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The pain is so intense it causes my tendons to contract with enough force that, before the muscle relaxants, I tore muscle from bone. The clean razor like blasts of pain lasts for what seems like an eternity, my teeth grinding themselves flat trying to escape it. It is right about here, right when my entire body is alight with pure agony that I pass out, only to babble the secrets of the future to these cretins.
But not this time. The comforting blankness, the sweet oblivion, never comes. Instead the pain is focused, honed in like a laser burning thorough the filters my brain had previously set up to protect itself. This time the cacophony of data was there in front of me.
Each day you learn a million new facts, so many in fact that the brain would soon become overloaded with useless minutia, the flicker of a shadow, the sight of a piece of trash floating on the wind, the exact color of a blade of grass. Each of these memories represents a neural connection, a path from one tiny brain cell reaching out to the next. Each night while you sleep your brain prunes away these useless connections in an orgy of selective destruction. If you don’t sleep for a week your brain is so fuzzy with connections that you can barely operate.
The opposite is true as well. When you want to get good at baseball you practice baseball. Over and over you throw the ball, catch the ball, hit the ball, run the bases. Inside your brain each night the dance of destruction is still going on. But the connections for baseball have gotten too strong, your brain is unable to prune them down, and at a certain point will assume they are important and leave them alone.
For months something had been happening in my brain. Slowly the neurons had been pruned by repeated application of pain and data. Slowly, literally, rewiring my brain. If you consider that the mind is what makes you, “you” then changes to that state make you a different person, I was now a new man. Aided and molded by hardware forcibly rammed into my skull, my brain had stopped trying to fight what was happening to it, and had “learned” to accept the onslaught. I had been practicing telling the future, and now it would seem, I could be a conscious participant.
Oceanographic data from buoys still operating, satellite feeds, ground based radar, blog entries, the remnants of network television, the automobile mesh network, internet traffic, phone calls, all of it seemed to have been funneled down into a needle and then stabbed directly into my mind. I could “see” it, right there; if I had not been drugged and restrained I could have reached out and touched it. It was beautiful in its hopelessness. Transparent plains of colors and sounds, my brain had managed to add some structure to the chaos. What had started as a lot of ones and zeros was now a cohesive picture of the earth dying.
Ask me how long it would be before Bermuda was scrapped down to sea level (10 more direct hits by Ophelia). Ask me how many people had already died today due to weather related causes (4,833…4,834…4,835…4,836…). Ask me how many times Bobbie Jennings was able to say “I love you” to his wife on the phone before an F5 Tornado killed everyone stationed at his office in Atlanta (0).
It was all there, presented to me like some sort of video game. Perfect little boxes, translucent and moving, I had only to think and they would rearrange to tell me what I needed to know. While at the same time a completely separate feed of things were appearing that had not happened yet. On one side of my vision the present, on the other the future. Move something on the left, and the right would change.
The truth, laid out in perfect simple detail. Slowly the data came into focus the great scheme apparent, they were using me. Ask me who they were and I would tell you that they were the combination of several large government contractors. Halliburton, KBR, GE, most of the aerospace industry, and a couple criminal mafias. Ask me what they were doing and I would tell you; making money.
These people had abducted me and my friends, killed people, and crawled through destroyed cities, to make money. They had built a monopolistic shadow government, to make money. They had killed thousands, and allowed tens of thousands to die, to make money. They had no grand scheme, there was no evil genius in a volcano calling the shots, this wasn’t world domination or religious zeal, they simply wanted to make as much money as possible.
I had been telling them lots of things, but the only thing they cared about was how they could effectively manipulate the global market. They were using me to make the invisible hand into a marionette, and it was working. I told them when to buy lumber, when to sell copper, where to station agents, how much to pay for fuel, when to invest, when to buy bonds, when stocks. Capitalism once wild, now domesticated. This new company, known internally as simply “The Company” was now richer than most of the world’s governments put together. The US government was now a contractor to them, and no one was the wiser. In case you hadn’t noticed most of the world’s governments had some pretty big problems to worry about.
The Company didn’t know everything through. They didn’t know that I was on to them. They also didn’t know that unless stopped, Ophelia would do a lot more than continue to destroy the Atlantic basin. And the number one thing they didn’t know, something I would be sure not to tell them when, in a second, I started screaming out the future, was that I knew how to get out of here.