By Rudolfo Carrillo
“Vamos A Bailar”, the floating image blinkingly announced. The quote was supposedly an approximation of the words spoken by FBS scientist Refujio “Chico” Takuya as he plugged a modified digital recording device into a small and oddly configured port just behind his left ear.
By pointing to this text with one’s eyes and blinking twice, it was possible to read about Takuya’s discovery on a floaty viewscreen that appeared twenty centimeters in front of and parallel to the users face. This was a great innovation and it changed the world.
The device had been designed in a laboratory that was part of a military outpost in the desert. If that laboratory could talk, had been sentient (and believe me, the wizards at FBS had done their utmost to try and contact the spirit of the main room, with no luck, of course) it could have told you all about implosion fuses; a type of metal foil that could be folded into seven dimensions and a computer that could predict droughts five hundred years into the future.
Anyway, the computer interface Yakuda discovered was called the plastic tunnel. Besides making keyboards and mice everywhere sad and forlorn in their obsolescence, the bundle of equipment and magic of which it was comprised produced an unforeseen but widely embraced anomalous phenomena. It had the capacity to access the memories and perceptions of other network users just as the present slipped into the past. These images, sounds, tastes and feelings of another world were mostly random, interrupting the continuous buzz of information pouring out of the system like a broken summertime garden hosepipe; chaotically and momentarily replacing it with ghostly echoes of anyone and everyone that was online. Luckily, none of that stuff could not be recorded.
When any computer attempted to read the data that had been downloaded from a plastic tunnel, the host machine hissed and turned itself off.
Still, Takuya was quoted as saying, the time would come and quickly, when scientists would develop the machinery necessary to make recordings of the entire process. His discovery, he believed, would revolutionize human life in a way that made the device itself seem like a wooden wheel on a jet aeroplane.
Diaro Burquenista would have nothing to do with the scientist’s optimism, though. It called the discovery “attempt to take good money from country’s security fund” and “just dumb dream”.
The local alt site, This Paranormal World, missed the event entirely, having chosen instead to focus on the expedition it had sent two lucky readers on, to Loch Ness. Their editorial board had sent a microscopic flying camera drone along to check in on their winning reader’s activities. They streamed images from the drone onto their site randomly, to keep the interest up
Meanwhile, Tucker Dowd, at nytimes, who happened to be the clone/grand-daughter of a semi-famous columnist (also a clone) whose mother was named Maureen, a now forgotten writer, waxed poetically about the seeming leap forward, writing that “Now, we be immortal”.
But, back in the middle of the urban area that sprawled out around the Rio Grande, from El Paso to Taos, people had their own ideas about what was happening over at Flatland Binary Solutions. Coatlicue Wilson, a sidebar skin specialist at Flatland, thought that...
“Hey, are you going to come in here and help me with the dishes or not?"
“Sorry, I just had an idea and I wanted to write it down”.
“Has anyone else ever told you that you have the tendency to desert social situations for any terminal you see, for any computer in your general vicinity”?
"Yep, like a moth to a lit candle”.
“It can be sorta disturbing”.
“I don’t have any control”.
“It seems like a choice”.
“No, when it wants to come out, it does”.
“Sort of like literary…”
“I’ll come into the kitchen now, I’ll wash, you dry”.
He piled utensils, dishes and glasses into the sink, in that order. The Utensils were placed at the bottom. Then the plates were stacked, from largest to smallest, with bowls on the top of that rough pyramid. Finally the glasses were arranged around the construction. Hot water was added. Working quickly, the pair cleaned and toweled the dishes. They were placed in a cabinet which was painted white. “Next, the glasses, he said, while also marveling at the multitude of bubbles on the surface of the water in the sink. For a second he imagined that each bubble was a separate and exotic universe, each with its own physics and metaphysics . Then, grasping a blue tumbler with his right hand, he began to sponge the glass with his left. His hand slid across the curvature of the vessel. Simultaneously, he noticed that it was broken.
“What a sharp edge that is”, he mumbled to himself just before the ragged border penetrated the skin of his pinkie, slicing it as one might remove the skin of an apple.
“What happened”? “I think that I just cut my finger off”. “Let me see it”.
There was a one inch piece of skin dangling from his finger. And some blood, too.
“Get me a washcloth”. “They’re all in the washer”. “I need something to stop the bleeding”. “Here use this”.
“You were using that to dry the dishes, it’s dirty”.
“You need to stop the bleeding”.
When the bleeding had stopped, he said to her, “Hey look at this, it’s like a trap door to another world. It’s all white and bubbly underneath”. Years ago, he had gotten used to injuring his hands, when he had been a welder, carrying around pieces of hot steel. So, the wound did not bother him. In the interest of hygiene they decided to drive to Wal-Mart. She believed it would be best to disinfect the wound, to cover it properly. It was Thanksgiving and every other place was already shut. Wal-Mart would have what they needed and it was nearby. They drove down Monroe, then Zuni, to get there. The parking lot was only sparsely populated with cars. There were beggars, though, at both entrances. She lit a cigarette after he parked the car.
“Don’t make eye contact with them”. “Why not”? “They’ll ask for money”. As they approached the entrance to Wal-Mart, she began to think about putting out her cigarette. She couldn’t take it inside.
A man approached. She made eye contact.
“Do you have any more of those?”
“I was going to put it out and throw it away, do you want the rest of it?”
They spent several minutes deciding which type of bandage would be best. Afterwards, they picked up a bottle of hydrogen peroxide, which he intended to pour over the bloody phalange.
“Phalange is another word for finger”.
“Also works when you’re talking about the toes”.
“I didn’t know that”.
“Never mind. Look, that line is the shortest”.
There were two people in line number 23. One was a man, the other his child. They were buying a toy inspired by a popular movie about a superhero named Spiderman. The child was counting out coins when the couple came up behind them. He didn’t have quite enough, so he looked up, to his father. The man, who was unshaven, reached into his coat pocket. He withdrew a battered Styrofoam cup. The cup had a word written on it, in black ink. The word was "Thanks". Looking up and around him, the man handed the child two nickels. He smiled wanly and looked at the strangers behind him.
They glanced at each other. Then both of them looked him in the eye.
On the ride back, they were playing Bon Jovi on the radio. Something about being a cowboy. The new artificial grass at Highland High School shone in the half moonlight: a storm was moving in from the east and clouds had begun to diminish its light.