By Simon Barget
I awoke in a vast white space. Nothing but light. Glare. No objects, borders, demarcation. No colour. A vague sense I’d been here before. Somewhere like it. I caught my bearings a little. I tried to look down, up, in fact there was only down and up. I seemed to have been beaten down to a flatness. I tried to move; I was hinged, attached. I couldn’t turn. I had an urge to scream but to what end? Then a loud noise.
-Be quiet for god’s sake!
A man’s voice. I had not seen anything near me and it made me jump out of my skin.
-I didn’t say anything!
-You sighed, I heard you. You’re here, so relax.
What balked was that he was telling me to relax after he’d scared the living shit out of me. Then I looked across. A long way off to my right. A man maybe. In a very light green, a sort of seafoam or mint. His whole face suffused with this green. He had a little curlicue on his far right-hand side like the beginnings of a speech bubble.
-Where is here?
-Where else idiot? WhatsApp! And stop moving. You’ll piss everyone off.
-I’m not moving.
I probably was a little, admittedly.
-If you don’t like it, lump it.
The most presumptuous person I’d come across.
-I bet you thought you’d be in a novel, maybe a treatise.
He said it with such relish.
I hadn’t thought about anything. A minute ago I’d had no idea where I was.
-We’re all in WhatsApp, almost all of us. Come to terms with the fact that you will never again brush up against the delicious roughness of paper.
Just the sound of the word brought something forth. Paa-aaa-per. Made my heart beat. Now I knew what was different, I was a hologram, an apparition. In an instant I thought about what this meant. I couldn’t process.
-How many are here?
-How many? Literally trillions. Best place for us to keep our heads down.
I was still trying to get used to it physically. It was uncomfortable, empty but there was no pain.
-We’re dying out. Outlived our purpose. All this abstraction will be a thing of the past. What is the use of symbols when they communicate instantly?
-You mean we’ll no longer be called upon, pulled out the ether?
Why on earth I was lapping his stuff up I had no idea; who had made him the ultimate arbiter?
-A few more years as the lexical equivalent of a bogey, and then extinction. You know, Twitter, web content, YouTube comments, GIF’s.
-What about emails?
-Nope, that’s going to be eye movements, the pupils. Direct brain to brain shit.
It was a lot to take in. I wondered what I’d lost, if anything.
All said and done, it wasn’t that different to the desk diary I’d come from. I had to be still, be quiet, I had to be aware of everyone else, not rock the boat. I closed my eyes and went back to sleep.
But it was then I felt it. We were moving. We were actually moving, jerking up, and it was constant. It was something alien and I didn’t like it at all.
How was I going to cope?