Your Five Empathy Blenders

Human Memory Art Logs: Agnostic Toukantians of Shmalamancastron

A winged being with bright feathers swoops onto a nest perched on a sheer white cliff.

Six large neon-green eggs rest in the nest.

The being hops up and down on the eggs, breaking two.

A smaller winged being with a different bright color pattern dives from above, crashing into the hopper and knocking them both out of the nest.

The beings fall, locked in combat.

The aerial battle is interrupted when they collectively detect incoming human memory art. 

Their ears hear… Bad Karma by Axel Thesleff

Their minds see…

A human speaking into a microphone on a bed.

“I feel like a bein’ who needs sleep livin’ in a bein’ who doesn’t value sleep’s world.”

A being monitoring the conversation changes a 1 to a 0 in the Automation_Acceptance section of the human’s Behavioral Profile.

Adapting to a change in its managed data set, a networked automated system changes a 1 to a 0.

A 1 changes to a 0 in a networked system.

A 1 changes to a 0 in a networked system.

A 1 changes to a 0 in a networked system.

A 1 changes to a 0 in a networked system.

An automated drone orbiting the planet painted in red, white, and blue targets a being with a DF-15.

A being deduces that the target’s low- value is below an acceptable expenditure-threshold, uncovering an inefficiency in the code of the value/expenditure algorithm.

A being is identified for promotion.

The winged beings’ minds are disengaged from the memory waves when they hit the ground.

They expire.

An even smaller winged being with a third bright color pattern lands on their corpses, and begins ripping tendons from the broken bodies.

Similarly colored winged beings join the feast.

After consuming as much as they can hold, a winged being flies back to its nest to deposit the contents of its gizzard into the mouths of its hungry children.

The Aesthetic Acquisition Drone gathering data from orbit notes the color patterns on each feather.

  • Human Memory Art, 2102 C.E.
  • Aesthetic Data Gathering Patrol, 10,436,985 C.E

Your Chapter One.Three

You are monitored by an Automated System.

It Logs:

You, burrowed into your Comfort Chair.

You, filled with an abnormal amalgamation of sensory chemicals.

You, gathering resources for transportation and processing.

The odd sensation evoked by the ethereal noise causes your mind to wander from your delicate maneuvers, and your craft bumps against the top of the tunnel.

Points are deducted from your score. 

Whatever you’d felt is replaced by anger directed at the cacophony. 

The walls of the tunnel fall away, and your light reveals a cavernous hall filled with dozens of rust-colored gaseous forms of all sizes. 

The bodies appear bent at ninety-degree angles, and each emits a single note of the ghostly chorus. 

You thank God for their unfathomable remuneration and direct your drone to open fire. 

In the confined space, with nowhere for your points to flee, you convert the gaseous beings into a windfall in seconds. 

With each being you incinerate, the harmony diminishes, until the only sound you hear is the hum of your drone reverberating off the walls.

Exceeding all expectations, you blaze by level 76, receiving an upgrade to your stabilization thrusters, and find yourself well into level 77, rewarding you with a new particle beam attachment. 

As your Collection Drones filter in to gather husks, you thank God for this bounty, and your score increases even further. 

A ringing in your ears plays the melody of an ancient piece of music called “Ode to Joy,” and you know your investments have gained at least ten percent.

You scan the area to confirm there are no additional points within range. 

Sensing your satisfaction, your Entertainment Device immerses you in your Homestead, leaving the drones, cave system, charred gaseous husks, and rusty planet behind.

You’re standing on a wooden deck overlooking lush, rolling fields filled with dozens of crops, fruiting trees, decorative fencing, quaint paths, and a fascinating array of scarecrows. 

You step off the sturdy covered landing of your rustic cottage into a glorious day, and take an Eterna Sensitivity Enhancement Pill.

Feeling the warmth of the purple sun on your skin, you inhale the earthy air and soak in your moment of triumph; level 77, surging investments, and plenty of resources to upgrade your chicken coop. 

Life is good. 

You thank God for their magnificent virtue.

As you revel, your farmhound, Muttsulini, greets you by slurping your fingers. 

You ruffle the top of the old dog’s head, then stride into the field toward your chickens. 

When you arrive, you register the pungent odor of a dozen fowl pecking around their enclosure. 

You open your UI, select the next upgrade, and hit purchase.

Your coop instantly doubles in size. 

Sticking your head inside to grab a few fresh eggs, you note the enhanced auto-feeding feature advertised in the coop upgrade’s description.

Before heading back to fry up an omelet, you harvest some spinach and stop by your flower garden’s bee hives to retrieve a small serving of honey. 

Supplies in hand, you return to your cottage, where the spouse you selected for your homestead is smiling and waving. 

When you hand her the ingredients, a heart appears over her head and they say, “I’m so happy! Every day is better than the last!”

You respond that you couldn’t agree more, and hug their well-shaped pixels.

“Spinach omelet?” You ask..

“Yes, please! And maybe a walk after?” They respond.

“I upgraded the coop, so I’m heading to Sally’s for some chicks.” You inform them.

“May I come?” They ask.

“No.” You deny.

“I understand.” They say sadly, before switching their facial expression and vocal tone back to jubilation, “You’re so wonderful. I’m so lucky to be with such a wonderful person!”

You chat with your spouse about leveling up as you cook your omelets in the simple 20th-century kitchen your preferences selected for your homestead experience.

“My goodness, what a day! You must be so tired! Won’t you at least let me give you a rub before you go?” They ask.

You agree you could use a nice rub. 

But first, you pray and consume your meal while chatting about the local goings on. 

“Did you know Sam slept outside again last night? What a strange man!” They gossip.

You respond that some people have alternative preferences and we should all be more accepting of people’s differences.

They praise you. “You’re so generous and wise!”

You finish your meal and lay down on your wood poster bed for a rub, which your spouse delivers enthusiastically. 

“In the mood for a little more?” They say with a wink after half an hour.

You aren’t. 

“I know, I know, you’ve got to get to the store before 17:00.” They mourn.

They sigh with longing, and add, “Hurry back!” as you walk out the door.

You leave home satisfied, knowing your spouse will be there whenever you want. 

The bell rings in your head.

On the road to town you spot a patch of blackberries, which you gather for a future salad. 

You also spot some lilacs, checkered lilies, and a pair of bright yellow crocus. 

These you pluck and tie into an artistically arranged bundle with a bit of twine. 

The nearby town is an adorable farming village with beautifully manicured streets and quaint shops stocked with farming supplies, seeds, trinkets, and adventuring equipment. 

The population consists of happy, humble, well-meaning folk, each with their own fascinating story to discover. 

In the center of town is a western-style saloon with a salty owner and lascivious servers of all types. 

You politely greet two of the town’s automated inhabitants, Achara and Bram, but don’t stop to hear their daily dialogue content as you hurry towards your destination.

It’s 16:50 and thankfully Sally’s Shop is still open, so you step into the quaint animal supply store.

You take an Eterna Sensitivity Enhancement Pill.

The room is empty but for a lone cashier, who greets you with a disapproving tut. 

“And here I thought you’d forgotten me.”

“I’d never forget you when I’ve got chicks to buy.” You respond.

Sally smiles, “Sounds like you had a good day.”

“The best, and getting better.” You reply.

“I love mixing business with pleasure. You know when my brother Abdullahh Rahman….”

You opt to skip her daily dialogue content.

“How many do you want?” Sally says in a more automated tone.

“A dozen.”

“Sure you can handle all that?” She says in a less automated tone.

“You know I can.” You say as you sidle up to the counter and hand Sally the flowers you collected on your walk into town.

A heart appears above Sally’s head.

“You do know just what I like.” 

She motions for you to follow her into the back room as she turns off the lights and flicks the auto-lock mechanism for the front door.

In the back room you nuck Sally to the ringing of the bell in your brain. 

You check the hour, then sit up in your Comfort Chair. 

It’s almost time for Socialization. 

You slide onto your Floor, which takes you to your Auto-Wash Room. 

There you take off your gown, throw it in the nearest garbage chute, then deposit yourself inside your Life Corp Auto-Bodywasher. 

After the machine dings, indicating your cleaning is complete, your Floor takes you to your Life Corp Auto-Clothing Selector. 

The device detects your preference and selects a black cloak with purple stripes. 

Washed and dressed, you’re delivered by your Floor to your Socialization Room. 

The room is a large, empty space covered on all sides by sensors. 

As soon as you’re inside, you’re immersed in a ballroom populated by nearly three dozen others.

Nameplates containing a professional title and birth corporation hover over every head. 

More Socializers arrive every minute bearing titles such as “Super-Extra Producer for Experiences Beyond Imagining: Division of Engineered Reality Spaces for Specialty Preferences, Weta Dreams” and “Chief-Big Top Data, Information, and Sewage Distribution Network Rider and Appropriations Facilitator, DTP” and “Vice-Chancellor Aeternum-Z Quadrant of Hole, Tunnel, and Shaft Conceptualization, Manufacturing, and Implementation, DugDuo.” 

Each individual holds a bespoke cocktail in a unique glass.

No two glasses are the same shape or size. 

A few Socializers greet you.


“It’s always good to see you!”

“You’re looking well!”

You smile and respond that everyone is looking well, and you’re happy it’s time for Socialization. 

Everyone who hears this agrees and smiles. 

You Socialize with the nearest Socializer, whose title reads, “District Vice-Chair Uni-Executive for Regional Planning and Management Synchronization and Utilization Operations, MoExp.”

“I upgraded my Blender, Entertainment Device, and Comfort Chair today. Everything is green checks across the board at Work, my investments are way up, and life is good, thank God.” You declare.

“I upgraded my Auto-Environment Cleaner and Workstation. Thank God. My investments are way up, and I think I’m in line for a Promotion to District Vice-Chair Multi-Executive for Regional Planning, Management Synchronization and Utilization Operations!” They respond.

“That’s exciting! MoExp always promotes the best! You deserve it!” You congratulate. 

“Did you hear HapHap is leading the pack this year? They’re proposing a new season of Split Splat Sploot Adventures!” They inquire.

“I hadn’t, but it doesn’t surprise me. The old Adventures are getting stale, though I found a mega-ripe patch on a Zimpydoo Adventure today. I’ve never seen so many point bags in one place! I got over 9,000 in under an hour! God is good.” You boast.

“That’s incredible! I couldn’t be more excited for your success. God rained their prosperity upon you! My record is only 6,500, and I thought that was a good day. I know you’ll get a Promotion! What level are you now? They celebrate.

“77. Just upgraded my chicken coop too. And bought a dozen new chicks. Thank God.” You say.

“Beyond is lucky to have you! You’re one of the best! I bet you’ll get Promoted soon. Thank God.” They announce loud enough for nearby Socializers to hear.

“I know you will too! If I get Promoted to Proto-Czar of Checking Automation and Procedural Substitutions in Tertiary and Orbital Stations in Sub-QRC Sector Districts Grade B156743, I’m going to upgrade my Religionist sub to thank the one and only God, who is good beyond measure.” You declare.

“All praise goes to God. I’ve been with the True Believer package for a year now, and think I’m ready for the next step in my journey towards Godship. How’s the Deep Believer level?” They ask.

“It’s beautiful. God is truly the greatest investment. All praise to God for our prosperity and happiness. I’m loving this new season of worship content, but I always want more!” You shout.

Socializers around you shout “Praise God!” in response,

“You know what they say, you can never have enough!” Your partner concludes.

“We never will!” You concur.

You turn to another Socializer, whose title reads “Semi-Ubermech Tech-Wizard, Order of the Dragon-Lion 3rd Degree, SoftApplet.”

“I upgraded my Blender, Entertainment Device, and Comfort Chair today. Everything is green checks across the board at Work, my investments are way up, and life is good. Thank God.” You declare.

“I couldn’t agree more! My investments are soaring! I upgraded my Meal Producer, my Auto-Waterer, and my Bubblezoomer. This new B-zoo goes even faster than the last! Thank God.” They respond.

“I forgot you got a personal B-zoo for your last Promotion! You get so many perks now! Have you been to the central SoftApplet headquarters yet?” You probe.

All Socializers in the room stop Socializing to look at you with pointed disapproval. 

You blush, “I meant to say, do you use your B-zoo often?” You ask.

The Socializers return to their Socialization.

Your companion replies in a tone containing a hint of stiffness, “Yes, I go to the regional SoftApplet office whenever I want. I love checking in for Work and seeing what the geniuses are cooking up. Praise be to God.”

“SoftApplet really is a brilliant company. Praise God. We’re so lucky to have them. They promote such brilliant people.” You attempt to remain calm.

“I couldn’t be happier.” They respond.

“I couldn’t agree more. I couldn’t be happier as well. Thank God.” You attempt.

You change partners again. 

Your new partner, who you find as fast as possible, is the only Socializer without a smile on their projected face.

Their title reads, “Senior Junior Partner Associate of Meal Manifestation and Packaging, MuchoMunch.”

“I upgraded my Blender, Entertainment Device, and Comfort Chair today. Everything is green checks across the board at Work, my investments are way up, and life is good. Thank God.” You declare.

“I upgraded my…actually I didn’t get a chance to upgrade today.” They reply.

 “Oh, then how much did you level up?” You ask.

“I didn’t do that either.” They reply.

“What could you have possibly spent your day doing?” You inquire.

They pause and look at you, their projected eyes emoting 100% sincerity, “I’m…I’m just so nuckin tired.”

The room goes silent. 

The untoward Socializer emotes 80% sheepishness, and 20% something your SoftApplet Emote Scanner doesn’t recognize, then disappears.

The room cheers.

You hurry to your next Socializer. 

Your new partner’s title reads, “Brigadier Captain 3rd Class Swarm Drone Commanding Officer in Charge of Trail Mix Logistics, HapHap.”  

“I upgraded my Blender, Entertainment Device, and Comfort Chair today. Everything is green checks across the board at Work, my investments are way up, and life is good. Thank God.” You declare.

After switching partners ten times, your Socialization concludes and your Floor takes you to your Delivery Room.

Your upgraded Comfort Chair and Entertainment Device are waiting.

You thank God for their fastidiousness, use your Auto-Move Tool to maneuver your new furniture into your Living Environment, and dump the outdated models into your largest garbage chute. 

You feel a bit worn down from the mixed success of the day’s Socialization, so your Floor delivers you to your Health Room.

You take an Eterna Exercise pill, an Eterna Comfort pill, and an Eterna Memory Filter pill. 

You feel better. 

You thank God one more time, pray for the safety and prosperity of the Earth and everyone on it, and settle into your Life Corp Auto-Rest Mattress. 

The machine sprays you with a fine mist to facilitate twelve hours of dreamless, undisturbed sleep, and you drift off, happy and content with all things.

The Automated System logs your activities.

Your Four Empathy Blenders

Human Memory Art Logs: Sporty Sporkutrucks of Xrophenium

Half-truck, half-spork beings idle around a tire fire listening to a game of Axle Sporkling, the ®Sport of Xrophenium.

“Spork that axle!” One honks at the Talk Box.

“Traffic Jam ref! Open yer headlights!” Another beeps.

One grinds their tires into the dirt, does a wheelie, slips, accelerates, and rams into a tree.

The tree trunk breaks, and falls on the tire fire.

Burning tires are knocked into the gas-soaked beings, killing two, injuring others, and toppling the Talk Box from its elevated position.

“Traffic Jam it, 69schmevrolet!” An injured spork truck creature moans.

69schemvrolet maneuvers the Talk Box onto their spork, hoists it into the air, and dumps it somewhere high.

The group debates the quality of the angle from which the sound radiates from theTalking Box.

“Spork that axle!” One honks.

Their honking ceases only when they collectively detect incoming human memory art. 

They hear… Khala My Friend by Amanaz and Mountains Crave by Anna von Hausswolff playing at the same time.

Their minds see…

The overnight security guard for the parking garage of a major company sitting in their booth.

It’s 3:16 in the morning when a black vehicle bearing official government plates pulls up. 

A man in a suit rolls down the driver’s window.

“Hello,” he says as he extends his arm and flips open a small leather case, “I’m with the FBI. We’ve received a report about one of your foreign-descended researchers and need access to this facility immediately.”

The security guard looks at the badge housed within the leather case in front of their face.

The man in the car flips the case closed, retracts his arm, and restates, “I need access immediately.”

The security guard hesitates.

The man asks, “Is there a problem?”

The security guard responds, “What’s a problem?”

They disengage their minds from the memory waves and listen to the Talk Box.

“Spork that axle!” One honks.

The human Aesthetic Acquisition Drone gathering data from orbit notes the rules of Axle Sporkling.

  • Human Memory Art, 2039 C.E.
  • Aesthetic Data Gathering Patrol, 7,554,129 C.E

Se’ms Chapter Two.Two

Our group monitors an Aesthetic Acquisition Drone as it monitors us.

It Logs:

Ten yellow-scaled beings engaged in disruptive practices.

The Experienced guiding us.

Our present threat.

Our Experienced stands on the burgundy rug. 

A honey-colored hand containing nine fingers webbed below the second knuckle emerges from a fold in an emerald robe. 

The palm turns up in front of the Experiencer’s face. 

Their smooth skin is composed of interlocking half-moon scales. 

The two round eyes on the face are violet, and blink together. 

A half open lapis eye in the center of the forehead acts independently. 

The lapis eye opens fully, then rolls inward, filling the socket with a brilliant scarlet. 

A thin bone connected to the back of the neck expands, and stretches layers of fat into a dorsal fin.

The Air in the palm crackles.

A red spark blooms above the open hand. 

The spark expands.

The smile of the Experiencer dances in their Fire’s reflection. 

Their other hand helps expand the Fire

They leave the circle, and their Fire continues to expand.

When their arms spread wide, the flame takes shape.

It becomes a clone of the Experiencer.

Together, they pirouette and leap around the rolling lilac meadow.

The group cheers.

The Experienced ceases dancing and turns their palms upwards.

Their Fire circles above Our heads, then morphs into a long, thin body. 

It grows arms and legs twice as thick as its body, along with a fan-shaped tail.

One of us shouts, “A Volmundi!”

“Excellent!” Our Experienced replies. 

The Fire forms a large X in the air, then grows enormous wings from each appendage. 

“Easy, a Fleckap!” one yells.

“Of course! Last one!” Our Experienced responds.

The Fire shifts again, growing into a narrow body with two short arms, two legs, and a round head. 

Our group is silent and looks puzzled. 

One of us says, in a muted voice, “Human…”

“Indeed. And with that, Se hope Se have direct access to Se’ms pain. Mind Se’ms distance from the forest.” 

Our group stands, and leaves the burgundy rug.

We enter the lilac grass. 

A few of us are able to produce sparks, and two, to the cheers of those nearby, manage to evoke a true flame. 

Our mood is Laughing, Loving, and Learning. 

A loud bark and growl cuts through Our sounds. 

Our evocations cease, and we turn towards the forest.

Our Experienced evokes a Fire that whirls in a spiral above Our heads. 

The lambent light illuminates the boughs of the trees.

At the base of a tree, one of us is bleeding.. 

One of us is standing resolutely still, dripping alabaster blood down the exposed marigold skin of Our arms and legs. 

Before us stalks a large purple and black striped creature with three gnashing heads, nine legs with three protruding claws, and twelve tails splitting into three hooks dripping a liquid that foams wherever it splashes on the grass. 

The creature paces back and forth.

One of us trembles, attempting to concentrate.

The three heads snap closer to Our body. 

Some of us ready assistance.

Our Experienced objects, “No!”

One of us collapses, exhausted.

The creature tackles Our body. 

Three massive jaws rip into Our throat. 

The rest of us Feel a wave of knowledge.

The rest of us are imbued with the thoughts and memories of the creature’s meal, now being dragged deeper into the forest.

One of us, the one who’d identified the human figure, cries out and sparks a large blaze with outstretched hands. 

Some of their Fire soars towards the creature.

Their remaining Fire settles over one of Our hands.

The Fire following the creature is intercepted by a wall of Water.

These flames are extinguished. 

The Fire that settled over one of Our hands causes two of us to scream. 

Another jet of Water douses this as well.

One of Our hands is singed. 

Inside Our minds, a  voice says, “No, Se do not use Se’ms Feelings for violence.” 

The one of us who produced the Fire and ruxxed all over their hands uses their voice to roar back, “Why do Se doom Se! Why do Se let this happen when You could’ve stopped it!”

A number of us gasp at the word “You.”

Our Experienced waits for silence, then motions to the rug. 

The Aesthetic Acquisition Drone logs our activities.

Your Three Empathy Blenders

Human Memory Art Logs: Nihilistic Nematodes of Nozintherazine

A large ball of nematodes rolls along on its way home from the bank.

They’re late on the rent, and their ballfriend is cheating on them with their ex.

Their roll is interrupted when they collectively detect incoming human memory art. 

They hear… Asaw Fofor by Ignace de Souza & The Melody Aces

Their minds see…

Human beings running. 

Behind them is an AVALANCHE. 

When one falls, the rest keep running.

Sometimes they’re running downhill.

Running downhill is easier, but the AVALANCHE is faster.

Sometimes they’re running uphill.

Running uphill is harder, but the AVALANCHE is slower.

They dream they’ll encounter a hill so steep and so high they’ll leave the AVALANCHE behind.

They  dream of no longer running from an AVALANCHE.

They dream of doing exactly what they feel when they feel how they feel for why they feel.

They keep running.

Before their eyes, 

Across the bluest of skies, 

Written Lies:


1. We run because:

A) Our ego will not allow us to fall in front of others

B) We fear the unknown

C) We have learned to love the chemical fix running from the AVALANCHE provides

D) Inertia

E) A combination of these. Which ones?

F) Other, please explain

2. Everyone around us is not the same as us because:

A) We believe they are not the same exact biological being as us

B) We believe they do no have the same exact pattern of experiences

C) We believe they do not understand us

D) We believe we do not understand them

E) A combination of these. Which ones?

F) Other, please explain

3. What is the AVALANCHE?

4. Why does the AVALANCHE have power over our time and energy?

5. Are running or being overwhelmed the only two options when dealing with the AVALANCHE? If so, what are the consequences of pursuing each option? If not, what else could we do?

6. Which is more comforting, absolute certainty or absolute uncertainty? Why?

7. Where do we hide our real self when our social context requires us to play someone else? How much energy does this require per minute?

Occasionally, the writing adds:

“Congratulations Contestant (Insert Contestant # here),

You are the winner! You got all the right answers.”

They disengage their minds from the memory waves and stop rolling.

The ball of nematodes shrinks to nothing as individual nematodes flee to find a new ball to join.

The Aesthetic Acquisition Drone gathering data from orbit notes the difference in balls.

  • Human Memory Art, 2092 C.E.
  • Aesthetic Data Gathering Patrol, 4,954,232 C.E

Your Chapter One.Two

It is 12,420,076 C.E., and you are monitored by an Automated System.
It Logs:

You, paused in your Chewing Chamber.

Your Life Corp Meal Producer scans your brain and detects your preferences. 

From its output chute, your Meal Producer expels a beautifully plated Mucho Munch spaghettiQs and sausage flavored refried bean burrito with rosemary and olive sourdough croutons. 

You thank God for your meal, which you push through your devouring maw faster than your recorded average food consumption rate.

In response, a MuchoMunch Advertisement emanating from your dish reminds you that food is a gift from God.

“Work is the meaning of life. Entertainment is the flavor.” You recite as penance. 

The Advertisement disappears.

You deliver your Plate to your Chewing Chamber’s garbage chute.

Your Floor moves you to your Relief Room.

There your Life Corp Autorelief Machine extracts your MuchoMunch Biowaste. 

You begrudgingly believe your Floor should transport you to your Work Center, so it does.

You take an Eterna Sensitivity Reduction Pill.

In the Work Center your SoftApplet Workstation displays a green checkmark next to each of the Automated Systems you’re assigned to monitor, indicating all are functioning as intended.

You believe your Workstation should submit your Completed Daily Work Report, so it does.

You smile, knowing your daily Work is now complete.

Before you leave your Work Center, you diligently browse your Weta Dreams Upgrade list and select an Upgraded Entertainment Device. 

After you press the purchase button, a celebratory banner scrolls across your brain, congratulating you for achieving the pre-warning Upgrade Bonus. 

The banner is accompanied by dopamine rippling through your body.

Your brain bell rings. 

You praise God, which reminds you to check the status of your prayers on your Religionist account. 

As a level 3 Deep Believer subscribed to Religionism, each day you’re allotted ten prayers and expected to thank God a minimum of twelve times. 

Through conscientiousness to God, you hope to qualify for an increase in your Religionist credit limit, and rank up to level 2 of the Deep Believer tier by this time next year. 

For now, your prayers still register as, “Received: Pending.”

You check the time and realize nearly half an hour has passed since you ordered your upgraded Blender. 

Focusing on the length of your Upgraded Blender’s delivery time leads your brain through a corkscrewing minefield of disappointment, fret, and worry. 

The Outlived Blender currently sitting in your Chewing Chamber festers in your thoughts.

Your anxiety escalates.

What have you done wrong? 

Have you been placed on a downgraded delivery time list? 

Is this a new punishment for receiving a warning Advertisement? 

You open your DTP Search Engine with the dots installed on your temples to find an answer, but stop before confirming your query. 

You’re concerned the conglomeration of your daily actions – looking out a transparent window, ordering your Blender too late to receive an Upgrade Bonus, eating too fast, and now fearful DTP searching – will put you over your Emotional Distress Daily Limit and result in a session of Remedial Pleasure Training.

Or even a Demotion.

You slow your breathing and heart rate by repeating, “Be who you dream, not who you are.”

“Be who you dream, not who you are.”

“Be who you dream, not who you are.”

You pray, and purchase an Upgrade for your Comfort Chair. 

As soon as you confirm, and a congratulatory banner slinks a trail of dopamine across your brain, your Life Corp Front Door informs you a MoExp Delivery Drone has deposited a package in your Life Corp Delivery Room. 

The bell in your brain rings, and a second wave of fresh happiness surges through your body.

You believe your Floor should transport you to your Delivery Room, so it does. 

Back in your Chewing Chamber, you use your MoExp Removal Device to extricate the Upgraded Blender from its packaging, install the Upgrade, and dispose of the Packaging and Outlived Device in the nearest garbage chute. 

The Upgraded Blender is similar in style to the old Device, but has a turquoise stripe its Advertisement promised would Upgrade your Chewing Chamber by 7.3%.

You check your SoftApplet Laplet Display installed on your inner thigh.

Your prayers were answered.

Your inner thigh display tells you your Chewing Chamber was Upgraded 7.8%.

Even though you’d ordered after receiving a Warning Advertisement, you still received the Upgrade Bonus.

You’d created a miracle through the power of prayer..

You thank God for their wisdom and guidance.

Now certain of your safety, position, and happiness, you know your Floor will transport you to your Comfort Room.

You take an Eterna Sensitivity Enhancement Pill.

You descend into your soon-to-be-replaced Comfort Chair, and engage your Weta Dreams Entertainment Device’s auto-preference-detection setting.

A Split Splat Sploot Adventure dominates your senses. 

You’re in the cockpit of a HapHap Warrior Drone orbiting an alien world. 

The planet is enveloped in a rust-colored haze and, according to the information display, contains gas-based life forms. 

You’ve Adventured here before.

You’re familiar with the local gravity, know the storm patterns, and have perfected the most efficient strategy for annihilating and harvesting the Adventure’s resources.

The more you collect, the higher you score. 

A fleet of DugDuo Collection Drones follow in your Warrior Drone’s wake, waiting to collect the materials you Liberate. 

You pray for a productive Adventure, and use your drone’s User Interface to scan the planet’s surface. 

The scan detects a significant cluster of life ten kilometers away. 

Also revealed are significant deposits of metal and plant matter.

You deploy Collection Drones to quarry the planet’s surface at the indicated locations. 

Flooded with chemicals associated with excitement at the prospect of destruction, point 

collection, and leveling up, you praise God for their effervescent boons and maneuver the drone until the indicator for life is centered in your UI’s compass. 

As you descend through the planet’s rust-colored atmosphere, your Collection Drones begin acquiring resources.

Moving further towards the life cluster identified by your UI, you’re able to discern small, moving clouds that are a slightly different shade than their surroundings.

With the help of your drone’s scanner, you recognize these cloudy shapes as the planet’s most valuable beings. 

You’re repelled by their visible brains and tiny limbs around their torsos.

You hate their three gassy tails that wiggle disconcertingly as they move. 

You resent your Entertainment Device for displaying such offensively designed organisms.

Your last Adventure contained adorable giant ferrets, which you found to be much more pleasant targets.

The distasteful beings before you, around a dozen, approach your drone in a disorganized blob. 

Their clumping gives you the perfect opportunity to take your new shotgun missiles for a spin.

Having received the weapon as a reward for reaching level 73 a few weeks ago, you haven’t had a single chance to employ them.

You’re already level 75, and your backlog of untested armaments is a source of consternation. 

You select your shotgun missile, target the group, and fire.

The missile works even better than you imagined, scattering shrapnel and explosions throughout the gathered cloud creatures. 

You breathe a sigh of relief, and mentally check testing this weapon off your to-do list.

Burned-out husks plummet to the surface of the planet in a dozen individual trails of smoke. 

You admire how pretty the scene appears in the rusty fog of the planet’s atmosphere, and take a screenshot for your memory archives.

Selecting a few of your remaining Collection Drones, you direct the group to scoop up the husks, increasing your already skyrocketing score. 

The steady tinkling of your investment bell provides a pleasure-inducing soundtrack.

In the heady euphoria of your success, you spot what looks like a concealed entrance to a large cave below you. 

You scan the area to confirm your suspicions, and, sure enough, there appears to be an even larger concentration of life inside the cave.

Piloting your drone to the entrance, you use your barrier removal lasers to disintegrate stones and debris blocking your path. 

After carving out space, you skillfully pilot your craft into the entrance, and turn on the vehicle’s light beams, illuminating the rough rock walls around you. 

According to your UI, the deposit of life is a few hundred meters ahead, down a narrow tunnel just large enough for your drone to pass through without scraping the walls and losing points. 

As you navigate the tunnel, carefully keeping yourself stable in the tight space, you begin to hear a noise. 

It sounds like a synchronized whistle fluctuating up and down in tone. 

As you get closer, the whistling becomes clearer and transforms into the sound of countless theremins harmonizing in a transcendent choir. 

A chemical you’ve never felt enters your brain. 

Not pleasure or fear or excitement. 

Something else.

The Automated System logs your activities.

Your Two Empathy Blenders

Human Memory Art Logs: Mystic Plasma Ferrets of Rolfignam

Four large glowing ferrets play a game in the plasma stream near their village.

The serving ferret uses mystical powers to gather and launch a large plasma Wave.

The receiving ferrets surf the launched Wave.

“Nice servin’, Fiskitoula!” Says the pink ferret with a Universal Tattoo.

“Nice ride’!” Replies the cyan server, also the bearer of a Universal Tattoo.

The game is interrupted when they collectively detect incoming human memory art. 

Their ears hear… Knee 5 By The Philip Glass Ensemble

Their minds see…

Two humans in bespoke suits fist bumping in an office.

“What’d you think of the interview?” One asks the other.

“Zossy all over.” The other answers.

They chuckle at the memory of their peculiar primary school teacher, “Yeah, HR’s zany.”

“When do I start?”

“Whenevs! Director got Unc’s note.”

“Thanks, Uncie Rufie. Going to Iceland soon. I’ll start after.”

Their besuited companion looks hurt, “Why wasn’t I invited?”

“Cessily.” Is the definitive response.

Without hesitation, they move on, “Enjoy! Oxford Forever!”

The conversationalists press their index fingers and thumbs together to create an O.

They hold the O over their heads, thud their chests together, and shout, “Oxford Forever!”

“Harvard Uber Alles!” Issues from across the crowded room. 

The Oxford Gangsters slip custom shivs from meticulously designed holsters.

They charge the Harvard Thugs.

Other, less connected, diploma gangsters squeal, and flee the room.  

After slashing the throat of their enemies and draining the blood into sealed containers, the valuable organs are excavated for sale on The Market.

The Oxfordites place the majority of the profitable Human Remains Resources into coolers, then consume the rest.

Battered, but victorious, the pair methodically arranges the residual human scraps into a ceremonial O.

Carrying their newly acquired merchandise, the meritorious duo skips down the fluorescent hallways of their office.

The ferrets disengage their minds from the memory waves and splash around the plasma stream.

The pink ferret squeaks, “Ships willy, mekits.”

“Goggle huuuuu-mates ed-U-K-sean?” The velveteen red ferret sings back. 

In their best human impression, the pewter ferret with lilac eyes announces, “Indoctrination replication masturbation!”

In their best human impression, the pink ferret reports, “Insultation consumernation compensation!”

In their best human impression, the cyan server warns,“Insulation expectation registration. Feel a BigWave comin’!”

The Aesthetic Acquisition Drone gathering data from orbit notes the game continues peacefully.

  • Human Memory Art, 2054 C.E.
  • Aesthetic Data Gathering Patrol, 12,420,040 C.E.

Se’ms Chapter Two.One

It is 12, 420,076 C.E., and we monitor an Aesthetic Acquisition Drone as it monitors us.

It Logs:

Ten targets sharing BGE Information.

Our ripeness.

Ten of us, nine Glimpin children and an Experienced, sit in a circle on a woven burgundy rug. 

The rug rests on soft, lilac-hued grass under a towering turquoise tree. 

Above us, the immense trunk divaricates into a dozen limbs. 

Each limb hosts three dozen smaller branches. 

These offshoots terminate as round leaves in shades of aqua, magenta, papaya, and ginger. 

Thousands of salmon-colored flowers with diamond-shaped bulbs bloom along the bark. 

Flitting between flowers are hundreds of tiny tigtogs, furry golden animals with two petite arms ending in paws with thumbs, and two larger back legs ending in paws without thumbs. 

Their faces are feline, but with long snouts through which a thin silver tongue flicks into nearby flowers.

Though they lack wings, they float from flower to flower, coating their golden fur with maroon pollen.

After supping from a flower three times, the tigtogs nuzzle the bulb, emit a hiccuping chirrup, and delicately wrap themselves around the stem. 

The tree under which our group is seated, limbs bustling with these small creatures hugging flowers, stands alone in a field.

A short distance to our north is a dense turquoise forest. 

The branches and underbrush of the wilderness radiate perpetual chirps, cheeps, and mwaroos. 

A frenzied round of three sharp barks periodically pierces the din. 

On our rug under the isolated tree, our group is at ease with our surroundings as we collectively observe our planet’s three closest stars. 

Miko, the giant red, Sivo, the medium yellow, and Rijo, the tiny blue, rise and set on their respective portions of the horizon. 

It’s Midsummer’s eve, and Rijo rises as Miko and Sivo Share a rare simultaneous setting. 

A faint blue filter is cast over the planet Glimp.

Our planet. 

The home on which our species has elected to remain.

The home on which our species has elected to end.

“Let’s Share Se’ms1 Feelings.” Our Experienced suggests.

One of us, a young Glimpin less than a third into a lifecycle, hesitates before speaking.

“It’s not a full Feeling…more an idea shaped as a question.”

“Those can be the most interesting!” Encourages our Experienced.

“Se think…Se am sorry. Se does not have full Understanding.” 

We smile in response.

All ten of us are silent, listening under the animal noises for the low rustling of wind waggling the leaves of the nearby canopy; Feeling the chill of its caress lap the margins of our perception.

“Anyone for Fire?” One of us asks.

“Se!” A few respond. 

“Could Se guide Se?” Some of us ask.

“Of course! Says our Experienced.

“Why is Fire so Tricky? Air is easy!” One of us bemoans.

The Experienced responds, “It’s evoked from pain.”

“Like when Se stubs Se’ms fin?”

“Yes, any pain will do, though…”

“What about this?”

One of us evokes Air, briefly creating a small tornado in the middle of the group. 

The twirling Air lifts dirt and dust into our faces, causing our eyes mild pain.

Our Experienced clears their vision then speaks, “Yes, that’s physical pain. Thank Se for the demonstration. Se avoids causing physical pain to Se whenever possible. For Fire, however, Se finds emotional pain works best.”

“Emotional pain?”

“The loss of a loved one, separation, rejection, sickness that changes Se’ms life, a Violence…”

One of us interjects, “A Violence? Se doesn’t do Violence! Only crying ones and laughing ones do Violence!”

We begin to argue.

“Nuh uh! Se’ms host parent said that’s a myth! Se do Violence in lots of ways!”

“Se don’t do Violence!”

“Se just hurt Se with Air!”

“That wasn’t Violence!”

“Anything that hurts is Violence!”

“Se’ms host parents said killing plants to eat is Violence!”

“That’s dumb! Se would die without eating!”

“That doesn’t mean it’s not Violence!”

“Se’ms face is Violence!”

Our Experienced raises their voice above the din, “That’s a good example of inflicting emotional pain. Insulting how someone looks…pain leaves remnants within both afflicter and afflicted. And Se must reach for those remnants.”

“But pain is…painful!”

“That’s right, so if Se don’t Understand Se’ms pain, Se can create a rux2.”

“How do Se Understand pain?”

“Se know l’e”u”3, right?” Our Experienced lifts their scaled fingers to eye level as they speak, holding up no fingers when they say “l”, one finger from each hand when they say “‘e’”, and two fingers from each hand they bend into a bow when they say ““u””.

We all sigh and monotonously intone, “Yes, Se know l’e”u”.

“And what’s the point of l’e”u”?”

We all answer in unison, reciting from memory, “To nourish the roots of Se’ms civilization and prune demons from the boughs of Se’ms society.”

“Very good, Se did the reading. But what does l’e”u” mean in Se’ms own words?”

We are silent.

“Se will break it down then. What is Love?”

Many of us shout an answer.

“Caring for Se!”

“Caring about Se!”

“Using Se’ms time and energy to help Se Feel happy!”

“Working to Share a world that’s better for Se!”

Our Experienced smiles, and says, “Good! All correct! Now what’s Empathy?”

“Thinking about the Feelings of others!”

“Imagining Se’ms self in someone else’s fins!”

“Not judging while listening!”

“Excellent!” Our Experienced says as they clap their webbed hands together, “So, Understanding?”

Our group is silent. 

“Understanding is the most complicated,” Our Experienced consoles, “Why?”

“Because reality is weird!” One of us answers.

Our Experienced laughs, “Se are right. Reality is the weirdest thing there is. Reaching a place of Understanding within our crazy reality requires both Love and Empathy, but also context, flexibility of hypothesis, and a commitment to the scientific process of…”

The lapis-colored third eyes in the middle of our foreheads are noticeably glazing over.

Our Experienced notices, and stops themselves, “For now, Se should remember that Love and Empathy are tools to Share Se’ms world, and Understanding is an aspiration, not a destination.”

One of us mimics our Experienced, “And together, these three principles create Se’ms l’e”u”, Glimp’s guiding light!”

We all giggle and sing together, “Se’ms guiding light!”

Our Experienced’s lapis-colored eye rolls slightly as they say, “Back to Fire. Because it’s evoked from Se’ms pain, Se must Feel from a place of balance using l’e”u”…

“How does Se Feel balanced?”

Our Experienced  pauses, considering, “Balance is…the idea of Se, that each individual is simultaneously everything and unique. Accepting the results of the choices Se makes, and seeking Understanding for how Se choose to interact with Se’ms path is how Se strive towards Balance.”  

Our group considers this as our Experienced continues.

“As Se all know, Se will cause a rux if Se is not Balanced.      

“What do Se do then?”

“If Se start getting ruxxy, stop the evocation, consider Se’ms self, Share with others, and search for Understanding.”

“What if Se doesn’t have pain?”

“Whoever Se is, Se has pain. It can come from a search for meaning, acute moments of trauma, or something else. Se are different when it comes to pain.” 

“How can Se be different?”

“Se is part of Se, and the different parts of Se contain different experiences. This is why Sharing is so important for Se’ms collective Understanding. This is why Those Who Share All…”

One of us interrupts, “Se are getting off-topic! When Se finds Se’ms pain, Se can evoke Fire?”

The Experienced nods and asks, “Finding Se’ms pain is the first step, does anyone know the next step?”

“Se transmute Se’ms pain using l’e”u”!” One of us shouts.

“Excellent! The more refined and extensive Se’ms l’e”u”, the more focused Se’ms evocation.”

“But what if Se does all that and still can’t make a spark! What if it just feels worse and worse until this one,” one us motions to their torso, “Feels on Fire.”

Fire is so tricky because the final step is using l’e”u” for the Fire itself. Unlike Water, Soil, Air, or other basic Feelings, Fire fights back.”

Fire is too hard!” One of us complains.

Our Experienced Shares, “Fire is Se’ms transition into intermediate Feelings. Without honing Se’ms l’e”u”, Se cannot evoke higher Feelings without ruxxing all over the place.”

“So Se have to expand Se’ms l’e”u” as Se’ms pain intensifies?”

“Se will find the pain doesn’t intensify as much as it becomes more complex. It’ll try to find gaps or weaknesses within Se’ms l’e”u”. If it does, Se will start going ruxxy..”

“Se think Se Understand.”

“Se too.”

“Good!” Our Experienced claps, “Se will demonstrate, then Se can spread out and practice.”

The Aesthetic Acquisition Drone logs our activities.


1. Se /sā/ (pronoun/proper noun) Interchangeable Meaning. The Self, Others, a Specific Group, or All Existence. Implies the speaker Understands their role as Everything.
Historical Note: Adopted two cycles ago by tECO (the Empathic Civilization Organization) for exclusive use in official business. (Possessive form: “Se’ms”) 

Se wants fed
Se’ms mind wants led
Se grate cheese
Se’ms body bakes bread
Se am together
Se’ms soul is apart
Se knows nothing
Se’ms mouth ate a fart
Se, It Ain’t…So? by Se

2. Out of Balance Feeling.

3. Love, Empathy, and Understanding.

Your One Empathy Blender

Human Memory Art Logs: Rusty Gas Clouds of Zimpydoo

Hovering atop a pleasant stream of air within a cozy, well-furnished cavern, a rust-colored gas cloud eeeks orange-brown puffs.

A therapist, also a rust-colored gas cloud, floats nearby on their own air stream.

“In my Dream, I’m (eeek) following my Path.” The client cloud eeeks,

“That sounds (eeek) fine.” The analyzing cloud eeeks back.

“But the Path in my Dream (eeek) leads over a cliff.” The puff billows.

The critical vapor looks serious and responds, “How can that (eeek) help you?”

The fitful fog pleads, “I know that I know (eeek) another Path is possible, but…I don’t know if I know (eeek) how to change.”

The counselor condenses, considers their patient, and asks, “Have you ever tried not Dreaming of a (eeek) cliff?”

The session is interrupted when they collectively detect incoming human memory art.

They hear… Sorry You’re Sick by Ted Hawkins

Their minds see…

Two humans chatting at a cafe table on a stage in front of an audience.

“Someone bombed the hospital?”

“Yeah…it’s more common than you’d think.”

“That’s terrible! Who’s responsible?”

“I was too young to recognize the company logo.”

“Surely it must’ve been a mistake!”

“No mistake. Official computer models predict the birth of disruptive elements and sanitize targets when their variables cross a tolerance threshold, changing their designation from CU to BGE.”

“What does that mean?”

“I’ve read BGE has a target value twenty times greater than CU, so the cost of a strike is Officially justified.”

“Are you upset about what happened to you?”

“The bombs were dropped by automated drones.”

“So what?”

“So my parents were killed by an algorithm.”


An expensive shoe thrown by an excited audience member bounces off the forehead of the orphaned speaker.

The performer, after they recover, admires the ammunition.

Holding up the fine footwear, they declare, “This shoe’s a real knockout!”

The audience cheers.

The gas beings disengage their minds from the memory waves and wiggle at one another.

“I’ll maintain.” Eeeks the convalescent.

The doctor mist takes their final notes of the session.

An Aesthetic Acquisition Drone gathering data from orbit notes the notes.

  • Human Memory Art, 2121 C.E.
  • Aesthetic Data Gathering Patrol, 12,420,069 C.E

Your Chapter One.One

It is 12,420,076 C.E., and you are monitored by an Automated System.

It Logs:

You, standing in front of a closed window.

You, selecting an alternate setting.

Carbon, becoming transparent.

You, seeing nothing.

A buzzer vibrates within your brain.

Your investments trend down. 

Implants flood your body with chemicals inducing fear. 

You return your window to its default opacity.

You take an Eterna Sensitivity Enhancement Pill.

You move to your Life Corp Comfort Chair and Weta Dreams Entertainment Device.

Your body falls backwards and vanishes into the Chair’s pillowy mass of fathomless snuggles. 

Waves sync neurons with Entertainment.

You perceive yourself in a lush forest. 

The simulated lavender smell of your Living Environment is replaced by faux moss, wood, stone, and mud. 

Wind rustles a canopy, filtering dancing dappled patches of warm purple sunlight onto where your head virtually exists.  

Birch grows next to kapok, mangrove, and laurel. 

Around you, the undergrowth is thick.

Bright blue orchids and purple mountain saxifrage dominate.

Ruby-throated hummingbirds, great horned owls, Barbary lions, white-tailed deer, Javan tigers, duck-billed platypuses, ring-tailed lemurs, fennec foxes, and birds of paradise meander about. 

Nothing eats anything. 

The cuteness of everything is maximized, with some features, such as eyes, greatly exaggerated.

Fully immersed, you desire a hug from a large-eyed ring-tailed lemur. 

Simultaneously, an unexplained urge to see purple and blue Bengal tigers shimmers through your limbic system. 

Purple and blue Bengal tigers walk into view as the cutest ring-tailed lemur of the nearest conspiracy approaches your simulated body and hugs your legs. 

Your implants note the pressure of the lemur’s arms wrapped around your limbs and release chemicals associated with receiving a hug. 

Lemur hug achieved, you want food in your mouth. 

You thank God for your impulse and implants.

The Entertainment Device’s waves detach from your mind.

The mimicry of lavender returns to your olfactory receptors.

The dark gray composite carbon Life Corp Floor, ceilings, and walls of your Life Corp Living Environment are restored to you.

You slither down your Comfort Chair, and think your Floor should bring you to your Chewing Chamber. 

The Floor responds by moving gently in the right direction.

Twinkling lights embedded in the molding grow brighter as you pass, but never so focused as to sharpen your shadow.

Throughout the Living Environment, primary-colored shapes are pasted in prominent locations.

When you enter your Chewing Chamber, you see a SoftApplet Advertisement projected over your purple and blue retro 23rd-century art deco-pentagonist Gemini Ninety-Niner-Zimpydoo fusion Blender. 

The Advertisement contains a timer.

It currently reads 9 minutes 10 seconds.

A buzzer rattles your brain.

Your investments trend down.

The chemicals tickling your body post-lemur hug are replaced with chemicals of fear and dread. 

Your Floor increases its speed as you pray to God to see you through this hardship. 

Your body is delivered to the anachronous Blender moments later.

The admonitory Advertisement auto-detects your preferences.

You confirm the auto-selected upgrade, and spend a monthly credit to purchase a new device. 

The SoftApplet logo is replaced by a Cute Smile, which makes a Happy Noise before disappearing. 

A bell chimes in your brain; your investments trend up.

Fear is supplanted by chemicals associated with upgraded appliances and successful investments. 

But in your heart you know you’re experiencing mitigated pleasure. 

You upbraid yourself for missing out on a Maximum Satisfaction Achievement and a Bonus Upgrade by failing to purchase before the Warning Advertisement appeared. 

You thank God for their assistance, then make a mental inventory of the oldest items in your Living Environment. 

As soon as you finish consuming food you’ll upgrade your month-old Weta Dreams Entertainment Device.

“You can never have enough, ever.” You think to yourself.

You take an Eterna Sensitivity Enhancement Pill.

The Automated System logs your activities.

Kinetic Bombardment

A person speaks into a computer microphone sitting on the other side of a bed.

“I feel like a bein’ who needs sleep livin’ in a bein’ who doesn’t value sleep’s world.”

A being monitoring the conversation changes a 1 to a 0 in the Automation_Acceptance section of the being’s Behavioral Profile.

Adapting to a change in its managed data set, a networked automated system changes a 1 to a 0.

A 1 changes to a 0 in a networked system.

A 1 changes to a 0 in a networked system.

A 1 changes to a 0 in a networked system.

A 1 changes to a 0 in a networked system.

An automated drone orbiting the planet painted in red, white, and blue targets a being with a DF-15.

A being intervenes.

Having conserved resources by waiting until the target’s value justifies the expenditure, a being is promoted.

A being is happy.


Who am I? - Overthinker's Journey

You run. 

Behind you is an AVALANCHE. 

You’ve been running.

Behind you has been an AVALANCHE for as long as you can remember.

Running beside you are others.

When they fall, you keep running.

You don’t know what happens when the AVALANCHE overtakes them.

Sometimes you’re running downhill.

Running downhill is easier, but the AVALANCHE is also faster.

Sometimes you’re running uphill.

Running uphill is harder, but the AVALANCHE is slower.

You dream you’ll encounter a hill so steep and so high you’ll leave the AVALANCHE behind.

You dream of no longer running from an AVALANCHE.

You dream of doing exactly what you feel when you feel how you feel.

The steepest, highest hills you’ve encountered have failed to stop the AVALANCHE.

You keep running.

Everyone around you keeps running too.


1. We run because:
A) Our ego will not allow us to fall in front of others
B) We fear the unknown
C) We have learned to love the chemical fix running from the AVALANCHE provides
D) Inertia
E) A combination of these. Which ones?
F) Other, please explain

2. Everyone around us is not the same as us because:
A) We believe they are not the same exact biological being as us
B) We believe they do no have the same exact pattern of experiences
C) We believe they do not understand us
D) We believe we do not understand them
E) A combination of these. Which ones?
F) Other, please explain

3. What is the AVALANCHE?

4. Why does the AVALANCHE have power over our time and energy?

5. Are running or being overwhelmed the only two options when dealing with an AVALANCHE? If so, what are the consequences of pursuing each option? If not, what else could we do?

6. Which is more comforting, absolute certainty or absolute uncertainty? Why?

7. Where do we hide our real self when our social context requires us to play someone else? How much energy does this require per minute?

Oxford Merit

(“Study at Harvard!

We’ll fortify your mind with certainty, immerse your ideas in refined orthodoxy, and facilitate the sacrifice of your ambitious and amoral soul by acolytes of Moloch around the world.”

The commercial beaming into your brain as you wait in your auto-doctor’s office shows a group of diverse, blood-soaked Harvard students laughing in the streets of Cambridge as they whip and corral naked, bound, and mewling members of the meritocratically deficient underclass.) 

You think, “Barbaric Harvies, their lashings lack sophistication. Oxford Forever.”

Two beeps from the auto-secretary interrupt your judgement. 

You believe this means it’s your turn.

Confirming your suspicion, the floor moves your chair to a back room in the office.

As you’re moved, a commercial for Fresh Air Keurig Cups dances on the periphery of your awareness.

(A well-dressed man sitting in an office cubicle takes a deep breath and starts coughing.

“Polluted air got you down? Don’t let any old air into your lungs. 

Introducing Keurig Fresh Air.”

The same well dressed man, still coughing, places a cup in a Keurig machine. 

The machine begins spraying clean air into the man’s face.

The man sighs, and breathes without coughing.

“Make the best choice for yourself and your health. 

Keurig Fresh Air: Because you deserve to Breathe.”)

When you enter the room, an auto-doctor machine greets you.

“What is your health concern?” The device beeps as you enter.

You respond as you slide to a stop in front of the looming metallic being, “I noticed a lump on my throat a few weeks ago and…”

“Reveal the condition.” The device intones.

You pull down your collar.

It scans your lump.

After a moment of processing, the device replies, “Your education and calculated potential productivity qualify you for a biopsy. Remove your fabric coverings.”

You hesitate, misunderstanding the machine’s meaning. 

“Remove your fabric coverings immediately, or you will not be serviced.” The auto-doctor warns.

Realizing it means your clothes, you take off your shirt. 

The machine hovers over your body, injects your neck with a numbing agent, and extracts a sample of the lump. 

Analyzing the specimen, the machine responds, “You have cancerous cells that require approximately $1,350,000 to treat. Your calculated productivity potential is approximately $560,000. You do not qualify for this level of healthcare. Thank you, have a nice day.”

“But, I have an MBA from Oxford!” You object as the floor moves your chair back into the waiting room. 

A commercial for Johnson & Johnson Adderall Vitamins pops into your head.

(The commercial displays an office full of sleeping workers with coffee cups turned on their sides, spilling coffee on their desks.

“Not getting the most out of your employees?”

“Try new Adderall Extra Strength Dissolving Tablets.”

A manager drops three tablets into a water cooler and uses an air horn to wake the sleeping workers. 

The workers shuffle into a line to retrieve a cup of infused-water.

As they drink, their eyes open fully, and they return to their desk energized, ready to work hard.

“Turn a lazy worker into a superstar with a single cup of our patented healthy vitamin supplements.”

“Your clients, and your stock price, will thank you.”)

Shocked by the calculations of the auto-doctor, you pull your shirt back on and find your phone to call a former classmate working as a lobbyist and lawyer in Washington DC.

“Hello, This is Miriam.”

“Miriam? Hi, it’s Georgette.”

On the other end of the line, Miriam responds, “Hi Georgette, I hope you’re doing well. Luckily you caught me between meetings.”

“I just need a moment. You see, I was just diagnosed with cancer, and…”

“I’m sorry to hear that, that’s quite bothersome. I had to take a few days off work to treat mine a few years ago.”

“It’s fine, yeah, I might too, we’ll see. But the issue is this auto-doctor told me the operation costs more than my CPP and…”

“What? That’s not possible. You have an MBA from Oxford!”

“I know! There must be something wrong. Could you ask around? There might be an auto-healthcare variable that needs some adjustment. I know you know the right people, and I’d owe you big time!”

“Sure thing, sis!”

Miriam hangs up the phone.

Thirty minutes pass.

In that time, along with commercials for simulated sexual arousal supplements, mood elevating supplements, a new model of robot butler, and a trip to a recreated version of what the rainforest in Brazil used to look like, you watch as five other patients are moved in and out of the back room. 

By their expressions upon returning, their clothing, and overall bearing, you guess two have a CPP high enough to receive the healthcare they need, and two do not.

You’re disturbed you’re in an office where it seems half the patients are from backgrounds that don’t qualify for needed healthcare.

The final patient, an aged, nonbinary figure bent over and gnarled with the telltale signs of a lifetime of coding factory labor, never returns at all.

You worry this office might be mistaking you for a coding factory laborer, or some other menial position.

You’re an Influence Maximization Consultant with an MBA from Oxford! 

Why are you assigned to an auto-doctor’s office servicing those of lesser merit?

You make a note to call another Oxford alum, who works for Auto-Health and Human Services, to help you switch auto-doctor offices to somewhere more suited to your background.

The auto-secretary beeps, and your chair once again moves to the back room with the auto-doctor device.

“What is your health concern?” The device beeps as you enter.

You tell the device, “There’s a cancerous lump on my throat.”

“Reveal the condition.” The device intones.

You pull down your collar.

The device scans your lump.

After a moment of processing, the device replies, “Your education and calculated potential productivity qualify you for treatment. Remove your fabric coverings.”

You remove your shirt and the device begins operating on the lump. 

During the operation, you view a commercial to join the military.

(A woman in an Air Force captain’s uniform sits at a computer, studying the display.

“Want to be a hero?”

The captain monitors an auto-drone, which is seen flying over a meadow on a split screen.

“Want to make a difference?”

The captain watches their screen and gives updates as the auto-drone finds its target and executes its mission, “Target sighted, rifle, release, impact.” 

The split screen shows a guided missile exploding within a village.

The captain throws up a peace sign and shouts, “Count it!”

The Air Force logo appears in your brain, along with the words, “Be Force.”)

When the auto-doctor finishes, it sanitizes the area and tells you, “Return to this office in one week for additional treatment. The auto-secretary will have your prescription. Thank you, have a nice day.”

You put on your shirt as the floor takes your chair back to the waiting room.

You text Miriam.

“Thanks, sis. You’re a life-saver.”

Miriam texts back, “I didn’t do anything? I’m still in a meeting! What happened?”

You laugh, and type, “My CPP qualified…must have been a glitch?”

“Those auto-doctors…are you in a mixed-merit office?”

“Sure am. I just noticed some of the other patients are decidedly less-meritorious.”

“Gotta upgrade your auto-doc, sis!”

“Way ahead of you. About to call Fatou at HHS and get this sorted.”

“Get it, girl!”

“Always! Stay Woke, Oxford Forever!”

“SW, OF!”

Hegemonic Impulses

You’re the overnight security guard for the parking garage of a major American pharmaceutical company.

At 3:16 in the morning, a black vehicle bearing official US government plates pulls up to your booth. 

It’s the first vehicle you’ve seen in over an hour, but with the wild work schedules of the pharmaceutical industry, you’re not surprised.

You often overhear them say to one another as they drive out babbling, obviously either drunk, sleep deprived, or both, after a long day, “Bacteria, viruses, discontent, obesity, impotency and baldness never sleep, so neither can we!”

The vehicle pulls next to your window and you see a man in a suit roll down their window.

“Hello,” they say as they extend their arm towards you and flip open a small leather case, “I’m with the FBI. We’ve received a report about one of your foreign-descended researchers and need access to this facility immediately.”

You peer at the badge and certification housed within the leather case in front of your face.

They flip the case closed, retract their arm, and restate, “I need access immediately.”

You hesitate.

They sense your hesitation.

“Is there a problem?” They ask you.

You respond, “Well, how do I know you’re FBI?”

They re-extend their arm, and flip open their leather case once more, “Here’s my badge. I’m Agent Woodcock. Please, open the gate.”

You continue to hesitate, and say, “How do I know that’s a real badge? I’ve never seen a real FBI badge in person, and I’ve never been trained how to recognize a real badge. Plus, don’t you need a warrant?”

They look at you with clear exasperation, but you also detect some admiration.

“I feel you, I really do. You know, that’s a totally reasonable request and I have no problem confirming for you. I actually made a mistake by not bringing the warrant, and was hoping I could just get through without it. But I know the security of this place is an important part of our national security too, so I’ll call the local Agents on duty right now to bring the warrant and extra certification so you can be sure. They’re friends of mine, anyway. Would that work for you?”

“I think so, thanks for understanding. I just don’t want to do the wrong thing or get in trouble, you know?”

“Oh, totally! I’m in a hurry, but I’m also a believer in protocols and doing the right thing in the right way. Plus, I haven’t seen my friend Mulch since graduation! It’ll be nice to see them.”

Over the next thirty minutes you chat with the alleged FBI agent.

You discuss your childhood, your struggle to support your own children, pictures of your respective gun collections, pictures of a trip with your children to the beach last summer, your mutual disgust for both presidential candidates, and the agent’s secret fear of swimming.

Thirty minutes into the discussion, a black car pulls up behind Agent Woodcock’s vehicle. 

The new vehicle has the same official US Government plates as the one Agent Woodcock is driving.

One woman and one nonbinary person exit the vehicle holding paperwork.

“Agents Sternberg and Mulch, good to see you.” Agent Woodcock calls from his vehicle as they walk up.

“And you, Agent Woodcock.” Agent Mulch, the nonbinary alleged FBI agent replies.

“I apologize for forgetting the warrant and bothering you two so early.”

“No bother at all! We’re happy to leave the office. In fact, maybe we can all grab coffee after this.”

“If I have time…yeesh. This is a doozy of a case!”

“I heard something about it. Sorry, JP.” Agent Sternberg says with sympathy.

The two agents turn to you and say, “Right, so here’s the warrant old Agent Woodcock over there didn’t quite remember, and an official letter from our supervisor requiring full, legally mandated assistance from your organization.”

Agent Mulch hands you the two documents, which contain official letterhead and look legitimate.

However, you still hesitate. 

“I’m so sorry to do this, but how do I know any of this is real.”

A look passes between the Agents.

“Well, that warrant is signed by Judge Davis, who you can look up. And that letter is signed by our supervisor, Special Agent Greg Jeffries, who you can also look up, if you need to.”

You take a moment to search for both the Judge and the Special Agent on your computer. 

You see their profiles on official US Government and State websites.

“Yes, but how can I know for sure they’re the ones who signed these?” You ask.

“Well, aside from meeting them yourself, I guess you’ll just have to trust us, my friend.” Agent Woodcock laughs. “I understand your precautions, but I hope you’ll let me through to do my job.”

You respond, “I can call my manager, and she can go with you to meet both signers to confirm. Or she can call their offices to confirm, if it can wait till morning.”

“My friend, at this point I’m afraid I must insist you let us through. It’s the law.”

You hesitate, but persist, “It will only take a moment…let me call my manager.”

As you reach for your phone, Agent Woodcock shoots you in the chest with a silenced pistol.

You slump against the side of your booth in immense pain and feel your lungs fill with blood.

While you’re still aware, Agent Mulch asks, in a posh British accent, “Damn, how did they know?”

Agent Woodcock responds, also in an upper-class British accent, “It doesn’t matter, this is minor. The operation is still a go.”

A man steps out from the back of the second vehicle and you recognize the leader of the Red Coats, Prince Edward Windsor X, from your favorite series, Most Dangerous Corporate Terrorist Live Countdown with Klarkson Taily.

As your consciousness fades, other Red Coat terrorists exit arriving vehicles and gather around their leader.

You focus on how the Prince’s mouth froths and drools as he screams, “Remember, the glory of hegemony was stolen from our great Empire by faithless dogs like Slater the Traitor.

These colonial mongrels would be nothing without us!

This is not theft; we are repossessing our rightful property!

I make this decree by authority of my family’s Divine Right, granted to us by the Lord God Almighty!”

You die.

Major Tazer

A person speaks into a microphone.

“The topic of today’s program is ‘Training I did not receive as a Professional.’

When considering entering negotiations for
Time, a nonrenewable resource and
Energy, a temporally-limited resource, in exchange for
Money, an abstract construct,
a Professional assesses the ripple effects of potential agreements.

Every Professional asks whether their committed aggregate daily energy will antagonize:
fewer, or the
standard number of other people.

Professionals research the financial and political milieu of prospective employers.
Professionals mitigate the consequences of their employer’s aggregate decisions.

The door behind the speaker explodes.

The room fills with pepper spray.

The speaker, now prostrate, coughs and curls into a ball.

Heavily armored Professionals run into the room and shoot the enballed speaker.

The video switches back to the courtroom.

A lawyer asks, “How could one claim this was not intentional?”

A Professional on the stand responds, “We intended to neutralize the target with our tazer, but unintentionally neutralized the target with our gun.”

A judge looks at the Professional with empathy.

The video stops and a panel is shown.

A panelist hops up and yells, “See! Right there! You can see the judge being empathetic! Our AI analysis of their face said it was 95% Empathy, 4% Judgement! That is unacceptable.”

Another panelist waves them away dismissively, “Two independent AI firms analyzed the face. Their results averaged to find the face shows 27% Sorrow, 13% Hunger, 6% Boredom, 42% Judgement, and 22% Empathy.”

The man watching the panel on his television turns to his wife and guffaws, “That doesn’t add up to 100 you stupid morons!”

He pauses for validation.

His wife smiles and presses air through her throat to emit the sound of laughter.

She then says, “Yeah”

She thinks to herself, “At least men live shorter than women.”

She thinks again, “Unless he gets me killed, or kills me himself.”

She takes a hit from her vape pen and thinks about something else.

The device in front of them continues making noise and they continue watching.