INVENTION

WELCOME TO THE FUTURE
A (W.T2.F.) Sunday Series

Short Story Time

For those of you who have been following my blog since the beginning, Sunday fiction was at one point a weekly occurrence as a way to explore current and future tech in current and future societies. This story was selected for Virtual Futures 2018, however I was unable to attend the event in London at that time. It’s a great read going into a new year, and new inventions. Here it is! 

INVENTION

Andy contemplates for the hundredth time how the rebels could possibly have decided that it’s for the best to ban every one of humanity’s greatest achievements. And, despite their utter refusal to accept any sort of technology, the Deinventors had still somehow managed to invent a fucking catastrophe for modern scientists: deinvention.

Then, the train lurches on its hundred mile journey to the center of what Andy’s people call the techocalypse, or to the sprawling old city that the Deinventors call home. They’d made it hell for futurists, burned all their gadgets into twenty-first century technology. The techocalypse had created shanty towns across the world that were uninhabitable for the modern era of humankind who embraced technology, even to the extent of altering their biology to form a new level of amalgamation between human and machine.

Disturbed by these thoughts, Andy’s antsy fingers knock against a small object in his pocket. He flips its lid open and deposits a small lens to the surface of his eye. “Fucker,” he mutters as a blast of white light crosses his vision, but the message is short and clear. His side, the Inventors, have found the location of Deinvetion and it’s in his hands to destroy it.

Anxious as his stop approaches, Andy strides abruptly to the door, exits, and stops at the bench outside of the museum, where of course it’s too early for the doors to open. For once he’s glad to be a spy in this backwards city. Here, his feet softly pad across the lawn without suspicion. He even looks through the glass windows of the old stone building without attracting any attention from the few dog walkers with their furry entourages.

His observations reveal the windows are all sealed, but a side door presents a likely offering of luck. He presses his picker to the grind of metal and to his delight it provides a satisfying click. He lets it shut silently behind as he slips through. Confronted now with many hundreds of square feet to search, Andy lets his eyes wander around the building. His training guides his instinct as he traces an efficient path to the lesser frequented areas, the ones out of sight to the public.

Dust billows as Andy searches. He moves to the next room, but freezes as he hears the shuffle of feet and the hum of a cheerful worker. He eventually marks six pairs of shuffling feet that carry small to large objects that are then dumped rather carelessly into some kind of container. He furtively peeks around the corner to verify his hypothesis. Correct, but what they carry has him beyond confused. They carry future tech. The latest and the greatest. He takes another peak and is sure that he identifies his very own quantum radio with a little piece of blue tape to mark its ownership. That just cannot be possible, but as he looks again to satisfy his eyes are not tricking, the sighting is confirmed.

Andy puts his back to the wall, hands flat against the cool concrete, and breathes deeply as he tries to find the logic in this new discovery. The Deinventors have future tech, lots of it, and they’re recycling it, or so it seems. But don’t the microbes they use destroy future tech and decompose it to early prototypes? Maybe the reason futurists haven’t been able to crack this technology is because they’ve been looking at the problem from the same approach ever since the first supercomputer deformed into the most simplistic of calculators. Confused, he squeezes his left eye to record the scene.

In another split second decision, Andy slips into the room and ducks behind a large bin of relics. He reaches up and carefully pulls one of the items from the top. It takes him some time to figure out what it is, and of all things that it could be, it’s a little red pencil sharpener that sits in his open palm. Andy records it and reassesses his position. The six pairs of shuffling feet continue relentlessly for the next few minutes with no sign of a break in formation. He recalls their positions, possible directions of motion, and therefore, their blind spots. In a quick spin he shifts his body to the opposite barrier, the wall that he rested against moments ago.

He surveys the room again while workers continue to move archaic technology from large containers to one of the two large… telephone booths? As more future items appear from the booths, the pile of relics placed on the conveyor belt is absorbed into the booth in a slow but steady procession. At this, Andy’s features freeze as he comes to a realization, could it be? Knowing that he risks the evidence he’s recorded thus far, he creeps towards the second large ‘booth’, relieved to find the entrance is quite capable to manage his stature.

He then takes one look at the Deinventors to realize that he has no option now but to test his theory. Andy leaps into the booth and squeezes his eyes shut, but nothing appears to happen. He opens his eyes, but when he looks around to record the interior design, it’s not the booth he lays eyes on, but the surface of a desk, the clear window of an elitist’s office, swooping modern furniture and holotools, all belonging to a futurist thank someone. When Andy looks down, a confused gaze meets his own, but the gaping mouth manages to close and sputter out; “Andy?”

Andy could have opted to leap off the desk in a graceful style, but in recognition of a superior officer, he carefully steps down and seats himself in an elegant white chair clearly intended for guests a great deal cleaner than himself. “Sir,” he says.

“Andy, what happened? I was looking at my holoscreen and then you appeared and then..,” he stumbles, looking around, “now, now it’s gone!” he says.

“Sir,” Andy says, “I believe I’ve discovered the secret of deinvention,” and he waits for permission to continue, or rather, for the shaken officer to regain his composure. The officer nods for his continuation. “Sir, the microbes, they don’t deinvent, they transport. The deinventors have discovered teleportation.

“But why? Why do they de- ugh, de-invent?” asks the officer, hesitating in a failed attempt to use the appropriate terminology at this revelation, “and,” he continues, “why do they take our technology away?” he asks.

“Well,” says Andy, thinking carefully now, “perhaps we’ve lost perspective,” he says. “We haven’t invented in years.  We’ve lost sight of what we want and of who we are. The deinventors know we’ll never change if we continue in this way. They’re not destroying our tech, but saving it for us. There must be change,” says Andy, but perhaps he’s said too much. Turns out, he has.

Later in his cell, Andy laughs; for he has failed just as every other spy has promised never to do. He has failed to protect the futurists from the enemy; themselves, as they lose track of their creations, and in the process, of their very own identity.

A (W.T2.F.) Series

A Short Story by @scifiannemarie

Food For Thought

Cover Image: The Son of Man (French: Le fils de l’homme) is a 1964 painting by the Belgian surrealist painter René Magritte.

About the painting, Magritte said:

“At least it hides the face partly well, so you have the apparent face, the apple, hiding the visible but hidden, the face of the person. It’s something that happens constantly. Everything we see hides another thing, we always want to see what is hidden by what we see. There is an interest in that which is hidden and which the visible does not show us. This interest can take the form of a quite intense feeling, a sort of conflict, one might say, between the visible that is hidden and the visible that is present.”

By @scifiannemarie

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