Five thousand drones were looking for him. They hovered over the city in a persistent hum, sniffing the twilight for a particular electronic signature they were programmed to read as his, no idea who or where he was or what he looked like. They were programmed to detect what he was thinking.
They could read every signal from every device. Everything was connected. Every computer, keypad, monitor, SSD, appliance, lightbulb, plumbing fixture, door lock, garage door, thermostat, security camera, etc.; by rigid and harsh laws, everything every human being touched was connected, every action communicated to the immense databases that categorized, analyzed, and judged. Every word or brushstroke from every artist was in particular noted. The Authoritarians brokered no deviance. Their databases programmed the drones to look for specific signals that had been targeted as indicators of inappropriate thought – in particular, words as they were being written, images as they were being created – and then to move rapidly in. Anything tagged to his writings were tops on the list.
But he had a way to hide.
The device was so illegal its detection would result in his disappearance into a permanent quarantine facility first established during the pandemics of half a century earlier; “unhealthy thinking” being the Authoritarians current version of a pandemic. He had determined the best time to use the device was between 6:30 and 10:30 PM – that was when residential sections emitted the greatest electronic signatures, the density of which could help hide him. Every apartment in his building and every building around him was crackling with activity. He took the 1 inch by 2 inch by .35-inch device out at 6:50PM and placed it on his keypad, effectively blocking electronic impulses from getting through and storing them. He moved his fingers rapidly across his keypad; each position represented a letter, each series of strokes represented words. Every sentence added to his newest paper. He’d been working on it for several weeks, no more than 30 minutes a night in case the block turned out not to be perfect. Tonight, he finished the paper and prepared to upload it.
He was not a writer by profession; he was a social scientist. Almost a year ago, he had become an outlaw by publishing a 10,000-word thesis with the following title and synopsis:
Factors Contributing To Homo Sapiens Evolutionary Failure
It broke the status quo in several ways. First, it suggested that diversity, which The Authoritarians discouraged, was actually good. Second, that acquiescence to change and adaptation was actually good. Third, that ideas of inferior peoples were a superstition. And lastly, it suggested that human beings under the leadership of The Authoritarians would one day be supplanted by The New Ones.
The New Ones, who had begun emerging with the pandemics would replace Homo Sapiens, just as Homo Sapiens had replaced Neandertals.
He had written three more papers after the first; this would be the fourth. Each reinforced and documented the premise. Each paper had rapidly gained support, including many other scientists who wrote their own papers confirming the premise. Increasingly, people were coming to believe that human’s maladaptive behavior could be changed; they could coexist with The New Ones. Just not under The Authoritarians.
This, of course, put The Authoritarians right out of their water.
He effected the ‘send’ command; the new paper began attaching itself in tiny snippets to every electronic signal it could find. Every time a light switched on, a channel changed, a toilet flushed, every keypad stroke, refrigerator opening, toaster popping. Every signal had a bit of the paper hiding in it. Even if a drone sniffed it, it couldn’t track it, and certainly couldn’t track it to him.
Took about five minutes to upload. He hid the device once more. He wanted to peak out the blinds covering the windows to see if drones were moving towards him but knew such an act would look suspicious. He sat, quietly, and listened. He could hear their hum in the background. There was no change in them. After a while he got a beer from the fridge. He wondered if The New Ones drank beer. He wondered if there would be any cross breeding, like there was with Homo Sapiens and Neandertal. He wondered if The New Ones, so unaffected by any Authoritarians malfeasance, knew of his papers. But he also knew, from their point of view, that it wouldn’t matter.
All my life I have had to learn to do things differently. To see the world differently.