I don’t own the world because it’s a shithole and I don’t want it.
4 Days Later - Candy - The Sugar Lab
Wake up. Check phone. Curse Captain Industry. Sleep more. Shower. Fuck squidmaid. Eat pizza. Hit the club.
It’s an everything goes day. Start drinking. Smoke with Big Iota and Psi. Check in with Brian. He’s calling paintball suppliers.
“Hi! Do you sell paint by the case? Great! Who do you sell the most cases too? Uh-huh. Uh-huh. Uh-huh. Well, fuck you.” he hangs up. “Arsehole. ‘Kay, who’s next?”
“Marked Commandos.” says Orcette.
“Arseholes.” he dials. “Hi! Do you sell paint by the case?”
I lean over to Orcette. “He’s fishing for our pizza enemy?” She nods. “Is it working?” She shakes.
I tap Brian. “Can I try?” He shrugs, hands me the phone.
“Hi! We want to buy 500 cases of paintballs, and 100 markers. Yes. Today. Well, how many do you have in stock? Can you check? Yes. It’s for a movie. Zombie pigeons versus stoners. It’s a job. Oh yeah? I bet this is the biggest sale you’ve ever made. No shit. Who the fuck bought all that. Really?” I hang up. Look at Brian. “Weightwatchers.”
“Weightwatchers?” whispers Brian.
“Hmmm…” says Orcette.
Omicron walks down from his apartment upstairs. He has a girl with him. He walks her to the door. They kiss passionately. She leaves.
“Who the fuck was that?” asks Brian.
Omicron grins. Shrugs. “No idea.” Grabs a beer.
“What the fuck? Is it fuck a stranger day?” Orcette is looking through the indulgence calendar.
I laugh. I fuck a stranger everyday. That’s not entirely true. I knew that squidmaid.
“Seriously. You never leave the club. How did you meet a girl?” asks Brian.
“I met her at work.” says Omicron.
“What?” Brian shakes his head. “The fuck? You get fucked up and stare at your phone. That’s your entire fucking job.”
Omicron’s phone chimes. “Excuse me, I have to go to work.” He pops a blue pill, and zones out on his phone.
Brian pokes him a few times. No reaction. “I guess we’re done talking. Dang.”
I look at Omicrons phone. He’s watching a feed of a roomba with a robot arm cruising through a messy house. It’s tidying up clutter. Either the video is sped up, or the roomba is really booking. It’s doing a pretty great job, but sometimes it moves stuff to weird places. Whenever it does, Omicron stops it, and gives a little direction.
We party for a bit. It’s free day for most of us. We can do whatever drugs we want. We make the most of it. I get a little sloppy.
Captain Industry is broadcasting. I put it on in the main room.
“Overpopulation is the biggest threat to the human race.” says Captain Industry. “The Earth has limited resources. Our exponential growth is not sustainable. We have to grow in a responsible manner, and that starts with personal responsibility. How can you take care of others, if you can't take care of yourself? People who can’t even pay their own way are pumping out kids that WE have to raise with our tax dollars. But, we’re not helping them! We’re enabling them. Burdening them with more responsibilities, when they already have more than they can handle. No more. Enough with this cruel helping, it’s time for some tough love. No kids until you can pay your taxes. Get your house in order before you start a family. Trust me, you’ll thank us later.”
It’s absolutely quiet in the club. Everybody here is broke. We all just lost the right to breed. Most of us look confused. Orcette looks furious. She’s crying. Delta has his arms around her. He’s talking in her ear.
Maybe I shouldn’t have put Captain Industry on the big screen. I think I killed the party.
Captain Industry slows, stops. Time for Mr. Brightside.
“Teleportation. Tele-FUCKIN-portation! The laws of science got broke, and we’re all ignoring it! Sure, it’s fuckin’ scary, but what the fuck! It’s the solution to all our problems! And, maybe our death sentence. But, only if we fight with it. SO QUIT FUCKING PICKING FiGHTS!!! Leave people alone, man. We don’t know who made the God Machine. We don’t know who has it now. c.. …… …. …
Mr. Brightside fades out. Show’s over, I guess.
It’s still silent in the club. I haven’t heard teleportation discussed on a broadcast since the assassination of the last President. Speculating on teleportation is frowned upon, and people who don’t take the hint disappear.
And then there’s the God Machine. I thought only 6 people knew the God Machine was a thing that exists. How does Mr. Brightside know about it? Has someone been blabbing? Or is Mr. Brightside someone I know?
“What’s the God Machine?” asks Big Iota. “Is that the teleporter?”
Good question. Megacles thought it was. So did The Darkness. It was their casus belli.
I smoke. The God Machine was an artificial intelligence that guesstimated impossible math problems. It’s possible that one of the impossible math problems it solved was teleportation. That ain’t proof, but it’s possible. A couple people definitely disappeared when they fucked with it.
I look around the club. Drugs are still being consumed full tilt, but it doesn’t feel like a party anymore. More like a quest for oblivion. Soon, there’s only four left standing. Brian, Big Iota, Omicron, and I sit around a table. Brian’s rigged up a drone as a waiter. It’s not very smart, and keeps bringing the wrong drinks. We drink’em anyway. It’s a small amount of whimsy, and gives us a few laughs. Omicron is on his yellow pills. For some reason they make beer taste really bitter, so he’s mixing his with Pepsi. It’s hard to watch.
We get peckish, and a smarter drone appears with a large pizza. There’s a large note on the top of the box - WHAT WOULD YOU DO IF FEAR WASN’T HOLDING YOU BACK?
We munch in silence. After a bit, Brian asks, “Well? What would you do?”
“I dunno.” I say. “Fuck more strangers. Do more drugs. Murder The Darkness.”
They’re all looking at me.
I shrug. “Overthrow the government?”
I’ve got them thinking. They munch their pizza thoughtfully.
Fuck. I’ve got myself thinking. Thinking the damn thoughts I work so hard to not think. I look around for a distraction. Joint? Beer? TV? Video games? Uhh...sleep? Maybe I should work on Trouble. Fuck. I’m too wasted for that. I look at the pizza box. Murf. Maybe I should just think painful thoughts for a while. How bad could it be?
I’m supposed to be the Guardian of Humanity, but I have no fucking idea what I’m doing. It’s fucking tricky, because the biggest threat to humanity is humans. We keep killing ourselves and each other. Suicide and murder.
Suicide has the bigger body count. I tell myself it’s the bigger problem. So I work on it, and I can sleep at night, as long as I’m kinda wasted. But, it’s not the bigger problem. Sad people are just less scary than murderers. I’m scared of Old Money, and his prisons, and his cops, and his laws that are impossible to follow. I’m scared the Darkness, and her spyware, and her stealth drones, and her snipers.
She fucking took Megacles from me.
Whatever. That doesn’t matter. The God Machine is ultimate power. In the right hands, humanity can use it to infest the universe. In the wrong hands, humanity can be scraped off the Earth and dropped into the Sun. I’m not worried about the actual God Machine. As far as I know, Doc-Danger has it, and he’s no longer on Earth. But the God Machine is more than a physical device, it’s also an idea. Knowing that teleportation is possible makes it much easier to reinvent. The government's censorship is a poor defence. Everybody is trying to rebuild the God Machine.
Which highlights the hopelessness of my cause. Even if I beat Old Money and The Darkness, there’s still millions of other psychos working on a Neo-God Machine.
Also, what the fuck was Mr. Brightside doing name dropping the God Machine? I love the guy, but that was a dick move.
“I know what I’m afraid of.” says Big Iota. “I’m afraid to admit that Trouble is doomed.”
We look at him. He’s sad and wasted. He’s sad wasted.
“I’m not going to get my part done in time. We're going to lose the club first. Or, pizzabot will be taken down by a corporate copycat. Or, we'll all be in debt prison.” says Big Iota.
“You can’t get training data?” I ask.
He nods. “We’ve made a computer model that predicts when someone will attempt suicide. The problem is, I don't know if it's accurate.
“To test if it's accurate I need to check the predicted attempts against actual attempts. Which I can't do, because suicide attempts are secret affairs. They’re only publicly documented 4% of the time.
“Basically, Trouble gave me a list of about 2 million people who may have attempted suicide last year, which is way too fucking many. So I’m stuck - until I can sort out who tried to kill themselves and who just had a terrible year.”
“Okay.” I turn to Omicron. “Hey big guy, can you take those blue pills more than once a day?”
“I dunno. Let's see.” He pops a blue pill. Starts rifling through his phone. “Umm… yep! They only do brain damage if I forget to take the yellow pill after.”
“Right. Iota, send your list to Omicron.” Big Iota shrugs, emails the list.
“Omicron, validate the list.” Omicron smiles, attacks his phone.
We watch him for a bit, but he's not exactly a visual sensation. I get him to pair his phone with the big screen. It's hard to follow what he's doing.
“What programming language is that?” asks Big Iota.
“It's not coding. Those are text abbreviations.” I say.
“What, like LOL?” Brian squints at the screen. “Except for every word?”
“I don't think so.” says Brian. “I don’t recognize any of that shit. I’m not that old. Also, nobody is replying to that nonsense.”
“Are you sure?” I point to the list. 5000 predictions have already been checked.
“Holy shit!” says Big Iota. “How’s he doing that?”
“The Optimal Job Experiment. Take pills and answer questions. He asked the other Optimals if they were on the list. And they answered.” I do a few rough calculations. Looks like there’s about a million Optimals. Fuck. They’ve managed to keep this quiet. “Now they’re checking the list against their Facebook friends. There’s about to be some touching outreach to troubled pals. Seeing how they’re doing. On specific dates. The next step will be cold calling strangers to ask pointed questions about self harm. A new low for multi-level marketing. They should be through the whole list in a few hours.”
We sit quietly and watch the list get slowly sorted. We’re pretty hammered.
“What the fuck is this?” asks Brian.
“It’s the carrot.” I say. “First they drive you into debt. Then they make debt a crime. Then they take away your rights ‘cause you’re a criminal. Then, when you’re fucking desperate, they offer you an optimal job. It’s the solution to all your problems. All you have to do is take the pills.”
There’s no reaction from Brian and Iota. They’re asleep.
I drink and think. Omicron bangs away behind me. How did I miss this? I should have seen it earlier. I wish I hadn’t seen it. Damn my moment of clarity.