Sunday, February 5, 2012

The Omega Upgrade

Several years ago, when bluetooth receivers for cell phones first started to appear, I stood in a grocery store listening to someone have a conversation with what seemed to be voices in his head.

Maybe we've gotten used to this phenomenon by now, but what if technology were to advance to the point where you couldn't see the bluetooth receiver? What if the conversations we have on Twitter, Facebook and Google+ began to dominate our world, drowning out face-to-face conversations?

What? It's already happening, you say? I think you might be right.

Today and tomorrow, February 5 - 6, my view of a not-too-futuristic world, "The Omega Upgrade," is available for the Amazon Kindle for FREE. Download it here now. If you don't have a Kindle, you can get a free app for your phone or computer.

And if all that isn't tempting enough, here's an excerpt!


The Omega Upgrade

A girl with purple hair and violet eyes was standing on the other side of the mango bin, talking into the air. “I don’t know why he wants to see you,” she said. “Can’t he just message you? For Pete’s sake, it’s 2019!”
Elaine was startled. It wasn’t so much what the girl said, it was that she was talking. Out loud.
“Maybe he wants to give you something. How should I know?” the purple-haired girl said.
Elaine shot looks around the fruit shop. Nobody but her and the girl were there, except for a short Indian woman over near the checkout turnstile. And she was out of earshot. Who was this girl talking to, anyway?
The fact that anybody was talking at all should have made Elaine happy, since the whole summer had seemed so quiet, everybody walking around in silence in what had once been a bustling Manhattan neighborhood.
Instead, the sound of a person’s voice filled her with an unexpected sense of dread, a foreboding that Elaine couldn’t quite place.
The girl, who looked to be about twenty, stared right through Elaine as she continued jabbering away at the air. Elaine retreated into a spot of shade cast by a large piece of tie-dyed fabric stretched over the fruit stand and pretended to get interested in the mangoes again.
It was clear the girl’s attention was somewhere else—somewhere far away, halfway around the world for all Elaine knew. She had never gotten used to this habit people had of staring at others when they were twittering with somebody. No, not twittering. Did they still do that? Maybe this girl was cogno-texting, or whatever they called it. Elaine sighed. She just could not keep up with this stuff.
Elaine stepped a little to the side to see if, maybe, the girl’s hair was simply hiding the plug. Nope, nothing there. She didn’t seem to have a web connector at all, but was somehow talking into the air like they all did when they were on line, or logged in, or whatever the hell they called it now.
She looked once more at the girl’s earrings, just ordinary glass beads dangling on wire hooks. What would a webplug earring look like anyway?
Elaine shook her head and turned back to the mangoes. She picked up one of the green fruits, a rosy blush spreading across one of its sides, and squeezed it gently, before lifting it to her nose. The unmistakable scent of ripe mango rising from the slightly soft fruit assured her this one was perfect. At least she could still pick out fruit the old fashioned way. Next thing you knew they’d be inventing a nose implant for the detection of ripening fruit.
Across from her, the purple haired girl plucked a mango from the large pile of green fruit and polished it on her overalls. Still talking, she took a bite straight through the mango’s soft green skin, revealing juicy orange flesh.
“Um hmmm…Um hm,” she said, chewing. Elaine stared. Mango juice dripped down the girl’s chin. Wiping at it and stamping a foot, she exploded: “Jeri! Listen to me!  This is getting way too complicated for talk. We have to switch to omega mode.”
The girl tipped her head sharply to one side, and seemed to go into some sort of trance. The mango, still held aloft in her right hand, one bite taken from the flesh, dripped orange juice onto the edge of the fruit stand. She looked like a statue, except for her violet eyes that flickered rapidly from side-to-side.
Was the girl having a seizure? Elaine watched in fascinated horror as a black fly approached the mango, hovered for a few moments, and then began to descend to the surface of the exposed flesh. At the very moment the fly planted its little feet on the orange fruit, the girl tipped her head sharply again, to the opposite side this time. She flinched, dislodging the fly, and took another bite of the mango.
“Feel better?” the girl asked, her violet eyes now steady and clear. “Good. I knew you would. Omega mode is so much better than the mindweb for these really emotional issues. I’m saving my debits so I can get the upgrade to Omega 2.0.”

Read the rest of the story here!

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