*The following is a little different than usual. A short piece of fiction about a world sometime in the future. Don’t take it too seriously.
The Rooster Of Marcelo
A short story about good intentions, bad worms and unforeseen consequences.
By Seb Kemp
Wayne Reid felt so pleased with himself that he vowed to leave his apartment for the first time in days. He would put on a clean T-shirt (or at least salvage a used one from the laundry bin), attempt to run a comb through his hair and, with his chest puffed out, he would walk into the bar on High Street where Clare Dunwell worked. Clare was the girl he once kissed when he was 12-years old, but who now doesn’t even give him the time of day. Wayne was sure that if he went in there brimming with his newfound confidence and told her what he had just done, she would certainly fall back into his arms. If she didn’t today, then she would sooner or later, probably once the media got a hold of the story of what he had just done and the people of the whole lifted him onto their shoulders, holding Wayne aloft as the savior of mankind. Once Clare saw what a man he was, she would fall in love with him, surely.
What Wayne had just done was certain to make him famous and a wanted man, but only because what he had done was bring down the entire Internet, and with it, the world. What Wayne had done was unleash perhaps the most destructive piece of computer code that had ever being created. It wasn’t the beautiful assassin he thought it was, it was the most clumsy and devastating virus that would ever be created. There could be nothing more harmful than this bug because it wouldn’t just infect files and servers but would lead to the plug being pulled on the internet and the entire search history of the all the files that were ever kept on it. The end of the digital universe. But Wayne didn’t know this yet. He just scratched his testicles, flicked open another window on his computer and found some material to masturbate to. He’d get around to seeing Clare after.
Wayne lived in a squat with nine other activists, all male. Together they made up the bulk of the protest group, Marcelo’s Cock. They took their name from the Portuguese folktale about the dead rooster who came to life to save a man who was wrongfully accused of stealing silver. However, this was just a slender tie to the ideology of their politics and had more to do with the actions of their politics. They had been inspired by Femen, a topless feminist protest group whose members had been jailed or murdered in 2018. These ladies would disrupt marches, burn flags and attempt to storm parliaments, all while their boobs jiggled about with words of dissent painted across them. Wayne and his cohorts agreed that they were courageous, no-nonsense warriors of female equality. Their admiration had nothing to do with the nakedness of their bodies, or at least thats what they said. So, in homage to Femen, members of Marcelo’s Cock would don black robes that covered their whole body and face, save for a hole through which their male organs would protrude.
The group, like Femen claimed there was nothing sexual or lewd in this act, just that it would gain the attention of the world’s press, bringing the subject of the global issues they protested against into spotlight. However, unsurprisingly to anyone with half a brain, it wasn’t tolerable to show genitals on the front page of a newspaper or on a network news show, so their actions went largely unnoticed by the consumers of mainstream media.
Social media and various blogs had paid attention to Marcelo’s Cock but usually only in amusement. Oftentimes the words written on their Johnsons’ would get Photoshopped to say something entirely different. One time they had organized a rally at the G8 conference in Munich and on their flaccid weenies they had penned ‘They Owe Us’, ‘Capitalism Sucks’, ‘Kill The G8’. However, by that afternoon several memes had sprung up and inhabited the social sharing areas of the internet. One had been doctored to look like it said ‘Growth?’ and another was a GIFF that showed Wayne gyrating his hips and a black bar across his crotch that said, ‘Not So Gr8’. This sort of thing tended to neuter the significance of their activism.
One day Wayne decided that if he couldn’t make change in public by waving around his wang then he would just do it in his own bedroom all by himself. Which is why Wayne had been locked in his room for weeks perfecting a computer virus that would simply wipe out all personal debt from all the world’s banks. What he had created was a worm that would get inside the banking records and reset all personal debt to zero, then the worm would then sort of liquidize the data and the servers it was held on. Change would be irreparable because there wouldn’t be anything to change. The servers would stand empty of information, not just the records but the programs that they ran off. All that remained would be giant hard drives wiped utterly clean of information. Every backup would be similarly contaminated. It would mark the end of debt. But what Wayne didn’t realize was that it would mark the end of the internet, all digital records of any sort, the evaporation of the Cloud and anything that was ever sent, saved, or documented digitally.
The worm was meant to terminate itself once it achieved it’s goal. However, it replicated itself so many times in order to infiltrate every banking institution and personal account that it actually started to evolve. The worm became hungrier and thirstier for more destruction and refused to stop. Once it brought down the debt it moved throughout the internet feasting on ones and zeros in every corner of the digital universe. There was no antibody that could be created in time to counteract it. There certainly was no time for anything to be done. It moved and morphed and leaped so swiftly that before anyone realized what was going on, half of the internet had disappeared. Governments, financial institutions and world powers even attempted to shut off the power to uninfected servers but that didn’t work. They tried creating a firebreak by plotting what servers would be poisoned next and fired nuclear warheads into them so the infestation would stop. However, the worm had got into the controls of the world’s armaments already, sensed the imminent danger to it’s own life and turned the weaponry on MIT, the San Francisco Bay Area and the small village of Paju in South Korea where 14-year old programming genius Hyon Sung-wol lived.
The worm calculated that Hyon Sung-wol was the only person living who had some chance of generating an antidote, and so had him scorched and blown up by several Hyunmoo-3 cruise missiles fired from one of the Republic of Korea’s Type 214 Son Won-II class submarines that was patrolling in the Pacific Ocean at the time. The irony was that Hyon Sung-wol <em>could</em> have probably programmed a magic bullet to fix the worm, but spent so much of his time hacking into the computers of the girls in his school and linking into their webcams so that he could watch them undress that it simply didn’t occur to him to do anything useful about the worm.
This onslaught lasted for weeks but to the general public it was over within nine days. Once the worm had consumed and erased Facebook there was no way to transmit information other than by word of mouth. The end finally happened when the worm had eaten everything there was to eat. With nothing left to digest and destroy it simply started to consume itself until it disappeared up its own arse. The thousands of bunkers that contained the internet’s servers fell silent, the whir of the digital processing stopped forever. Laptops, home computers, network hard drives and cell phones all became obsolete. All just empty plastic boxes that did nothing, contained nothing, provided nothing. The glass screens that had been caressed, stroked and fawned over no longer reflected back the hopes and desires of the bearers. Instead, nothing.
This digital holocaust caused havoc with every part of modern society. Food, water, power, banking, communication, everything came to a grinding, unlubricated halt. Thrown back into conditions akin to the Dark Ages, people struggled to survive. Those that persevered floundered to come to terms with Life After Digital. Some people sought solace in religion and some in booze. However, there was no record of how or what either one was anymore. People attempted to brew beer in old socks and prayed to elaborate effigies of Dylan Rotgun, a nine-year old pop star/actor/writer/politician/humanitarian that was popular for three days before the internet finally died. With nothing to guide them people just made it up as they thought they remembered it.
Books and paper had long since been retired. Seen as slow, boring and outperformed in every way by digital versions, records of human species – up to the point around 2025 when the production of periodicals, journals, paperbacks, hardbacks, newspapers had ceased – simply didn’t exist. All that remained was a couple hundred private collections of pulp-based archives that belonged to bibliophiles. Everything else had been forgotten, burned or lost. Every play of Shakespeare was extinct, the art and beauty misplaced by man. Every record of the many Great wars, the follies that had led to them and the lessons learned was consigned to oblivion. And the detailed records of the plants and wildlife on Earth were all irretrievable, meaning man had to reinvestigate its position on the food chain by trial and error once again.
Once Wayne had finished jackin’ his beanstalk he had pressed send on the worm and skipped out of the hovel that Marcelo’s Cock called home. Feeling so very happy with himself he whistled a tune, smiled at strangers and helped a little old lady cross the road. As he approached the bar where Clare worked he checked the smell of his own breath, wiped down his T-shirt and rolled his shoulders back. This was going to be it, he would take Clare aside, explain what he had done, ask her to check her account on-line and then he expected her to embrace him. Job done.
However, he didn’t get that far. Just as he was about to step inside the bar the glass windows across the whole front of the building blew out, followed by a ball of flame, and then a loud boom that sounded like it had come from the depths of the Earth. Wayne was knocked back 20-feet into the street and was narrowly missed by a passing truck. Once his vision straightened out he saw the building had been leveled to a blackened, smoking wreckage.
What had happened was that the worm had zipped through the Net faster than he had imagined and started its unforeseen rampage with blistering efficiency. It had taken just minutes to erase the debt and had moved onto new disasters. It just so happened that it had got into programs that controlled the gas lines, shut down the safety measures that detected leakages, opened the pipes and then shorted the computer that monitored them. The spark had ignited the gas under the whole street but due to the fact that the bar’s cellar ran so close to the piping underground the explosion had escaped through the bar.
Clare had been incinerated. Wayne had lost his eyebrows.
Wayne wasn’t to know that he had done this, not yet. It took a few days for the colossal blunder to become clear to him. He had been heartbroken and mournful that Clare was dead but once he realized it was him that had killed her he slipped into grief-stricken, anguished mess. He retreated to his room and wept endlessly as humanity literally crumbled around him. Throughout his life he had hidden away from what he imagined was a big, bad, cruel world. Now it really was a terrible place and all because he had made it so. He felt like a right dip shit. A truly lonely, sad, despondent dip shit.
Wayne Reid had loved the internet even more than Clare Dunwell. He had been a lonely child who had escaped his isolation by playing computer games or befriending strangers on chat-forums. Then in his adolescence he had been shunned by girls and retreated into the underworld of hyper-real anime sex doll simulations. As an adult Wayne had found recognition on the Net when in the real world he was just a punchline to someone else’s joke. What he thought would right the wrongs done to him and make him a hero, adored by billions and praised for all time, had actually made him more isolated than he could have imagined. But he had killed the internet and with it any semblance of an identity.
Wayne lay alone in his dark apartment, too weak from malnutrition and dehydration to even sit up. A rat had chewed most of his right buttock off without him being able to put up a fight. He cried to himself and wished death would hurry up and finish him too. This chicken wasn’t coming back to life.