I refer to them as creatures in spite of their obvious intelligence. I refuse to acknowledge the tree-sized tungsten-based life forms as anything other than inferior to humans. If you insist, I admit they have shown some resiliency and even some unexpected ingenuity, particularly in the South American campaign. This is due to the differences in the way we process information and respond to stimuli, not some inherent advantage over us. Mark my words, we will prevail and drive these abominations from the Earth.
The first hundred days of eating the same thing for every meal is the hardest. You still have the memory of what other food tastes like, sweet, sour, savory; and the texture, the pleasure of crunching a raw carrot or the snap of fresh snow peas. Pop corn. I could kill for some pop corn. Now it’s all bland. And soft. And nutritionally balanced. No more worrying about gaining weight or getting too much salt or not enough of anything. Our keepers make sure we are well cared for. Except they can’t make us enjoy it. Now that my tastebuds have atrophied, I can’t even taste the whatever-it-is they serve us, and like I said, now that the memories of tangy rhubarb, that burst of a cherry tomato, have all faded, I don’t even miss it. Well, I guess I still miss bacon.
How do you keep a secret from yourself?
Direct Messaging (pronounced dee-emd or dimmed or even dammed) changed pretty much everything. No one went to school any more. All you had to do was to put on the DM cap, confirm credit transaction for the information you wanted, and the knowledge was directly implanted in your brain. The whole process takes about a minute to learn the equivalent of an entry level college course. For common information like geometry the cost came down to a few credits, less than an hour of minimum wage income. Some course, civics for example, were state sponsored and were essentially free, if a mandatory indoctrinal course could be said to be free. Depends on your point of view I guess.
Learn a new language? Easy. But why bother unless you were planning to travel to a foreign country. Besides, people had so little need for language any more. Communication was direct: thought transference came across as more of an image, a memory, no need for interpretation. If you needed to know something, cap goes on, info gets dumped. Have an implant? A bit pricey, but many find the funds to get the procedure done. No need to even wear the cap.
So much has changed since DM. No one talks and more. Why bother. It’s too inefficient. Information iteself now passed as the coin of the realm. Need food? Think up a new idea, file for a copyright, put it out on the market place, and watch the credits roll in. Innovative thinkers became kings. Conformity was the same as unemployment. Weird dreams, collections of sounds, raw data of people’s behavior, extreme sensations; those were best sellers, and the more bizarre the better.
The room settled into a calm quiet. Dust motes drifted in the shafts of sunlight pouring in through the broken window. He waved his hand through the light, enchanted by the swirling sparkles. How many days had it been since last he’d seen so much light? A week? A month? He couldn’t remember. Too long.
The vines would be going crazy, he knew, with all the recent moisture and the sudden infusion of light. They grew well enough in the gloom, but for now, he’d never be able to keep up with their growth. Have they gotten into the chimney again? He dreaded climbing up on the ladder to check. The last time he did that, the vines tipped over the ladder and he’d had to jump down, almost breaking his ankles.
Two years ago the vines first appeared, a genetically modified plant from a small laboratory trying to find better disease resistant crops. Fast growing, invasive species, displacing all other plant life. In a day, the vines could turn an acre of farm land into a choked jungle. Roads became impassible. Small animals went missing, then larger ones, even people. No one wanted to go outside any more, and who could blame them?
Mrs. Johnson, thank you for meeting with me today. As you know, I have some concerns about your little Johnny. Yesterday, whilst we were visiting the Old School. It’s a module in our history of the 21st century. You wouldn’t believe some of the things they did back then. All the children in a room together, all those germs and infections. It’s a wonder any of them survived it, frankly. Anyway, we entered the computer lab. Remember those from the history vids? Desks again, and each one had a box, a computer, and on the box was a monitor, an actual physical display. Get this, they each had a physical keyboard. Qwerty, if you can believe it. Just imagine. So to get to the point, Johnny reaches out and picks up a mouse, one of those input devices? I didn’t even know the sim allowed for that kind of interaction. So Johnny picks up the mouse, and all of a sudden he starts looking pale, and his avatar wobbles a bit, and then he flips off his vid feed. Poor dear starts retching. I can hear it. The whole class can hear it. He forgot to mute his audio. This type of physical reaction is rare, but it might indicate an underlying allergic condition to digital environments. We’re all very concerned about Johnny and think you should send him to a specialist for an evaluation. I know it’s a bit of a shock; please don’t cry. I’m sure he’ll be alright.