Friday, 26 February 2010

Implant Me - A short story by Andrew Hyde

A well known chip manufacturer brought the first two-hundred-and-fifty-six core processor to market on the day Marcus Clink was born. One thousand teraflops of processing power in the home, said the press release. Run local weather simulations in real time and see how much rain your herbaceous borders are due. It all went over the Clink's heads. No herbaceous border in their garden. No garden, to be exact. What's more, news of the processor didn't stop Marcus from screaming.

Nearly four thousand people watched the webcast of his birth, thanks to the 'Live Cam' button clipped to Mr Clink's shirt. The button had been a birthday present. Mrs Clink thought it'd be a good idea. Everyone has one. Where was the harm? So far they'd earned eight credits of shared advertising revenue. "Live Cam: archiving your life", was the by-line that brought them an argument. Webcasting the birth wasn't intentional, Mr Clink's mistake. Should have turned it off. Mrs Clink wasn't impressed. Twenty-thousand users watched the webcast as their argument raged; most tuned out when a site flash reported: Live Cam Freak storming Arizona school, sixteen dead in gun carnage...archiving their here to watch...

Mr and Mrs Clink's life less ordinary, born in the age of eight bit computing, found technology perplexing. Still read paperbacks. Strange behaviour in a life of binary noughts and ones, thought some. They simply didn't get along with anything digital. When asked to look back, their lives were waymarked by operating systems they'd never mastered, implants they'd shied away from. Trying to keep up with the switchovers, they'd filled skip after skip as High Definition turned to Super High Definition before Ultra High Definition turned to Super 3D. Friends, seeing hologram actors standing in flower pots or embedded in cupboards, said they needed to adjust the vertical hold. They tried. With severed heads mouthing words on the floor, the Clink's called a technician.

They shrugged their shoulders as bits doubled and quadrupled until they were left wondering what the '512 Inside' sticker meant on the box. Didn't seem to matter, the little black boxes always ran slow after a week or two.

"Who's our clever little didums?" they said when Marcus, aged three, had the little black boxes running just right. Even let him watch an extra hour of iNetTV.

When Marcus was four they entered a live parliamentary debate, marvelled that they didn't have to move from the armchair. The BBC wanted advertising revenue. It would mark the end of an era, said the Clink's, quality would suffer. No, said the man from the BBC, quality would be better. They voted 'No' and pressed the red button. Told you so, said the Clinks when quality dropped. Programs from China, lip sync sucked.

When Broadband went Wideband they read the headlines 'Information Super Fastway', and they said it was about time, films take an age to download. Turned out, the information was piled up against them when the insurance companies caught on. Oh, and, films continued to take an age to download; something to do with an unbundled loop and copper wire not compatible with superconducting fibre. "Yeah, sure," they said, "whatever," and watched the progress bar.

They couldn't find argument with the politician who said, "People have been tagging pets for thirty years. Your child means more than a lost dog. You must vote yes." They pressed the green button and the legislation became law.

On his sixth birthday, invite clutched in small hand, Marcus was at the office for Information and Identification. Found they had their argument for the politician. Ninety credits was a lot for something compulsory.

"Ah, funny you should say that. You get's this 'Search Chip' implanted in little Marcus and the ID Chip's for free," said the smiling Installer.

"But, how much is the Search Chip?" they asked.

"Special offer. Free for the whole month of June."

They nodded and agreed.

Accepted. Greasy thumb print on screen. Son's head clamped tight. Machine buzz. Laser dot warm on the back of his neck. Marcus screamed. Two days of high temperature, headaches and bad dreams. Then, finally, as the brochure stated, they benefited from a wireless enabled son. Away from home, he beeped on the Sat Nav. Away from the Sat Nav, he beeped on

After a year of neural integration, the Search Chip brought search results quickly to mind.


"Yeah, Dad?"

"What's the capital of Mongolia?"

A blink. "Ulaanbaatar is the capital of Mongolia. It sits on the Tola River. In recent years, due to global warming, the river has dried up. The city has a population of one-point-five-million. Is a centre of excellence for the motor industry. Do you want to follow the sponsored link for more information?"

"No ta, but thanks." his father said, completing the crossword.

A five-thousand teraflop processor came to market when Marcus turned thirteen. Meet your great grandparents, run real time ancestor simulations, said the press release. Marcus wasn't interested. With the Search Chip modded he had virtual worlds in his head. A few, running version one-point-zero of the mod, became confused, blurred the virtual with reality. The web full of stories: Confused Teenagers Empty Machine Guns In malls. Marcus wasn't one of them. He did have a psychotic episode with the rollout of version two-point-five that left a twelve inch scar across his chest. The Clink's thankful that version two-point-six was only an hour behind.


"Yeah, Dad?"

"What's the capital of Niger?"

A blink. "Niamey is the capital of Niger. It sits on the Niger River. In recent years, due to global warming, the river has dried up. The city has a population of one-point-five-million. Is a centre of excellence for the recycling industry. Do you want to follow the sponsored link for more information?"

"No ta, but thanks," his father said. "See, it even works in his sleep."

"Marvellous," said his mother, "this really is good. Do you think we can ask him anything else?" They did. Finally went to bed an hour later knowing, amongst other things, the atomic mass of hydrogen, the half-life of plutonium-239 and the mating ritual of the emperor penguin.

The Clink's didn't understand their son's schooling. "So, what do you do all day?"


"What do you mean 'Search'?"

"Just sit and search, Dad," Marcus had his head to one side. Blank look. Iris like a disc cut from the night.

"You gotta do more than that. Where's the homework?"

"Don't do homework, Dad. Just search the answers. Search tells us."

"Search tells you," he repeated. Where's the learning?

This gave the Clink's their worries.

"I've got my worries," said Mr Clink.

"Me too."

"Do you think we did the right thing with that Search Chip thingy."

"I've wondered that myself," said Mrs Clink. "It spooks me when he sits by the computer and words miraculously appear on the screen."

"Me too," agreed Mr Clink.

"It's wireless, isn't it?"

"Aye, wireless it is."

When Marcus was sixteen he said, "This is Eloise."

"Nice to meet you, Eloise," said the Clink's.

Eloise gave a small nod, barely a movement, nice to meet you too. Turned out she didn't talk much. Not that Mr and Mrs Clink could hear. They noticed that Marcus and Eloise had this quiet rapport going on. Smiling, laughing, winking and nodding towards one another without a single word between them. They noticed it elsewhere, quiet groups of teenagers walking round, throwing glances and seeming to laugh at nothing.

"It's wireless, isn't it?" asked Mrs Clink.

"Aye, wireless it is," agreed Mr Clink.

They were watching the news on Marcus's eighteenth birthday. "We're off the teraflop scale here. We're not talking about exaflops, nor zettaflops, if you were going to give it a ranking it'd be infiniteflops," the 3D man was saying in the corner of the living room. "This is true quantum computing. You get the answer before it's asked. That's fast," said the 3D man. "Damn fast. You'll see what I mean when this baby goes live. You won't have seen searches like it. "

"What's an 'infiniteflop'," asked Mrs Clink.

"Sound's like me own problem," said Mr Clink.

"You are rude," laughed Mrs Clink.

"In other news," continued the news reader, standing in the corner of their living room, one foot in a mock coal scuttle, "the National Union of Teachers are holding an all night vigil in Duddlestone, Somerset. In this unassuming town, the countries last school will close its gates tomorrow evening. 'It's a real shame,' said Mr Harwick, spokesman for the union that represents the last sixteen teachers. 'We've failed the children. It's a travesty,' he said.

"Anita Hodd, Minister for Education, said 'A travesty, my arse. Since it was Green Button Politics that made the Search Chip compulsory for all six year olds, you can't lay blame on the government. The public have voted. Since the Search Chip became compulsory, we've never had such a high rate of examination passes.'

"Mr Harwick, would argue that we're not teaching the children anything except how to regurgitate Search results," accused the news reader.

"I won't be drawn to that debate," said the Minister. "All I'll say is: the success of the Search Chip has made traditional schooling a complete nonsense. By closing schools, we are releasing billions of credits to the treasury.'

"When asked to comment on the four-o-four, page not found, error that has children clutching their heads and screaming in pain, the Minister refused to comment, saying 'a cure for this annoyance was top priority'," said the newsreader.

The Clink's turned off the TV, they were shaking their heads, "Didn't know it'd end up like this, did we love?" Asked Mr Clink.

"No, dear, we didn't," agreed Mrs Clink.

Marcus turned to Eloise, a small, virtual, nod and it's all the social comment they had.

Introducing my ass

Well Hi, Howdy, Watcha, Hello (he says after wondering how to start this off). Should I get the greetings out of the way first, the ‘Who the feck is this’? Oh, why not.

Name’s Andrew Hyde. I live in South Wales (the old one, as I say on my @WordBlindProse twitter account). I’m more a family kinda man than anything else I can think of to describe the me that I am. Married, one kid, did have a dog but now got a goldfish (easier to deal with when a fish dies after a few months than when a dog dies after fifteen years). Like most people, had shit times, had good times (didn’t Dickens use that to open ‘A tale of two cities’?). Mostly, I can say, I’ve had good times. Life’s been the bitch, but who don’t like being treated rough now and then? I like to think of that ‘Biatch called Life’ as more that ‘Dominatrix Called Life’ (more aptly describes my relationship with her so far). Life’s taken a load of family and friends from me, and they’re all missed. But, then, life just-a keeps on rolling along. The forty-year-old-something with tyres worn, bit of metal frame showing, but rolling nevertheless. Might be a blowout somewhere along the line, but, for now, let’s just hope it’s a slow puncture.

As a day job, I’d refer to myself as a ‘Code Monkey’ – the lesser spotted computer programmer (lesser spotted ‘cause we’re usually locked away in dark rooms – when was the last time you ventured into the IT department? See what I mean and, if you did, weren’t it a mistake that got you there?). Like most people, I work with a bunch of comedians, the office banter kind of comedians you’re used to. I also work with a few that are on their way to the far right of the autism scale (yeah, before you say it, dyslexia’s autistic spectrum – oh, but I ain’t mentioned that yet, have I). I mean, past the dyslexia/dyspraxia (just touching on autistic) side. And, those guys are kinda funny as well.

What I’m not, is one of those clever computer guys. Definitely not in the group of programmers that bring you good stuff like Halo, or cool stuff like face recognition to your photo album. Nope, that’s not me – that involves math and shite. I’m the corporate computer guy, getting data from databases. One of those computer guys that get admin and clerical staff cursing under their breath, making their days seem longer. If you get an error message ‘Unhandled Exception’, give a little nod of knowing, that’s the stuff I do (and, no, I don’t work for Microsoft).

But, I’m not here to talk about the day job (well, not a lot of the time anyway – ‘cause I ain’t sayin’ it won’t creep in).

I sometimes go by the online alias WordBlindProse (then again, sometimes I don’t). When I use the alias, it’s ‘cause it gives something away about me. Suffice as to say, I love writing and I’m that’s out of the way then. The two don’t really go together (I know), a bit like apricots and toast (apricots in general really, they don’t go with anything – don’t get me started). Writing’s something I do nigh on every day – in one form or another. I write stories, fiction (there’s very little non-fiction I like, my head’s more adapt at escapism than realism). It’s the writing that I’m here for. Sorry if that bores you, I’ll let you run, but it’s why I’m blogging – no excuses or pretence at anything else.

These blogs will be about me, myself, and I. An account of the lazy, forty-something, wannabe, writer – yet to be published (you can’t include the staff magazine as published). I say ‘lazy’ as I’ve more unfinished, just getting started, stories littering my hard drive than I do polished, finished, ready for press, stuff. Is that the general way of things for people who love writing? God knows. If you know some writing dudes or dudettes, maybe ask them for me, and let me know.

So, anyway, that’s me, the introduction, near done. Sometimes you’ll get musings of this forty-something bloke from South Wales (the old one, not the new one) and sometime you’ll get a short story (if I can polish and post, and, then, if you really wanna read).

For now, ta-ta.