To have faith is to trust yourself to the water. When you swim you don’t grab hold of the water, because if you do you will sink and drown. Instead you relax, and float. | Alan Watts (1977)
“Think at me.”
You got it.
Telegraph, the world’s sole “continuous-wave silent-channel communication platform” and the largest U.S. government mandated communication platform, was the main reason the late 21st century was so hushed (apart from incessant frog croaking). Telegraph accounts were mandated by Congress’s Citizen Identity Oversight Committee for all Americans in 2070, and a few years later, most daily communication among people in the U.S. comprised silent head-to-head conversations.
Crazy enough, the quiet sprung from sound.
In 2066, musician Aden Mandolan embarked on a ten-month world tour with his band The Jungsters. Under the management of legendary concert promoter, Willin Graham, the band rocketed to stardom with thrilling, glittery and horsehead-laden live sets in support of their album The Introvert Speaks, which in early 2065 had topped adult alternative intelligent dance rock charts in six countries.
As fate had it, Aden’s wife, international body-hair supermodel Yasmine Marharmar, was able to book a shoot in Maui for the international body hair fashion webzine Topi, and meet Aden in Hawaii mid-tour. Their time on the island proved to be a turning point in human communication history.
Way before meeting Aden, Yasmine spent her formative years, like most kids, modding herself and her friends for fun, retrocoding DNA with human and animal stem cells that afforded temporary adjustments to aesthetics on the fly. She and her friends started small with the standard mods available in many off-the-rack mutations kits — bioluminescent skin for the prom, hummingbird wing-speed fingers for coding exams, and so forth.
She was also most talented programmer in her class, and by the time she graduated secondary school, Yasmine was an expert in hacking the store-bought kits to create ever more adventurous mods. Cheetah feet she grew for the St. Catharine’s Mother of Justin High School varsity track team’s 2056 Ontario championship run brought her the most local renown, and a full coding scholarship to McFishgill University outside Toronto.
From the moment she arrived on campus, she became difficult to miss. Some times she would show up in class sporting ears sprouted with koala hair, and other times she’d walk through the University’s main quadrangle in full zebra skin. Students unfamiliar with her (or fraternity pledges on initiation rites) would come up to her and pull on her mods, thinking Yasmine’s look was just attention pranking. When it became clear, however, the hair and skin were growing out of Yasmine for real, disbelievers became converts, and her legend only grew. By the time she was a Sophomore, she had created the degree of Advanced Follicular Programming, and every student knew of her and curried favor.
She became a Canadian media sensation at the end of her Junior year when a CBC afternoon television show called Hey, Eh! came to McFishgill (which by 2056 had become the largest university in Canada with over 780,000 students) to film a segment on the school’s attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the most simultaneous snow angels. The record of 8,962 at the State Capitol Grounds in Bismarck, North Dakota, had stood since February 2007, but only because no one had thought to break it until Fall 2060, when a student group at the school, Snow Angels Record Fellers (SNARF), launched a campaign to enlist enough volunteers for a February 2061 attempt.
“You’re like a human angel, Yaz. You need to join SNARF,” prodded Killian Jugduck, Yasmine’s extensible biology lab partner, as they finished their semester-project to create an olive-goldfish hybrid with pimento eyes that could live inside even the driest martini.
Yasmine’s joining SNARF brought wide attention to the group on campus, which then enticed enough students to the cause to put the record in reach. She spent the month prior to the big day creating a retrocode protocol to grow temporary wings on her back. Using a self-administered epidural containing monarch butterfly stem cells, her secret plan was to sprout big enough wings so she wouldn’t have to use her arms to create her snow angel. She would use actual wings, coded for direct control through a remote, dissolvable connection to her spinal cord.
On the day of the event, while covering SNARF’s record breaking attempt, the CBC Hey, Eh! crew, shooting random campus B-roll, came upon Yasmine making her snow angel. The reporter thought her wings were fake, and tried to pull them off, but they held fast. Yasmine draped her custom “wing slip” shirt down her back in the bitter cold to reveal how the wings connected to her body. An instant celebrity was born.
As coded, the wings shriveled and fell off in a bout a week, leaving no trace.
Though SNARF smashed the Bismarck record (73,954 students made angels), most reports of the event became all about Yasmine. The next month, the iconic photo of Ms. Marharmar on the quadrangle as she looked back over her bare shoulders through her wings, made the cover of the Ottowa Citizen under the headline “Eat Your Heart Out Icarus.” Inspiring envy among some of the SNARF leadership and the extensible biology department, Yasmine became the face of Canadian ingenuity, and began modeling her innovative body modifications for fun and profit.
Once out of school, she continued to develop and model her hybrid human-animal hair and skin mods, and began to patent and sell them. Out of her deep knowledge of DNA retrocoding, her main income ended up not being her modeling gigs, but rather a DNA self-recoding regimen called The Marharmar Method. The subscription service comprised a line of gels and electroshock stimulators that gave anyone, of any gender, the ability to shape, grow, eliminate and/or replace their body hair, permanantly or temporarily, using any hair in the animal kingdom, in the span of three days.
She did the ad voiceovers for all Marharmar Method products, and, for better or worse, the concepts of “Silverback Shoulders” and the “Zebragina” entered into fashion culture and lexicon.
“A true lion’s mane for the prom? No problem. Hairless to bushy chest in two days for a lumberjack competition? It’s yours. A zebragina and Silverback Shoulders for Valentines Day? Now that’s what you call animal attraction! And the best part is — The Marharmar Method is completely reversible, temporary… and gluten free!”
Yasmine met Aden on the set of Hey, Eh! in 2064. Aden, a California native, under the guidance of their manager and promoter, Willin Graham, brought the Jungsters on a Canadian tour, where their first record The Red Record had shot up the charts on the strength of the first single Pancakes In Paris. Yasmine was a regular guest on Hey, Eh! by then, her appearance that morning was to show off The Marharmar’s Method’s latest retrocoding lotion that enabled anyone to grow a temporary chinchilla coat for the winter.
Aden fell in love with Yasmine in the green room after she dared him to try to pull off the soft fur on her forearms. She fell in love with him as The Jungsters played Pancakes in Paris live. They married four months later in a small ceremony on a party boat on the exclusive Doner Island resort on Lake Labatts. The groom wore penguin skin, and the bride wore polar bear feet.
The middle of The Jungsters’ world tour brought the band to Maui, Hawaii, for the Boogaloo Mele festival,the largest music festival in the world. Boogaloo Mele also billed itself as “The Highest Concert In The World,” both for its mountainous location on the crater floor of the 300-year dormant Haleakala Volcano, and for the wild, hybrid purple silversword kush cacti that grew unfettered on the fields astride the winding mountain road to the venue.
For Aden and Yasmine, spending time together when either was working was rare. When they met up in Maui and wrapped their respective gigs, they decided to shut out the world and enjoy some high-altitude spiritual silence by camping on the Haleakala crater floor.
They set up tent on a far end of the crater’s plateau overlooking Maui’s North shores, and unzipped their tent the next morning after waking to find a Hawaiian volcano dwelling nene goose staring at them.
“Yasmine and Aden?” asked the nene.
“Yes…?” Yasmine approached the nene with caution.
“I am Lana-Ana. Pack light. Secure your camp and follow.”
Aden and Yasmine looked at each other, shrugged, and did as instructed, figuring this was just another of the silversword kush’s legendary head trips. They followed Lana-Ana for three days, sleeping little yet never tiring, living off cacao beans and wild throneberries, and crossed into the crater’s remote, desolate, obscured-from-satellites eastern sector.
The hidden edge of the crater was a prarie ruffling in soft winds under shifting clouds that obscured Haleakala’s rim. Lana-Ana motioned by shaking her foot in the direction of a path through the sprawling flatland. Yasmine and Aden could make out a smoke column in the distance billowing from the center of the roof of a small thatched-roofed yurt nestled among a debris field of large pink volcanic rocks on a bed of bluish-gray sand.
“That’s him so you meet. Mega is his name,” said Lana-Ana. “Mega Watts. Go. I’ll wait.”
“Wait,” Yasmine asked Lana-Ana, “the Mega Watts? This is where he lives?”
“In the present, yes,” said the nene. “If by ‘this,’ you mean this time of now.”
“Mega… Watts?” asked Aden, but Yasmine did not hear him, as she was already a few hundred yards ahead into the field.
As the sun set behind them over Haleakala’s western rim, Aden and Yasmine walked among jagged boulders and rocks tossed onto the soft sand by the volcano’s last eruption a few centuries ago. Reaching the yurt, the air was still; the only sound their breathing. The yurt’s entrance flap rustled open and they entered. Inside, as their corneal overlays tried to adjust to a fire-lit shadowed darkness, a voice, equal parts baritone and tenor, filtered through the shelter’s incense and firewood tinged haze.
“Hello, Aden and Yasmine.”
“Mega Watts?” asked Aden.
“And are you not?” asked Mega Watts, looking at Yasmine.
“Yes,” said Yasmine. “I mean, no.”
“Well, sometimes the question is the answer,” he said, and stoked the fire, sending flames high, and sparks skyward, through the smoke hole in the center of the yurt.
Aden and Yasmine squinted as they tried to discern the figure behind the fire pit in the center of the cabin. Each of their corneal overlay’s auto f-stop, contrast, and ISO controls were frozen, however, unable to patch a filter via an uplink. Their eye-rub reboots did not force-adjust the overlays to the low light, either.
“We are hidden from the satellite. Networked extensible biology doesn’t work up here, only your true mind,” said Watts. “Close your eyes for 30 seconds, put your overlays in standby, and let your pupils adjust to the scene the old-fashioned way.”
After following his orders, they opened their eyes and the cabin’s interior was clear as day. Mega Watts was crosslegged on the floor to the right of the fire. His skin was smooth except for his clean-shaven face, which was cragged with a history of deep thought.
“Lana-Ana brought us here,” said Aden.
“Lana-Ana gave you the choice to follow,” said Watts. “You brought you here.”
“How old are you?” asked Yasmine.
“One hundred and fifty six.” he said.
“1910? But your skin…” Yasmine said, stepping forward and touching his cheek. “It’s like a baby.”
“And yours is like, what…” Watts tugged lightly at a patch of spotted soft fur on the top of Yasmine’s hand.
“Snow leopard,” Yasmine answered. “The nights here are pretty cold. If I had your perfect skin, though, I don’t think I would have ever started modding mine.”
Watts laughed. “I worked in radio for a long time in the 20th century. Never saw the sun.”
“Radio?” Aden asked. “That was, like, in the air, right?”
“You could say that.”
“What are you?” asked Yasmine.
“A man of faith,” he said, hanging a kettle on a hook over the fire with an iron rod.
“Why did you call us here?” Aden was not an impatient person, but he appreciated a mission with a concrete end.
“I listened to The Introvert Speaks,” Watts said. “So I needed to hear you speak.”
“But what do want us to do?”
The kettle began to steam and whistle. Mega Watts removed it from the fire and poured its greenish beige liquid into small wooden cups. He motioned for Aden and Yasmine to come around to the other side of the fire and sit.
In the rear of the yurt was a raised bed made of wood on top of which was a pile of nene feathers. Between the fire and the bed was a large, three-foot-diameter, three-foot-high, brass singing bowl. A leather wrapped mallet leaned against the interior of the bowl, it’s wooden handle visible above the rim.
Mega Watts removed the mallet from the bowl and struck the bowl’s rim. The note pulsed a sound wave that hit Aden and Yasmine in the ears and gut at once, gaping their mouths and nostrils open, yet also leaving their hands steady, and their teas intact in their cups. Feathers from the bed exploded into the air, the yurt’s roof undulated, and the bowl’s tone propagated across the plateau, ping-ponged off distant peaks, and disappeared.
“We’ve mistaken our dominance over nature for cooperation,” Mega Watts said into the residual ringing of Yasmine and Aden’s ears, amidst quiet downward-floating feathers. “We’ve mistaken a pretense of order in chaos, for true harmony. Earth does not want to be your BFF.”
“Would that the Earth would sneeze us off, I’m sure she would,” Aden breathed in the mist rising from the top of his tea as the ringing in his ears receded.
“Of course,” said Mega Watts. “But only if the Earth ‘thinks’ as you do. How can you know that? To me, she just… is.”
“You don’t believe the Earth is alive and conscious?” asked Yasmine. “I do.”
“I don’t claim to know,” said Mega Watts. “All I know is what I touch. To the extent that all five of my senses are forms of touching — seeing is my eyes touching light; hearing is my ears touching sound; smelling is my nose touching air, I ask myself, ‘Does the earth touch me back?’ I do not know. But I do know we become either conscious of our touch or not. All we control is how we react to things. Our neurons are binary. One and Zero.”
“We are either aware of what happens, or we are not, then,” Yasmine offered.
“Yes. The physical world is a vibration of which you are not always aware. Sound is always there until you hear it. Light is always there until you see it. In this way, you are a singing bowl, too,” Mega Watts told them. “You each vibrate with unique harmonic frequencies. Your mallet is your consciousness. Your breath is a flute. Your feet are drums. No two people make the same vibration.”
“Is that how we make music?” Aden asked.
“No,” Mega Watts intoned. “That’s how music makes us.”
“Is the heightened awareness of ourselves in our time the reason why we’re so comfortable with playing with our genetic code and with extensible biology like the infolayers in our eyes?” asked Yasmine.
“Sure. The downside to awareness is that it leads to desires for control. Base consciousness itself is an evolutionary attempt to dominate nature.”
“Ah,” Yasmine drank in some tea. “To survive is to control.”
“Yes,” Watts threw a log on the fire and shuffled embers around. “But where we are now is also fate. Neither the Earth nor us controls time. Could we have happened any other way? We’ll never know, and it’s pointless to ask. Everything that will happen has already happened.”
“So the singing bowl,” Aden played with wisps of steam rising from his teacup, “it always sings, even when we don’t hear it?”
“Of course,” Watts handed the mallet to Aden, who placed it in his lap. “The bowl was vibrating before I struck it. Hitting it amplifies the vibration enough for it to sing in a frequency we can hear. When we speak — or think — we are doing the same thing to ourselves. That is, hitting our selves with a mallet to become audible.”
“Speech’s ‘mallet’ seems obvious,” said Aden. “Your tongue and your vocal chords and stuff… But what is the mallet for thoughts? How do we hit ourselves inside our heads?”
“One-zero,” brightened Yasmine. “Our neurons — they’re on or off. Your brain is the mallet.”
“Yes, Yasmine, the ultimate mallet. In reality, a billion little mallets,” Mega Watts said. “Complex and marvelous patterns and chains of neurons constitute our senses. But the complexity is built on simple yes/no and on/off information.”
Watts took a small bundle of sagebrush tied with twine off of a shelf to his right, brought it to the fire, and lit the end. Then he brought the flaming tip of the bundle to his lips and blew it out. A column of sage-laden smoke dissipated into the yurt’s air.
“Everything in the universe,” Watts said, “is capable of just two states: on or off. To the central brain the individual neuron signals either yes or no — that’s all. That’s why ‘Us versus Them’ is so seductive to most humans.”
“The mallet strike is a yes state,” said Yasmine. “I think I’m getting it, Mega.”
“Imagine,” said Watts, “if we could interface with each other the way we interface with our own thoughts.”
Watts rose, walked to a wall behind him, and took down a small canvas shoulder-bag from a hook on the wall. He sat back down, opened the satchel, and removed two brass bangles, placing one around each of Aden and Yasmine’s left wrists.
“These bangles are the same material as the singing bowl. Not everything in the world is given the gift of a mallet, but everything vibrates. These bangles will help you amplify your vibrations.”
“I still don’t know what to do,” Aden said.
“You will,” Mega Watts said. “Yasmine, what you know about beauty and code; Aden, what you know about poetry and sound — these things don’t change the world; they are channels through which the world sees the beauty in itself. All the noise of the world swirls and collects up here. Take a walk outside right now. You’ll hear the noise. Much of it is not beautiful. You can lessen the discord.”
Aden and Yasmine stood up and stepped out of the Yurt. Without the auto-adjustments afforded their eyes by their deactivated corneal overlays, the brightness of a low sun rising flashed their vision white. The landscape came into slow focus as their pupils tightened. Lana-Ana the nene waddled in front of them.
“It’s now,” Lana-Ana said, motioning back across the prarie, “we must return.”
“Well, let me say good… bye…?” Yasmine trailed off. Turning around, they found the yurt gone. She gripped the bangle around her wrist to make sure it was still there. Turning to Aden, they nodded at each other and followed Lana-Ana back to their campsite. When their extensible biology corneal infolayers booted back up under a hot satellite network, they saw they had been gone for three weeks.
“Don’t let Mega down,” were Lana-Ana’s parting words as she ambled back across the plateau and out of site.
Yasmine and Aden examined the bangles they were given, turning them slowly over their wrists, slipping them on and off. He turned to her.
“Uh, what the frack just happened?”
“We learned to listen,” Yasmine said. “I think Mega wants us to turn listening into a form of communication among people — to make the world a more quiet contemplative place. Not sure how, but that’s what I got out of it.”
When Yasmine and Aden arrived back home in Silver Lake, California, after The Jungsters’ tour ended a couple months later, Yasmine took an indefinite sabbatical from modeling to study the bangle’s properties. It must have a code, she thought.
She had never attempted something so complicated, though for Yasmine, complication always inspired the opposite of deterrence. Challenges always became missions, which in this case became destiny.
One night a few months later, Aden wore his bangle while recording a demo out in his converted garage studio. Yasmine, sitting at her converted second-bedroom coding station, twirled her bangle around her wrist while suspended over her wireless coding interface, and all of a sudden heard Aden in her head.
That’s not the note.
“What did you say?” she said out loud, turning around, expecting Aden to be at the door to her office. When he wasn’t there, she shrugged and turned back to examining the bangle’s code output.
Yes, yes. That’s the note. That’s how this goes, Yasmine heard Aden’s isolated voice again, only to turn around and, again, found herself looking through the empty space of her home office’s door.
“Grr,” she grunted to herself out loud. “That little Kirby cuke. I’m going to peel him for this.”
She walked out to the garage, into the control room of the studio, and knocked on the glass. Aden looked up. She leaned into the control room microphone and said, “I don’t know what you’re doing, but cut it out.”
“What are you talking about?” his voice came through the control room speakers.
“Whatever you’re doing — broadcasting whatever you’re saying in here into the house.”
“I’m not talking in here; just screwing around with some melodies.”
“I clearly just heard you say, ‘Yes yes. That’s the note. That’s how it goes.’” Yasmine stressed. “You’re denying you said that?”
“Well, that’s weird, because that’s what I was thinking to myself before you came in here to lean on my session,” Aden countered. “Why don’t you get out of my head?”
He draped his left arm over his guitar, resting his wrist with his singing-bowl bangle on the stings above the guitar’s single coil neck pickup. Not that you’re ever not, Yasmine heard him say, his lips not moving.
Yasmine narrowed her eyes and looked around the studio, then at Aden’s wrist draped over his guitar. “Whoa whoa whoa,” Yasmine said into the control room mic. “Don’t move your wrist.”
She moved from the control room into the studio and put her wrist bangle up against the neck pickup of a guitar hanging on the wall just inside the recording room’s door.
Shut up or I’ll flip your lip, she thought.
Aden double-taked, took off his headphones, and looked at her. “Did you just say ‘Shut up or I’ll -‘“
“Flip your lip,” they both said in unison.
“That’s it!” Yasmine exclaimed. “You couldn’t hear me from the other room, but I could hear you. But now I’m in the room and you can hear me thinking, too! It’s not a retrocoding question — it’s a hardware question…” She took her wrist off the guitar on the wall, walked over to Aden, reached out to the guitar he held, and put her bangle over the bridge pickup.
HA! She thought. THAT’S IT!
“Hey, not so loud!” Aden shouted out, shaking his head.
“I need guitar pickups,” Yasmine said.
“Spares are all over there in the roadie case,” said Aden, still tweaking in his head from Yasmine’s internal exclamatory.
Yasmine went into Aden’s guitar workshop, and fused a guitar pickup to the bangle. Testing the bangle pickup combo with a voltage meter revealed she had created a hot passive power circuit using the electrical differential between the pickup’s wound coils and the nerve endings in her wrist.
Ha!, Yasmine thought. Marconi did more than just play the mambo!
She had unwittingly tapped into the audible vibrations of human thought energy. She rigged up a second bangle for Aden.
What hath we wrought? Yasmine thought to Aden and smiled. Her voice was crystal clear, her lips unmoved, and he shook his head in disbelief. Sound is the true human wave. That’s what Mega Watts was getting at.
“It’s a telepathic telegraph,” Aden marveled.
“I know, right?”
So, what’s the deal, Aden thought to Yasmine. You’re in my head now?
Not a hundred percent, Yasmine thought back. It only works with active audible thoughts. If you think in pictures, you just get static, and I haven’t found the subconscious audio spectrum yet.
You’re so hot, Aden reached out and stroked Yasmine’s arm as the sound of static rushed through her head. Watch out, Sheriff Marharmar, this telegraph’s sayin’ that there’s bandits a-comin’!
“What have we wrought, indeed, Deputy Mandolan?” Yasmine laughed aloud.
The primary 21st Century communication protocol was born.
Telegraph’s “intuitive spiritual tap-in” turned each person’s signature vibration into a two-way radio, where they could “think” messages to each other over short-wave frequencies. The bangles translated the waves into silent, transmissible thoughts.
For a few weeks, they played around with the system, mostly using it to talk to each other while shopping on opposite ends of a store, or if they had questions for each other on opposite sides of their house. On a Tuesday thereafter, The Jungsters’ manager Willin Graham stopped by to check up on Aden’s demos.
At one point in the session, Aden stopped playing and began nodding his head and gesticulating into the air.
“What are you thinking about?” Willin asked Aden, who looked up and laughed.
“Ha! It’s more like what am I thinking through?”
Aden told Willin of his and Yasmine’s adventures with Mega Watts, human vibration, and Lana-Ana the nene. By that point, Yasmine has forged a few spare bangle pickups, and Aden slipped one onto Willin’s wrist.
Are you willin’? Aden thought through his bangle to him.
“Whoa! What the flick!?” Willin cried out, hearing Aden in his head but not seeing his lips move. “This is alienware!”
Just then, Yasmine entered the control room and her voice came into his head. Hey Graham, welcome to the silence. Try it yourself. Touch the yellow button on the bangle, and then think to me.
“Hm, ok.” Willin pressed the button and closed his eyes. Hey, Yasmine, my silverback shoulders made me crave bananas. I want my money back.
From the studio, Aden and Willin heard Yasmine laughing out loud in the control room through the glass.
Later over dinner in the house, Willin started scaling up the operation. “You guys realize what you have? This is, like, trillionaire level stuff.”
“We’re not interested in profiting off human vibration,” Yasmine said. “We’re gifting this to the world.”
“Gifting, eh?” Willin shook his head. Artists and their altruism-arrhea.
“Hey! Your connection is still hot,” Aden said.
Yeah, be a gifter not a grifter, Graham Cracker. Yasmine thought to the group as they all laughed.
“Look,” Willin continued. “Let me at least get you some permits for this stuff. You’ve basically turned yourselves in pirate radio stations. You can only run around playing on the broadcast spectrum for so long before the man comes down on you.”
“So, what’s next?” Aden asked.
“I’ll go to D.C. and take care of everything.”
After minimal research, Willin found the entire spectrum of “human vibrational frequencies” lay on an unowned part of the broadcast spectrum just left of the regulated dial. He put an application in to the FCC to buy the rights to the “entire human vibrational frequency spectrum.”
“So, Mr. Graham, you’re tellin’ this committee that this Telegraph thing works because there’s radios in everybody’s heads?” FCC chairperson Evander3478 Atayoel of the superstate of Washaforegon needled Willin at the subsequent public hearing.
“And this is whose theory you say?”
“The renown philosopher Mega Watts, sir.”
“Hoo! Mega Watts, that jugglehead?” The Committeee room erupted in laughter.
“Yes, him, and my client Aden Mandolan of The Jungsters, and his wife, Yasmine Marharmar.“
“Marharmar? As in the Marharmar Method?”
“My wife’s a new woman since she started with that zebragina stuff,” Chairperson Atayoel smiled. “But if I hear that Pancakes in Paris song one more time in a Georgetown brunch line… I don’t know.”
“Look, let me just show you.”
Atayoel took a breath. “Well, ok, Mister Graham, Let’s see what we’re dealin’ with here.”
Willin produced a bangle pickup from a canvas shoulder bag draped over his chair. The crowd ooh’ed and chattered. “Put this on.”
A congressional page stepped forward, grabbed the bangle, and brought it back to Atayoel through the throng of photographers and reporters on the floor between the committee dais and witness table.
Atayoel slipped the bangle over his left wrist. Willin made some adjustments to his own bangle, and lights on both blinked in sync.
“Ok, Mister Chairperson,” Willin said, then closed his mouth tight. As the room fell silent, he looked direct at Atayoel, and thought at him. Bet you didn’t know your wife showed me her zebragina.
“What!” Atayoel was ready to launch over the dais at the witness table and give Willin a purple nurple, but then he looked around at the blank stares of his fellow committee members and the audience, who had no idea what had just transpired. He sat back down, and took a long audible breath into his microphone. “Well, government can’t have everybody in the country goin’ around thinkin’ at each other behind our backs. What do you want for the whole Telegraph system, Willin?”
“Five dollars,” Willin said.
“Well, that seems like a barg-”
“Plus two cents for every thought on the network.”
“Ahh. Hmm. Ok.” Atayoel paused, and looked around at the still blank, silent stares in the room. “Sold!” he shouted, and started dancing around the dais and pointing at each person in front of him, while sing-song chanting “Government owns your thaw-awthts! Government owns your thaw-awts!”
Military engineers right away began to refine Yasmine’s technology, secured every existing singing bowl in the world, and also took over all singing bowl metal mining operations in the country. Concurrent with this effort, Congress’s Citizen Identity Oversight Committee required all U.S. citizens to register their vibrational short wave frequency with their local Identity Oversight Office. One year later, every U.S. citizen was fitted for a mandatory bangle, and the Telegraph interface became the first superneural communication system in history.
The U.S. government had, at long last, realized its dream of free, direct broadcast into the heads of citizens, whether narrowacasted to individuals or splatted out to the entire country at once. As Telegraph took over almost every social interaction, “Think at me?” replaced “How about dinner?” in many romantic provocations. Yasmine and Aden, meanwhile, just laughed at how their innocent Hawaiian volcano crater camping adventure changed the way the world saw itself.
Mega Watts, indeed.