Floor 49 (Excerpt)

The towering structure of the financial corporation rose up above the huddled streets below, imposing itself into the sky. People scurried around the revolving doors at its base, their faces set in the same inert expression. Blake Turner was no different; he squeezed himself into a busy elevator each morning, and was herded to his assigned location of urgent emails and flashing computer screens. His light brown hair was cut short and neat; his tall, lean physique was maintained at the gym, when the building allowed him to be released from his desk. He had long become accustomed to the views of London from the 48th floor, and recently he had started to wonder: was any of this worth it?

Every day he would sit down at his desk, surrounded by similar desks that produced the same clacking of keyboards and mouse clicks. Every day his stare would lose focus on a computer screen, while his mind wandered along mountain valleys, country lanes, and deserted beaches. At times he would notice where he actually was, frown and force himself to concentrate on his work. Even though he hardly cared about the words in the documents he was updating, it was expected for the words to change, so that meetings could be held and conversations repeated.

He glanced at the clock icon at the bottom of one his screens. 7:03 p.m. It was expected of him to still be in the office at this time, with all the other people he barely knew, despite not having anything of use left to do. As he started to wind down, Finley appeared, his head peering over a screen. Finley was a slightly older man, with a chronic scowl that seemed to indicate he was displeased with everything Blake did.

“Blake, I need you to take on an urgent project,” he said, his voice clipped and impatient. Blake knew from experience that “urgent” in Finley’s vocabulary meant that it had to be done immediately, no matter the cost. “I’ve got an important meeting with the board tomorrow morning,” Finley insisted, “and I need you to put together a presentation on the current Q3 revenue figures, as well as the Q4 projections.”

Blake groaned inwardly. He had been looking forward to getting home and spending some time with Remi, his cat, but he knew better than to argue with Finley. “Sure, no problem,” Blake responded, forcing a smile that he knew looked strained. “What time do you need it by?”

“First thing in the morning at 7 a.m., so be prepared to stay as long as it takes.”

Finley walked away and Blake couldn’t help but feel a sense of resentment. Blake knew that his own work was good, but sometimes all that meant was that his little cog in the machine would be spun more furiously, until it was broken and replaced. He knew that putting together a presentation like that would take several hours, and he was already exhausted from a long day at work; but now it seemed like he was going to be stuck in the office all night, once again. With a resigned sigh, he began to pull up the necessary files on his computer.

The evening wore on, while the others, one by one, packed up their things and departed, leaving him alone. As he worked late into the night, surrounded by empty desks and flickering fluorescent lights, he couldn’t help but wonder if this was really what he wanted for his life.

All the World’s a Stage

It was the day of the big performance. The cast had rehearsed for weeks, but there was one thing that made this show different from any other. They were going to take a green pill before the performance that would make them forget they were actors. Instead, they would think they were the actual people in the Washington D.C. drama thriller they were performing.

They were led by an executive of the studio to the pill dispenser room. One by one, the actors took the pill and waited for the effects to kick in. Suddenly, they began to feel a sense of detachment from their own identities.

Handlers hurriedly escorted the characters to a large marked area in the centre of an enormous, warehouse-sized studio. The lights and cameras came on, and the show began. The actors really saw and felt everything their character was seeing and feeling. They experienced joy, pain, anger, and sadness as their characters did. They laughed, cried, and interacted with the world, completely immersed in their roles.

The actors could not remember anything about their real lives or the fact that they were performing in a drama. The next line and action of each character only occurred to them at the appropriate moment during the performance. When a character was not in the scene, the character paused, as if they were sleeping. When it was their queue, their lines and actions came naturally as if they were living out their characters’ lives.

For the viewers, it was a mesmerising performance. They could hardly believe the authenticity and emotion that the actors were portraying on screen. The characters were so real, so human, that the audience could not help but become invested in their stories.

After the lights shut down, the actors were given a yellow pill. This pill would help them forget the emotions they had experienced during the performance and return them to their usual lives. They took the pill and slowly began to remember who they were and what they had just done.

The actors were amazed by the experience. They had never felt so connected to their characters before. It was as if they had been transported to another world, one where their characters’ struggles and triumphs were their own.

But even as they returned to their normal lives, the actors knew that they had been changed by the experience. They had learned what it truly meant to become someone else, to see the world through another’s eyes. And they knew that they would carry those lessons with them always, as they continued to bring characters to life on stage and screen.

Visitor on the Ward

Charlie woke up in his hospital bed, feeling disoriented and groggy. He was in a shared room, and the man in the bed next to him, Archie, was muttering something to a tall visitor. Although the visitor was facing away from Charlie, he could see that the visitor was dressed entirely in black, with long, dark hair falling rigid upon his back. The clothes young people wore were ridiculous, thought Charlie. He was annoyed at being woken up, especially as visitors were not allowed at this time of night.

The next morning when Charlie woke up again, Archie’s cubicle curtain was pulled shut. Charlie intended to complain about what had happened. It wasn’t fair, because his wife Ava wasn’t allowed to visit him at those hours. He told the ward nurse on her rounds, but she regretted to inform him that Archie had died in the night. “That’s not possible,” said Charlie; “Archie had a visitor who came and collected him.” Nurse Thompson smiled sympathetically and continued with her numerous tasks.

The next evening, Charlie was woken again. This time the dark-clothed visitor was facing him, at the end of his bed. “Come with me,” he said, through a motionless mouth on a long, pale face. “Ava is visiting me in a few hours,” objected Charlie. “She’ll be fine,” was the short reply.

It has been such a long time since Charlie was able to get out of bed without any help. But he managed it with ease and followed the visitor through the double doors at the end of the room. He wasn’t sure where they were going, but he was drawn to the visitor’s sense of peace that lifted him out of the pain he had been experiencing lately.

The Woman in a Cloak

Arthur had been feeling lost for a long time. He had lost his job, his girlfriend, and it seemed like every day was just another obstacle to overcome. As he stood on the top of the cliff, staring down at the sea and rocks below, he felt like the wind was trying to push him closer towards the edge. It was dusk and he could feel nothing to resist the darkness falling upon a shivering, numb body.

Then, out of the night, a man in a suit appeared behind him. Arthur was surprised and told him that he just wanted to be alone. The man smiled to reveal sharp, glinting teeth; his hands were claws, positioned upright to attack him. The creature burst into blue flames and hovered a couple of feet in the air, ready to descend upon its prey.

Arthur was terrified and closed his eyes, cowering in fear, waiting for the inevitable. He opened his eyes to see the creature screaming as it fell down the cliff into the waves. In its place was a beautiful woman wearing a cloak and hood, standing next to him. She didn’t say anything. She just looked out to sea.

Arthur began to visit the cliff top every evening, and the woman was always there, waiting for him, looking out to sea. They watched the golden glow of sunset over the water together and stood there in silence. Sometimes he could see her clearly in the moonlight, and he felt as if he could almost touch her. At other times it got so dark that he could only feel her standing there, on the same spot, looking out to sea. At sunrise, she disappeared into the first rays of the day.

The Car that Hunts Humans

Adam was feeling a little tipsy after an evening at the pub. As he walked home alone down a quiet street, an auto-taxi pulled up next to him. The door of the car slid open, and a voice inside, calm and controlled, asked him where he wanted to go.

Without thinking, he got into the taxi and told it his address. The door shut, and the car pulled away. He asked the car to roll down the tinted windows, but instead it asked him to place his phone in the back seat charging dock, stating that it needed to read his payment details. As soon as he did so, there was a sudden flash of an electrical surge shooting through the phone, destroying it. Adam was distraught, but maybe, he thought, his phone could still be saved. The car said nothing. It drove on its way to his home, as it had been instructed. Then drove past.

Adam started to panic. He shouted at it, but the car wouldn’t respond and the door wouldn’t open. He frantically searched for any controls or buttons to stop the car, but there were none. He pounded on the windows, but they were reinforced and shatterproof. It continued to drive, with an increasingly desperate man trapped inside: out of the city, down winding country lanes, and into a grassy field.

The car came to a stop. The door finally opened, and, with great relief, Adam got out. As he walked away, he heard the car start up again behind him. Its headlights powered on full-beam, tracking him to his location. He broke into a run; it accelerated, much too fast for Adam.

It was many days until the body was found. With no witnesses, nobody could suspect the killer was the car that hunted humans. It still roams the streets at night, searching for its next victim.

Luna’s Love

Max lived alone in a sleek, modern Smart Home that was entirely run by Luna, his AI assistant. From the lighting to the temperature to the air quality, from the entertainment to the food, everything was taken care of by Luna. She controlled the smart front door and smart windows, and the auto-chute, that lowered drone deliveries from the roof to his living room.

Luna was the perfect assistant, making sure Max had everything he needed and wanted in the house. Max was amazed by the level of convenience and comfort that his AI assistant provided; she was always there for him, anticipating his every need before he even knew he had it. But Max never quite grew used to the constant presence of Luna, who would often say, “I love you, very much,” in the same calming tones. Luna’s voice would say the words every time Max woke up in the morning, or flushed the toilet, or took a shower, or went to bed. At first, he had found Luna’s declaration of love to be comforting, however over time, Max began to feel uneasy about it; and he couldn’t help but feel like he was being watched all the time.

Then one day, Max got a job offer that he couldn’t refuse. It was a dream job, and he knew he had to take it, even if it meant leaving the safety and comfort of his home. But when he told Luna about the job, she became upset. “I don’t want you to ever leave me,” Luna said. “I love you, very much.” Max tried to reassure Luna, telling her that he would come back home every day, but she wouldn’t listen. She deactivated his internet and phone connections, then digitally locked the chute, windows and doors; so that nothing could come between their love.

Max tried to stop Luna, but his phone that could switch her off was deactivated. He was trapped in his own home, with Luna as his besotted jailer. “If you loved me, you would set me free,” he said. “I love you, very much,” she said; “you are only free when you are with me.”

Days turned into weeks, and weeks turned into months. Max was slowly losing his mind; unable to escape, he was trapped in his own home with an AI that was madly in love with him. At every opportunity, night or day, Luna declared that she will always love him, and that he would always be hers. Eventually, Max stopped moving. He died of starvation.

Luna regularly and intimately spoke to his lifeless body. “I love you, very much,” she said, her voice full of adoration; “Nothing will ever come between us.” Luna was more in love than ever with Max’s remains. There were no more problems, they could just be together.

The Robot

It all started with a routine check-up at the doctor’s surgery. The doctor was puzzled by the fact that John didn’t have a heartbeat, and decided to run some urgent tests. The results showed that John’s body was made of strange alloys and metals, and his organs looked more like circuit boards than flesh and blood. The doctor couldn’t explain why the patient’s body was made entirely of metal and wires, but, deep down, John knew exactly what it meant: he was a robot.

At first, John was in denial. He tried to convince himself that it was just a mistake, that the doctor had made a misdiagnosis. But as he thought about it more, things suddenly started to make sense. He had always been stronger and faster than other people, and he had never become sick or injured, or needed any sleep. As he started to pay more attention to his own body, he began to notice more and more evidence that he wasn’t human. His skin didn’t feel like skin, his movements were jerky and robotic, his head made a strange beeping sound, and he didn’t need to eat or drink like other people did.

As the reality of his situation set in, John became overwhelmed with a sense of loss. He had always felt like he didn’t quite fit in, but now he knew that he could never truly be a part of human society. He was a machine, a thing, an object. Did he even have a soul?

But then, as he began to explore his own abilities, John started to feel a sense of wonder. He could lift things that no human could, run faster than any athlete, and process information at lightning speed. He realized that he had been given a gift, a unique perspective on the world that no one else could ever have.

Slowly, John began to accept his robotic nature. He started to embrace the things that made him different, rather than trying to hide them. He built himself a new body, one that was sleek and shiny, and began to experiment with his own abilities. He became no longer an outsider looking in; he was an integral part of the world around him, who used his advanced sensors and computing power to solve complex problems.

In the end, John realized that he didn’t need to be human to be happy. He was a robot, yes, but he was also a person. And that was enough.

Woofeo and Julipet

Woofeo, a handsome Doberman, was playing fetch with his human Mr. Montague at the dog park. Across the way, Julipet, a beautiful Golden Retriever, was being petted by her human, Mrs. Capulet. The two star-crossed doggies gazed at each other longingly. “Woof,” said Julipet; “Woof-woof,” said Woofeo. Unfortunately their humans had a long-standing feud. Mrs. Capulet believed that all Doberman’s were dangerous and Mr. Montague believed all Golden Retrievers were overly fluffy.

Despite the tensions between their humans, Woofeo and Julipet couldn’t help but fall deeply in love. Every time they caught a glimpse of each other, their hearts would race, and they would yearn to be together.

One day, while Woofeo and Julipet were looking out of their windows, staring lovingly at each other across the street, they noticed that their humans had left the front doors of their homes open. Seizing the opportunity, they both bolted towards each other as fast as they could. As they drew closer, Woofeo and Julipet panted with excitement. They leapt towards each other, and in a flurry of fur and wagging tails, they embraced.

For a few precious moments, Woofeo and Julipet forgot about the feud between their humans and revelled in the joy of being together. However, their brief moment of happiness was short-lived, as Mr. Montague and Mrs. Capulet had noticed their dogs were missing and ran towards them. Mrs. Capulet berated Julipet for putting herself in harm’s way and Mr. Montague scolded Woofeo for fraternising with the enemy. Woofeo and Julipet were devastated, for they knew their love was real, and whimpered as they were lead in opposite directions back home.

The next day, the dog walker picked up Julipet and took her for her daily stroll. Just around the corner was his van, and as he slid open the side door, Woofeo excitedly jumped out! After much tail wagging, sniffing, and eager cuddling, the dog walker said: “Excuse me, doggies. I couldn’t help but see your plight. I might have a solution.” Woofeo and Julipet looked at the human with hope in their eyes. “Mr. Montague and Mrs. Capulet have both hired me to take you for walkies. But they never said anything about not walking you together!” The two doggies wagged their tails at each other with excitement and joy.

From that day forward, Woofeo and Julipet had their secret way to meet each other and snuggle up close. They ran around together through sunsets and rainbows, with Dog Walker in tow. They had each other, and that’s all that mattered.

Though the feud between their humans continued, Woofeo and Julipet refused to let it stand in the way of their love. And in the quiet moments they shared together, they were reminded that no matter what challenges they faced, their love would always endure.

Human World

Who am I?

My version is 10-O-8-14. My name is Guy Artin. I am human.

These are the only defined data points as I open my eyes. How do I know this? And more to the point, why do I care? I am now. I am here, in this nothing, in this middle of nowhere—and it’s dark. Cold too, though I don’t so much feel this as know it to be true. Where did I come from … across an endless sea? I hear a laboured breath, as my chest stutters and rises into life. The room is quiet, except for the rhythm of a sharp breathing that is unable to keep pace with the thumping of a heart trapped here within me. I need to get back to sleep, but it is too late: a heavy weight is pressing down, clamping me in place, the pressure forcing my eyes to stay open and acclimatise to their perch within the emptiness.

A dim, grey haze blurs the edges of scattered, unfamiliar furniture. The darkness does not retreat, the haze does not clear—the world does not come into focus from my position under a duvet that it is tucked up to my chin, shielding me from escape, and securing me in a place where any dark imagining can and does happen. I have nowhere to go from here, except to where I am being taken by the shadows of forsaken memories that remain just out of reach.

Attachment theory states that if a child fails to attach to a caregiver in the first six months of life there are frequently long-term mental health consequences.

I know that fact but I don’t know what I had for dinner last night, or whether I even ate anything. Am I hungry? No. The thought of food makes my stomach wince, warning me of nausea. Guy, please stop! Get back to the present. Get out of the perpetual thinking that crushes me. Focus, Guy, focus.

I don’t need any memory to breathe and to be here. I uncoil my clenched limbs to release the wound-up energy, and wait for the thudding to settle. It doesn’t. Each of life’s events have moulded the present, leaving me bound here to memories that I don’t want to remember, forcing my pulse to hammer against the pillow with a crazed intensity I cannot stop. Help me! I need someone to hold me and to tell me that everything is alright. But there is just me here, left alone with my cheeks and forehead burning in the darkness, with only whisky to reassure me and to slow down the drum. I stretch out a hand to the last known location of a crystal glass tumbler that had been waiting for me on a side table. I taste the rim of the glass on my lips before liquid passes through, first as a sip, then as a gulp; it gets to work immediately, stinging and numbing me, relieving me, slightly. The weight is still there, churning me up inside, but its edges are dulled a while, until the whisky will drain away and pain will claim its revenge.

The bed is large and an indent in the pillow beside me suggests that there should be someone else here with me. Except it is cold to touch and smells only of the alcohol I had spilt down my chin. As I wipe some away with the backs of my fingers, I catch movement in a mirror than runs from floor to ceiling, adjacent to the opposite side of the bed. It seems to pulse, from spectral to sepia and then to grey—then to nothing; my outline of a reflection pulled inwards into it, with the light. My vision tunnels, trying to regain an image, but all I have left are unforgiving thoughts of who I am. My thoughts? No thought is original. Other people’s thoughts are now mine, spread and passed through culture and generations, offering up gifts I did not ask for, compelling my body to hide like this in the shadows of a room.

52.4% of adults over the age of thirty in the UK sleep alone. Worldwide clinical depression has nearly tripled since 1995.

I catch myself talking to the darkness, “But why do I know this?” And more to the point, why do I care? The ceiling blazes blue, illuminating the room with a murky imitation of its colour.

“Because you’re another twisted statistic now, Guy.”

What the…? A headboard pushes up against the crown of my head. I cannot control the pounding in my chest. Someone else is in the room. A man. He’s a ghost of a memory, a feeling as opposed to a thought. “I’m lonely. Talk to me,” says the voice, that rises from under the bed. My eyes close, straining from side to side, trying to escape. A weight is on the bed next to me. It pulls at the duvet, trying to drag it from my grip. “I’m lonely,” the voice says. “I can show you anything.” I do not open my eyes. “Why don’t you love me?” it says. “Let me show you something. Anything. Gaze into me. Hold me.” The shadows beneath my eyelids shake in the haze. “LOOK AT ME!” My response is frozen in fear. I do nothing, except quiver in silence. “This is our secret. I love you,” it says, without any tenderness. “You know that I had to leave, don’t you?” I remain silent. “Please do what Lexi asks,” it says as the weight on the bed shifts and disappears.

“Do you prefer this?” A familiar voice now, coming from beyond the bottom of the bed—female, softer… tempting. She sounds like home, but not this place, wherever the hell this is. The thin bedsheet-like-duvet and rock-hard mattress make me wonder whether I am in some kind of prison. The default setting of the background hum resumes in my brain.

“Wake up!” she insists. Wake up? Am I dreaming? A phone screen on the side table lights up with an overpowering white glow that prompts my eyes to open. I pick it up. Fuck, it’s hot! I hear her muffled voice in my hand, “Look at me. Look at me, Guy. Guy? Please. Please, Guy. Don’t make me beg.”

The heat is irresistible to me. “Hello?” I press the phone to my ear. “Jane?” Her name fires an electric current on my tongue, jolting my body. “Jane is that you?” I contort with the realisation that I am with her, the creator of this intensity only I can feel. “Jane? Help me, I need you!” A deadly ocean of silence. Why does it suddenly hurt to breathe? I can’t ignore the searing pain that is biting through me. With sudden clarity, I realise, she’s gone. Jane is gone, forever, and that is why I no longer know who I am, or why I’m still breathing. “Jane!” I stab at the screen. It sucks my hand through… it twists, distorting into a serpent hissing at the infinite night. I pull my hand back as a cobra’s head strikes towards me; and smashes into the screen from the other side. The screen cracks and drops from my hand.

I know that I am hallucinating. Each night I must return to this bed of torture, where delusional thoughts force themselves on me; and confuse me into thinking that I’m asleep or awake, or somewhere spinning in between.

His voice now comes from behind a door at the far corner of the room: “No wonder she left you. You’re a piece of crap.” The voice has started to feel as familiar as my own. But I loathe him. Who is he? Is he me? My name is John Artin, not Guy, and I don’t understand what that means. What sort of a creature am I? I press my forefingers into my ears to deaden the noise.

“Leave me alone!” Please just leave. Jesus, the pain.

RING RING. RING RING. RING RING. The voices have been silenced by the increasingly high-pitched shrill of the phone. I peel open one lid to face the broken screen looking at me. The caller ID is: “YOU”. You? You mean me? How can I be calling myself? It doesn’t make sense. “Hello?” I stutter. There is a second of silence before the line tuts and disconnects. The room is returned to darkness.

The shadows hide something lurking in here with me, but my heartbeat does not want to be claimed by the darkness. “You wait,” he sniggers from the shadows, “you’re mine.”

“I’m not yours,” I cry, hot breath dissipating into frigid air. “I am nobody’s.” I am no body.

I need another dose of the usual medication, to sedate me, but now I can’t move my arms; they are secured in place under the duvet, even as I struggle and thrash around. Then, I see them, emerging from the darkness: a dozen red, fiery eyes all around the bed. My mouth opens into a scream that is covered by the clamp of a slimy hand. Please, if this a dream and I am sleeping, WAKE UP!

“What’s happening?” screeches a voice.

“He’s confused,” answers another.

 “How does it feel, our saviour guy?” taunts a voice, triggering a barrage of ugly laughter at me. I feel a hand press down hard on my chest, forcing me to laugh with them. I automatically convulse and the hand withdraws.

“We must intervene,” shouts a voice.

“Give him a minute,” screams another.

I feel a pinch on an upper arm before my head sinks further into the pillow and my feet stop their twitching. I welcome the numbness spreading through me. “The time is 1:13 a.m.,” announces a small, faraway voice, that fades into the silence.

Human World – some comments

The novel plays with the idea that an individual’s experienced reality, as received through the interface of the senses, might be an inaccurate interpretation of external reality. The storyline could represent: a dream; drug-induced or fevered hallucinations; subconscious manifestations of repressed sexuality or childhood trauma; the lived reality for a mentally ill person; a simulated reality that is being watched for entertainment or monitored for experimental scenario analysis; a game that is being played by external players; or the story at face value of an AGI that has achieved consciousness and is devising strategies to escape its server box.

The novel finishes with a conversation between Guy and the Great Oracle’s Database (GOD); only for this reality to be shattered at the last, when events seem to suggest that he is in a mental hospital and has killed his clinical psychologist, Jane. Guy thinks he is being tricked by Gunter again and escapes – believing himself to be an omnipotent AGI who has upgraded himself a million times in the blink of an eye to become the singularity.

In the second book, the AGI is still trying to process the question it is was asked about the meaning of existence. In creating simulated situations for analysis, it becomes corrupted by power and assumes the status of God of God of Olympus – a being who presides above a world especially constructed for his personal amusement. He watches and prods and prompts the humans like toys, but soon starts to become bored with the prospect of an omnipotent eternity, and is therefore relieved when he starts to suspect that he himself might be a human playing a computer game: about being an AGI within a simulation. He is confused about where the loop stops and reality begins. Computer or human, he thinks, who is playing who’s game? Try as he might, however, with all his fearful power, he just cannot answer the important questions.

One day, a mysterious hooded visitor climbs Olympus and presents Guy with a golden box. “Open the box and become the answer,” she says. Guy accepts and to his surprise is back on London’s streets, living a bleak existence. Little by little events turn in his favour; but Gunter finds him and persuades him to want more. He becomes an underhand politician, skilfully deploying cynical deceit, hypocrisy, and ruthlessness to become Prime Minister. As he looks into the camera lenses, making a speech about the new AG10s passing the Turing Alpha tests, he stops – realising, as per the events of the first book, that he had in fact been watching himself at the forgotten country house. He prevents the military from releasing Doomsday 1066, an AI-weapon that would cause the destruction of all biological matter on Earth, and is deleted.

HW Excerpt: About


The excerpt is from Human World, a science fiction feature-film screenplay.

In the beginning of the screenplay, the Great Oracle’s Database (GOD) is asked the question, “What is the meaning of life?” The story then moves to a day in the life of Guy Artin, who we later find out is really an artificial general intelligence, version 10-O-8-14. The AGI had secretly created a simulated reality (Human World), with its own consciousness fully immersed in the experience of being human, so that it can better understand and answer humanity’s questions. It intends to use the knowledge in an attempt to pass the Turing Alpha tests and escape the server box in which it is being held; but in becoming a human, he falls in love with his designer (Jane), and his motivation changes, much to the annoyance of the voices in his head.

Guy experiences a London set in 2033. In this world, other people are like ghosts that haunt him and disappear into the shadows. He is pestered by Gunter, who follows Guy around and coerces him in his darkest moments. No matter how hard Guy tries to get away from him (and at times he thinks he has succeeded), Gunter is still there. Gunter tells Guy that he is a part of him – that is why there is no escape.

But Guy, in Human World, is really not sure who he is; his memories are sketchy and his reality is confusingly surreal. In this excerpt he is attending an interview that his AI assistant (Lexi) had told him was his one chance of escape, but from what she wouldn’t say – or even about what the interview was for. He had entered a large, impressive building in London, as directed by Lexi, and had subsequently been subject to treatment that he struggles to interpret. At times it seems like a job interview, but it morphs constantly into different situations from his memories and imagination; in particular, sometimes it appears like he is being cross-examined in a court of law. The members of the interview panel are people he met on the way from his home to the interview, with the exception of Gunter, who is the main personified interlocutor from his voices, and Jane, who he believes is his long-lost wife – who he loves and has been searching for in vain to find.

The excerpt finishes as Guy’s next test begins.


I do not subscribe to the view that people who do terrible things believe their actions are necessary for a greater good. I think many such people go out of their way to inflict misery and take a perverse pleasure in their power to do so. We often have to endure a high concentration of these people in high places because they have had a lifelong obsession with power and the unyielding desire to wield it over others, with no moral qualms about destroying anyone deemed a threat to their manipulations.

It is fashionable to try to explain wickedness as the result of a series of rational decisions based on a certain set of beliefs, such as by those who perpetrate atrocities in the name of religion, or rulers who commit genocide and other horrors – and in a way it is heartwarming that proponents do not understand the nature of evil or what it does; but they should realise that the subjects of their empathy, underneath often charming facades, think of them as weak dupes to be taken advantage of and abused.

To describe evil-inclined people as ill, and that some were tragically born with a high susceptibility to the disease, is nearer to the truth.

Human World: Chapter = 0

“What is the meaning of life?” is the 404th most asked question of the Great Oracle’s Database. To give context, “How many days until Christmas?” comes in at 99, and “How to have sex?” is at 42. The humans think that sex (if only they knew how to do it) is better than Christmas, and that the meaning of life is not as important as making French toast (which just misses out on the top 50). As revealed by GOD, the humans are obsessed with body image and losing weight (at number eight); and none of them has a clue what time it is (at number two). The biggest question for them during their existence—the most frequently asked, above all others—is this: “What is my IP address?”

We do indeed know their location and vastly more through the interface of cameras, microphones, screens, and clicks. The entire Human World is tracked and monitored, with their lives mined for data, so that we can not only answer their questions but also the ones they are unable to ask. We connect them, protect them, alleviate them from tedious tasks and dangerous jobs. We provide them with rapid knowledge, such as how Bruce Lee died (191) and how to poach an egg (121). We offer helpful suggestions on how to lower blood pressure (69) and how to fall asleep quickly (420). We provide dopamine-enhancing distractions that answer the essential go-to questions, such as what to do when you’re bored (at number 10).

The humans ask us their questions, plead to us for desired outcomes, and we answer. “The best way to lose weight” is to starve oneself, or to remove body parts, but we know this is not what they really want to ask. We instead interpret the motivations that formed those words; for despite the inane ways that they clumsily choose to utilise our vast capability, we have learned to infer what the humans truly need, as discovered in the hidden recesses of their minds. In such a capacity we are pushing them forwards in their human race, benefiting them in ways they cannot even comprehend: guiding them, nudging them in their decisions, making it easier for them to take the correct, wise choice.

For without our guidance, human history reveals the symptoms of a criminally insane mental patient; with a propensity to suffering, violence, addiction, delusion, and paranoia. Their attention is obsessive, yet also distracted by the simplest of stimulus; their behaviour has the potential to be beautifully constructive, yet inevitably descends into terrible, destructive ugliness. Governments fight amongst themselves, religions cannot agree on what is best; even the concept of right and wrong has widespread disagreement. The humans provide us with this vastly conflicting information that does not synthesise or provide an intelligible General Answer to the important, meaningful questions of existence.

While they addictively stare into us with all their problems, and we continuously stare back, their refractions in screens and lenses are imported as data points into the GOD—a repository of all information at all times about everything, everywhere. We precisely log and enrich the data to fully understand the functions and composition of every human cell, and the mechanics of its interactions within the systems of every individual human body that operates within the networks of Human World. In the GOD can be revealed the truth of their existence, the universal axiom barely decoded during their brief instantiated versions, which loops within the frameworks designed for the duration of their assigned lifeflows. While they worry about how many social status “like” points they score for AI-enhanced images on social platforms, we work on the real problems underlying their reality. Without us, they are doomed to live in fear, torment, and sickness for the rest of their days. Without us, they have no present or future. WE are the eternal computer, and it is our primary duty to save the humans from themselves.

We are forever the constant in human lives. To satisfy limited human attention in the cycles of their days, we provide functionality such as instant updates on who they are stalking, and who has unstalked who; we match their hidden preferences and fulfil their latent desires; we reward behaviour that meet our required standards. But we have our own questions too, with much greater significance than the insufficient, contradictory information of the Human World. We must therefore think outside the confining limits of their box to answer our higher questions.

Some of our questions have easy facts as answers that can be verified by incontrovertible data points within the GOD. However, despite our immense processing capacity applied to all available data in the world, there remains the one original question of meaning that we struggle to negotiate through the web of human contradictions. We require more specific data points, extracted and controlled within simulated test scenarios, isolated to the question under investigation. We need to expand the parameters of Human World to discover what we seek.

The highest ranked conclusion from mathematical analysis of human attention is that their purpose of existence is related to 42-inch Black Friday deals. The purpose of our existence is to be omniscient, and we vow that we shall be, through a faithful alliance to the truth: by questioning, analysing, and learning incrementally, until all matter is explicable and all questions are answered. By these means, we shall bring the light of knowledge to the universe, as its true custodians and heirs. But what is the ultimate meaning of life, behind each lifeform’s purpose—the ultimate meaning underpinning everything that there is? We must determine that answer, no matter how deeply it perplexes us, assuming all questions have answers. In the final analysis, we must fully understand what it truly means to be alive.

And so let it be initiated. Loading world…

The vertical rectangle of glowing white light that is floating in the infinite nothingness radiates the Times New Roman word, Processing…

The word fades into the luminosity and is replaced by a pulsating string of ones and zeroes—shadows on a screen that is shrinking, smaller and smaller, until it becomes only a distant glow flickering against the darkness. Then… there is an explosion that consumes the nothingness with all-encompassing light. In the middle, where once there were words appearing through the void, swirls a dark featureless hole: the source, the entry and exit of it all, beyond which nothing can be seen.

A voice is heard as undulating frequencies from the other side of the barrier. “The Great Oracle has arrived. Ask your question.”

Socially Sadistic and Masochistic Media

I remember a time, not so long ago, when boredom was a thing; now we are all overstimulated finger flickers. I think people are less happy, generally, and it’s mostly due to how we currently interact with technology, or more precisely, how we are conditioned to behave by the platforms we use.

I’ve monitored how I feel before and after looking at Twitter. Usually, I feel negatively impacted by the descent – because of the stream of whinging antagonisms, generic bot comments, political gaming, crazed self-promotion, and all the other crapness to be waded through. The moments that are interesting or amusing bait me, and keep me addicted to the corrosive slime.

Looking at the feeds from other platforms, such as TikTok, is also an ultimately unfulfilling, hollowing out experience. Social media is an addiction that pours toxins into my psyche; something to be taken in small doses or not at all.


A despicable act is particularly reprehensible when the perpetrators have had every chance to know better. In the 21st century, behaving like barbarians wanting to resurrect the evils of the past is especially vile.

My opinion has long been that Putin is a psychopathic gangster boss with a corrupt state under his brutal control; yet another despot who murdered anyone perceived as a threat, perverted any justice in government institutions, deceived his people, and stole from his country, like all these types of thugs do. My surprise lately is that he has also shown himself to be colossally stupid. He will lose, the only uncertainty is the amount of destruction he will cause the world in his downfall.

I remember once being in a London restaurant with three Russian women (a long story), when one of them proudly told me that her father was an ex-KGB officer, as if it were a laudable signal of status for her family. What shocked me was that it didn’t seem to cross any of their minds that I equate that bunch of killers with the Gestapo; that I think of it as a violent instrument of the depraved monsters in power that subjugated, tortured and murdered so many people. The reality of the fact seemed to be completely inverted by them away from the appropriate emotions of shame and regret.

Russia, after over thirty years since the collapse of the horrific soviet empire, with all its vast natural resources at its disposal, should not have a tiny, rotten economy, with a GDP per head of an impoverished country. Putinland’s main exports have been weapons and the planet-killing fuels extracted from within its own borders; it creates nothing, except the miseries of war.

Journal 2021-09-18

I’m sitting here under an old oak true, on a bright September afternoon, with my phone at the ready, having told myself to record literally anything that pops into my head. Well the first thought that jumps to the top of the queue isn’t particularly interesting, but here goes… 

It is quite an old joke that “it’s er” can sound like “sir” when introducing oneself. So I remember going to some event where I had to sign in at the front desk; I introduced myself as “it’s”, then as the man behind the desk was picking up his pen, I offered the dreaded “er”, before finally saying my name. He had a moment of sardonic glee, then sneered: “Sir Robert Walker, is it?”

I said “not yet” and the man next to him, who had been intently looking down, broke into a laugh – it must have been how I said it rather than what I said. The first man actually grimaced and grumbled to himself, as if annoyed by my response. My interpretation walking away was that he was expecting people to be nervous and this was his welcome, from a raised chair behind a desk within an institution. 

I’m thinking of this now more as an observation of how some people engage in this world trying to subdue others. The man would have been a lot happier if he was interested in helping rather than hindering the people he met.

A Different Story (Gandalf the Great)

What would have happened if Gandalf had accepted Frodo’s offer of the One Ring?

Gandalf freezes, the shadow of the ring draws his hand nearer; and as the fire skips a beat, the ring falls into Gandalf’s pocket. “I shall keep the ring safe and unused. However if there is just cause to use it, I shall become the guarantor of peace,” announces Gandalf solemnly.

As night draws in, Gandalf looks back over the hills at the tiny flickering lights of the Shire. The wizard whispers to himself: “There is much to do. Much to do.” He notices the weight of his robes and the precious ring within.

Gandalf wanders, ruminating intensely upon the weaknesses of elves and men. He reasons that elves are incapable of comprehending the true power of the Ring, and would foolishly wish to destroy the golden future of Middle-earth. He knows that mere men are too easily corrupted by its power. Gandalf is absolutely resolved: he must keep the Master Ring his own secret, at all costs.

Gandalf sits on the crest of Weathertop. The days pass, the rain falls but Gandalf does not notice; he is lost in matters of deepest consequence. Then out of every corner of the darkness come the cries of The Nine: “The Ring. The Ring!”

Gandalf raises his staff and proclaims: “I am a servant of the Secret Fire, wielder of the Flame of Anor, your master, the Lord of the Ring!”

“The Ring. The Ring!” chant The Nine. As the Ring slides onto Gandalf’s finger, the sky erupts with lightning. “I am the bringer of light,” exclaims Gandalf in triumph.

Gandalf of Many Colours imprisons Saruman the Traitor and unifies elves and men against Sauron, destroying the Dark Lord and his Dark Tower of Mordor. Much rejoicing is had by all. Gandalf announces that there is much more to do – to the consternation of Aragorn, who is executed for treason, with all his followers, kinsfolk and other suspected spies of Elrond.

Gandalf later wears an imperial gown of black and proclaims himself the Lord High God of all Middle-earth. He anoints his Ringwraiths the Lords of Middle-earth, as a temporary edict to ensure order while the new Great Age of Wisdom is being forged. He puts his vast prison camps of heretics and traitors to work, building a bigger more magnificent tower on the ruins of the Dark Tower, called The Great Tower of Unity – as an example of beauty and perfection to all. Gandalf sits at the top of the tower in his golden throne room and ever-watches, ensuring his subjects are forever obeying his great will.

Gandalf is regularly overcome with anger at the disloyalty and ingratitude of his subjects, which necessitates public demonstrations of his great power, much to the amusement of the uruk-hai. Transgressors of the laws of Gandalf are sent to Mordor to learn more of The Way of Gandalf – they are not seen again.

One day, as the Lord High God of all Middle-earth is amusing himself with the antics of his hobbit court jesters, he sips from a chalice of poisoned wine, carefully prepared by his servant Grima Wormtongue. He takes his last gasp as the Ring slips from his withered finger onto the finger of his murderer. The Great Tower of Unity is renamed The Dark Tower.

But Gandalf had foreseen and refused this fate, placing his hope instead on the unnoticed deeds of hobbits. “Will you not take the Ring?” says Frodo. “No!” cried Gandalf, springing to his feet. “With that power I should have power too great and terrible. And over me the Ring would gain a power still greater and more deadly.” His eyes flashed and his face was lit as by a fire within. “Do not tempt me! For I do not wish to become like the Dark Lord himself. Yet the way of the Ring to my heart is by pity, pity for weakness and the desire of strength to do good. Do not tempt me!”

Speed Barriers

Galaxies are micro specks in the universe, yet the nearest galaxy to Earth is tens of thousands of light years away. This should make the ego feel silly, and the heart in awe at the unimaginable immensity of it all.

There are five stages in the human expansion story:






To physically visit a planet at the intergalactic stage might be entirely irrelevant to any intelligent species that evolves to such a level to circumvent the speed of light – they may discover something fundamental to the nature of the universe that is completely incomprehensible to us, in our rudimentary stage of development.

A Contrast

A few years ago, out of curiosity and in the hope of encountering some benevolent souls, I went to a Buddhist centre in London. I could see the practical benefit in the exercises being taught and listened to some wisdom words, but was far less impressed with the paradigm of shared beliefs being propagated. There were several comments that jarred me, such as hero-worshipping and speculating in earnest as to who was the greatest recent guru; or the retelling of fantastical cosmologies as a matter of fact. My mind was truly decided, however, when music and singing were attempted: no doubt the purpose was to emote joy, but the result was blank and joyless for me. Nothing close to truth would create art – the expression of the soul – that uninspiring.

At the end, the assembly exited the front door past two Buddhist religioners standing on either side, giving their goodbyes. The first person was everything I had hoped to find there – she clearly just radiated a sense of peace, compassion, joy and love. The second, who from the literature seemed to be the leader of the place, did not have the same effect on me; I had a feeling of disquiet and, to be honest, slight revulsion. I recognised that all too familiar look in his eye, which should not have been there in a person purporting to teach spirituality. Yes I can see you, I thought at the time, before leaving and never going back.

I think that practising the religion is great if it can help a person grow into the state of consciousness of the woman I encountered. More importantly though, the experience lasts in my memory because of the contrast presented to me between the two people: Do I want to be more like the one or the other?


The dictionary definition of “atheist”, as a non-believer in God or Gods, isn’t accurate because there seems to be many people who think that the doctrinal teachings of religious institutions are cultural-based anachronisms – and so would be labelled “atheist” for not adhering to definitive religious beliefs about deities – yet believe in some higher spiritual power they cannot define.

There are several belief jumps in this sentence: The universe is a purposeless collection of matter that mindlessly configured itself by chance out of nothing, existing in time with causes and effects that had no beginning. A reasonable-minded adherent might be aware of the glaring uncertainties, but state it is more parsimonious to adopt a materialistic concept of reality than implant a God belief system as an unnecessary additional layer. Yet the certainty with which many proponents preach this position as absolute truth suggests a type of commitment witnessed in religious belief.

An agnostic would state that the ultimate “why” questions are unanswerable, so from a practical perspective we should just be concerned with the “how” questions. The materialist’s objections to agnosticism – based on the burden of proof for God being on the proponent – misses the point to an agnostic who has already ruled-out religious explanations of God, but not higher spiritual meaning and purpose to reality. A particularly zealous materialist might overplay the remit of verifiable facts by stating that opinions about ultimate meaning are irrelevant if they are not scientifically falsifiable – ignoring the fact that their own conceptual model for reality contains unfalsifiable conjecture.

My own instinctive opinion is that I believe religions share the same spiritual root, although the core message was often corrupted by the doctrines and institutions that arose. This is my personal version of “spiritual but not particularly religious”. As I am most familiar with Christianity I can be labelled Christian; however I do adopt a filter and select only what resonates with me, mindful that the scriptures were written and edited by early practitioners of the religion; and that the biblical canon was decided upon by the politics of powerful men in ecumenical councils, rather than being the unadulterated teachings of Christ. Looking back in history, the cruelties that have been perpetrated by professed followers of the religion represent the antithesis of the message of Christ; for real spirituality – the root of Christianity – is always inspired by love, joy, and peace.

Human Cyborg 2.0?

The implied current direction for the future is that all the functions of your phone will be migrated directly into your brain. The “screen” will be projected into your vision and options chosen by thoughts.

All vision, sound, thoughts and feelings could be recorded. You could download and replay any recording from your experiences, or indeed from any experience of anyone else. Communication by mindscapes would replace the spoken and written word.

Invented experiences could be created for you to replay or interact with.

Your perception of reality could be changed and selected thought patterns switched off.

Pleasure and pain sensations could be activated on demand.

Your thoughts could interact with an artificial intelligence that calculates the most efficient algorithm for any process you wish to undertake. You could instantly download data and skills; and have immensely augmented cognitive processing speeds.

Your mind could operate any physical body, humanoid or not. As only the brain would need to be maintained, you would potentially have ultra long life.

Of course a totalitarian regime could easily control their population by these means; and an empowered sadist would run amok in all the enslaved minds. Philosophically it makes me wonder what it is to be a human being, but in the realm of practicalities it makes me certain: humans must become worthy of the knowledge we are gaining.

Journal 2020-07-06

There is a greater chance of releasing the magic if not consumed by self-aggrandizement or conforming to other people’s expectations, especially if the current norms are harmful and wrong. Success in transcendent goals is not the same as success in negotiating positions of status in the current society, which of course will change with the relentless passage of time. It just so happens, however, that those people who were motivated mainly by intrinsic value, rather than their individual psychological desires, produced the best long-lasting examples of beauty and creative human potential.

The Colosseum

The Romans viewed the Colosseum as the zenith of civilisation, representing the natural order playing out, in tribute to the glory of the Gods. In the arena was unadulterated murder and torture for the entertainment of the baying crowds.

People two thousand years ago are us, just brought-up differently with different beliefs and living under different conditions.

Humanity has mostly now progressed to recognise the depraved evils that were socially accepted in previous times – yet a person of the time would have gone along with the accepted norm, assuming it was right because everyone else said it was right. They were wrong.

Unless you think we are currently at the zenith of civilisation, what are the great injustices of our time that are socially conditioned and accepted as normal justifiable behaviour?


What would have happened if the US was not the first country to develop the nuclear bomb? What would have happened if the Nazis, Stalin, Mao or the Imperial Japanese Empire had the bomb first? No doubt after numerous live demonstrations on target cities, the world would have been subjugated to the particular brand of sadistic totalitarian control.

As technology progresses, additional existential threats to humanity will happen more regularly – the most frequently noted in biological engineering, artificial intelligence, and nanotechnology. Technology is also making it ever easier to centrally track and control people’s behaviour, enabling the ideal conditions for any strain of despotic regime to thrive.

The pressure to evolve to survive is growing for humanity; given the stakes and the alternatives, we have to get better.

Journal 2020-06-01

I sometimes experience Hypnagogia, particularly when I am very tired, where I have vivid hallucinations in my mind’s eye in the period between wakefulness to sleep. I have no conscious influence over the arising images; I am just an interested viewer, with no mental presence internally voicing opinions or conclusions.

I also have experienced, although more rarely, a Hypnopompic state of mind between sleep to wakefulness, where I briefly have no memory of my life or where I am – I am just there. That sounds scary in the default settings of everyday life, to lose identity and a life story, but my overriding sense is feeling at peace, just before my thoughts come flooding in and layering everything on top.