The party was in full swing. Countless bottles of wine had been opened, the cheese and crackers were sliced and crumbled, the grapes picked over till all that was left were three soured raisins on a skeletal stalk, and the side tables, countertops and bookshelves were littered with empty plates. The line to the bathroom extended down the hall into the living room.
Everyone was chattering. The nervous anticipation of what was about to happen overwhelmed anyone’s inhibition and even the most reserved guest, the person who never goes to parties for fear of being ignored or at a loss for conversation, was embroiled in fervent discussion. Tonight was going to be incredible.
A make-shift stage had been prepared at the end of the living room. The home’s classic decor was temporarily upended by clamp lights, scrims, speakers, and a web of wires tangled behind furniture that connected everything onstage to a laptop which was miraculously controlled by a rubber coated thumbdrive jammed into an open portal.
Outside it was the end of the day. Inside it was the beginning of a new world.
From the sound system speakers Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries erupted into the room. The iconic music long ago symbolizing a triumphant launch into hell called everyone’s attention. Men in suits and women in elegant dresses rushed to find seats or empty laps around the stage. This was the moment. They were going to witness something dangerous, something banned, something extraordinary that only a handful of people had ever seen. It was delicious. Just being present in this moment christened them as disciples of the future, and they all knew it. Without looking at each other they all felt mystically linked.
Across the street, Patricia wondered what was going on in that house. She’d received obligatory invitations to parties in the past, but always declined because those people had no morals and God only knows what indecent behavior occurs after the liquor starts flowing. But she didn’t get an invitation this time. And strangely, though the house was obviously packed with people, the street was empty of cars. Where did all those people come from? They’d been arriving on foot from different directions the past two hours. Yet Patricia didn’t recognize a single one of them as neighbors.
Clearly there was something suspicious about this. And as a patriotic American she felt it was only natural she call 311 to let the authorities know about this event, especially in case something should go wrong. Or a window get broken, or a bottle of beer was smashed in the middle of the street.
Five blocks to the east and at a parking lot several blocks to the west, the black vans, patrol cars and urban tank waited for orders. Inside each vehicle sat men and women indistinguishable by their combat gear, night goggles, helmets, and radio receivers. Silently. Patiently. Each of them waiting to hear instructions in their ear buds. Each one of them doing his or her job, whatever it was going to be.
On stage the show ignited into a rap tune and the hero of the play, The Prophet Play, leaped into the center of the arena, diving into a rhyming syncopation that enthralled the primmest of the prim and whitest of the white. The time of musical prejudice was long past as this hip-hopping rap was telling it the way it really is, the way CNN, Fox, MSNBC, PBS, BBC and all the other letters were no longer allowed to tell it. This was the truth.
A simple command whispered in their ears, and as one, the men and women of the black army began their advance.
Patricia was sweeping her front porch, watching the neighbor’s house, when she saw the vehicles turn the corner to her left and then heard the vehicles squeal around the corner to her right. Their arrival and siege upon the neighbor’s house was so sudden she was nearly knocked off her feet by the thunderous crash of assault vehicles.
BOOM! The front door exploded as the lights went out, plunging the house in dark, sending party guests screaming, wine glasses flying, furniture tumbling. Smoke bombs exploded out of nowhere, making it impossible to breathe, the acrid burning fumes gouging out eyesight and ripping apart lungs. The black army descended on the party with a fury no party guest could have ever imagined.
The party goers’ nervous anticipation was vanquished by horrible, unspeakable dread. They were caught. They could beg for mercy, they could try to escape, maybe they could buy their way out of this. They could plead innocence, they could betray the others to bargain for freedom. In an instant, all hopes for the future were blighted. The end, so soon, was at hand.
Patricia peered over her front porch railing to watch the well-dressed women and men, people with money, herded into the black vans. They were blindfolded, restrained at the wrists, and tied to each other. She kept her head low, to be certain she wasn’t seen. No use getting involved.
The black army tore through the party house, searching for electronics, searching for computers, searching for the thumbdrive that had inexplicably been pulled from the laptop during the raid. It was nowhere to be found. But one soldier did find an interesting piece of technology: It looked like a bluetooth, with a hook that holds on to the user’s ear, but it had a small metal plate that connects to a person’s skull, and the logo was unmistakable – GOLIAD BCI.
One of the party guests was using a Brain Computer Interface manufactured by Goliad. This little computer gizmo would tell the army everything it needed to know.