A gentle hum nudged Alan from his slumber. His eyes were glued together as if he had cried in his sleep. His mind was blank, his mouth dry.

“Wher…”, he mouthed, but no sound came out. A dry and atrophied throat merely wheezed.

Lifting his head seemed impossible. His brain was clearly sending signals to the neck, but the muscles would not budge. Weakly, his arm twitched.

- “A+ for lit effort but no cap you’ve been z-ing for a while, best chill a s’more.”

Prying one eyelid just barely open, Alan’s blurry vision came to recognize the outline of a bearded man standing above him in a brightly lit room.

- “Chill, fam. I’ll pingcheck on you post.”

Alan felt himself drifting back into sleep.

Alan was driving a go-cart pulled by two squirrels across the Grand Canyon. The corner of his eye noticed two suns above the Earth, and he looked up. “Odd”, he thought.

Suddenly, he was violently pulled into the brightly lit room again, waking.

Cramping convulsions over his entire body. No pain, but ultimate discomfort.

His eyes could open now, and he felt pulsating tension waves through his entire body. It took a few seconds until he noticed 2-cm-radius circular shapes stuck to his skin, evenly spaced out every 20 centimeters or so. The sources of his pulsating discomfort.

- “What the fuck…”, he managed to utter, before noticing yesterday’s gentleman standing beside his bed.

- “Hey, sup! Finna spill the tea, let me just… one mili.”, he trailed off, looking into the distance as if daydreaming for a few seconds. The skin-stuck disks stopped electrocuting Alan.

- “Gucci. I’m Dr. Epicurean, and you must be confused af. What deets you snagged last in the braindrive?”

Dr. Epicurean, or Epic as he was known to friends and colleagues, had an almost cartoonishly straight-cut beard, hugging his face perfectly, not a hair out of place. He seemed to be around 40 years old and had a full head of rich black hair slicked back in a wavy pattern.

Epic’s eyes communicated wisdom and curiosity, contrasting the skull tattoo under his left, and the armadillo tattoo under his right eye. A string of black pearls hung from his right ear. His white coat was shiny and stainless, wrapping tightly around a pastel green v-neck sweater, the neck-hole showing root-like tattoos, as if consumed by the Venom symbiote.

- “Where… am I?”

- “Musk General, Resuscitation and Recovery. We scooped you up vibin’ in freeze-mode at NWNC’s loot cache. Ring any dings?”, Epic probed.

- “What…??”

- “Ah. Finna cruise on the low-low. You’re kinda like a mystery avatar, no chips, no tags – just pure blank canvas vibes. But check it, you were chillin’ in deep freeze at this ghosted lab, No Woman No Cryogenics – NWNC for short, they were all about hitting the pause button on life. You know, for the terminally rich or the terminally ill of backaday. They were hot stuff from '24 to '28. Your spawn point? Went dark since '28. A bunch of kids stumbled on your pod mid-AR wavecast.”, Epic sputtered without pause, excited.

- “What language…?”, Alan probed, confused.

It took Epic a while to realize. Alan had been asleep for 40 years.

- “My bad, man. Let me try the ‘old timey way’. You are from the ‘before times’.”, Epic said, clearly gesturing the air quotes. It seemed like he was really struggling to find the words. “Hold on.”

The doctor gazed into the distance for a split second, then focused his attention on Alan again.

- “Ok, should be fine now. Look, you’ve been in stasis for 30 years. Some kids were doing streams in the abandoned facility of NWNC - the guys who froze you - and found you. We got you going again, shot some zaps into your muscles to revive them. You don’t have a Link, and you don’t have any tag except an analog card that says Alan Hobbs and some old timey info. There’s probably going to be a tonne of changes you missed, so I’ll try and take you through all of it slowly. As I said, I am Dr. Epicurean”, Epic said, visibly excited when he noticed Alan recognize his words.

- “You… are you serious?”, Alan chuckled in disbelief.

- “No cap”, Epic said without a pause. He then added: “Sorry - yeah dead serious.”

Alan looked around.

There wasn’t a single display in the room, the alleged doctor had nothing on him - no device, notebook, clipboard - and there was absolute silence except the two of them and the mild hum of the aircon.

Opposite a plan white door, there was one enormous window. It seemed darkened, dimming the sun slightly, but not enough to prevent the rays from illuminating flakes of dust like some aerial gold. They must have been high up, no trees were visible - only a few distant clouds and the sun on a clear, blue sky.

- “You’re telling me this is… the future?”, Alan inquired hesitantly.

- “Yup!”, Epic shouted excitedly.

- “And you’re a doctor called Epicurean?”

- “Yup!”, Epic repeated eagerly.

- “A bit on the nose, don’t you think?”

Epic processed for a bit, then replied.

- “Ohhh right. So, at university, you’re supposed to pick your name, we call it a tag. I guess back then we called it a username or user handle, maybe even a tag then too? This essentially builds your career under that username and it is used from then on for anything work related - you history, reputation, finance, deeds, it’s all under this one ‘name’.”

None of this made sense to Alan. Epic continued.

- “You take this identity with you anywhere and can use it, you can even prove you have it without revealing it. You can have a few of those, some public, most secret. I hang out with the InkBlotch - some driving enthusiasts - and they only care about my InkBlotch identity. I go by NeckstGen there.”

Alan could barely understand what Epic meant, despite his reconfiguration to 2020-speak.

- “Man fuck you, future, what’re you talking about… where are the robots, the beeping machines, the flying cars outside? Come on man, where am I? Can I get my phone, I need to make a call. Look if you took me to get my crypto, I was super public about the fact that I spent all that shit!”, Alan stated impatiently.

- “Alan, things are going to be super strange. A lot has changed since Caimeo. First things first, let’s get you tagged and groomed. Let’s get some hot zest and chat. I haven’t really talked and verbally explained something to someone other than a child in a very long time.”

- “Sigh. Fuck you man!”, Alan mouthed, sitting up and getting ready to leave. “What the fuck is zest?”


This is an exploration of an arguably net-positive future with an aggressive disregard for linear thinking, and a refresher of English language vocabulary for me. Hope it’s fun!