pandemic daily

For the record, when reality becomes stranger than fiction it is tough to write. On the other hand, being in lock-down in a house for the foreseeable future might be viewed as an opportunity for an opportunistic writer to find some -- lots -- of quiet time to get some words processed through his keyboard.

business is business

Cotobogo Industries is a multinational corporation that developed and owns the patented technologies behind the witnet.

CoLabix started in the late 1990s as a genetic diagnostics lab (Colabix Dx) and had the good fortune to survive the boom and bust crash cycle of the health industry by investing in a lot of private industrial testing.  Their primary customer was a numbered subsidiary of one of the big resource extraction firms operating in Northern Canada who used their services to perform all sorts of routine health services, but also a number of bespoke (and largely undocumented) tests on employees [missing entry].  These tests could all be linked back to the legitimate safety concerns of young men and woman working around raw petrochemicals day after day, but also gave that unnamed resource extraction company untold and unregulated access to the latest in neuro/genetic profiles.

Many reputable would have rightly decried this as unethical bunk [missing entry], but the patterns and understanding that emerged from the data formed the core threads of a number of deeply important patents that would later make Cotobogo Industries the owner of some very lucrative intellectual property.

CoLabix spun off a trio of research divisions, and one in particular, led by brilliant researcher Gaul Witley, became the Witley Labs and inventor of the early Witgram tech.

he was named Max

Junker bled out on the side of a highway.

Teesha’s brain tended to remind her of the feeling of being completely useless whenever something recalled that day to her mind. A four hundred pound sweating animal thrashed against Junker’s chest. A hoof was thumping rhythmically against the hood. She couldn’t tell where all the blood was coming from. The elk had been folded in half with bits of granulated windshield glass mashed into its coarse hair. It died slowly.  Junker got out of there much more quickly. Junker was limp but his eyes were wide, vacant. He didn’t stick around for bullshit.

Ten seconds earlier they had been driving down the dusk lit highway. They were tired from hiking. They were laughing at how terrible the energy bars had tasted. They were alive.

The fading daylight was cruel enough to reveal all the blood. The last sliver of sunlight had slunk away behind the mountains, but the light had it in for Teesha. She couldn’t even have a bit of darkness to comfort her [missing entry].

The highway was eerily quiet [missing entry]. Just a mangled car. The body of her boyfriend bleeding out inside. Her dog Max, also deceased. Lots of blood. And Teesha feeling completely useless.

a knife wound she never even feels

Max had followed her down off the side of a mountain.

She hadn’t known he was named Max at the time. The microchip that was implanted in the nape of his furry neck had provided her exactly three pieces of useful information:

1. The dog’s name was Max.

2. Max was two years old.

3. Whomever had been responsible enough to implant a microchip in Max’s neck had not been also responsible enough to pay their phone bill or provide any other forwarding contact information to reconnect them to their lost dog.

Max had followed her down off the side of a mountain. She’d been hiking with friends [missing entry]. The dog knew a kind-hearted sucker when he saw one. He was on the top of a mountain, alone. For days or weeks, likely. Maybe someone was looking. She shared her water and some beef jerky. He loved her instantly.  He took a few days to grow on her, but when it finally hit her it twisted around inside her head in a such a way that she’d never have been able to untangle it even if she’d tried

Max moved into her condo after the vet shrugged and said she could either send him to the shelter —or just keep him until someone came looking. The vet said that she would keep him herself, but she already had four dogs. She should keep him. Max was a beautiful healthy dog. She kept him. Hung posters. Spammed Facebook. Spent three of the following weekends hiking that same mountain trail with a dog in her shadow. No one ever came looking.

the right state of mind

Adding a new node is all about trust. When someone trusts me, they let me into their head. Sure, maybe they never mean me to get inside there so literally, but business is business. Pleasure is pleasure. And don't be too jealous that I figured out a way to mix the two up a little bit.

It starts like this.

Me. Her... or, maybe him. I'm flexible.

She wants someone to listen. So simple.  No pressure. My smiling face and patient ears.

Trust gushes out of a knife wound she never even feels.

We sip our drinks. I order a dish of mixed nuts. I like the crunch and a bit of protein and salt is good for the work I'm about to do. It keeps my mouth too busy to say much. I'm a pro, but even pros have tactics.

She tells me about a past girlfriend, a shitty boss, and how much some asshole mechanic ripped her off when she brought her Camry in for a clunking noise.

I attend to her every word.

She explains her latest diet with mathematical caloric detail, the exact configuration of how her cat sleeps on the end of her bed, and shows me a photo of a sunset licking at the peak of a distant mountain that she took on her last vacation.

I ask smart questions to show I'm tuned into her rambling narrative. I have practiced this for many years. It is effortless.

newly untethered minds

Music triggered memory. Memory unlocked realties.

Most people didn’t get it. There was as much chance in the fumbling of a bit of fuzzy mindedness as there was science.  Of course, the engineers wanted it to be understood that they understood more, that they did things with purpose and design, gears turning with the patterns that blossomed out of complex spreadsheets shared with teams of smart people who had reviewed, corrected, approved and properly filed the research.  But the truth was more chance than anything. Billions of strikes of lightning hit the earth each year but just because you built a lightning rod didn’t mean that you controlled the shock of energy from the sky.  Not at all. I only meant that it was understood just barely enough to summon it from the chaos on those days when the weather was cooperative enough to play along.

Music helped.  They didn’t understand why, of course.  It was merely a data point in their spreadsheet.  Music drove a correlation in fumble complexity.  A brain that was humming along to Beethoven or smashing in time to AC/DC or even soothed by the ambient thump of club EDM, these brains were lighting rods placed upon skyscrapers built upon mountaintops offering discount coupons to Thor himself.

So, of course, this created a problem. Blackmarket fumble was not a real threat to anyone, but only because it was so poorly understood.  Lighting in a bottle, sold to the highest bidder.  It had value, but it was unreliably sourced.  Fumble needed to be more than just random chaotic.  Fumble needed to be purified, consistent and fuzzy.

Purification came from the collection.  Most bandits [missing entry] had it sussed.  Collect from one person in a secluded place and it was pure.

Fuzziness could also be managed.  Bolting the subject to a chair and subjecting them to collection over and over and over again.

Consistency was trickier.  It was lighting striking the same place again and again, with the same voltage …and with the same crack of thunder echoing across the landscape.   Music became the key.

Suspend an unconscious subject in the chamber, floating weightless in the magnetic binders, surround the tank with seawater to lessen the chance of stray nutrios interrupting the collection. Dim the lights. Play a song through the otherwise absolute silence of the space.  And trigger the action. In the hour before the subject died via a traumatic collapse of his cerebrum his crown etching a desiccated web of collapsing neurons into a dried mass of cumbled brain cells, a thousand lighting strikes of fumbled brew would fuzz into the collector and grasp onto the subject animal. One dead human but, say, a sentient octopus [missing entry].  And that was worth infinitely more on the blackmarket [missing entry].

spooky quantum effects

Thoughts, decisions, ideas and even imagination. These were tangible things, as it turned out. Things that could be measured and understood if only we had the right kinds of measuring devices [missing entry].  When we learned to etch a kind of biological circuitry into the inside of the very cells that made up a body, its parts and fluids, organs and nervous system, those complex machinations of nanometer-scale computation nudged humanity closer to controlling those types of devices.  But like so many of our inventions, technology surpassed our understanding and didn’t bother waiting for people to catch up.  The stuff of thoughts, decisions, ideas and imagination was pinched and squeezed, nudged from where only neural grey matter had held domain for millions of years of biological history. It gushed and fluttered about in the ether and like tendrils of spiders silk latched onto itself or other threads of consciousness spilling from the newly untethered minds of technologically enhanced people, sticking to any other compatible biology it happened to find.  As such, the crude brain of a dog or a mouse may find itself host to the thoughts of a woman reading a book in her backyard. A bird swooping between the skyscrapers of a city may snag the fluttering quantum tendrils of stray sentience hanging two dozen stories in the air.  Or even a simple tree could find it’s simple vascular system etched with a crude but self-aware mind as the wind passed between its branches.

a bit of malicious wetware

That last one hurt.

I'll be the first to admit that I'm not a sucker for emotional goodbyes [missing entry], but the last thing I expected was to get attached to a mark. This job wasn't supposed to be easy, I get that. But fuck me. I mean, you work hard, put yourself into the right state of mind to do the work, get close, get comfy, maybe even fall for someone you shouldn't. [inaudible] That's the part that broke it all.

I hate these damn logs. Dutch insists that everyone record. Science. Shit, this is criminal. Why the hell he wants this recorded, hell, I don't know.

[inaudible]

I'd ask for a break but the answer is always [inaudible] no, damn it, no. That one hurt. It fucking hurt, Dutch, I hope you listen to this and you feel just a bit of how I feel right now.

Forget it. Forget it.

Another node logged.

His name was [redacted] by the way.