The night sky above Prague was as black as a seam of coal. Only the historical centre – the Old Town and the Lesser Quarter – emitted a weak greenish fluorescent glow in the darkness, like a decaying tree stump. The quiet life of evening stirred in the medieval lanes and squares, on the stone Charles Bridge and its watery mirrored shadow on the surface of the Vltava, and in the gardens of Petřín Hill. Groups of people and androids were walking around and conversing in a neighbourly way on street corners. Seen from above, the gas streetlamps looked like a group of sea creatures, anemones and molluscs living in the depths of the sea. I left behind this ancient living pearl, this still slowly beating heart, an intersection of old trade routes, and disappeared with my machine into the dark sky of North Bohemia.
For a while I followed the course of the Elbe and then at one point I steered slightly towards the east. The landscape of the Central Bohemian Uplands came into view in the infrared spectrum on the windows of the cockpit. Here and there shone the light of a small settlement or a lone building in the clearings of the forest massifs. Amongst the silhouettes of the volcanic hills I found the one topped by a dark castle with a tall tower. I flew around Bezděz in ever-descending circles and eventually landed on the narrow northern ledge near the entrance gate to the outer ramparts.
I looked at the radar screen for the last time and checked the airspace above a sleeping Europe. High above me flew the occasional cargo ship on transcontinental routes. In addition to the sun’s energy, these solar sailboats also made use of the stratospheric air currents which surrounded the entire planet. At much lower flight levels there were lit up sporadically the identification markers of passenger planes and residential capsules. Gradually everything became calm and quiet, and with the exception of several never-sleeping automatic space rockets, which vertically intersected the horizontal coordinates and global zones with their flight paths, there was nocturnal peace across the world.
Lightly armed with a paralyser against any wild beasts, I went outside to check out the area around the machine. In the complete silence of the fresh spring night you could feel the air currents flowing around the top of the hill and the enormous stone tower. They bore the damp smell of the sea where they had originated – the Baltic, or the stormy waves, salty spray and windy areas above the Bay of Biscay.
After I had walked around the fuselage and checked the anchoring of the closed pincers which held the helicopter in place and also bore its entire weight, I then sat for a while on the edge of the rock ledge, leant my head against the metal body of my dwelling and gazed into the darkness.
There a memory awaited me, trapped in this area for decades by a spell. In my side pocket I found a small wooden pipe and in amongst the tobacco was a lump of hashish. I lit it, inhaled, held it in for a moment and then slowly exhaled the fragrant smoke. At some point at the end of the last century, I had been in this area with a good friend of mine, a photographer. We had stayed in a hamlet down below the castle. As twilight approached we took our cameras and a bottle of rum and followed the stations of the cross, past the small shrines, up to the castle. At the end of the village we were joined by a cheerful young tomcat. Our black friend ran ahead of us, only to come straight back with a friendly raised tail and rub his head against our legs.
And so we arrived at the area in front of the first gate. Dusk fell over the landscape of the lake. The October sun sank below the ridges of the hills and in front of us opened up a view into the purple depths of the evening. For a few moments we were able to take in the full data stream of information, the overarching supra-logical units, the clusters of associations and feelings – this flash of poetry was so powerful that we were swept along by that great flow, by the outgoing ocean current of an overripe summer mellowed to a golden brown and the approaching misty continents of autumn (its cool territories coming up behind the whisper of soft rain and driving before them a last warm wave, a tide of sun-scented air) – affected by it all, we silently walked around the castle and opened the rum as we sheltered on the southern slope under the castle chapel.
The little devil came at us like velvet out of the darkness and we stroked his purring, miaowing, whiskered head. He jumped into our arms, climbed over our shoulders and settled down at the back of my neck warming me like a living collar. We drank the cheap rum and gazed into the darkness above the tank park which at the time had the charming name of Young. We shared some of our salami with the cat and silently listened to the endless whispering of air currents in the battlements, the rattling and scraping in the beams and rafters. Heavy waves of warm air flowed around the ridges of the roofs, buffeted the weathervanes and whistled in the chimneys.
My friend and I – together with our feline companion – pressed ourselves against the wall, our backs warmed by the sun which had now set but had left its thermal imprint in the stones, and watched as the darkness shimmered in darkness. We listened to the song of the leaves in the wind-blown treetops. The landscape stirred far below us. Autumn was arriving in waves. The wind howled in the forests, like enormous animals fighting. Rivers of air streamed around. Whirlpools swirled in the reefs of the last warm night, and anything light was tossed around in their stertorous mouths and flew upwards towards the heavens. A sea of cold flowed slowly over us.
After we had finished the rum, my friend threw the empty bottle far into the darkness and we both felt we were saying goodbye to the summer. After that we climbed down from the hill and our black friend left us at the first cottage, disappearing behind the planks of a rickety old fence.
In memory of that distant night, which had been waiting here for me for so many years, I knocked the jagged remains of the old block from the cold pipe and climbed into my metal “barracks”.
I locked the door and activated all of the automatic guard perimeters. I lay down, stretched out my pleasantly tired body and sprawled blissfully across the bed. The night lights of the support systems glowed blue in the dark cabin. I closed the portals and lay there in the dark like a wrinkled old husk. I projected onto the retina of my eye some thousand-year-old texts from my archives, from collections, ancient artefacts of human thought from my personal library. Many years ago I had got rid of thousands of volumes of books and music recordings. I had everything digitized and handed over the originals to the conservation archives of the planetary institutes for the preservation of human culture, science and history. My entire collection now fits on one silicone plate, where my entire personal history is stored for millions of years in permanent atomic bonds. All of us who live on the planet today derive our knowledge from a constantly updated bank of information which is located on the planetary network and is now so enormous that it is only through the help of suitable search engines, filters and specialized androids that this suprahuman memory, which with each passing moment grows beyond any comprehensible scale, can be used in any meaningful way.
Any kind of object, instrument or work of art – a picture, a book or even a meal – can be created in a few minutes in matter synthesizers. All of this new-age form of intellectual ownership and the virtualization of property and production tools had its roots in the original older internet and the first generation of 3D printers. After the Period of Rupture, this sector took off at such an explosive rate that today’s form of common ownership of all the intellectual and material potential of the planet is the ultimate foundation of our planetary existence.
I pressed the ceiling panel and switched off the image on my retina – how many times had I fallen asleep with the lights of the support system shining in my eyes, looking like some kind of robot from an old sci-fi film. I slept with my eyes lit up, like a deep-water fish.
I leafed through the pages of old books and for a while my thoughts turned to memories of old friends who were no longer alive, of girls I had once loved.
Sometimes when I am overtaken by tiredness and I fall into a light old-man’s sleep for a while, I dream. And these long stories, full of confused passions, take up only a few seconds. At least that is what the dimly glowing clock in the corner of the ceiling panel tells me.
When I awaken from such a shallow sleep, sometimes – not entirely conscious – I will whisper into the dark, “My friend, are you sleeping?” Once, part of me still immersed in the dream, I even cried out desperately, “My love!”
Activated by the urgency in my voice, the automatic communicator intervened and within a fraction of a second evaluated my situation as critical and connected me to the global emergency network. For the first time in my life, an endless tunnel of human voices and radio signals opened up to me, a thousand conversations ceased and for a few seconds the entire system was listening to my breathing.
By that time, I was already wide awake – suddenly this fizzing human sea, the beeping signals of cosmic probes and the crackling of the ionized solar wind, all of this disappeared and the quiet, gentle voice of the android from the control centre informed me of my current situation. He repeated to me all of the latest medical data that had been shown to him and assured me that I was in fact fine, even from a psychological perspective. I apologized to him and for a while we exchanged pleasantries until I had the feeling that I should send this artificial being a bottle of cognac or a box of cigars.
Since that harmless event, I can scream and shout in my sleep as much as I want – the machine’s memory has carefully stored my full vocal range, typical sound expressions and corresponding emotions in such detail that today, if I had the absurd childish need to do so, I could not even pretend to lie.
Nonetheless, in memory of this experience, I use the voice activation of social and community networks. Sometimes at night when I can’t sleep and the air outside is haunted by ghosts of memories and old feelings of remorse – then I’ll connect to the network, define the parameters of the connection and then I might quietly call into the dark, “Japaaaan! Are you there?”
This question can be heard by anyone in Japan and the neighbouring areas connected to this social network. Anyone who is interested will immediately see my personal profile and interests on their retina – anyone who wants to (though these days practically no-one wants to when they read my date of birth). But if they are still interested in making contact, the voice translator connects them. Most of the time, no-one verifies anything – we leave that to machines. Fortunately, there is a high degree of mutual trust on Earth today. We’re just people after all, and so if someone wants to chat and someone else is similarly inclined, they’ll take them up on the offer and talk to each other. The support system translates everything in real time and the voice emulators are capable of perfectly replicating all of the characteristic features of the speakers’ voices. Mostly though –at least, this is what I do – I keep the sound of the people’s original voices and read the translated text on my retina.
In this way, people’s conversations transverse the oceans, fly through space to nearby planets where teams of technologists and biologists now work in settlements; we chat together across various time zones and seasons. We’re mutually connected to everyone else, and even if we don’t personally know one another, the proximity of our voices tells us all everything about everyone. All of our needs, wishes and pains – all of the joy and sorrow, our personal past and our present and our expectations, everything is displayed in human speech and so we all have a divine awareness of everyone – it is really Me and You. The whole world fits between these two words.
Japan first responded to the words, “Are you there?” via several cheerful young schoolchildren who immediately disconnected again after some polite greetings. They were followed by the crew of an oceanographic ship who wished me a good day. Several women wanted to start a conversation – but I took fright. Typically they would operate with silences and gaps between meanings and everything would ultimately still focus on sex, circling around it without them even being aware of it. Little girls, grandmas and saints – I’d talk to them happily and without inhibition, but I had always been scared of those women on heat. I had only known a few women in my life who were really internally integrated, complex and rich personalities, and it had been a joy talking to them.
(Yes, I know, I know. Any imperfection and weakness in others is only caused by the imperfection and weakness in ourselves. We… We are the world.)
Because it’s been years since I’ve found myself in a sexual psychotic rapture, when even the traces of my beloved creature, her footprints on the wet sand, washed by the waves, were an object of eroticisim. I gathered my wits and compassion together, and with the help of a few casual phrases, as the women themselves became aware of my unwillingness to connect, one conversation after another ended.
This time I was saved from my morose thoughts by an old friend, “the Jap”. There was a boisterous greeting from the other side of the globe (multi-voiced, cacophonic, animalistically archaic and eager): “Froggy, froggy, froggy!” I was touched and soon I was crying with laughter. My friend had shaken my hand across the Earth’s zones, oceans and continents.
This wild man, multi-being and talented eternal child, when he reached the age of eighty, he took advantage of the technological revolution that was underway and built up a group of avatars – creatures grown from his own embryonic cells.
I, in my modesty, use an exoskeleton, which is more than enough for me.
The “little Jap”, in his gargantuan nature, now walks the Earth surrounded by clones of himself. He is multiplied by droves of female androids and irritatingly beautiful elves. Naturally, the monotreme also has his heterosexual ambitions and so he also lives with several tall, big-nosed girls with serious Nordic personalities. That’s what he likes – he himself is a black-eyed male mother hen with a “Mediterranean” southern disposition. This prodigious queer band also contains young warriors, samurai – naturally, all of them had to have devastatingly beautiful narrow girlish faces and correspondingly thick dark-pigmented phalluses. The “Jap” is a broad-hipped matron whose men’s trousers conceal a hideous “cuntarse”, as they say (from an anatomical perspective this is, of course, a well-developed, muscular rectal ampulla). At one point a long time ago when he moved to Nippon, by way of farewell he raped me with his grandad’s walking stick complete with metal tags of the places he had visited: Čadca, Pezinok, Lomnický štít, Bánovce nad Bebravou, etc.
The “Jap” (apart from being first and foremost a chubby, doe-eyed lad) is also a fearsome, burly shogun raining down thunder and lightning – at this point living in Okayama Prefecture on a mountain near the port town of Takamatsu.
He has the whole area to himself. He lives there with dangerous tigers which he provokes and admires in his bloodthirsty way. Before he knew what to do with his bull-like strength, he used to go to the park; he made his way through an extensive arboretum, a botanical garden, to the middle of the tropical gardens where there was a small hut. There he whipped one of his young androids with his cat-o-nine-tails (only to immediately regret it, kiss him and, with his face hidden in his sensitive whipped buttocks, tearfully whisper into the silicone anus, begging from him a thousand times what he had done to him).
Thankfully, with age his libido decreased and so he cloned a giant carnivorous plant into whose cups he might place a hand or a leg – though preferably his cloaca – and the fleshy, drooling soft jaws sucked him, fondled him and “fondled” him like a faithful old mastiff.
Thank God he grew old and his bloody appetites left him for good. According to his latest messages, he’d had his old body completely reconstructed and his DNA replicated in several new, superior individuals. He now wanders along the seashore, multipilied in groups of clones and fairy-tale characters, a cordon of security androids keeping tigers and other big cats at a safe distance.
The sun sinks into the grey-green mists above the horizon. The tiger prince, dressed in mandarin silk, drinks whisked green tea in a golden pavilion in the middle of a lotus lake, looking out with his telescopic crab eyes into the distance at the bloody finale of the hunting expeditions of his beloved beasts of prey. In the bamboo groves, striped bodies flash by and drag buffalo torsos to a hiding place. The evening roar of the tigers merges with the horrible shriek of peacocks which are settling down to sleep in the treetops at the edge of the jungle.
At the summit of a mountain which rises high above the seasits a large white statue of Buddha. His fixed oriental eyes are wandering somewhere inside, within the glowing depths.
These days I prefer to communicate with “the Jap” using text messages. During voice or even video communication, his monstrous ego, multiplied to around sixty beings of varying age, sex and human or fantasy form of existence, his “entity” is unbearable over a long period. He tried being a tiger with a human mind, but this perverse attempt quickly ended in dysfunctional and incompatible chaos. Another sad gravestone in the “Jap’s” personal cemetery. He is the only person (apart from the mad psychoterrorist Dr Outsideman, who is part of the research programme for interstellar flight and lives on Charon, one of the moons of Pluto) who regularly visits his own grave, and in the case of the immodest “Jap”, this obviously meant the whole graveyard.
My human nature simply doesn’t allow me to talk quietly to a crowd of people, miaowing kittens and happy monsters who have one common composite personality from which one furious superhuman child talks to you using many faces, eyes, grimaces and gestures, many different mouths and jaws, many different voices and shrieks. Each of our conversations gave the impression I was standing on a podium, talking to a crowd about the most intimate personal matters and in return your friend, the crowd, told you about beautiful flowers and “bushido”.
A light spring shower drummed on the metal body of my helicopter. I pulled back the blinds and behind the window the contented night wept quietly. I was gazing at the dim display on standby on the ceiling panel when a memory came to me. It was some time at the beginning of our millennium and it was raining then too. I was travelling in a rumbling metal tram from Anděl to the Lesser Quarter. I was sitting on a red laminated seat, watching the raindrops trickle down the window. From behind me I heard, “The river of love flows on around us, wade into the river of dreams and come nearer…na na nanana nan a”. A pure, heavenly voice was singing this song, which I had listened to on the radio when I was a child. I tried to turn around inconspicuously. At the very back of the tram stood a young lad, a man of maybe thirty, who was also watching the drops of rain run down the window and singing. My God, what a voice he had. As if he were some kind of angel. Every tone of his voice, every word embodied the feeling of certainty that everything would come good in the end. We were travelling like the reflection of light on the ocean in the eye of an unknown God.