‘I m d 1 in 10’, Victor Fernando R. Ocampo

Illustrations © 2014 Eric Asaris

“Neque porro quisquam est qui dolorem ipsum quia dolor sit amet, consectetur, adipisci velit” (“Neither is there anyone who loves pain itself since it is painful and thus no one wants it”) - Cicero, On the Purpose of Good and Evil

 [ Secret, © 2014 Eric Asaris ] They r coming 4 me, my Dev/Null executioners, I got no more tym left so u, dear reader, have 2 fill in d gaps in my story. I don’t know who u r, but if u value ur life, LISTEN 2 me. I’m a dead man talking.

Listen n listen closely.

Life Hack # X: Speak their Latin or die.

I signed up because I want only d best 4 my family”—d@’s d only safe answer if any1 asks u why u’re here. B very careful wot u say n remMbR, always remMbR: “Optimum est pati quod emendare non possis”. Its best 2 endure w@ u can’t change. Ur f*cking life depends on it. N don’t ever speak ur mind. If u’re a resident of d New Cities, ur mind’s not urs, not anymore. So speak their Latin n b safe.

If they pursue conversation, stick 2 trivial topics. Rhetorical questions can n will give u away. U never know who u’ll be talking 2. Let suspicion breed ur confidence. In d New Cities, d walls have eyes n every word is twittered by d wind. Speak only every1’s truth. Think b4 u speak, n never ever post what u really feel. HIDE URSELF FIERCE, HIDE URSELF DEEP.

(<_<) = ☺

Here’s a gud, innocuous subject 2 talk ’bout: “D New Cities r d cleanest, safest n most modern places 2 live on d planet.” Tell them d@ u’re extremely grateful… no privileged 2 b so far away frm d famine n d filth of d rest of d world.

D@ isn’t a lie, u know. 4 all intents n purposes, u’ll b living in a virtual hotel, a fancy country club. Each n every1 of those New Cities is a high-tech dream built on d back of d world’s greed—pasteurized n homogenized by a 1000 years of steady business. It’s a society decorated by d rape of many old countries, a Frankenstein’s monster built frm actual, authentic cultures d@ they just couldn’t fake.

Each n every 1 of d New Cities is also a PRISON, 1 whose bars r determined by ur income n IQ levels.

Tell them something ’bout hoW ur kids will go 2 d top schools in d world. U have 2 paint ur spawn as d ambitious sort or they’ll b cast aside in d streaming process. RemMbR d@ they view ur children as ur contribution 2 d 5 FUTURES—Fecundity of Family, Felicity in Society, Freedom frm Fear, Focus on Industry, n Forever Prosperity.

If u’re lucky, ur kids will become citizens -– not a bottom-feeding drone like me. N if u r really lucky, 1 or more of them will b born w/ extraordinary genes. U’d have hit d jackpot of genetic destiny, d building of perfect little beasts, beauty + brains.

But @ least ur children won’t have 2 join d 1 in 10.

Life Hack # IX: Love is a group thing.

I know we’ve never met, but if u’re part of d 1 in 10, I know d@ u wouldn’t have made it dis far w/o an approved Latin-speaking wife n @ least 2 kids. U wouldn’t even b reading dis if u weren’t born just like me. We rn’t d children of d obscenely wealthy, those who could buy their way in w/ $$$$. We’re d sons n daughters of a middle class family whose dreams reached FAR beyond their grasp of reality.

Like u, I was mommy n daddy’s perfect little hijo. I was valedictorian all d way frm kindergarten 2 my university days. I slacked off a bit in Law School where 2 d utter disappointment of my parents, I fell in <3 w/ another boy.

It wasn’t really his P3NIS d@ bothered them. There were medicines 2 correct d@ minor inconvenience.

His family wasn’t even really poor. Truth 2 tell they were just as upper middle-class as mine. D real problem was d@ his family didn’t have d same political leanings. My boyfriend n his family shunned d New Cities—n not wanting 2 live in d New Cities was perhaps d worst social sin imaginable. It left u socially CASTRATED n losing ur social cojones was much, much worse than losing d real thing.

My <3r’s father was an old-school journalist who blogged ’bout hoW AUTHENTICALLY FAKE d New Cities were, n hoW its shallow promise of wealth n prosperity was really nothing but a bit bucket 4 d soul. His mother was a rabble-rouser who encouraged workers 2 reap d benefits of their work, instead of exporting them cheaply 2 gated high-tech communities.

My mother couldn’t understand my attraction. “They r so proudly proletarian,” she sniffed. “Every tym I c them, I have 2 roll my eyes. Look hoW fat his parents are. Only poor people r fat these days. Hijo, think ’bout it, @ least they’re not starving. No 1 is hungry anymore. Every1 who wants 2 be beautiful is beautiful. There’s no need 4 revolution.”

“But u don’t really know them! They r not poor!” I protested. “Please just meet them, just once.” I begged. “I <3 him.”

Hay naku hijo, being poor is not ’bout money, it’s a state of mind. They r just sooooo déclassé. Understand me, u never <3 just a person, u don’t get hitched to just 1 person.” She said. “Relationships are always a group thing –- people come w/ family, friends, etc, etc. These others r not always d best sort so choose ur <3 wisely.”

“So I can’t <3 anyone I want?” I objected. “Is what I want n what I <3 important @ all?”

My mother didn’t understand my question. “Well, I <3 u n there is no space 4 any1 else.” She said. “Success depends on <3ing n hating d right people. Choose who u <3 n choose wisely. Ur life depends on it, n certainly ur INHERITANCE does.”

My mother was not 1 2 threaten idly.

Life Hack # VIII: A good brain is incompatible w/ a good heart.

What is d square root of existenZe? If u r 1 of d lucky 1s, u have no mortal fear of material discomfort, but not me. It was not enough for me 2 b alive. I had 2 LIVE.


I remMbR my fragile soul being scared all of a sudden, scared n uncertain ’bout what 2 do. Then on my way home I saw a stooped old man push an ice cream cart in front of me. He struggled uphill pushing his cart of 5000 Flavour Dodo Pops as d callous, UNCARING WORLD passed him by, f*cking dead-as-a-Dodo Pops. D@t was my future. D@’s when d light bulb turned on inside my head—my own DARK EPIPHANY.

What I really wanted in life, 4 myself, 4 my own happiness was “non gradus anus rodentum”. What I <3d myself was not worth a rat’s ass. I had 2 <3 what every1 else <3d, want what every1 else wanted. If not I’d be poor n pushing Dodo Pops up a very big hill 4 d rest of my miserable life.

I decided then n there d@ I needed 2 make my parents happy, 2 apply myself n make something out of my future.

“Never decide 4 urslf,” my mother always said. “D wisdom of d crowds is infallible.”

I pulled out my phone n set up a poll on my profile page. Yes, I stopped being selfish n finally let d world decide 4 me. All it took was a Dodo Pop. D feeling was heady n liberating, like ur first orga$m.

Eow world! Wot shld I do w/ my life?

  1. Go 2 post-graduate school
  2. Trade-up d ball-n-chain
  3. Nothing

My survey said d@ I shld dump my boyfriend, which I did d@ same evening. He tried in vain 2 tell me hoW much he <3d me but somehoW d@ wasn’t worth as much 2 me anymore. I needed 2 prove 2 myself d@ I could b like every1 else. I quit <3 cold turkey. Still, my ex didn’t understand what happened. He made a very public, very n00b threat 2 take his life. Un4tun@ely 4 him, I was already plugged in 2 my new social world. All I wanted now was 2 b part of d SWARM.

I told him d@ he was yesterday’s news n I couldn’t downgrade 2 my previous version. I left him crying by d side of d street. Once safely home, I tweeted him again 2 remind him d@ our little chapter was finished. I removed all my posts ’bout him. I even took down d sex tape d@ we’d been so proud of. It was now tym 2 move on.

Thick face = check. Black heart = on.

A few months l8r, I heard d@ something terrible had happened 2 him. 1 of my friends had posted it so gruesomely on his status update. I guess even back then I felt a little GUILTY 4 his tragedy, @ least on some level. Maybe I shldn’t have dated so soon after we broke up. But what could I do? My mother had set me up w/ d son of her amiga.

We all make our own CHOICES in life. He made his choice when he jumped off d@ building. I made mine when I unfriended his memorial page. I couldn’t bear 2 attend his funeral.

“Such is life. <3rs come n go but mommy will always <3 u.” My mother consoled. Then she took me shopping.

My indiscretion was quickly hushed up. However despite my parent’s best efforts, social media was a difficult animal 2 control. My ex’s parents saw 2 d@. They flooded d blogs, d 4ums n every online media outlet possible w/ stories ’bout hoW their son had been so lucky 2 have been w/ some1 who supported libertarian ideas, some1 who could think 4 himself n choose what’s right. They posted n promoted every picture n every video where I lambasted d New Cities n made fun of my parent’s social climbing.

My parents, my friends n my school were all mortified. 4 my poor judgment n conduct unbecoming, I was duly punished, socially gang-raped by every1, online n off.

My wide circle of SCHADENFREUNDs n FRENEMIES all abandoned me. Every1 was still horribly polite but no 1 sat next 2 me in d cafeteria. No 1 commented on my posts anymore. No 1 sent me any TXTs. No 1 wanted 2 have sex w/ me, no matter hoW much I sexted. I = SOCIAL LEPER.

My university debated 4 a loNG tym on what 2 do ’bout my case. Eventually they let me graduate. I was d best in my class n I always had perfect grades, but it was d oldest, most prestigious feeder school 2 d New Cities. I shld have been d Valedictorian, but as it was, I was lucky 2 have been given Cum Laude @ all (or maybe it wasn’t luck but d new auditorium d@ my parents funded). I didn’t care anymore. I was already starting 2 feel DEAD INSIDE.

K, so I know it’s hard 2 feel sorry 4 a f*cking Cum Laude, believe me I know. But d reality was 2 be selected 2 b in 1 of d New Cities, u had 2 have d best paper qualifications. My mother dearest, d broken-hearted parent d@ she was, said d@ Cum Laude was just not gud enough. I remMbR her crumpling my award n throwing it in2 a waste bin. Since then I’ve always associated d noise of crushing paper w/ d sound of DEFEAT. It made me feel like d@ proverbial girl who lost 100 kilos but still felt fat.

It’s been my pet paranoia ever since.

Service Announcement: Pls read dis End User License Agreement b4 continuing—

BTW, let me stop 4 a moment 2 remind u d@ if u are already in a New City, don’t be a N00B, u have 2 keep dis rant 2 urself. Don’t even share it w/ ur wife or children—not if u want ur family 2 remain residents. WORDS R DANGEROUS so bury dis as soon as u read it. Bury it deep in an encrypted file d@ they cannot open. No sense is far, far more common than common sense. U have 2 f*cking remMbR d@. If u get careless, it’s not going 2 b on my head.

In public think gud thoughts, happy thoughts 24x7, n toe d line.

Oh, since u r reading dis, frm now on u’ll have 2 avoid d memory holes. U know, d hooded chairs they put in public places d@ look like they’re frm a hair salon? D Ruling Party has placed these devices everywhere so u can dispose of dangerous n unproductive thoughts. They will force u 2 use them if they find u reading dis. Sorry.


Funny thing is, in d New Cities, most people WIPE THEIR MINDS clean willingly, just as easily as they delete their browser history. But 4 d sake of d future, some1 needs 2 keep a record of unhappiness, of pain, of dissent. So whoever u r, if u can read dis Easter Egg, keep it close n away frm those holes. Illicit knowledge, like illicit sex, has its own value.

I knew d@ my parents had entered me in2 d New Cities Lottery. However @ d@ tym I was certain d@ my indiscretion n my “poor” academic record would keep me frm getting in. Instead I applied 2 a prestigious local law firm which hired me almost as soon as they read my resume. On d day I received my 1st pay, I brought my parents 2 d swankiest restaurant in town. I told them ’bout a huge litigation case d@ I’d been assigned 2 n hoW it would certainly get my name in d local media circuit. @ d@ point, I was so sure d@ they would be proud of me.

Sadly, dinner didn’t turn out as I expected. Instead of being excited, my mother cried d whole tym n my father just kept silent. They both fiddled w/ their silverware or looked @ what d other diners were eating. They did everything 2 avoid talking 2 me.

Wotever I had achieved on my own wasn’t enough 2 compensate 4 missing d Lottery. My education had been too expensive 4 me 2 f*ck up. My actions cost me my spot as Valedictorian n being Valedictorian all d way frm pre-school would have ensured my place. In dis overcrowded, hyper-competitive world, my parents said there was no room 4 youthful mistakes. “Some1 will ALWAYS be ready 2 take ur place” my father repeated endlessly. N @ d@ tym, we all believed d@ I’d already forfeited mine.


Desperate 4 their attention, I offered 2 get married 2 a woman – any1 d@ they wanted me 2 wed n d 2 of us would have sons d@ would carry my father’s n mother’s names, pretentiously hyphenated of course, as was d fashion among their set. But they just stared @ me blankly, hunched over their expensive, uneaten meal. They were weighed down too heavily by d burden of my FILIAL DISAPPOINTMENT, something whose extent I just couldn’t seem 2 fathom.

“Wot’s d point?” I remMbR my mother asking, as she crushed a face blotter in2 a tiny ball. “By d tym they get old enough 4 d Lottery I would b dead. Lourdes’ daughter got her number 2day. Nestor’s son n his family left 4 a New City last week, d@ chi-chi one on a cloud, floating 50Km over d sea. Every1 I know has a son or daughter who got in. I don’t even want 2 look @ their updates anymore. I just feel so small.”

I don’t remMbR hoW my dinner really tasted d@ evening. Wotever it was we had ordered, all I could recall was d metallic tang of BITTERNESS in my mouth. My words just trickled through their minds like water on a sieve.

Despite their disapproval, I actually enjoyed my brief working tym in d 3rd World. 4 once in my life I actually felt like wot I was doing meant something. I fought corruption in d local government. I went after companies d@ polluted d environment n I spent a lot of tym defending d man on d street. I was a proverbial big fish in a small pond n, despite my youth, I quickly rose 2 d rank of partner. On d side, I dated whomever I felt like dating, f*cked whoever I pleased. Of course, my parents pretended not 2 notice.

I guess u could say d@ @ d@ tym I was happy (although 2 be honest I never really understood wot d word “happy” really meant). Sadly, dis utopia of sorts wasn’t meant 2 last. D philosopher Boethius once said d@: “For in all adversity of Fortune, the worst sort of misery is to have been happy.”

It was certainly d case 4 me.

Life Hack # VII: Your worst possible punishment is to get exactly what you want.

I still remMbR d@ life-changing day when I got d note telling me d@ my number was up. I had just turned 19. It was a Thursday. I was reading Consolatio Philosophiae on my tablet when d mail alert popped up on my screen.


Congratulations!” d message said. “You have been selected to be the One in Ten. Please find the Instructions for Residency attached. Read through the acknowledgement form and kindly tick the box when completed.” It was all very nice n officious.

Somehow I’d made it 2 a New City, even w/ just a Cum Laude.

D file size 4 d attachment was over 2 TB in size n d@ was just 4 d TXT portion alone. F*ck, who had tym 2 read all d@; let alone on a screen? I had thought something so important would have @ least merited a hard copy, but I suppose there’s a reason postal services closed so loNG ago.

I checked d acknowledgement box n they assigned me a unit code: Horse<3r Fat. D@ was it. My future = made.

“We only have 5 years 2 prepare!” my mother shrieked excitedly, as her fingers flew over her phone. My parent’s loNG n expensive investment in my education had finally bore fruit. Within 10 minutes her entire social circle had heard of my selection. “My son is d 1 in 10!” bragged her l8st update, “I have never been so proud of him!” She was so overcome w/ emotion; she had 2 go shopping 2 calm down.

As 4 myself, I’d never felt so over-educated in my life. I spent an hour in d bathroom throwing up. I puked out wotever d hell was left of my soul. D@ was also when I started jacking digital narcs—Virtual Valium, Online Opiates, Electric Ayahuasca. It was d only way I knew 2 clear my f*cked-up head.

D first thing I needed 2 do was 2 get married. D New Cities were not homophobic. There were no laws saying u couldn’t b a man D@ <3d men. In theory I could have still married a guy n had kids in vitro. But there were written laws n unwritten 1s n usually, it’s wot’s not written d@ really matters.

My mother, d f*cking practical saint d@ she was, insisted d@ a traditional marriage would better my prospects. I didn’t really care anymore so I just followed her wishes. She rang up all d marriage bureaus she could find, asking them 2 send crawler after crawler in2 d ether of marriage-worthy dating profiles.

Eventually, my mother found 2 matches d@ she felt suited my temperament. 1 was a quintilingual (occasionally bisexual) lesbian New Media artist w/ a Doctorate in Visual Media frm MIT. D other was a girl who held more degrees in advanced medicine than there were diseases 2 study. Her main selling points were (a) her Harvard education n (b) d@ she used 2 b a man.

I chose d self-identified lesbian. I felt d@ as an artist, she could commiserate w/ my situation n I thought d@ perhaps we could @ least b friends.

Looking back now, I still think I made d safe choice. 4 d first decade of our marriage I actually enjoyed my wife’s company. Through d wonders of artificial insemination, we had a son after our 1st year. A year l8r we had a daughter. On our 5th year together, our application 2 d Condominium Development Board was accepted n we finally moved 2 1 of d New Cities.

Life Hack # VI: Everywhere Life is full of fakery.

I had been a high-flying lawyer in d Third World. In my New City, I worked as a “Paralegal Management Consultant” 4 a large multinational Applications Development company. D truth was they took in migrants like me 2 do d shitty, repetitive work d@ d Richie Rich citizens didn’t want.

I was, however, paid quite handsomely. On my 1st payday, my mother revealed hoW many decimal places there were on my pay check n there was a huge uproar in d virtual tambays, d hangouts where my old schoolmates lurked.

My new firm ran a subscription service d@ reviewed all d fine print of consumer contracts. We had a system 2 alert subscribers ’bout privacy or liability issues d@ they needed 2 b aware of. I specialized in d End-User License Agreements 4 software applications. Whenever u downloaded an application, we reviewed d legal fine print. Every day I managed a virtual team of lawyers who scanned through 1000s of EULAs flagging any questionable terms n conditions so lazy f*ckers like u didn’t have 2.

D thing was, I never did any actual work. In d New Cities, Managers = Work Nannies. Everything was crowd sourced 4 peanuts frm 3rd World lawyers. I got 2 do wotever I wanted 2, as long as d work slaves from d lower pecking orders did theirs.

Some days I just MAS2RB8ED in my cubicle. Mostly I jacked in2 my Virtual Valium n fell asleep. I never got scared of getting caught. My boss was always overseas n d cubicle walls were so high I rarely saw my co-workers.

Sometyms, I just pretended 2 be asleep. I would lie face down on my desk pretending d@ I had died. It was my theatrical reaction 2 d endless permutations of emptiness in my life, a realization of 1 of my favourite mottos: “Quando omni flunkus moritati” - if all else fails, PLAY DEAD.

1 day I overdosed on my jacking, maybe I shldn’t have mixed d Electric Ayahuasca w/ D opiates after my 8 high-ball lunch, or maybe I was just brain damaged. Wotever it was I got looped in2 a really BAD TRIP. Somehow I had transformed in2 a monkey pounding out 1 sentence after another on an old Underwood typewriter. I was in a gigantic red room w/ 1,000,000s of other monkeys, all of whom were producing endless amounts of gibberish on a never-ending supply of paper. D cacophony of clicking keys was deafening n I wanted them all 2 stop.


Thank gudness I was used 2 managing chaotic monkeys. I did it every day @ work. D trick was 2 identify some1 in d local team d@ all d worker bees would listen 2, n then get him 2 do ur bidding.

I scanned d room looking 4 d tell-tale signs of leadership. In d dead centre of everything I noticed a stocky monkey who sported bigger, more dignified ears than normal. When dis sexy beast stood up, he stood erect n tall. When he moved, his movements were relaxed n purposeful. All of which I knew were d nonverbal signs of credibility n competence. I called out 2 him n politely asked 4 his help.

He was indeed, d leader of d monkeys. He came up 2 me n b4 I could speak he told me d@ I was his l8st special pr0ject.

“Never in my infinite years,” he said, “have I met a someone with such an endless capacity for cognitive dissonance.”

“Ooooh… u can talk? Kewl accent Mr. Monkey-face.” I nattered, slipping in2 an odd sort of daze. “So… wot d f*ck does d@ mean?”

“It means that you have lived your life balanced precariously between conflicting ideas, beliefs, values and emotions, too paralyzed to make choices.” He explained, in his quaint, archaic English. “You simply hide your confusion brilliantly behind a façade of rudeness and apathy.”

“D@’s not true,” I protested. “U don’t even know me.”

“Consider this,” he asked. “When was the last time you acknowledged something was your fault? When was the last time you actually took a stand?”

In my drugged out state, I didn’t know wot 2 say. My f*cking Trip-Master Monkey was right. More than anything else, I knew d@ I had impeccable credentials 4 indifference. I wanted 2 punch his stupid monkey face.

“You are a veritable font of self-justifications!” He said. “I am so excited to meet you because you are the paradigm for Everyman in your society. Like Holden Caulfield, you should be preserved for posterity.”

He handed me a sheaf of typewritten papers n told me 2 read it in d privacy of my home. A big red “Secret” sign was stamped across d top.

“Wot is it?” I asked, “More pop-psychology mojibake?”

“It’s a summary of the Instructions for Residency you agreed to when your number came up. Read it and you will know what being the One in Ten really means.”

“I’d wanted 2 read it b4. But I figured it would take me @ least a decade 2 go through d fine print,” I said. “It was easier 2 just tick d acceptance box.”

“Then you better read this abridged version.” D monkey said. “You know what they say before making any purchase: Buyer Beware.”

“Dis makes no sense!” I yelled. “U don’t make sense. U might as well b talking in Klingon or Hebrew!”

“No that is all in order,” he said dourly. “.siht ekil ti gniyas eb d’uoy, werbeH ni erew siht fI”


When I woke up I’d left a big pool of drool on my desk. Next 2 it was d sheaf of typewritten papers I had received frm d strange monkey. Somehow, it had made its way frm my narcodream 2 reality. I slid them in2 my bag n messaged my boss d@ I would leave work early. My jacking had really gotten out of hand. I couldn’t tell wot was real anymore.


Life Hack # V: Sex is war.

I came home 2 find my wife in bed w/ another man. I closed d door quietly n let them finish their business. D man left discreetly by d back door. He was our neighbour frm 2 floors below.

“I thought you were mostly lesbian?” I asked her, as she lit up an electronic cigarette.

“U n I have an arrangement.” She said, blowing a fine mist of vaporized propylene glycol @ my face. “I have needs. U r never available, so I have 2 FIND MY WAY OR MAKE 1. It’s really none of ur business.”

“U have an arrangement w/ my parents.” I corrected her. “But I thought we were friends.”

“We r,” she said, as she crumpled an empty refill in her hand. “He’s not ur type. Otherwise I would have shared.”

D@ night we ate our dinner of mystery meat in silence. My salary was huge compared 2 wot lawyers in d 3rd World were paid. But life in d New Cities was expensive. 2 b successful u had 2 put up appearances. Despite our double income, we barely scraped by every month. Mystery meat was 1 convenient way of stretching our budget.

No 1 really complained. In fact no 1 ever said anything @ all during meal tyms. 4 d life of me I can’t remMbR d last tym we had a real family conversation. @ meals I usually read my e-books or surfed p0rn. My wife was always glued 2 her gossip boards, while my kids seemed 2 have been born plugged into d SWARM.

I took a loNG look @ my son n my daughter n smiled. They would never ever experience wot I had gone through. Yes, I was 1 lucky bastard—both of them were beautiful. Somehow our imperfect marriage had produced 2 children w/ perfect genes. My mother really knew hoW 2 shop 4 anything,—even potential DNA donors. It was a better legacy than any trust fund; n 4 us, they were our ticket 2 a cushy retirement.

As soon as they grew up n got married 2 full citizens, we needed 2 wait only 10 years. Then we could apply 4 citizenship ourselves. D Department of Social Development would take care of us in our old age. D kids would not have 2 lift a perfect finger. We just needed them 2 keep liking us n more importantly, we needed tym.

Life Hack # IV: Life is fair only if you have money.

Now comes d tym when I tell u wot being d 1 in 10 really means. Bullshit baffles d brain so I will just go straight 2 d point. Do u know where d word “decimation” comes frm?

It’s derived frm Latin n means d “removal of a tenth”. In Roman tyms it was a form of military discipline used by d army 2 punish mutinous soldiers. A unit selected 4 decimation was divided in2 groups of 10; each group drew lots, n d soldier on whom d lot fell was EXECUTED by his 9 comrades.

When u n I ticked d@ acknowledgment, d@’s wot we signed up 4. We r d 1 in 10 selected 4 sacrifice, a social class pre-selected 4 deletion shld d system run out of resources. It was all in d papers d monkeys had given me.

If there was a war, we would b d first 2 be repurposed, transformed 2 disposable anti-virus grunts. If overpopulation becomes a problem, we would b d first 2 get written over. If there was anything @ all d@ needed society 2 choose between a citizen n d 1 in 10, there was no argument—we had already “volunteered” 2 b selected.


Wait, there’s more. There is Justice n there is d New Cities’ brand of Justice. Like most civilized places, all crimes demanded punishment. But if u had real money—d kind d@ got ur profile in finance magazines – “Justice” could b more flexible. No matter hoW serious d charge, as a valued member of d Cities’ economic engine, u could choose 1 of our number 2 take d punishment in ur stead.

Don’t worry dear reader. If u are part of d 1 in 10, no 1 will force u 2 b a whipping boy. RemMbR d unit number u were assigned 2 when u first joined? Whenever there is a need 4 a volunteer, they will flash d@ unit number on all ur screens. If u click d banner, it means u accept. U will become d 1 in 10 4 1 final tym.

All of dis sounds awful right? But if u are selected, ur family becomes f*cking SET 4 LIFE – immediate citizenship 4 ur spouse n children; free education 4 d kids n a guaranteed pension 4 ur family. No waiting tym whatsoever. 4 many, it’s an offer they simply can’t refuse.

Life Hack # III: If u want 2 live listen 2 what I say.

If u r d 1 in 10, never ever let ur guard down. Trust no 1. If there is 1 thing d@ I can tell u 2 save ur life, it’s dis. Be as nondescript as possible, obscurity = security. Stop publicly liking things no 1 else does. Do not share ur true emotions. HIDE UR DESIRES.

When u’re young all u want 2 do is 2 get noticed. But listen 2 me. 1 day u’ll pass a point when all u want 2 do is 2 be invisible, 2 blend in—2 disappear. U work so hard 4 d New Cities 2 pick u then u’ll spend all ur tym hoping they won’t.

But above all, PROTECT UR IN4M@ION. N never, ever leave ur equipment unattended. Not even @ home. No 1 is really ur friend or really ur enemy. In dis world w/ too many connections, real <3 n true hate don’t exist. There is only d fatal static of indifference which paralyzes ur soul like a neurotoxin. D@ numbness is d allegorical grass where all devil snakes lie n wait.


I was so busy w/ my unfulfilling work d@ I failed 2 c d@ my wife’s career was imploding. Art was more vicious than contact sports n if u were an artist n ur works were no loNGer in favour, u suffered d worst fate d@ could ever befall a creator: u became IRRELEVANT.

I hadn’t noticed d@ her portfolio hadn’t been updated in 2 years. She hadn’t been featured in any exhibits 4 loNGer than d@. I even misinterpreted her growing addiction 2 casual sex as some new Per4mance Art pr0ject, instead of as d CRY 4 HELP d@ it probably was.

In hindsight, I shld have been worried when d f*cking mystery meat started appearing every week. I knew d@ money was tight, but I had no idea d@ her grant money had stopped. No 1 ever told me n I never asked. We just sat together @ each meal twiddling w/ our devices.

I guess d@’s d curse of social media—we updated our profiles every day, but no 1 f*cking cares wot we post. We tell d whole world wot we think. But we’re only interested in wot d world thinks of us. VOICES RANT ON. There is no f*cking CONVERS@ION.

We never really talked. I guess we still don’t.

I woke up l8 1 morning, after a loNG night of drinking n sex camming online w/ a multitude of strangers. In my rush 2 catch d city shuttle, I left my old tablet on my nightstand.

My wife broke my password easily. I had no idea d@ my unit number was flashing on my screen. I had no idea d@ she had read d monkey’s stupid papers (kids, never ever leave anything marked “Secret” in plain sight).

Worse, I had no idea she would ever click on that innocuous little banner…

Life Hack # II: Reality, like morality, is relative.

I once knew some1 who worked @ d Department of Defence. She told me d@ d New Cities had a worldwide network of satellites tracking each n every f*cking person on d planet. D@’s why they already knew d@ I liked 2 work l8. They knew d@ d early evening would be d best tym 2 pick me up. They knew there would be a minimum number of witnesses n d@ I would be so tired, I’d come w/ d least amount of fuss.

“Congratulations!” d officer frm d Department of Social Development said when he n his team showed up @ my cubicle. “You are the One in Ten!”

In retrospect I shld have felt mad or @ d very least—scared, but I felt nothing @ all.

EVERY1 knew I was in custody (even if they didn’t know why). Yet no 1 called or visited. No 1 so much as posted an update ’bout me. No 1 said good-bye. Every1 just pretended I didn’t exist.

D prison psychiatrist told me not 2 worry ’bout my kids. They were already busy reading d profiles of possible stepfathers. “I suppose I shld be f*cking grateful 4 their resilience,” I thought, as I crumpled their perfect pictures in my hand.

As a consolation my jailers said d@ by “volunteering” I saved a child frm Death Row –- some Billionaire’s spoiled little 16 yo who suffered frm extreme affluenza. D boy got high 1 fine summer day n killed 42 people in cold blood.

I guess the moral here is dun do drugs unless yr daddy’s filthy rich. Mine just wasn’t rich enough 2 save me.

(So dis is hoW it ends. Not w/ a bang nor a whimper, just ur soul torn asunder w/ an Epic Digital Death Trip.)

RemMbR d@ drugged out hallucination I had in my cubicle? On my last night on death row, I had another really bad trip. D thing was I hadn’t jacked in 4 weeks but strangely, I hadn’t had any withdrawals. I knew my jailers must have been dosing my food. I wouldn’t b surprised if my parents had bribed d guards to do dis. All things considered, I knew my folks still <3 me on some level.

In my final narco-nightmare my Trip-Master Monkey came back 2 me in my cell.

“You don’t seem to be too upset about your impending deletion.” He observed.

“My LIFE SUCKS,” I said. “Always has n always will; @ least dis way I know d@ it ends cleanly n painlessly.”

“That is too cynical for someone who has yet to reach his 33rd birthday.”

“I will never reach 33.”

“The vagaries of Fortune visit everyone, and you are by no means the worst of her victims.”

“Who d f*ck cares? I never did anything bad. I did wot every1 told me 2 do but I still got punished anyway. Now they’ve taken everything away.”

“All the things u have been given—your place in this magnificent city, your high-paying job, your beautiful family, they were never really yours to begin with. You only have your mind. That is the one thing that is absolutely and irrevocably yours.”

“Really?” I asked. “Well f*ck d@! We gave d@ up a loNG tym ago 4 d hive mind of d SWARM. Why shld I think when d world will do it 4 me? They r thinking 4 me right now.”

“But you still ask questions. The faculties are still there. With your mind anything is possible.” He said.

 [ Dodo Pops, © 2014 Eric Asaris ] “2moro I’ll b dead as a Dodo Pop.” I reminded him. “There r no possibilities 4 d dead.”

“A good mind is a terrible thing to waste, the cliché goes, but it’s true. There is a higher purpose to all of this.”

“If there is, I can’t c it.” I mused, as I crumpled another photo in2 d most miniscule ball possible. “HoW much does re-purposing hurt?”

“The sleep algorithm mimics sodium thiopental. It will put you in a coma.” He answered.

“No change then. My whole life = coma.” I said. “I’m glad it’ll b over soon.”

“This is not necessarily the end.” He said, handing me a strange computer tablet. “Here, leave a message.”

“Why? Can u get me out of here?”

“This is a drug hallucination, a glitch in the system, and you are talking to a monkey.” He reminded me.

4 some reason I laughed, I laughed until my sides hurt. It was d first real emotion I’d felt in years. “Dis is like d@ old Terry Gilliam film Brazil.” I said.

“No, it’s more like a Philip K. Dick story.”

“Who is Philip K. Dick?” I asked.

“He was a brilliant metaphysical writer.” He answered solemnly, as he started 2 disappear back 2 wherever he came frm. “One of his pseudonyms was ‘Horse Lover Fat’. Quite a coincidence don’t you think?”

I could think of nothing 2 say. But 4 once d ballad of my narcorrido let me down w/ a gud trip. 4 no real reason I could fathom, I woke up feeling oddly @ peace. Dis tym I was really awake, perhaps 4 d very 1st tym in my life. Now I knew who n wot I really was, n wot my place was in dis sad, mad world.

Life Hack # I: U’ll never get out of life alive—so LIVE while you still can.

Why d f*ck do they use Latin in d New Cities? Latin’s a dodo-dead language, d@’s why. It’s all ’bout FORM, all ’bout ELEGANCE n most of all, it’s all ’bout CONTROL.

Let me tell u a little secret. I have a secret affectation 4 Latin. It was my favourite subject @ school. I have always been fascinated by hoW a dead language could somehow be subverted n live on after d death of its civilization. If I ever wrote a script 4 a zombie movie, I would have d zombies speak only Latin. It’s d lingua franca of d living dead. Let me tell u another secret. Just like zombies, Latin is not really dead. Language = Life, n life always finds a way. Someday WORDS will find a way 2 break d system n f*ck them all.

I 4got 2 tell u d@ my Trip-Master Monkey offered me a job after I died. HoW weird is d@? He said d@ I could come n work 4 his Infinite Library, an impossible place where everything d@ has ever been written n will ever be writ was kept 4 posterity. If I wanted 2, I could become a junior inquisitor 4 his Lingua Mortuus gallery. Too bad it’s all just a hallucination.

But hey, if u r reading dis, then perhaps dis last trip wasn’t fiction @ all. Maybe my nouveau riche parents slipped me dis tablet hoping I’d say goodbye. Or maybe I’m just f*cked up in d head. Maybe u—my dear reader of dis sentence—exists only while reading me.

But wot do I know?

If u r reading dis death sentence, dis DEAD SENTENCE is my body. But something of me is alive, I hope, dancing in d electricity of ur brain. It’s my last WORD.

May my flesh turn in2 words n dwell among u.


I don’t believe in an afterlife. I don’t believe in happy ever after. Sometyms u just die n there’s NO F*CKING REDEMPTION @ ALL.

Stay out of d New Cities. Don’t be a bit in d Swarm’s noösphere. It’s not worth wotever it is u consider ur soul. Just live now, <3 now, n (if you want to) f*ck ur brains out. D@’s all u really have. D@’s all u will ever really get.

B4 uploading to d New City, my ethnicity was PINOY. My ancestors used 2 greet each other w/ d phrase “Mabuhay ka!” which sadly, no 1 ever uses anymore. I use 2 <3 d@ greeting as a kid, it means 2 “Live!” n I think it’s d best wish u could ever give anybody.

Eow dear reader, “MABUHAY KA”.

Live free, n live like u mean it.

My name was Alan Walang-Turing. I was a 5-year conditional resident of d New Cities. My unit number was Horse<3r Fat. I worked as a paralegal consultant 4 a multinational applications development company. I had a wife, a son, n a daughter. But who I was—who I m—is inconsequential. I’m just migrant slave labour, an immigrant second-class citizen. I’m a placeholder. I am filler text.

I could have been any 1.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit…

I M D 1 IN 10.

My Dev/Null Executioners r right outside my door. Ave atque vale.

© 2014 Victor Fernando R. Ocampo

Comment on the stories in this issue on the TFF Press blog.

Home Current Back Issues Guidelines Contact About Fiction Artists Non-fiction Support Links Reviews News