An innocent man, p.1
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       An Innocent Man, p.1

           Mark Z. Kammell
An Innocent Man

  An Innocent Man


  Mark Z. Kammell



  An Innocent Man

  © Copyright 2017 by Mark Z. Kammell.

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  * * * * *

  Bang Bang. You’re Dead.

  I think it all started at the party. Mark and Louise’s, that is. God knows why we were there in the first place, I can’t stand Mark (serial killer? Almost certainly) and Louise, well, right or wrong, friend or foe, it is really very hard to tell. But Mark was my oldest friend and therefore that’s where we headed, to the party, me and my wife (ex-wife, to be totally transparent) Sylvia. There’s always a crushing sense of disappointment about these things, the thrill that dissipates so totally when you have got past that edge of the booze, and you realise that all’s that’s left is the sadistically mindless task of talking to people. Listening to them, laughing at their jokes, thinking of dull but witty things to say, and eyeing the clock so that you can slink back into a taxi and crash back at your place for a night of drunken passion, or, more likely, a night of throwing up and ruining the silk sheets again, and you can’t wash them, you can’t even dry clean them, you just have to throw them out and oh god vomiting is such a turn off even if it’s with my wife (I mean ex-wife) who’s seen it all when it comes to me, even if her habits have started to become worryingly vampiric. And who knows where that will end. I have become increasingly frightened of spending time with her, though, ironically, or perhaps not in today’s supercharged world, I seem to spend far more time in her company now that we are not married, now that she is my ex-wife, and we actually seem to get on now, which is perhaps no surprise given that I don’t know of anyone, anyone, who actually gets on with his or her husband or wife or partner or boyfriend or girlfriend or whatever may exist in this post-gender, utterly confusing world.

  But... let that not detract from the fact that my ex-wife is a vampire. Or, at least she claims to be; personally, though, I am yet to be completely convinced. She can’t fly, she doesn’t burn in sunlight, she eats proper food without coughing up blood, she’s not allergic to silver or even to garlic. On the other hand, she drinks blood, she has large vampire style canines, although these I suspect were synthetically manufactured and surgically implanted, and her reflection in the mirror is strangely muted. The jury’s out, I think, and probably that’s no bad thing, since the very existence of vampires challenges both my conception of the universe and the need to have order, clarity and stability. Of course, it also excites me beyond imagining, the idea of eternal life! I did actually ask her to bite me, I couldn’t really see what the harm would be, but it doesn’t seem to have worked. She really seemed to relish sucking my blood; she has only entered her vampire phase after we broke up; another plus, for she would never have agreed to it before, except maybe to inflict significant pain, although more likely it would have ended up in another pointless row about each other’s selfishness, and in another significant reduction in the number of dishes in our sideboard. This time, when I asked, she purred and reached over to me, held my neck and plunged her teeth into my veins, then, with a satisfying pop, withdrew and threw herself back down on her bed, eyes wide and shining and a thin trail of my blood on her chin.

  There is a school of thought that says drinking blood is good for ageing, I suspect one of the things that built up the entire mythology of vampirism. Note please that I say mythology in its broadest sense, I am not judging this as fantasy, as a myth, for who am I to know, I really do think there have been stranger things, and who knows where technology will take us. There will be a convergence, at some point in the near future, I am convinced, where our technological ability will satisfy the cravings of magic, where the line will blur. What is magic if not unexplained technology? If we develop scientific methods, scientific principles, that enable us to emulate what has traditionally been seen as fantasy, does it make it any less awe inspiring? Yes, of course it does, it passes from one realm into the other, it ceases to be that wondrous, spectral, daunting bridge into countless possibilities, the promise of something different, the chance for atonement and change and the living of a different and perfect life. Instead it becomes something real and explainable, something for scientific magazines and bespectacled professors and coffee room conversation and altogether banal. I believe in the power of magic and yet I am one of its principle destroyers. Yes, I am going to confess something here and I would ask you, sincerely, to keep it to yourself, not to divulge it to anyone. I am sworn to secrecy, in a very real sense, and so I would ask that you respect that. Not in the same way as me, I am not asking you to sign the Official Secrets Act (as I had to), but I am asking you, with the greatest of sincerity, to respect the fact that I am sharing this with you, now, and not allow it to be known any further. The consequences could be enormous. (And yes, I will admit that my reason for sharing is as much to do with personal vanity as anything else, but then, of course, why shouldn’t it be. Why should I not be permitted to celebrate my own successes, my not insignificant contribution to this world. People do, with far smaller successes than my own. For instance, people have become famous for recording themselves playing video games and posting that on the internet. Where, I have to ask, is the contribution in that, other than giving people an excuse to burn their time in the most mindless way. At least if you actually play the games, you are doing something, questionable as that may be. Yet we open up our arms to become the ultimate in indolent voyeurism, and we celebrate its auteurs and allow ourselves, willingly, to be corrupted by them, we give them platforms to speak on and we treat them as if they are our modern-day philosophers, as if their embrace of mediocrity makes them, somehow, worthy of our time. And that’s what defines our lamentable generation, our politicians’ speeches and policies borne out of a need to pander to the zeitgeist of asinine self-celebration and self-loathing).

  Enough of my rant, I am straying off my point, which is important given that my point is to share something truly exciting. Invisibility. I give you that one word. Truly the stuff of magic, you may think, captured in the worlds of Harry Potter and Thor and Fantasia. This is my point entirely! Instead of looking to the realms of the unknown, or unknowable, let us look instead at technology. I don’t mean the fantastic technology showcased on countless television series and films that is (and will always be, in my humble opinion) out of our reach, but technology that exists here, today, in our hands and in our grasp. Imagine this: tiny (by tiny I mean less than ten nanometres, which, if you don’t know, is about the width of four strands of DNA, or one thousandth the size of a single red blood cell) computers, all stitched together, billions and billions of them, into a full body suit, head to toe. The excruciatingly clever part is what those computers are. They each contain a tiny LED screen, and a camera. I am sure, being a man of intelligence, you see where I am going know with this very simple idea. The camera captures what is in front of it, and sends the information to the NC (nano computer) on the other side of the body, where it is shown on the tiny LED screen. Replicating this across billions of these things, capturing every conceivable angle, gives the impression of seeing through the wearer of the coat. You see? Amazingly simple, and amazingly clever, manipulating available technology to create something truly outstanding. Of course, there are still a few issues. From certain angles, someone viewin
g the wearer of this coat will notice a slight ripple in the air if the wearer is moving quickly, but that is just something the software developers will figure out, using predictive AI algorithms. The power remains a concern, with the wearer having to carry a power pack (inside the suit, of course) which can be hot and heavy, but we are confident that with the rapid improvements in electrical storage solutions, we will be able to resolve that. It has taken an enormous amount of investment, of course, and has dragged me from little known engineer from a little known start up to being at the centre of the most highly secretive department (at least that’s what I think it is) that this country has to offer us, with money and power that I really could not have dreamed of (but little known, still). Soon, I think, the technology will become public, once our esteemed military engine has leveraged it effectively; I would imagine that they would wish it to remain secret forever,
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