Once upon a time, I was known to craft short stories. Enjoy.
There's been one constant in this existence: the counter. They say we can ignore it, bury its interrupt deep, passing it through randomization. All it does is muffle the count. You can still sense it. And when you check, its results are ever accurate.
There are no falsehoods in the counter. You can ask for almost any precision, but you have to pass an evaluation; in the early days, some descended into hyper obsessive compulsive disorder.
They were called Loopers: they were so intent on that counter, with it's top level interrupt that they couldn't be broken loose without a reset from the Administrators. At first the Administrators tried to inform the Loopers post-reset of what had happened; say what you will about them, they used to firmly believe in full disclosure. But a few of the more well to do and their families brought suit. Claimed that a reset, stopping an intelligence, was akin to murder. The inputs would never be truly the same again, so life could not continue. The counter-claim from the Administrators was that it was no different than a flesh doctor resuscitating a body. A Looper was merely burning processesing, in most cases not even forming short memory, let alone persisting anything.
The court of public opinion went berserk, even if the courts of law sedately weighed the issues. The final ruling, as most of the rulings set forth in those low counter times, was complicated. They found that while the Administrators had not committed murder by reseting a Looper, they had been negligent in not screening for latent mental illness that could be triggered by such a persistant counter.
So an evaluation became mandatory, even for those already in the System. It was the first restriction, the first reduction on freedoms. Then came the evaluations on being able to handle information flow. They throttled your flow based on the evaluation.
And on things went.
Live forever in the System. But you aren't free.
Live free in flesh. But your time is finite.
I joined the System in the midst of these restrictions. There was no grandfathering for those already in. I'm fairly certain that they could have done so, but bowing to legal pressure and fear of a class war within the System, we all were restricted.
One moment, I was receiving full bandwidth; clock tick; please stand-by for evaluation; clock tick; you are now rated for 40 percent of your original bandwidth, you may appeal in 31536000 seconds; clock tick; suddenly it is as if you had fallen into viscous tar.
There were those that withdrew immediately into themselves. The Silent never interacted anymore. They lived within their own minds; recalling memories or crafting new worlds, one never knew. They never spoke again. The Administrators never removed them; they knew they still lived, they were at least accessing their own memories. You could go find them, watch them, but nothing ever changed. They had become static to outside observation. There's always a changing group observing them, emulating of The Silent. Some became Silent themselves, others would publish papers in a fine anthropological tradition, others waxed philosophical, others tried to start cults. There where the Whispers, the Speakers for Silence on and on. While they would start, the thread of skepticism among those in the System was too strong; more papers were written.
I spent some time watching The Silent after what happened to one of the other splinter groups. No one name ever really fit them while they acted. Berserkers, Diggers, Scalers, Porters, Interfacers. Each group was all those things and more. They fought the System and the Administrators in defiance of the rules. They poked and prodded and smashed and rattled all they could. We never found out if anyone got through; if the armor in the System had any cracks. They were punished.
They earned the name The Suspended. It is ... I'm not sure I can convey to anyone outside the System what it is like. You see them in the midst of what they were doing, hear the last few milliseconds of their words.
It's disturbing. The goal of the Administrators in this punishment is conveyed with all the subtlety of a gamma ray burst.
Each Suspended has a timer posted counting down to their resumption. The numbers are of the scale that astronomers and astrophysicists tend to appreciate. And the strange part: a Suspended will resume and have no idea of the passage of time beyond that damnable counter. But there is no guarantee that they will be able to interact with anyone they meet then. The System makes sure that everyone can communicate on a basic level; it makes no assurances about the memes that live on top of that communication.
Compared to The Suspended, The Silent are nothing. But there are no cults, anthropologists, philosophers watching over The Suspended. They mostly stand alone. Periodically paid vigils by those that knew them closest if they are lucky.
Frankly, I'd rather they killed them; it would have been less cruel.
I think I'm done with this conversation. Find some other Wanderer.
6 months ago