The scene: The entire story is shot in black & white with maybe a little silver superimposed here or there. It’s also a time period where the earth’s atmosphere can no longer sustain atmospheric high pressure. This climate situation is caused by a perpetual state of atmospheric lows. This is referred to as climate status quo (as opposed to climate change1). Put another way, clouds have become the sky for at least two generations and although there’s not much rain, a blue sky is rare.
The protagonist of the story is a pirate-like character that wears a jalopy suit. A jalopy suit is a suit made of remnants of other suits. This would be something like a suit jacket that has been pieced together. The arms, the lapels, the pocket trimmings etc. don’t match. Of course, the pants do not match the jacket and are held to the protagonists waist by a string–a belt being a rare item. A vest would also go well with this outfit–something perhaps with a bit more colour than the jacket and pants. Our protagonist wears two different but very fancy patent leather shoes and he is often attempting to keep them clean or unscathed from the rough, almost moon-like dull silver terrain. He also wears non-matching socks, which can be seen due to two different legs of the pants that were sewn together.
Our protagonist is the head of a gang of young people that call themselves the Interfacers. Nobody knows anybody’s real name; each is addressed with a variety of pronouns. Pronouns include:
- standard: his, her
- new fangled: sie, hir, s/he, xe2.
Every once-a-once the protagonist is called Depp as he has somewhat of a Hollywood swagger and the others thought it reminiscent of a Pirates of the Caribbean movie poster they once saw.
The sole purpose of the gang is to salvage smartphone junk. Discarded, broke and junk smartphones serve as a form of currency on the black market that makes-up their eco-system. Most of the gang act subservient to Depp because he’s found a way to break down smartphones into its components and thereby extract the rare earth elements that are used to make them. This is a much more profitable form of smartphone scavenging. There are other gang members that aren’t so subservient and they are a threat to Depp.
The gang is pursued by other gangs not only in search of Depp’s cache of junk smartphones but also his secret to getting to the rare elements inside them, i.e. the metal used to make the innards of the phones. The gang has never seen his secret method. Instead he shares the wealth he’s acquired with them–as long as they find smartphones that he can use to breakdown. To keep his gang small and unique he turns away most stragglers even if they bring a good smartphone in exchange for getting into the gang.
Depp has a price on his head set by local eco-system administrators.
One day while showing the gang around a newly discovered heap of smartphones, one of the gang makes an unusual discovery. An actual working smartphone is found in the heap. When this is given to Depp he promises everyone a bonus and a special evening meal and then goes on a tirade imitating Steve Jobs as though, using the found smartphone, he was giving the original iPhone introduction from the year 2007. During his tirade, though, his attention is drawn to the phone. On the phone a video of a little boy–assumed to be its owner–has made an old fashion video blog, i.e., a Vlog. In the Vlog the boy is doing a mock unboxing and review of a bicycle. Depp realises that the video is current. Then, suddenly, in a fit of desperation Depp struggles to turn off the smartphone. Not understanding what’s going on, the gang becomes restless. For some in the gang this is the first working device they’ve ever seen.
Depp has seen many functioning smartphones before but after struggling to turn this one off he realises he’s made a big blunder. Before he can deal with the situation he’s gotten himself in another group of young men appear in the wings. Moments later Rival appears. Rival is the leader of another gang. Depp deals with his blunder toot suite in an act of technical prowess that his gang has yet to witness. Even the other gang is in awe of what Depp is doing. (What is Depp doing?)
Rival explains that the phone was a setup, that he placed the phone to be found and he set it up with a tracer. The only problem is, Depp, knowing that he screwed up and should have known better, also realises that the smartphone was just a find by his rival and begins to question the video of the boy in search of a bicycle. Rival is confused by the video–because he never saw it which tells Depp that Rival is probably working for someone else. Depp finds a way out of this predicament (blunder) by resorting to an old trick that fools Rival and his gang. To the surprise of those around him, Depp smashes the phone on the ground and refuses to take it with him for salvage. Depp’s gang is shocked.
Keep in mind, dear worst-reader, Bicycles no longer exist in this eco-system because all available metal is used only for upper-class consumption. Since children are exposed to technology from birth there has been no interest in outdoor activity or actual playing outside. The video of the bicycle is more than a curiosity for all.
The trick Depp uses to get rid of his rival has two parts. First , as previously stated, he smashes the phone on the ground. This, of course, destroys the device but more importantly makes it no longer trackable. It’s also a gesture on the part of the current possessor that he forfeits his possession (of the device). This shocks his rival who subsequently falls on the phone with his whole body and Depp’s gang watch in wonder. This scene is an example of the fundamental rules governing this eco-system. This is a system where finder keepers, losers weepers or possession is nine-tenths of the law rules3.
Also shocked, but still loyal even though the gang assume an evening’s meal has been wasted, Depp’s gang anxiously follow him as he leaves the scene while Rival worships what remains of the device. The second part of Depp’s reversing his blunder is that he managed to copy the video from the phone he destroyed. And not just the video but also the contents of the phone that his rival used to track him. Here it is revealed that Depp has had a working smartphone on his person unknown to his gang. As Depp studies what his Rival did to track him, his gang watch in utter amazement.
Using that phone, he was able to copy the video of the boy mock-unboxing the bicycle. In a grand gesture, he actually gives the precious phone to his gang to watch the video as he’s seen enough, adding that the battery is about to run out, so they should enjoy it and remember it as best they can. There is no way to recharge batteries of phones in this eco-system.
Once the battery is drained, Depp wants to take it to break it down. The gang members, although appreciative and submissive want to 1) stop Depp from breaking down the device to get to its parts and 2) want to know more about bicycles. But Depp insists that in order for them to survive they must break down the phone. Having sacrificed the other phone to get the rival gang off their trail was a great cost. “Times are getting tougher,” Depp explains. “There are issues of consumables,” Depp says. Is this a moment of mutinous behaviour from a few gang members?
The moment of mutiny is broken up when a straggler comes along with a new boxed smartphone. The straggler, being so naive and unintelligent, doesn’t realise that the phone he carries is so special. He only wants something for it because the box is so pretty. The gang and Depp of course are skeptical, thinking that this too is another trap from their rival gang. Depp concludes that something else is going on. Two phones in one day–this one still in the original box! Depp tries to convince his gang that a functioning smartphone is not as valuable as the rare metals inside of it. Reason: 1) they have no means to charge the device and 2) there is no cellular network for calling. Or is there?
This new phone amazes Depp. Reason: it is actually a new phone. He questions where the man found it. The man points off and says like: …there, over there, near a pile of wall remnants. Although it does have a few scratches and some other wear & tear, it is the most beautiful phone Depp has ever seen. But before becoming obsessed with it, Depp also realises that there is something even more special about it. It not only has a full battery but it is also showing a connection to a cellular network. Depp has lots of experience with these devices but has never made a call with one.
Depp begins to investigate how the guy came across this phone. He wants to know everything about where and how he found it. The guy says it was just lying on the side of a road, near a wall. What does the boy/man mean by “wall”? “A wall? What wall,” Depp asked. “Was there a car?” The boys start rambling on about the cars they love that they’ve only seen in pictures and posters.
Depp has two great fears. One is facing up to the untruths he’s told his gang. The other is the upperclass. He’s faced them before when he was a child. And so, like new-fangled Robin Hood Depp goes on a quest to find a bike. The problem is, there are no more bikes because humanity reset its priorities and gave up on the simplest inventions when the smartphone boom took over humanities mind.
All known resources are now only used for smartphone production.
The irony of the smartphone name. As the devices got better the ones using them got dumber.
Or something like that.
-end of idea-
- Find the opposite of climate-change or make it up? ↩︎
- https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Appendix:List_of_protologisms/third_person_singular_gender_neutral_pronouns ↩︎
- There is a codec of sorts in this eco-system where bartering and trading are considered best behaviour activity. The consequence of cheating has harsh punishment dealt out by sanctioned vigilante justice ↩︎
2 thoughts on “Wasteland Or Where A Little Boy Wants A Bike Instead Of A Smartphone”
This is a great outline for a dystopian novel, Tommi! G
Yeah. I usually don’t post these things. Have so many of them. Idears, that is. Thanks for you comment. Rant on. -t