Saturday, April 10, 2021


Once again, it gives the Speculative Fiction Showcase great pleasure to welcome occasional guest blogger and essayist, not to mention satirist, A.E. Williams.

As ever. all views expressed are the author's own!


The other day, I was driving along in the early morning, and I had a thought.

I was reminiscing about this show that used to be on Spike TV™.[1] The host, Stacy David, did a good impression of a smug frat-boy with too much money, an almost likeable personality, (if you were also a frat-boy), and a decent knowledge of automobiles.

He even made it appear that anyone, (including ham-fisted viewers drooling over his immaculate and no-doubt fabulously expensive garage), could easily perform mechanical tasks to tune or improve their vehicular device of choice. Whether a motorcycle, sedan, dump truck, half-track, ATV, boat, or gyrocopter, Stacy made fixing what ailed it look like baking a pie.

He’d have a smudge or two of grease on his forehead when he finished, but his gloved hands still retained their healthy, tanned aura of wealth and vitality.[2]

I digress…

The point is, I was THINKING about this show. I didn’t have anyone else in the car with me, save the many ghosts we all carry as we drive around.[3]

Later, when I returned to the satellite magic of my Internet connection, I was goofing around, and settled on YouTube™. And, as I am scrolling down the page, seeking some additional distraction from the oncoming freight train of viral demise headed all of our ways, I spied the Mach 5© from “Speed Racer®.” [4]

And, so, I clicked on the thumbnail, (as would any red-blooded American who was a boy who was introduced to cultural sensitivity and diversity in such fashion, many decades prior), and, Lo and Behold!

It was Stacy David. Really.

And that is when I became very, very frightened.

Because the social media giants can now obviously read our minds!

What’s next?

Do they know when we are going to the bathroom?

Is that why I get ads popping up for Charmin™ and Preparation-H® when I am on the throne?

Oh, my God!

They DO know everything about me! I mean, us!

Can they…do they know…when we are going to die?

Does Google know when I am going to die?


Now, insurance companies and financial institutions have been leaning heavily on math and actuaries forever.

In point of fact, life insurance is a bet they make with you.

They bet you that you are going to die. Someday.

And, when you win, you do. Die, that is.

You die, and they pay the beneficiaries a sum of money to make them remember you fondly.

Well, that’s the general idea. But in reality, it’s more like they just pay a small portion of your hard-earned insurance policy that grow the fruits of all those hard-earned premiums you’ve paid, waiting out your miserable existence until you keel over.

The House always wins, as they say. Of course, they do.

They keep your money, and invest it along with all the other people they have guilted into making premium payments, (“You wouldn’t want your poor wife to remain poor, hating you even in death, would you?”), making interest on that pool of premium money. And, every so often they will pay out some outrageous sum to a bunch of people who now have you to thank for dying for them.

Hell, they probably wished you were dead anyway, most of the time. These parasites will now enjoy a far better lifestyle than you could attain while still living, and working.

You become worm-food while your widow is getting railed by a tag-team of your still-living, and incredibly randy, buddies.

Or, maybe your rotting corpse can find solace in your children performing scientific experiments as to how particular narcotics will affect their young bodies.[5]

But all of this is only my way of bracing you for the inevitable:

Google DOES know when you are going to die.

For real.

Here’s how that works –



There used to be a joke website where you would put your birthday in a couple of fields, and it would tell you how long you would live.

And then, there were these semi-serious medical sites, where you’d input all your sins and frailties, and it would dispense some manner of suggestions, such as “STOP SMOKING!” or “EXERCISE MORE!”

These platitudes made you feel as though you at least were thinking about taking your health seriously.

Along comes these “Healthy Option” meals at fast-food restaurants.[6]

Based on the idea that ‘green is good,’ and ‘red is bad,’ those traffic-light menu choices allow you to fool yourself into thinking you are really getting in high gear, diet-wise.

Coupled with ‘smart’ gym equipment, IoT mini-refrigerators, and app-tied wrist-gadgets, it is a Pure Dee fact that you, (and, by extension, those compatriots of your socially distanced social media circles), are serious about achieving immortality - or at least outliving your grandkids.

Heck, if you have terminal indigestion, you hope to at least be able to upload a reasonable facsimile of yourself into some kind of AI.

Then, you can pester your relatives until cloning dead cells, or rehydrating that urn of cremains, becomes reality.[7]

Soon, it is hoped, miniature submarines, the size of blood cells, and pockmarked with wireless surveillance cameras, and teeny-tiny laser scalpels, will be navigating the lipid-laden, cholesterol-crammed veins and arteries of your genitals, and other extremities, restoring vitality and youth without the need for messy organ-donor sacrifices of Chinese origin.

Still, here we are, not yet achieving the tantalizing future we all so richly deserve.

The Actuarial Tables tell us our life-expectancy is dropping. [8]

We watch the calendar days fall, hour after hour, and waste our lives playing games about zombies, or mock-battles, or participate in other celebrations of death. The droning hum in our brains is briefly quieted by our efforts at exploding our enemies, or watching outlandish recreations of mutilation and carnage, while we sip on celebrity-infused tonics or smoke herbal supplements to try to deaden the realization of the Abyss we all must face.

Am I bringing you down? Sorry, not sorry…

See, I have a point with showing you all this doom and gloom.

You may not find it all that comforting, now that I think about it.

No matter.

Remember, that which does not kill us only delays the inevitable!



So, we have given our data to a networked system of social and consumerist databases. This data includes our names, identity information, shopping and viewing habits, who our friends are, and our vices, likes, dislikes, relationship status and a myriad of other bits and pieces of activities and identifiable artefacts that comprise who we are.

And, Facebook, Instagram, Google, Amazon[9] and all the others ‘share’ this amongst themselves.

Sure, it’s ‘anonymized’: much in the same way that everyone can see it is definitely you throwing up over the side of that fishing boat on YouTube®, even though you are tagged as ‘MonkyBone44’ in the photos kind of anonymized.

So what, right? Everyone does this now. In fact, try to avoid getting facially recognized, even in crowds.[10] It’s impossible. The sheer volume of surveillance is astounding.

Again, so what?

WELL – Actuaries like to take all this ‘anonymized’ data, and merge it together, into what they call BIG DATA, to make huge analysis parties to predict behaviors.

Human behaviors. Yours. Mine. Ours.

And, guess what? They create algorithms to predict and run model scenarios and come up with statistics that will give them a pretty decent idea as to what your lavish, decadent and wanton lifestyle will do to your aging body as fleeting time takes its maddening toll.



The other evening, as is my wont, I was enjoying an adult beverage, a nice cigar, and the night sky around the North Forty.

The buzzing flies were mostly absent, since it was still cool. Not exactly bonfire cold, but cool enough to think about making one. In the end, I decided that procrastination was the better part of being lazy, so I sat, illuminated only by the glowing ember of my smoke.

I’ve always like H. Upmann’s™. They burn evenly, have a good, mild taste, and last just long enough.

It’s moments such as this that become contemplative. And, when the gods decide to shoot a star across your field of vision, that momentary flash of light can bring thoughts of wishes – or the ever-nearing horizon of oblivion.

For, contrasted against the Universe, we are small, humble and insignificant. And, that pisses me off…

Since my prediction of COVID19[11] has come to pass, people look at me strangely.

I mean, sure, they used to look at me strangely before, too.

But now I notice they have this haunted look, as if they are one small, insignificant, random moment from annihilation. They avoid touching other humans, and scowl when you cough behind your flimsy face covering.

You can feel the terror metastasize when people ‘social distance’ themselves.

For an example, last January I was at Sea World®, and people would stand at least a few yards from me (and, each other).

Everyone was wearing masks.

The poor SW funployees pointed their fingers and cluck-clucked at you if your mask slipped, or you scratched your nose for a second. God forbid you sneezed!

“Please wear your mask for the safety of all of our patrons!” they’d say, smiling beneath their Shamu™ masks with their mouths, one supposes, while their eyes shot sleek, wet, dolphin-shaped daggers. [12]

I wandered about while my daughter and her friend rode the rollercoasters, sipping my lukewarm beer in the Florida sun.

Seeing all these people playing at accepting the ‘new normal,’ I ruminated on the previous times I had been at that same place, marking the changes silently.

What had happened to the Penguin Encounter™? How about the pink flamingo boats?

The Sky Tower© sat ominously vacant. And, why not?

I mean, who dared to ride the “Elevator of Possible Viral Doom?”

Think about that! What an exercise in trust, and staring right into the face of Death by plague!

There you would be, sitting in close proximity to dozens of total strangers, (most of whom were possibly from other countries; it was hard to tell, after all).

Everyone would stare out at the receding landscape as the tower symbolically brought us closer to Heaven, inhaling each other’s miasmas!

All that fear mirrored in everyone’s eyes…

But it was closed. Pity.

I could have used a bit of vicarious Edgar Allen Poe by that point. 

As I meandered the park, it felt positively Victorian; I am telling you!

I was surprised at the lack of Polly Penguin™ Beaked Plague Masks, or Terry Tiger Shark™ Theriac Paste for sale at the vendor’s booths.

Sure, they had Pepsi® Zero soft drinks and Shamu™ Vegan Ice Cream bars by the truckload, but ask some vendor for a decent poultice and you were met with vacant stares.

And, Disney™®© forbid you pull down your mask to make your incoherent mumbles more understood or legible.

“Sir! Please put your mask back on, IMMEDIATELY!” the startled ice-cream huckster would shout. “If you do not comply, we shall be forced to either eject you from the park, or see if we can launch you into the whale pool from the Mako Roller Coaster™!”

As they hissed you could read the secret longing in their dead-fish eyes that you would hesitate just long enough to allow them to act out on their rabid fantasy.

And, you instinctively knew you would not have been the first sacrifice to Poseidon – that day.


Then, there is the whole Nazi thing, regarding vaccination.


You aren’t being asked to “Show your papers!”?

You have not yet been forced to provide evidence that you have indeed been given the jab in order to access some relatively normal public space?

Don’t worry, my good friend: it’s coming soon to a theater near you!

After all this confusing messaging, the immense angst and boredom of being cooped up, imprisoned in your own ‘home,’ when you walk around at a place like Sea World, you are just finally glad to be out of the confines of your habitat.

Now able to see the sun and smog and whatever, you’re so grateful that Big Brother has deemed it proper and given you ‘permission’ to just exist that you end up loving Him forever and ever.

Until, that is, you suddenly realize that every single person on the planet is really Death incarnate, that vegan Shamu®-popsicle paused just beneath your gaping jaw.

You spy a cute little girl with pigtails. She’s crawling with viral infection, from her rumpled dolly to her penny loafers.

A somewhat curvy woman goes jogging past, her head ensconced in some expensive, scientifically filtered mask, her ample bosom and buttocks bouncing hypnotically. (Hey, she’s been in quarantine for over a year, cut her some slack!) Bet she’s got the COVID!

Then there is the bearded weirdo whose mask is actually a skeletal face stitched onto a bandana. You do know that when he actually eats food, he uses that infernal, stained cloth to wipe infectious grease from his lips, right?

And, that’s just within three yards of the entrance to the Elementary School!

Yep, the Grim Reaper is open for business, and business is BOOMING!



“But, A.E.!” you may be thinking. “What can we do?”

Not much.

Personally, I find bourbon helps.

Thanks to the magic of social media and sharing pretty much every inane thing you do, the way you interact with apps, your spending habits, and which sites you frequent, it is possible for the Powers That Be® to figure out just what kind of salami you like, and the probability that you will stop off at the pub for a beer and brat, and how many times a year you will do this.

AND – based on the data you are feeding your FIT-WATCH™, which is beaming all your vital signs to your app, you will get shamed into doing all manner of healthy behaviors!

Like running on a treadmill for forty-five seconds…and then making a beeline for your mini-fridge, where you keep a supply of mildly-flavored carbonated beverages.

As you wipe pretend sweat from your brow, and sip mineral water for five minutes, maybe you find yourself contemplating how many calories you just burned. (One.)

You sit idly, thinking about “Sweet Dreams Are Made of This” by the Eurhythmics® for some odd reason.

It’s weird because it’s the song your ex dumped you over, and also because you’ve got Billy Eilish™ playing on your Beats® beaming tuneless noise directly into your aural cortex.

So, you towel off a rivulet of mineral water drool, and walk over to your desk.

Leaning against the burled wood, gasping for breath, tired from pretending that your exertions are in any manner healthy, you ask Siri the most important question any human can ask of anyone, be they Human, God, or A.I.:

“Siri, when am I going to die?”

A few seconds pause, and then comes the answer.

“You are going to die in five,” comes Siri’s mechanical, soothing, artificial voice.

“Five what?”

“Five. Four. Three. Two…”           

Your throat closes with fear as you drop your mineral water, and it bounces across the marble tile floor, coming to rest under an ergonomic chair, the precious fluids draining onto the floor, much as the color is draining from your increasingly pallid face.

Your visage contorted in terror, you manage to find enough breath in your shriveled lungs for a penultimate, plaintive howl of anguish. Your hands rush to the side of your face, Munch-like, and you cry out your final word.

“ALEXA!” you scream, as the Darkness closes in, and you hear your Mother, as near to you as your green bottle of Soylent.



You suddenly wake up, damp from the nightmarish dream.

Your heart is pounding, as you turn on the lamp on the stand next to your bed.

Your iPhone glows warmly, as if mocking you.

With a grimace, you flip your finger across in a familiar pattern, unlocking the marvels of this technological wonder.

You quickly glance over the screen, and a single message catches your eye.

“Stacey David/Gearz - Speed Racer's Mach 5”[13]


A.E. Williams

High Springs, Florida

March 31, 2021

[1] It still is, but it used to be, too. Thanks, Mitch!

[2] One might imagine him polishing his tool at the end of each episode until it gleamed, tall and tanned and glistening with lube! I wouldn’t, but ONE might…

[3] You know which ones I mean, right? Don’t you ever catch your dead Mother sitting in the empty passenger seat, her pale visage looking sadly at you, shaking her head mournfully, out of the corner of your eye? Her dead eyes wordlessly judge your entire being. You can hear her rattling voice, worn by years of smoking unfiltered cigarettes, directly in your brain, yes?

“Such a disappointment! And to think, nine months and eleven days in my loving womb, and then eighteen years of sacrifice, not to mention those expensive viola lessons! And then you ended up marrying that loser? The bastard who divorced you over his secretary!? I warned you, but you never listened to me, did you? Not even that time I told you that dog biscuits aren’t cookies! Miss Smarty Pants! Look at you now! Yes, I know you FEEL like a man, but you were born with the same bits I was, you tart! Don’t give ME that side-eye! Pay attention to your driving, you almost ran over that squirrel! Possum, squirrel, whatever!” Etc… It’s enough to make you seriously consider seeing how much damage a car can make on a bridge piling at 120 miles per hour, isn’t it? Go ahead. **** her judgmental ass!

[4] You do realize I am just inserting random characters here? Like this

[5] But wait! Soon, you will all be reunited in heavenly bliss! Maybe…

 The family that consumes together combusts together, or something like that. I don’t know. Lucifer won’t speak to me after “Imperious Wrecks.” He blames me for Trump losing the election.

[6] Good God, isn’t THAT an oxymoron! Heads would explode with irony, if only more people knew what irony actually is!

[7] Severed-head cryonics is SO old-school. Older than the term ‘old-school’!

[8] Not just in the poor countries. Heck, those places aren’t even used in calculating these kinds of numbers. Just statistically insignificant!

[9] The symbol insertion is getting tedious. Take it as read that I do it from now on, if I miss any, ok?

[10] I call it ‘getting a facial’, but then again, I am a writer. 

[12] I mean, you’d think I had personally made “Blackfish!”

About A.E. Williams:

A.E. Williams has a unique background of military experience, aerospace engineering and intelligence analysis. He has a varied career, from inventor to consultant, and pretty much everything in between.

Born near Pittsburgh, A.E. Williams is man of a mystery.

As a young man, Williams served the United States government in various capacities, which he then followed with fifteen years as a consultant. Williams currently resides in rural Central Florida.

He does his writing at night, usually accompanied by a bottle of Maker's Mark bourbon and a large supply of Classic Dr. Pepper and ice.  

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