Binary Relapse

Duncan Lawford

It feels like waking up inside a dream — or living in a dream and waking up inside reality. Maybe that's just the same as dreaming. Before long, I should think that I'll be exposed as a phoney.

Subsequently I’ll be escorted back to the treatment centre. When I am taken I will not resist. Up to this point, as far as I'm aware, resisting has never ended well for anyone. During the retrieval process, you're put in excruciatingly tight restraints. So tight that, at the very least, the bruising becomes detrimental to your day-to-day tasks. That makes it sound like I’ve been enlisted in a work camp, or that I'm making myself out to be a prisoner of war, which is not quite the case; we’re still in a lengthy transitional period.

No matter how adept people become at pretending, it's generally never long before they’re caught out. Treated at birth, since this is believed to be the most effective method, most people have their first relapse between the ages of six and ten years old. That is of course on the condition that the child compensates at all for the alterations, which only happens to about 5% of the treated newborns. Only 0.2% of the 5% that have a first relapse have had a second one so far, and this normally occurs between the ages of eleven and fourteen. Sometimes this group of people will pretend that they are still under the effects of the alterations, but within this age bracket its rare for people to be able to maintain the act convincingly. Treatment is absolutely mandatory. Since the passing of the anti-faith legislation, birth rates have been in a rapid decline. There was also a spike increase of infanticides and illegal abortions, but this has now died down somewhat in favour of the illegal communes. It does still happen though. I suppose from now on most of the reproduction that takes place amongst humans will be more of a practical evolutionary step, rather than something which is a living tribute to parental love or to the presumed love one might have for their child. After all, our legacies are one of our most prized possessions, even if they do manifest as projections into futures unseen.

It is quite common for people to be affected by the alterations for the entirety of their life, thus remaining permanently altered. However, this is the fourth time that I have relapsed since my first treatment, which to my knowledge is something quite unprecedented. It’s hard to know what it is that has led to me being this special case. My favourite speculation is that my affliction — or the cause of the reversal of my affliction depending on your outlook — is due to a similar differentiating factor as possessed by the first man who experienced faith; the factor that inspired him to see the sun as a divine object as opposed to a scalding light source. Or maybe I’m just asymptotically stable like a chemical clock, and no matter what happens I’ll always return to my ‘correct’ biological state. I’m equally unsure whether my tendency to repeatedly deviate from the alterations will be something to go unpunished forever. After all, I am not only draining the remaining tax payers’ money, I am an anomaly, an aberrant, a black mark, and each of my culminating trains of thought is now tantamount to a clandestine threat.

I’ll roll the dice. None of this is my fault, so I don’t see why I should be compliant, childish though that may be.
And as the dice ricochet, a sensation of mild ecstasy courses and frolics through everything from my hair follicles to my bone marrow. A liberty that has been long been denied to me is gratefully recaptured: the freedom to subscribe to a self-chosen and personally formulated ideological mode. It is bizarre to look back on the time following my third treatment eight years ago, which hospitalised me for the initial six months that followed due to its intensity and turned me into somewhat of a reactionary automaton. I guess they just really wanted to make it stick.

Something else which is quite peculiar is that I can’t relate to the man that I was yesterday. I would actually say that this kind of identity disorientation is so stressful that I almost wish that the treatment had never worn off.

I only almost wish that for a moment.

In retrospect, the time spent as that man, whom I cannot honestly refer to as myself, is by and large a muffled mass of confused fragmented memories. The fragments that can be forcefully drawn away from that homogeneity are just brief tales about a hopeless man in an almost post- ideological society.

I’m ambivalent towards the process; long term molecular modifications being made to the human brain following the first full-brain simulation and the numerous studies that followed in its wake. People are now fundamentally and definitively figured out. There are, in theory, no more mysteries of the human psyche, and it is all down to exascale computations and mathematics — it may seem odd to say that, but my condition of repeat relapses I’m sure is scrawled down in my file as either an error or a result of the human body’s woeful stoicism. The framework that pertains to ones character, as well as their whole range of cognitive functions, is now subject to change through effectively updating their internal code — a great advance for technology.

These developments bring about about our current era, the era of digital medication, more commonly known as BAT which is short for Binary Augmentation Treatment.

During my last relapse, my last escape from this faithless plane, I was struck by disbelief that the world leadership would come to this decision. That was what got me caught, actually, since I wore my earth shattering disbelief in the folds of my face and the slack of my laces. They knew straight away since disbelief legitimises belief through polarity. Back to the centre I went, resisting all the way. I broke four small bones and now I have limited use of my right hand.

BAT was finally a chance to hit the restart button when everything was deemed too far gone. A chance to in most cases permanently alter, which in this case is tantamount to eradicating, the part of the brain which facilitates faith.

The sons and daughters of the last generation pragmatically stride across this quiet wasteland. They are directed only by that which is supported by empirical proof, never wracked with frustration over their degree of loyalty to higher powers as they slowly approach death. Neither are they on their knees before the absurdity of life, as even that begets a glimmer of a belief in nihilism. All the while the numbers ebb and flow. Cell counts rise and fall, biological cycles self perpetuate at measurable speeds, emotions are calculated. The new human is fluctuating values in a matrix. The organic abacus.

There have been no major international conflicts since the neurotoxic bombing of Paris in ’54 and the retaliations that followed. The powers that be decided that this would be the last incident of theological warfare as technology, and its subsequent weaponisation, was accelerating exponentially in its development. For perhaps the first time it came about that there was an internationally unanimous decision. That decision was that those currently living would be the final generation able to indulge in faith. So faith was deleted. One of the most human inventions that ever came to be it was dragged and dropped into the trashcan of human history. The remaining untreated, those who took their first breath as little as one second prior to the law being passed, are simply to manage the transition. They make sure that the new world is something the old one can live with, one that lives up to some archaic ideal which was never quite achieved.

My mind tends relentlessly to a numerical vigilanteism. It struggles against the grain in an inclination towards what I believe, as I revel still in both my ecstasy and my disgust, may be the greater good. What ever that is. As long as I can believe in something I will believe that it could be something better than this.

I believe that marvelling at the sublime horror of this world is perhaps the most profound thing left for the new generations. Unpleasant though it may be, postulating over such a thing is now a luxury afforded to seldom few.