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Showing posts with label immersion. Show all posts
Showing posts with label immersion. Show all posts

Saturday, January 20, 2024

Strata 11, Book of Immersion V1, Crossroads (Guessing)

 horror illustration for the Book of Immersion by Tale Teller Club


Welcome to Immersion, You Have Reached Strata 11, Crossroads (Guessing)


To predict is always about a future possibility. Guessing, for a human, is usually more abstract, more emotional and about the now. Artificial intelligence uses a different sort of guesswork based on mathematics, likelihood, statistical evidence, and machine experience. Humans, whilst using all these models, albeit to a lessor degree, also use intuition. It is this fluid intuition that creates a human view of the environment and allows a person to act accordingly. An intuitive machine can offer insight in an unexpected situation, but is of no use unless acted upon. Proprioception, the sixth sense, refers to how the human brain understands where the body is in space. A seventh sense manifests in peripheral immune cells detecting microorganisms and delivering the information to the brain. The sixth and seventh senses are likely to help create 'gut feelings' in humans.

Shabra looks at Renyke. 'What now Mr Renyke?
The Robodog jumps onto the car roof barking excitedly.
Out of the enclosure, there is a crossroads.
The left turn goes back onto the street where the bank was. It is dangerous, especially at night, because gangs of criminals take control of the streets in convoys of vehicles running drugs and weapons. 

The control the Zones with violence and the offer of protection. They are empowered by gangs of decommissioned droids under their control. Criminal humans at the helm have created an organised crime network. Anarchy prevails and there is no official system of state policing or philanthropic social care. Dog eat dog is the only expectation.
Despite this, there is a underclass of *urchsreferred to as *lowers, who are very happy. They have been able to carve out an existence in the *zones where colour, dance and music are their pleasures. They smoke and party all the time. They are mostly nomadic living in temporary movable homes. Many have pop-up tents that fold onto pouches or vehicles they have fashioned from old wreckages. 
There is a network of tunnels under all the zones from the now unused underground trains.
Some of the tunnels are better than others in terms of safety and usability. Some areas are used as habitats. The territory and ownership of tunnel zones is fiercely fought over and protected.
There is no downtime in the Zones. Many businesses run all night because when they close they are vulnerable to robbery, arson, or take over. Market traders sell their wares using shift workers and can pack their goods away quickly when there are battles between the gangs.
Flex is an u and was born in the zones. He has no other cultural experiences to call upon but he has developed excellent survival skills and is even respected by people outside of his tribe. In terms of hierarchy Flex is more of a maverick operator avoiding obligations than getting along and not aggravating situations. Flex is something of a diplomat and his height and sense of humour have made him affable and connected over the years.
The right turn leads to the savanna. It is safer from the gangs but there are other dangers, wild animals, noxious substances from old mines, and low flying craft from the official police trying to keep the greenbelt around the Midcast projects clear.
The ground was heavily polluted after the Russia/China wars. The habitat is overrun in places with and mutated farm animals who were exposed to these dangerous substances making their heads and teeth massive. They are also extremely aggressive and will eat human flesh whenever they can.
There are caves where there is safety from the animals and there are connecting wet tunnels and lagoons but these have never been mapped correctly. Word of mouth is the only reference but survivors are few.
There are tribes of people from the savanna who have made their homes there but are rarely seen. They are deemed reasonably placid as they have never caused any trouble elsewhere. They are rumoured to be shy, excellent hunters, highly superstitious and have been thought to possess witchlike powers.
There is an urban myth that an old centre for strategic warfare lies beneath the savanna and that the tribes who live there, with access to hi-tech equipment, scramble satellite information allowing them to be hidden.

The road ahead leads directly back to the *Midcasts from where Renyke originally came.
Beyond the projects are the government departments, airports, factories and centres of information. Further still are the palaces and homes of the very wealthy. The Midcasts are medium to high wage earner homes, with schools and facilities for professionals and academics.
The way that mainstream society is structured in the present is based on a capitalist idea of perfection: consistent innovation, counteracting labour fallout due to advancing technology by placating a keen and able workforce, and protecting the ownership of the means of production for as few empowered individuals or corporations as possible.
There is very little opportunity for upward social mobility. Hard work and study will create a good life for families but becoming wealthy or powerful requires access to the means of production. Governments and landowners are careful not to allow ordinary workers and lower professionals access to these avenues of power and control.
The biggest means of production is the internet and interactive media. Both are tightly controlled by a group of related conglomerates, most of whom made their fortune through the production of weapons and vaccines.
Downtime for workers is spent in the VR cafes where *mersers can get drunk, have sex, take a swim on holiday and even murder people, albeit in their heads, during their coffee breaks.
RR, real reality, is frowned upon as anti-intellectual and subnormal.
But some Midcasters have abandoned their lives for RR and have gone to the outer zones to seek fulfilment. For these people, RR is their calling or obsession. Others, like Renyke, find that their continued presence in the Midcast Projects is dangerous or compromised and came to escape an undesirable situation or death.
Renyke makes a decision based on the only experience and knowledge he has.
'We go left....back into town.'

to be continued © 2023 Sarnia de la Maré 


Other Episodes


glossary

Strata 1

Strata 2 

Strata 3

Strata 4

Strata 5 

Strata 6

Strata 7

Strata 8

Strata 9

Strata 10

Strata 11


Tuesday, October 17, 2023

Immersion 11 Decisions to be Made



Shabra looks at Renyke. The Robodog jumps onto the car roof barking excitedly.


'What now Mr Renyke?


Out of the enclosure, there is a crossroads.


The left turn goes back onto the street where the bank was. It is dangerous, especially at night, because gangs of criminals take control of the streets in convoys of vehicles running drugs and weapons.


The *Urchs control the Zones with violence and the offer of protection. They are empowered by gangs of decommissioned drones under their control. Criminal humans at the helm have created an organised crime network. Anarchy prevails and there is no official system of state policing or philanthropic social care. Dog eat dog is the only expectation.


Despite this, there is an underclass of Urchs who are very happy. They have been able to carve out an existence in the *Zones where colour, dance and music are their pleasures. They smoke nibs and party all the time. They are mostly nomadic living in temporary movable homes. Many have pop-up tents that fold onto pouches or vehicles they have fashioned from old wreckages. The *lowers, a term used for this underclass of people, recycle everything and wear brightly coloured clothes made from the landfill sites beyond Zone 3.


There is a network of tunnels under all the zones from the now unused underground trains.


Some of the tunnels are better than others in terms of safety and usability. Some areas are used as habitats. The territory and ownership of tunnel zones is fiercely fought over and protected.

There is no downtime in the Zones. Many businesses run all night because when they close they are vulnerable to robbery, arson, or take over. Market traders sell their wares using shift workers and can pack their goods away quickly when there are battles between the gangs.


Flex is an Urch and was born in the zones.



Right is the savanna. It is safer from the gangs but there are other dangers, wild animals, noxious substances from old mines, and low flying craft from the official police trying to keep the greenbelt around the Midcast projects clear.


The ground was heavily polluted after the Russia/China wars. The habitat is overrun in places with scritters and mutated farm animals who were exposed to these dangerous substances making their heads and teeth massive. They are also extremely aggressive and will eat human flesh whenever they can.


There are caves where there is safety from the animals and there are connecting wet tunnels and lagoons but these have never been mapped correctly. Word of mouth is the only reference.


There are tribes of people from the savanna who have made their homes there but are rarely seen. They are deemed reasonably placid as they have never caused any trouble elsewhere. They are rumoured to be shy, excellent hunters, highly superstitious and have been thought to possess witchlike powers.


There is an urban myth that an old centre for strategic warfare lies beneath the savanna and that the tribes who live there, with access to hi-tech equipment, scramble satellite information allowing them to be hidden.


The road ahead leads directly back to the Midcast Projects from where Renyke originally came.


Beyond the projects are the government departments, airports, factories and centres of information. Further still are the palaces and homes of the very wealthy. The Midcasts are medium to high wage earners, professionals and academics.


The way that mainstream society is structured in the present is based on a capitalist idea of perfection: consistent innovation, counteracting labour fallout due to advancing technology by placating a keen and able workforce, and protecting the ownership of the means of production for as few empowered individuals or corporations as possible.


There is very little opportunity for upward social mobility. Hard work and study will create a good life for families but becoming wealthy or powerful requires access to the means of production. Governments and landowners are careful not to allow ordinary workers and lower professionals access to these avenues of power and control.


The biggest means of production is the internet and interactive media. Both are tightly controlled by a group of related conglomerates, most of whom made their fortune through the production of weapons and vaccines.


Downtime for workers is spent in the VR cafes where 'immersers' can get drunk, have sex, take a swim on holiday and even murder people during their coffee breaks.


RR, real reality, is frowned upon as anti-intellectual and subnormal.


But some Midcasters have abandoned their lives for RR and have gone to the outer zones to seek fulfilment. For these people, RR is their calling or obsession. Others, like Renyke, find that their continued presence in the Midcast Projects is dangerous or compromised.



Wednesday, October 11, 2023

Strata 10, Book of Immersion V1, Dinfant Trouble (Synthetic Love)



Welcome to Immersion, You Have Reached Strata 10


Social norms and culture cannot be underestimated in a world that accepts robots as real and lovable synthetic creatures. Humans do not experience love in the absence of culture and society. In a world where perfect companions are easily manufactured, humans have been seduced by the machine, a synthetic digitised force that enabled the switch from 'otherness' to 'sameness'. In this space, love is seen to flourish. The creators of androids are able to synthesise alterity of the robot who seems to make its own decisions to commit, to love back, and to appear to do so willingly.




We are the abandoned The ones who roam
Never still, we search for home
We are the orphans of the night
We fly the High Roads and duck the low
Through floods and Fire
We cry the songs of the gypsy choir


Dinfants are androids who look like babies and children under five. They were made by a single manufacturer who patented them in the early 22nd century. They were designed to learn, like human children, extremely quickly. It was found however that the early Dinfants (Mark 1s) would not stop learning and legislation was brought in to have them destroyed. One thousand early manufactured Dinfants are still unaccounted for.
Many humans in the Midcast Projects were lonely suffering from various forms of infertility They wanted baby or child droids, especially the *dinfants, who were exact copies of real children designed with variations and specifics to order. These androids were children who never grew up. Housekeeping droids were generally not created with a capacity to eat, although they often had tongues which were covered in tiny sensors that were able to identify flavours and poisons. The sensors were not linked to memories in the way that human's were.
Infants, like adult droids, were easy enough to replace or upgrade but some parents had needed counseling for Dinfant-Loss Depression.


*DLD was a rising concern due to increased prevalence and its effect on the workforce. It was found that humans could easily fall in love with the outer casings of the dinfants as well as the constructed personalities. Something almost unheard of three generations prior.
But the outer coverings didn't last very long, especially if there was an active physical relationship. Ten years of feeding and playing would take its toll on the fabric of the dinfants. If the parents could not afford repairs, they would soon begin to look tatty.
Of course, this also applied to adult droids who would usually be upgraded on a regular basis.


Droid manufacturers often offered ongoing upgrades as part of a rental scheme.
But some humans fell in love with their droids and had blessing ceremonies. It was not legal to marry a droid because of the financial implications following the death of a human. Legally, droids had similar rights to human children. It was illegal to inflict violence on a droid in public. This was to protect children who may be susceptible to influence. Of course, what goes on behind closed doors was a private affair, provided human children were not presenting behavioural issues.

Some antique droids lasted the test of time but legislation had been brought in to avoid the hoarding of defunct androids as they posed a threat to contemporary society, for various reasons. There were issues with battery seepage for a start, and then problems of unsupervised regeneration which was actually a serious crime in the midcast projects.


The government gave upgrade vouchers for defunct or redundant droids and would supervise destruction in centralized plants.)


*****




'Get that freakin thing outta here will you!'


A man screams to no one in particular.


The house is a standard build from the early Midcast Zone villages. Clean, white, filled with contemporary fittings and technologies.


A child enters the room.


'Mommy. Kairo is following me around.....it's really annoying. And Daddy said we should throw it away. Let's get a new one Mommy, please. My friend has one like a twin sister. One with the hair that grows back so she can cut it and play hairdresser.'


The woman sighs.....'I suppose we don't need it anymore now you have real friends. I thought you wanted a *ponybot, even better than a sister, don't you think?'




The woman strokes her child's cheek and remembers how lost she had been when they first told her it was unlikely she and her *blessed would produce a human offspring.




The Mark 1, a Dinfant, made by the Metacoms Corporation, was a perfect substitute and she had been able to focus love and attention on it. It was a copy of a four-year-old and she had ordered a blue-eyed blond version like her blessed. It was such a good copy that most people were unaware that it was not a human child.


But the software was no longer being updated and the learning algorithm meant it had become too complicated for a convincing child substitute.


Also, the Dinfants, by design and default programming, craved love and attention and the Mark 1s' constant need for love was an irritant to busy parents. The Dinfants would constantly ask for cuddles and reassurance that their owners wanted and adored them.


The Mark 1 enters the room.


'Mommy, do you love me? Shall we have a little cuddle? Can you fit me in? Mommy. please, Kairo has a lovely snuggle for you Mommy. Mommy.....'


'Shut up,' screams the woman as the father enters the room and kicks Kairo hard.


The Dinfant lies on the floor crying loudly with a broken arm.


'Please Mommy and Daddy Please, Kairo needs cuddles, please Mommy and Daddy ...please, love for Kairo, please......'


The little girl holds her hands to her ears shouting, 'It's so annoying!'


The man picks Kairo up and turns his power switch off.


'Let's get rid of it. Put it in the garage. I will sort out a collection for it tomorrow,' said the woman.


The man takes the Dinfant outside but decides to put it in a liner and into the communal waste shoot. The shoot serves 100s of dwellings, no one will trace it back to them and he can say it was stolen from the garage. He is concerned about the breakage as it will affect the insurance. It is better to make a theft claim than to have Metacom say he had damaged it on purpose.




*****************








A man tinkers in a workshop. He is observing the collection of children and babies that are hung on the walls as he cradles a new package, as yet unopened.


'Well my little lovelies, one of you must go. I have a lovely new friend who is going to join us for fun and games. Her name is Mary.'


The man, wide-eyed and excited, unwraps the new child droid.


'Well ain't you the prettiest lil girl I ever saw?' he says touching her skin.


'And don't that feel just so real'.


The Droid replies, 'Hello Daddy. I'm such a daddy's girl,' she chuckles.


The man looks around the room.


He picks up a toddler droid, a Mark 1 copy of an eighteen-month-old baby boy.


'Well Daniel, I guess I am all done with you. You are a bit small after all.'


'But daaaaaaddd....yy.......I loooov.


The man opens the back of the droid's head and takes out the battery pack.
He places the incapacitated droid in a bag and under darkness deposits it into a waste unit in the public park.






**********




There is a black cloud above and rain falls on a large mountain of waste.


Another load is released from the grabber and two droids land together in an accidental embrace.


The larger droid, a Mark 1 Dinfant is activated during the fall. It has a broken arm that swings beside it.


'Are you alive? it asks the smaller Droid?


There is no reply.


The larger droid opens the baby's head and observes the interior structure. It lays the baby down gently, 'Wait here, I will be right back.'


The droid returns with some battery packs from old mobile phones and some old drill bits, tools, motors and other paraphernalia from around the tipping area.


The rain is getting heavier as the night falls.


Under the convenient shelter of a car boot cover the larger droid gets the baby working and fashions a new arm with a metal drill for a hand. It has also a motorised catapult for the top of its head which rotates and fires nails at great speed.


'My name is Kario,' says the larger droid.
'I am Daniel' says the baby boy droid.


The children cuddle each other.


'I love you Kairo'
'I love you Daniel'


'We are in a very dangerous place,' says Kairo. When dark deepens we must find safe haven. Soon we will need a home to call our own. But I have learned that humans are not to be trusted.'


They hear a sound, a child cries.


********
Shabra ignored Renyke's appeal to stop and lets go of the clutch. The vehicle leaps forward towards the street beyond the enclosure.


Maybeline holds on to the rim of the car door.


The Dinfants on the top of the vehicle fall off shrieking and scrambling around.


One of the Dinfants runs headlong towards the fast travelling car and clicks its fingers erecting some kind of screen that is almost invisible. Although it is not a solid barrier, more like a gluey substance, it has immobilized the vehicle. The wheels still turn and Flex shouts,


'Damn, they got *epoxy-wall, we are doomed, farewell brethren.'


Renyke opens the window enough to let Maybeline in who moves sluggishly through the invisible slurry-like jelly and squeezes herself through the gap.


Some of the gluey-like stuff seeps in with her but it is semi-solid and connected to the entire transparent fabric structure in front of them. Renyke and Flex shove the squidgy lumps out whilst closing the window again.


'Ok, so you got your rat Mr. Renyke,' said Shabra, 'but we aint lasting longtime with this air in here and that epoxy-wall won't help us at all. I made this car airtight cos of the gases. That stuff is blocking my air-con vents."


Shabra turns the engine off.


The OS is out of range for help.


The Dinfants sit it out becoming unnervingly quiet.




'So what, now, will they sit and watch us die?' Asks Renyke.


'They want my wheels,' answers Shabra.


'This epoxy-wall, nice stuff if it's on your side. Shall we break some off? Might come in handy,' says Flex.


Shabra and Renyke tut.


Suddenly Maybeline throws herself at the horn. For the brief moment that it sounds, there is an immediate reaction from all the Dinfants who jump and cry whilst flailing their limbs about.


Shabra gasps, 'Ratty, you are welcome to the Shabra carriage! They hate the horn. Must be them there low decibels I used. Hold on to your hats people of the night!'


Shabra tells Renyke to engage the horn which explodes audibly out of Shabra's surround sound external speakers. The Dinfants are freaking out and running away dragging the epoxy-wall behind them.


Shabra, laughing, starts the engine slowly. She follows them gradually gaining speed out of the enclosure.


Flex is jumping around on the back seats screaming with delight. Renyke feels the thumping sensation in his chest subside and breathes a sigh of relief.


to be continued


©2023 Sarnia de la Mare





















Sunday, July 23, 2023

Strata 9, the Book of Immersion, Lust and Loins (Limerence)


Limerence is a uniquely human phenomenon that new lovers, or potential lovers may experience. It usually lasts eighteen months in new relationships and is not uniquely sexual.
Limerence is a state of mind (not solely romantic) that typically includes intrusive, sometimes melancholic thoughts, deep yearning or tragic concerns for the object of one's affection. It may be confused with love and often humans find themselves addicted to these feelings and can easily be overwhelmed by adoration for another.
Limerence cannot be turned on and off like a machine. It can come from nowhere and disappear without logic. The experience of this sensory state is inspiring, connective, disruptive, even excruciating, and yet it continues to mark the human trajectory of existence through time and place.

Renyke thinks for a moment then says

'Ok, I will swap my coat but not until we get to the *edge,'

Shabra smiles and nods.

'OK, *dundeal Mr. Renyke Man. We go tonight when the dark takes. Safer see.'

****

The group is in an enclosure flanked by half-deconstructed concrete walls. There are large metal containers lying around with shrubbery and foliage trying to make a stand against the manmade environment.

Tumbleweed plays in the soft wind searching for a home.
Flex kicks some redundant ashes by an upturned metal water tank.

'I can make us a fire,' he says excitedly.

Maybeline scurries around searching for food and sniffing the air.

She smells something, danger is afoot.

Flex is armed with a pocket of lighters.
He wears a brightly coloured patchwork gaberdine style overcoat with inside pockets that have everything a nomad would need. He has small pieces of mechanical paraphernalia, vintage innards from antique items, little motors. He even has motherboards and old PC parts.

‘Do you take this stuff everywhere you go?’ asks Renyke.

‘Yes sir-ee, some days man’dun gotta make swapsie-trade.
Everything has a use in the Zones brother.'

Renyke began to pace, ’Shabra is taking her time,’ he said standing near the opening of the enclosure.

‘She’ll come, she is huntin’ tis all my friend. You got attached already?’

Renyke stared at Flex a moment.

‘We need that ride," he said.

Then he checked the OS whose signal was intermittent.

'.......What are the signs of being attracted to somebody?'

The OS took a moment to compile a response……..

……Do you mean In humans Renyke?

'……yes, yes, of course ‘humans’, Renyke replied.'

The OS continued
…..nervousness around the subject of the attraction
…..extended thoughts about the subject
…..obsessive thoughts beyond normal curiosity about the subject
…..insomnia due to obsessive considerations of the subject
…..anxiety over possible outcomes of imaginary scenarios involving the subject
…..a desire to touch the intimate parts of the subject
…..dreams about the subject
…..fantasy building scenarios between the human and the subject
…..being overly concerned about….

‘Enough,’ said Renyke.

Finally Shabra returned.
She carried two dead animals in her belt and washed a wide glinting blade under the water that flows from a broken pipe behind the container.

‘This water’s good. We can fill up the tanks and flask before we go.’


The new acquaintances are relaxed and considering preparing for the short but dangerous car journey to the Edge.

Shabra checked the vehicle mechanics, the doors and metal buttresses worked in perfect synch and there were six exhausts. She filled the water kegs and put them in the boot.

‘Where is the vehicle from?’ Asked Renyke.

‘I built it. answered Shabra, from scratch. Well, I had several wrecks and put my beaut together.
Me n her, we like lovers. She drives me crazy with her vibes.’

Shabra looked at Renyke parting her lips into a wry smile. They were oily from the fat of the meal.

She winked through long dark lashes.

Suddenly there is a distant high pitched sound, like a siren or swarm. It seems to be getting louder when Flex and Shabra grab Renyke, throwing him into the vehicle.

Seconds later they were surrounded by a marauding mass of screaming children. some were made of broken body parts with human faces, others were small walking babies with burnt skin. Some had extra limbs and even two heads. They were crying and screeching, banging toy drums and chanting verses.

to be continued

2023 Sarnia de la Mare / Tale Teller Club




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