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In the twenty-second century everyone had a face2face account. Everyone called it 2face. Everyone knew that 2face had just reached over two billion users on its network. Everyone had a connection to 2face by a special implant in the brain giving everyone instant thought access to everything about everyone.

Everyone knew Sam Harding. Everyone knew he was 6’ 1” inches tall and weighed 165 pounds. Everyone knew that he liked old novels and his favorite book was, “The Man who was Thursday.” Everyone knew he enjoyed soft rock music and wore blue socks. Everyone knew that Sam liked to read books made of paper instead of the 2face reading network. Everyone read them with him.

Everyone read his online journal and everyone knew he was dating the three years younger Ashley Holdenbrook via the Heart2Heart dating service known to everyone as 2heart. Everyone knew they were a 95% match and the enjoyed the virtual coffee-house as a meeting place.

Everyone knew that his Mother’s name was Helen and his Father’s name was Jason. Everyone knew he was twenty-five and was born October 5th at a weight of seven pounds. Everyone knew he got his implants at seven years old. That’s when everyone met Sam. Everyone knew his first reaction was to try to run from the network until he discovered it was in his head and he couldn’t run. Then everyone watched as Sam was calmed down by the doctor. Everyone knew it was a normal child-hood adjustment.

Everyone knew that it was Sam’s routine to jog by the scenic water front at exactly 6:15pm. Everyone knew that Sam could run a six-minute mile by the water front. Everyone knew that the track was an exact square with right angles with one facing the water-front at the corner of Data and Tech Street. Everyone knew at this exact moment of 6:29pm Sam Harding was running at about 6mph with a heart rate of 100bpm up Data Street toward the corner. Everyone wondered why as he neared the corner he did not slow down. Everyone began to pay more attention to Sam as he began to speed up as he approached the corner of Data and Tech Street.

An alert was sent to his doctor who began to try to contact Sam directly, but everyone saw that Sam was not responding. Everyone watched as Sam’s eyes began to fill with tears and heard the groans of agony rip from his chest as is they were released from years of hiding. Everyone knew he worked for the hydro-works plant that made sure there was enough water and that it was safe for everyone. Because everyone knew that if someone’s head was completely submerged in water without any protective gear their implants would short and kill them in a matter of three minutes. Everyone knew that no one knew this better than Sam. Everyone knew that the authorities where trying to shut the conscious brain down through the implant to stop his progress to the water. Everyone knew they would be too late.

Everyone watched the final moments has Sam screamed and launched himself into the water. Everyone felt the connection with Sam break as the water severed the connection and he would be dead in three minutes.

For three minutes Sam Harding was alone, happy…

… and nobody knew.


The Gatekeepers to the Land of Normal

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There is a land called Normal that draws millions of pilgrims. They all come from the farthest reaches of the earth to enter the place called Normal. None of the pilgrims know why they wish to enter the Land of Normal, but they are driven by the terror of being left out of it. Many come through hazardous terrain, cross arid deserts, and scale high mountains to reach it. Many will give up their families and friends. Quite a few numbers give up their faiths just to enter the gilded gates to the place called Normal.  They will alter their bodies and induce strange fasting rituals to be deemed worthy to enter. Everyone knows the most challenging obstacle any pilgrim wishing to enter the land of Normal is getting past The Gatekeepers.

No one knows the names of The Gatekeepers. No one has really seen them. Some think that they are terrible ghouls who sworn to protect the land of Normal. Others claim that The Gatekeepers are enlightened angels who eyes see only what is pure and good. Whether angels or demons all the travelers agree; they are feared. The Gatekeepers demand high sacrifices, changes in personal clothing, and for some to alter their bodies before admitting them.

Great jubilation greets the new citezens of the land called Normal. Much fame is given to those who have reached the land of normal. The Land called Normal  gives festivals in their honor and their names are broadcast among the pilgrims as legends of greatness. Some write books to guide future pilgrims to this miraculous place and others warn of the perils of being an outsider. They are also given a book of by-laws written by The Gatekeepers. For the land of normal is a land of rules, and if they are once violated they bring banishment to the violator.

Those who have been banished can never come again to the land of normal. They are lost and forgotten by the great place, their names become a by-word to the pilgrims. A warning to others who would come to the land of normal: do not associate with the banished. Even speaking to them can bring down judgments of shunned from The Gatekeepers. The shunned judgment is what every pilgrim fears. The thought haunts the dreams of the pilgrims by night and causes the stress of their hearts by day.

The land of normal has a dark secret. The secret is known only to a few and The Gatekeepers. Once in the citizens of normal dare not venture out of the country’s borders.  An innocent walk can carry devastating consequences. The citizens of the land of normal know the awful truth that the pilgrims never know until too late.  The Gatekeepers are not guards who keep the world out, but wardens who keep prisoners in.

To give up your individuality is to give up your freedom.