May 17, 2024

Strata 4 The Zoners (Meeting Strangers) The Book of Immersion V1

 Welcome to Immersion, you have reached Strata 4

tribeswoman feathers headgear boots fashion fantasy clothes cat pet fur colour tattoos face tattoo

There is an old saying from when the world had stories made of paper that you cannot judge a book by its cover. But sometimes, without metadata, the cover is all you have to show the secrets within. Humans understand that a person's demeanour and outward profile can reveal something of their intent. There is a sort of human telepathy that is not bourn of scientific facts. It is intrinsic, passed down through culture and evolution, a hidden and secretive code of social understanding.

But how would an android make sense of the tiny signals that humans pick up on? The millions of minute evolving syntax and expressions that create conscious and subsonscious feelings and hunches. These are essential to humans but less easy to create or mimic in even advanced computerised systems. How do these assumptions translate across time and cultures? How do machines function successfully within complex human scenarios. Strangers are unpredictable, dangerous, and likely to be in control.

A deeper understanding of the unknown without evidence is the ability to immediately resonate with individuals without reason.. It would seem that the bigger the data the less the machines are able to explain these innate human idiosyncrasies. In the attempt to create a facsimile of a human, the machines move further away from the truth.


Renyke kicked the *robo-dog and it went flying high up into the air. It fell to the ground with a metallic crash scattering its parts asunder and making mechanical screeching sounds that made people stare.

There was a general momentary hush as everyone realised Renyke should be avoided.

Maybeline climbed inside the leather coat to keep out of any ensuing danger.

The robo-dog made several bleeping sounds and drew its broken metallic components back onto its magnetic mainframe. Finally, after a 30-second system reboot, it got up and shook its fake hair, once again assembling a near perfect dog. 

As Renyke walked on the dog remained at heel, obedient, quiet, and protective. They were now given room to move into the throng. No one made eye contact and as if by some telepathic communication, everyone shared a nervousness around the new stranger.

The dodgy-looking man offering bits and nibs reappeared and was running at Renyke's side.

'My name is Flex. You need anything, man, I got your back....for sure, for sure. I can do all sorts. I got connects innit.

I know these streets. I'm a good worker. Good mugger too, should you ever need one.'

Got drugs, got tools, all sorts.... survived like a pro all my life on the mean streets….  People like you need people like me. No one knows the zones like the *Urchs.'

Renyke walked on ignoring his now irritating companion who was running, talking, and panting all at once as he tried to keep up.

A child approached. Renyke's scanners showed him to be a human boy, around seven years old.

'Hey Mr. Nice Man from the *brightside, spare some *bits for a hungry blind child?'

Renyke looked down and saw a large black hole where the boy's eye had been. The other eye was weepy and red. The boy’s face was scarred from historic deep-cut wounds and he appeared to be missing an arm.

Renyke had seen images of similar wounds from the Russia-China wars. But they had ended many years before.

'Give the boy something,' Renyke scowled at Flex.

Flex, somewhat wary after seeing the incident with the dog, dug deep into a pocket and reluctantly gave the boy a *bit-piece.

'Now *fucksyoff ya lil shit,' said Flex in a disgruntled manner.

'You can't trust these beggars ya know.....they have owners and gangs,' Flex informed Renyke in an all-knowing tone.

The street was lined with ramshackle stalls and shops. They were noisy and crowded with the bustling activities of theatrical looking people. Some had animals on leads or on their shoulders. Monkeys and parrots, the like of which Renyke had never come across in his massive data bass.

Most had tribal markings on their faces. Others wore decorated eyewear, styled spectacles, masks and headgear.

The attire seemed so impractical to Renyke who had always worn the same clothes and had aspired to a streamlined functionality. But he was rather enjoying his new coat.

A woman approached. She is dressed in bright colourful headgear and boots with huge feathers and sequins. She has some kind of cat on a lead.

Renyke engaged POS focusing on the cloth.

…Pertriline: Brand name for a fabric made from plastics. Non-biodegradble. Colourfast. Banned in 2050. Problematic for any practical landfill solutions....

Then he queried the face coverings....

…It is thought likely that tribal face markings in the zones are used mostly to avoid face recognition from satellites and covert surveillance. Different factions, tribes and even ad hoc groups have adopted more uniform styles which signal gang and other connections. These signals change regularly to avoid detection and discovery. 

It is understood that the underground activities that connect tribes, gangs, and families, have adopted coded clothing and other paraphernalia. Information is unconfirmed….these are theoretical assumptions based on data we have stripped whenever possible from prisoners or members of subversive factions….

The woman with the cat stops Renyke in his tracks. Her cat stares at him making eye contact and edging forward. Renyke also stops.

'Hey, Mr. Come on man, you must need something? You want some toggies? I swap the coat for a nice jacket I got me just yesterday.’

Renyke shook his head with one eye on the cat who was looking restless.

'You want some tits-n-ass Man you look hungry in yo skinny moves.'

Renyke side stepped the woman and continued walking, not really sure what she meant. The dialect was a strange mix of unknown words and rhythmic intonation, almost songlike.

'A bank maybe, or a charge point?’ Shouted the woman as Renyke moved on.

He stopped suddenly and queried, 'There's a bank?’

'Of course,' said the woman, 'what you take us for, wild ignorant animals?' She laughed hysterically at her own joke, and Renyke smiled. The cat finally stopped staring.

'Yes, I need a bank,' Said Renyke.

'Come with me,' said the woman.

© 2024 Sarnia de la Maré

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