Readers Write In #266: The Beyond

Posted on September 10, 2020

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(by Amit Joki)

Chapter 1: Not just another morning

Jon had gotten up early. The calendar showed July 28, 2199. Last night had been hectic. He was having a virtual get-together with his friends. There were holograms all over his room.

Joey got him a bracelet with “Best Bud” engraved on it and was very smug about it. Chandler gave him his too. He couldn’t have got a better chance to part with the same bracelet that Joey got him long ago. It was putting off women and boy, how he hated that!

Phoebe sang him her “Smelly Cats” song as a parting gift, not that Jon liked it, but hey it was about “Smelly Cats” and you don’t say no to “Smelly Cats”. Rachel got him her maid-of-honor dress she was so embarrassed to wear at Barry’s wedding. Jon had no idea how Rachel thought he would cross-dress but silently tucked it away in his backpack not to hurt her feelings and man how gleeful she looked when he accepted it!

Ross gave him a Stegosaurus bone plate saying, “Never forget me!” How could you forget people who gift a bone plate, right? I mean that’d be outright crazy!

Lastly, there was Monica. She offered Jon to arrange his things in a “more” organised manner.  That was so Monica!

Jon was sad to shut them out. He would have to erase their memories so he could become friends with them again after he relocated to his new place. Jon was so lonely that he had to design himself a set of friends. He was extremely talented, geeky if you may, no doubt, but that didn’t go well with his classmates, who were lazy as fuck with brains of a pigeon in this automated world – people shat right from the bed they slept in.

Anyway, he reset his friends and those holograms all went back into a matte-black cube having engraved marks of F.R.I.E.N.D.S and the cube went right back into his backpack, tucked away safely.

He was to leave for Siliconshire – an elitist place, full of the latest tech gizmos. His parents had this fuzzy little house rented and he was off to a good start. When he entered his supposed school, he was in for a surprise. It was like every kid out there was out with some project. Everyone was fidgeting with semiconductors, chemicals, test tubes and what not?

This place was a world apart, the one, in which Jon knew he’d fit in. The future looked bright is the least one could say.

Chapter 2: Friends just got real
The whole place seemed just so unreal. Jon couldn’t have dreamt himself a better place. The place resembled anything but a school. It was like an open house laboratory with every student having something to do with.

There was a hippie guy who had something like a giant spray can with “Fanny Magnet” etched in bold letters. He sprayed a few drops upon himself and soon some girl who was passing by came towards him but both blacked out instantly.

Jon figured he was trying to make a working prototype of a perfume that actually attracted women. The guy probably got the attracting part right, but clearly, the spray had some side effects.

There were two guys who were working on a project together. However, there seemed to be a blame game between the two. Their project wasn’t running at its 100%. They were making what seemed to Jon as a  Neurologically Projected Virtual Reality machine.

Jon knew because recent breakthroughs in the neurology of human brains suggested that we might be able to transmit our thoughts into electrical impulses, which if correctly interpreted by the receiver could visualise what one thinks.

Also, the all-too-clear project name: “What You Think Is What You See” made it simpler for Jon to get what they were trying to make. Jon barged in their heated blame game saying, “Hey Hi!”

They weren’t too interested in a conversation and replied with an uninterested “Hi” and continued checking for what was wrong with their project.

Jon was meanwhile looking at the power source of their project. It seemed to him that the project didn’t run in its full capacity for it didn’t get its required power. He took a plug out among many which looked too worn out. The project got shut down and boy the guys were furious.

The guy with a spanner spoke, “Hey pal! What do you think you’re doing?”

Jon replied, “Maybe, I am trying to get your attention to the fact that this plug is too worn out to be conducting electricity.”

The guy with neuro sensors on his head and the guy with the spanner yelled at each other, “See, I wasn’t wrong.”

Jon suggested, “I sure could do with an introduction. I am Jon by the way. I am new in here.”

The guy with the spanner replied, “Haha sure man! I am Pieter and this here is my friend, Bolt. You have a good eye for things.”

Jon smiled and said, “Pieter, could you just come a bit closer?”  Pieter did and to his surprise, Jon took the plug and rubbed its metal points onto the sweaty forehead of Pieter. Then he put the plug back into its plug hole, and the machine stirred to life like a phoenix.

Bolt and Pieter watched Jon in awe. Jon shrugged, “Saltwater. Quick and dirty fix, but you’re going to need a new plug. By the way, it is crazy in here, in a good way, you know.”

Bolt replied, “Yup. That’s what keeps us going. I guess we are in for a great ride, mate.”

“I hope so”, replied Jon. He was beginning to like this place and he knew he had found a friend in Bolt and Pieter. Things never looked so good.

Chapter 3: First day at school

Jon was excited. It was only a few hours before he would be in school. His first day. The children here didn’t dread school as we used to back in our days.

He took his F.R.I.E.N.D.S cube and cleaned it with his sleeves. They had given him company when he was alone, which was pretty much every time. He was happy that he could make two friends – Bolt and Pieter.

For the first time in life, he felt intimidated by the brains of people rather than with their brawn.  This intimidation felt good. He knew he would acquire a great deal of knowledge if the day before was any indicator of the intelligence of the students in here.

The Passionato Ludas School had the best faculty. Many were two-time Nobel prize winners. Not less than 690 patents were held by students who graduated from here.

The education system at the school was what made it what it is today. There was an emphasis on subjects that a student naturally was fond of. You needn’t have to go through a subject if you didn’t like it.

Bolt occupied himself in “The Department of Neurological Sciences”, while you could always almost see Pieter indulging himself in machines in “The Department of Mechanics”.

Jon got himself enrolled in “The Department of Computronics”, a vast expanse of a subject which included bits and pieces from every other subject. Not many preferred this department for the course description was too vast, too vague, and people generally liked specific things.

So that was it. Jon, Bolt and Pieter would meet only during breaks and the rest of the school hours were spent indulging themselves in their respective departments. Of course, after school, Bolt and Pieter had a no man’s garage that they had made their own, where they would spend time together brainstorming various ideas that interested them.

Jon never felt so productive.

Chapter 4: Scienca

Time flew by and Jon, Bolt and Pieter had become the thickest of the friends.  The garage had become their second home. They even named it – Tinker’s Lounge.

The time spent at Tinker’s Lounge was soon to be doubled for it was the season of Scienca. Scienca was the largest science fair there ever could be. This was a showcase of prototypes of various high-level concepts/ideas.

This annual spectacle brought in thousands of investors who’d fund the prototype they bet their money on, many of which would end up a profitable business venture.

The Scienca had been a host to projects as crazy as a Dog Shit Wiper, or something revolutionary like the self-inflating clothing that helped people from drowning.

Students from The Passionato Ludas almost always made a mark at The Scienca and this year it had to be no different. Jon was pretty much excited, but Bolt and Pieter weren’t.

And it was clear why. They were missing a member. The rule was that one could enter the Scienca individually or they could take part as a team. It took at least 4 members to be considered a team and the three had no idea whom to look out to, to become their fourth member.

Jon being new and all, had no idea who’d fit in. But Bolt and Pieter had one in mind. She would take some persuasion but was totally worth it. She was the only one who switched departments every hour, seeking to learn more and expanding her horizon.

She was the chosen one.