by Adrian Hoad-Reddick
"You have..a familiar That posts i'th' air
for your intelligence?" Broken Hearts, John Ford,1663.
Hugh winced as the pain pinpricked the back of his eyes. He
wasn't sure what was happening on the Commercial frequencies of
telemind. Images blurred and fused amidst waves of interference;
the audio feed slurred and reeled out of synch with the image.
And that was unfortunate, for Hugh had been preparing to
transfer control of this telemind from his personal accounting
frequency to the Auction frequency to bid on the condominium on
outskirts of town, all without the inconvenience of having to
leave his own brain.
midday auctions were always a high point in
Hugh's day. He had developed a close affinity for the show's star,
Ted Action, the hilarious, and gifted auctioneer and wit and fast
talking supersalesman of frequency 127.44.
happening upon, quite by accident, a weather
report narrowcast in the lower section of town that had been
narrated by Ted Action. Action had been a last minute fill-in for
the telecast's celebrity.
Hugh had viewed
the show hundreds of times since then, and had
gained controlling rights to the narrowcast from the Municipal VCR
Frequency.The third of Hugh's three thousand and twenty-two open
telecommunication frequencies was aimed at Ted Action's on-air
frequency. After realizing that Ted Action did more than just the
midday auction, Hugh was determined never again to miss a program
featuring his favorite telecelebrity.
as the stereo dolby audio feed rapidly oscillat-
ed in volume, sometimes rising to screaming Newsbreak levels. Could
it be an override by the Diagnosis 'n' Analgesic (DNA)
Frequencies? Hugh closed his eyes, clamping the pain and reviewed
his DJVU Memory frequencies and was reassured that, in his
experience, the DNA frequencies had not been known to override
telecasts in order to numb pain inflicted from the Outside.
And that was
natural. After all, up to now Hugh had led a
relatively safe and healthy life and had never been sideswiped by
a remote-controlled three-ton courier van before today.
For all his
innate credulity, Hugh was even more skeptical
after quickly scanning the relevant data banks.
account of the DNA frequencies ever having
broken communications in order to go about their functions."
was true. Hugh Parkinson had never experienced such a trespassing
of the Outside on his teleconscious. In his opinion it was all the
stuff of fiction writers. He had laughed through a programme
broadcast on the SAGE network that had depicted methods of
integrating the Outside into the Teleworld.
frequencies instantly reviewed the programme and
the embedded reaction track. It swelled again, the intense dis-
tasteful reaction to the programme and this group of people who
tried to encourage subscribers to reject their teleminds. "You
as well shoot yourself in the head", Hugh's mind told itself.
SAGE network, the Society Against the Glorification of Entertain-
ment, actually believed that man had abandoned reason and was
amusing himself to death. Hogwash, Hugh thought again, grinning
the absurdity, while mentally shielding himself from the manifold
Connotation and Denotation frequencies which that word could and
would instantly open.
The SAGE programme
began to repeat itself. The embedded
reaction tracks guided Hugh's thoughts over and over again. He
felt like vomiting from the cumulative effect of the induced
distaste. Hugh was suddenly afraid for his life. A nightmarish
video flashed through his skull. Staggered images reached out and
involved his every sense.
teleimages are now capable of doing this!", his
his commonly used frequencies in an attempt to
discover the malfunction that was now making televiewing, and
therefore functioning, all but impossible. The Sports frequencies
were apparently dead. Hugh tried in vain to resume his kickboxing
match by mentally unlocking the controls of his joystick, trying
regain control of his fighter. He had known this to be impossible
before, when his opposing subscribermind had locked the frequency
to handle more immediate matters. Likely his partner had forgotten
to unlock that safeguard.
He tried reviewing
the last three minutes of the fight, which
incidentally had seen Hugh's competitor gain a definite eighth
round advantage before his telemind opponent had quickly logged
to apparently conduct urgent business. Hugh had suspected that his
opponent had logged out of the game in order to scan data banks
similar matches, trying to gain knowledge of Hugh's immediate
weaknesses and take the upper hand in the fight. Hugh had quickly
monitored all transactions of the opposing subscriber's telemind
eliminate this possibility. Unless his opponent had an inside
connection at Sports Frequencies control, Hugh was sure that he
given up the search and was reluctant to log into a losing cause.
Hugh's attempts at reviewing the contest were unsuccessful.
He quickly switched channels to his housekeeping, personal fre-
quencies. If the problem were a global one, it would be readily
evident there. Hugh scanned his biography file, reviewing
information that was always available and never known - unknown,
that is, since the last scan. He had to slow the operation of this
frequency, as it scanned constantly at an unconscious teleoperating
speed. The biography flashed across the screen embedded in his
HUGH RIGEL PARKINSON
HOME ADDRESS: 167 Huterer Ave.,
PERSONAL FREQUENCY: 1292.6 MHz - 1293.77 MHz
LOG ON: 08-25-1989
EXPECTED LOG OFF: 11-12-2011 (-)
LIFESTYLE FACTOR: -1.44 / YEAR
LAUGH FACTOR: 56
INTEREST FACTOR: 17
ESCAPE FACTOR: HIGH
-EXPLANATION: SAGE background, unknown frequency.
The bio went on to list Hugh's native data types and
programming languages, personality architecture, his commonly used
frequencies, his celebrities and data bank accounts and realm of
information retrieval. Hugh had absolutely no desire to understand
or even apply these statistics to his daily life. The routines and
habits that brought one through the day were performed on an
intuitive, automatic level. Every aspect of Hugh's existence was
fine tuned and choreographed to the constant flow of information
through his telemind. Until now.
pounded in opposition to the incessant hiss of
white noise. His videoscreen reeled and moved in and out of
focus. Its image flipped on its side, still accompanied by its
laugh track, only it had become a multi-layered and sickened laugh,
at once faster and slower than normal. The operating system of
Hugh's telemind, frantically trying to reestablish a reference
point in the sea of chaotic and random information, was
unsuccessful and was forced to surrender control of Hugh to the
Hugh was instantly
bombarded by eighteen automatic tuning
and repair frequencies emanating from eighteen different points
the globe ranging from Chicago to Melbourne and each working
untutored and self-willed. Hugh's body had gone into a deep coma
in an instinctive reaction to the rare traffic accident and now
telemind was following. The unnecessary frequencies had logged out
of Hugh's system and the fundamental DNA frequencies were taking
over. It was as if eighteen surgeons, physicians, psychiatrists,
physiotherapists and television repairmen had simultaneously
converged on the prone body of Hugh Rigel Parkinson.
Hugh was in
a deep coma for three months. The DNA
frequencies maintained a constant vigil, monitoring all of his
vitals and keeping him nourished and alive via remote nurses
(RNs). The communications links with his telemind remained dead,
and for all intents and purposes that was how the teleworld saw
- dead. Links with the sports, business and family frequencies
were severed. Monitoring Hugh's housekeeping and DNA frequencies,
illegal for all but the Producers, was not possible. Hugh's
insular world shut him off from all but the DNA frequencies into
which no one could probe.
discovered him in his comatose state only after
weeks of sending seekers out across the wavelengths and environs
the city. It was a teary-eyed and laughing Mrs. Parkinson who
watched the discovery of her son; a drama narrated every step of
the way by the seeker's built in celepersonality, accompanied by
mood establishing Musinfo and punctuated with commercial messages,
housekeeping interference and messages from a variety of other
sources. Mrs. Parkinson's basic internal operating system had
switched her telemind over to Sale of the Century at the precise
10:30:45 airtime. Only later, after an I Love Lucy rerun, did she
check her short term memory database and rediscover her son.
Mrs. Parkinson happened to be viewing another frequency when
her son awakened.
Hugh blinked his heavy eyelids twice and squinted at the
intense light shining at him from the ceiling. His mind wavered
and yawed with its first exposure to first hand experience.
"Where am I?", he thought. The voice inside his head was
flat, hollow, and unaccompanied. Normally, the thought "Where
I?" would prompt his operating system to search the appropriate
ultranarrow band frequencies to determine his precise location -
within a picohertz. The query did not set in motion his inter-
active telemind. It did not tell him where he was, nor did he get
any response from his mind other than wonder. A response to the
vast emptiness of his mind followed: "Where were the databanks
immediate information, the programmes, the celebrities, the
laughter, the directions....?"
Unknown to Hugh,
he had been cast, quite by accident, out of
the world of the telemind, into what the teleworld calls the
Outside. Hugh had unwittingly been abandoned by the electronic
crowds and was left to fend for himself.
The room in
which Hugh found himself was vast. It wasn't
unusually tall or wide, but rather possessed a depth that Hugh had
never experienced before. Sure, he had seen 3-D Courtroom dramas
and comedies set in open expanses, but Hugh had never before felt
the desire to physically reach out and feel the something that is
nothing but air. Probing out into space, his hands did not touch
the ceiling. He could not reach the foot of the bed, nor the
clinical, economical light fixture which hung over his head and
shone brightly into his eyes.
Come to think
of it, Hugh had never had to squint before. He
couldn't understand his need to squint, nor his desire to reach
out. He had touched before; simply reaching out with remotes and
seekers and mental feelers allowed Hugh to change frequencies and
find his bearings and locate others and read books, but always
there was the two-dimensionality of the teleworld. The teleworld
was focussed and run through a screen that was embedded into the
brain and which usurped the sensory data entering in from the
Hugh had been
able to see before now, he'd just never been
able to comprehend the visual data. Over ninety-nine percent of
the visual data Hugh had received since log on had originated from
the unseeing eyes of Hugh's fellow telesubscribers.
Hugh was overwhelmed
by the profound uncertainty of loneli-
ness, an emotional state he had never experienced before.
Wrestling with the comprehension of the new feeling and being
unable to think in teleworld terms spiralled him ever deeper into
loneliness and despair. His world was empty, except for a hollow,
painfully slow and dull voice. It followed his thoughts and echoed
his sentiments. It chased his mind, racing around for all its
flustered and reckless intent, tediously slowly and deliberately.
voice which looked vainly for a connection with the
electronic teleworld. Somehow, Hugh felt that his kickboxer had
lost that fight and he was certain that his condo on the outskirts
of town had been whipped up at a bargain price. For some unfounded
reason he feared for Ted Auction's life. They were genuine,
It wasn't for
a long while that Hugh became conscious of his
ability to will himself to move. Once he was aware of this ability
he cautiously inspected the room. It was a large room, clinically
white and lackluster, furnished with an antique porcelain
washstand, a small cabinet covered with various odd shaped bottles,
vials and instruments, and the small single bed upon which he lay.
The floor was warped and rippled tongue-in-groove oak. The room
had windows on three of its four walls, curtained in a heavy
drapery. A slice of dusty sunlight divided the room, changing
constantly in intensity.
from his surroundings. They scared him. There
was something alien and forbidding about their otherness; this
room did not seem to want to contain him. He felt unwanted, an
anomaly in an otherwise complete and full world, a novelty in an
His mind still
raced, looking for an answer and preferably a
funny one. Hugh closed his eyes tightly, scanning areas of his
mind which formerly had communicated with the art, the science and
the sitcoms of humanity.
He was shocked
to see the room still very much there when he
opened his eyes minutes later. It occurred to him that his setting
was a permanent one, one he would have to deal with. The room
pressed in on him. He pushed his face into the thick foam pillow
in an attempt to squeeze himself out of his situation. He quietly
wept. In doing so, he discovered what it was to feel wetness and
what it was to hear crying and cry at the same time. He could not
laugh at the crying. He couldn't even try. He managed, however,
to cry himself to sleep.
back a world very similar to that which Hugh was
accustomed to and for some time Hugh thought he had succeeded in
escaping the desolate vacuum of the Outside. The images of
dreamland raced through his mind in rapid and often illogical
sequences and once again Hugh could laugh at them. There was a
difference though. Hugh could not probe into this world with
cerebral fingers and order the information environment. He could
not, to use the archaic phrase, "turn the channels". This
ran on its own. Hugh dreamed of the world he'd been ejected from.
He dreamed of all he knew and all he had known.
was interrupted by a message repeating itself
over and over, drawing Hugh slowly to the surface of consciousness.
The light in the room had dimmed and at the foot of the bed
was a trolley supporting an old Sony television set on top and a
VCR on a lower shelf. Wires hung down the back and wound their way
to a baseboard receptacle on the far wall. An external speaker
quietly echoed the message illuminated on the small colour
television, Hugh's first screenful of rehabilitation to the