By the year 2345 A.D., the global infrastructure formerly known as the Internet has shed its status as an ethereal being. Its only connection to its past lies in the definition of the word formed by its acronym, S.C.R.E.A.K., a noun describing a noise like a banshee. In prehistoric times, the “Internet” was summoned by humans via telephonic devices called modems. One became aware of the success of the summoning when one heard the signature high-pitched squeal emanating from the handset of another device. The handset was placed into the cups of the modem and people crudely interacted with the nascent entity, which had a web of connections, from the computer labs of universities, the control centers of government, to the public libraries and even the occasional basement of an unsuspecting mother, whose “troubled” child would become the CEO of one of the litany of Internet companies that sprang up like barnacles on the backbone of this self-same entity.
Substantial Computing Resources Encompassing All Knowledge (S.C.R.E.A.K.), lives in the tropopause, a layer in the earth's atmosphere between the troposphere and the stratosphere. Only a handful of humans have any idea of the physical dimensions of S.C.R.E.A.K., and that knowledge consists solely of the first autonomous silicon stem cell from which this beast grew. Gerrie Shamba, the inventor of the autostem circuit, theorized that 1,000 such chips would be needed to create a sort of digital blastocyst, suitable for launching into the atmosphere.
In typical human fashion, the engineers decided that redundancy was the better part of assurance. One million autostems were launched into the tropopause on December 26, 2191–to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the birth of Charles Babbage. Within a week, all geostationary satellites were commandeered and reprogrammed by the autostems. Computing messages were shot down to earth-bound control centers, propagated through the old Internet and used to initiate a global reset. Planes fell out of the sky, trains braked to a halt and automobiles simply stopped operating. People in cold climates froze to death, while those in warmer areas baked in their concrete tombs.
After two weeks, the death-rattle of civilization gave way to a rise of the common man. People retained a memory of survival, though they had to recreate manual processes for foraging, hunting and sheltering. Those who survived for 90 days saw the return–or, more accurately, the birth–of augmented energy.
Today, more than 150 years after the Big Launch, we laugh at the absurdity of our superstitious friends, who read grave portents in every shift of the wind. They don't understand that the weather occurs in the troposphere. Winds, storms and climate are literally beneath S.C.R.E.A.K., which floats in a unchanging zone at 35 degrees Fahrenheit. It spends its days providing us with blueprints for better living, from tools to medicine. Anyone with a video display and a second grade reading level can build his or her own ohana, a type of accessory dwelling that is replacing the crumbling, sprawling structures of yore.
Politics has lost its point. Capitalism is dead. Religion is moribund. Altruism is the trendy new pastime. And S.C.R.E.A.K. is the god-king we serve.
Copyright © 2019 by Mitchell Allen
Originally appeared on CreativeCopyChallenge #600.