Fiction: The Gravity Of MindNet by Brian Joseph Johns
Warning: This story deals with some mature situations. Reader discretion is advised.
Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
This is a short story I wrote in all of an afternoon on February 24, 2021 - the very day of its release. It deals with a (fictitious) societal element with which I'm sure many of us are familiar, though this is not a reference to Freemasonry, Rosicrucianism or any ideology that liberates rather than oppresses in the truest sense of the word. Anything that doesn't use coercion, abuse or harassment to keep us from thinking, speaking and expressing freely while remaining ensuring that a person remains responsible for such forms of freedom and their own person. We are very, very close to dealing with similar issues, especially with the advance of technology in the area to which I refer through this story. Let us hope that by progressing into a liberating form of communication that we don't reveal a hidden monster that's been with us all along.
The Reality Of MindNet by Brian Joseph Johns
Doctor Abendal paced the stage as he delivered the closing statements for his presentation, the bald patch on the top of his head reflecting the hot lights cast down upon him. Droplets of sweat slowly made their way down from the top of his head, weaving their way through wrinkles and hair alike. He pulled a kerchief from his lab coat pocket and wiped his forehead before continuing.
"As you can see, the technology behind this revolutionary device is based upon well established principles in science by way of physics, information theory and neuro-biology. It has applications. It's practical, and most importantly, its very safe. So so safe that we're going to give you a live demonstration," the projection screen behind him rolled up into the ceiling of the lecture hall and several assistants wheeled a platform out onto the stage that appeared more like a magician's prop.
On the platform sat a red overstuffed chair and beside it, an end table upon which sat the device that had been the center of Doctor Abendal's presentation. The device was circular, around the same circumference of the human head. Doctor Abendal headed over to the table and picked up the device.
"This is the MindNet device. Actually its a mass produced third generation copy of the prototype, ready for us. Tonight, we're going to demonstrate this device for you. I'm going to ask my assistants to select six people in the audience. Each of you will write down a single word. Anything that pops into your head. The more uncommon the word, the better. Then they'll collect the paper you wrote those words upon, fold them up, deposit them in a black bag and bring them up to the stage," Doctor Abendal directed his assistants who then went into the audience and did as he'd indicated.
The assistants then returned to the stage, one of them handing Doctor Abendal the bag.
"Thank you Denise," Doctor Abendal accepted the bag, holding it up for the audience.
"Now, I'm going to ask Neil Statner to come down to the stage. Neil is a potential investor in MindNet. Not confirmed investor I remind you but potential. Now we'd really like Neil to survive this demonstration, because if he does, and the demonstration works, I'm pretty sure that he'll sign on with a guarantee to his investment..." the audience laughed at Doctor Abendal's remark as a younger gentleman got up from the audience and made his way to the stage.
"Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Neil Statner," Doctor Abendal shook hands with Neil.
"I'd like to ask you to take a seat in the comfy chair, and my assistants will help you don the MindNet device," Doctor Abendal directed Neil to the chair.
Neil walked over to the chair and sat down as the assistants placed the device upon his head. The device itself sat comfortably around his head, coming down to his forehead like a visor. On the front of the MindNet device was a single button for power and beside it, a light emitting diode indicating whether the device was powered or not.
"The MindNet also includes downward compatible 5G support, Bluetooth and WIFI, allowing you to connect to any network on the planet, not to mention that you can configure it all via a smartphone application," Doctor Abendal handed a smartphone to Neil.
"Now Neil, I want to remind you NOT to press the erase or delete button," Doctor Abendal joked with Neil drawing another laugh from the audience and from Neil himself.
"We'll start with a simple demonstration. Neil, could you concentrate upon having the projection screen lower itself. Its connected to the same network as the MindNet, and is a compatible device," Doctor Abendal requested of Neil.
Neil sat quietly for a moment as nothing happened. All of the sudden the projection screen began lowering itself and applause filled the lecture hall.
Neil stood up and bowed and then sat down again, prolonging the audience's laughter.
"Alright, for our next demonstration, we've opened up a web browser which we're projecting onto the screen here so the audience can see what's going on. I'd like to ask Neil to think about any website that he'd like though I'd remind him that this is a family rated lecture..." Doctor Abendal once again had the audience and Neil in stitches.
When the audience became quiet, Neil once again began to concentrate. A second later and the web browser had loaded the Nasdaq page.
"Awww... come on Neil. Surely you can do better than that. Something we'd not expect from an investor..." Doctor Abendal requested of Neil.
Neil once again concentrated and a moment later the web browser had opened up the Wonder World Theme Park website.
"...I'm taking my kids there next week. Don't tell them," Neil responded bringing about laughter from the audience.
"As you can see, the MindNet works seamlessly, quickly calibrating and tuning itself to your thought patterns. Neil, I'd like to ask you to go to the MindNet website where you'll mind-click on the presentation link we've had our web master setup there for this demonstration," Doctor Abendal asked Neil.
A moment later the MindNet webite came up in the browser. Neil then visualized clicking on the link indicated by Doctor Abendal. Another page opened with a live video feed. Centered in the camera was another assistant, also wearing a MindNet device.
"Meet Robert Ilbert one of our interns at MindNet EU. He's currently seated in a chair in our lab in Copenhagen, Denmark. Hoe is het met je, Robert?" asked Doctor Abendal.
"I'm fine Doctor Abendal, thank you for asking," Robert replied.
"We're here in MindNet Toronto as you know, and we're about to make history. We're going to attempt the first public human to human MindNet transmission. Neil, if you'd please take this bag of notes, and no, they're not bank notes..." Doctor Abendal joked.
"Now I'd like you to read them, each in turn though not aloud, Just read them without speaking them. As you do, Robert here will speak them aloud. Can you do that for me?" Doctor Abendal requested of both Neil and Robert.
"I think I can handle that," Neil responded.
"I'm on it," Robert replied.
Neil opened the bag and retrieved one of the notes randomly. He unfolded the paper and then read the note, not saying a word.
"Airbus," Robert responded, causing Neil to smile and begin laughing.
"Exactly!" Neil said in amazement.
"I'd like to remind you that the MindNet had no cameras mounted on it and no sensor devices other than GPS, a compass and a gravity sensor. There's no way that MindNet can see the world. Well that's not exactly true. MindNet can see the world but we'll get to that. If you could, please continue to read the words and Robert will recite them as you do.
Neil did as instructed and read the words one by one, careful not to utter or speak them as he did.
"Space Shuttle, Shoehorn, Carburetor, Lingerie and Supercalifragilistic-expyallodocious," Robert recited the words as he received them via MindNet.
The audience applauded and once again Neil stood and bowed, followed by Robert," Doctor Abendal's smile stretched from ear to ear.
"For the last demonstration, I'm going to ask you in the audience to hold up your hands in any bizarre pose you'd like. Make any face you'd like, something that we couldn't reproduce on the fly with a computer, just so that you know that we're not faking this next demonstration," Doctor Abendal asked the audience.
They complied, each of them holding their hands up, some in awkward and strange poses and even more bizarre faces.
"Now hold that for a second. Neil, could you come over here to the front of the stage and just pan your view over the audience," Doctor Abendal waited as Neil did as he instructed.
Neil struggled to keep himself from laughing as he looked at the audience from the front of the stage.
"Now you keep doing that Neil, and I'm going to switch Robert's view to what he's receiving from you..." Doctor Abendal used the smartphone application to change the MindNet device's settings.
An instant later and the projection screen showed a real-time image of the audience as seen from Neil's perspective. The image was nearly crystal clear. As the audience ooohed and awwwed, the audio of their reaction came through on the speakers accompanying the video.
"This video is coming directly from Neil's eyes, and into the areas of his brain responsible for perception and cognition. It is then picked up by the MindNet device directly from his brain and relayed through the internet to Robert's MindNet device. His MindNet device then picks up that video image directly from his brain and relays it to his workstation computer as video input. Yes, MindNet is even compatible with all video input devices such as IP and motion capture wireless camera inputs. The video and audio we're receiving here have been processed by two brains. Neil's and Robert's, before getting to us here. As you can see, MindNet is read for everything," Doctor Abendal smiled as the audience got to its feet in applause.
Doctor Abendal held his arms up in victory, grabbing Neil's hand and then those of his assistant's one by one.
If ever there were such a place as Nirvana, Doctor Abendal was certain that he'd found it. Felt it. The peak of his life and everything for which he'd existed.
Two hours later and backstage, Neil bid Doctor Abendal farewell, shaking his hands profusely and assuring Doctor Abendal that he'd have his financial backing. MindNet was going to be the next big thing. The next killer platform for the internet. It would make the seemingly impossible, possible.
Doctor Abendal made his way over to the catering table, where he grabbed one last glass of champagne and a few oyster covered crackers.
"Thank you my fine man for such a spread," the Doctor put his arm around one of the caterers and patted him on the back.
"You aren't driving tonight are you?" asked the caterer.
"No, I'm going to get a cab. I have another bottle at home I've been saving for this occasion. I'd much prefer to make there safely," Doctor Abendal assured the caterer.
"We have a few cabs coming in twenty minutes. We've got a contract with one of the local agencies. You could come with us if you'd like?" asked the caterer.
"Thank you. I'd appreciate that," Doctor Abendal shook hands with the caterer and grabbed up a few more oyster covered crackers.
Fifteen minutes later and Doctor Abendal was waiting outside with a group of the caterers as a small fleet of cabs arrived.
"I'll take the last one," Doctor Abendal suggested as he held the door for one of the women caterers.
"Have a good night Doctor Abendal. It was nice seeing you," the caterer smiled for him as she stepped into the cab.
"Couldn't have been as good without you," Doctor Abendal charmed.
He grabbed his briefcase and made his way to the final cab in the fleet and got in the back seat.
"Hi, I'll be going to 40 Icarus Heights up along the Harbour front," Doctor Abendal told the driver.
The driver nodded calmly and pulled out ahead of the other cabs. He tipped his cap to one of the other drivers and then made his way out onto the street.
The radio chatter was somehow calming to Doctor Abendal, as he envisioned the driver wearing a MindNet device. In such a case, there would have been no words between them. The driver would have instantly known the address and even the payment transaction would have taken place without words. They might have even had pleasant small talk without the use of any spoken dialogue between them. Everything would have occurred in their head, Doctor Abendal thought.
"You're in the telecommunications business?" asked the driver, a slight accent on his voice.
"Yes... How did you know?" Doctor Abendal asked.
"I'm psychic, maybe..." the driver responded without any sign of sarcasm, unsettling Doctor Abendal just slightly.
Doctor Abendal laughed uneasily.
"I'm good at reading people. I'm with many different people every day. After a while, you get good at picking out people," the driver continued.
"That's nice," Doctor Abendal replied uncomfortably.
"You're an engineer? Scientist I bet?" the driver continued.
"Look, I don't really feel like talking now, so if you could just take me home I'd appreciate it," Doctor Abendal asked the driver.
"Ahhhh, so that's your home we're taking you. Must be good money, living in Icarus Heights and all," the driver asked him.
"Just barely..." Doctor Abendal answered.
"So how did it go?" the driver continued.
"What? How did what go?" asked Doctor Abendal, surprised that the cab driver might be interested in what he was doing.
"The demonstration for whatever it was that you were working on?" the driver continued his questioning.
"uhhh look, I don't think that I should be discussing this with you," Doctor Abendal responded defensively.
"Why?" the driver asked.
"Professional courtesy on your part? I mean I don't really know you," Doctor Abendal explained.
"and yet you demonstrated and talked about the thing you were working on with a room full of strangers," the driver pressured him even further.
"Look, I'm sure that you're a nice guy and everything and that you work hard for a living, but I don't want to know you. I just want to get home. I don't want you involved in the details of my life," Doctor Abendal explained to the driver as patiently and politely as he could.
"But you shared details, dangerous details with a room full of strangers. Now you're not in the lecture hall and something's different?" the driver asked him again.
"Look, I don't even discuss this with my neighbours and I've known of them for a few years, but I don't know them. On the scheme of social matters and people that I'd let into my life, you're not among them. Neither are my neighbours. We have that right you know," Doctor Abendal told him firmly.
"Whether you like it or not, I know you better than most people. So why can't you explain how your demonstration went?" the driver smiled in the rear view mirror at Doctor Abendal.
"Look, could you just pull the car over. I'll pay you now and walk from here," Doctor Abendal demanded.
"No. Not until you tell me what you discussed at that lecture," the driver challenged him.
Doctor Abendal didn't waste anymore time. He searched his jacket for his phone, and when he came up empty handed, he panicked.
"I had it before I left. I'm sure it was in my coat," Doctor Abendal said aloud.
"Just make this easy on yourself and tell me what you demonstrated," the driver demanded once again.
"Stop the car! I'll yell for the Police if you don't," Doctor Abendal raised his voice to the driver.
"Go ahead, it will do you no good," the driver smiled and continued driving.
Doctor Abendal looked for a button or handle with which to open the window. When he found the button for the power windows, he tried it. It didn't work. He made his way over to the other seat and tried the other side. It too failed to operate.
"Let me out! NOW!" Doctor Abendal yelled at the driver.
The driver pulled the cab over to the side of the road, and a van that had been driving behind them pulled up. Two men clad in black jumped from the van and pulled Doctor Abendal from the cab.
He screamed and struggled against the two men as they threw him in through the sliding door of the van.
They closed the door and then sped away.
Inside of the van, another man clad in black had leveled a gun at Doctor Abendal.
Its silenced and loaded and I will use it.
The man spoke to Doctor Abendal but his lips didn't move and Doctor Abendal heard the sound in his mind.
"How did you do that? You stole it! You stole my device?!" asked Doctor Abendal.
No Doctor Abendal. We didn't steal your device.
"Then you made your own! You stole my designs!" Doctor Abendal panicked in anxiety.
Calm down right now. We didn't steal your designs.
"How is that possible? You can't do this without technology?" Doctor Abendal demanded answers.
Yes we can and we have been doing this for a very long time. Allow me to demonstrate. You were thinking about jumping from the van while it was moving. Your plan is to run for a pay phone or store and try to call someone named Alice. You were going to get her to call the Police for you.
"How did you know that?" Doctor Abendal yelled at the man.
As I said, Doctor Abendal, we've been doing this for a very long time. Without the use of technology.
"Let me go. I'll stop working on my device. I won't tell anyone else about it. Let me go!" Doctor Abendal demanded.
We can't let that happen. I'm sorry, but you've already let the rabbit out of the hat so to speak. Do you realize how many people are going to have to disappear in order to cover this up?
"You can't do that to people! I'm a Canadian citizen! I have rights! There's laws!" Doctor Abendal pounded his fists on the sides of the van to no avail.
What if everyone had the ability to do what you demonstrated tonight? How do you think that would affect people like us? How would our grasp upon the reigns of power at the bottom of this pyramid be negatively affected and impacted if everyone had the same advantages we do?
Doctor Abendal continued to pound on the side of the van.
Well for one thing, we'd very quickly lose control. We'd be competing against people who had our distinct advantage. You see, we've been running the show with the abilities that you're trying to give everyone through your device, for centuries if not millennium.
We'd have to resort to some pretty radical efforts in order to procure and ensure that our power remained in place. You don't drive a pyramid from the top. You drive it from the bottom, and you do so by knowing what everyone is thinking and what they're planning on doing. That way, you can play god.
If someone hears voices in their head, they can be convinced that god is speaking to them. The holy spirit. Possession by the devil. You name it. We can impersonate any of that. If our victims reveal it, they're branded as being mentally ill. Schizophrenic. You name it. We've got ways to cover it up when someone exposes us. Many ways.
Once they believe its god, you can pretty much lead them in any direction you want. If you know what they're thinking, you're always prepared against anything they might try to out you, not to mention we can sabotage their career and life any way we choose.
Your technology is a game changer. It will give everyone our ability, and we'll no longer have the reigns of power. What would you do if you were in our position?
"You mean you've been reading people's minds all along? That's a violation of our rights! What's to stop you from stealing our ideas from us? Violating our privacy? You're a scourge to everything that our Constitution and Charter Of Rights Freedoms is supposed to be about!" Doctor Abendal yelled at the man.
Doctor Abendal, there's the way things ought to be, and the way things are. Don't mix up the two. Just think about how far ahead of the curve you are knowing this now, even this late in your life, though I don't think that you'll be with us for much longer personally. I could be wrong, but that's up to you and how you deal with this revelation and us preventing you from finishing your work.
"I'll tell everyone about you! I'll expose all of you for what you are!" Doctor Abendal threatened the man.
"Calm down Doctor Abendal. We're doing this for your own safety and the security of the country," the man spoke through his mouth this time.
"I won't calm down! This is madness! You're evil if you've been doing this for so long! How do I know that you haven't been stealing others' scientific ideas and claiming them as your own. The ideas of artists and philosophers?" Doctor Abendal demanded more answers.
"How could we do that? Its impossible! You're babbling and speaking non-sense to us. I think that you've been working too hard on a failed project and that you need professional help," the man spoke with his voice.
"You can read my mind! You can put voices in my head! Dammit, if you can read our minds, what's to stop you from stealing our ideas from us?" Doctor Abendal screamed at the man.
"Listen to yourself. You're over the top now and need professional help. We know that you failed at making the MindNet project work. You're just externalizing your failure upon others. Its time for you to calm down. We can get you the help that you need," the man put the gun into his jacket.
If you don't accept that explanation, and go along with the treatment for mental illness, we're going to have to remove you permanently. You have no real rights when it comes to us. I did everything that I could to save you. Everyone else who attended your lecture will be dead within the next two months. Robert is already dead. He died in a fatal car accident as he left the Copenhagen laboratory. Don't make us do this.
"I'll never go along with you! Ever! This has to be exposed to everyone! You have to be brought to justice!" Doctor Abendal jumped at the man, grabbing for his gun.
The two men struggled for a moment as the man in black lost his grip on the firearm. Doctor Abendal leveled the gun at the man and pulled the trigger.
The trigger wouldn't budge. He pulled it again and again, suddenly realizing that firearms had a safety switch. He quickly found it as the man overwhelmed him.
Doctor Abendal pulled the trigger several times, and then turned the gun on the driver and passenger. The van slowed to a stop, hitting a tree on the side of the road. Doctor Abendal was thrown to into dashboard of the van, stunned but awake.
He slid the side door open and ran out onto the street screaming.
"Help! Help! Kidnapping! Kidnapping!" his voice carried through the downtown Harbour front condominiums.
When Doctor Abendal heard the sirens, he sat himself quietly on the curb and waited for the Police to arrive.
Three minutes later and two cruisers pulled up to the van. The Officers stepped out of the vehicles with their guns drawn, using the doors of their vehicles as cover.
"Don't shoot! Don't shoot! I'm the victim! They tried to kidnap me!" Doctor Abendal exclaimed keeping his hands in the air.
Over the car's radio an alert sounded:
All units, armed suspect on the Harbour front along Lakeshore just west of York Street. Be advised, the suspeect is armed and dangerous. There's reports of a shooting. Suspect is in his mid forties, balding. About five feet nine inches tall. Weighs about one hundred and ninety five pounds.
"Keep your hands in the air and don't move!" one of the Police ordered Doctor Abendal.
The Doctor complied as another Officer moved him over to the car and searched him. The other began reading him his rights as he was being handcuffed.
Doctor Abendal had been in jail for a week now as he awaited his trial date and bail hearing. He'd been given the orange overalls worn by the prisoners and was in the general population. He sat quietly still numbed from the events that had transpired. He even began to question whether he'd delivered the demonstration at all or if it was just a figment of his imagination.
He'd explained to the other prisoners that he'd been the inventor of MindNet, a device that allowed people to communicate without the need to speak. That it was capable of sharing media and all the same kind of content you'd find commonly on the internet. It could be used to remotely control connected devices and could even convert memories into sharable video formats. He even told the prisoners that he'd demonstrated it not just the week earlier to a full lecture hall.
The news of course gave a much different explanation of Doctor Abendal's story. He was painted as a failed inventor who'd suffered a nervous breakdown while working on a device called MindCalm, which purportedly had been designed for relaxation and as a potential treatment for mental illness. The Doctor had allegedly tested the device on himself and gone on a killing spree as a result of the harm the device caused to his brain. The device had also killed another employee of the Company MindCalm who was situated in Copenhagen, Denmark.
When Doctor Abendal heard the news report for the first time, he broke down and had an anxiety attack, screaming at the television, even attempting to throw his plates and cutlery at it. After he'd been restrained and sedated, he'd become much easier to deal with. The problem was that he wouldn't stop talking about the device he'd invented. The MindNet. Many of the prisoners had regarded him as more of a basket case than anything from that point on.
All except one.
"Hey Mick, how you?" Doctor Abendal asked as one of the prisoners passed.
"Hey Doc. Doing alright?" he turned and sat with the Doctor.
"One more day until my trial hearing," Doctor Abendal told Mick.
"Great. Look, did you get that stuff for me?" asked Mick.
Doctor Abendal looked at Mick, very puzzled as to what he might be asking.
"Don't screw with me man! I paid you for those pain killers! You were supposed to get them for me!" Mick exploded.
"I don't know what you're talking about!" Doctor Abendal shrunk, terrified of the other inmate.
Doctor Abendal, you should have listened to us. We could have got out of this alive but you had to blab to everyone. Now we've got to quiet them too. Sorry Doc, that's just the way it has to be. Time for you die.
Mick jumped the table landing atop Doctor Abendal, clasping his strong fingers hard around the Doctor's throat.
As his consciousness slipped from him, the Doctor became calm, as if things were supposed to happen this way all along. It all seemed so meaningless to him now as his vision slipped into the abyss of the unknown.
His final thought was whether his final thoughts would become Mick's lasting nightmares.
As always, I am NOT a Jehovah's Witness and never have been. I am not a Mormon with all due respect.
I am in fact and truth an atheist that leans towards Buddhism and Taoism.
I'm not a Presbyterian and never have been.
Copyright © 2021 Brian Joseph Johns