FutureBlog chapter 13 by Pete Nicholls
Sato gets his mind bent...
Welcome to chapter 13 of FutureBlog! Sato searches his flat for taps and meets Ryca in a most unusual way! FutureBlog is getting weirder!
If you haven’t but want to, you can read all previous chapters on the Table of Contents! Or just start reading below and you should be able to make sense of it.
22221025 posted by Sato Nakamoto
That night came and went and it didn't do either without event. Upon receiving the news from Ryca that my flat had been tapped I was decidedly paranoid about even this blog. Should they discover how I am able to blog back in time, it would surely be something they could not resist to take control of and exploit for their own ends. How am I able to resist it? You’re reading this. So, you know I’m not resisting! Of course, I’m not using this blog to manipulate the future. And don’t worry—I am taking measures to make sure that no one becomes aware of what I am doing when I type these posts.
And… who are the “they” that I’m even keeping this from? Is it my employers who’ve bugged my flat? Or one of the Bodies? Or the Nogoodnicks?
As I entered my flat that evening, I immediately scanned the area with my eyes. If my employers at the SNA had tapped my flat I wouldn't be able to spot the taps even with special technology. The key in spotting SNA taps is finding something that looks so indigenous that it stands out.
That seems an odd concept, I know, but have a look around your home. You'll see things that should all look familiar to you. Things you've had for a good portion of your life as well as things you've only just acquired. Shelves, coffee tables and in closets are all things you’ve seen day in and out. However, do you have a perfect mental record of every item? What about the mundane items? Can you visualize every water faucet, door knob and cabinet fixture?
Of course, in the year 2222 we have technology that would blow away anything that you might find impressive, there, in your time period. You probably think nanotech is cutting edge.
I apologize, I don't mean to insult my predecessors. Obviously, if you're reading my grandfather's blog you are among the very intelligent and open minded. Besides that, it's not your fault you live in what we in 2222 refer to as “the technological dark ages.”
You have technology, but it’s still very much early days.
I stood just in side the door of my flat for a good ten minutes scanning every inch of my living room before I took a second step. The couch, facing the huge wall of windows overlooking the next building over, was about three meters from me. There was nothing suspicious about the sofa. I knew Plecksi didn't vibrate enough for a parabolic sensor to pick up my voice via the windows from the next building over.
No—this would have to be something that could be added to my sphere—something I wouldn't notice...
I began walking along the wall, bringing my eyes up and down it as I moved toward the windows. My flat is decorated with several sheets of electronic paper hung with Maghesive. There are three on the wall I walked along and three more on the opposing wall. I had them programmed to cycle through pictures of old train yards from the twentieth century. I examined each page of epaper closely, making sure they were the same models I bought three years ago when I moved in.
I glanced over to my coffee table. The ancient books I had left there (in case I ever had company and wanted to impress them with my taste in ancient antiquities) were stacked neatly in order of size from largest on the bottom to smallest on top. I have digital versions of those books, so they stay right where I put them, unless, as I said, I have company and I want to show them off.
I reached the windows and slowly moved past them as well. It was night time at this point, but I needed more light, so I used my dev to change the Plecksi setting to day. The windows instantly illuminated the room, casting light down onto it as though the sun were up.
My shadow stretched across the floor in front of me, almost hitting the door to my bedroom. I found my attention drawn to the knob of my door. It was brass and strictly ornamental—all of the doors in my home are electronic. I placed my hand on it and pulled. It didn't budge and there were no signs on the door around the knob to suggest it had been replaced—not a single scuff. I couldn't recall whether or not it had been brass when I moved in, but I suspected it had been. I hope that I’d have noticed before now one way or the other.
As I glanced over at the inside door knob of my flat’s front door, I could see that it was silver. Odd that the apartment wouldn’t have door knobs throughout that matched.
I withdrew my dev from my pocket and placed it on the the island separating my kitchen from my living room. I activated FK (floating keys) and began typing as soon as they appeared floating in front of me. The dev projected a 2D display image in front of me. I angled it so that I could only see it from a narrow angle. This way, any visual sensors in the room would have to be scanning from the exact same angle as I was.
I quickly found my way to the site of a security supply firm that I knew of that had an indigenous sensor line. After a moment, I found an item that resembled the door knob quite a bit. I accessed the schematic and saw that it's entire surface was a sensor, able to read light, heat and audio impressions that it could then translate and transmit wirelessly to the nearest Airnet hub. From that point, the data could go to your company's computer system or even one person's dev.
I knew I couldn't examine it closely without letting on that I had found it. I switched of my dev and moved into the bedroom. Again, I took my time examining the space. I looked at the photos on my dresser as the epaper they were printed on switched out a picture of my mother for a picture of my sister. Have I not mentioned her yet?
Then, I looked to the photo of my high school sweetheart, who, I'm afraid, I still carry a bit of a torch for. I picked it up and eyed it. I had set all of my other EP displays to cycle every forty-five seconds, but I held it for over a minute before it switched to a photo of Ayana and I at the holo-beach.
That was odd. I didn't remember adding that picture to the playlist of that EP nor did I recall specifying that this one EP should switch out photographs every seventy-five seconds instead of every forty-five.
Someone had been quite sloppy with this particular tap, though on a technical level I'm not sure how they were able to tap a piece of electronic paper. EP is very simple technology. You can only update it locally and it’s encryption is top-notch.
Regardless, I had found the taps in two rooms with just the bathroom left to work out.
Inside the bathroom, I quickly decided the mirror, itself, could be made of nanoskin. It can be produced in such a way as to make light reflect while still being able to impress visual data onto nanoparticle sensors.
Of course, there was one weakness to tapping any water closet--the shower. A good steaming shower would obscure any visual, audio or even heat data. I suppose with a sensitive enough sheet of nanoskin you might be able to get a sensitive enough reading that would allow you to clean up the data, but that would be quite cutting edge.
Still, Ryca had said my closet was the only tap-free space in my flat. I wondered if the EP sensor on my dresser was sensitive enough to pick up sound waves from the closet.
I could only assume that Ryca had taken that into consideration.
At that point, all I could do was wait for Ryca to show up in my closet. How she was going to do this without being detected by the taps was quite beyond me.
So, while I waited, I once again withdrew my dev, and began writing this blog entry.
At three-hundred hours, I stepped into my closet to find... only my clothes. I had wondered, exactly, how Ryca would be able to get past all of the taps--after waiting five minutes, I found out... in a way.
“Mr. Nakamoto, please push your clothing to the side of the closet's interior.”
It was Ryca's voice, but I wasn't sure where it was coming from.
She simply repeated her question. So, I slid my clothes across the rod, pressing them against the other side of the closet.
“Have you complied, Mr. Nakamoto?”
“Yes, Ryca, I told you, please call me Sato.”
Then, silence for a short period of complete silence, something very jarring occurred. Ryca appeared directly in front of me but she was quite small—seemingly a great distance way from me. Quickly she grew both closer and in size. This was all despite my closet being roughly three meters wide and just one meter deep.
She seemed to be rushing at me quite quickly and I couldn't help but back into the closet's wall out of concern for my personal space. I was visibly startled as she almost ran into me.
“Please remain calm.”
“I will not! How did you do that?”
“It's a new technology, please don't ask any more questions.”
“What?” I reached out to touch her and I could feel my mind bend 'round the idea of my hand passing through her arm--because that is precisely what happened.
“Are you some sort of hologramatic projection?”
“No, not at all.”
No, of course not. She was completely solid to my eyes. I would be able to see inconsistencies in a hologram.
I kept trying to touch her arm, attempting to convince my brain that it could feel her physical matter. What ever I did—where ever I touched—my hand passed through her. It was a very disturbing sensation—look at something in your immediate vicinity. Touch it now. Knock on it with your knuckles. You are certain it is really there. Now, imagine your hand suddenly passing through it. Your brain can't accept what it is seeing. Very strange, indeed.
“Please note:” Ryca spoke, seemingly from inside of my own head. “I am chemcoding a location to meet me at in five days time. Do not try to contact me until then. Do not be late. Do not tell anyone of this meeting. I am risking much by communicating with you like this.”
Why was she doing this at all if it was so risky for her? Also: how could a standard secdroid judge what was risky unless she had been programmed to do so? In that case, why would a secdroid be programmed to judge risk to her own person. What does risk even mean to a robot that can be fixed or even rebuilt if it is totally destroyed?
“Do you understand?”
“No—what is this chemcoding?”
“I cannot explain it to you. Simply meet me when the time is right—five days time, at seven-hundred-hours.”
“But where? I don't understand!”
“In five days time you will understand. I must now sign off.”
“No, wait! I—"
Suddenly and in defiance of my traditional understanding of the physical universe, Ryca vanished. In a practical sense, I understood that she wasn't actually in front of me, but I felt my logical brain bend in on itself again as she vanished.
Immediately, I pulled all of the clothes out of my closet and searched it for anything that might explain what I had just experienced. Ventilation grates, tiny cracks where a zero-gee nanohov could have snuck in and out with me not noticing, but I found nothing.
Seconds later, I felt a bit like some ancient person, struggling to understand the “magic” of new technology—like looking behind an old movie display, expecting the actors to be behind it and suddenly accusing it of being sorcery.
21 January is the day after tomorrow, so since the night of the closet incident I've been completing my preparations. I still have yet to recount the story of bringing my old friend Arif on board my little adventure team. I shall tell that tale next.
Thanks for reading! The next chapter will be out in a week. My big trip was a generally positive one but it was a LOT and it was basically impossible to keep up with anything even after I got back. I almost had to do jury duty but that go rescheduled until next year, so I’m able to jump back into my work on FutureBlog. Please check out the new chat I set up for this substack! The chat is for subscribers only, but you can subscribe (for free if you want) here. Please sign up! I’m excited for feedback on FutureBlog! I’ll even tell you what I think of it so far in the chat. You can also let me know what you think via my contact page or just:
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