The Abandoned Station






Larry's Wad

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Discord At The Unplanned Obsolescence Protest


"klaatu barada nicto"

They're the words on the first sign I see and even with the screenshot print out of some chisel jaw actor, I won't get the reference for another thirty six hours, and that was a hellish time that I'm saving for a fully sponsored podcast, no doubt.

I was holding a thin magnetic sheet with the bright neon letters you'd get to put on your fridge if you had kids who liked to eat and spell. I can't stand the idea of sharing my life with little leeches, but I'll throw my inner child a fish from time to time.

I arranged the letters to spell:

"Where legends are burned."

The protest/performance/shopping opportunity was scheduled to start at two in the afternoon, but I was half an hour late because all the letters fell off the sheet as I walked rather animatedly out the door. So I had to go back inside to find some glue and affix them onto the background permanently.

Sorry magnetic sheet, this is what you will always be displaying from now on, unless I violently rip the letters away and hope it doesn't damage your body too much.

But that is the fate of every message here.

Two stick figures wearing real ties that are taped to the sign. Each has a speech balloon to show us a quick conversation:

"But life-"

"Life is just a lengthy trading sequence!"

I introduce myself to the holder to indicate that I get the reference, but they just started at my chest at first.

I had put my gas mask on earlier, with a headshot photo of myself in my Tuesday best on a string around my neck.

Then they look up at me and announce solemnly:

"We regret our purchases."

I bow my head and reply (having to speak a bit louder to overcome the muffle:

"The refund wound never heals."

I wasn't sure if I should bring up Andrea to this complete stranger, but before I could even ask them for a closed channel, the horns blared from the rooftops and three flocks of seagulls immediately fell down to the crowd below in paralysis. Some of the off-grid-ers would feast tonight.

It meant the the proTECTORS were less than a block away, and I quickly tap into the augment to see through buildings and screaming personalized banner ads with discounts tattooed on bulging crotches.

Already thinking of how I would start to describe what I was seeing on tomorrow's endless podcast:

I was there when the patrol suits became the business suits and the business suits became the patrol suits...

The host would click their tongue at my being poetic, but because that's not the same thing as a cut-off, I'll explain how:

I felt the wave of nostalgia and financial security. They are intoxicating, and the gas mask does nothing.

Many of us are running blindly away from the square, not sure if we are trying to find the commercial free alleys or into the upscale clothing-coffee boutiques that run down the main thoroughfare like blood.

I climb up a crooked stairway from a nearby film set that was never taken down because of a strange union regulation-zoning law hybrid and look at what disenchantment has wrought.

Too many of us couldn't get away from the gas and they are using their protest signs as back scratchers and ineffective toothpicks.

It's nauseating to watch, the sudden turn.

They herd themselves into the prospect pens, so it's a coffee break for the proTECTORS.

Getting back down is not something I can do while there is still scatterings of daylight. Instead I decide to pass the time on the edge of conformity and I turn on the smartypants-phone burning a hole in my pocket and soul.

I check the authoritarian weather report, the pornography news, the pill feed, the bit-coin comics, and alter some of my past photos and videos to improve my history rating.

And there she is, in five second clips. My love. The eye's apple and shapely pear.

Hours ago she sent me a mash-up vid of our best moments from last weekend.

There were so many moments I'd forgotten, things I could of sworn we never had time to do.

Life is farting through my fingertips.

When Andrea arrived at my doorstep I had just finished a couple drafts for the sign. I would have to forward them to my editor for approval, and since that would take all mid-weekend, it's a wonderful opportunity to get to know her and her insides better.

She had travelled far to get here, clearly, but she still made a point of getting all dolled up in the bathroom in my building lobby.

I showed her the treasured possessions I kept bound in blockchains and under the bed in shoeboxes. She was impressed, or I was impressed that she was able to convince me she was impressed whether she was or not. It's the sort of thing no one has bothered to be certain of for years, ever since we all embraced the illustrious and absolute uncertainty principle.

All told, when the grey sun came up, it was a sixty dollars difference.

"I don't want to make this all about money", one of us said.

So of course it was.

It sat around the evening like a broken third wheel, its pieces lying in wait for our helpless soles.

Until I watched her eat a pink grapefruit and she was just floored by how it could be so bitter and so refreshing and perfect all at once.

She looked at each new slice the way I wanted her to look at me.

And now I watched the specially modified planes dip low to scoop up thousands of gallons of dirty water.

The host is twiddling their fat thumbs.

These were terrible places.

Warped out of true representation thanks to salacious exciting stories.

No one wants to be here. No wants to do this arduous empty work for nothing.

The crowd is jeering, making harsh statements into their phones to create a reactionary din.

But the planes continue their routine and dose the flames, letting the village, the town, the city wash itself off. A pointless baptism that embolden the strong and replicate the weak.

The host is going to refill their coffee as I mumble endlessly into the microphone about the history of a dream or a dream of history.

It was under a too bright night that I was able to come down from the balsa wood castle spires. I blame the spotlights and the dust cloud that always comes up from a stampede for the markets when a credit dusting comes through to get people off after a psychologically damaging mass-complaint failure.

I hate being the last one left 'alive', but it makes for a nice ego boost in the loins.

The digital screens in the square had repaired themselves by now, and they had comfortably returned to the regularly scheduled breaking news.

Not wanting to pass up the glorious financial opportunity, I take pictures of most of the corpses that hadn't been tagged and bagged yet, knowing that many people will pay good money for one last look at their loved ones and family members. And the lulz.

I take the elk horn out of my backpack and glue them carefully onto the gas mask so I will blend in on the walk to the transit terminal.

You think you know the streets? I shared them with back-slapping murderers who thought nothing of what they'd just done, who all-in-days-worked-it-to-our-bones. My disguise and quick tongue kept me alive as I had to make nice to get past the checkpoints and not throw up on these jacked boots.

The tram was empty except for me and an old woman playing the one working slot machine. The robotic 'you will win the next round' announcement practically on repeat on my overstuffed ears.

It climbs up the bridge and spirals up and around the third-highest skyscraper in the region and at certain angles I could see my neighbourhood in the distance.

Back home is three rooms, two welcoming, one of those with her inside, perhaps tap, tap, tapping away on her phone or perhaps getting herself all clean, or flexing her intellectual muscle with library of four dimensional puzzles.

I don't want to imagine her with the proTECTORS I'd recently walked beside, but there couldn't have been any other way to make it from her there to my here without having to service some accounts.

You would do the same thing if you were me. What bodies are made of and worth can't be deleted like a memory. I am just giving the people what their emotions want.

The lights at the station are overbright and it's not clear if it's because of heightened security or malfunction.

My stomach rumbles because I still exist on this plane. There are AI-food stalls but they never get the lobster quite right.

Some of the foods are filled with nanos, but I've got a gut feeling my gut can handle it.

Since she is always considering our waists and the lightness in her laugh, Andrea wants me to really think about this, passing on podcasts and bullet pointers into my newsline. I can feel her eyes upon me from three blocks away and through several load-bearing walls.

The door to my abode is ajar.

My heart twists like a stomach as I rush in calling her name. But Andrea was nowhere to be found. Everything looks to be exactly how I'd left it, except in the bedroom, where my shoebox was sitting on the edge of the sink.

"No", I croaked.

Where is the respect?

At least that.

Tell me we don't live in a world that cold.

I open the lid with quaking hands and peel back the tissue paper.

And let out the warmest sob of joy you'd ever want to hear.

The list of every brainstormed slogan and cheer for any change you could ever imagine. The true keys to the same great taste of revolution, can't beep the real thing.

She could have taken it (could have sold it for a song, for several songs, could have flung it into a furnace, recited it off rooftops), considered taking it, though for the best and ran without a second thought.

There is a lesson to be learned here.

And it was several days before I felt right again, before I knew it was time to get back in front of the grinning faces.

I knew the food would taste particularly cardboard that night, the dopamine hit of knowing that my mind was safe would not last very long.

But I could appreciate...the attempt.

If there is justice in this world - and there sometimes is - I would run into her at another demonstration with some foot-loose men and we'd have different names and faces and we wouldn't have to say anything but what we'd memorized in these pages.

It's a reason to keep going, Ramsey, that kind of hope, all by itself.

I put the keepsake back in shoebox and hoped that I wouldn't have take it out again until the next protest.




you can't plan on dying with a smile on your face.