The bus stops, the people gather, curious, demanding, hopeful, they are desperate to see me for I carry the gift, it was handed down from my mother, from her father, then from his, I feel their awe, hear their tears and sighs as I step down, me dressed in humble cloth and furs, all for effect, in truth, it made me hot but I knew they loved it, they didn’t want me to look too much like them, the first one rushes forward, I place my gift upon him, he weeps, stands, walks away, all can see he is a changed man, a swarm of squiter drones float above us, recording the changes of all so blessed, sending out video of my works into the sky for all in the crowd to see, and beyond the horizon so anyone may watch, our followers now scattered throughout the world, then another one approaches, will my child ever speak, she asks, yes, I reply, and now a man of fifty kneels before me, stares up, will I get alzheimer’s, his voice is trembling, but the gift is clear, yes, I tell him, his tears now sobs, he tries to verbalize his fears, can I be saved, he asks, but I hesitate, the gift may not guarantee the future though in this instance it suggests he can, stand, I tell him, and he stands, wiping the tears from his face, yes, you can be saved, now go inside the bus, there is healing for you, I spot a child edging toward me, come closer little girl, I tell her, the crowds are always most hopeful that a child will be saved, do not be afraid, in truth many are afraid of me, and many jealous, I am not from here, I possess the gift and they do not, I look different, my skin glowing, bright, off, bright, off, like a firefly over the dry grass, no one knows why it does this, some say it is from the gene therapy, a blessing from before I was born, an older man comes next, I can feel the heat from him, his blood rising, his heart pounding, it’s my side, he tells me, the pain, and the gift tells me his liver is dead, I nod, he understands, will you save me, he pleads, no, I reply, and he goes away, then another, the crowd grows, the line gets still longer, I cannot sleep, this one tells me, which the gift confirms, will I live he asks, and the gift makes me aware that the man suffers from sleep apnea, his fat and throat muscles preventing him from a deep rest, and I tell him to go and gather his assets, everything he possesses, and to leave it all inside the bus, and he walks away, sad, but this is how it must be, next a young woman, soft, hesitant, please forgive me, she says, I took their money, I knew it was wrong, I now carry inside me their precious pet, and I command the vile spirit to leave her, now go inside the bus, child, and they will cleanse you and you will need never fear what’s inside you, there are so many now, I can’t stop bleeding, he tells me, which the gift informs me is a cancer of his colon, and at only….the gift isn’t always immediate…at only 34 years of age, tragic, put your affairs in order, I say, now an older woman, obese, the gift tells me her glucose levels, the diabetes sapping her body of its life, now a little boy pushed forward by his mother, he refuses to listen, she says, holding him down, I smile, here, take this, a tonic for the ears, he does not hear you as you believe he does, that is all, this boy is a blessing — liar! — comes the call from within the crowd — charlatan! — it is a young woman, she rushes towards me, I stand in place, she stops, face staring into mine, you are a false prophet she howls, turning back now to face the crowd, most are angry with her but not all, I lay the gift upon her forehead, it again speak its truth, you are 23, you weigh 112 pounds, your heartrate betrays your courage, but she is not bowed, guesses, she shouts, magic, tell me my blood type, which I do, the gift informs me it is O negative, at which her body tenses, she goes silent for a few moments, I motion for her to kneel before me, I lay the gift upon her and speak, the first symptoms of parkinson’s will present themselves before you reach 30, and she screams in fear more so than disbelief, it cannot be, she yells, but the gift is not wrong, and your heart will fail you at age 39, I reply, you will die from this, which was a lie, the gift tells me no such thing but I will not tolerate those who challenge me, she is weeping now, begging at my feet, no, please, please, no, heal me, and I tell her to promise here before the crowd to devote herself to the bus and all within it, which she promises, then a rail-thin man steps forward, informing me that it hurts when he passes water, which the gift confirms is a mere infection, I hand him a balm and refuse to accept his offering, keep it, I say, share it with your neighbors, then I raise my arms, I will hear one more I tell them, and the crowd pushes a sickly man forward, they shove him to the ground, and at once the gift tells me what it is, and I tell the crowd that this man has brought tuberculosis into your town, many of you will die as a result, you may punish him however you see fit, they drag his body away, his screams growing fiercer first, then softer, and despite their pleading, despite their tears, many of them now tossing money at my feet, I tell them I must continue onward, and once inside the bus I place my gift inside a small pouch I keep on my person, I close my eyes and sleep, letting the bus take us wherever it does.
You are mad with loneliness.
Your world is only this small island, barren, white sand, scarcely a tree, the very few objects of interest you’ve explored and examined and considered countless times.
You know you could go crazy here. You fear this. You wonder sometimes if it’s too late to halt, or if it’s already happened.
You can just hear and nearly see the people on the nearby island. They seem happy. Can they not see you? You wish you could reach them. There must be a way! You shout! Can they not hear you? Do they not care? Why don’t they come?
You are so lonely. The loneliness hurts, an actual physical pain so numbing you can no longer cry from it.
Could you kill yourself, you wonder?
And what then?
A genie appears.
You don’t ask why.
It is life! Here, on the island!
You rush to the bottle, staring at it, feeling it, your heart pounding. Truly, it is gorgeous, constructed of purple glass, its mysterious, elegant form appears to be from a different age, possibly a different world, the entirety of its being conveying magic.
No, you think. Not magic. Potential. To the one chosen.
You are so chosen!
What can you do with this, you wonder? At the very least, be saved. Saved from this barren world.
You are mad with joy.
You are found. Rescued!
You try desperately to open the bottle.
The genie is desperately waving his hands.
He is speaking.
You strain to hear, staring in at him intently.
He writes what he is saying on a large, for him, piece of paper.
Do not open the bottle yet.
Why, you shout? WHY! You are mad with loneliness. You want him, you want his magic, you want to be not here. You struggle to open it.
Do not open the bottle until you have read what I have to say.
You look behind you, making sure you are still in this empty, barren world and that you have not actually gone crazy. You return your gaze to the glorious trapped genie.
Before you open the bottle and release me, you must understand the rules.
Anything, you shout! Anything!
You mean it, too. Anything.
If you let me out, I will grant your deepest yearning. And that yearning is to end the loneliness, to escape this tiny barren island world.
You twist the stopper. You feel it turn.
I will grant your deepest yearning, but…
…all those people over there, just right across the water, on that happy island?
They will die. Unleashing me will kill them. Do you understand?
You open the bottle. The genie emerges, smiling. You weep, joyful. Found. Saved. No longer alone.
And those people on the island, the island just out of reach, the island that perhaps you could have ventured to had only you been a bit more brave, resourceful, less fearful, less empty inside, the people on that island immediately fall to the ground, dead.
You stare into the genie’s eyes.
Thank you for saving me.
Wounded cynics and disbelieving optimists, our tools enabling both, accelerating their worldview, but what of the rest of us?
The mad, crazed, hopeful, bold and entirely credible efforts to hack mortality, disrupt death, and radically extend the use by date of the human form are underway, maybe they reach us, maybe they reach our children, but we remain stuck in traffic, upset with our spouse, angry at work, less fulfilled than the magic surrounding us should make possible.
What’s missing? God? Certainty? Movement?
Have the toxins in our air, our water, our food, our culture so polluted our spirit?
Made worse by the 20th century hold upon our collective activities, the way we still go to work, go to school, tend our yards, yet knowing how thoroughly of the past these are, but what’s next has yet to happen.
But what’s next is coming. That we know.
The spread of computing into every device and across every human interaction changes everything and everyone forever.
It began with Windows 95. We are now in Year 22 of a 40-year (not 40 day) planet altering, life repurposing, technology infused deluge. A great flood of robotics, artificial intelligences, bio-coding, pharma-induced healing, the digitalization of perception, the merging of daily life into screens, and the connecting of all people to all things offers the grandest opportunity ever for unbounded human potential. And is a test of our soul.
We know this to be true.
We reach out.
A great awakening is on the horizon, kindling our spirit.
Belief in magic, religion, in spirituality and in God will accelerate ” and deepen ” because of, not despite of the rise of big data, machines, robotics, electronics, computing and artificial intelligences. We always become what our machines cannot. We do what cant be outsourced. Faith becomes our future. Magic our delight.
Our technology, edging us closer closer closer to possessing the godly powers listed in the Bible, validates our faith, does not deny it, thus revealing Gods presence ” while separating us from all who came before.
We are unsure what to do next, where to go next, how to live next.
I do not know if you will travel into space, own a flying car, live a portion of your life in a sealab at the bottom of the ocean. I doubt you will ever have intercourse with a sexbot, vacation in a holodeck, or live to 120.
But the people next will.
They will be unlike us, live unlike us, perceive unlike us.
The meteor has struck.
The sky is dark.
Time is running out.
Leave deep prints.
The other stuff won’t matter.