By J. Matthew Root
In boardrooms throughout the world a fly sits on the wall and listens to the decisions that change the lives of millions. Decisions that are made by shrewd minds and cold hearts. Things you would hate if you knew them. Lives given values calculated on profit projection charts. Morals as commodities. Interest off of pain.
We knew all of this. Or at the very least we were sure this was the case. Sure enough to create the Fly on the Wall Project. It was a simple addition to the already well underway nanobot model. A camera and a host of other sensory equipment added to the microscopic robots. The conversion of the information was very tough- the fastest we could get it still only supported a very condensed bandwidth of signal- so after heavy filtering we could see an ‘almost’ in focus picture and hear well enough to make out voices most of the time. But it was enough to start with. More than enough.
So from boardrooms just like the ones we would be spying on- the money came. We built it. Well- that’s not quite the right word- nanos were more ‘grown’ than built- but the process did much to blur that line. We improved as much as we could, which wasn’t much. The delivery was incredibly simple. A random emergency inspection for safety reasons opens anyone’s doors- especially in the dead of night when an underpaid security guard won’t think its anything worth bothering to phone their boss about. And the few with tighter security than that we’ve already infiltrated anyway.
So- not much of a story yet, right? Rich schmucks spying on other rich schmucks. Who gives a damn? They probably think of it as some delightfully sick sex game anyway. But, as always, this story didn’t end there. Their sick obsession grew with the eating and before you know it they wanted to know a lot more than just who’s fucking who. They wanted high quality video and stereo sound. They wanted to smell the fear. So we improved and improved and made physics let us have it. So we could deliver it on to you, the addict. Always the faithful pusher there to be your smiling friend for not much more than the change in your purse. Everyone gets what they want. It was a lovely relationship. When we couldn’t supply any more quality we politely suggested that perhaps having more areas bugged might give them some added punch and they all did a lovely little square dance throughout the world rubbing a little clear nano-solution on every surface that might see even a glimpse of something remotely interesting.
It wasn’t enough to watch it on a screen anymore either. They wanted direct links so all they had to do was close their eyes and choose which channel to spy on. And it wasn’t just the rich anymore- everyone wanted a piece of the action. Nothing is a better sales pitch than “Someone is watching you right now- Wanna know who?”
We had to build more than a few new buildings to accommodate the servers to process it all. And- most importantly we had to hire Mel. It was gonna take some damn serious math to handle all of this information and he was the famous pioneer of cross-referenced, multi-layered pattern recognition. He’d written the program that could tell you how many times a word was used as a verb in a sarcastic manner that references a dead grandmother was written by an author with a spotted dog and a yellow bathroom in the entire Library of Congress in less time than it took you to read that sentence. But, as you probably also guessed, he was a bit of an asshole. But great minds are guarded ships and sometimes need to hide behind masks to conduct their business.
You see- Mel turns out to have been setting himself up to get into our shop for quite some time. He used us as a way to piggy-back his masterpiece into every mind everywhere. The man was an artist- and we would be the orchestra to play his 9th symphony. He stuck around long enough to get the work done and then became gradually more and more of a pain in the ass until they had to fire him. Once he knew he was covered by a nice paper trail he could throw the switch and no-one would be the wiser. Although it was quite silly for him to worry about getting caught.
So then he flicked the switch.
And for 23 minutes the world truly thought as one. The psychic feedback was enormous. Every person on the planet experiencing every event on the planet simultaneously. The flow of information entered your mind and suddenly you could see everywhere. Hear everything. Taste, smell and feel all there was- at once. Every mind aware of every other mind in every possible way.
Monkey see, monkey do dominated the world for the first 5 minutes. One person would recoil in horror and all those watching them did the same- touched their faces in the same way- thought the same thought- but slightly different each time- echoing out- contributing to a blanket of shifting fractal emotion that covered the world with our collective minds.
Hearts raced. Panic set in. Ears popped and heard no more but the violence of the fear shook the world and you felt it anyway. Millions of people died. Billions more remained comatose for the rest of their time on this Earth.
Turns out Mel didn’t live through his own greatest performance either. His heart gave out at the height of it. Just when it turned at about 15 minutes in. Suddenly no one wanted to be scared anymore. They were just tired of it. The people that couldn’t deal with it and the ones that fed of it were dead and as they died, and the broken ones went quiet, the negative energies that added to the noise went with them. It simply faded away as the ones left behind wanted to feel the pain and the fear no longer. They stood, for one silent moment, the entire planet with no idea of what to do and no idea how to do it. Every mind in the world was sitting silently in the driver’s seat without a clue where to put the key.
But some had held each other. The lucky ones that had been close enough to a loved one when it happened held on tight. They found sanctuary and safety in the bond. Their love hid there at first. But soon the need for safety vanished and their new instinct was to help. To help by holding. To help by loving. And the thoughts traveled like a wash of warmth through the scared and paralyzed and broken. All those who could hug someone did. Everyone accepted everyone. And all those who’s minds had made it through came out on the other end knowing the single most important thing there is to know: We are one.