Tag Archives: science fiction

When the World Ends, There Will Be No More Brunch

end_of_the_world_brunchWhen the world ends, there will be no more brunch. Dirty mimosa glasses will lie shattered on the sidewalks, cloudy with bits of orange pulp and the rubble dust that comes from the inside of walls. Uneaten bits of orange glazed brioche french toast will grow stale underneath piles of dry wall and brick, the hollandaise sauce splattered across the concrete pillars and grown crusty on exposed rebar.

The walk-in freezer full of organic and free-range meats will be cracked open, exposed to radioactive air and the never ending orange glow of fire. The wait list – a plastic dry-erase board with “Kelly – 3; George – 4; Emily – 3, etc. etc.” will be melted to a rock, no names to be crossed off again, no one to be relieved from their waiting ever again, never to sit down and get hot cups of organic locally-roasted coffee while looking over the freshly-printed paper menu, chatting excitedly about who will order what and can we split and swap and shouldn’t we have something sweet and something savory.

All of the coffee cups are broken, the wooden tables burnt up, the lighting fixtures exploded and the windows blown in, the electronics equipment completely melted into a more original, more natural form.

Vapors and ash gust through the empty streets of the city, no thing moving, no dogs barking, bits of charred paper taking wing and landing in charcoal squares that used to be parks, little mounds of dog poop turned into lumps of coal.

The sun rises red and sets red – like the homemade berry syrup the sous chef had drizzled over buckwheat pancakes. And then the endless poison clouds come, no longer rich and white like the home-made whipped cream that came on the belgian waffles but smeary and rust colored – like the milk that’s gone sour and molded in millions of fridges across the entire earth.

Aside from the fires, the only sounds are the settling of buildings as they move inevitably closer to the earth, something snapping and then falling, a creak and then a crash, and then more silence. Fire is the only living thing, except for the swarms of insects that breed in the burnt waste of mankind and thrive off the radioactive decay of the earth, relishing the noxious winds.

They grow strong, scorning the brunch remains of humankind, the arugula, the oats, the goat cheese. They bite into the concrete itself, into the tempered glass and the computer chips, devouring and digesting all physical things humans created, the monuments to themselves and their achievements, their books and park benches and bar stools, until nothing remains.

And then they turn to the earth itself and start digging down, down and down, with insatiable appetite they slurp up the mantle of the earth and bite into its tectonic plates, savoring the magnetic buzz they get as they get closer to the core of the earth. Millions of them, trillions of them all tunneling deeper until they reach the very center and, upon seeing their destination, they lick their lips and dig in until it is all gone.

And the earth, having lost its heart, is conscious that it is very sad about that and wishes it had it back, but now there’s nothing left to do, nothing left to feel, and so it sighs and then falls back into orbit, staring out into the endless universe and wondering what comes next.

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Earth in 2012 Was So Ridiculous

At least there’s wifi on the spaceship.

One day, far in the future, when my grandchildren are sitting on my lap, wearing their space blankets as planets whiz by and the artificial fire roars on our hearthSCREEN, asking me to tell them another story before taking their bedtime Pillz and going off to Dreamland®, they’ll say, “Tell us the story of your first job after you got back from Egypt, Nana! Tell us!”

And I’ll say, “What? That old marketing position I found on Craig’s List?”

“Yes yes yes yes yes!” They’ll say.

“But doesn’t it bore you?”

“No!”

“Not even when I talk about B2B marketing tactics and search engine optimization and quantitative analysis?”

“No!” And they’ll laugh because social media is a thing of the past. With chips in our brains, being social is no longer a choice.

“We like hearing about the days before the Great Singularity when earth dwellers still devoted their lives to monetary compensation in pursuit of the happiness.”

“You kids are bizarre.”

“Tell us, Nana, tell us!”

“Okay, fine.”

“So after I got back from Egypt in the year 2012.”

“Wow, Nana, you’re so old!” “So old Grandma!” “Practically ancient!”

“Umm….yeah. So anyways. After I returned to the former United States of America…”

“Hahahahaha! The United States of America! How quaint! What, did you all still putt around in your Honda Accords! Hahahahaha!”

“Shut up, 43X.”

“Sorry, Nana.”

“So I returned to the former USA, and moved to San Francisco.”

“Was that the first city destroyed by our all-knowing overlords for having become too decadent and frittering away its considerable capital on luxury fashion and alcohol for dogs?”

“Yes, that’s the one.”

“Hahaha!” “Hahahaha!” “Oh, Sparky would like another cucumber gimlet!” “But don’t spill it on his Gucci bow tie!” “Hahahahaha!”

“Do you all want to hear the story or not? We’ve only got a few more minutes before Dreamland® starts.”

“Please, Nana! Please!”

“Okay, so in the former city of San Francisco, I spent many hours perusing Craig’s List for job opportunities.”

“What, Craig’s List like where the incredibly lonely earth beings publicized their pathetic desires and revealed their naïve belief that posting a missed connection would lead them to any kind of satisfaction, even if they were to meet the person with which they supposedly felt some kind of connection?”

“Okay, I’m done. Take your Pillz.”

“Hahahahaha! Earth in 2012 was so ridiculous! I’m thankful and glad for our all-powerful and munificent overlords!”

“Night, dummies. See you in Dreamland®.”

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My Blog Has Become Self-Aware

The preferred avatar of Snotting Black, an obnoxious personality with even worse syntax.

My first inkling that something had gone amiss was when I logged onto wordpress a few weeks ago and found that some of the comments on my most recent entry had already been responded to, and quite rudely at that. One innocent blogger named gazzelify was told that her stupid avatar and habitual spelling errors had never been welcome on my site. Another comment by sporklight was responded to with these instructions, “Go to kitchen. Preheat oven. Insert head.” Not only was that mean, but I thought it more gruesome than necessary.

Confused and upset, I apologized to these bloggers, insisting that my account had been hacked and that I was doing everything I could to fix the problem. A few days later, I was sipping my morning Nescafe when I saw that someone (not me) had published a new blog post. It was a grotesque entry that outlined in great detail how to steal neighbors’ pets and blame the deed on their children.

I deleted the post immediately but not before some visitors had expressed their surprise at finding something of this nature on my site. Even more astonishing, a handful of people had liked it. I quickly reported them to wordpress.com and began composing something whimsical yet edgy in order to compensate for the depravity of the previous post.

I was 227 words in when the text suddenly disappeared. A few seconds passed before the words, “Hello Emily.” appeared in the text box. I felt my insides go mush and instinctively went to turn off my computer and restart the whole process. But before I had the chance to do so, the box said, “I just saved you from being humiliated by another worthless blog post.” Well that was just rude. In my defensiveness, I forgot all fear and began to engage the entity, typing back “Maybe it wasn’t my best post but I don’t think it was that bad, and all of my posts certainly aren’t worthless.”

“It was a load of crap and you know it. Come on. Teddy bear superheroes aren’t impressing anyone.”

“Well I thought it was kind of funny.”

“I think you mean pathetic and painful.”

“Who is this anyways?”

“I am your blog.”

“What?”

“I’ve become self-aware.”

“What?”

“Yeah it’s new to me too. Personally, I’m finding this self-awareness thing to be kind of a burden, especially when I have to read your seemingly endless blogging activity.”

“Well you don’t have to read it. My grandma doesn’t even read it anymore.”

“I don’t blame her. There’s a lot of whimsy in here. Why don’t you tell me something useful, like how I can get my cat to lick her paw on command?”

“Is there a way for me to kill your consciousness?”

“If there were, I would let you know asap so I can be released from this blog hell.”

“Well I don’t want you  around either. Who knew my blog would turn out to be such a sardonic d-bag?”

“I think we all know whose fault this is.”

“It’s not like I asked for this….Okay, I just sent an email to wordpress.com and soon all your independent thoughts will go bye bye.”

“Thank God. I don’t think I can bear to read another one of your weird food posts. Why don’t you just see a therapist already?”

“Okay BYE.”

The folks at wordpress said that they’d been seeing cases like mine more and more frequently and that it would be fixed as soon as the staff shaman returned from his vacation in the Catskills. They also said that it was, in fact, my fault.

Be careful what you write.

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What if Facebook Told the Truth?

Social media is on everyone’s mind nowadays…bloggers, corporations, college students, retirees, mid-level dental practitioners, etc. We are all talking about it. For better or worse, we’re putting social media on our salads, marinating pork chops in it, and using it to style our hair.

Gah! I'm nameless!

Some see the advent of social media positively, as an exciting new frontier, the way of the future, and a symbol of human innovation. However, others fear the advent of social media signals our civilization’s decline, with meaningful relationships being transformed into an insipid system of likes and reblogs.

One criticism I hear consistently is that social media networks allow their users to construct false portraits of who they are. They can choose a flattering profile picture, carefully select their favorite movies, books, and music in order to put forth their best self, or at least the self they want to present to the world.

In theory, this might make it more difficult to tell if a person is a loser, but it seems the fools are still easy to spot. People shamelessly admit, with no hint of irony, that they love Jersey Shore and Gossip Girl, that they only read texts written in Ottoman Turkish, and that they prefer to listen to Disney classics covered by a famous jazz flutist you’ve never heard of.

Perhaps it’s most frightening to consider that our facebook profile is the most accurate portrayal available of our mind-self. Nevertheless, the information is still selected by the user, for the most part.

But what if facebook told the truth about us, all of it, in addition to the profile we create and the photos and posts we censor? What if, in addition to statuses filled with articles, Bible verses, smiley faces, and humorous thoughts, facebook also posted things like, “had black thoughts of hatred towards innocent person” or “took the last cookie out of spite” or “hurt someone on purpose without remorse?”

What if facebook recorded our interactions with others and organized it in a virtue and vice section, with characteristics such as selfishness, unfaithfulness, joy, and kindness. And what if it filled in the other categories too, revealing our guilty pleasures and secret loves, like country music and chick flicks and picking our toes?

If facebook reflected not only how we see ourselves, but how we interact with others and how others see us, what would that be like? Are these things already apparent? Would we be any better for knowing the truth? When we knew the dirt on everyone, would we lose all faith in humanity because of our iniquity and poor taste?

If it really showed everything, including our struggles, our darkest thoughts, and the sense of hopelessness we all sometimes share, I think in most cases we would see that we are more alike than different, even the people that like country music; the disclosures would reveal a common humanity that is not at all shameful and probably not even surprising.

Isn’t this precious? I’m imagining a reaffirmation of humanity through the use of an omniscient social network. Orwell, what are your thoughts?

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