But the braggest thing about the feed, the thing that made it really big, is that it knows everything you want and hope for, sometimes before you even know what those things are.
"It is not the will of the American people, the people of this great nation, to believe the allegations that were made by these corporate “watch” organizations, which are not the majority of the American people, I repeat not, and aren't its will. It is our duty as Americans, and as a nation dedicated to freedom and free commerce, to stand behind our fellow Americans and not cast . . . things at them. Stones, for example. The first stone. By this I mean that we shouldn’t think that there are any truth to the rumors that the lesions are the result of any activity of American industry.
What I've been doing over the feed for the last two days, is trying to create a customer profile that's so screwed, no one can market to it. I'm not going to let them catalog me. I'm going to become invisible.
Also, it's good because that way we know that the big corps are made up of real human beings, and not just jerks out for money, because taking care of children, they care about America's future. It's an investment in tomorrow. When no one was going to pay for the public schools anymore and they were all like filled with guns and drugs and English teachers who were really pimps and stuff, some of the big media congloms got together and gave all this money and bought the schools so that all of them could have computers and pizza for lunch and stuff, which they gave for free, and now we do stuff in classes about how to work technology and how to find bargains and what's the best way to get a job and how to decorate our bedroom.
"You know what he was in?" said my dad. "Remember Virtual Blast? He played the fifth Navy Seal, with the croup. You know, coughing."
"He was in the feature with all the crazy utensils," said my mother. "A few years ago? That one? He was the doorman in the pillbox hat." I had already pulled up a list of his feed-features and I was going over them. None of them got more than two stars.
"He was beaten to death at the club. We saw it. The police, remember? They beat him over the head."
She reached out and took my arm.
My father walked toward us across the pavement, waving. The plastic flags were flapping in the artificial wind while Muzak came out of heaven.
I bought the Dodge.
She said she had a theory that everything was better if you delayed it. She had this whole thing about self-control, okay, and the importance of self-control. For example, she said, when she bought something, she wouldn't let herself order it for a long time. Then she would just go to the purchase site and show it to herself. Then she'd let herself get fed the sense-sim, you know, she'd let herself know how it would feel, or what it would smell like. Then she would go away and wouldn't look for a week.
You know, I think death is shallower now. It used to be a hole you fell into and kept falling. Now it's just a blank.
And we are the nation of dreams. We are seers. We are wizards. We speak in visions. Our letters are like flocks of doves, released from under our hats. We have only to stretch out our hand and desire, and what we wish for settles like a kerchief in our palm. We are a race of sorcerers, enchanters. We are Atlantis. We are the wizard-isle of Mu.
What we wish for, is ours.
Someone once said it was easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich guy to get into heaven.
There is a city. A marketplace. Camels. Arabs. The upcar shoots overhead, and they duck.
Yeah, sure. Now we know that the "eye of the needle" is just another name for a gate in Jerusalem-and with the Swarp XE-11’s mega-lepton lift and electrokinetic gyro stasis, […] getting through the gate just won't be a problem anymore.
The Swarp XE-11: You can take it with you.
"This top is the Watts Riot top."
Violet said, "I can never keep any of the riots straight. Which one was the Watts riot?"
Calista and Loga stopped and looked at her. I could feel them flashing chat.
"Like, a riot," said Calista. "I don't know, Violet. Like, when people start breaking windows and beating each other up, and they have to call in the cops. A riot. You know. Riot?"
So he's the genetic clone of Abraham Lincoln.
That’s what I said.
Tell me what he’s doing now.
Eh . . . the limbo. With the coaxial cable.
Violet was screaming, "Look at us! You don't hate the feed! You are feed! You're feed! You're being eaten! You're raised for food! Look at what you've made yourselves!" She pointed at Quendy, and went, "She’s a monster! A monster!"
You are such a shithead. You don't know what happened to me this morning. And the news. Titus—this morning . . I can't believe in the middle of all this, you went and got malfunctioned. You are such an asshole and a shithead.
It was like I kept buying these things to be cool, but cool was always flying just ahead of me, and I could never exactly catch up to it.
I felt like I'd been running toward it for a long time.
"It's almost time for foosball. It will be a gala. Go along, little child. Go back and hang with the eloi."
"What are the eloi?"
"It's a reference," he said, snotty. "It's from The Time Machine. H. G. Wells."
I stepped closer to him. "What does it mean?" I asked. "Because I'm sick of—"
"I'm sick of being told I'm stupid."
"So read it, and you'll know."
"It's about this meg normal guy, who doesn't think about anything until one wacky day, when he meets a dissident with a heart of gold." I said, "Set against the backdrop of America in its final days, it's the high-spirited story of their love together, it's laugh-out-loud funny, really heartwarming, and a visual feast." I picked up her hand and held it to my lips. I whispered to her fingers. "Together, the two crazy kids grow, have madcap escapades, and learn an important lesson about love. They learn to resist the feed. Rated PG-13. For language," I whispered, "and mild sexual situations."
I sat in her room, by her side, and she stared at the ceiling. I held her hand. On a screen, her heart was barely beating.
I could see my face, crying, in her blank eye.