Manko & Nothing [#5]

Aston Revola
January 30th 2011

Manko was completely cut off from everything around him, virtually dead, buried alive inside of his own body. He remembered Zero's advice not to panic, but to no effect. He had no feedback from his body. He couldn't even sense any breathing, which freaked him out. Right now in his mind waves of questions tumbled over each other.

Were these people serious about living forever? Was this the way he was supposed to contribute? By being preserved like this? He pondered on the possibility of never being woken up. Even if Zero's team wanted to revive him, would it not be possible that they would fail to wake him up? How often had they done this before? Were there more people like him in other rooms? Were they trying to bring him back to the world at this moment? Were there any complications? Would they soon give up on him?

Manko panicked pretty much until he could no longer bear it. He had no sense of time. After he slowly regained his ability to think straight again, he noticed an odd thing.

In this sort of a panic situation he would normally start breathing uncontrolled. And he would always get itchy when nervous as well. And ironically, this in return would push his fear up to toxic levels. Right now this could have been an unbearable and incredibly frustrating kind of fear. He was nervous enough for a roller-coaster of complete bodily freak-out. Yet he did not have one little itch.

The absence of even that simplest itchiness must have somehow reversed his nervousness a bit, because Manko started to giggle. He laughed quietly at first, but soon enough his head echoed with virtual laughter. He wouldn't be surprised to be pissing himself right now.

After the panic and the laughter ebbed away Manko felt completely calm. So here was Manko, in a void in which his only source of stimulation was his own thinking. He could still bring up memories and he could still use his imagination.

As for memories, he wanted to make sure never to forget that which made him who he was. And although Manko did not think too much of himself and his achievements in life so far, he cherished many good memories he did not want to lose.

If there was no way of telling how long he would be trapped in this situation, he would have to think of something useful to do, something to pass the time and prepare somehow for the possibility of being revived many years from now, maybe even decades or centuries. He decided he was either going to slowly lose control and go crazy or he was going to turn this into a sort of game. He chose for door number two.

Why not think of a new and meaningful artwork based on his experience? If he would never wake up and die eventually, at least he would die doing what he loved to do most: thinking up new ideas. Yet if he would still wake up , many years from now, he would be completely prepared to start executing grand ideas in minute detail.

Suddenly, totally unexpected, he had an incredible idea. From deep within, an idea floated to the surface. An idea for an artwork so pure and simple, he couldn't believe it at first. Why had he never thought of that before?

At the emergence of this revelation Manko suddenly felt one, then two, then millions of pins and needles. He recognized this sensation. His senses were activated again! He was still unable to see as he heard a soft voice speaking to him: 'Hello there. My name is Nada.'

Manko was fully alive but still in a state where he could not control what he said or did.

Nada: 'You have been out for about three hours. But don't worry, you're fine, more than fine. We could not afford to compromise our operation, so we needed to take the milk out of your coffee.'

'Milk out of my coffee?' Manko was not sure his ears were picking up the right signals. And three hours? He had a feeling he'd been absent from the world for days.

Nada: 'As Zero may have mentioned, Bokor is our Nanotech Cleaner. He's one of the few that can clean up traces of Nanotechnology from your body for a complete hundred percent. The air that was blown into the dome, had nanoparticles in it that enter your body and then search and destroy all nano particles present. You just take your time to adjust to your senses and I'll explain.

You see, nanoparticles in the air behave like a gas, they do not settle like dust. When you breathe in gas, your lungs have various ways of stopping particles from further entering your body. Unlike gas though, nanoparticles, once inhaled, do not stay in the lungs. They continue to travel inside our body and can be programmed to stay in your brain forever.

There's a few companies that have understood the potential of this. You may not believe me but right now, about 20 different generations of nanobots are circulating through your entire body, especially your brain. The indexed information is continuously sold to the highest bidding companies.

Getting nanobots in the air and then out of you is fairly simple as you've recently discovered. Almost all sewers in the world have receivers that read out the excreted nanobots that pass by. The only way to stop the information flow is to never use toilets or showers. And then there are always new ways of reading out the data being developed, so peeing against trees is no guarantee for complete privacy, although it helps.

Some of these Nanobots can be activated to complete a specific task. I will not go into details, but trust me if I say that some people could perform some serious Voodoo on you, if they wanted. And that's what we did before we cleaned the Nanobots from your body.

The nano-particles that you breathed in while you were in the dome make the person inhaling them appear to be physically dead and that's exactly the signal that needs to be given off to the world. With some urine samples down a remote public toilet we will erase you from the grid.

So, now that you know all the details, it's time to bring you back to the living. Please stay calm and keep lying down for a bit longer. You will have to be patient to feel your muscles again.'

Manko could feel the light on his eyelids and did not dare to open his eyes just yet as the light was hurting his eyes. As he started to speak he noticed his mouth seemed unfamiliar with speaking and his tongue was uncoordinated.

Manko: Aw you a nuyse?

Nada laughed.

Nada: No, no, I'm not a nurse. I'm the philosopher on this boat. Just like you, I received an invitation from Zero, two years ago. When I found out what he's researching I was game. I heard you are an artist? That will be very interesting. Hopefully we get to talk about other things than carbon and fullerenes for a change.'

Manko tried squinting through his eyes and in the bright white flash saw an orange blur where her voice was. Red hair, no doubt.

Manko: 'I'm wungly'

Nada: 'Of course you are. I remember having the appetite of a bear just out of hibernation. I'll go ask our chef to prepare you a nice soup. We'll have our big diner in two hours. You just try and exercise your muscles a bit and I'll be back here in fifteen minutes.

Manko: 'Fwank hoo'

Nada: 'You're welcome'

The orange blur moved up, away from him and then disappeared as Nada left the dome.

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Should men be able to give birth to children?


Koert van Mensvoort: Is the artificial womb frankenstein-like symbol of (male) engineers trying to steal the magical womb from women? Or… is it a feminist project and needed to reach through equality between the sexes? I personally lean towards the latter. To me it feels like progress if a girl can tell a guy to carry the womb for a change.

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