A Predator of Information

Our songs will all be silenced, but what of it? Go on singing.

Like Father…

12 June 2016 5:00 PM (dream)

My father was acting strangely. Normally a very gentle and soft-spoken man, he was angry. He railed at me for not having got him a hat (doubly strange since I had just given him one and he's not the type to rail at people.) I apologized, but he cut me off and said he would not forgive me unless I went to work with him tomorrow.

“I could put in for vacation time," I said, "Maybe go to work with you the day after tomorrow?”

“No! Tomorrow. Call in sick.”

He was acting strangely enough I didn't think I was lying when I went in to the office to say I had a family emergency and couldn't come in tomorrow.

‘The Office’ was an inescapable (we hope!) prison for data. Coca-Cola jingles that went bad and started ripping people's consciousness up from the inside out (lots of advertisements really), cults, mass hysterias, dance crazes, terrible weapons, you name it. These were our prisoners. The building was a huge fortress filled with rails and mechanisms so that it reconfigured itself around you. Looking up a stored item was a matter of sitting in a comfortable chair and having the chair be whipped through space as rank upon rank of glittering crystals swiveled and swooped in.

I was one of the wardens, the engineers who had built, maintained, and improved the thing. It was not, to be fair, so much a prison as it was a secure depository for fully active specimens to be held against future possible outbreaks. The government also made us keep some state secrets there, which I didn't like.

As a safety measure, every person working at the Prison was required to keep ketamine, and large amounts of it, on their person at all times. Ketamine was considered the go-to emergency treatment for memetic infection, as a heavily dissociative experience put you at enough distance from yourself that you could recognize which parts of your thought process were being enacted by the infectious idea and disconnect them. Thus, when I walked in to announce my family emergency, they handed me a big bottle of Ketamine which I slipped into my pocket.

The next day, I went to my father's office. Something strange ran through the city, its streets full of people brawling, boxing, grappling, trying to gouge out each others' eyes, biting each other. All the while they were laughing maniacally; one person would punch another in the face then give them a convivial smack on the back to follow. Nobody spoke, it was all gleeful shouting and laughter and shrieks of delight as folks lost their teeth.

I never knew what my father's job was, it was always kept a secret. Likewise, I'd never been in his office before. Between the glass door with his name painted on it, the tidy desk, filing cabinets, huge map of the city with pins and annotations on it, and scientific instruments scattered around it looked like a Junior League Film Noir Centers for Disease Control.

My father wasn't there, not that I could see, and I started looking through his files. There was a semantic drug, born from the fusion of a Brazilian dance craze and Fight Club. People would whisper it to each other and feel no pain or care at all while they beat the crap out of each other. Eventually it mutated and gained the ability to spread from person to person on its own. My father had been studying it, attempting to come up with a large scale broadcast cure.

My father walked in. He was swaying, giggling softly. I called out to greet him, but he didn't say a word. He just smiled at me, pure and kind and happier than I'd ever seen him in my life, then punched me in the face with an excited whoop.

It is not polite to tackle one's father and force feed him a high dose of ketamine, but it was the best idea I had at the time. I lay on top of him to hold him still and threw my arms around him, tears coming to my eyes.

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