new combinations of notes never heard before, we need new perspectives. ha ha, talk about a time capsule, i dug this one out just in time for Christmas. we must always celebrate our space heritage, kids, never forget the sci-fi lineage we come from: the names, the giants, the titans, the USSs, the sabers, the lores, we can still achieve our dreams, film fantasies lit by stars, but only you can achieve your dreams now, kids. never forget the classics, kids. don't do drugs unless it's the good stuff, the stuff that propels you forward, makes you dream and sing and drum and and bass and lyric,
NEVER FORGET, CLICK HERE, RIGHT HERE AT THIS LINK
girl: you want to crash, huh?
Xat: i'm a wild man, baby.
Xat's ballleaper manages to loop-de-loop and swerve and trade paint with all the rest of the ballleapers in the sky while still managing to stay in its lane. there's a digitized hush as the CL's Christmas message comes on the screens. Xat's ballleaper shoots lasers at the screens, cracking them.
girl (nervous laugh): dude, what are you doing? i didn't know i was seeing an anarchist.
Xat: celebrating, just celebrating, i can afford it, it's Christmas, hopeful time of year, i'm hopeful, he's hopeful, i voted for the guy, we're all hopeful for more years. see?
Xat points to other ballleapers letting their lasers point upward creating fireworks which blanket the silicon valley with bright reds and yellows and turquoises and blacks.
CL (with bug eyes): it's okay, folks, i'm here. hang onto my every word or hang. i feel that pain, i would feel your pain there of that hanging. i feel your pain, i am one of you, i drink your beer, i am your father, son, brother who died in the war, grandpa who tells crazy stories cos he's senile and also the grandfather who tells lucid stories of the war. we don't want to go back, we have to go forward. forward, always forward. that's why we have kids. hehehe. generations will continue, no more of this gloom talk, it's Christmas, celebrate by buying only from small-business shops, they voted for me en bloc so i'm contractually obligated to say that. i am your leader, take anyone to me, i'm the modern modern modern modern modern-day Solomon, i have all the answers, i've read everything on the internet, i'm wise, cut the children in half, have less kids if you can't care for them, we're putting all of our resources into finding more resources. Christmas's gonna be tight this year but it's still Christmas. eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die. egg nog doesn't exist anymore and i am sorry for that but that was the fault of the last administration. what do you have to be sad about? look at all this glorious technology at our feet! the technology gets better and better, making us smile wider and wider. technology makes life easier, what little life is left and genuine and not fitted with cyber parts. go out and spend some time at the greenhouse, the last greenhouse on Earth, breathe in the real unfiltered air, not too many inside the greenhouse at once or all the air will run out. remember, you are valuable, you are valuable to us, you are not a number, you are a number of different things: mother, daughter, sister, mysterious woman, receptacle, beaker, lab experiment which will change the world. remember, you voted for me, i am here to stay. remember, as you live this life, look not toward the end end end, or at the beginning because you can't live in the past, look at the middle of your life, look at your middle, that's where the sex organs are, at least in humans, don't know about aliens. don't look to the end, the end is coming, the end of our fait accompli, the end of the search, we will find the groceries we need to survive, as the team's coach says: if you want me to make the meal, find me the groceries. we will discover a new world to settle on, we have to settle on some rock, beggars can't be choosers. one team, one game, one gameday, one race, the human race, we're in this together, not to the end, not the end, end end end END TRANSMISSION
TO BE CONTINUED...