writing chapter 2.8 (reprised)
People were sitting in rows of chairs set up in front of the speakers’ table in a medium sized room on the whatever level of the Hyatt Regency in the middle of a Dragoncon Sunday afternoon. The room wasn’t assigned to them, but so what? They weren’t blocking traffic anymore. The room was set up for sound and video projection, but nothing was turned on. It was packed at the front, with people circulating at the back, and coming and going thru the hall outside. Nobody was crowding anybody else, and Portia and Josh were sitting up behind the table, facing the people. Josh was antsy with caffeine and no food. Portia looked like she was coming down with something. She could hear people discussing it inside her head. Some of them didn’t like her hair. She tossed her head defiantly, beads rattling in her dreads.
Caroline Street sat near the back and took notes while Portia and Josh rambled about making a videogame that would develop real, actual, physical superpowers in the players. Like flying, and psychic abilities, and teleporting. They spent a lot of time discussing some sort of “essence” that was in control of the universe. She didn’t understand it, not being into science fiction or fantasy at all (well, not unless you’re talking sexual fantasy), but she wrote down the important-sounding bits.
Caroline wrote: “Energy field, all living beings. Surrounds, penetrates things, binds galaxy.”
She drew a crude diagram as Portia explained time and space as changeable rather than constant. She hated math in school.
She copied most of a map of their world that Portia drew on the tablecloth. She hated art, too. But Portia sure was a drink of cool water to look at.
She listened incredulously as a bunch of costumed freaks talked about magic as if it was real. They seemed convinced that they could walk thru walls if they tried hard enough.
“A new reality is just an attitude adjustment away,” she wrote. Fucking hippies. “Learning curve,” she wrote, “teaching tool,” but didn’t try to copy Portia’s picture of a “4D level diagram with gameflow vectors.”
“Energy flows along a path, people are points on the path, people are energy,” she wrote. “Bodies are illusory.”
Caroline saw people fidgeting around her, cocking their heads like they heard something. Portia tapped the mic but it wasn’t on. Caroline didn’t hear anything.
Somebody mentioned quantum entanglement. Somebody else mentioned mystical experiences. “We’re all connected,” she wrote. “Virus creatures make you psychic. Force trainer machines. Making ki balls. Training program, exercises. Everybody’s a superhero.”
Someone said something about there being no objective reality, and someone else said something about making your own reality, and she wasn’t sure who said that nothing actually existed until it was observed.
Then someone said something that made sense. She scribbled his words down, “Observer only important at very small scales. Does not mean you create your own universe. Newage narcissism and quantum mechanics don’t mix.” Yeah. Freaking hippies.
Then people started getting mean to the skeptics, and insisted on airy fairy, and she heard some more sense. Caroline wrote faster. “Why no world peace if you make your own reality? Pseudoscientific psychobabble. Gullible, wishful thinking bronies.”
They were talking about something that happened earlier, and how it was passed by touch. She wrote, “Buzz, hum, vibration. Breathing at same time. Conversation in your head.” It sounded unpleasant, like the dizziness before you toss your beers.
Portia read out a list that Caroline tried to write down. Concentration, meditation, physical training, willpower, math, science, philosophy, self-mastery. Self-mastery seemed to be the key, so she circled it. Secret teachings, someone called them, and there was a brief argument about people who shouldn’t be taught, but Portia and Josh agreed that the angel had insisted on teaching everybody. “Let the force sort them out.”
Right after that, Josh called for discipline and training and rules, and said something about danger and everybody’s protection, and a skeptic wondered if there’d be a secret handshake or special underwear. Caroline decided they were just a bunch of unrealistic, unemployed kids who didn’t know what they wanted.
Another guy talking sense lectured them for a minute about near death experiences that sounded just like what they were describing, but was all due to oxygen deprivation. Buzzing, peaceful floating, communicating with others. She wrote, “Cascade of neurochemicals. Cerebral anoxia. Brain cells dying.”
Then Portia got mad at the guy. She looked really hot when she got mad, Caroline noted. She stamped her little feet and talked about the buzz and the vibration, and people in the audience got all excited. Caroline found it uncomfortable in the room, and looked at her watch, wanting to leave. She felt a little sick to her stomach but kept taking notes.
She wrote: “Look like oxygen starvation to you? Breathe deep, peeps. Whump.”
People in the back of the room and out in the hall were talking about hums and buzzes and voices in their heads as she left, but Caroline dismissed it as suggestibility and went off to sneak a beer at the liquor store across the street.
As they went to their next panels, some of the people agreed with Caroline, tho she couldn’t hear them. Others uploaded footage of Portia with her head in flames as she chewed out the haters.
Caroline Street, 47 year old white female, security tech I, resident Smyrna area, Atlanta, GA.