Family First

Author : Cameron Filas

It’s about a five year process, the whole prison-rehab formula. Since the introduction of Memwipe, crime rates have plummeted. The idea is to take a dangerous criminal, wipe their memory, then give them a basic education and return them to society.

Still, I’m not so sure it always works as planned. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always been a firm supporter of Memwipe. That is, until my brother got convicted.

It was a bullshit arrest. If your girlfriend leaves her apartment door unlocked, and you show up with flowers and invite yourself inside, I don’t think that’s really a crime. At least there wasn’t intent. The way he smashed open the other guy’s face when he found them in the bedroom was pretty bad, I’ll admit. He did have a sort of violent streak in him growing up.

It’s no surprise they nabbed him within the hour and hauled off to a rehab facility. With crime rates so low, anything like this makes headline news. I couldn’t believe it when I first saw his face on my TV.

He got out a few weeks ago. He’s simpler now, like a minimally functioning human. When you go through Memwipe, everything you own, your house, your stuff, your dog, it’s all taken away. Supposedly, exposure to things from before rehab can have adverse effects on the treatment. They also encourage family members to avoid Memwiped individuals, for the sake of society. But he’s my brother.

When he was released, I found him wandering through a mall by chance. He wasn’t drooling or zombified or anything like that, he was just…blank. I almost didn’t recognize him without his beard and colorful sleeve tattoo down his left arm. They use laser surgery to remove all tattoos, pictures from the past.

“Jake?!” I said. “Oh my god, Jake!” I gave him as big a hug as I could manage around his broad shoulders.

He didn’t embrace me back and, when I let go, only had a confused look on his face.

“It’s me, Sarah…your sister.” It hurt, him not recognizing me. But it wasn’t his fault. “Come on, you’re staying with me.”

We had been close all our lives and I couldn’t bear him being out in the world alone. It wasn’t breaking the law, per se, but it was definitely not advised.

Back at my place, Jake seemed to be having a hard time taking everything in. It would’ve been impossible for me to tell him we’re siblings without explaining why he has no memory of this. He just kept shaking his head, saying he didn’t remember.

Pictures of family vacations and Jake and I holding up beers on my 21st birthday hung on the wall down my hallway. He studied them intently, like a scientist who’d just discovered a new species. I kept tearing up, flooded with mixed emotions. In a way I felt bad for telling him what he’d done, and about the life he’d had before Memwipe. But he’s my brother. He deserved to know.

I couldn’t really tell if any of it was coming back to him, or if he was just soaking up what I told him. Either way, he started asking questions.

“My girlfriend, what did she look like?”

I dug through a box of old photos and handed him a picture of them together.

“I think I’ll go find her.”

I couldn’t understand his motivation. “But Jake, she cheated on you.”

“I know.”

I haven’t seen him for a week.

I hope that Memwipe really works, changes people. I hope, for both our sakes.

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Author : Roger Dale Trexler

“You really should try this,” Liz said. Her voice was distant and gentle, like someone talking to me from the end of a tunnel.

I turned and looked at her. She lay on the vacuum formed couch, her naked body sucked in perfectly, every curve, every contour fitted to pulsating plasma.

“No thank you,” I said.

She sighed and drew in a deep breath. “It’s awesome,” she said.

I turned away and looked at the ship’s control console. Lights glittered and circuits clicked. Everywhere, there was sound and motion. The whole ship, over two miles long and a quarter mile wide, was controlled from that console.

And, then, there was “The Void.”

The Void, I thought. It did not refer to the vast emptiness of space we were traveling through. The Void was a ship-wide interactive playground. It was the logical child of our Earth-bound Internet, but, now, we were able to plug ourselves into the system and drift through the Ethernet with our thoughts and feelings. The Earth was long gone—a victim of a massive solar flare that turned its surface into a cinder—but some things traveled into space with us.

I looked at Liz, naked and so beautiful, hooked into The Void, every nerve ending tingling. As I watched, she wiggled and moaned with pleasure.

“Join us,” she said, her eyes closed.

“No,” I replied.

Liz fell silent. I looked away from her because I knew what was coming next. It always came next. I found it disgusting, the way she satiated her needs on the void couch….and I remembered a time when we made love like real humans.

I walked out through the hydraulic door, not wanting to hear her sigh and gasp as she played on the couch with the others.

The corridors of the ship were empty. Everyone was fitted to a couch, enjoying what could only be thought of as group sex. The commanders and block commanders had forbidden true contact of the flesh unless approved beforehand. We were, after all, onboard a spaceship. We had finite space and resources. Population control was a must.

I walked through the quiet halls, past many, many living quarters. I knew they were all in the Void. It had become so popular.

I stopped at the arboretum entrance and looked inside. It was at the center of the ship, basically. I had heard that, on Earth, they had a city called “New York” that had a wooded park in the middle of it. That park was called “Central Park” and we had adapted that name for our arboretum.

I punched in my entrance code and a metallic voice said my name. “Harlan Kance,” it said, “entry approved.” I knew, somewhere in the vast computer, my entry had been logged and scrutinized.

The door slid open.

A gust of fresh air assaulted me. I stepped inside and started down the path, not noticing that someone had entered behind me. I heard a soft footstep, however, and turned.

It was a woman.

She put her finger to her lips. “Please,” she said. “Don’t raise your voice.” She pointed at the sensors nearby.

I nodded. I understood.

We walked into Central Park until we were certain the sensors could not hear us. “Who are you?” I asked.

“Kateline,” she said. “My name is Kateline.”

“Why aren’t you in the Void?”

“Why aren’t you?” she replied.

We stared at each other a moment and, for the first time in a long time, I smiled.

She smiled, too.

I took her hand and, together, we walked into the woods. The others could have the Void. We had something more real. We had found each other, two outcasts among many outcasts, at last.

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Author : Colm Scully

When Henry hit the curb he knew it was over. The sun had got in his eyes. He had bent his left wish bone badly and knew he could not walk straight. He called the recovery service and they lifted him into the van. He tried to keep upbeat, chatting with the driver as they headed for the depot.

He sat there in an armchair surrounded by old robots, all de-energised. He saw the look in his owner’s eyes as she talked to the engineer. He over-heard “no parts available” and “not much point”.

“We’ll be back tomorrow Henry. We’ll see you then”

He avoided her gaze, within twenty four hours the information would start draining from his memory banks.

He began to think back over his long life, his being switched on, the journey from the factory. He was a prototype, first in a long line of models, built to last. Before they cheapened the materials. That was back when robots were King, could do no wrong. He worked hard for all his owners, helping them with human life’s practicalities: childcare, car maintenance, adult education. He sniffled slightly. He now wished he’d been more careful, worn those sun glasses Margaret had given him.

She’d been good to him since the anti-revolution; the Advent of Sameness. Took good care of him while others were thrown on the scrap heap. He moved in his chair to ease the pain, reaching down and rubbing the human like skin across his leg. His ankle was skewed ninety degrees outwards. He looked around him, he was just an old machine. Gone out of production since the technology cap. No one cared for his kind any more. People lived as people now, happy with what they had, and Margaret had no money to repair him. Even if she could scrimp it together, he knew there was no way back.

He thought of all the changes that he had known in his life: Omni–science, Suicide Rights, The trips to Mars, Zero Warfare, The Cybernetic Bulge, and then the changes stopping change. It was strange he thought, as some one dimmed the lights,how the smallest event can alter everything. Like when parents were arrested for stealing sweets from their children’s party bags. It made all the humans stop and think, where were they going? Like hitting a curb at four miles an hour, that you always knew was there, your eyes blinded by the sun.

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Letter to All S. Mundi Network Users

Author : K. J. Russell

The moment of transition was 7:34 AM today, July 17th, and this one was unique in that nobody saw it coming. Haverforth Diedeli finally stirred awake thirty-four minutes after his alarm clock began to buzz at him, and at the moment his eyes popped open and his brain started to churn out thoughts, he was the main man. Suddenly, out of nowhere, Hatherforth was the single pivotal human out of the entire species, and in a span of seconds, we are sure you all noticed.

We would like to apologize for any inconvenience and offer this explanation:

Transitions like this are usually prepared for by S-Mundi network adminstrators. The Mindshare Protocols most often focus on a single human for a few decades, since they automatically route into the most intelligent human brain hooked into the network, and that doesn’t change as often as you’d think. Ninety-five percent of human intelligences fall naturally into the range of below-average through super-genius, but there’s a few outliers in the mega-genius range, and one stand-out. For the past thirty years, the mindshare protocols have been routing through Flynn McKermin, whose IQ is an entire standard deviation above the next highest human. So the Mindshare Protocols automatically utilize his intellect, via the S-Mundi network, to increase the intelligence of all connected human brains. So great has been McKermin’s contribution that for these thirty years, the mean intelligence of our entire race was raised by slightly over a standrad deviation, with a mean of 120.

As near as we can tell, however, something in Haverforth Diedeli’s brain switched into place this morning and his IQ shot up, however temporarily, to over 250. This, of course, triggered the mindshare protocols to switch to him and within minutes of that moment, the human race suddenly had a mean IQ rating of 175.

Everything stopped for a moment, and then moved beautifully. Thought became fluid, smooth, vibrantly colorful. In a whirl of ten minutes, novels were plotted, algorithms resolved, models of the universe were turned upside-down, old religions collapsed and rose as newer, more morally superior institutions. Here at S-Mundi Corp, we underwent the quickest and most efficient coporate restructuring in the history of business! The entire universe seemed to move under our feet, but it did so deliberately, and we watched its each and every twitch with complete understanding.

At 7:42 AM, however, Haverforth Diedeli died of hemorhaging in the brain, and the S-Mundi network suffered a complete collapse. He was found dead standing up, leaning against a wall, his hand clenched around a pen so tightly that it had shattered between his fingers. Written over cheap, hideous wallpaper, were the desperate words: “You fools! It’s so obvious! It’s right in front of you! It’s in your eyes! It’s in your eyes! It’s in – rathgn mthrath senesh in your eyes mthrath rathgn sle the gods in my tumor the fsleshr say it aloud-”

S-Mundi network administration would like to warn all of you to show extra care in your decision-making while the network remains down, as the current mean intelligence of humanity has returned temporarily to 100. Downtime is expected to be minimum, and we are all doing our best to fix the problem in such a way that it does not occur again. We are also taking this opportunity to apply a hotfix to certain teritiary functions, improving the system as a whole. The Mindshare Protocols are expected to revert to Flynn McKermin when the network comes back up sometime tomorrow morning.

– Office of the Chair of PR, S. Mundi Corp

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Author : Tamara Rogers

They gave me a million eyes. Well, not a million, more like a terra-billion, a bajillionzillion. All x to the power z equals I want it I see it.

Excuse me if I’m not too precise, there’s buzzes coming in and network trails running through. Dope data distraction.

Take the details of my promotion. You could read it if you like but it’s all clauses and multipoints and corporate trash. The upshot is that my work on Animal Farm Mark 4: Kids’ Revolt was just too fucking good. I ran it smoother than if I was taking candy from a baby. It was a bit harder when they’d activate the RattleBattleTM weapons but that only usually happened at level 4 and mostly they just stuck to the kindergarten stages talking weed and dates and shit.

But this is something else.

<HTTP ERROR 400: Bad Request>

Ignore that, just glitching. You know, first day ripples spreading out, settling in.

Where was I?

That’s it. It was all toddler play, pissing about monitoring kids and their pumped up avis, throwing my weight around in their digital playground. This is just something else. You should have seen this guy just then; paging through the usual facetime porn they all go for, then he only goes and gets his ferrets out. Bloody hell, I don’t think they liked it. Cardboard tube Armageddon.

<HTTP ERROR 404: Not Found>

Forget that.

Tell me – what would you do if you were everywhere? Cos that is what it’s like. All the tentacles of the world, they’re all right here – hardwired fingers dripping into my brain, all hot and sticky and delicious.

<HTTP ERROR 403: Forbidden>

Of course, this is technically probation, but, you know, fuck that – how can you be on probation when you’re the one in charge of the grid? I make the rules. I am the rules.

Jesus, this is awesome. You should be here, you should be me – get to see it all, take it in. But, hey, there’s only one of me and it’s fucking busy.

<HTTP ERROR 429: Too Many Requests>

It’s coming in quick now. Faster, harder. I’ll tell you more but, hang it, I’ve gotta see this… There’s a woman in China and her voice is leaking through like it’s pure fucking silk… There’s a kid in Devon and he fancies himself a crackhack. He’s sending out reams of cover-emails that ain’t even coming close to hiding his bandwidth Ponzi scheme… There’s a guy in Belize and he’s running sermons and preaching his church, making noise over the web and calling himself God.

I squeeze down on his network supply, watch his face flicker into nothingness.

I turn him to black.

Cos he’s wrong. He can’t be God.

Cos I am.

<HTTP ERROR 418: I’m a Teapot>

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