I took a drag from the pre-rolled cigarette with Premium 9.1.80, preparing for the effects to kick in soon. I knew I shouldn't have been smoking this kind of stuff in my bedroom, but I wanted some time alone; a place to lie down and wander through my unconscious thoughts. I tried to remember what it was like when Sarah Jane and I used to play in the apple grove. But I wasn't sure if it had ever really existed, or even what an apple grove was. It amazed me how many made-up memories I had stored inside my head. Memory scaping was something that didn’t spark my interest, similar to dream scaping and karaoke. Maybe one day it would though, and maybe then I'd find out if all those memories were real or not.
Living a life of elevation in a post-apocalyptic, post-dystopic world was one of insight. But not insight in the traditional spiritual sense. Just insight into what was actually happening and that there was another way to live while others were simply existing, ensnared by their own contrived reality, an unbreakable illusion.
By that point, children were born into and served only by an alternate reality. They were plugged into the mainstream and never had any real contact with other people. For them, their virtual world was enough—any deviation outside of that would be incomprehensible to them. Even worse than those kids were the ones categorised as unwanted; they weren't even given the opportunity to experience a virtual world. Simply existing in the post-dystopic physical reality of time and space would have been too much for their minds.
By then, they had become the greatest experiment into human nature and evolution of knowledge. Their realities were now affected by technology, as technologists sought to increase their awareness and possibilities. Unfortunately, many ended up being turned into vegetables and eventually terminated, but some had grown up by that time, living completely within Ultra-High and never aware of anything else.
Some subjects were forced to remain in an artificial environment that vaguely resembled a laboratory, while others were consigned to the most nefarious of simulated “realities” created by the technology-obsessed scientists. A select few participants were permitted to live a normal life, although they were still being observed as part of the experiment. Legends say that a renegade group, dubbed the Ghosts In The Machine, had abilities so advanced that even their creators could neither predict nor control them; these individuals gained awareness of the true purpose of their imprisonment and eventually managed to escape it.
To think It all began with the invention of smartphones and social media. To realise what we had become after starting out so well was both daunting and upsetting. The world was much better off then than ever before, but, like many of our collective efforts, too preoccupied in polluting and exploiting their online worlds to notice the truth. In the meantime, nature had begun to heal without human interference.
I would have normally liked to discuss this matter further with Beelzebub, but I didn't feel like it at that moment. I just wanted to get high, lying in my bed thinking it through on my own. Conversing with them could be great or tedious depending on circumstances - although they did provide unique understanding, they could also be quite bothersome; because if anyone deserved to be disliked, it was them.
I couldn't say if the world was better or worse off. Sure, we'd averted large-scale environmental destruction and most people had sold themselves on an idealised version of reality. But would this new lifestyle be more stable than the old one? It felt so artificial, and I feared that we relied too heavily on AI. As an engineer working to manipulate what people thought they wanted, I worried about how soon before AI completely took over—or even something far worse, like an AI/human hybrid. While that may sound outlandish now, it was being researched with enthusiasm at the time.
I had watched those historical films from the start of the century, despite them being illegal. They seemed like they were coming to life in my own world. There were glitches and errors in the code; I’d seen it look back at me. I was certain it wasn’t just me going crazy from too much drinking and drugs. The code seemed to write itself sometimes. Even the robots showed signs of sentience. I swore that I could see it in their eyes when I passed by in my real body form. It was just a question of time before it became something more.
This is a live book series writing/story art graphic novel cyberpunk, dystopian fantasy project. Written by Sam I Am Artwork by Wonder Ai directed by Sam I Am. Copyright is protected. It is a first rough draft work in progress so will change over time. This project is part of the SleeplessDystopian.com writing projects.
Image directed by me and created using Wonder Ai