2017 minus 53: Back-ups

Posted: 9 November 2016 in 2017 minus

This wasn’t planned for today. I genuinely had planed to write something on the election campaigns we’d all endured and the result, but no.

I’m too angry, too upset and just too flummoxed to write anthing sensible about the election. There’s too much data and not enough information.  

Right now, my feelings are probably best summed up by the forensic and details analysis I posted immediately after the 2015 UK general election

I’d intended what follows to be posted next week sometime, but here it is today. So, a while back, I wrote the following story for someone for something that was going to happen… and didn’t. Nothing happened with it at all… 

And since it’s never been put out into the wild on this blog, so to speak, here it is for you.

It seems more than a little prescient today.


BACK-UPS

They have a revolving door.

I hate them just for that. Just for the symbolism. In. Out. And it’s done.

The woman at the desk doesn’t even look up as I approach the reception desk.

“Seventy-third floor,” she says. A ‘path, I realise.

“Yes,” she says in a bored tone. She still hasn’t looked up at me. “I’m a telepath, which means I know what you’re thinking even though you haven’t thought it yet.”

Now she looks up at me. She smiles, but I know it’s a smile she’s practiced in front of the mirror. “And what you really want to do with me is still illegal in fourteen states.”

I believe her. Even though all I’d thought about was what she looked like. Not bad, I think. Not bad at all.

“Fuck you,” she says, that smile unchanged. “I’m a lot better than ‘not bad’.”

Now it’s me that smiles at her, as I head for the elevator.

There are two others already there, both of them carrying MemScan brochures. The man’s flipping through a book while the woman has her eyes half-closed and is mouthing something in what looks like fright. They both look at me, and then return to their own practices. Curious, I think obscene thoughts. Neither of them even blink and it takes me a moment to realise that the woman is genuinely scared.

To make conversation, and to try to reassure her, I tell her, “Nothing to worry about, really.”

“How the hell would you know?” comes the response from the man. “Done it before, have you?”

If it’s a challenge, it’s a bloody stupid one. “Yes,” I say, “three times actually.”

That gets their attention. This thing costs. A lot.

“You’ve been backed up three times?” There’s something approaching awe in the woman’s voice now. She’s not bad looking either, not now, not with the look of fright replaced with a mixture of curiosity and admiration.

The elevator arrives and we get on. He looks at the panel of buttons and I lean forward to hit the buttons for the seventy-third floor. MEMORY SCANS INC, RECORDING AND RESTORATIONS.

I lean back against the wall as the elevator starts up. I wonder what the two of them would think if they knew that right now, as we’re moving upwards through the vast building, we’re being scanned by about thirty telepaths. Each of them scanning for one thing, and one thing only.

They’re still looking at me, the woman bashfully so, the man less so. The curiosity is palpable, almost oppressive in the enclosed area. I learned long ago the easiest way to deflect it is to manufacture some of my own. “So,” I point to the brochures, “why MemScan?”

When they come, the reasons are the usual. I mean, give MemScan credit. Their advertising boys have come up with about seven different angles, all of them playing on the gloriously perfect discovery that humans are inherently neurotic.

They’re paranoid about telepaths stealing their memories, for a start. Funny how MemScan conveniently forget to mention that there’s never been a single case recorded of a telepath erasing a memory they’ve read. That’s why the woman is here, to back up her memories, so if anyone steals them, she can restore them later.

The man’s excuse for being there is slightly more understandable. Slightly. His father has Alzheimer’s and is slowly losing his memories, one by one. But the old man’s 122. What the hell did he expect? How old are you, I ask the man.

42.

42 and he’s getting a MemScan in case he gets Alzheimer’s. I want to hit him.

But then, is my justification any better? In a world of telepaths, how the hell do you protect a copyright? Posting something to yourself in a sealed envelope is no protection, not when on the way to the mailbox, someone in the street can scan your brain, see what it is in the envelope and file a precept before you’ve returned home.

So, for the past three months, I’ve had my mind scanned. Not just the memories, not just the cheap option, but the full whack. The whole thing. Memories, stray thoughts, sexual fantasies, and story ideas. Everything.

Because I’m a writer. Yeah, a writer. Remember them?

Remember what it was like to have an original idea?

Before you had the option of going to MemScan Rental and hiring someone else’s thoughts for a day. Or, if you’ve really got the money, a whole week?

Of course the real trick is to make sure that when you have a back up made, you’re thinking of something really horrific. Then, if anyone’s daft enough to download you, the first image they get is of, say, The President screwing a goat. Or a razor blade cutting open an eyeball. Or, if you’re really cruel and heartless, your last divorce. Pretty soon the word goes around; leave this brain alone.

The elevator arrives and the three of us step out.

The armed guard at the side of the door isn’t needed, of course. If any of us had been part of the Abolitionist Movement, we’d never had made it out of the elevator. They’d have flooded it with nerve gas and killed everyone in the enclosed space? Don’t believe me? Tch – you don’t read the small print in the brochure then.

The receptionist upstairs confirms my identity with a retinal scan and a tongue print. There’s not been a system yet that’s beaten both of them at the same time. And then I’m in the small room as they place the helmet on me.

And the last thought I have as they lower it onto me is the same one I had last time and the time before that.

I know it’s perfectly safe. I know that the stories of brains being sucked up and leaving the person a mindless husk are urban myths.

I also know that this machine was built by the company that tendered the lowest bid.

There – that should give the next downloader a few nightmares.

© Lee Barnett


See you tomorrow, with something… different. If I can muster up the motivation and put down the disgust, it’ll be on the Election. If not, well, I’ll try to make it something a bit lighter in tone. 

I’ll try, anyway. 

This post is part of a series of blog entries, counting down to 1st January 2017. You can see other posts in the run by clicking here.

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