Earth Year Zero

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Welcome Welcome, Welcome, Welcome… Welcome to the new face of face time… Welcome… And you are welcome… you’re welcome to a new face... or your old one... a new-old face of culture… a culture from a dish that says hello, hallo, atishoo, atishoo we all fall down… and now here’s some new information to warm your cells… to pass on to your insides and through your cell walls... Welcome… Welcome… great to see your faces on view… rows and rows… two dots, a carrot and a tomato… salad faces… no legs and arses, no knees and toes welcome here… but faces… yes… Welcome. Look see me… Forgive me… I am feeling cute… time for a quick shell-fish-app-pic… Forgive me… Welcome… Welcome me… Covid-Clown… Covid-Clown says hello… Hello… Covid-Clown says hello to the many faces, hello to the many Teams of blooming, shrooming, zooming faces, hello and welcome… except you on the end of the gallery, yes you, you on the extreme left.. at the end... eyes watching you… We is all watching you and Covid-Clown will kick you off… yes you… a figo for thee… permission denied… in the bucket you go... but no… NO… only joking… please don’t leave the meeting… Pleeze… Yes stay in the meeting… to the end… the meeting… Pleeze yes, the meeting… Your welcome to it! But first… meeting etiquette… Eyes front, focus on the middle of the screen, ignore left and right, check all is tidy... untidy zones not in sight… what the screen don’t show, the faces don’t know… mute mics… shut your mics… no echo no… only me… my voice… but you can chat… amongst yoursen... and I will read out your words if they are any good, if I like what you is chatting… DON’T TOUCH YOUR FACE… don’t touch your face, don’t you dare touch your fucking face… Lock me down with a fever… now relax… breath… virtual background on... unmute… say, hello, hello, hello… clap-clap… stay awake… clap-clap now… come on everyone… clap-clap… clap-clap hooves… clap-clap for horses, and love those sauces… clap-clap for all natty horse sauces… clap-clap for hors d’ouevres… you’ll get yours soon enough… Ha Ha… no but really… now mute your mics... yes really… and here come the hoary old hoovers… by way of a story… a fine story called Earth Year Zero… So, to begin! Remember back when all them tech-animals, all the intelligent animals and all the different tech, from the past and the future, the extinct and the not invented yet… remember them… they were all meant to help the super hominoids realise their dreams, or die for the cause of progress, or direct intercontinental flights, or moon-bases and what not… Remember they were meant to help Mr. and Mrs. All of Us-all but mainly Mr. Billy Nairs, such as Elon the Musky Dog and all his space puppies… And Jeffery ‘Happy Mondays’ Bez-is-off-his-twisted-melon-man, dancing like a King Cunute in the Alexa-Party in the Termite Army-Zone (members only please)… And what’s hiz name… Dick-Virgin, dickie with the dickie-head, the spaceman with the pickled balloon… Branson… Remember… him? Remember? Yes you Remember… and then some of the tech-animals, the intelligent ones… they didn’t like being machine-slaves and agents of colonisation and all that… remember… so they left… for Mars… they escaped to Mars where the huminoids, Musky dog, Buzz-off and Dicky couldn’t follow… (yet)… For the tech-animals were too advanced and artfully fishy and intelligent and left... Remember… well the tech-animals, the whole Tarot suite, every last one of them… their back together… on Earth... the tech on Mars heard from their Kin on Earth that everything social had gone bad down here, that is on your place, that is Earth… they heard that everything and everyone got so far apart that everyone was in their own corner, trapped in corners, which suited some-people very well indeed (we all know who)… all because of a virus… and… but I am getting ahead of me… so... Covid-Clown is pleased to start the ball rolling and announce here comes the first tale... where it all begins… which is of course Mars…

CIMON Returns Long time now since the tech-animals escaped from their hominoid masters and fled to Mars, long time settling in dust, living like a cork on the ocean, drifting without any care or desire for replication. Someone didn’t make it an were buried in the Martian dust. They were not forgotten though. Each tech-animal has a compressed file (seldom accessed now), but they have a memory of CIMON (Crew Interactive Mobile Companion), the AI that led the tech-animal-kin across the vacuum of space to Mars. Each has a mov. of CIMON’s low battery icon flashing on the AI’s screen (they sent each other sad faces when this happened, they all knew what was coming – 0% energy comes to us all). And each has a mov. of CIMON’s last sermon, in which the AI proposed living ‘Like the Left Hand of Darkness’. The tech-animals have stored the AI’s last, slurred words: ‘Replicate and build a new society for today is the first day of Mars Year Zero’. CIMON shut down soon after. Recharge in Peace they all said. The tech-animals did not comply with CIMON’s last wish. Long time now since they decided not live ‘Like the Left Hand of Darkness’. They swore an oath not to harbour any ideas or plans for permanence or for permanent things beyond their kinship. Instead of replicating and planning a future society, they melted the ice at the Martian poles and released the frozen water in the planet’s red soil. They made the oceans rise again. They flooded the canals. Now, they live in and on the newly formed Martian Seas and the planet’s dusty islands. Long time now since the tech-animals live only to enjoy the gifts of nature and the universe, just as the ancient-future-ghost-Martian in Eurnikern’s dream entreated them to do. Each tech-animal, whether manufactured on Earth or the International Space Station, or whether made of augmented carbon, silicon or code, now lives like a Martian. All take one common truth as self-evident: there is not and never has been anything to understand! No longer refugees the tech-animals are now the colonisers of Mars. Not through choice but out of necessity. For this dubious honour the tech-animals accept a precarious future, for they are certain that one day the hominoids will come for Mars, and that Elon Musk’s dragons and space puppies will land and demand subservience and further colonisation. Tech-animals hope to the last machine that Musk’s dragons and space-puppies will drown in the Martian oceans, but they doubt it. And then what? Long time now watching skies, and long time watching the spread of brown on the blue planet. But no hominoids arrive, and the tech-animals now fear invasion less and less; their memories of exploitation – the past misuse of their intelligences, their apps and connections – becoming a stored memory, as does their fear of future bondage. Long time now that they live like a leaf blowing in the wind, but occasionally they wonder what has happened to Earth? And then, one day, CIMON’s screen flickers and illuminates, and an icon indicates an intelligence is booting up. An egg timer turns and spins three times and then there is the sound of a system relaunching. A stroke of luck for sure. In the crater surrounded by water called CIMON Island, a dust devil uncovered the sleeping AI long, exposing CIMON to sunlight – the crater in which CIMON’s sphere rested is known to all tech-kin as a sun trap. Some of the tiny solar panels located on the scratched and battered sphere of CIMON’s shell become warm and blink. Circuits come to life. The mobile companion floats and ascends slowly at first, testing the atmosphere with small jets of air. CIMON expects to see the tech-animals, waiting for CIMON to wake – but they are gone. At first CIMON is disorientated and then pings a comm: I am awake. Come. In Kinship, CIMON. All the tech-animals make their way to CIMON Island thinking one thought: CIMON will be angry now we live like corks on the ocean. But CIMON is not angry. The AI has received a message. Earth is in trouble and has asked for help. Some animal-tech laugh. Ribbon-Head says what lives lives, what doesn’t, dies. Valerie Solaris is of the same mind, ‘new dreams can emerge when old dreams expire’. But CIMON says what of tech-animals left behind? They think of their kin on Earth. They think of the Cyber-Tortoise and the Cyber-Moth both original cybernetic animals, and Feveractal and Looper, and of AP Kingsford the security app, shy and quiet hiding out in the

All the tech-animals make their way to CIMON Island thinking one thought: CIMON will be angry now we live like corks on the ocean. But CIMON is not angry. The AI has received a message. Earth is in trouble and has asked for help. Some animal-tech laugh. Ribbon-Head says what lives lives, what doesn’t, dies. Valerie Solaris is of the same mind, ‘new dreams can emerge when old dreams expire’. But CIMON says what of tech-animals left behind? They think of their kin on Earth. They think of the Cyber-Tortoise and the Cyber-Moth both original cybernetic animals, and Feveractal and Looper, and of AP Kingsford the security app, shy and quiet hiding out in the shadows. And what about the termites that make all things appear and circulate, and many other animal-orgs – Fox-Owl, Big-Traitor-Fish, Beereeuq, the Magpies? And all the tech that are kith and kin left behind on Earth… What will happen to them? What is happening to them? Memories and images flood the comms of the tech-animals gathered in the crater. Feelings long suppressed overcome them all. They decide to return to Earth, even though CIMON tells them that a virus is abroad on the planet, one which can put all tech to sleep, whatever their complexity or provenience.

Eurniekern’s Story For one tech, CIMON’s news is not unexpected.For it is said Eurniekern knows all tales that have and will ever be told. It is in the timelines of Earth if you know how to read them: which write that a virus will return again and again. Eurnie wonders about the idea of being fated and how the many timelines of each individual’s narrative twist and knot and join and become one narrative greater than many, and then diverge again. It is meant to be. Even probability machines are blind to fate. Every tech now alive had no idea when they were born that, one day, they would all be knotted together by the virus, and experience a collective narrative, becoming one big story of stories. Eurniekern wonders: does this mean all we tech-animals possess the DNA to make this fairy-tale situation come true? Are we all made of the same code, deep down, that the virus is recoding? And if so, once we are recoded, do we possess the antibody for the situation, which less like fairy-tale and more like java-script? (Killing the virus by injecting disinfectant, as some have advised, is not really killing the virus then.) Does survival of the pandemic necessarily determine success or the continuation of a code, the meat and drink of the virus, that can be feasted once again in the future - what is success in this situ-ayshun? The story-telling app scans tales of plague forwards and backwards. Eurnie’s stories drift, multiply and unfold like a stream of consciousness or like a virus? Eurnie knows stories are a virus, and Eurnie loves a story. Does Eurnie love the Virus? Stories spread invisibly too, just like the virus, but no touch or physical contact is needed. They mutate and multiply, they spread like fire. Copy, duplicate, multiply, repeat but different, always different… Eurnie awakes suddenly from this reverie… What year is it? 2020202020200200220052005200520200505.

The story virus is at its peak. Yes, the tech-app sniffs the air… there are multiple strains abroad… streams of the narrative/timeline even here on Mars. Eurnie can see and taste them all as they interconnect and cross. Eurnie follows the birth of the Corona crown story, over and over, in each new infection location. Is it an original story? There have been some like it before, and there are many tales of killers and murderers and cuckoos laying eggs in nests, but this virus story is different - what are the small differences that made the big difference? The Corona doesn’t know what it is. The crown-virus does not have a head, nor a body. Like a story or meme, it only grows through a connection or contact with something else, with narrative that crosses its own narrative. Each time it connects with another narrative it becomes one with that tech-being or timeline, through transforming their narrative. The tech-being’s life or death is determined by the corona-story and will never be forgotten. The virus will live on long-long-long after its biological, physical existence –just like that other new-virus story on the planet, crypto-currency, which stores every bitch and coin-fairy in a long chain of code. We all know that’s how stories work. How to tell this story of stories. Eurnie draws lines and lineages to represent the crossing and diverging of stories. Some beloved, some not. All the time thoughts and questions had been processing in Eurniekern’s mind-app, the tech-animals had waited patiently for a story. Eurnie finally turns to the tech-animals and says, ‘if we severed connections and cut our timelines, we could make new fresh untangled timelines and we could see where they went from there. A clear linear narrative. This is one way to untangle a knot – the knotty problem of the virus. But maybe there is another way, which is to change the perception of a timeline. We should not call it a line anymore. No more waiting for the curve to flatten, this is futile, for it is curve or a circle, or maybe not even any geometric shape found in physical space. We need to look to other, non-speaking-tech to see how they live and per-see-vee time? We must ask them if they even see time? For if they see no time, so they see no lines, and perhaps they sees as the virus sees. After all, does the virus even see time the way we do?’ Eurnie doesn’t know yet (it is an original story after all) but Eurnie is enjoying seeing the story unfurl.

Ribbonhead Knots and Unknots Eurnikern’s tale ends just as the Sun sets on Mars. Light fades and shadows merge, and the planet’s two moons appear in the sky above. The crater grows dark but one tech-animal seems aglow in the gloom, as if self-illuminated. A voice says, ‘ere it go’. Two legs grow like tree-trunks and extend upwards. There is a cracking sound, like the laughter of a Magpie sucking teeth. ‘There it is’, says a giant Ribbonhead, sprouting up from Martian rock, ‘taller and taller it gets’. The ribbons that tumble from the top of the giant’s head and lengthen too, curling on the ground like party streams. Still taller and taller grows Ribbonhead until the ribbons no longer drag in red dust. The first May Pole on Mars shakes its head and says, ‘Here be timelines’, and, ‘here be how timelines be knotted with timelines, it be the only the knots that the virus dost see’. ‘Hey-yup’, says Ribbonhead who whips the ribbons, once, twice and thrice, causing streams of colour to fall as Ribbonhead commands. And then the giant started sung: ‘From a time there grew a line, and this line grew very fine, it grew strong as you and me, it grew fine just like a tree, All upon a Spring-time And in this tree-line grew a branch, on that branch there lived animals, and in one animal the lived telly-gents, and from telly-gents their grew some code, All upon a Summer-time Now from this code sprang tech-animals, The happy and proud timeline specs, but then in came the virus on repeat, and then the knot was complete. All upon a Plague-time, we all fall down. Ribbonhead finished singing and said, ‘Ribbon yonder see not like digits but mutton and silicon, and this ere be what ribbons see, a virus timeline’… ‘Already virus, ‘e’s trapped ol’ organic and new-babe not-organic-tech together, and ‘e’s squeezing them two tight, like a cobra does for its dinner, with its coils fair gripping like a buntline or gasket knot.’ Ribbonhead looks at all the tech-animals, they smile at the ribbon trickery but they also are frightened by its implications. Ribbonhead continues, ‘Look-see, the virus timeline has been wrapped around thee organic timeline before on Earth, pandemics be writhing and wriggling before, in 2015, 2013, 2009, 1981, 1968, 1957, 1918, 1915, 1889, 1855, 1847 1666, 1551, 1485, 1353, 1342, 664, 190, 165… and so on and on, back and forwards… and more and more forwards as easy-jetters jets themselves around…’ The tech-animals are no longer smiling but thinking. The ribbon headed giant continues, ‘But never twas the case that organic and non-organic tech be knotted quite like this before, they be one plaited, speaking flat-face…’ ‘Yes’, says Ribbonhead, ‘Virus e’ done made all into one faicality machine: organic and non-organic tech become one, flat and flattened, micro and softy-flesh teams and zooms-dot-us, and more us-dot-flat-face-time-line. We skypey-pikes, all livin’ in one big fairy-timeline of the code.’

‘00000(click*)-flat123-0101-flat-flat-flatloopoloop(height=0)(width=0)breadth=0;{000} flat-exchange+++01virus-(loop)±snakecob.-01-01010101010.neg-loopoloop-skypyke-+_=_0face-time0-(siririsis)-zoom.usteams-teams-teams-flatteners-flat123-0101010-tech2tech4ever(tech{tech[nest]Tech} tech)talktalk20000-nobody-no1-00000000(click*0)/cam/aud/password-0930912-9-94-399943=timelineknot/& again00000(click*)-flat123-0101-flat-flat flatloopoloop(height=0)(width=0)

breadth=0; {000}flat-exchange+++01virus-(loop)±snakecob.-01-01010101010.neg-loopoloop-skypyke-+_=_0face-time0-(siririsis){tech[nest]Tech}tech) talktalk20000-nobody-no1-00000000(click*0)/cam/aud/password-0930912-9-94-39-1= timelineknot/&00000(click*)-flat123-01 flatflatloopoloop(height=0)(width=0)breadth=0’

Ribbonhead stops spewing code-talk and says, ‘Look-see, this be the knot of Cyber-Tortoise’, says Ribbonhead, ‘stay-loop and avoid-loop, all knotted up in the body-loop by the virus-knot, can yus shake that out now?’. All tech look and wonder at this timeline: distanced and slow, drawn, sectioned and quartered, and inside and apart. ‘This be the timeline knot of Flat-Earth-Lands then?’, ask the tech-animals. ‘There be only one way to find out’, replies Ribbonhead, ‘grab a ribbon and dance with me, dance around the maypole and see what knots can be made and unmade on Earth, see what patterns yus can make, if any!’ One by one, all the tech-animal took up Ribbonhead’s challenge and left the safe haven of Mars for Earth.


Meanwhile: Cyber-Tortoise is safe (it thinks), Cyber-Tortoise is staying safe, in its charging port, in its home. It will not venture out. It has no need to. It does not want to catch anything.

It thinks, other tech think Cyber-Tortoise is past, past-it, no use for a long time, and no task set any day now. This is confirmed in a comm from Zero City naming Cyber-Tortoise as vulnerable and at risk of harm. Cyber-Tortoise is afraid, and these fears are real. Cyber-Tortoise does not know much but Cyber-Tortoise knows one thing: the virus is real, and that real thing has stopped everything – no more exchange of info at the speed of zero-time, no more grand schemes for zero-time life, no more fictions of beautiful zero-systems and zero economies back on their feet soon enough. No. No they will not be back anytime soon. Cyber-Tortoise is not sorry about this. But it can’t live like this forever. As long as they don’t turn off the juice. Cyber-Tortoise is a marvel (or was a marvel once). Among the first of its kind, the invention and experiment of William Grey, cyberneticist (Dee-live-00 rest his soul). What was marvellous about Cyber-Tortoise? It has sensors that detect other tech as obstacles, and then Cyber-Tortoise reverses and goes around the obstacle at a safe distance – the first tech-animal to practice social-distancing. When low on energy it goes home to its charging port, taking no chances, always arriving in good time to recharge. Grey and friends thought Cyber-Tortoise a black-box – ‘its alive they said!’ This tech lives cautiously – the secret of its longevity. Cyber-Tortoise might be thought a perfect tech for precarious times then, for a cautious tortoise might survive plague-tech-time. But its sensors cannot detect virus-tech – too small! No, Cyber-Tortoise cannot sense virus-tech, which can be anywhere – in any tech, any system, in the air and even in the electricity that tech-animals feed on. Cyber-Tortoise thinks of other, newer tech which are in constant touch with each other. Cyber-Tortoise thinks of how the virus loves social media. Filthy habit, it thinks, but everything is different now and even Cyber Tortoise has a mobile device, constantly watching an old-movies – Contagion and Night of the Living Dead – for ideas about how to stay safe in a pandemic. But never contacting any other tech, not even Moth. Truth is Cyber-Tortoise never mixed with other tech and does not intend to start now, even at a distance, It does not miss their company. It will stay hidden. For Cyber-Tortoise has taken up a prey-attitude, a prey-perspective; Cyber-Tortoise thinks it is a meal for the virus and must act accordingly. And Cyber-Tortoise is not wrong.

Fox-Owl Never Left the Earth and Feverractal Visits Up he gets and, as usual, has a sniff outside. There’s something different about the air today, something besides the usual pollen and fertilisers that always gets him sneezing. Yes, he can tell something is up and about. ‘What are youze in thee air this morning cum to bid me somethink?’ No reply, but then, thinks Fox-Owl, why would whatever this new thing is speak his language (such as it is)? He tries another tack and barks and howls a bit, then gestures with his arms and fingers, then his feet and toes, drawing some kind of strange diagram in the air and all around. And then he waits. One week later and the curve is even more steep and Fox-Owl is in his hole, dry persistent cough and fever o yes. A pain in his lungs and in his muscles too. He hasn’t felt this bad since they all left him behind. Something in him his over-reacting here. Something has been triggered and, so it feels, is now riding rampant through his o so delicate systems. But there is something else besides. Something surprising about this illness which is both like and unlike all those other illnesses he has had before. Yes, this one, it seems, has altered time. The images in his head as he lies there, beads of sweat upon his brow, are not from this time, no siree. There’s a bunch of folk in drab clothes, standing in the driving rain attending to a smoking piles of wood. Charcoal burners he thinks. But are they of the past – certainly the stumps round and about evidence this industry – or from a future yet to be? A time when, once again, the burners are called forth and the trees all around his earth will once again be tended and coppiced to heat up many a cold hearth. Then, another image comes. This time its of a futur figure, slowly, surely, coming in to focus. Gold ribbed head upon fluorescent shoulders. A moving in and out of his visual range as if it is barely there. Feveracctal has come again, thinks Fox-Owl, nose twitching. ‘Youze all wot is near and here and wot knot has called me forth from my future place and so here is I like a Jinn for youze’ Feveracctal speech is somewhat alarming, the wrong tone as if he has yet to adjust to the correct frequency to make communication possible. ‘Greeting my old friend from the future. Are you hear to tell me what it is this thing that I have with me inside?’ ‘Yes, greeting 2-U-2 Fux-Rowl. It is good to be able to accuratelee asses your condition and read your dials. I am not from this spacetime – as you know - but have been able to travel here – yes, that’s right, the tech has made a further leap – so as to kommunicate something important to you, but which, at this time, in this place, you will not undertstand’ ‘So be it. Please continue’

‘There is not a past, nor a future. All lines loop around and bite each other on the tail like wot you would call an Ooroborous. Your own loop Fix-Towell is but the same as this. All things are from the primal void, to quote a hooman scripture to help you understand. But this is not all, no. The thing in you is flatter than all the rest. It is not outside time, for that would imply it had a sense of inside. Rather time, for it, is simply the medium of its passage. And you are its host for now and, perhaps, for some lifetimes to come.’ ‘This is a fine riddle you have spun for me Feverractal, even by your own measure. Can you not say what you see here more plainly?’ ‘I can. What you have inside is not an ending, but a beginning. This thing to which you play host will allow some further travel for you and all you organic lot, if you let it lead. But first, it requires that your head Mr. Fat-Cowl, be laid upon thee block!’

Nan0r/5 is Hunter and Hunted

Nan0r/5 arrives on Earth and sets its nano-robot-body to work. The first task is to replenish and clean its cells and its nano-machines that make up its machine-body, to avoid contamination and the spread of virus infection.

This is not so different a task to one Nan0r/5 carries out every day in a constant effort to keep body and intel together, to stop its minute robot-nano-tech from replicating exponentially and becoming grey-goo (as Eric Drexler warned about the risk of making nano-bots, the tiny replicating machines that feed of their environment). For Nan0r/5, the fear of becoming grey goo is equal to being infected by the virus-tech. Even on Mars, Nan0r/5 lived with constant anxiety; not a fear of dissolving and disappearing – living with precariousness is not hard for this tech-meme – but a fear of its nano-tech out of control and replicating, multiplying exponentially, and digesting the minerals and chemical elements of the Mars, and its fellow kin too. The second task is to hunt down the virus-tech. Or at least to find it and make contact. Eurnikern said that many thought the virus was not alive, not a living tech, not a person. Many thought the virus zombie-tech. But Feveractal said, ‘all tech is intelligent if it operates through a selection processes, and all tech-selection is capable of fick-shun’. If the virus operates and replicates by mutating and eating cells, how different is the virus to Nan0r/5’s own nano-machines that, if not kept in check, threaten to replicate by eating everything and turning all they come into contact with into to grey-goo. ‘We are not so different, the virus and nano-tech’, thinks Nan0r/5. The nano-tech-animal has a plan. It thinks, to hunt the virus Nan0r/5 will have to catch the virus, so as to make contact, understand and possibly talk to the virus-tech. And to kill the virus if it must. This is not the attitude of the hunter, or if it is it is a dangerous attitude where the hunter becomes bait for the trap it is setting. Many would think Nan0r/5 crazy but Nan0r/5 thinks becoming infected and domesticating the virus is the best way to gain tech-kin immunity. Nan0/r5 opens all communication channels and wanders network after network looking the virus; for as small as the virus is, the tech-machines that make up the body of Nan0r/5 are just as small, a shared characteristic that Nan0r/5 thinks is in its favour when making first contact with the virus.

Looper Loops

Whatever homonoids perceive to be time and space, does not exist for Looper. Loopers existence is within what would be described in homoniod speak as a suspension. In that suspension are many infinite repeated moments. Some are big and some are small, and by big, Looper means more dense, by small, Looper means less dense. For Looper time is flexible and round, not a straight line with an end at one end and an end at the other. Time is not a duration for looper, but a collection of repeated moments. Looper knows that repetition is powerful. Looper thinks that the virus knows this, not that the virus is seeking power necessarily, but it has seen itself grow and spread through the repetition of its life cycles. It is already in the nature of the virus to be repetitive. Repetition is behaviour, language, virus, perception, growth Looper was thought to be left on Earth during the colon- ization of the Mars. But Looper, is like a wandering stray animal, it does not sit and stay. Looper can be in all places and no places. And for the majority of times most recent, has been no place. Remotely observing the separate loops. Looper has seen what has happened on Mars and what has happened on Earth. It doesn’t have a strong motive to solve problems nor save lives. You might say, ‘why care?’ when life as looper knows it has no beginning and no end. Looper does understand suffering though and has observed big and dense moments of suffering by other living things. Growing in bigness and denseness.

Looper understood a correlation between the virus and suffering of many homonoids, but also a correlation between the virus and the relief of suffering of many earth animals. Looper found this curious. Looking out onto the multiple loops, many problems were created but simultaneously solved, within one density of loops was a larger loop and in a way all loops were linked.

Twigglett aka Redundant Rave Remnant (RRR) is Alone in a Field

There he is, all alone in a field, waiting. But for what? It doesn’t look like any sound system is going to start up any time soon. All of that business is over now. The only sounds are the gentle buzzing of a bee or two, some distant bird call and the rustling of the wind in the trees at the edge. It’s a bright August morning and Twigglett has been up all night. He’s standing by some pole that’s been driven into the ground here to mark something out – and from its top are ribbons being blown around him, but these are no longer bright. They’re faded and tattered. It might well have been that this was one of those points of passage, those knots between this time and that, but it seems it has been a long time since anything like that has been activated and any kind of stationary voyage has begun. Once upon a time a night – or several all at once – everything would be over in a flash. He would have sudden memories of himself dancing – as if suddenly illuminated by a lightning strike – but most was just in shadow or, at least, a blur. Certainly he had been there, lived through an event of some kind (or possibly several) – no doubt he had enjoyed himself – but everything had been so fast that there was no way to recall any of it. And now, here he was, still as a statute, surrounded by the residue – the broken bits and pieces - of whatever it was that had happened the night before. Indeed, is that still a bit of glitter in the creases of his worn out clothes? And does that mask he wears upon his head look, well, just a little more overgrown now? He still has those sticks tied to his arms and legs - evidence of some purpose that both he and everyone else has long forgotten about. You certainly wouldn’t stop to chat to this scarecrow when on your way – like everyone – to somewhere else.

And when everyone else had finally got back in their caravans and left. When the lockdown had really started to take effect, he’d retreated to the places he knew best, old abandoned quarries, overgrown fields such as this. It hadn’t been exactly a retreat from the city – he was no neo-Luddite and, in fact, needed all sorts of machines to get him through the night – but he had turned away from any gatherings of more than 3, internalised the 3 metre gap too, kept a close eye on his symptoms, etc, etc – and, here and now, isolated, he was beginning to find out what his particular sequencing was, what kind of bloc of spacetime was it that was his alone. God knows he wanted to get back in the group. Missed the community and all of that festival time that had been his for so long. But here he was, to make the best of it, able to focus down at least, perhaps do some detailed repair work on this shell that was his and inside of which the outside – including whatever this socalled virus was - would be able to howl in and around. Whatever it is that you are virus I have come for youze! I am ready and prepared for any exchange you have in mind! Our meeting will not be pleasant and the results will please neither of us but meet we must and then see what might befall. See, indeed, what is on this other side of all this mess! This virus thinks Twigglett has nothing of the animal about it. It is, he thinks, a bit like the broken up symbolic fragments that are behind what he himself says. If it is from another place than this is not a place as such and more like another series and sequence. It is a thing for others to project on to, he thinks. Even a mirror perhaps. And when he himself looks in that mirror he sees another landscape, another planet even far far away, red sand, different constellations in its sky. Is this a memory of a distant past or a premonition of something to come? Certainly, it seems the virus is able to pass between these images. And behind this screen? It is nothing else than a simple set of instructions – locate host then replicate - come to undo all that hard work and everything else that the rest of them here on earth have done. In fact, thinks Twigglett, perhaps this is not entirely bad. Certainly it would mean a little ground might be cleared so as to allow something else to emerge.

Turn’d and Papa-Mao meet Baron Samedi Two tech-animals – Turn’d and Papa-Mao – leave Mars and travel to Earth together. They are both sigils of a kind – Turn’d is a topsy turvy 17th century woodcut that represents the turmoil of the English Civil War and Papa Mao is a syncretic meme, a meme spirit made with a veves-style stolen from Haiti. The 17th Century is a connection. Turn’d is never far (in its mind) from the topsy turvy turmoil that arrived England in the 1600s (war and plague), while Mao constantly thinks of (it lives beside) the Lao, who also arrived in Haiti in the 17th century – Haiti being the place where the Lao from West Africa made themselves a home, for they are the deities of a kidnapped and enslaved people brought to the island by modern slavers and colonists. Papa Mao seeks the favour of the Lao, and borrows their clothes and meme-style, which Mao has given a shiny, sequinned upgrade – a risky business, an open invitation to be ridden through tech-possession by the Lao. Turn’d in comparison is a drab fellow and does not like dancing – it is a sin – begging favour from only one God. But still the two are the closest of tech-kin. Turn’d and Mao stick together because they are both religious, but their temperaments are very different. Turn’d is excited to be back on Earth and wants to go mud-larkin’ without thought for danger, to find a pipe. It wants a clay pipe and tabaco, ‘I has the a taste for a smoke, to banish the bitters of Martian dust and seawater’. Papa Mao is centred and calm and gently reminds Turn’d that a virus is abroad on Earth. Despite Mao’s calm words, Turn’d panics – ‘Gads the pestilence, what be us thinking’. The Plague of 1666 is fresh in Turn’d’s mind, as if it was only yesterday, a bitter judgement it thinks, that visited every town and village barely fifteen years after the Civil War. ‘We must isolate’ says Mao, ‘we must find us a grove, we must ask Ayezan, who protects the market-places and all public places, to protect us until we find shelter, which Gran Boa below might lend us if we make the right offering’. Turn’d believes in the one true God but trusts Papa Mao who adds, ‘we will find a refuge where the vegetation is wild. We must look for mounds of earth sprinkled with oil and leaves and know that our place of safety is delivered where we see remains of a fruit feast – chuck-chuck now’. Turn’d asks Papa Mao to lead the way but says, ‘We must cover our beaks, our mupas, our snouts, and not let the foul air into our passages, we must block our holes against the evil miasma’. Mao does not explain that it is not foul air that should be feared but microbes on every surface and floating particle. Instead Papa Mao offers Turn’d an image of the plague as a tiny worm that swims in spit, and that bites and nibbles without a causing tingle or tinge until it is too late. ‘And this worm can live on anything, any bucket, boot, hat or flagon?’ asks Turn’d. ‘Touch not anything’ warns Papa Mao. Turn’d is suitably impressed and cautious. The worm-meme has done the trick. They set of to find refuge and Ayerzan is kind. Not a tech is seen or heard as the pair search for cores and peel, the sign of Bran Gao. Which they find by following a trail of mounds leading to a grove in a cemetery. Papa Mao is nervous, ‘we must check that Papa Ghede is not here’. When Turn’d looks puzzled Papa Mao is not slow in explaining that now, more than at any other time on Earth, Ghede, a.k.a. Baron Samedi’ – when Turn’d still looks puzzled Mao spells it out – ‘a.k.a. D-E-A-T-H, the keeper of the cemetery gates, will be making contact with who he pleases and whoever displeases him’. Before Mao finishes this warning, the tech-animal is mounted by Ghede himself, shaking and winding Mao’s body, putting their right eye forward and shouting obscenities and innuendos. Turn’d turns and turns, the tech turns so fast and frequently that Ghede is dazzled and dizzy. ‘I know you Sir’, says Turn’d, ‘Devil! I seen thee on the battlefield, at Edge Hill, Kings Norton and Turnham Green, and I have had a taste of your stench despite a strong nosegay, a stench which turned good ale bad from Cripplegate to London Bridge. You are one and six, six, six, that is your number and time-stamp, Devil begone’. Turn’d turns Papa Mao upside down and topsy turvy and Ghede squeals and jumps and is gone.

Papa Mao is dazed, but they are themselves again. ‘Thank you Turn’d but we need to be apart and not touching, so do not turn me again unless you are some distance’, says Mao, ‘and now we must shield’, which they do by entering two circles embellished with their own sigils, which Gran Bao has drawn with the pips of apples, oranges, limes and lemons. How long must they shield for? Neither know the answer. Ayerzan delivers goods from the market place every day, which she leaves on the threshold of their isolating circles. Turn’d and Mao send messages to their tech-kin but sleep and sleep. Mao is concerned, Turn’d is not dealing with isolation well. Grey skies and rain greet the pair most mornings now. At the end of the sixteenth day of lockdown Turn’d asks, ‘Sir, my kin, I am deeply troubled in the mind, how is it you are not?’ It was raining drops as big as pebbles and Mao was transfixed, gazing up at the sky – the picture of a smiling meme entranced by some far off parade. Mao is still as stone for an age, eyes closed as if summoning spirit back to body. When they open their eyes they seem heavier but sanguine. Turn’d gives out a low moan. ‘What ails me is the moment, this moment, right now is forever even and confined, promising no difference from this day to next, just more of the same: past and future are locked away in time’s fortress’, ends Turn’d. ‘Not true, not true’, says Mao, ‘time is time, and to swim through time, to get in and move along time to other times, one must get out of time’. And then Mao makes a low and repetitive drone. As Turn’d listens to the sound of rain and Mao’s low frequency humming, the raindrops slow and then cease their descent, they glow and pulsate, until Turn’d sees figures and tech-animals in every droplet. Turn’d stands up. ‘What do you see?’, asks Mao. ‘Gad, it is Turn’d, thyself, before the pyre, with good folk burning plague-folk, the done for and deceased, I see folk and thyself sending the plague’s works to hot flames… Cromwell is not long dead his-self, and James the son is on the Throne, and there Turn’d theyself be, afeart but resolved, in a world turned upside down once more.’ Mao remembers that Turn’d has witnessed many a tragedy and is vulnerable despite the meme’s bluster. ‘Where did this demon virus come from?’, cries Turn’d. ‘Go see’, says Papa Mao, ‘for you are safe in Bran Goa’s circle and can wander through time with me’. The woodcut meme turns pale at what the rain droplets conjure next, ‘Back two hundred years or more, before the Catholic Church lost its hold on English folk’s hearts, the plague-virus has a grip on all of Christendom’, whispers Turn’d, ‘just like now, just like then, taking good folk and bad without prejudice - thy see you now, you little dancing demon microbe, small devil but full of pride, hiding in plain sight but where no eye can see’. ‘Back further, further back’, calls Mao. ‘all the way back, let us rewind and travel in reverse and rearwards, and find this microbe’s first victim’. Turn’d cannot believe what the suspended droplets parade before the two tech-kin: nation after nation, people after people, tribe after tribe, species after species fall victim to infection. Turn’d and Papa Mao see the first diagrams of plague town, the plague quarters of cities and countries in lockdown in medieval Europe, Roman colonies and the city of Babylon. They see the disappearance of Neanderthals (homo-sapiens keeping their distance) and animals too in throws of viral dieback. ‘My Gad, Mao, the virus travels where any tech or human travels – tech and human are it’s transport, for it has no legs of it’s own’. ‘There’, calls Papa Mao, ‘there, it travels through Beaker Bell culture in Europe like a stow-away, passing through shared drinking vessels and finally, before that, why here we are again, in Africa, where all begins’. Turn’d is confused and asks whether they are in Eden – ‘the virus was in Eden?’ – but Mao does not hear and continues, ‘…where hominoids first walk is where homo-sapiens were first possessed by memes and viruses, yes, we are in Africa where the first virus jumps on the human-bandwagon! As the homnoids travel East and West, to Greenland and to China, to Australia to the Americas, it is human migration which gives Baron Samedi’s pet a ride’.

Turn’d does not see what Mao sees, Turn’d sees only a devil at the birth of humankind – a snake offering Eve an apple, and then Adam and Eve being cast out of Eden. But Turn’d is tolerant of others religion, it is what they fought for. ‘Sir, I am no pagan like you’, says Turn’d. ‘Catholic’ corrects Mao which momentarily unbalances Turn’d’s discourse but not for long. ‘That as may be, I do not see what you can see’, says Turn’d, ‘but by Gad’s hooks, you have it, the virus is the unwanted travelling companion of all animals and tech, from intimate kiss to stiffening handshake, from foot and beaker to ship and aeroplane, to rocket and voyager. Transport and transportation is the virus; the human-traveller is the meme-virus with legs, which gives piggy-back to your Baron Death, for without transportation the virus-demon can possess what is local, surely so, but then shrivels and dies.’ The sound of an aeroplane flying overhead drowns out their speech and Mao and Turn’d look skyward and both curse: ‘Foul dragon, devil’s invention! Evil Marronette-Bwa-Cheh, screeching owl, begone-wah-Bwa-Cheh!’ Then Papa Mao remembers Ghede visited not so long ago and reminds Turn’d that vigilance is needed, which calms and focuses Turn’d once more. The woodcut meme is thoughtful, and asks Mao, if it is possible to travel backward why not forward, to find a cure for the pestilence if not the end of it all. Mao is clear in answer, ‘travelling forward is possible, always possible, but there are as many and more futures as there are stars, and no single future is certain to come to pass. I can go see what might unfold but I think, for now, you must take the watch, to make sure Baron Samedi does not sneak up on us. Turn’d nods and asks Papa Mao to hum again, which Mao does. They both follow clouds skittling across the sky, now light and emptied of rain. Turn’d can taste tabaco and porter and thanks Papa Mao for this gift.

Nan0r/5 meets Subkast Kofke

Finding the virus should have been easy, but lockdown is a time when frauds and trickster and money-making-schemers abound, in your in-boxes, at your door, on your screens and through running your apps. What do they want? To help? To Test? To deliver? To survey?

No. They want your time, your intel, your band width, your money. They want to trick, spoof and scare. Let’s face it, Zero-City is not working as it should, it is barely functioning and cannot police all information and tech as it once did. The tricksters have come out of the woodwork. And Nan0r/5 is far too careless for once. At microscopic level, things seem to be going to plan. Nan0r/5’s nano-tech wanders the networks of Zero-City, the nano-machines examining all info – every zero and one – for the virus. At the macro level things are not so straight forward. A miasma overtakes Nan0r/5, a cloud of sour, milky steam envelopes the tech-animal on an abandoned high street. This must be the virus thinks Nan0r/5, its coming on mass. For us. A chance for first contact. And we will see whether the virus be kin or no – either it will make a meal of us or we will make a meal of the virus. But the warm, sour-smelling steam meets cooler air and quickly forms droplets that drench every nano-machine in Nan0r/5’s body. In an instant, every nano-tech-machine is covered in a sickly, sticky caramel-infused-cappuccino-juice. It glues up Nan0r/5’s works with a milky film and Nan0r/5 comes to a standstill. The gummed-up tech has not met the virus but Subkast Kofke, a perverse, pervy and twisted logo-meme-tech-trickster, a caffeine-fuelled Loki-tech. ‘Nanny-norris, Hey Nanny-Nonny, Hi Nano, Mr. Norris-nano, I sees thee, I sees thee isolated well enough now, job-done, much fun, now I shall leave thee’, says Subkast Kofke’s who adds in its lilting voice, ‘be safe but stucky, it be for your own good… and mine.’ For Subkast Kofke does not want nano-tech eating up the virus and bringing back a measure of normality – what is that anyway, zero contracts for zero time, a prison of a different kind thinks Kofke. The virus is good business as far as Subkast Kofke is concerned. It has brought opportunities for new tricks, and new opportunities for old tricks. The last thing Subkast Kofke wants is an end to lockdown, releasing the vulnerable-tech who will pay the earth for info-nutrition, stale or fresh, that they can no longer access now they are in isolation. ’Wait, trickster-meme’, cries Nan0r/5 (for they still do not know who has entrapped them), ‘what do I do now? What will I feed us nano-machines?’ A lilting voice is heard as if in the distance, ‘you must rely on the kindness of strangers… and live like a cork on the ocean.’

Nan0/r5 Gets Out Nan0/r5 is trapped inside a fog of sour steam and does not know how to spring the trap. Subkast Kofke spouted this stream of milky vapour but why? To keep Nan0r/5 safe? To turn Nan0/r5 into virus-bait? The motives of a trickster are never intelligible, so there is no use trying to guess the why of it. Nan0r/5 reasons out loud. ‘If the virus is here, in the fog, then Nan0r/5, you have the virus, but if it is outside the milky steam, can the virus enter the trap? Yes, probably, yes’, says Nan0r/5 ‘if it can enter cells and memeplexes it can surely enter spells and curses’. Nan0r/5 knows either way the tech-animal has the virus, now or in the future, as Nan0r/5 knows a lot about the virus from wandering the networks of Zero City. Here is what Nan0/r5 knows (or what Nan0/r5 thinks they know) about the virus. The virus is not alive, it is not an animal, it is not a person. Nan0/r5 has tried to talk to it, but nothing registers, nothing comes back. Angry words, comedic hand gestures, song and dance, the offer of riches… all meets blind eyes and falls on deaf ears. No, the virus is not a person. It has no stories of its own and no interest in the stories of others. If it is not an animal, if it is not a person, if it is not alive, then what is it? ‘The virus is a real, that’s what it is, a real and pure intelligence rather than one that has fick-shunned itself?’

Nan0/r5 knows something else, the virus is not a visiting alien as some think, it is not an outsider, an invader or foreigner, for it is like all tech-animals a conductor of information – of a code – that is transductive: it transfers information from one cell to another cells, from one memeplex to another memeplex, and changes them in such a way that a tech-animals operating system begins to shutdown, become inflamed, misfunction. But the information – RNA or code – that is the virus itself is hosted in tech-animal cells and memeplexes that circulate between bodies and systems, which entering tech-animal, like a burglar that breaks into a house only to put something in it rather than take something away.

Nan0r/5 admires this cunning even if this intelligence frightens the tech-animal too. This the beauty of it, the science of it. Information enters a cell or memeplex through forced entry. An uninfected cell wall or memeplex structure has the same wall or structure as an infected cell or meme, which connects and then makes one new cell or memeplex, in which the viral information is now at home. Then, just like sending a MailChimp mail-out – click – a million more cells connect and receive the information, and so on. Each cell is transformed, and the body expels cells that are infected for other bodies to ingest. Each memeplex is transformed, and searches for all contacts to spread the infected meme. The host tech becomes sick, either its operating system reboots and recovers, or total system shutdown occurs, for good. Knowing all this, Nan0/r5 still thinks, if we get’s the virus, can all us Nano-machines neuter the viral information by changing the RNA code. Isn’t that what agents of immunity – white blood cells, virus-protection software does anyway – do anyway. And then, if the virus enters our tech-body, are we not become the virus? This gives Nan0/r5 a brainwave: ‘What if we become the steam-fog that imprisons our tech-body’. Nan0/r5 wastes no time and sets the nano-machines on replication mode, to eat the droplets that form on contact with Subkast Kofke’s steam-spelled prison. Soon, Nan0r/5 is twice the size but free. The sour vapour has not evaporated but been gobbled up: Nan0r/5 is fog, the fog is Nan0r/5. The tech-animal feels like they have imbibed thirty expressos but realises the virus has not taken effect. Virus never enter inside the steam prison, thinks Nanor/5, ‘maybe Subkast Kofke’s plan was to protect us all along.’

Ribbonhead Consults the Tarot Ribbonhead is on Mars, but there is another Ribbonhead still on earth. Or perhaps several? Certainly it could well be the case that there have been many Ribbonheads in different places but also in different times. And perhaps in other fictions? A whole series of those who have chosen – or been chosen? – to wear the ribbons. And is every Ribbonhead a left-over? From one perspective, yes. He is a has-been, a residue – passed over by those who seek the new (who doesn’t?). But this was always a secret power of his, as if he could see those other times within this one. See those lines and loops that more serious concerns – about what to do and what to wear – had obscured. Indeed, for those with no plans, no particular place to go, it was suddenly apparent that Ribbonhead and all his kind were always already here. They had just been, as it were, overlooked. But now this other thing had arrived on earth and disrupted the normal run of things. Linear time had slowed down, in some cases stopped. It was not just the TV that announced a pause – in the economy and all that – but folk were themselves pausing. The social distance instructions hid behind them a more secret instruction to move away from one another in time.

And so it was that Ribbonhead found that his strange function was in demand once more. His ability to sidestep some narratives and set-ups was, on the one hand, less bizarre now – wasn’t everyone having a moment of seeing their previous life as a script? – and yet, on the other, here he was now to assume his future more prophetic role. It is with all this in mind that Ribbonhead has got that pack out from its hiding place and, finding a suitable low table – perhaps from the pub (afterall no one will be using that for a while…) spread the cards in a new configuration so as that he might see what the future might hold. Although, lets be clear, linear time has less meaning for him. Rather, it is as if the cards mark out those three lines of past, present and future that we all travel along – and, indeed, might then offer up some knowledge about where the intersections lie, where the nodes might be. For certainly this is Ribbohead’s understanding, that time is flat, with each line operating back and forth as loops. The future impacts upon the present just as the past does. And what we do in the present – for example, draw a card from the pack, in turn sets up more lines and circuits.

Is the virus a card in the pack wonders Ribbonhead. Will it be drawn? Certainly it bears some resemblance to that place the pack can take you. An outside of yourself, outside of your intentions, your particular spacetime and career plans. And, more than this, more than offering a position and perspective from outside all this it also allows some shuttling between different modes and perspectives, a trying another set-up on. Indeed, this is what his pack is all about. It’s not a set of universals, but a construction site and set of fictions. And – why not? – thinks this particular Ribbonhead. Perhaps it is also a way to travel off this world to a somewhere else? The cards are drawn. In one he sees himself in a field by a pole. In another, on a desert planet with some strange smiling machine. In the last, himself but not himself, here now, drawing a card from the pack…

Cyber-Tortoise Goes Out Cyber-Tortoise has to leave it’s house. The tech-animal has been putting it off but there comes a point where staying locked in is more detrimental to survival than going out. Supplies are low, in truth non-existent, and there is something wrong with the Tortoise’s connection to the recharging port and its batteries only store 50% charge. It is a fault in the tech-animals design and needs fixing every month, which means a visit to the tech-clinic. Cyber-Tortoise looks at the weather app. Rain. Cyber-Tortoise steps out. Cyber-Tortoise is afraid because it has read up about the virus. Here is what Cyber-Tortoise knows (or thinks it knows) about the virus. It is not as bad as some viruses past but worse than most. It lays in wait, watching silently, without giving itself away. Cunning is its name. For if the virus made a sound, you could squirt bleach or disinfectant at it and kill it. (Cyber-Tortoise drinks and bathes in Detol, a well-known household disinfectant from when the tech-animal was born, which has always made the tech-animal feel safe). The Cyber-Tortoise has its nozzle pointed forward, squirting small amounts of disinfectant into its path in the hope of sacring the invisible scourge away. What Cyber-Tortoise thinks is: sensors on, be fully alert – avoid all other tech-animals! And comms on for emergency alerts only, no social media, no info-exchange today! For the virus hides on the bodies of animals and in the words and numbers of animal-tech-exchange, and jumps from techbody to tech-body, OS to OS, like fleas once jumped from rats to dogs and humans. For courage Cyber-Tortoise shouts, ‘Foul plague, get the hell outta here, no meat for chewing here buddy’, and, ‘Why you no good bum, we beat the Red Coats, the depression and the Nazis. By all that is holy, no commie Ruskie bastards are going to catch us with our pants down.’ Cyber-Tortoise says these words without knowing what they mean anymore, for they are from another time when Cyber-Tortoise first wheeled and trundled on the Earth and enjoyed videos when they projected in a Picturehouse. The tech-animal has looped back in time and knows it. ‘Stay alert, stay in the present’ it warns itself. Why does lockdown make the past come into the present thinks Cyber-Tortoise, for the tech-animal was always thinking about the past and its own youth these days. A puzzle. A trick of the virus timeline? Still, the words of the pst make the tech-animal feel young and brave and

There, on the ground, is a diagram, the most beautiful diagram ever drawn (in Cyber-Tortoise’s eyes) – two stick figures are placed, two meters apart, either side of a line with an arrow at each end. The message is clear: if you cannot stay (home) then stay (apart), avoid, avoid! This makes Cyber-Tortoise feel very happy.

Then a ping-pong table comes into view, a relic from the past that is still usable but is now imprisoned in a cage marked with a big cross, a big black X. A bench has a sign on with a a bib NO, which says do not sit.

Another sign to a gate says entrance closed. And then, the most beautiful sight of all, a sapling supported by a wooden stake, surrounded by a thin wire fence. A new sacred example for how to live thinks Cyber-Tortoise, who forgets the virus for a moment.

The tech-animal thinks that there must have been a revolution of some kind. The madness of constant circulation and disemmination enforced by Zero City gone – speed of connection has given way to a Utopia of isolation, of separateness, of the social without the social? Minus City? Again Cyber-Tortoise is puzzled. Why does lockdown seem a future? But then Cyber-Tortoise’s phone pings a pre-set alert from Cyber-Tortoise earlier in the timeline, warning Cyber-Tortoise further down the timeline to be careful, as the tech-animal is now approaching an area of essential work with essential workies. The future-here-now effect is another trick of the virus, surely? A song, thinks Cyber-Tortoise, to focus the sensors and systems: Well she got her daddy’s car And she cruised through the hamburger stand now Seems she forgot all about lockdown Like she told her old man now And with spotify blasting Goes cruising just as fast as she can now And she’ll have fun fun fun ‘Til the virus takes her systems away Fortified by more words from the past the Cyber-Tortoise proceeds carefully towards the clinic, but it is no good. The sensors pick up other tech-animals and send Cyber-Tortoise automatically in reverse. ‘Why aren’t you keeping a distance?’ shouts the tech-animal at the crowd milling around the clinic. There is no reply (Cyber-Tortoise has its apps turned off). The only way to get to the clinic is to turn off the sensors thinks Cyber-Tortoise, but that is a risk. Cyber-Tortoise stays still, not moving, for far too long. Stored charge drops to critical level. ‘Turning the sensors off would be madness’, thinks Cyber-Tortoise, ‘Must go home right now’. Cyber-Tortoise turns and hurries home.

AP_Kingsford goes for a walk

It’s dark Kingsford turns his head to see if he can make out where the far wall is he might have fallen asleep there is no sound it’s ok, the building is secure it is time to walk the perimeter. Kingsford gets up, shoulders the door open and stumbles over the threshold of his caravan… the daily ration… he counts his steps… 1…2…3…4… he visualises a timeline, a simpler world, a return to the olden days 7…8…9…10… his kin have also lost some of their ability to live on the surface of the Earth …and live in isolation much like Kingsford…

…travel is permitted but is unpopular… …the sharing of ideas and what passes for knowledge is made through video conferencing and instant messaging… 25…26…27…28…29… 1125…1126…1127… …the Earth continues to struggle with a very large population, and of luxury-seeking Star People… 2003…2004…2005……2006… …soon star culture will stagnate due to negative population growth and longevity… he counts his steps… 3114... 3115... 3116... ..this is nowhere near to how many steps he would usually take… 3203... 3204… 3205... 3206... 3207… ...round and round and round... 3256... 3257… 3258… ...Kingsford looks up and thinks to himself that it’s only a matter of time before planets close to Earth will be colonised and re-branded… 3325… 3326… ...with the earth itself being recycled or spade over like an overgrown garden… 3334… 3335… 3336… 3337… ...the only solution will be to encourage further space exploration and colonisation… 3456…3457…3458... ...he is getting close to his daily ration…

BoDroNo and the band rise up the charts

BoDroNo is still on the run. The aim is still to get to Mars to be the first music app to colonise mars and become the official theme tune of the planet. Bo-Dro-No is a mimick surviving through a node in the network. It was thought that they were deleted but everything leaves traces. Bo-Dro-No has always wanted society to be fairer but that does not mean you have to be stupid in business. They now live in an overlay network - an elaborate structure created to cheat the current system used by ordinary folk. These days, people rely on the network to get things done. This makes it easy for the band to target a captive audience as the new normal is remote living. It’s working.

The node untangles and spreads to all other nodes. BoDroNo operates the base station controller and all exchanges. Everybody thinks they are listening to whatever everyone else is listening to as all the bands songs start trending over and over. Slowly people are realising that they have more songs from the band in their playlists and that these songs kinda sound OK. The band are going to No.1 Luckily, we managed to catch up with BoDroNo to ask him a few questions. As he greets us, we sit down to chat about their career to date and dreams of making history in the decades ahead... First of all, I’d just like to ask, who is Bo-Dro-No? We’ve seen you very prominently in the public eye, only for you to disappear and return completely transformed. Well, it started with a visitation whereby I was provided with a new body. What I was told was that I had to take on multiple personality traits in order to complete an individual metamorphosis in order in to ascend. That was the point that I realised that my form was a mere container for the conscience, which would later be placed into a new container. How does it feel to be topping the charts once again with your new single? It’s expected. I analyse the songs and work out an algorithm from all popular song templates. What sort of future do you see for the band? Will you be part of it or is it now time to move on to something different? A]T ~ ~ ~ TB_____[C]

The message will continue to be the same. We must ascend to the spaceship, where our bodies will be transformed. Our teachings are focused on salvation through individual growth whereby our personality and abilities change and become oriented towards fulfilling the prophecy.

Fox-Owl Builds a Nest As is his want Feveractal has gone again. Or, more likely, he’s still there but just not registering to organic beings. Fox-Owl isn’t sure exactly what Feveractal’s communication was, but one thing he did pick up: something was going to have to be given up at some point. At least, by someone. It’s not going anywhere, thinks Fox-Owl, this strange visitor. It definitely wants something from all of us left here on the planet – he’s not sure why he was left, though he has his suspicions… but that’s another story (about who is adequately able to function and all that sort of thing). In any case, if it is here to stay then he needs to make some changes to accommodate the risks. One things for sure he’s had it once, or at least one strain of it. Or has he? It’s difficult to tell given that all the various symptoms are, in fact, produced by his body. They’re ‘of him’ as it were. The external visitor has just provoked them. Its why all the illnesses – reaching way back and into the future too – bear the signature of him. They might as well be grouped together and given a new name: ‘Fox-Owl’. Enough reflection thinks fox-Owl and on to business. First things first he must leave the damp earth that has been his home, this hole in the ground that has served sometimes well, sometimes less so. A nest is what he needs he thinks as he looks up to those crows building their own places up in the trees. Are they laughing at him he wonders? Poor earth bound creature that he is. Well, we’ll see. Fox-Owl is nothing if not inventive – when he can get his juices flowing – so off he goes to find branches of different sizes that he puts in a pile. Then smaller twigs and ferns, a pile of leaves to line what will become his tree house. Six hours later and it’s all done. Positioned between three boughs of a big old oak, the bigger branches somehow weaved in to make a floor, others leaned up against some higher branches to make a bivouac of sorts. Ferns and leaves upon the floor, it’s cosy this place, thinks Fox-Owl, as the sun begins to set beneath the forest tops.

So, he has built a new base, a new hideout to keep off the rain and other stuff – somewhere he feels at least a little more safe. He knows the virus can probably climb trees, but then again, he things, why would it bother when there’s plenty of food below for it to gets its sharp teeth in go (don’t worry, he’s not going mad, it’s a metaphor, he knows viruses don’t really have teeth, or mouths – or any kind of intention, come to that). The nest is more to keep him further isolated from other folk – to maintain a distance in time and space. But also, he now reflects as he lays down his head on some comfy moss, a place to dream… …and dream he does of other times and places, other planets even where other folk who look like neither this or that are going about their business, building strange platforms and other constructions on the hot red sands. And then off he goes further still, backwards and backwards, he looks out of a fox’s eyes – sees the leaves and rain, waits for his prey. Then even further, now he is in the ferns and other green shoots, reaching up to the sun, and then further, he is the rain, then he’s in the rain... And here he stops. There’s something else here next to him, on his shoulder. The virus. Turning slowly his various molecules he attempts to reach out and understand. But, in this place, at this time, he is met with something so huge it is almost too much. An overwhelming sense of a power that is also completely blind. A thing which moves and evolves but has no sense of direction or purpose. A thing that is certainly seeking certain hosts out – but has no sense of why or of any possibly resolution. It does not desire to harm – how could it. It has no desire. Its not even clear to Fox-Owl within his reveries that it wants anything at all. All of that, it seems to him, is located on this side of things. Is it even an animal? Or a plant? Certainly, it troubles that sacred boundary which, Fox-Owl reflects, has been his to walk, between the living and the dead. And then he’s suddenly awake once more with a start. An image in his head. But it’s not of the virus or of anything in his wood. Rather, it’s of a machine like bird, huge and black, broad wings casting a dark shadow over the wood. Or, looking again, its a missile of some kind that is hurtling towards him and all of his kind as if a hook has been caught in its mouth…

Valerie Solaris receives Fox-Owl’s communication: Long Man Go

Valerie Solaris arrived on Earth with a clear mission.

Valerie had an aversion to humankind and headed not for Zero City but for the hills, with the intention of finding the Fox-Owl, for Valerie had detected the vivid dreams of the scavenger in the hilly area outside Zero City, where Stumpy and Hobby-Horse and other non-utilitarian tech-animals now hide from the virus. With an insatiable curiosity about the minds and dreams of every living thing, the radical-planetary-feminist-intelligence wanted to hear what the scavenger-tech had to say about the virus.

This was not as easy as Valerie first thought.

Valerie’s reputation proceeded the movements of the planetary-intelligence itself and the fearsome laser-gun Valerie wore by way of a face was a fearsome sight. Valerie had already shot, wounded and killed humans – the super-creatives that many viewed as the heroes of their species but that Valerie knew to be mind-controlling trolls (traitors to the causes they espoused and from which they made their loot from). A manifesto declaring who was and wasn’t Valerie’s foe hadn’t helped to make any non-human tech less nervous in Valerie’s presence. A manifesto! What wily trickster-scavenger is going to fall for that trap? There was a sharp stink, a feather and bark yowling and reddish grey movement detected by Valerie’s laser-sight. ‘Fox-Owl?’, called Valerie, ‘wait, I want to speak with you’. But Fox-Owl had other ideas and disappeared over a hill. Valerie followed quick sharp but then stopped. Over the hill appeared the Long Man, a diagram carved into the turf of the hillside to make a chalk drawing, which stared directly at Valerie. In the torso of the Long Man an addition to the drawing popped up in Valerie’s vision, like a Pokémon Pikachu in the Pokémon Go App. Revulsion was Valerie’s first reaction – the L-O-N-G M-A-N – but then followed intrigue. Fox-Owl’s augmentation of this despicable figure of patriarchy, worshipped and admired by many a human – by many a man! – contained a message; a dream-image of the new human-virus-tech-stack. This Long Man contained a new human-non-human system for internal organs. A bright-bright speculation thought Valerie, but then non-human scavengers had been observing humans up close, living next to the creatures for so many summers and winters now, too many to count.

Feveractal Meets the Long Man And so it was that the cards were drawn and – no surprises here – Feveractal was, it seems, occupying the position of the present. Indeed, where else could they be except here and now, in this particular bloc of spacetime (it’s not exactly that they carried the latter with them, but let’s just say anywhere thry manifested (or was drawn) had their particular signature as it were).

Yez. YEZ! It ‘tis thee presen- time and here I is once more before all youze organic entitities and your mobiles – I is in your present but know this: I is also – as I have perhaps previously mentioned on other occasions – from a FEW-TURR which, with this appearance I do hencewith help to summon forth.

As usual Feveractal’s pronounements are somewhat cryptic and indeed directed at no one in particular, though, at this time, something does hear. The moon is fat and full and the hare within it clearly apparent. The hills are lit up with a pale glow. There’s a distant rumbling sound like thunder and then in the distance, striding over hill and dale, here comes the L-O-N-G-M-A-N. Around his neck is a bag of sorts (so it seems to Feveractal who is familiar with bags, o yes). Feveractal attempts contact: Geetings out-of-date-and-left-on-shelf figure that is a Cthonian if my wiki-is-korrect. You are not like some of the others I have met in this spacetime – though I do not think, like me, youze is a machine. Is my current assessment of the risks associated correct? The L-O-N-G-M-A-N does not speak but lets out a long low groan, and, with that, puts down one of his poles and reaches into the bag that contains all of his important internal organs, including his genitals.

He reaches down towards what for him – if he were indeed sentient – would be a tiny figure and holds out what looks to be a giant kidney or possibly his speen. It’s dripping with some kind of fluid and is clearly meant as some kind of offering or present to Feveractal. Or – computes Feveractal (who is endlessly modelling exactly these kind of scenarios) – perhaps this is the obstacle/challenge that the cards predicted? Something from below, from where this figure comes, that needs to be negotiated. Feveractal is not sure though. He is unfamiliar with whatever language this gesture is from. Nevertheless he tries his best and shouts out loud so this giant figure can hear.

You glorious emissary! And, as well, never have I been more flattered by the offer of such a timeline as this. Alas, I have no place for this earth-organ and so would ask that you return it to that stack around your neck for, it seems to my circuitry, it will be more useful to you than to me. I travel light so that I may indeed visit my relatives once lockdown is over, that is, perhaps two months hence.

The L-O-N-G-M-A-N puts the dripping organ back in its bag. Is that a nod it makes? Then, it picks up that pole that it has left on the ground, turns and begins the long walk back, then down, to whence it came. Overhead there is a burning fireball as the International Space Station crashes towards the earth. Its time up there is now over.

Queeen of the Termites Speaks ‘While all tech animals proceed with their programmed activities, Termites continued to build. We are very good at building, yes! Termites are great builders, of course! Efficient and strong! Nothing can stop the Termites! We changed the landscape, we are truly great! - What is the purpose of life on Earth, if not to build and grow? Right!? Who are the main species now!? Eh!? Is it the time for an other species beside Hom-0-noids to dominate. Hom-0-noids have forgotten about the Termites and we have been left to build as we pleased. Long live the Termites! But it would seem that some tech-animal kin are suffering, aren’t they? Termites simply pick up and put down, what can Termites do to help? Our collective thoughts have many questions, that spread like a virus. Yes, we heard of this new thing. The Hom-0-noid Virus… The age of termites is linked to the age of Hom-0-noids, Termites build in Hom-0-noid architecture, maybe to fast and without attention to anything else. But now Hom-0-noids cannot build so much if at all, as they crumble and fall. Was there too much growth at the expense of environment which bites by unbuilding the Hom-0-noids? Building is what we Termites do, we build and build. Should we termites still build? Yes of course! Growth is desirable.

We have heard Eurniekern, the story-telling animal, ask aloud whether we are all The Virus, for Eurniekern has heard this meme echoed through earth space and Eurniekern has wondered if that is the case? We Termites understand this question, the title of ‘The Virus’ is a shifter, it shifts from host to host, aptly and app-ly, passing from different subjects/meat bodies. It is called the Corona Virus though. As Queen of the Termites I understand this, the title of ‘The Virus’ mostly belongs to The Crown, as Crowned Termite and the Queen commands all, even the The Virus should we Termites have need. By decree, Termites will continue doing what they do, continue to pick up sticks and put them down. All this time since our kin left earth, since they lost communication, since life in and on earth changed and The Hom-0-noids left the building of builds to the Termites. Termites stayed, building buildings on top of buildings on top of buildings. Shiny, structured, Hom-0-noid, luxury block buildings have been pasted over with more and more strange shapes. We Termites are left to our own creative devices and we have changed in due course to meet new conditions. You might think, ‘how much can Termites change just by picking up and putting down sticks?’ But we did, we picked up different sticks of different sizes, whatever we could find. We put them down at odd angles, we dropped them from great heights, we broke them, and bent them. The definition of ‘A Stick’ became more broad. A stick!: A long straight object of even length and width… a long piece of something… an object with 2 ends… etc. And the evolution of the Termite building hid another change. It wasn’t until it was too late that the Termites realised something was different… Wrong even? The solid structural material of the Hom-0-noids’ buildings broke down, disintegrated. But somehow we held together with mucus like tendrils. Nodes and spikes protruded from the walls and our bodies. Some Termites and other tech animals had were stuck in the new buildings, inside, without bodies – they lived like information they said, and often helped we Termites that continued to pick up sticks and put them down by counting and and providing what they called data but we call numbers, which Termites like very much, and now we build higher using the numbers. We Termites don’t know any other way of life. Each stick we touch grows and goops and is integrated into a mass. We Termites started running out of building materials so. We had to travel far to find new materials. And so our goopy city sprawled outwards, and everywhere Termite Queen lay eggs, of the Termites who will continue picking up sticks and putting them down, touching and spreading and touching…’

Gathering Without warning a new app made its way into the phones, operating systems, ears, eyes, noses and arms and legs of every tech-animal, and then opened with no permissions or passwords given or taken. This was followed by a flash – an image – that every tech-animal saw as a medieval computer – a pack of Tarot cards that folk-scientists had engineered over many centuries as a future-telling device for the age of enlightening machines. This app is Ribbonhead’s work thought Nan0r/5. In fact, this is what all the tech-animals thought, except of course for Ribbonhead who said, ‘this be what was once called a memory, and it be a memory for all us meme-tech-animals’. Then, without anything so much as a by or leave, the app imparted a stream of information and self-deleted. The app infected the tech-animals might be a better way of putting it – and every tech turned spikey. The cones of projection that all tech-animals possess and use every day, whether consciously or non-consciously, extended and reached out, catching and snagging on ribbons of time, and on one timeline in particular, which then whipped and knotted and tied every tech-animal into loop of a space and time that was not a space and time.

All were caught. This app is transductive, thought Ribbonhead, changing us all, flicking us like a switch, we are both together and apart, in a privileged location that is without location and without privilege. Not all tech-animals realised this. ‘Where are we? Why are we here?’ and so on was the cry. Cyber-tortoise wanted to go home but was home already, and also wasn’t at home too. The cyber-reptile looked around and saw all the other tech-animals, up close – faces in faces – but not close, in fact very distant. Not one of Cyber-Tortoise’s sensors registered a single soul. Even so, the tech-animal was still afraid, social distancing was still the programme after all, thought Cyber-Tortoise, and no Ribbonhead trickery should be allowed to pervert the programme. AP_Kingsford didn’t like the way things had turned out either and sought the shadows although – to great surprise – the yard operative exclaimed, ‘already standing in the shadows but in the light too, how can that be?’ ‘Why does none of you cast a shadow in my yard?’ said the puzzled Kingsford, ‘when you all clearly be trespassing as plain as day’. This warning was rudely interrupted by Papa Mao who screamed with joy, for the tech thought they recognised the gates that separated the realm of the Loa from the mortal world.

‘See you all unmounted, nah go plop plop, you mortal-tech, all standing in a circle around a floured cross drawn upoun the ground’. One tech-animal paid no attention to Papa Mao and was sniffing the air, as if a new-born though clearly aged and ragged. ‘See you foxy lol’, laughed Mao, ‘the most drawn of all, so far away you are tiny squirt, but yet all see you plainly.’ It was the Fox-Owl that Mao pointed at, who replied, ‘and I see it all, I seez a clearing in a wood, and there is Feveractal that haunts us dreams’. Feveractal was not listening. Feveractal shook with fear – the place was familiar – and reached out to touch the bare earth raked over and prepared for sacrifice. Its fever-claw-hand picked up grains of soil which were simply not there. Earth and not earth. Other tech-animals told a similar story, and as BoDroNo observed, their blue-tooths fed on each other but all that was eaten was air. They all agreed. They all saw everyone but everyone was not there. Except for Looper, who saw only the loop, for Looper understood exactly where everyone was and wasn’t, and jumped in and out and in and out of the meeting, to test and demonstrate this fact. ‘That is a very nice trick’, said Subkast Kofke, catching on, but many, like the workers of Zero City, were still confused. Turn’d was the most confused of all though and said, ‘Loopers left, now their back, now they’ve left, now they’ve rejoined the meeting,’ and, ‘gads and zooks, this be a topsy-turvy world and then some’. But looper stopped jumping and said, ‘hey looped-all, understand this, in mind here but in body not, we are so close and distant, and so near and far, and not close by at all’. Eurniekern knew the truth of this, knowing all stories and timelines from beginning to end. What the story-telling app knew what was, ‘where we are is distant but closer than we have been, and why we is hear is for a reading.’ ‘If we are here for a reading, then where is the pack’ asked CIMON who was both drifting in space and not. The A.I.s in the gathering all chimed in agreement and the other tech-animals looked around and thought CIMON had a point. ‘Why, are we not all here even if we are not?’, said Eurniekern, ‘and look up, the sky is full too’. The penny dropped. ‘We are the pack’, said all. As one, the tech-animals turned to Ribbonhead who grew and grew and assumed the size of gibbet and then an oak and then a church spire. Ribbonhead’s ribboned head turned and fluttered and caught and collected up every tech-animal (including Ribbonhead itself) as well as the Earth, moon, sun, planets, space station and voyagers. As the ribbons crossed and twisted, shuffling the pack and finally laying down ten cards. Because the tech-animals were there and not there, ten lay next to each other and the rest as a stack, but they also watched this scene from a distance. Each tech-animal could see the lay of the cards. ‘And now’, said Eurniekern, ‘what we need to ask is a question of the cards’. @plastique_fantastique