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Cybernetic Dreams

by 조용구

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Tiger Flu 04:05
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Psyberfage 05:39
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Hyperobjects 06:28
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about

Another night of heat; the humidity imperceptibly dragging the city back into the swamp it was built upon. Big Market struggles to remain alive as I cut through its decaying structure. Traders half-heartedly pack up, not yet willing to give up on making a few extra coin, but there are few buyers out tonight.

I head up onto the roof of Big Market, it’s a scenic route up to the Hives but progress is slowed by the thousands of Veil boxes that litter every inch of rooftop in Shinja. Each sports its own acid rain poxed solar panel. powering the uploaded ‘consciousness’ of a deceased citizen, so that it can inhabit the Veil and relatives can continue to interact with them via their AVR. The Patriarch told me that there was a time when enough people believed that consciousness was a discrete thing that could be captured and digitalized; before we started to see deeper into the nature of the reality we inhabit. Still, traditions don’t easily die and with the demographic crisis, even a statistical approximation of a loved one is something to be treasured.

I leave the Hills and head east into the Hives, the change in architecture is unsettling; the open spaces give way to a skyline of irregular towers that vanish into the dank night above. The towers are packed together like concrete circuitry, the alleys so narrow that even when the rain breaks, very little will make it to the ground here. The air is thick with the smell of mankind and all of its failures. I call a street urchin over and hold up two creds.

“Three more when you get me to this address, plus another five for the return trip”

I show him the address on my slate.

“You know it son?”

The boy sniffs, “Yeah go on then.” Then he’s away, the two creds down his sock, leading me into the dense, irresolute maze of organic towers that throbs with the organic lifeforce that keeps it in constant flux.

Ahead, a twenty-strong group of teenagers charge up the alley taking down a middle-aged man with a flurry of blows from the metal pipes that they carry; I see blood spurt onto the wall. My guide pulls me into a side alley that is barely wide enough to accommodate me, the walls sprinkle dust onto my white, sweat drenched shirt.

“Elfblade 4 bootleg” the boy offers, “a lot of players in the hives at the mo.” Then adds, “rich fuckers.” as an afterthought. We rejoin the main alley and continue our journey. The street is empty save for the dead man’s supine, broken body. There was a time such events caused waves of outrage; now humanity seems too old and too tired for such emotions, its collective synapses worn away by the sea of neurotransmitters we created to as a distraction from our collective suicide.

Ten minutes later and the mother is offering me tea whilst the father sips tepid soju. Next to the soju bottle, photos of a girl at various stages of her life lie scattered on the table. I pick up each one and consider it while the tea steeps. The girl is an obvious beauty even at a young age; that beauty positively explodes as she reaches university. It is a beauty that is overwhelming enough to be considered an unwelcome blessing by any parent of our times. It is a beauty that does not allow a simple or peaceful life, it attracts the worst elements of humanity and has been exploited and possessed since the start of time.

The mother serves the tea in good china and pours in the proper manner, a rarity that I always appreciate. The father begins to speak but stands and walks out of the room without a sound.

"Excuse him, this has been incredibly hard.”

I shake my head, dismissing her apology. She hands me her slate, a letter from the daughter is open.

Taken from the memoirs of 조용구

credits

released November 15, 2022

All tracks by produced and mixed by Skunkworx

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Prekursor Seoul, South Korea

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A foreshadowing of our dark future.

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