5 May 2021

Because of a computational error, the following story from the year 2050 has appeared on your device. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Telepathy is a useful skill for a reporter. Clairvoyance, too. But I’m getting ahead of myself, as clairvoyants so often do. I have broken out from a novel, like the other characters you have met in this short series. I can see ahead into time-space and I know how those characters will link with each other.

I remember a morning in the early days of my life. My parents were arguing in their bedroom, as they often did. They got so involved in their argument that they forgot about me. I was a blip in their existence, a moment when they had to stop arguing to feed or change me. I think I was three at the time of this memory.

Thankfully, I didn’t notice their arguments most of the time because I had an active inner life. I had the voices to keep me company. As I grew, the voices became vivid. By the time I was six, they were my companions. I listened to them with great focus, giving my eyes a faraway look that my parents noticed and worried about. The voices told me about things that would happen in the future and brought news of faraway places. I didn’t know the voices were just people. I could hear their channel like I can hear yours now. It’s ok. You can’t stop it. It’s like sitting around a campfire. I listen to the crackle of the wood and smell the pleasant smoke.

Speaking of fire, I set fires often in the Metro when I was a griot. I spoke with furor and people gathered behind me. But I am getting ahead of myself, as clairvoyants so often do.

I don’t know what came first, the astral projection or the defenses required of my former profession. It really didn’t matter, as long as I could leave my body, work was good. I would start by floating to the ceiling. I would rotate my arc of vision until I saw myself and the john-of-the-day below, on a sleeping pad, or a couch, or the floor (some liked that), or the shower when water wasn’t too expensive. To stay free of the monetary system of credits, I made sure I was paid in mescaline. I took the tea, munched up the buttons, sometimes more than I should have.

My eyes are gray with flecks of yellow. If you look into them for too long, you will feel the discomfort of your soul being scanned and you may want to collapse into yourself. This is why I am a reporter now, even though you may perceive me as a blur, a person turning into another person before you can stop me. I am quite solid, contrary to appearances.

I am the oldest person you will meet in these stories. I was born Henry Hopper in 2000. I left home at 13 to become a street child and I was a griot in the Metro by the time I was 25. I took the name Hopper00 — I pronounce it Hopper aught aught— to protest the numbering of people. The lower the number, the more your parents paid for it. I am outside of this system. I choose ZERO. I am Hopper00 and I am here to set the facts in front of you.

Computational Error is part of a series of short-form fiction. Subscribe to get the series in order in your inbox.

(c) Lee Schneider 2023. Take care of each other. Subscribe.