Friday, October 7, 2016

Nightmare Fuel 2016 - Day the Sixth "Spex"

I'm a day late with this one, but promise to catch up.

This is a simple fable for the digital age, given a prompt which really didn't much speak to me.


It was the first day in a long time you'd been outside without your spex. You'd been advised against it, of course, but part of you wanted to see the world unaugmented, the way too few left ever have. The city seemed greyer, muted without the RealSenseColour Enhancement, sounds muddied through your bare ears.

You remember when their were still newspaper kiosks outside the train stations, the feel of newsprint in your hand and the black inkstains left on your fingers. You of course remember that long in-between-time when print shared the job with newly minted digital technologies. Now print is as dead as the buggy whip, the fountain pen, the nine-to-five job.

Nowadays, with everyone seeing through spex or implanz there's no need to press ink onto the carcasses of trees. Centuries later, Mr. Guttenberg's invention has finally reached obsolesence.

So anyway, you notice that everything is greyer than usual, unsaturated. And you notice something else. The peace mural is gone. Every day you looked up and, through your spex colour enhancement, gazed on an oversized image of The Cardinal Hilltom Rohny - once the first female Cardinal, before abdicating to  successfully run for the presidency - planting a tree in the Amazon rainforest. She was drawn as the kind of impossible giant only America could imagine in an act of kindness only a modern American could conceive.

At least that's what you usually saw.

Today, the mural's title was gone, the wall blank. A passerby sees you gawking at the empty space, glances up over your shoulder.

"Yeah, love it to. Really shows 'em what we're about, don't it?" You strain to make out his words; in addition to translating, your spex served as hearing aids, boosting the high frequencies that your ears couldn’t quite make out anymore.

You shake your head. "It's gone. Can't you see that?"

The stranger smiles, "Spex are down? They sharpen your vision. I can't see much without 'em on. Here, take a look."

He takes his spex off and hands them to you. Worldessly, you put them on and look.

The mural is back, but Cardinal Rohny isn't there anymore. Instead, the image - which the spex helpfully tell you is titled "The Damp Lord John Nut" shows Rohny's challenger from the last election, in equally giant stature, grinding dozens of South American aboriginal figures unter a continent-wide bootheel.

Your stomach drops. "What… what the hell happened? Where's President Cardinal Rohny?"

The stranger glares, snatches his spex back. "Are you some kind of nutter? Rohny got her fat ass handed to her in the election. As she should have."

He settles the spex back onto his face, nestling the earpieces into his ear as you answer, "Are YOU crazy? Rohny won. Easily. The crazies backing John Nut were just that - crazies. Nuts, if you will."

He smiles. "Funny. You had me going for a minute. But you're right. Nut's a great leader."

Realization dawining, you turn on your heels and sprint back to the train station, your head low. Avoiding eye contact with anyone, avoiding looking at anything.

You order your meals in, not again leaving your home until after the new spex have arrived, bringing with them a world you understand.

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