弹指 – 爱情

“这。。这不是真的。。“ 我的声音在颤抖着,犹如跳针的唱片。

“嗯。她是和你分手了。性格不合,本来也是很正常,你就别难过了。” 电话另端传来的男声,温柔中带点硬刺。

“等等。。等等,她为什么不和我说话,我想问个清楚!”

“她没空,就拜托我来和你说,大家干干脆脆不拖泥带水。再见。”

我怔住了。在这年代,换个对象和卸载个app一样速食。 我和她,也是从那上面认识的。干脆利落,活在当下,本就是这时代的象征。

我挂了电话,怔怔地望着荧幕。


“你的分手请求已被通过了。“ 男声从电话响起,四个大小不一的圆圈在荧幕上滚动。

”哦,好,谢谢。” 她纤指扫掉了跳窗通知,继续浏览下一段的爱情。

(启发自Google Duplex, 有着自然语音和对话功能的虚拟助理)

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Angel

This short story is part of the series in the style of Black Mirror Season 4, Episode 2: Arkangel.

Angel


He has been spending the whole night out there. She must be scared right now, my lovely baby. He thinks to himself, going through all the possible combinations of terrible fates that might befall her. Did she get kidnapped? Or she fell into a drain and was calling out for help? The very thought shivers his bones.

He breathes faster and faster, his thought more and more muddled. The moonlight shines through the leaves of the trees, leaving streaks of shadow behind him. He ignores the yellow notification of raising heartbeat and flips up the Angel app. She is just there, how do I not bloody see her?

Target acquired: 50 metres ahead.

Angel beeps. He turns around, moving each step as lightly as he can in order not to startle her or anyone around her. He couldn’t tell anything in the darkness, but his Angel keeps flashing on his retina.

40 metres ahead.

30 metres ahead.

20 metres ahead.

This is it, don’t you run away from me again. His attention can’t be diverted away from the flashing notifications, keeping an eye on the nearby map. A few people stroll in the park, occasional joggers come and go. He says to himself, I’ll forgive everything and anything as long as you come back.

10 metres ahead.

He can see her, or can nearly smell her perfume. He can make out her silhouette despite hidden amid the trees. She seems to talk to another guy. Another guy!? He can’t stop but start running towards her. With his fist clenched.

5 metres ahead.

1 metre ahead.

“Hey, what are you doin-” Her word turns into a scream when his fist lands on the bastard standing besider her. He can feel one or two tooth was dislodged. The guy stumbles and falls down. Before the guy can react he lands a flurry of blows on his every visible body part.

“Please stop, oh my god someone please help…” He turns around to look at her, but to see a pixelated image. The black and white mosaics move frantically on the face-part, her voice pierce his eardrums.

You have found your Angel. Congratulations!

He grins. This app really delivers its promise – Meet new and interesting people nearby. He has been stalking her since he swiped her right five days ago. He was timid at the start, but the app kept motivating him and gave him useful tips and newest updates of her whereabouts. It is really worth the price, he thinks to himself as he punches her boyfriend to death to remove her pixelated image.

Toys

This short story is part of the series in the style of Black Mirror Season 4, Episode 1: USS Callister.

 

Toys


“To the infinity and beyond!” A booming voice resonates in the room.

“That’s enough for today Buzz,” I yawn while spinning a cowboy hat, “we don’t need to put up the act while he’s off.”

A figure in a spacesuit flies down from the table. With his boosters lit, he twirls and spins in the air a few rounds before landing. “I knew it, Woody, but I just can’t help it. I gotta practice it before my head gets twisted and stuck in this helmet again.” He taps his space helmet with a wink.

My stomach churns. “Don’t remind me of that scene again.”

“Nah buddy, cheer up! Not that you saw that for the first time!” Buzz pats me at the back. “Wanna get some booze?”

“It’s okay, I’m fine.” I look at the clock. 7:50pm. I motioned to Buzz. “He will be online soon.”

Buzz claps his hands heartily. “Well well, when did we get a cry baby here?” He zips in the air and lands back to the table, “always look at the bright side of life~” he continues whistling and signals the rest of the group to stay at where they ought to be.

“Potato Head, look, your eye is on the grou– oh shit, I forgot you can’t see, two steps in front of you– Hey, hey! Slinky, don’t get tangled up now, Andy don’t like to play with a spoilt slinky! Everyone brace up!” Buzz is busy with his work while I am walking back to my station.

“3, 2, 1… show time!” Buzz lands on the floor and turns off his boosters just before a hulking shadow walks in.

“It’s party time, Woody!” Andy, or I call Mr Andrew Jovinski back in my workplace, comes into the view and shouts at me. Andy, in the form of a boy of seven years old, grabs me at my feet and lifts me up the floor.

Before I realise anything, my world is spinning around me. I see the bed, cupboard and all other toys around me. I also catch a glimpse of Buzz’s iconic green suit, although I always joke he ends up in a “vomit bin”. Well karma always pays you back.

Andy smashes me hard on the floor after an eternity. I feel my head being pressed down by a weight.

“Woody, how much I like you…” the weight shifts slightly, inducing a painful but tolerable sensation at my neck. “but I just hate you whenever I see you in the office.” The weight rocks back and forth, and to my horror I realise it’s Andy’s toe.

I think Buzz is totally frozen at the spot. He learnt the hard lesson when he was punished the first time. Unable to comprehend what happened, Buzz tried to escape with his booster but Andy hit him with a baseball bat, and duct taped the whole suit until he suffocated. Since then, he had been our de facto leader and orientated us in the new world. It is just common agreement between us – whatever happens to anyone, don’t move, don’t react.

“My play does not need you, little Woody.” Andrew’s tone changed from a kid to his usual voice in the office. Cold and unwelcoming. I should not have employed him in the first place despite all the warnings. Were he not the smartest programmer I have ever seen, I would have stopped the tragedy today–

Last thing I heard is the loud snap of my neck.

“To the infinity and beyond!” A booming voice resonates in the room again.


 

 

Writing Prompt: Black Mirror S4

The brilliant sci-fi series “Black Mirror” just aired its 4th season on Netflix. As beautiful as the previous three seasons, the six episodes illustrate the interaction between modern society and emerging technologies, particularly on the dark nature of humanity and the unexpected consequences of such interaction. In this season, the topics focus on the technologies of AI, cybernetics and implants, and virtual reality.

I’m going to attempt to spin a few tales about the themes in each episodes, and invite you to join me if your writing hand is itchy. Of course, limited by time I can’t explore the intricate issues in a detailed manner as the original does, but I hope I am able to take one idea from each episode and tell a decent story.

The links are below for easy access in the future.

  • S4E1: USS Callister – 12 Jan 2018 – Toys
  • S4E2: Arkangel – 11 Feb 2018 – Angel
  • S4E3: Crocodile –
  • S4E4: Hang the DJ –
  • S4E5: Metalhead –
  • S4E6: Black Museum –

Until then, live long and prosper!

Keep your old chargers

As we discussed about the final fate of electronic waste (e-waste) produced nowadays (Do E-waste really get recycled?), a new report from the United Nations provided statistics to give us some insights.

Reported by UN’s International Telecommunication Union, in 2016 we discard 44.7 million tons of electronics in the forms of smart phones, computers, devices and cables. Only 20 percent of it is known to be recycled. The value of the whole gigantic dump is estimated to be $55 billion.

One takeaway is that 1 million of e-waste is just power adapters and chargers. Your laptops and phones ship with them, often in their own standards (Dell’s adapter may not be used with Lenovo’s laptop, for example). It emphasises the need of having a standard across the companies in order to reduce the need of producing chargers that we don’t need.

Read the whole report here.

Small World in Motion

SubIf you look hard enough, beauty exhibits everywhere in nature. Nikon’s annual photography contest of microscopic things is all about taking pretty pictures of objects that can’t be observed ordinarily. The scientists used ingenious methods to film their objects of interest, and oftentimes the end result is as breathtaking as the scientific output itself.

Just look at this:

(Crystals of lactic and salicylic acid forming during drying a drop of a medicament used for removal of common and plantar warts)

Or this:

(Perspiration on a human fingertip)

See the full list of winners here.

The One who bends them all

“You must run, my child.” His voice is weary. “There is no place for you in this place anymore.”

I stare at the floor, voiceless and silent.

The old man turns to the only window in the room. I follow his stare, seeing rows of high-rise buildings along the horizon. Ocean roars at their base, waves clashing and breaking into numerous foams. The buildings glisten under the hot sun. They look like a hand with fingers extended out of a bathtub.

I know these are government-issued dwellings to the qualified citizens in the country. No one ever understands the rules to deem if one is qualified, or questions the rules behind the selection process. No one at all until I am born.

A few drones, operated by third-world country workers imported by the constructor, zip past the view. The tropical sun starts to get unbearable, even with the full blast of the 5-Ticks air-conditioner.

“You must run. Away from this country, as far as you can.”  He repeats, with a harsher voice.

The government has painted themselves into a corner. They started 58 years ago a law to rule opposing parties out, to silence dissident voices. The artificial impositions of race, gender and height and weight have been proved to be a great barrier to anyone who dares to stand out. Now, the rulers are forced to abide their own rule and play their own game. For I am born as the Fluid.

Water does not have a rigid shape, instead it follows the shape of the container. This is called the fluid property. I heard from Grandpa that when I was picked up at the orphanage, the nurses were terrified, for they had no idea which diapers should I be assigned to. The blue male or the pink female? No one knows because my sign of gender keeps changing constantly. They could not recognize my race as well. Chinese, Caucasian or Tahitian? No features are distinct enough to make a conclusion.

The Fluid one, the ability to change gender and race…

I storm out of the door. I hear the blaring announcements of trains breaking down repeating every minute. They wanna bend the rules , and I will be the One who bends them all.

Inspired by the recent election fiasco in Singapore. Read more here.