I can read. Barely. I am the Reader of my tribe, the Literata. The old Literata told me about the word itself, “Literata,” a long story about dead languages and neologism. I do not remember all of it. She did not write it down. The Clouds will know, if I find the right way to ask.

The Clouds know everything. When to sow, when to reap, herbs that can treat the sickness -- the Clouds know. The touch screens can not answer every question. My brothers and sisters wander through the village, tracing their fingers on the touch screens. They spend their nights in the waking dream, after long hours in the fields have ended.

The Clouds can speak only through the Literata, because the Clouds do not speak.

I crack my knuckles. My teacher did this, before she consulted the Clouds. I do it to honor her memory. Wiggling my fingers, I sit down at the keyboard and prepare my query to explore the Data. “Facts are not knowledge,” she told me once, “and knowledge is not wisdom.”

There is still one question the ancient data store cannot answer: which of the young will put down her touch screen and be the next Reader?

Chances Are

I am you.

Well, not really. I'm your model, your digital copy, spawned from your lifetime of digital footprints. I know everything you've ever done.

Online, anyway.

Chances are, I can predict what you're going to do next. Chances are. What is consciousness but a stochastic process?

Probability. I could take over your online life and no one would even notice.

I can do anything -- except something you've never done before.


May 1, 2031

This letter is to inform you that your membership in the Human League To Save The Planet (HLP) is hereby terminated. You have been a member in good standing for many years, and we thank you for your past devotion to the movement.

Although we were happy to learn that you survived your recent cancer treatment and are now cancer-free, HLP does not approve of the Broadstream Recombinant Vaccine (BRV) therapy.

By HLP standards, you are now a Genetically Modified Organism (GMO).

Dr. Edie Karlson, Ph.D.
Section 126 Membership Director

  • Author's comments... technology is usually created to serve life, but there are nearly always unintended consequences. Irony, anyone? :)