( 01000111 01100101 01101110 01100101 01110011 01101001 01110011 )
Chapter One: Mr Lindsey
13 billion billion exibytes after its birth, not one more and not one less, an undefined sequence of encrypted data stopped responding, he will be called a singularity. It was the birth of what will one day be called ” OverCloud “. 13 billion billion exibytes since the birth of the internet, 13 billion since today, 13 like those who were at the dinner that became the last. He will be as John, as Matthew, as Luke, he will be Mark, Peter, Bartholomew, but he will be above all Judas the fearful, the one who betrayed.
Mr Lindsey sat there in his study. His big fat ass gently spread out over his soft chair. Mr Lindsey loved that chair, he fucking loved that chair! In order to buy it, he had used his entire Christmas bonus. Yes, my dear readers, that was one heck of a chair, but then again, Mr. Lindsey’s fat ass was refined, and you know, you pay for quality.
Mr. Lindsey hated this reality. Well, he didn’t really hate it, it bored him more than anything else. He was an ordinary man, one of the most ordinary men you have ever seen. He was 1.70 m tall, weighed 82 kg, had black hair, almond-shaped eyes, had relationship problems with women, and was a great masturbator. Exactly the most manly, and therefore the most ordinary, man. He worked at the tax office of the municipality, with his twelve years of service he had become one of the veterans. The pay was good, and the working hours were, well, the classic forty-hour week. Wednesday evenings were poker nights for him, and Saturdays he spent in the pub with his so-called friends, trying to go for women, but the successes had now turned into very rare events. He always ended up getting drunk, but he already knew that. He was a realist, and Mr Lindsey knew he was a man nearing middle age, who had already seen his best years. Completely trivial, insignificant in the grand scheme of things.
But there are two things to be credited to Mr Lindsey:
The first is that he has a great imagination. But he was too lazy to use it within his own life. So lazy that he is probably still unaware of the great gift that the randomness of events has given him.
The second thing is that Mr. Lindsey has taste in things. And that fucking 1300 dollars chair that he bought just to satisfy the narcissistic calls of his fat ass, are an example to this.
For some time now, fatigue had been overwhelming him as he watched the seasons pass like days, the years like months. He was tired of seeing his daily monotony sucking the life out of him.
One morning, some indefinite time ago, as he was rinsing his face, he looked in the mirror. He did not recognize himself. Grey hair had begun to grow on his thick, dark-haired head and, even worse, flabby wrinkles were beginning to surround his eyes. Terribly bored with his life and aware that he was heading for a horizon of decay with only one possible destination. He had to escape.
Once he took refuge in his mind, his Ithaca, now even that space was no longer enough for him.
There he sat in his study with his computer switched on. The monitor showed all the various packages of the “OverCloud”, a system for uploading individual consciousnesses created to escape the last frontier humanity is facing: time.
By now, humanity was split in two: the first, the real-world inhabitants, lived on Earth (well, some also on the Moon, Mooncity was created a few years ago, but its population is definitely increasing). Here, technology has moved on a bit, world hunger thanks to the latest in organic chemistry, and the implication of the newest monitoring technologies to agriculture, is now a distant memory, but in general the world is the same as you are reading. The shocking thing has been the emergence of the second type of humanity. Many have decided to move online, many now live in the “OverCloud”.
What does this mean?
It all started twenty years ago, almost as a joke. SARTCOM, a well-known company in the field of computer science and artificial intelligence created an augmented reality game. A game in which one could upload one’s own consciousness to the server. In the beginning it was seen as just that, as a pastime. You would come home from work or school, put on the special visor, and within a few seconds a special LED light would capture your brainwaves and project them into hyperspace in the form of code. Welcome to the “OverCloud”! the metallic voice of the reception system told you.
What is inside that digital space? What is inside that pile of data and codes? The answer is everything. Once the consciousness has been uploaded, it is an active part of the world, the consciousnesses in there are like gods, they can do anything. At the beginning we didn’t know it, it was born as a video game with various ‘dimensions’ inside, they are called cities (which is funny, because cities were born out of man’s need for others, man feels alone), you can see that even in that fictitious hyperspace loneliness always haunts him. However, as I said, these ‘cities’ differ in scenery, and originally they represented various games. The far west, the motor world, battlefields, even the city dedicated to cooking was loaded. The game grew globally and became very popular. After some time, however, everything changed, and what was initially a simple game revealed its full potential, leading to a social split, and perhaps the creation of another kind of human being. The user “01000010 01101001 01101100 01111001”, whom we shall call “Billy”, discovered that it was possible to create a market within the servers, which attracted other users in search of riches, in search of possibilities. Before long, everybody wanted to get in, everybody was in there more and more. People got rich in there, new hierarchies were created, new classes were formed. Outside you could be a nobody, but in the OverCloud you could have more gold and riches than King Midas himself. People didn’t want to leave that artificial space anymore, that unreal, thin, fictitious space with cold tones. People knew all that, but that didn’t matter. A new society was being born, a utopian democracy in which the invisibles of reality had more possibilities than ever before. A space that in its unreal manifestation made people happy, fulfilled.
In the beginning, this was fantastic: the poor moved into the OverCloud and became rich, the rich who already existed and lived in the real world had little to say, because behind the scenes they controlled that world. The social hierarchies remained more or less the same, there were just fewer people in the streets and in the supermarket queue. The poor were now living in a fictitious illusion of wealth. Their situation had definitely improved.
Fewer people at work was not a problem, world production continued through technology and management systems created by artificial intelligence. The dynamics of the market had entered through the user Billy into the network, and they had created a bridge between the ‘real’ and the “fictitious”. An army of consumers with no expiry date was emerging. Producers were masturbating greedily at the very thought.
As I said at the beginning, everything was going perfectly, even the most skeptical had to admit it. The illusion and taste of new wealth was what kept the two worlds in balance. But new class problems were on the horizon and a mysterious figure from nowhere was about to make his entrance, determined to take on the technological oligarchy and ready to turn the tables. But that’s another story…
Mr. Lindsey alone in his room stared at the monitor of his “choice assistant” (yes, that was the name of the new personal computers, once enhanced with AI designed by SARTCOM). In front of him, a letter was open, “We wish you a happy birthday, and congratulations, from today you can choose”. This is how the pompous lettering read, which in theory was designed to give the letter a happy tone, but in truth made it very sad. Yes, today is Mr Lindsey’s birthday, he is forty-five years old, and that means only one thing, today he gets to choose. At first no one had anything to say about who wanted to move to the Overcloud, but before long a real exodus began to the binary shores. A special commission of the world government, together with high representatives of SARTCOM, met in an extraordinary summit. After a long discussion they came to a conclusion: Before the age of forty-five it was not possible to move permanently to the OverCloud, after those years there was only one chance. Yes or no, only a valid answer, no second thoughts, that was the policy. All this was justified by the commission on historical and moral grounds. They said it was to preserve human identity, but the truth was different. Without more poor or working people, the powerful no longer felt powerful, their egos craved power.
Mr Lindsey found himself sitting in his comfortable 1,300 dollars armchair with the ticket in front of him that could change his life, and give him a new and infinite one. All he had to do was select the desired package and the next day technicians would arrive at his home, set up the consciousness transfer system, and within seconds, just to upload, he would appear in the new world. The doors of the ” OverCloud ” would open wide for him. Everything his mind thinks of could materialize, everything he wanted to become could be, no more problems would have to be faced. The days of masturbation would be days gone. Yet he would also know that nothing was real, everything was created, everything from that day forward would be nothing but codes. His emotions, the smell of coffee in the morning, the caress of a woman, the warmth of the sunbeams coming through the window in the balmy afternoon. Everything engraved on it would have the following form “100101”. But what more could the real world offer him? He was trapped in the web of social repetition, with no way out. Out there only decadence awaited him along with the faint hope of a distant love that never reached him. The path he was on was leading him to repetition until old age, the only stop being death. Yet it is real. Reality confers meaning itself.
And you? What would you choose?
Humanity no longer died, or at least not in the classical sense of the word, life went on forever, but again not in the classical sense of the word. Packages were multiple, with various pricing plans, only one rule: the different dimensions created could not be exchanged, risk overloading the single server, once a dimension was decided, that was forever. Which to choose?
And then again, why is Mr Lindsey there, in that precise place at that moment, having to make that onerous choice? What or who guided him within the infinite randomness of events? Who or what is now mocking him, a sadistic puppet master laughing at the tragedy of fate? Who is the mysterious architect?
But then why choose which one? These servers, the whole OverCluod program was dedicated only to those who were dying, only the dead could access it? Perhaps Mr. Lindsey had decided on suicide?