Nyepi Eve Eve Eve
When I asked Mumma why she named our home Rumah Lucu, she could hardly recount the memory for all her giggling.
Ten years earlier, her friend Wayan was determined to find her suitable accomodation, saying, ’a good, strong villa for Ibu Shirley!’ But she’d moved to the South Pacific to leave all notion of Western pretention behind. She dreaded an imposing stucture with turrets, paned windows, gonfalons, maybe a moat. She dreamt of a shack more than a villa.
So when they pulled up in front of a restrained, one story, two bedroom home, Mumma released a torrent of giggles so infectious Wayan called it the Funny House. And much to my school friends’ mirth, the name stuck. Their villlas have stately names, like Rumah Sungai, and Gangga Blesta, not a quirky name sprung from a silly memory.
Later Wayan explained that originally, a villa meant anything with a plunge pool, a baking oven, and no-squat toilets. Nowadays it meant nothing at all. Even the most traditional compounds contained the same amenities.
Izzie yoked in to open the gate the moment I turned onto our rutted gang, our bulging bags grazing the walls of our neighbors’ compound walls. Our fussy metal gate clanked along its groove as the dogs knotted across our path.
I cut the scooter’s engine as we rolled down the stone drive. Blaring through the yawning window, I heard my big brother and his best friend playing DutyCalls. I bet they climbed into the game without even eating breakfast.
“Okay, go over…lebih…good,” said Gede.
“No NudBots? Do it then, “ Cole said. “Go, quick…Gede!”
Sometimes when Cole said his name, Gede, he sounded like my Uncle Charlie in Australia saying hello, ‘G’day’.
I was looking forward to seeing him and my Aunt Susan on our next visa run. Esh, that was only days away and I needed to jumpstart my laundry.
Most gamers in DutyCalls represented their school, their company, or if they were good enough, their country. But Cole and Gede played for the KsatriaBlis, a well-ranked but motley group of loyal gamers, not creeds.
Real time map mods now dominated DutyCalls as teams battled in locations around the world. And as soon as a new battle was mapped through XYOracle, it turned into a mod for millions of others yoked into DutyCalls. Some players liked the new live map mods, some liked older, static maps. Everyone was different.
I flipped down the kickstand, helped Mumma off, grabbed the top sack off the hook and skipped into the family room where the boys were hard at play. Our weeYoke, a shared version of the iYoke, displayed the map setting, team name, players’ tags, and global rank.
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“Wait, I need change…d’sini,” said Gede, thumbing through his arsenal.
“Which do I have? Inert?” Cole asked.
“Map standard,” Gede’s lips kept moving, silently commanding his team. “Ready?”
“Ready,” Cole confirmed.
“Going in…” Gede murmured.
The action moved at FestoChimp speeds as the boys spun around the family room. Cole fired through Mumma’s favorite lamp, his armament no less deadly for its invisibility. Shell casings clanging on concrete mingled with the rooster’s cockadoodle from next door.
“Indo clock!” Cole hurtled left.
“Flash bang?” Gede asked.
“I fell down a hole!”
“But, a concussion, I end him for you,” Gede said.
“We gotta get the care package!” Cole said, his one track mind on food.
“Run, cepat cepat, run!”
“Get … bbbbbbback, get back!”
Then an unexpected silence draped our lounge room. NudBots…the invisible nanoparticles which battled better than a Russian scientist. NudBots could paralyze enough soldiers to end the game.
“Di mana? Where are you?” Gede whispered.
“Do you think they’ll deploy the Code?”
“Tidak, they bluff. I think Saynts not have Code.” A Sydney Saynts team engaged the Balinese KsatriaBlis almost every day.
“So, so, stupid. Now I’m gonna get it,” Cole cried.
“Lagi, eleven o’clock.” Gede zoomed in.
“- its booby trapped!”
“Language!” Mumma yelled from the kitchen. The boys played on. ‘Booby’ doesn’t count for lazy language.
“Is that the sniper guy over there?” Cece asked.
Mumma wondered why we didn’t let her play NudBots on a liveYoke. But she shouldn’t even be watching.
“See…look!” Cece pointed a shaky finger toward our north window, seeing tiny blips of white light inside the map mod the boys played.
Cole and Gede listened to her because she zoomed in on an infected soldier like a Bali dog on a fresh kill. Once the NudBots attacked, Cece claimed the lights turned orange or blue, but only the orange lights paralyzed the gamer.
“What do the blue lights do?” Cole once asked.
“Nothing,” Cece had said.
“They can’t do ‘nothing’,” he’d said.
“Tell the Nuds that, Mr. Smartypants!” she’d said and flounced out of the room.
Cece was always right about the Nudbots.
“Whoa…who’s shooting at me?” The ratatat of bullets rained out Cole’s plea. “There are too many powerful-“
“Esh! You just slaughtered someone,” Cole yelped.
As I walked across the room, Izzie flashed me the kill streaks as if it were a soccer match.
“Cece, NudBots are imaginary, okay?”
Did Cole think that statement would take away the gore? Boys don’t get it.
Then Gede piped up, “One man imagination is one other man truth.”
Okay, some boys get some things.
Mumma came in from the kitchen. “There’s more to bring in. C’mon, off your duffs.”
“NudBots are evil.” Cece monotoned.
“Tidak, NudBots just Code, not good not bad,” Gede said, pinching her cheek before he walked out to the drive.
Every year, more and more gamers believed that NudBots were real. Like, out in the world. Not in the game, but nanoparticles out there in reality. I reckoned they may as well be shouting ‘unicorn!’
Mumma’s eyes zoned out, “Is your iYoke on right now?” she blurted.
“Yes, in standby mode. You ready to try it?”
“I’ve been as patient as an old lady can be. And that’s all bass-ackwards. We should be born with infinite patience and lose it over the course of our lives as we run out of time. I’m always ready!”
I tugged Izzie away from my scalp. “Okay, pin it back…here, let me help,” I said.
“Do I have to wear it in my hair?” she said, as she batted my hand away.
“Yes and no. It was designed for your hair, so it can link in to the electrical patterns-“
“-apa?“ Mumma stuttered.
“-the iSpark necklace was a flop because everyone wore it on a long chain instead of a choker, and the device got too far from their brain,” I explained. “And I told Cole he should get the uKlutch, but instead of a nose ring, like, wear it in his eyebrow. He was not amused. He doesn’t even like Oscar.”
“Oscar?” asked Mumma.
“His iYoke, which is technically an iYokeK—“
“Cole wears a bobby pin to connect to the internet?”
“No, not very often. Gede wears his though, lots of guys do. But Cole doesn’t want to be yoked in no matter what the accessory,” I said.
Mumma shrugged in private pride.
I continued, “The ePatch worked a little better. It’s a sticky bit of rubber you paste on your neck. After the iYoke, the aMyg earring is the most popular, and plenty close enough to pick up electrical impulses,” I said. “The oWave is basically a hair band. A lot of athletes go for that one.”
Mumma stared at me with her mouth ajar and a vertical crease shooting out from her eyebrow.
“And then there’s the iDud, out of North Korea. Should have never have left the factory.”
“The what?” Mumma asked.
“We branded it the iDud.’ She didn’t laugh. I took a deep breath. “All of them work the same way. They have to be within centimeters of your head to operate.”
“What? How limiting!”
“Mmhmmm. You won’t think that in a few minutes,” I said.
“I’m ready now!” she squealed.
“I think you should sit down first.”
“Why?” She dropped on the spot and pulled her legs into a lotus, eager to please now that she wanted Izzie.
“Because, otherwise you might get nauseous. And you can’t hurt my iYoke, but you can hurt yourself.”
“Oh,” she said, biting her lower lip.
“It’s dead metal right now. Only my brain’s electrical impulse, that she has learned to recognize, will power her up.”
“It’s no longer ‘my iYoke’, but ‘she’?”
“It makes sense, Mumma. Most people name them because it’s a never ending conversation with a know-it-all friend.”
I squatted down in front of Mumma and slowly blinked Izzie awake.
“Anyone can yoke in, as long as she’s on and in contact with me. But I’m the only one who can think her on-“
“Are we back to being silly?”
I slid my iYoke into place near Mumma’s crown chakra, weaving her hair around little Izzie.
“Let’s start at your foundation of belief. How do you turn on your iComm, Mumma?”
“With my finger, not my thoughts!”
“But your thoughts are made up of electricity, right?”
“It’s a long way from a thought to physically powering something on,” Mumma replied.
“But you understand that it’s the electricity in your finger which controls the screen and everything?” I asked.
“And your brain gives off a lot more electricity than your finger,” I said.
“Hello, Mumma,” Izzie said, and my iYoke sprang to life for my grandmother.
Wonder plasters bliss onto any face, but when it’s etched into the wrinkles of wisdom, it’s like brushing up to the soul of God.
“I thought you liked your old iComm?” I couldn’t resist teasing her.
“Your iYoke sounds like Issabella!”
“Why? How does she speak like her?”
“Mother knows best! So I programmed Izzie to-“
“How do I go somewhere?”
“Blink,” I said.
“Whoa! What is she doing?”
“She’s giving you some choices of what to do or where to go based on what she knows interests you.”
“How does she know anything about me? This is alarming! Are those memories? What the hell?”
“Language,” I giggled through my admonition.
“Alliteration awaits auspicious angels against augmenting alarm.” Mumma always accorded alliteration the apex of her attention.
“Awesome!” I blurted.
“Where are we going? What is she doing?”
“She is reminding you of things - the snorkeling trip to Amed, reading The Global Brain, there’s Uncle Charlie…slow down Izzie…there is Pak Wayan and-“
“But you weren’t even there that day! How did she get that picture?” Mumma asked.
“The blockchain takes care of that. Izzie wasn’t there, she just found the tagged pic. But she’s processed and stored every little thing she’s ever picked up from you. She’s stored more data about you, second hand, than the rest of ever even knew. She can’t feel, per se, but she analyzes our vital signs and gives feedback that makes it appear she feels with you-“
“So now I cruise around with my eyes?”
Laughing, I said, “Not just your eyes. Depending on the yoke, the settings of immersion, what you’re doing, and a bunch of other things, you can use your eyes, or voice or hands. I swear Gede even uses his nose. But there’s a steep learning curve to train your eyes.”
“Train my eyes? They don’t need training, I like them just the way they are.”
“But you blink too much,” I said.
“Blink? Too much?”
“A hard blink takes you to another setting and a soft blink takes you further in, like scrolling or flicking the screen on your iComm.”
“How do I surf the net? Where’s the browser?” The eager little girl inside Mumma was impatient with my lecture.
“It’s not really surfing the net anymore because that’s not always the best place for information. Like, if you want to look up a quote by William Faulkner, your iComm is going to take you to a website that discusses Faulkner. Izzie takes you to the original text.”
“If you say, for example, ‘what is so and so Bible quote and what does it mean’, Izzie will take you to an interpretive website. But if you ask for an exact chapter and verse of the Bible, she will take you directly to it. The real Gutenberg Bible at Oxford. When you turn the pages you can hear it rustle.”
Mumma’s face took on a mask of serenity I didn’t glimpse until after an extra long pipe session. She was inside the Bodleian Library. Mumma wasn’t Christian but she sure was in heaven.
“Don’t forget, where your eyes are focusing tell her where to go next. If your voice asks one thing, your eyes search for another, and your hands are spreading hummus on a pita, Izzie will pull back on the immersive levels.”
“Like you said on the scooter? She knew your were driving, so your eyes needed to be on the road?”
“Yes, exactly like that. Izzie wraps around my reality and either delves further in, or shuts down some of the sensory output.”
“Fascinating,” murmured Mumma.
I placed my hand on her shoulder. “A soft blink and she’ll change speed; and a hard blink will stop and send her wherever you say or look. You’ll get the hang of it.”
“This is more than surfing the web in three dimensions.”
“Yes Mumma, skosh more. I’ll leave y’all to get acquainted.”
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