Voice from the Void

A whisper emanates from the dark




We sit on my porch on another night, Canute’s Wall brooding over us. The mist becomes steady rain as a terrible, loud storm spews the ocean into the sky over our heads. The streets flood and the trees that are left bend in the whirling good winds.

We were found guilty of intentional Content Code avoidance as well as malicious use of illegal devices to publish content without Owner permission. The latter crime is a new one, enshrined in <span style=”text-decoration: underline;”>State v. Milton &amp; Nuthead</span>. Our sentence is harsh, the harshest the Adjudicator can apply because she considers the nature of our assault on the Code and WordPay to be unprecedented and of the most insidious nature. Many consider it the most important case yet under the Content Code. My great-grandfather somewhere smiles down at us through his bright peephole in the sky.

We each are given ten years of compulsory service to Ghostwriters, Inc. We will be contracted out by Ghostwriters to a content corporation yet to be named. As soon as one of the seven corporations signs us up, we will be sentenced to create works derivative of the stories, plots, characters and themes they say they own. We will be indentured servants to a content master, producing minimum assigned quotas of acceptable content on deadlines that cannot be missed without extension of our sentence. After six years of this, we are up for parole. Meaning we must proofread others’ Ghostwrite content. All ten years subject us to house arrest.

Look on the bright side, we’re told. If you are lucky enough to have a content corporation job you obtain access to the most advanced interventionist and cosmetic health care in the Wetlands. It’s not just the everyday health maintenance most have.

A Tartarus drone has been positioned permanently in the air between our houses, tracking our authentication codes. This restraint drone alerts the Conflict Monitors if we move more than fifty yards from our land, putting our favorite content burial ground, among other favorite places, well outside our reach. We are banned from the wall. Detention for violation of our restraint will be swift, with possibly years added to our sentences.

But something has changed. From time to time now, emissaries come from the narrow alleys and cramped, intentionally unpowered shanty towns where the drones cannot yet pierce the mingled masses to identify users down to discrete individual codes. It is not the Highlands but close enough. The emissaries give us hope.

They tell us of the spreading movement. Freewriting orgies have broken out at Canute’s Wall up and down the coast and at its mate on the west coast. Mass, spontaneous shout-outs erupt in the Highlands, where citizens will suddenly stop what they are doing, look up to the skies and the drones and the aerial constellation, and then shout in unison the best lines from a poem that grabs your heart, sometimes one of my great-grandfather’s poems, or from an ancient fable or classic song, and then disappear back into the alleys, shanties and woods. Mob scrawls are starting, where packs of twenty or more using my do-it-yourself stainer write impromptu paragraphs and dialogue for an original story on streets, sidewalks and buildings that is then continued free-form by other mobs in other neighborhoods and regions. The spontaneous stories are pieced together by word of mouth and then told at night around the fires in the camps. Debtor Reformatories and Content Courts, in the Wetlands and beyond, are backed up with citizens refusing to pay WordPay, like the conscientious objectors long ago withheld war taxes to their governments. The mutinies are beginning to cause problems for the already financially strapped state.

Last night, something new happened. Out of the darkness popped a dozen citizens who stopped in that lone spotlight between my house and Dinah’s. They began to chant “Weownus” rapidly and repeatedly, thrillingly, their numbers swelling, and then they at once retreated back into the protective night, their boots scratching against cold, cracked concrete. All night similar chants rise up to the sky from other parts of our neighborhood.

Weownus flash chants like this begin to break out all over in the cities in the Wetlands and Highlands, even in the Content Protection Zones themselves among small groups of closeted believers. The movement has begun. It will not be Lemmadroned.

Dinah and me, we’re planning to leave the Wetlands for the Highlands soon, as soon as we can move the last of my grandfather’s content to a burial ground and before the state razes my home. It will not be easy to escape our sentence or our Tartarus overhead. But we will.

I am memorializing these events, putting it all down in writing, with a pencil, in real letters, sentences and paragraphs, with punctuation and formatting. So we can remember what happened. So we can remember what we’ve lost and where we once were. Our new beginning.

Because … “Weownus. With a missile to the heart.”™

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