Chapter 2. Live from Newport Beach
Updated: Sep 13
6th May 2049
Throughout history, foul and deceiving forces have attempted to control the world; by violence, by fear, by guile and degeneration of the public narrative. Media has diligently played a paramount role, in the favor of truth and morale, or supporting hateful and treacherous regimes.
There has always been some that have stood up in front of the loaded gun, wielded a sword, swung a pen, or held a camera, and perished under its vehement fire. Many of their names have been lost in the sands of time, and little remains but an idea. As long as there is language that plies words as freedom, faith, and honor, there shall be individuals willing to give their lives to the fire, all for an idea to survive the unforgiving test of time.
And ideas are bulletproof.
At the break of dawn of 5th May, dozens of vans with cartoonish graphics and communication antennas on their roofs swarmed through the streets of Newport Beach. A volume of men, carrying full metal cameras, spread around in a military fashion and set-up tents over the streets of Fountain Valley, home to the Lais and the Swanks. By 0800, every major national and international news provider had a live transmission of the façade of the Swanks, in the wake of a potential glimpse of Patrick and Sarah. Reporters in golden tans wearing hills and tight dresses, shot news bulletins expecting this to be their opportunity at the presumptuous eyes of fame. The one that will catapult them to the top of the internet. Their 5 minutes of world recognition.
Kaja Anderson reported proudly for Live Shout from the outside of a white house with a delightfully soothing green lawn. The type of lawn you see on TV in high end golf tournaments. She had a slender figure and even though I could not see the entirety of her, I could tell she was tall. Her well disarranged chestnut hair landed softly on top of her shoulders, where her skin displayed the warm kiss of the Californian sun. A serene jacaranda danced swiftly at the rhythm of the wind in the front yard of the Swanks. The indigo flowers, splattered across the path connecting the main gate and the entrance to the house, transmitted a sense of peace and heedlessness. No movement could be seen in or out of the house. The squared front windows, boasting elegant yet sober curtains, remained closed.
As hard as I tried to focus, I could not hear what Kaja said. Instead, I listened the smooth rustling of the placid jacaranda under the breeze. I felt the smooth touch of the wind in my face. A banner saying "Live from Newport Beach, home of the sentient SINS" ran endlessly at the bottom part of the screen along with the current temperature, 86 F, and the legend - Dry storm alert status green.
I changed app, trying to escape the imminent televised motorcycle crash that was about to ensue if Dr. Justin A. Swank were to the take the stage. I am not the type of person that find amusement in traffic accident videos. CNN. There it was again. FOX. NBC. The purpleblue tree was present throughout news providers. I finally gave up, and returned to Kaja. I hit the mute button and played some jazz hop in the background. I thought about the Wanaka tree. How jealous would it be at the imminent burst of fame enjoyed by the flowerfull tree. I felt happy to see a new contender for the title of the world's most famous tree.
0900. Temperature: 95 F. The unforgiving sun was yet to raise above us all and turn the streets of Newport Beach into a desert sauna. For those of you not too shrewd on environmental regulation, the sun state voted to adopt the Global Warming Action Initiative 2 (GWAI2) in 2030, making it compulsory for businesses to close between 1100 and 1600. This is in order to reduce public exposure to ultraviolet light during the period of the day when it's most harmful. In praxis, companies are not allowed to enforce work during this period of the day, with some exceptions like circumstances that pose a threat to national security, rescue missions and that sort of stuff. Ultimately, we most agree that it is not desirable to stay in the outside during this window of time, as temperatures rise above 40C in this part of the state. With 4358 deaths related to sun exposure and heat in 2048, California ranks 3rd, after Texas and Arizona, in environmental change related fatalities.
But the heat did not stop people from showing up. A small group of about 2 dozens marched towards the section occupied by the reporters. With the aid of megaphones, the sound of anti SINS slogans cluttered the still air.
"No soul. No love. No SINS."
"Artificial life is no life"
In an organized procession they reached the outer gate of the Swanks, and took a stand. I felt a slight admiration for their reaction time. A taste of despise followed for the ideal they walked for. An old jacaranda was not bothered by the loud visitors. The azure flowers gently glittered under the bright sun. Unaware of what was happening.
Unnecessarily to say, 8 hours after the video featuring Patrick and Sara was released on the web, the internet exploded in shockwaves of opinions. Trending topic on Twitter, thousands of posts on Facebook, responses and analysis on Youtube, and random bar brawls on Reddit and GlerNet, among others. The SINS shooting rise to world fame was fueled by those who found the idea of a sentient man-made being, outrageous. Mainstream web media was a free for all. While I consider social media to be a waste of my time, the it represents quite accurately the simple thoughts of the vox populi. But, I do have a Reddit account, and there was a comment that did strike a glaring blow in my thought.
MM1996 said - Y'all have been quite good reciting human values on the #patrickandsarah case. You are quite good at taking the #moralhighground. But let me break this to you, there is no #moralhighground here. It is now up to us to decide what values we measure ourselves against.
The moral construct used by society to calibrate their moral compass was indeed broken. Outdated by the turn of events. The moral high ground is non existent. The last time humanity faced such a challenge was hundreds of years ago, during colonial times. And we all know how that ended. We have in our hands the opportunity of writing history that will make us proud as civilization. As fathers. I hope for everybody's sake that we do.
1100. Temperature 108 F. The police finally made an appearance. A fistful of officers hopelessly tried to gain control over the growing crowd. Barriers were set around the main entrance, leaving a good couple of meters between the horde and the metal gate surrounding the house. A few drones floated around the white house, recording the unrest of the visitors, which rapidly doubled and tripled its size. By this time, the heat was no longer coming only from the top, but the pavement was glowing as well. Stuck inside an oven by choice. The view from the top was of a sea of raised arms and signs. A tall bulky officer with open arms yelled and pushed people away from the barriers. I stopped the music and hit the mute button for the second time, but I did not hear what he yelled. The air was full of a piercing cry. Reporters kept their distance from the visitors. I could see apprehension in Kaja's face.
The front door slowly opened, and the figure of a tall man in a blue suit appeared. I have never seen him before but I immediately knew who he was. His wide shoulders made him look well built. With open palms pointing towards the crowd he approached the gate and stopped. The crowd went silent, all eyes fixed on him.
- Good day everyone. My name is Dr. Justin A. Swank. I am the master of the SINS you all know as Patrick. He has been my assistant for 2 years now, and I consider him primordial to fulfill my duty as a doctor. For the people we have served, for the people we have saved.
Silence. He paused. His faced gained a reflection under the fulgent sun. He looked wide into the crowd, with intertwined hands.
- But you should all be informed that Patrick is not here.
The sound of disappointment. Murmurs.
- After Yahoo News interview, and in expectation of what it might bring, I decided to deactivate his GPS tracker, disable his PCS programming, and let him part his way.
He did not have time to finish when, the crowd erupted in a warcry. The visitors stormed over the barriers with easy and got a hold of the gates. A storm of bottles and stones landed on the soothing green lawn. Dr. Justin A. Swank widened his eyes and hasted towards the front door of the white house, over a stone path full of flowers. The officers struggled in the middle of a frenzied horde that now swinged from the black metal gate and did not seem to care about any authority. The door closed behind Dr. Swank. The rain continued over the house. The sound of broken glass, and the gate was down. The horde flooded the surroundings of the house.
The garage door next to the white house opened in a flash and an electric blue Audi A8 raced out and into the streets of Fountain Valley. With the agility of a stiff chassis, the blue car swoop between the parked vans and was out of sight in a matter of seconds. Most of the visitors did not see the car and were still breaking windows and banging on the front door of the house.
A peaceful jacaranda danced under the dry breeze of May. Its indigo flowers rustled in a soothing song, unaware of the restlessness of the visitors.