The Committee Goes Holographic
My computer geek’s name is Jimmy. I found him on a laundromat bulletin board, a hand-written ad on a sheet of typing paper (“Tired of being bugged? Call Jimmy”) with a string of tear-offs at the bottom with Jimmy’s phone number on them.
Jimmy hates computers, and so he learned all there is to know about them in order to attack them. He doesn’t have a computer himself, no home page, he works out of libraries and places like Kinkos. He lives out of his van and spends most of his time up in the hills. He’s stripped himself and all of his belongings of bugs or he’s subverted the bugs, turned them around on whoever planted them. He’s cyberspace’s worst nightmare. I was the only person who took a tear-off from his ad and called him.
What I wanted to know is if anyone was fucking with the Shards I send out to my email list, and in less than ten minutes Jimmy confirmed what I’ve already recorded in another Shard (“Writing with a Truncated Alphabet”), that yes indeed, they were.
“They’re using a program that randomly deletes selected consonants from your text, rendering it gibberish,” Jimmy said. “Do you want to retaliate?”
“No. Not right away,” I said. ”I don’t want them to know I’m on to them.”
“Good thinking,” said Jimmy.
“Maybe I’ll just disappear off their radar,” I said. “Go back to sending stuff thru the mail.”
“Won’t work,” said Jimmy. “They’ve got a lock on all your communication outlets. They’ll do the same thing to your letters.”
“How in the hell are they going to do that?” I said. “Steam open the envelopes?”
Jimmy gave me a tender smile. “No, they won’t steam open your envelopes, silly goose. They have a system that X-ray scans envelopes, converts the written content to text on a computer screen, edits it and transmits it back into the envelope.”
“Holy shit!” I said.
“Cutting-edge technology,” said Jimmy.
“Sweet Jesus!” I said.
“It’s not just the mail,” Jimmy said. “Everything is monitored and edited. There are monitoring devices in your food, your clothing, your credit cards, your driver’s license, your watch and your eye glasses—audio, tactile and visual monitoring. There’s no privacy left, not even in your most intimate moments, unless you know what to look for and how to dismantle what you find. Everything is recorded and stored holographically. They’re working on constructing a holographic world that mirrors the real world in every detail, and once that’s accomplished, they’ll pull the plug on reality and we’ll all vanish. But they don’t interfere with what they access unless something threatens to reveal their process, and apparently these things you call Shards have the potential to do this.”
“Who are they?” I said. “Who’s creating this holographic monstrosity?”
“The Committee,” said Jimmy, and a chill ran down my spine.*
*(The Committee has been harassing me ever since I began publishing, before computers and before the writing evolved into Shards. They’re a very sophisticated, very hush-hush corporate-funded organization of saboteurs and hit-men, its mission to rip out secret-life awareness by the roots.
There is a whole body of Shards related to The Committee; a good number of them can be found in The Book of Shards, a major collection available from Hcolom Press.)