Feeling the spirit hit me, I found a patch of unsoiled grass, crossed my legs under me and spun to the ground. I locked my ankles over my knees and straightened my back, my chakras aligning. I focused on my breathing, in… and out… until my thoughts silenced, and I stared at the stars on the inside of my eyelids. The breeze played through the green folds of my dhoti—autumn’s kiss of change.
I could see images of Kolkata as it had stood during my earlier life on the Earth, floating out of the mine—the hairs prickled on my nape—the high towers that had lifted us from our perversion of the land, into the purity of the air (that too an illusion cast by the Eco-Dome enclosing the city). People spilled out of the buildings, clogging the streets during lunch hour—watching from above, it looked like the buildings were inhaling as the crowds were sucked back inside.
Everyone had lived in corporate housing; it made sense. The society we had been born into was a perfect machine, so there was never any ambiguity about what we should do. But even then, we had forgotten where we had come from. I don’t think many people even thought about where we were going. All they could see was what was in front of them: the Government domesticating all of us, feeding us into the Corporations. But what else was there to do? We were cut off from the Galactic Empire, doomed to do the office-work of the Corporations as they gathered wealth throughout the Galaxy. We would hear stories about all the goings-on out in space, but we were just sated with the leavings of the Corporations as they divided their wealth among us. They bought our obedience like we were trained animals, and as long as we stayed inside the bubble, we had no reason to complain, no choices to make…
Ideas were floating around like mosquitoes in the air, alighting on my skin not to suck my blood, but rather to donate blood of their own. Were they my own thoughts? Or was I aligned with the Earth’s consciousness—a vessel for her ideas?
I once had found an archive of restricted material on the internet, last updated some two hundred years before I had been born. We were not supposed to go into the old areas of the internet—the Government controlled the internet’s accessibility, so I had to connect to a pirate internet port. Going through the boundary-less Xnet, I was ready to start my search through the list of so-called “heretical materials,” which contained some twenty-seven-million items.
It was dangerous for me to connect to any of the linked pages because the signal could be detected passing through the satellites, traceable back to me. I think that was the first time I really felt trapped, so I went looking for the pirates. Through some snooping I found their base of operation within my city, and they were more than happy to modify my computer, scrambling the signal so that if it was traced, it would be traced back to Honiko Basti, a prominent CEO.
I didn’t have enough time to look through all twenty-seven-million pages in the archive, so I narrowed the search down and began digging through all these forbidden ideas. One page—banned in the twenty-seventh century—really captured my attention. It spoke about something called Gaia Theory, saying that the Earth was a macro-level machine, and each form of life was meant to run a specific function within it. Human life was just a line of code combining with everything else to form a perfect system. Since the theory had been banned, humanity had replicated beyond its function—a virus tearing a hole in the system.
Once I read that page, I realized I already knew the words. I was just a function of the purpose of the world, not of society. It was like a spell had been cast to lift the fog; I had to share my discovery with others, so I went back to the pirates.
When I returned to work, it was nearly impossible for me to focus. A line of patients waited outside the door, each with a print-off of their medical status, and I would either refer them to a surgeon or fill out a prescription—pop, pop, pop, not enough time to study their faces. The ennui made my brain boil. Why was I wasting my time here when there were so many ideas to uncover?
The seed had been planted, and I started to spend more and more time at the pirates’ headquarters. They called themselves the Digital Freedom Party, and I felt no paranoia within their walls. We fought to express ourselves on the internet, and as the next generation grew up, they found our struggle. We experienced a renaissance as society’s focus shifted back to the Earth, tearing our eyes away from the Galaxy and its irrelevance.
Kids began running television stations and movie studios, giving news of what was happening in America or Europe, in Asia, Africa or Australia, instead of news from the Alpha Centauri system, from the mining towns of Europa Minor or the tropical resorts on Allux, in the Sirius system.
When the Government deemed the Earth’s population uncooperative, moving the Capital to the planet Centralia, and the Corporations followed, people found themselves in a quandary. How were they going to make a living without their jobs? The movies and documentaries about space exploration still inspired lust in them, despite our protests, so billions of people followed after the Corporations—all their tiny capsules hurtling through the void like a virus, spreading, spreading. When the dust finally settled, those of us who remained on the Earth were finally able to turn our eyes to what actually mattered.