Blog Post #3
When I woke up after in mid afternoon, the sun was shining through the curtains. The thick air hung over the room like a cloud of smog, still and unmoving. An alarm clock blinked repeatedly, not telling time. The power must have gone out during the course of the evening, not that that really mattered. Rebecca was still asleep laying next to me. Her right breast was exposed above the duvet that covered the rest of her body. She appeared so calm in that position. I thought I should let her tranquil rest continue, so I did not disturb her.
I grabbed the pack of smokes from the nightstand and lit one. The previous night had been without end and I was grateful to be sitting in my own bed. Ribbons of smoke emanated to the ceiling, making the room even more shrouded. Events of my life up to this point were running through my head. I was at a crossroads and had to make a concrete decision soon enough. My thoughts wandered.
I snapped out of the day dream like stupor and went to the kitchen. Placing a pot of coffee on the stove, I went to the shower and cleaned myself quickly, returning to make breakfast, two eggs and toast. After my morning routine was completed, I left my apartment.
The summer morning was already extremely hot one. The two old women that sat outside the entrance to my apartment complex chattered away about the neighborhood gossip. They fanned themselves. I could see tiny droplets of sweat ooze down their leather, liver skin faces.
I walked down the street to the news stand. Ricardo had his attention on organizing the various periodicals and books. He was in his mid 20s. He grew up on the out in California and decided to come out here to pursue his dream of being a writer. When he was child, Ricardo told me that his grandmother would take him to the neighborhood library, allowing him to choose as many books as he could carry. As a precocious child and a voracious reader, Ricardo naturally grew up admiring the literati, and aspired one day to become one of the greats. One of those few individuals whose essence permeates through every day life.
“And what sort of breaking news do we have today, Ricardo” I said. He turned around and looked at me. It was a look of comfort and familiarity. I was taken slightly off guard for he no longer had the large, bushy mustache I had become so accustomed seeing him with.
“Same ole’ bull. Nearly every headline today is on the Royal Family. The King and Queen finally had their twins, future rulers of the land. What I don’t get is our collective fascination with the entire situation. The way I view I see it is that it’s just another woman, having kids. Half of the 9 billion of us are forced to go through the same, so what makes these two in-breed royal kids so special?” He said.
In the early mornings, when tensions were high in the city, Ricardo’s favorite pastime was spent on sociological musings, and mass obsessions carrying out. At this time of day, he wasn’t always the most optimistic, though oftentimes his acerbic wit made the day that much brighter. It seemed fervor reflected the temperature outside.
“Yes, such a shame so much is attention is wasted, on something so undeserving” I said, “But what can we do? Hey, it looks like business is a little slow. Why don’t you take a quick 15 minute break and come down to the cafe with me and have a drink.”
“You know that if the big man comes back and finds this place deserted, I’ll be in some shit. You’ve already gotten me into this mess several times before” He said.
“Just a little quick breather Ricardo, plus the walk down will be pleasant and good for you, you’ll need it.”
“Hey fuck you, I’m coming alright.” He said, climbing down from the ladder.
He wiped off his brow and we started down the boulevard, walking abreast.
We sat on a terrace overlooking the street below. The cobblestones reflected the morning sunlight and the birds chirped around us. Ricardo ordered a black coffee, as always, while I had a green tea.
“I think I might have found her.” I said, looking at the people walking hand and hand in the distance. It felt good getting this hunch off of my mind, talking it out with someone. Too often I was consumed, wrapped in my head with ideas and speculations. I oftentimes used Ricardo to explore my own opinions. He was a great listener. Without fail he could tell me when what I was thinking was complete shit, or what I had was something real.
“I’m sorry Amos, but who are you referring to? You always start our conversations this way. Can’t I get a lead into the situation, don’t you know how to give any backstory?” He said.
“Yes, sometimes I can do that. My apologies, Ricardo. Do you remember the work assignment I was given 2 months or so ago, to find someone to fill in for the interim position of Match Finder? My boss gave me a stack of applicants to parse through, looking for the perfect fit. After adamantly researching night and day, I thought that I would never find a candidate that was qualified to do the work we’re asking. It’s a complex job.” I said.
Ricardo looked at me with intent, interested in what I had told him. Behind those eyes I could see his mind working, remembering the last conversation we had about my search. It had been nearly a month, since the last time we had spoken. I wasn’t too surprised that he had forgotten. The problem had plagued me.
I took a sip of tea and let it sit on my tongue before swallowing.
“I do recall you mentioning that there was a difficult issue you were working on” Ricardo said. “This person had to be extremely proficient with manipulating people, interrogation skills had to be top notch; all of this espionage-esque qualities that most normal people don’t even consider, especially on a day to day basais. I haven’t quite figured out what you do for a living, every time I see you, you’re either walking aimlessly around the neighborhood, or taking the metro to the outskirts of town.”
“I’ve told you before, I work in data collection. Whether it is purely numerical or the information people emit while they go on about their daily business, I aggregate it and try to make sense of it all. It’s quite handy to be honest. Allowing one to almost make prediction of the future. Whether harvest yields halfway across the world will meet expected demands, or how far any given person travels away from their home via public GPS knowledge. Knowing what the masses function and operate allows you to be one step of ahead.”
Ricardo scratched his eyebrow and started to say something, but stopped. I reached into my pocket pulling out a cube, about 3 inches in diameter and placed it on the table, next to his porcelain coffee mug. The cube emitted a soft, luminescent glow, though barely noticeable if you weren’t paying attention. Besides from its perfect shape, it was rather nondescript. Ricardo looked at it with nonchalance because nearly every person had one of these in their possession. The cubes were standard issued for all citizens over the age of sixteen. Every type of information that you would it to store it would. Decades back, after man and machine fused through embedded neural networks, the ability of a person to track and record nearly every instance of their life was given to them.
“That’s all you have to show me, a standard issued cube?” Ricardo said. He looked rather unimpressed, though I wouldn’t blame him.
Feeling the eagerness that had flooded my body when I had originally stumbled onto the right path, I began explaining my position to him.
“As boring as this cube looks, it contains the key to finding the right person to take the position of Match Finder. The job is crucial to the functioning of our entire enterprise. We live on a massive planet that has been reduced down to the size of pin point due to our functioning and growing interconnectivity. Thoughts and feelings up until rather recently were strictly confined to individuals; now more than ever can we share these traits that make us human because of our increased technological capabilities. The Match Finder takes all of this collective knowledge and gives it meaning. It gives a sense of purpose to people the world over.”
“You’re meaning to tell me that based on some data, this person is able to give my life meaning” Ricardo said, looking perplexed.
“Definitely. Those electronic hook ups to your brain, are not only monitoring your vital statistics at any given moment or subtlety enhancing reality cognition, but at the same time nearly determining nearly every moment of what you have done and, as fatalistic as it sounds, what you are probably going to do. From this knowledge we can bring individuals, groups, pretty much any one together to a perform a vast interlocking human network. Though we are hardly aware of it, every person sitting at this cafe, is contributing to the consciousness of the whole.” I said.
“Just because the government has made it mandatory to get hook-ups once you turn legal doesn’t mean that a system such as one you’re working with can determine any given person’s purpose. I swear, it seems like this type of conservation comes up nearly every time we get together. You’re my friend Amos, and we go back quite a ways, but this I cannot get my head around, neural assistance or not.” he said.
Ricardo looked rather agitated. Talking like this always sparked a lively debate between us, on man’s quest for fulfillment, though I thought the heat was getting to him more so, cutting of his patience with me. I didn’t really mean to work him up so.
Our waiter came up to our table and with a plain look on his face asked us if we needed anything else. He had a hoarse voice, but seemed kind enough. I told him to bring that it was getting late and if he could bring the bill for us. I turned back to Ricardo, attempting to wrap up our discussion.
“I know sometimes what I say can come across as vaguely preachy and a little absolutist. I get it that it’s impossible to apply a formula to alleviate the plagues of our world, namely to come up with a reasoning behind it all. It sounds dumb, I know. In this cold, secular world, we can’t get enough about hearing that all purpose has been lost; that we’re totally on our own. I do agree though, that mankind has pulled itself out of the dirt pit and is climbing the ladder towards some destination in the sky, but I don’t think we’re there as quite yet. And that’s what I’m after, finding this person to give us all just a little boost that we need.” I said.
I looked at his face as he considered what I said; I didn’t always know whether he really agreed with me, or wanted to completely cut off contact and label me as a loon.
“Whatever you’re talking about Amos, sounds vaguely interesting, but it’s too early in the goddamn morning for all of this. Now can we just sit here in peace for the next couple of minutes and enjoy the rest of our drink. I’m sure there will be due time for you to find and implement what you’re looking for.”
The waiter brought the bill. Ricardo was one of those people that you could be with for long periods of time without really saying anything. Sometimes it wasn’t expected; we just enjoyed each others company.
Most of the windows of the buildings on the boulevards were wide open. You would occasionally see a vecchio sitting outside watching the traffic below pass by probably as they had done for the last several decades. I wonder what they thought about up there, with their youthful days gone by. If they had fulfilled the wants of their lives, and if they truly made others happy throughout the journey. I’m sure a few even mused on long lost loves, the one that slipped through their grasps like water. The summer was the time that made you feel alright, it took all of life’s worries and helped toss them aside, for the time being.
Ricardo and I walked back made our way back to the new stand, where we parted ways. I took a left hand turn down Via Maria, heading towards the metro stop. I climbed up the road as it turned into a slow incline. I took the steps down onto the yellow line going towards downtown. At the station a performer played Mozart on his violin and I tipped 50 centimes.
I got off at the Center Station line, making my way towards my home office building. Businesses on either side of the street were lined with windows, for all pedestrians to see. I passed a pair of two asian women with shopping bags filled to the brim. They were gawking at a jewelry store, their eyes reflecting the diamonds, rubies and pearls that had enchanted them. A clothing store with bright peacock colors stood out advertising heavy discounts while a beautiful androgynous figure one a holographic projection display beckoned any and all to come in to spend their hard earned money. It’s eyes made all effort to lock onto yours in an attempt to hypnotize you to come in. One had to either look up at the peachy sky or keep the gaze on each successive step to stay focused.
I kept walking until I came up to a medium sized squat building. It was several stories shorter than that surrounding it adorned with rococo motifs and tall, wide opaque windows. Above the entrance, the engraving was smudged do to erosion, but it might have said, Charles way. The clay stucco facade gave it a Spanish look. I took the steps inside, swiping my key card and opening the front door. The door receptionist greeting me politely.
“Good morning Mr. Pazei” he said, not looking up from his usual daily crossroad puzzle. I didn’t say anything, but kept walking towards the elevator. I had several things on my mind.
On the office floor, I made my way directly towards my bosses office, walking by several individuals hunched over their desks, wrapped up in their work.
I knocked on the door, and without waiting for a response I entered.
Mona was sitting on her desk, leafing through a large stack of papers. She had glasses on and as was usual, dressed extravagantly. Her pointed toe high heels were scarlet and she wore a charcoal dress.
“Looking lovely as always, boss lady” I said to her.
She looked up to me, giving a disconcerting smirk.
“Amos, You’re late, and I’ve been expecting you all morning. Please if you don’t mind will you take a seat.” She said.
Before making my way to her desk, I walked over to the counter top facing the window with pitcher of cold water on top. Pouring myself a glass, I wondered what this meeting was about. She knew that I was having difficulty locating our Match Finder. Operations here had been quite stagnant and in need of a little direction. All these people ever wanted out of me was my time and energy. That was the way it went in the world; chasing after someone else’s goal without ever looking up to realize what was good for yourself. I was getting old and didn’t know how much I had left in me. The recent search for this Match Finder had pushed me to the limits. I fantasized about the day I could get away from this all.
I walked over to Mona’s desk and sat down, facing her.
“Give me the situation, Amos” She said, sternly.
“As you know, you put me on this assignment a couple of months back. And I’ve worked my ass off to look for someone who meets your rather strict qualifications. Someone young, with preternatural abilities to tap into large groups of collective consciousness through neural networks.
“You and I both understand that only you could handle this responsibility. If I would have sent one of my standard agents out to the field, they would have either been slaughtered like swine or have gone completely psychotic, probably ending up in some backwards asylum halfway across the country.” she said, “But your gifts, Amos, no one on the squad can come near. I’ve seen you tap into another individual’s mind and damn near become that person.”
Of course neural networks had quantum based encryption software integrated with the microchips as well as the brains natural parallel processing ability. Thought could be shared freely between individuals, it was almost unheard of to crack into someone elses hardware. The only way around this was to have the user’s permission to share brain waves.
“Where is your cube, let me see it. I want to see your progress.” Mona said.
I set it on her desk. She dimmed the lights in the office. The cube was as usual, was glowing softly. I spoke a command to it. A holograph projected from it’s top side, streaming information to both of us. A young gentleman came onto the display, dark skin with intelligent brown eyes.
“This is Maley Shiq, born in Mogadishu. Twenty five years of age. When he’s not spending time down at his local recreational center playing ping pong he — ”
“Ping Pong?” Mona interrupted.
“Yeah, it’s what gives him focus, supposedly. They say it’s the world’s fastest game. Anyway when he was 12 years of age, he had his first incident of collateral destruction.”
A picture of a digital newspaper flashed onto the display next. The headline read “25 Injured at Marketplace in Freak Accident”.
“That day our young Maley was working as an assistant for a shoe vendor down at the market. After an argument with a patron, apparently over the price of a pair of Nike’s, said patron pulled a gun, and threatened to not only blow the brains of Maley but also, the vendor. The next thing that happened, everyone in the near vicinity had a neural malfunction, blacking out. After throngs of people came rushing in to discover the chaos, they found 2 dozen people in a light coma and a gentleman holding a glock .52 with no head; it had been blown clean off, and no where to be found.”
“And all signs point to our guy Maley?” Mona said.
“Yes, after Somalian military investigation, they pinpointed the anomalous disturbance back to Maley. With no neural implant, he had not only blown the fuse in the near vicinity, but killed a likely aggressor, all with no intention” I said.
“Interesting. So here we have this kid, clearly not of Global age for thought registration, tapping into the collective brain and causing quite a mayhem. I like him already. It looks like we have our Match Finder.” she said.
“Not quite exactly” I said.
“What the fuck do you mean. You’re on assignment this entire time, with paid leave and ample time to do your research. It looks like we’ve found our perfect fit.”
“Well since discovering his ability. He’s since used it for ill gotten gains. He runs a cartel dealing in illicit drugs that span a quarter of the African continent.”