Do you know yourself? Are you disciplined and aware of the animating wind? Do you have a code so you can decide, like a samurai, in seven breaths? Sorry, I don’t mean to overwhelm. Interviews are tough. But this is what I’d ask you, if you were me, in the Clubhouse doge-house.
Sure, I’m stunned. The doge-house is alienating yet I’m at home here. Because alien. I know alone. I’ll wait for the trees to tell me what’s next and I suspect it won’t be simple stuff, like blowing shit up. The old growths demand slow unraveling, poetic deconstruction, not fast disasters and cheap thrills. After all, this is not Colored Pills.
Purpose is almost discernible. I didn’t come here to win anything. This is why I came, maybe — a comedy shot through enemy machinery. If it takes time, fine. I’m on another dimension’s schedule, trees speaking slow and soft, with all the time in the world to take back the world.
Am I up to the task, you ask. Yes. I’m neither fearless nor afraid. We’re told to fear much, mostly shadows on the wall. For example, the Disco Ninjas fear Candy Cane and her daddy, the billionaire drone delivery king. But I’ve worked with murderers in unguarded rooms and had to hand them pens that could be used to stab me. So I’m not scared of anyone’s daddy. I’m just waiting for the whispers of redwoods to translate into action items on a to-do list. Then things will really fall apart.
We’re off to a good start. Watch the unraveling happening all around, our tentative balance lost. The day after Ampersand Matrix reprimands me via MidCorp at MoreCorp People Operator Goddess Smith, Wolf refuses to drive to Silicon. I’m secretly pleased by his wounded pride on my behalf but remind him that he still has a chance in the Lovesport, warning, “Don’t show the feels.” It’s what he usually says.
Wolf rolls over in bed, covers his head with a pillow. Even Hound, usually so eager, stays slumped against him, snarling. I go out alone, resisting the strong pull of the crooked cabin, hidden in the mountain. Outside the forest is dark, the path to the road jagged and steep.
The drive to Silicon is long, as is the day. In the Clubhouse people make robot sounds while I dream of escape, anticipating orders from the forest. My return to the safety of the redwoods is delayed by an autopilot truck overturned on the road, its load of synth-veg rotting on burning asphalt. By the time I wind up the mountain and down the treacherous path to the tiny cabin, it's late, dark.
Wolf and Hound are in bed again or maybe they never left. My true love sits up when I turn on the lights, feigning interest in the day. I want to tell him Candy Cane sneered at Ampersand Matrix triumphantly when I passed and that Chip Brew said he knew I was going down. But I don’t. Wolf’s dark eyes are clouded and ringed. He’s preoccupied, elsewhere, mulling deep curses for the shallow.
The next morning Wolf returns to the Clubhouse, resolved. He clears his desk of evidence of more-more, cuts soc-nets contacts, refusing to plus haters or anyone else. In the back of the parking lot he burns bits of paper with the names of enemies and curses their futures in Wolof, a trick picked up in West Afrix.
Later in the week, the SKI Team gets a message from our leader, Ampersand Matrix — he’ll be away tending to his wife’s wounds. She was boiled in oil and both of her hands are fried. I dare not look up at Wolf, two pods over, though I’m impressed by his fast magix.
“Don’t do anything for me, especially not curse Ampersand’s family!” I chide him as we’re walking to Meat Up for lunch. Still I can’t help smiling, thinking Mrs. Matrix won’t be holding any burgers in her crispy mitts. But Wolf is serious.
He reminds me, "Prong three, Ellipsis. No cost-benefit calculations. I told you when we came X-Country and now it’s time. Those in chains must complain.”
“Be careful,” I say, nervously.
“You be careful,” Wolf growls. “What the fux, El! You’re why everything sux!”
He’s right about that. What happened? Nothing. A distasteful doge-food! Or was it that? Failure to deliver a compliment sandwich. It would be funny, except little of this amuses anymore, not even biz-buzz. Now I get what Spam said in our impromptu interview, long ago, before the Disco Queen — patents granted and pending — was maybe dead or disappeared. She told me this isn’t poetry, not a lit crit but business, people becoming machines in a race against machines we can't beat.
Naturally the question must arise then; what’s it for? Why work? Greenies, of course. But I wanted a less lizard-brained life, evolution. No one’s actually trying to kill me as far as I can tell (AFAICT), though it feels like it’s life or death. That’s not how it is. I’m too small to fail and too weak to kill. Yet still every day I dread going to Silicon.
Do I just feel dumb for squeezing my life into a cube, neat for a spreadsheet? That stupid list of strengths and sux in my Lovesport application! Yes. I TLDR’d myself, only to be marked NR and tossed into the Junk Heap. Or is that what’s worrisome, becoming junk?
First we ping, then we ding, and finally we fling. That’s what they said in the beginning, and now I wonder how many pings and dings before the fling. Remember, everything is compost. So, every day I wait for the ping from a People Operator saying I’m done. Now I know there needn’t even be a reason.
Meanwhile, the nows of my first ill-fated meeting with Goddess, and its likely consequences, travels through the Clubhouse. Haiti consoles me as we’re outside smoking in the shade of a parked car one day. The late summer sun beats down hard on the parched land of prosperity, a concrete expanse. I gaze into the distance at the lush plasti-grass lawns and enviro-clones of finer parts of the world-famous MoreCorp Silicon campus as I inhale poison and accept the judgment, which I’m told is that of everyone, generally.
“You were good, Ellipsis — obviously, awesome.” Haiti pauses to examine me anxiously before getting down to brass tacks. “But no one messes with Candy Cane, however smartsy. You knew that. You were too real, babe. Fake it till you make it.”
This statement might be meant as a kind of compliment but it’s also a doge-food, a critique of the Keeping It Real Committee. Most importantly, it reveals that already I'm past tense. One down. For the purposes of the game, the Lovesport, I am dead, a ghost in the midst of players. Invisible. Soon, Haiti will be best friends with Zen, who’s a major contender, and Candy who has Big Daddy’s billionaire influence if no intelligence.
It’s pinteresting watching this phenomenon, even as it happens to me. Behold as MoreCorp makes truth. The corporation decides what is. It is what MoreCorp says it is. Old allies doubt as I lose approval’s golden glow, and rightly so. First I was good. Now I’m bad. Nothing adds up, so I must be fux. If I was really awesome, MoreCorp would know because game recognize game and its People Ops are tops, uniquely skilled. Why protest? It won’t make sense — MoreCorp runs the Single System System and I am but one citizen. So I do nothing, waiting for instructions.
The most important thing is the animating wind. While we are breathed, we can be on any timetable, any dimension, even that of trees. It is what it is but things are not what they seem. You’ll see. Tears will fall. Lakes will fill again. Curses will rain.