I scanned the data stream mercilessly, searching for the anomalies that would appear inevitably. My eyes pealed wide moving furiously over the screens 20 scans per second 1200 scans per minute, 72000 scans per hour 576000 scans per shift the data stream slipped by into the voids beyond my screen. Data stream heaven perhaps. I didn't know. I didn't care. This is where I was focused. Focus is faith. Faith is the dream. The dream is real and someday we will all be out of this mess and back to where we came from.
That's what the supervisor says anyway. I think she's lying.
My screen goes blank and I know my shift is done. I wash my eyes and walk away to join the line in the hall back to where they keep us when our time is up, until they need us again. We have replacements for when we sleep. But I don't sleep. Gargamel eats us five at time in great heaps and fits and I complacently take my turn to ride down his gullet and into his belly. How curious it might be to consider it otherwise, but I'm not curious. Curiosity killed the cat they keep as a trophy over the exits.
Who would want to go outside anyway with everything we have inside here?
My bunkmate is unimpressed by my story about the 3 anomalies in the same line of code I found today. So I grab a plate of tofu and cheese and bunk down to stare at the glow coming out of the ceiling panels for 8 before free time. Reverse and revise. "free" time. Running down treadmills for capacitor storage. I'm told there's a joke in there somewhere. From before.
Before what I don't know, and am told by others that I shouldn't care. Who knows? I don't. The sun is making it's way across the panels now and there's no guarantee it'll stop mid stride to say hello.
So I make my way to the end of the line and wait. What am I waiting for? There's a turnstile at the front which leads back to the apartments. The two in front of me are talking about the children. Where do they go? Don't they remember? Probably safer not to. I forget and stay put. The schedule is on time, the trains are not.
Days fly by. No sleep. I wonder what it was for anyway. Then I remember the dangers therein and stop wondering. Dreams are the enemy. Except for the One dream. Anything else is heresy. The white is peeling itself from the woodwork and dancing the fandango across the glow tiles. White on white. How can I see that? Must be different hues. Must be my imagination. What a terrible thing. Who equipped me with this incongruous apparatus? I should file a complaint. Or maybe I shouldn't. A bunkmate of the guy who stands in front of me... she filed a complaint. They took it seriously. Where is she now? I don't know. I don't want to know. This is important. Too much data can lead to corruption.
Information overflow and panic. System errors and catastrophic emergency shutdown. That's what happened. Have faith. Have faith. I scrub my eyes and stand in line. The data stream awaits.
Numbers, letters, abstract values represented by arcane symbols flow by. Right to left, bottom to top. I'm staying focused, watching for errors. For 8 hours. Waiting for the correct symptoms of incorrect utilisation of the wave form properties which have potential for synergetic values resulting in mass wave function collapse. I have no idea what this means. The light blinks which I ignore, followed by pressure on my shoulder. The supervisor is telling me I can go home now. If I try to leave sooner they will let the dogs out to drag me back. Permission is vital.
Get on the bus and greet the operator with a blank stare. I don't look at the ticket as it falls into the chute. Where does it go? What do they do with it? If someone knows they aren't telling me, that’s for sure. I'm fine with that. Data corruption is widespread and malignant at this stage of the process.
Less is better according to the ads. The bus is crowded and I am forced to stand. Not that I mind too much. When it's like this it's like a massage parlour on the cheap. I turn the key and walk in. My bunk mate lays into me with verbal fury. Where have I been don't I know the world is ending why am I not there who cares about the job. I don't care. It's just what I am supposed to do I guess…
I bury my face in the television. The man inside is telling me about the properties of the wave which will collapse all the potential events of this plane. It sounds interesting but I am really listening to the electricity flowing with the conduits, the capacitors and the vacuum tubes. They don't make television sets like this anymore, or at least that's the impression I get from somewhere deep in my mind. I accept this as fact and ignore the gnome stealing my potatoes from the bottom cupboard. They may not be my potatoes, but the attachment remains in place. I didn’t get here by making claims on property. She throws some money and a scrap of paper, and points at the door. Who is she and why is she doing this? I nod agreement and make my legs move. Drawn by unknown forces I find myself in a bodega two streets down and a block up. Everything on the list is here, except for the pre-moistened moist towelettes. Seems like such a shame. The small old lady who looks like she is crawling backwards from the end of her days wraps it all up in brown paper and sends me on my way with a thank you. I nod agreement and in no time find myself back. She tells me she is meeting something named Ron tonight and to make myself scarce. This means she wants me outside of my apartment before she gets back. I walk around in circles. Great arcs describe along straight edged streets. I lied they aren't circles. I look at the ceiling covered in stars. Sometimes one or another star blinks out. Sometimes the star turns back on. Sometimes it does not. Then I walk directly into something. I stop step back and see it is her. It is her. It is the girl that I don't dream about anymore. What is she doing here? I look at her blankly.
Back to top
I look up from my sprawled papers blankly. What is he looking at? Why is he of all people here? He should've stayed in my dreams. This is too much. Too much too much. My papers can collect themselves if they want to. I walk away and don't look back. We're out of time and I'm killing time. I walk by a sports bar and glance inside before turning around and into the front door. What am I doing here? I came here before. Memories of things called friends pull themselves up out of the back of my mind before I push them back down. Trust is a flaw I recite as if I am reading it from a poster. There's a gremel sucking the soul out of a hooker beside me as I sit down, and I close my eyes.
When I open them up again, there are five grey things with large back eyes and giant heads looking at me. They're looking at my tits. I close my eyes again and when I open them up I am in my bed. My butt hurts and I am covered in sweat. I want to scream but all that comes out is a slow quiet moan. It is time to get ready.
The anal probe comes out with my stool. I wonder what they would want that for when I remember curiosity killed the cat. I don't want to be the cat. I aim ready and fire slicing up the logs of waste like a space samurai pirate lord. And then flush. The person I assume to be Ron walks in to the washroom while I am letting the water shower me clean. He flushes the toilet and I ignore the drop in pressure, the increase in temperature. I watch for the anomalies in the data stream as it pours down my body.
I clock in and scrub my eyes. Numbers letters and arcane symbols representing abstract values float through the data stream. I am looking for anomalies in the potential waveform system. Systems are rarely closed, and susceptible to outside influence. When an anomaly becomes apparent, I press the red button. I press it now and a voice says thank you in a pleasant manner. I say to the voice your welcome without taking my eyes from the stream. If I miss the anomalies the dream will die and the voice will not be thankful.
The supervisor taps me on the shoulder and talks to me. She says to look at her when I am speaking to her. She comes back 35,673 lines later and tell me I missed 37 anomalies on the lines that I was looking at her when she was talking to me, and that I was to go home and not come back. Waveforms collapsed. Potential events lost potential and ceased to have a chance at existence. I stared at the glow tiles on the ceiling as the sun crawled it's way across them.
There were soldiers on the street when I went outside again. Tolchoks were eying their spines hungrily, waiting to reach out from the spaces between at the right moment and take their fill. I stopped to look at the poster and read it to myself aloud, “This never happened”. This seemed like the most important thing I had ever come across as I walked to the back of the line. They were serving tofu and refried beans again today. The tofu was formed into the shape of fish and served with tartar sauce. We were supposed to pretend the tofu was fish I supposed. I pretended it was vegetable matter instead and dug in, savouring every flavourless but highly nutritious bite. The boy next to me looked at me with shock as if he had heard my thoughts, and it wasn't until I looked back that I saw it was him again. How did he manage to survive I wonder? His existence must be strong to make it here and still exist.
I stopped her in the hall ad the words came spilling out. I told her everything and it was like she was hearing my thoughts. She looked at me blankly then walked away. We were not integers, which were assigned to one another. This would only add complex reciprocals to the waveform equations, which would in turn create unwarranted potentials, and endanger everything. Absolutely everything.
I put it out of my mind and forgot about everything as I sat down at my station and focused on the numbers letters and arcane symbols representing abstract values. I could no longer recognise the numbers and letters for being what they were, so I imagined them to be arcane symbols them – representing abstract values in the wave form. They all flowed by, right to left, bottom to top. Eddies and currents, which together formed the basis of reality on paper. But there was no paper here.
Sometimes the eddies formed into holes, and that's when I pressed the red button to let them know I'd found an error in the process. Then a voice would say thank you in a pleasant manner and I would silently mouth your welcome so the supervisor wouldn't send me to the incinerator for termination. Existence was perilous here, even without the imminent collapse of the state vectors resulting in possible contamination of the What Is and What Will Be. The textures were peeling off their surfaces now, but I ignored that and watched the sun crawl across the glow tiles on the ceiling as I pretended to sleep. The sleep was a lie, but when I sat watching the corners breath, my bunk mate became agitated and would begin yelling at me why was I doing that why didn't I sleep why didn't I go to bed why wasn't I normal. I know he was just trying to show he cared I knew this because I could hear his thoughts. I ignored them and let them slide into the sea of sounds of other people's thoughts as they bounced and bent against the sound dampening walls and glow tiles.
Back to top
When I opened my eyes again the wind stung my cheeks and snow stuck to my eyelashes. The wood sprites were taking wagers on who would fall first and be eaten by the merry tomtolkas who could only move next the ground (but not on it). I checked my watch and I was on the bus again.
Someone had just let one rip and everyone was doing a very bad job if hiding their disapproval, except for that girl, who was staring out at the floor but not at it. I decided not to warn her that there was an anomaly sitting in the seat next to her, and report it to the supervisor instead. The supervisor said thank you in a pleasant voice and I said your welcome before moving back into the line to be eaten in heaps and fits five at a time by gargamel. The sun was racing across the glow panels today, and I moved mindlessly to one of the wheels and ran. I ran and ran until I thought I must be out of Kansas by now but Toto shook his head and point back the way I came as if to say you can't go home again which is absurd because of course you can always go to any location in space, though maybe he meant a location in time... but whatever thoughts he had to expand the discourse with were cut short by a band of lawyers demanding retribution for sudden lack of existence experienced recently by their client base. I assured them that nothing was permanent, nothing set in stone and the universe would shortly correct the errors caused by the synergetic attributes of certain aspects of the waveform interaction with this plane. Then they turned into daffy duck clones and dived straight into the street, practicing their backstroke in rush hour and giggling like hypotenuse triangles.
I prayed for coalescence and Mary, daughter of mercy agreed, there would be no further fracturing of the space time matrix until next week at 3.46 pm on Thursday. I checked my calendar and the most noticeable event was that I had dinner with the supervisor that evening. I had noticed her noticing me and thought any little thing might help with my upcoming review and maybe the annual raise. The date didn't go as planned and after that it was difficult to go a full day without being scolded for tardiness in anomaly reports. The end of the world had come and passed with no delays in unsigned variable breakdowns interrupting wave nullifications in practical application of the already severely unbalanced equation.
When I looked back they were all screaming at us to come inside don't you know what you are doing turn off that zig come back inside before you disappear like the rest of everything else out there but we kept running hand in hand until we found the open corner store out there in the middle of the barren blizzard, each snow flake a potential waiting for it's probable entry into existence or lack thereof, shining. Line 7,038,943,235 showed promising revelatory trends in the waveform application, giving optimistic indications for stabilization of the unrelenting collapses and anomalous code entries present at all levels of the current state vectors.
I took a long drag from my cigarette before I remembered there weren't any anymore. Their existence had not been nullified as a direct result of the waveform inconsistencies, but rather as side effect of supply vs. demand in an unstable reality matrix. That's when I noticed him sitting on the bench across the waterfall from me, staring intently at it as if looking for the anomalies. If nothing else it confirmed my suspicion there were two kinds of people in this world – operators and supervisors.
Which is when all hell broke loose and started gutting people right on the streets… right in broad daylight. We ran as hard and as fast as we could not looking back as their existences collapsed with the state vector. Not noticing the smiling golems feasting on the still remaining essences of those who found themselves trapped in varying existence quotas. We ran through the blistering snow and ice against the wind caught in the vacuums created by sudden lack of occupation of spaces long accustomed to being occupied.
We made our way inside of the bunker then, and were separated by lines of flowing flesh, assigned numbers and co-existent integers to bunk with. Humanity would not end with this plane of existence said one pleasant voice through a loudspeaker. The dream would live. The dream was faith.
Faith was focus. All else was heresy.
I closed my eyes as the sun crawled it's way across the glow tiles on the ceiling and found myself dreaming. The sun was warm and the sound of waves crashing and potentials realized poured into my aural detection processes. I opened my eyes and he was smiling holding my hand and touching my feet with hers. Children could be heard down the way laughing and screaming joyful delight. The warm sand underfoot, one grain representing a single universe, a million to the millionth power grains of sand to every beach, a hundred thousand beaches strewn about here and there on the edge of every ocean and sea. I smiled and drifted back into sweet, selfless sleep.
Back to top