by Mihai Moldovanu
He gets up, walks to the desk and reaches for his stuffed pharmaceuticals plastic bag. Skybynum, or Sky, takes a 300 mg SSRI and a few Melatonin pills for a night of good sleep. Three hundred milligrams of slow-releasing selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors flood his neural receptors; in the corner of the room, by the window, on his rectangular piece of foam, he starts feeling something like happiness.
Skybynum: did you ever play survival?
Morz98: is that the mode where the exclusion zone doesn’t get any bigger?
Skybynum: yeah, that’s the one.
Skybynum: so basically I was playing out there with three other guys from my team, I was hunting bastards down, doing my homework, right? and these three dudes were hiding in a small hunting hut in the middle of a random field the entire time. Can you believe that?
Skybynum: I was playing like that for about an hour, I was well pissed, I got inside the hut where these guys were hiding, there was barely enough space for two people in there, closed the door behind me, and threw a grenade on the floor … you should have seen their faces!
Skybynum: they were fighting so hard to squeeze through that door dude!
Morz98: ahahah this is smeshno!
Skybynum has never been to Morz's house, to be more precise, he has never been in the same time zone as her, but if he were to visit her, hypothetically, Sky would see Morz living in an apartment submerged in a constant whisper of screens, as if watched over by machines of loving grace. Skybynum doesn’t know much about Morz, or Olivia as her legal document states, what he does know is that in her early adulthood Olivia broke into different fracking sites and managed to destroy twenty-two "units of heavy machinery", as the courts put it.
Her dad thought she was studying law in London, but she was holed up in the Snowdonian mountains together with twenty or so people organising guerrilla attacks on different fracking sites across Mid Wales. It turned out Morz’s father was a stakeholder in that mining corporation, and of course, they pardoned her, Morz’s friends weren't so lucky though.
Sky tells this story to his online friends, but when Skybynum is honest with himself, he’s not sure if Morz is telling the truth or not.
Morz98: you know the guillotine memes everyone’s been posting around the net?
Morz98: people are saying that’s why rich ppl are liquidating their stocks.
Skybynum: I mean it’s possible, but it also could be that folks are afraid of another recession.
Morz: I know a dude who knows a dude, you know how this goes, he told me that Quants, the eggheads behind the Black Boxes on what it is still nostalgically referred to as Wall Street, are writing algorithms that scan for guillotine memes on some ‘deviant’ websites, the box then decides either to liquidate a part of the equity portfolio, and reinvest it back into gold or not, the most stable investment.
Sky fastens his VR headset; he scrolls through his library looking for something to watch before he goes to sleep. For a while now he’s been into VR videos that “zap your brain into the zone”, as he says. A sentence hovers in the middle of a dark space: Enlightenment is totalitarian; as soon as he gets accustomed to its spectral presence the room is filled with the discord of colours and loud sounds. Skybynum thinks about detaching his headset but he settles on immersing himself in whatever possibly traumatic experience he’s signed himself up for. “Damn it! must be one of those Adornians” Sky says to himself while sitting in a catatonic state in the edge of his foam bed.
Skybynum prays to god that he doesn’t get a DPPD (digital persisting perception disorder) like Morz. One day Morz unplugged from her VR set and started seeing something similar to digital noise, her symptoms would increase with the level of the darkness, just like a video camera.
Skybynum: how's your visual snow anyway?
Morz98: I don't notice it; it would be weird to have it go away honestly
Adjustable heavy-duty titanium modules attach to the base of Morz’s work/game rig; you don't have to leave the gaming cockpit while you work, or code as she prefers to say. Her hydraulically assisted rig has a built-in mini-fridge that relies on a complex symphony of gimbal motors that keep the drinks from becoming too fizzy while the rig moves.
These are two of her favourite things she owns.
Morz98: coding has never been easier, the days of pre-visualised lines of code are gone, everything is being represented by images, sounds, everything is like a game dude.
Morz98: A contemporary coder can go on working full 15 hours shifts, productivity has almost doubled.
She had saved up a lot of money over the years, some of it, reluctantly, she invested in stocks, some of it, in property. For an anti-capitalist, her capital is always very productive.
She’d like to go to Florida one day. It’s 4 am and Sky is woken up by the sound of a boy racer crashing into a ped crossing near his apartment; the car accelerated as soon as it slammed into the barrier; the bass bin was making strange reverberating noises out the back of his mid-range Toyota-Ford, sounding almost apologetic.