“Consent be damned,” said Dr. Fizzard with a sneer. “Ain’t no lawyers left to sue me with.”

By John C. A. Manley

Today, I finished the final edit of my forthcoming novella, All the Humans are Sleeping. Well, it’s at least the final edit before it goes to beta readers. When I receive feedback from them it will need another round or two (or three…).

But after twenty years — and who knows how many edits — what’s another few rounds?

Beta readers, if you didn’t know, means “second readers” (me being the first). In reality, they are the gamma readers, as I already read the entire 50,000-word novella to my son.

All the Humans are Sleeping,” he told me afterwards, “seems like a metaphor for the transgender movement.”

“How so?” I asked.

“The scene where the doctor puts the implants into Rebecca, so she can be connected to the metaverse, reminds me of transgender surgery.”

It wasn’t my intention, but I certainly can see the similarities between transgenderism and transhumanism.

Here’s one of those scenes from Chapter 2.06 (which takes place in an underground bunker beneath Baffin Island a few months after World War III):

“Consent be damned,” said Dr. Fizzard with a sneer. “Ain’t no lawyers left to sue me with. Anyway, she obviously wants this.”

“You’ve drugged her!”

“And if you try a stunt like that again, I’ll drug you, too.”

Dad rolled over onto his knees, facing Rebecca in the chair. He reached out with both his hands but found them immediately grasped by the two nightingalebots.

Much Ado About Corona: A Dystopian Love Story

“Please, Blossom,” he pleaded. “The earth will recover. Don’t… Don’t do this to yourself. Don’t become like… them.”

Rebecca’s mounting irritation with her father had quickly melted into pity, as he kneeled before her, held in place by two robots wearing black frocks and white bibs. It all felt so surreal and looked so pathetic. Why was he so afraid of the implants, of the metaverse, of the inevitable? She wished she could reach out to touch him, but the straps wouldn’t let her.

“Daddy,” she said. “Come with me. Come with me to our new home. Where Ma will be. The three of us, we can watch the sunrise while butterflies dance in the air.” Oh, this drug made her feel good. “Smell flowers again.” Why didn’t they give him the IV? “See shapes in clouds.”

He closed his eyes.

“It’s ready,” said the doctor.

Rebecca’s eyes looked past Dad, to see Dr. Fizzard leaning against the screen, tapping quickly.

“To unpathed waters,” he quoted, “undreamed shores.”

And then he pressed a large green button on the display.

The machine above Rebecca’s head began to purr like some wild cat let out of its cage to hunt a meal. She saw Dad look upward and gasp. She couldn’t move her head, but in a second saw two metal tentacles — one ending with a probe, the other a drill — drop down into her field of vision. She closed her eyes as she heard the octopus’ eight arms buzzing around her head and spine. She felt a long, cold piece of metal pierce the soft spot at the base of her skull. She heard buzzing at the sides of her temples, followed by a lightning bolt slicing through her frontal lobe, which was intercepted by a surge of euphoria rising up her spine.

The octopus’s tools danced quickly, its stings went deep. But the drug kept her from caring, or, at least, protesting.

It would all be worth it.

It had to be.

All the Humans Are Sleeping will be out soon. I’m aiming for my birthday on April 16th.

Please share this post (social media buttons below) with anybody you think might enjoy my forthcoming cybernetic tale about consent, artificial intelligence and the end of the world.

Image: Pixabay


John C. A. Manley is the author of the full-length novel, Much Ado About Corona: A Dystopian Love Story. He is currently working on the sequel, Brave New Normal. John lives in Stratford, Ontario, with his son Jonah, and the ever-present spirit of his late wife, Nicole. You read his full bio, find out more about his novel or subscribe to his Blazing Pine Cone email newsletter.

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