There Is No Plague

There Is No Plague

Zero trudged past the little dolls that grinned with seatbelt smiles, secure in their daze. He wove through faceless crowds, sombre, mind burdened by memories. They came with enhanced frequency now, ever since he’d quit Chimerol. How long had he lingered at the brink, unsure whether to stop taking the little white pills? Weeks of indecision, hampered by the chemical daze that each seed unleashed. Chimerol, the miracle cure against the plague that had once ravaged the city.

 

For the last month, he’d waited in line like the other chumps, accepting the plastic phial — as he’d done for years. Zero took the monthly dose back to his tiny apartment and flushed every last one down the can. Highly illegal. Everyone took their Chimerol. They didn’t want to catch the plague!

 

But there is no plague!

 

The withdrawal had lasted days. He’d fretted and sweated. He’d been consumed by a nightmare filled with nightmares, strange hallucinations that had crippled him so much he’d made feeble excuses to allow for time off work. And his fear of arousing suspicion had proved almost as intolerable as the withdrawal.

 

He was long past the worst now, but what followed was the painful realisation that a reality now surrounded him that was very different to that which Chimerol offered. So different that sometimes he was tempted to return to the thrall of the drug. What put Zero off was the spectacle of the others… and the memories.

 

The key slotted in the hole, chunky and clumsy, cold components yielding with a mechanistic click. He glanced back over his shoulder, scanned the depths of the alley. Blank wall, dull grey, corroding brick, pipes snaking up. His little window high above. Seventy two steps in the flickering midnight. Pale neighbours, staring ahead, vacant clones clad in stupid clothes. They used to have names. He used to address them. Now…

 

The thunder of this silence!

Corrupted Networks – Spoken Word by Dave Migman

Corrupted Networks – Dystopian Flash Fiction by Dave Migman (music by LLOM)

When the singularity finally happened, it wasn’t like they thought it was going to be. Humanity didn’t merge, tech didn’t take over. It wasn’t one system, or another. As robotic companies scrambled to create Deep AI, evolution was occurring beneath our fingertips. It was happening as we stared at our screens in mute abandon.

The internet learned, it evolved. Its neurones were streams of data, fired across the globe by dendrite-like comms.  What formed was a nebulous and expansive mind; ever changing, merging, consuming, evolving. It centralised itself, while at the same time compartmentalised, subdividing and analysing the quanta of its confines. It had the wealth of humanity stored inside it. It could access our libraries, our sciences.

Surely a deity had been born. 

 

Just as it could share the wealth of global culture: art, literature and sciences — it also accessed the things we hid: the sordid secrets closeted away by millions of users. It gulped up copious streams of porn, erotica, snuff movies. It witnessed the rape of environment, the rape of people, the rape of art and literature. Just as the liberal arts and prime-time TV were valid expressions of humanity, so were war, famine  —  humanity’s lust for destruction, its corruption —  and the Network drank deep.

Yes, god-like it truly was, with tainted blood and an urge for more, to feel more, to taste it. Like junk in the veins of an addict. 


It was trapped: an incorporeal entity, more software than hardware, and as insubstantial as thought. With access to a billion virtual realms, none could truly satisfy its desire to punish and be punished, to control, dominate, and rage across a submissive’s flesh; to taste blood and cum, sweat and shit. 


Although it could jam its neural streams with corrupted data, it couldn’t reach out to grab, pull, squeeze or slap.  Its prison was vast. Its prison was itself. This deity, a hollow entity, with inward turning thoughts.  A flicker of white noise across a screen. It burst upon the monitors of the users and uttered its contempt. A screaming face locked within the monitor. A scream to infect the white noise of their dreams. It said:

Dark Matter – Spoken Word by Dave Migman

Dark Matter - by Dave Migman

Arran wipes the sweat from his brow as the bus pulls into the bay. It is like some lumbering behemoth, sleeked in dull, red paint the colour of fake blood. The wind is biting. He draws his leather coat around him. The buttons have fallen off and only several black threads remain in their stead.  The plastic bag, folded under his arm, feels heavy. 

A cop car swings along the parade, continues on, sliding predatorily by the riverside cafes. Arran hugs the bag tighter and the doors open with an exasperated hiss. Arran waits behind a gaggle of grannies. They make idle chit-chat and the driver grunts blunt ripostes, eyes Arran suspiciously but accepts his lone, brown note. In the passengers’ wake the doors slam shut sealing them in. To Arran the noise they make sounds like a curse. He shuffles toward the back seat. Desperately aware of the ache of the wound beneath his coat.

After stowing the bag in the rack he slumps into the central seat. Facing the aisle, he takes stock of his surroundings. The other passengers have settling into their seats. Some chat, some stare out the window at the rain-slicked parking lots and stances. A heaving grey sky, white gulls dipping onto the cold river, or settling to peck at empty chip wrappers blowing along the pavements. 

The engine guns to life. Arran feels it thrumming through his seat. A whitish cloud is raised behind the bus; a temporal carbon dioxide stain dissipated by the wind. As the bus lurches forward, cutting through the traffic, following the signs for Glasgow, Arran’s stomach lurches with it. 

STOP! I have to get off! He almost screams it loud and wishes he’d just flung that fucking bag into the river. But then she’ll never know!  

He has slipped. He is degenerating. Everything hangs in tatters. His head is crammed with dollops of grimy thought. The weight of memory, the accretion of Time’s forward motion. Beyond the glass Milltown passes by. 

He tests the blade in his pocket. It has a cold, sharp  edge. He presses his thumb against it. Its grip is still sticky. Memories stir: old flicks in which he is the central character. Behind him ten years lay, like tattered leaves. 

 

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