Part of the book Keep calm, there are no rhinoceros in this book.
I don’t like riding the subway. Always crowded, always being pressed among those hideous creatures. Arched, swollen, with eyes lost going in opposite directions, with deregulated faces, with too large parts, or with almost nonexistent. Nowadays, only a few young people by some miracle of genetics still have a human appearance. Yes, like everyone else, they are already clogged with drugs, but unlike the older ones, they aren’t yet so worn out by the constant abuse. I leave the house with the headphones of my Google Glass 6 at high volume. I can’t stand their grunts everywhere, don’t want absorb the current mental flow of the population. But this isn’t much of a problem, I only go out on rare occasions.
Right now I am returning from a visit to the doctor in São Gonçalo, a chic city in the interior of Guanabara, Southern District of the Latin American Union. I live in Pendotiba, a poor neighborhood many stations away. I have no health problems, I never had it, but if it weren’t for going to a doctor at least once a month, make something up, buy the prescription drugs and then flush them in the bathroom, I could be considered by the local authorities as an antisocial individual. Not having any cancer at least every 5 years isn’t at all social. I must have all these things written right in my credits, lest they open an investigation against me. I would be ruined if they sent someone to inspect my house.
Leaving the station of Pendotiba, I decide to make my weekly stride in the market. On the way, as always, I defend myself with my cane from the mutant three-eyed cats, who attack those who don’t feed them. I installed a circuit in my cane to be able to give high voltage shocks when the occasion makes it necessary. Okay, it was against originally to shock the Nescau snorters the live on the alley, but it also serves very well with the cats. Everything I buy in the market will have the same end of the medicines: my toilet. But I have no choice, if I didn’t have a record of spending on food this week on my credits, it would spark an antisocial behavior alert. Imagine not buying groceries on the market, they would easily put me on a list of terrorists, my house would be devastated and I would be sent to a re-education camp. Without me, they would have custody of her again. This isn’t going to happen as long as I live.
All our food at home comes from a greenhouse I built illegally in our attic. All we consume is currently illegal production and consumption: fungi, vegetables, fruits, fish, algae – the government claims, based on scientific research, that they are unhealthy and unhygienic for the use of the population. But if we didn’t break the law, and consumed the industrialized products of the market, made of raw material made in a laboratory, with substances specially created to control our class of the population, I would hardly be different now from one of those creatures in the subway. Keeping a life like this isn’t easy, but it’s better than losing my mind. Someone may be wondering now how do I hide all this from the cameras, since just having a boring life is not safe enough to ensure that no one is watching you through Google Skype-Life. It is forbidden not to have a camera in every room of the house, it is against the inalienable right of each individual to watch the lives of others. So, it was all thanks to a blind spot between two cameras in my living room, which allowed me to build an auxiliary staircase up to the attic, exactly where I give the impression that there is a sofa on which I watch TV. There’s a sticker on the attic camera lens. So, it always seems that I never go there, when I spend most of my time there. I don’t think I ever got to sit on that sofa, or see what’s on TV. The way I through away what I buy in the marker, is thanks to a legal hole, in which I claim that I can’t keep a camera in the bathroom because of religious precepts. Yes, I had to register, in addition to contributing monthly, in the Church of the Salvation of Our Lord Michael Jackson. I also made a hole that connects the bathroom to the attic. What really gives me trouble is to change the substances that go in the tubes that feed Patricia without revealing that they are not the ones that I brought from the market. But, who knows, having a boring life might save me from the eyes of others.
I get home, get my Glass 6 off, and let my head settle down into silence. Headphones with loud music allow me not to listen to the people around me, but they don’t stop the advertising waves from entering through my neural field. It is unpleasant to have commercial breaks between my thoughts. But, here at home is quiet, because it wasn’t only the attic that I modified, I also covered inside the walls with a grid that prevents the waves from entering. I can think and dream without commercial breaks of toothpaste and soda. I arrive, I breathe, and I go to see my Patricia, the woman I love, the woman whose mind was taken from me more than 20 years. She as always is in her room, attached to her feeding tubes. That’s how they gave me her back after a season in a re-education camp. They claimed that her brain was deformed and because of this the reeducation failed, leaving her in that comatose state. Then they made me pay a few fines for their unsuccessful efforts. Patricia, she would never accept to be transformed into a monster like the rest of the population that now walks these streets. The same way she didn’t agree to shut up that day when she took that case. I’ve spent the last 20 years testing different natural substances in her to try to reactivate her brain, but nothing works.
In the bedroom, there she lays, motionless, in bed, aged but still beautiful. When I come back from a trip outside, I always sit by her side to tell what I did. But there is something different today, her chest doesn’t move. She gave up, she’s dead. The only reason I keep this hell on earth is dead. I fall and cry, it’s over, I don’t know what else to do.
It’s 2038, and exactly 30 years ago, in 2008, I bought an external 2 Terabyte HD. I say this, since nothing after this event would be possible if I hadn’t bought it. It was in the last years of the so-called Free Information Age, and I spent the next few years filling it with all the information I could find on the internet: thousands of pdf books that I would need more than 8 lives to read, as well as PirateBay films , courses, Megaupload manuals, Wikipedia articles, Youtube videos, Soulseek songs, all kinds of useful information that had been digitized by decent people. Everything in it was what was necessary to live a good life, just sit, read the books, watch the videos, learn and then test in reality. It was so essential that until I knew Patricia in the years of Anarchy, I considered that which complemented me. After her, it became my second great love. Without it, without its knowledge, I couldn’t have survived what came next, the end of the world.
The end of the 1990s and the beginning of the 21st century was a very special era, where through the internet, global knowledge for the first time ceased to be limited to the dominant powers, and became free for all the people that knew how to make a good search on Google, or DuckDuckGo. The government could no longer hide, as it had done until the mid-1990s. We now had options for real news. The world’s empires still gave their circus spectacles, making fusses during the replacement of their social-science cushioned leaders, for their big-bellied socialist rioter, or their stupid cowboys for their black intellectual messiahs, promising major changes that never came. But for the first time, a growing people no longer bought these clowns. No matter what actor they introduced, their expansive policy of control and domination was no longer hidden behind their speeches of false freedom, or the alienation of old, prostituted journalism. Who knows, we were headed for some great revolt, a new revolution, a real change for the better. Who knows, maybe, but that hope ended at the end of 2012.
The Mayan calendar ended on December 22, 2012, and that’s what it did, it ended, to start another that the Maya never had time to write, since they preferred to kill each other in sacrifice. Nothing happened on the 22nd, it happened before, it happened on November 16th. Who would have thought that global warming was not just a fraud of a former vice president to fill his pockets a little more. Okay, yes, it was, but it wasn’t entirely, only in the part of human involvement, the real culprit was the sun, the sun with its storms. It was at 5:23 p.m., Brazilian time, on November 16th, that one sun storm sent a wave of energy to Earth, the Great Light. The sky shone and when it stopped shining, we were in the darkness. The entire electrical grid was fried in a few seconds, 90% of the planet’s energy transmitters exploded. 8 billion people whose existence would not be possible without electricity, found themselves in a dull world. 8 billion impossible people to run desperate through dead cities, cities that they discovered were far away from any sources of food when the gasoline was over, which weren’t at all hygienic when the water pumps stopped exchanging the water that they dirty, cities which were found to be very uncivilized when their dictators stopped delighting them in the images from the magic boxes in each room of their houses or coordinate their movements with their clubs. The world governments didn’t disintegrate in the days after the Great Light, they simply left, leaving the mob to devour each other.
I was in my 20s, I was already healthy, I already avoided half of the products on the market, nor did I watch TV. But I wasn’t prepared for that world. It took me two months, almost locked in the basement of a factory in Caxias, eating rats, and reading pdf files from my HD on a tablet, moved by a small alcohol generator, to know what to do. The few times that I got out, only served to almost die, or to accumulate the scars that accompany me until today. I still lived in the city of Rio de Janeiro.
From what I later discovered, in the months that followed the Great Light, the worst problem was the police militias that dominated the city. Basically, due to the continuous efforts of the pre-flash government, the only armed people in the city were the police and the shantytown’s drug dealers. Except that the drug dealers didn’t last even a week amide their lack of organization, and were easily eliminated. The police, in turn, well organized, began a war between their different factions to take control of the city. Bullets everywhere, killing those who weren’t already starving or sick. When I finally left, there were few people still on the streets. But the danger was still apparent. So, I hid my HD in a safe place and fled inland.
The more time passed from the Great Light, the smaller the population of the world became. The survivors were fighting each other. I had to run away from many marauding gangs on my way. Weapons when found were very valuable, but didn’t last long without new bullets. I sometimes joined groups, which quickly broke down in internal conflicts. I made friends, but saw these friends being killed by the cannibals from Mage. For some time, I had to pretend to be a believer, so not to be burned by the evangelicals. And finally, in the middle of all this, I met another survivor as capable as I: Patricia. It was love the first fight. She almost thrust a knife into my throat, which would surely make anyone horny. She was a former lawyer who had been taught in childhood by her father to hunt and shoot, she knew how to survive in that world. With her, things got better, I had a real reason to survive all that.
The Anarchy as it was called only lasted for 4 years and 8 months and ended when they returned, the governments. Wherever they were hiding, it was a matter of weeks before their armies subdued the survivors and restored the old power. We had no chance, old rifles, machetes and bows and arrows, were wind against their armaments. The best and most determined leaders of the survivor communities, that were already emerging towards the end of Anarchy, were the first casualties of the so-called pacification of the people. By 2020, everything was back, the states, the commerce, the police, the schools, as if nothing had ever happened, but with far fewer people.
I returned to Rio de Janeiro with Patricia, and it was there that we had to witness the real disintegration of society. The survivors of the Anarchy were mostly a bunch of desperate people, willing to accept anything for a bit of security. And this materialized in the acceptance of the return of the entire bureaucratic system of government, but with more absurd limits than before the Great Light. Now the population being considered state property would be awarded to companies through bids. As for free information, it was shot down when new copyright laws were passed. Thus, the internet had also returned, but returned dead, only with pre-approved government websites, or by large corporations, mostly made up of advertising and reality shows. If I had not retaken my HD, I’d be back in the dark, back in the 1990s, the medieval era. It was thanks to it that I knew everything I needed to do to keep my sanity and my body clean for the years that followed. I wanted, then, with Patricia next to me, to resume my isolated life in some forest. But she didn’t share that same desire, she wanted to fight the government. I didn’t see sense in this, if you don’t want to join the minority that is in power, nor the passive majority that accepts anything and hardly lifts a finger to something, it’s preferable to leave. She disagreed with this, and so, when there were still trials with a jury, she was allowed to be a counsel again. She was defending a man accused of antisocial behavior, when herself was accused of being antisocial, she made things worse by punching two policemen. There was no trial, the judge simply sent her to a re-education camp.
Now that she’s dead, I might as well die. I kiss her on the lips one last time and leave the house. I walk at random; I arrive at the entrance of the subway. There are two policemen at the entrance, it will be my exit. I lift my cane and start electrocuting one. The other has no weapon – I didn’t know that they had also cut off the cop’s weapons. He doesn’t do anything, just gives me an arrest warrant and tells me to stop. But other than that, he doesn’t stop me from frying his partner. I electrocute him too. No one at the station does anything, they pass by, ignoring us. I pass the subway door without passing my pulse on the credit score, an alarm rings, but nobody does anything. I leave the Niteroi line in the center, take the one that goes under the bay to Rio. There, I pick up the line that goes to the Security and Control center in Maracanã. I kill an additional 8 policemen on the way, and also some people who I didn’t like the way they looked. Again, all ignored. Arriving there, as I pass by the side of a magazine stand, a policeman gives me an arrest warrant, I electrocute him, others give me an arrest warrant, but they don’t move, they don’t know how to react to someone who doesn’t obey. No one else knows what to do in a non-TV situation. I kill the security chief of the Guanabara District and nobody does anything, some eight security guards stand there, giving me an arrest warrant, calling me antisocial, but do nothing before my cane.
In two days, I kill the mayor, the governor, the owners of two broadcasters, many policemen and a lot of people who behaved rudely with me when I began to kill those around them. But most just have puzzled looks and don’t have any reaction, so I leave them alone. Some people randomly start following me. I don’t know why.
Look, the cane’s battery gone a day ago, I’m just hitting my victims in the head now. It’s hard to die nowadays. I believe that if I surrendered myself, if I obeyed their orders, to those that still have the ability to understand, they would send me to a reeducation camp. So, I don’t have much choice.
Eight years pass. I live now in a hut surrounded by trees overlooking the sea. I formed a community with the people who followed me along the way. Some are already almost able to communicate outside the standards of a soup opera’s script. But many still are brain damaged.