Author : Clint Wilson, Staff Writer

Falkland brushed past the patrons in the smoky bar. He had not visited such a place as this in decades. But he heard that they were back, and he had to see for himself.

Glancing around one last time he advanced on the booth. He looked down at the payment slot and was not surprised to see that it still accepted sticks. He stretched his long unused monetary storage capsule out to the end of its coiled cord and touched it to the slot. Immediately the booth flashed to life and a tutorial started to play.

In the hologram a jaunty blonde fellow in a shiny green suit stepped forth in mirror-polished shoes, while a bland but upbeat orchestral arrangement droned in the background.

“Welcome back citizen! Now before we begin, please allow me to orate a brief history on fortune telling, for your benefit.”

Falkland looked for a “skip” or “close” icon but there were none. Oh well, he figured. I guess for a hundred bucks you had to listen to a little preamble.

The hologram went on, “The beginning of the mapping of mankind’s forward progression really dates back to the early computerized categorization of personal information. From files as simple as home addresses and telecommunication access numbers, to more complex examples containing behavioral habits and psychological patterns, information gathering evolved quickly.

“But then once personal handheld com devices and, soon after, cyber-integrates became commonplace, it was easy for the web to follow the majority of society in its every move. And as mankind became more and more integrated with the web it became possible to track nearly every thought had by every human everywhere at all times… and as the web became faster and more powerful still, it began to run more and more complex simulations. And before long it was accurately predicting almost every single instance that would ever take place amongst humankind.”

Falkland knew the rest of the story. He closed his eyes and rubbed his temples as the holo went on to summarize about how fortune telling had eventually almost wiped out the human race. (A much longer tale, and thankfully not one that the little CGI character was about to make him endure) And of how the global elders had only just recently begun to allow “limited” forecasting under strict regulation. The parameters were stiffly regimented. No specifics were to be given, only vagueness. But at least there was one failsafe. The machine could not lie. Falkland knew that whatever the booth told him would be true.

So as he waited patiently for some high tech tendril of the web to calculate everything the entire network knew about him in a few seconds, he eyed the fortune slot. No matter what it said, no matter how vague, he knew it would be true. That was the one thing he could count on.

Suddenly a plastic card rattled out of the slot and hung there by its corner as if though supported only by the apex of fate itself.

Falkland glanced around nervously one last time and then plucked the card from its slot. Whatever it said, no matter how bizarre, he could be assured that it was absolutely accurate. He flipped it over and read, “The fate of the world lies in your hands.”


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