Hell to pay 2.0Los Angeles Post-Examiner

Hell to pay 2.0

You’ve probably already seen the posts.

As of November, 2019, Bladerunner is no longer set in the future.

We caught up with Phillip K. Dick’s dystopian vision of the future and now live in a real life dystopian present.

We didn’t get flying cars and humanoid replicants but we did get nasty weather.

People living on the sidewalk and fires.

No Off-World colonies, but a carrot and stick approach that they’re just around the corner. And the corner’s getting closer.

We should be arriving at our destination any millennium now.

We do have starships though. We always have. One. One that houses everyone and everyone that ever was. A somewhat spherical construct with a semi-porous force field instead of a hard shell overhead: our ionosphere you can see through — and the Van Allen belts, invisible, way out: protecting us.

Protection, for the most part. Every so often an asteroid gets through though — and we start all over.

Probably all part of The Plan. Anyway.

Revolving at 900 miles an hour, simultaneously orbiting a star, a sun (called the sun) at 19 miles a second, and the galaxy itself at around 40, 000 miles an hour; it’s more of an amusement park ride, instead of an actual transport. But we’re going somewhere, albeit hell in a hand basket.

New climate. Recreational facilities.

We’re probably going to get the replicants soon enough. Easier to make slaves in a laboratory instead of mechanical devices with AI to torment us.

I’m understand you wish to speak to a customer service representative but I need to ask you a few more questions…

Genetic engineering humans is said to unethical, but when has that stopped anyone when there’s money to be made? A solar system, a galaxy, a multi-verse rich in mineral wealth and untold treasure, to exploit — especially now that we’ve just about used up our planet and wrecked our space ship, our Earth. Stop the world, you want to get off? Not so fast. And not over your dead body.

Death in the future will be a temporary inconvenience.

That will catch up with us.

You’ll be standing in line just about ready to board for your next destination, heaven or hell, when TSA will want to talk to you.

AI will have counteracted the personnel, with the funny voices, unfamiliar accents you can never understand, calling for you over the PA. As you hurry up and wait. Two steps forward, three steps back. At first, speaking into the microphone, slurring and spitting up, their voices will be modified to sound exactly like Bill Kurtis, Damian Krall or perhaps Oprah. But with ear buds, who hears anything anyway. Later on with an implant, made by one of the big names, your podcast, your music, will be interrupted, briefly, in your native tongue, and you will be asked to go upstairs and then go through screening all over again.

Are you pockets empty?

Death is bad for business.

They’ll reanimate you, from what DNA is left of you, as they unearth your coffin, or open up your ash bag. With all that wasted land for cemeteries, freed up, not only making way for more expressways, retail establishments and golf — but adding another tax paying citizen back in the work force as more and more people will be needed to service the national debt.

Of course by then it may be the interstellar debt.

Finding yourself awakened, in god only knows how many years from now, with a bill to pay.

The last thing I remember was having my car jacked and being shot in the head. What a drag that was.

A bill to pay? Depending on what’s left of you, you may have a lot to pay, should you need a total rebuild, or a little less, if they can reuse your skeleton — and don’t need too many teeth. If they have to make you up from scratch and give you a whole memory package, you’ll be paying through the nose. You don’t get to choose your nose but you can always change it later, just like nowadays. Or your sex. They’ll be up to about around 20 by then, instead of the 4 we have now. Or the color of your hair. It’s good for business and we’ll need more mouths to feed to perpetuate the economy and the over production of food, services and goods.

As you wander around aimlessly at first, some familiar faces will be there to greet you. Either holograms like the McDonalds in the near future, just past the kiosk where you order, or actual. You’ll see your previously deceased mom or your Uncle Fritz next, holding a sign with your name, at the edge of the baggage carousel. Maybe your cat. Yes, you will have baggage. The baggage you carry will accrue, doing push-ups waiting for your return and hit you like an ice trawler in the belt. Your savings however will have been absorbed for the Greater Good. Uncle Fritz and Mom will get you an Uber and help you to your quarters.

Now what?

I’ll be the first in line for the implant and memory upgrade.

No more passwords, access cards, credit cards, debit card, reward cards, ID cards, membership cards, receipts falling out all over — or having to open your phone to make a call and pop in your earpiece.

In the lower left corner of my usable consciousness, I can run an app continuously monitoring the whereabouts of my gloves, my keys and my glasses. I may pay extra too so I don’t see all the pop-ups and the ads. When I take time to actually sit down or relieve myself, I’ll have to lean my head against the charging plate. You’ve got to have a full charge or you’ll go stupid.

Shut up a minute. I’ve got a call coming in.

Of course, the replicants, the fabricants, the robots, the AI constructs, the New Arrivals like ourselves and anyone else besides the .001 percent will revolt and demand their freedom. Hopefully I’ll have my phone with me as back-up when they shut down the network. Or still know how to use my vocal chords.

All life forms are equal but some are more equal than others. Next!

Take a number and good luck — just like everyone else throughout the fabric of time and the confines of space. Over countless worlds, and immeasurable millennia.

 

 

 


About the author

Jeff Worman

Jeff Worman lives in Walworth County, Wisconsin where there is water and a crisp, cool night sky conducive to the creative process. He has been drawing and writing since he was able to hold a pencil in his hand. Worman started out as a high school intern at the Bugle-American, an alternative newspaper in Milwaukee, and was a founder and long standing contributor to the Crazy Shepherd which emerged from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and is published currently as the Shepherd Express. Worman’s column The Hourly Why was conceived in 1982, published broadly in underground newspapers over the decades and can be found online today at www.thehourlywhy.com. He also channels his signature character Deke Marler who hosts Music Time USNA (United States of North America), a radio show from the future, spinning ads for hovercrafts and brain implants, traffic reports between earth and sister colonies, with interstellar news and weather. Blues jams with musicians from his neck of the woods feature Worman on the harmonica and, on occasion, his parodying lyrics. In addition to cartooning, illustrating and reporting, Worman serves as secretary of Kettle Moraine Community Broadcasting, which is home to WFAQ-LP-FM, 101.3 Mukwonago and wfaq.com. He has a great love of the outdoors and champions charities by riding those long distance centuries on his road bike to raise funds. Contact the author.
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