The Book of the Siamese Crocodile
By Lawrence Clarke Hilton All rights reserved © 2004 De Villiers Hilton Partnership
Chapter Two ~ The World was little changed
The world had little changed over the last one thousand years. To be more specific - humans were little changed over the last one thousand years.
If anything over the second millennium many remained mere exaggerated distortions of themselves like the reflections in the fairground Hall of Mirrors that previous generations had laughed at when they saw themselves. It would perhaps be too easy to just say that greed was at the root of their inability to evolve, but greed was certainly one of the symptoms of whatever it was that caused the human race to remain a little less than what it could have been by then.
Such concerns were the last of Robin's worries as his lanky body was placed on the conveyor belt that would slowly carry it through the various medical robotic systems responsible for the operation. Two surgeons and a nurse sat in chairs against the wall and looked bored as they flicked through their $ans magazine pads. They were only there as a back up in the event of a technical glitch or severe power outage.
In those early hours of the third millennium as Robin lay under the robot's knife for his 4th heart transplant in less than 25 years, he was a perfect example of how the old adage 'time is money' still rang true. Even truer was the modern updated version 'money is time!' For one's time on earth had become very much dependent on one's wealth.
There was only a small club of earth’s inhabitants who could get the kind of medical aid procedural authorization granted as quickly and as extensively, as that which was granted to Robin’s body as it arrived at the emergency theatre in early hours of the morning of first of January 3000.
Robin had the over and above fully comprehensive Super Triple Diamond membership.
It basically gave the hospital a blank cheque to do whatever procedure and whatever it took to ensure Robin’s survival. Medical ethics had become far more flexible as to the means with which it was able to find suitable transplant donors for one so high up on the social ladder as Robin Sans.
His case was immediately prioritized.
One or was it two other patients with far lower levels of coverage found themselves not only confused as they were brought round from the anesthetic, but also surprised that they felt no post-operative pain and no evidence of any surgery having taken place. This was to be expected - as none had.
Robin’s case had bumped them out of the cue and right out of the theatre.
Their operations were busy being re-scheduled for sometime in the very near future or so their weeping relatives were told.
The fact that his Robin’s life took priority over anyone else's at the hospital was perhaps understandable and not too surprising. You see Robin Sans did own the medical aid company and the hospital. He also had the majority 51% ownership of the company that developed the advanced respirator that now assisted him to breathe.
So had he now been conscious, Robin would have found nothing wrong with the fact that he had jumped the cue. After all that majority percentage did give him the controlling interest in the machine and as he would not be able to breathe without it - it really was in his best and vested interests to assert his veto for patient usage of this life saving machine to ensure his own survival. Evolutionary theories, those which claimed a system of survival of the fittest had themselves evolved and had been accepted by the majority as a matter of course, as it was now described a system of survival of the richest. And this development of human logic, held true no matter how these riches had been accrued. The winner without conscience could now quite literally take it all.
By the year 3000, studies had shown that one’s longevity on Sans Earth could be directly related to the number of digits one found next to the 'available balance' icon on one's on-line bank statements.
Granted there had been some extraordinary technological developments. But whilst digital and subatomic quantum technology had made everything smaller and smaller, the gap between the rich and the poor had gotten bigger and bigger.
However for most this gap, which by this time was a canyon really, was a small price to pay for the amazing and diverse range of products that modern technology brought to the table.
It had according to the commercials, ‘revolutionized the revolution' which basically meant that it was a cyclical market according to economists of the time which would just keep on rolling along and on.
They had never been able to revolutionize that fact that most people on $ans earth could not afford to eat, let alone make a calls to tell anyone of their plight.
The latest version of what had previously been known as mobile phones, now implanted the microchips and processors of the ear piece and microphone into the thumb and little finger of the user.
Restaurants were now filled with people, who on 'making that call' looked like they were in some mad mime class, as they spoke into their hands with their thumbs pressed firmly into their ears.
Perhaps even more absurd were those who had managed to get their hands on the latest LMNH 'Look Ma No Hands' hands-free models.
These saw the transmitter being implanted into the jaw of the recipient. The phone's receiver was then delicately positioned into the cochlear of the ear. The $ans marketing campaign emphasized and played on the convenience of the fact that you would have to 'lose your head to lose your phone.'
All this could be done during a simple lunchtime surgical procedure which $ans Medical Aid would cover as a minimum benefit. The scheme would pay for it, but only if and only if you took out your mobile contract with $ans Cell.
The rise in violent crime over the last two hundred years or so, had led many clients to take up the surgical cellular option despite the 14 days of mild discomfort new users might experience following the operation.
This led to even more bizarre scenes at coffee shops with scenes of people seemingly talking to themselves as if they were on some bad drug trip.
Although a huge success, this next generation of cellular technology was not without it’s teething problems. Schizophrenia was often misdiagnosed in some of the customers.
‘Crossed lines' would eventually be found to be the cause of their distress and explain all the 'voices in their heads' that they were experiencing.
Robin and Rene were thrilled. It had been their Sans' Empire's telecommunication division that had been the first to offer these procedures.
With the profits that were forecast to soon be accrued as the idea caught on and became fashionable, the two brothers overcome with corporate joy.
And then when Sans Cell won the bid for the much sought after entire global telecommunications market - well they were ecstatic!
To celebrate - that which was a really just a further entrenchment and extension of the giant monopoly they already held with a few others at the core of the system - Sans Telkom had launched a major global sponsorship campaign.
Although every year more service providers would appear with names running from A-cell all the way through to Zee-cell, it was still in the end a monopoly.
It was all really a giant convoluted pyramid of ownership that saw A-Cell owning 49% of B cell and C cell owning 49% of Dcom. And so on.
The other 51% of these 26 companies were all administered and owned by the Sans corporation which incorporated Robin and Rene Sans.
These new providers who in all their commercials claimed to ‘really care’ gave the illusion of a free market but the pricing wars were carefully negotiated between the top level holding companies.
In the end the technology that Alexander Graham Bell had given to the people over 1200 years ago had been stolen from them. Customers could only gain access to the network if they tacitly agreed to be subjected to extensive exploitation over the period of their contracts.
None of this stopped Sans Corporation from scoring another incredible marketing coup though.
The Sans legal teams working in close conjunction with Sans Marketing Department had worked long and hard to achieve the ultimate advertising achievement of all time.
From there on the Earth would be forever be known as Sans Earth, or at the very least until the period of their sponsorship contract ran out. No-one had better advertise otherwise or even allude to 'earth' without the Sans branding or they would face massive law suits for any such infringements.
It was never made quite clear what they planned to do in return for the right to hold the copyright on the name of our globe as it spun and floated round the Sun. Thankfully our closest star was still known as just the 'sun', not that the company was not working on that golden marketing opportunity.
None of this mattered to Robin as his new heart received electrical impulses from the tiny probes to kick it off in its new body. Suddenly the surgeons and nurse were on their feet as the emergency buzzer flashed and the robot's voice droned, 'Emergency - donor heart malfunction - donor heart unresponsive...'
Imagine Life without Us
David Diggs leaned on the bars of the balcony of the patio of the VIP lounge where the News Year Eve Party raged on. His handsome profile and dark curly hair gave him a striking silhouette as he arched and stretched out his arms to take in the cool breeze that came off the sea and gazed down on the lights of the ships reflected in the
in the waters of the harbour of the Sans Waterfront Development.
The darkness was pierced with the elector magnetic colours of the laser billboards that appeared in view across the sky
"What on Sans Earth we are doing?" the question asked hypothetically as it sketched itself out in gigantic copy on one of the Sans' billboard holograms that now covered the night sky.
Beamed down from via satellites these corporate messages appeared at night and hung like the tablecloth of clouds that had once fallen over the Sans Table Mountain that embraced the city. With the rise in temperature Cape Town’s climate had switched from Mediterranean to desert, so it was rare day to ever see clouds low enough to cover the mountain.
“Why do we do it?” another appeared in pink neon laser script. David chucked and thought that these certainly were some questions that would need to be answered at some stage.
David Diggs had watched as the suggestion to “Imagine life without us!” slowly scrolled across the early morning sky. He grunted at the irony of the message and turned his attention back to the after party.
David watched bemused as many of the guests greeted distant loved ones using the “latest…latest” handsets.
Many were shouting, “Happy New Year!' and seemed to hug the air as they tried to hold holographic 3D full size live images of relatives that magically appeared in front of them.
A woman rushed up to David. She blinked twice, screamed “Cheese!”, blinked again and then ran off.
David heard her yell to her partner that she had just got a picture of that guy on TV.
Obviously she must have gone for the option that placed a tiny camera lens and recorder in the top right hand corner of her retina. It would explain the wild flashing of her eyelashes to scroll through the focus options that would have appeared over her field of vision.
As David Diggs wandered around the party, he could not believe that it was only a year ago since he had first heard of the extraordinary artifact that had been found.
As one of the most credible and famous television anthropologists of the time, he had put his considerable reputation on the line, and not for the first time, when he had first given the story coverage and credence in his popular documentary series, ‘The Lost Worlds of Diggs.’
He could still recall, word for word, the opening on-camera link that he had delivered in early 2999.
"I am standing here on the beach of the Sandy Bay. For many years this beautiful spot has been thought of by some archaeologists as perhaps the birth places of mankind. And now perhaps confirmation based on a recent discovery it may now be confirmed it is here that man may have first walked across the sands of this time."
The director had shouted “Cut!” David stopped mid sentence and turned away from the camera.
“You don't want to rather try walked naked across the sands of time?” the director had asked.
“No, I think we might already be pushing it.” David answered.
The only reason why they thought Sandy Bay may have been the first place that man had walked naked, had been the fact that unlike other beaches that had been excavated, very few items of clothing had ever been found there.
The cameraman looked at the director who nodded. He was still rolling and David continued,” A recent discovery could be about to throw new light on early man. Could our forefathers and fore-mothers have reached levels of sophistication far sooner than they have thus far been given credit? Recently well known archaeologist Dr Grace Grant, the former wife of Robin Sans, quite literally stumbled across something that could forever change the landscape of our understanding of prehistoric times.
It was not difficult to remember the script as he had watched a recording of the program almost every day over the last year as he grappled to make sense of the uproar that followed its first broadcast.
Although now it all had all come to pass in the last millenium, it was only year ago really, but the last 12 months since the discovery now felt like a lifetime ago .
All rights reserved © 2004 De Villiers Hilton Partnership