Dystopia short story with soundtrack

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Dystopia

It’s the year 2040. All hail Lord Bezos. Everyone’s now the Futurama pink colour and paying Amazon in instalments to have their heads preserved in flying jars. Still no flying cars, however. Bitcoin did win, and we all pay in bitpennies over the span of our lifetimes, which technically never ends if you make yourself into a flying head. Go figure. No one has had the courage to stand up and ask why we all need to be flying heads yet. 

Standing up from your desk accompanied by a wave of your hand, you shut down your work system. Although you’re never truly turned off. Screens are now wafer thin and fold up so you literally can work from anywhere. Especially with the 35G network beaming down to you. Work is still mind-numbing helping to make more money for those that don’t need it while others go without. Same old story. For some reason we all still go along with it and vote the people in who perpetuate that cycle. 

Lifts are very much like they were described in Willy Wonka: they move you forwards, backwards, up, down and underground. It’s about being everywhere at once. Loads of meetings, family gatherings, friend meet ups. Just so you can check in to as many places as possible and get points to go up to the top of leader boards. Saving face and time management gone mad. Calendars are these bonkers things just pushing and shoving you to places automatically booking all the transport for you on the way. Fully integrated. You don’t have a say in this. It just happens. Everyday feels the same despite seeing slightly different people. A big mush of faces on screens, faces in person, faces in shared vehicles, faces in lifts. 

Still walking, shoes feel more like spongey things that glide along. On the streets people are constantly looking at the palms of their hands. That’s where they decided to put the implants. And now instead of being glued to our phones we’re glued to our palms. We’ve got the whole world in our hands. Some people took the school hymn a little too far. 

No one actually likes cities anymore. Ever since Google bought them all. You can’t walk past a car or a paving stone without an ad being flashed at you. Of course, relevant to the way you are thinking and feeling at the time, being determined by your facial expression and stride length. Why aren’t we all living in the idyllic countryside? The countryside was decimated by climate change. Frankly not enough gave a fuck to do anything about it. Everywhere looks like a shiny Hong Kong now. You just don’t talk about what you can’t see outside the periphery. Don’t ask what happened to Africa, South America, Australasia or the two poles. You won’t be surprised. And of course, it has to do with white colonialism and supremacy. Why did the privileged white countries survive?

You go on holiday by using a VR headset in a dark room for a number of days set by your employer. No one said it was going to be pretty. You’re used to companies boasting about giving you the legal requirement for pension contribution and days holiday, now they boast about locking you in a dark room for a set number of days. Unlocking more VR locations as you rise up the ladder. Thank fuck, I’ve worked here 20 years and can now spend five days pretending to be on Mars.

As you glide along in your driverless Tesla you see the swab sign indicating the umpteenth test centre you will see tonight. Pandemics: we now get different ones to the ones you’re used to. Roughly three times a year. Always running around getting tested and isolating for a few days here and there. Constant media coverage prevails, and the politicians are just as bumbling and incompetent. None have conviction or anything remotely worth believing in. 

Back to the night, you’ve shut down from work supposedly, you’ve used the futuristic streets and lifts. Your calendar has put you in the robot Tesla car. These just zoom around almost silently. Knocking over any animal, child, homeless, drunk, deaf, or blind person that comes in its way. As a society adoring efficiency we have ruled into law that this can happen and the person who has been hit can do nothing about it. 

This night is slightly different because every now and then you can learn to override the calendar and all those watching. Through a clever mix of algorithm jigging, hiding events in plain sight and the good old fashioned code name, you with a bunch of others have worked out a way to meet in the back of a bar a few times a year.

The drive is moving along as expected. The other three passengers are squawking away about mundane menial things into the palms of their hands. Seamlessly slowing down outside your stop, you get a buzz in your palm to let you know to get out. Although all the screens and announcements had indicated it would be you to get off first anyway. A lot of nutters still don’t listen or pay attention despite being force fed everything. 

Bars are now these places you have to book far in advance. Then you have to choose the ambience. Everyone listens to slightly different things that algorithms have made through clever speakers that pinpoint sound to a person. A personalised silent disco essentially. The music automatically adjusts to the number of drinks you’ve had and whether the bar owner wants to keep you in or not. 

Everything is just so seamless. Your palm tells you who to go on a date with and when, how to duck out if it’s not working. Who to go and meet next and where. How many images to take to upload to FlipFlop to gain points to unlock the next date and on and on and on and on…

But you’re not looking for seamless. You want that screech and scratch of something going wrong. That break, that off tempo. Nothing seems to fit that anymore. It’s eery, sound is gone, people are gormless. Anything you can think of has been monetised. Speaking, eating, having a shit. You name it. You now sit on the toilet while a robot marketeer talks you through advertising options to get your advice and feedback so some firm can iterate their advert. Whatever can be squeezed out of your day is.

All these apps have made us very self-aggrandising and insecure. All at once we want to appear these supreme beings that are essentially the same as each other while being unable to live with ourselves at night when constantly scrolling our palms. Sound similar? It doesn’t go away.

Something makes you smirk as you wriggle your way through the bar. Food. A particular type: the latest great innovation has been the hot cross ciabatta. The brilliant UK by Italy mash-up that is sold all year round. And of course, it can become lovely and crisp with one of the features found in the palm of your hand. Where have you got the whole world? The reason it makes you smile is you once suggested this half-jokingly to your family twenty years ago while toasting a hot cross bun.

The time has come to stand up and think about it all. There have been rumblings. Not everyone is happy with this mundane way of life and there is a resistance of sorts. Less The Terminator more bored people grumbling to another. The same types who used DuckDuckGo for a search engine and deleted social media accounts. People who you can trust. Who knows where this will go but it’s empowering to feel a part of something. 

Slightly apprehensive as you walk down the bar holding something many of the other drinkers are unaware of. It feels odd, reflecting the heat in your hand almost forming moisture on it as you grip it for too long. It’s smooth and has an indent on the top. The indent holds a button. It’s a fob type thing that would have previously been used for nice garages or automatic gates prior to voice command and face recognition taking control. 

You are walking towards a door at the back. No one notices you as you walk through the jarring noise of technical perfection and mundane chatter. Your algorithm jigging has removed you and you feel peace at last, even if it’s just for a few hours. The fob is in your palm. You’ve got the whole world in your hands remember.

Soundtrack featuring

1) “Fantasy” – Against All Logic

Album: “2017-2019” (2020)
Label: Other People

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2) “Test & Recognise – Flume Re-work” – Seekae, Flume

EP: “Test & Recognise (Remixes)” (2014)
Label: Future Classic

Spotify link
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Deezer link
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3) “Note To Self” – Jim-E Stack, Empress Of

Single: “Note To Self” (2020)
Label: Jim-E Stack under exclusive license to AWAL Recordings America, Inc.

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Deezer link
YouTube link
Bandcamp link

4) “Gospel For A New Century” – Yves Tumor

Album: “Heaven To A Tortured Mind” (2020)
Label: Warp Records

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Apple Music link
Deezer link
YouTube link
Bandcamp link