“So like, what do I need to do to become a full member now?” I said. “More surveys and stuff?”
NOT EXACTLY. YOU MUST UNDERGO A HUNDRED HOURS OF OVERWRITING, FOLLOWED BY A TRIAL OF YOUR PEERS WHO WILL DETERMINE IF YOU’RE WORTHY OF BECOMING A MEMBER.
OVERWRITING IS LIKE AUTOPILOT, EXCEPT IRL.
“So you’ll give me my own robot to use at home? That rules.”
NO, NEO. YOU WILL PHYSICALLY BECOME OUR ROBOT OUT IN THE WORLD. AND YOU WILL DO EVERYTHING WE COMMAND YOU TO DO.
“Uh, not to be rude or nothing, but you’re kinda harshing my buzz here. This is starting to sound kinda weird and stuff. What if I don’t want to do what you command me to do?”
YOU ALREADY AGREED, NEO. WHEN YOU SIGNED THE NON-DISCLOSURE AGREEMENT.
“You said I didn’t need to read it!” I was getting like super pissed now.
WE THOUGHT YOU WERE A SUPER SMART CONSPIRACY GUY. YOU ALWAYS JUST SIGN STUFF WITHOUT READING IT?
“I mean… yeah,” I said, thinking about it, “Doesn’t everybody?”
YES, IN FACT. IN ALL THE TIMES WE’VE DONE THIS, NOBODY HAS EVER READ THE AGREEMENT.
“So like you’re tricking people and stuff…”
NOT AT ALL. WE’RE LEADING YOU TO THE TRUTH. AND YOU ALREADY TOOK THE RED PILL, NEO. THERE ARE NO BACKSIES NOW.
“Fine,” I said. And the second I said it, the goggles went totally dark. A blinking cursor appeared, and it typed out the words:
GET SOME REST, MY MAN. YOU’RE GONNA NEED IT.
That night, I couldn’t sleep good and stuff. I kept thinking about the City, and the kids driving robots, trading conspiracy theories for real money. It seemed too good to be true. I knew I had to get in on that action. It was like my destiny or something.
I kept imagining what kind of gigs they would make me do during my 100 hours of overwriting. I figured it would be like delivering groceries, or handing out flyers or assembling Ikea furniture or something. That seemed like no big deal, considering what I would get in exchange and stuff. Full membership in the Conspiratopia Project. My own apartment, and all the free games, pizza, and Dew I could handle. That’s what they said right? How could that go wrong?
But then I got to worrying if once I got there like all the free pizza and Dew would be laced with like more edible microchips and nanites and stuff… My brain started going crazy a little bit, like panicking and stuff, and was like trying to get me to figure out how to get the microchips and the nanites out of my body. How would I do it? With like magnets or something? I was gonna need a frickin’ lot of magnets, I figured.
When I woke up the next morning, I wasn’t panicking anymore. I guess I was just like super tired last night, and that’s probably why I got freaked out. I was actually feeling more like excited, you know? Like ready for adventure, and stuff. Ready to hit the frickin’ big time! I could just feel it: I was gonna be rich. All I had to do was whatever they told me. Piece of cake.
Anyway, so there I was finishing up my morning dump. I was finished actually, but was sitting on the bowl still, scrolling on my phone, checking my messages and stuff. Suddenly I heard like that voice again, but it was in my head and stuff this time. I wasn’t wearing VR goggles or anything now.
WRAP IT UP AND GET DRESSED, NEO.
“Whoa, wtf. You guys are telepathic now?” I said, wiping.
IT’S NOT TELEPATHY WHEN WE’RE ACTUALLY INSIDE YOUR HEAD, BRO.
“I guess not,” I said, standing and zipping up.
“Um, wait, so does this mean you guys can see everything I do now then?”
EVERYTHING YOU DO, SAY, HEAR, THINK, OR FEEL, YES.
“What about this?” I said, letting out a huge burp.
“And this?” I managed to squeeze out a fart on command.
YES, NEO. AND BEAR IN MIND THAT THIS IS ALL BEING RECORDED AND WILL BE REVIEWED DURING YOUR TRIAL TO BECOME A MEMBER, MY DUDE.
“Oh, uh, sorry,” I said.
IT’S OKAY. WE’VE SEEN MUCH GROSSER STUFF. GET YOUR JACKET AND SHOES, AND LET’S BEGIN.
“Okay,” I said, putting on my sneakers and jacket.
“I guess? I really don’t know what to expect, so…”
“Anyway,” I added, “we’ll have to get past my mom first. She’s probably in the kitchen. She might be in one of her moods…”
WE WILL HANDLE EVERYTHING. LET’S BEGIN.
“Cool,” I said. “Let’s roll.”
There was a beep, and then a flashing yellow AUTOPILOT light showed up like inside my eyes or something.
Whoa, I tried to say out loud. But I couldn’t hear myself say it, and I could tell my lips didn’t move either. This is freaky.
WELCOME TO OVERWRITE MODE, DUDE. YOU WILL BECOME ACCUSTOMED IN TIME, BECAUSE YOU’RE SUCH A BIG GAMER. YOUR VOCALS AND VOLITIONAL ACTIONS ARE NOW SUPPRESSED, AND WE WILL TAKE OVER FROM HERE.
Roger that, I said to myself, and we walked upstairs. I say we, but it def wasn’t me doing the walking. It was my body but it was like sleepwalking or something, except I was totally awake and stuff.
My mom was there in the kitchen alright, but she had her back to me, and was doing a crossword puzzle over coffee, like usual.
“Morning,” she said, without turning back to look at me. I wasn’t sure if I wanted her to or not. I thought it was better if we just slipped out the door, probably.
“MORNING,” said the computer voice through me, but like using my voice and stuff. It was weird as hell.
“You’re up early,” she said. “Heading somewhere?”
“YEAH, BIG JOB INTERVIEW, ACTUALLY,” said the voice using my voice.
“That’s great,” she said, turning around to look at me. “And so soon. I’m proud of you. Where’s the interview?”
“IT’S THIS NEW INTERNET COMPANY IN TOWN,” the voice told her. “YOU HAVEN’T HEARD OF IT.”
“Well, good luck honey. That’s exciting! Text me when you’re done, and tell me how it went.”
“WILL DO, MA. LOVE YOU.”
“Love you too, sweetheart! That’s so nice to hear, and such a long time since you told me that. Have fun.”
We grabbed the car keys and split.