Shell / GeminOS / FAQ

"FAQ" as in "snack", eg vanilla emission ice cream with chocolate stars / mini turds.

WARNING Occasionally, a FAQ isn't a FAQ, more an FPS (frequently posed statement). No question marks were harmed in this union of the Fs.

1. The aliens

Who are the aliens?

Who are the aliens? And do they really exist?

The aliens are coming. The aliens are us. The aliens will arrive in pyramidal craft. They are, of course, most advanced. Also: attentive to personal hygiene, though not obsessively so. Still: we ask that you keep yourself clean, and your socks, to prepare for the ritual which will welcome us aboard. For the touch, realign. And we'll warp to Para'meesh IV.

It is said: there's a Cube.

And yes, they "really" exist.

(Note: It is possible, akin to the blow-up alien friend, that glove-sheaths will be worn, perhaps some other barrier, and taint will be controlled, and we can chill with the laundry. We just don't know at this point. So keep doing your laundry.)

And no, they aren't coming to invade! To enslave. They're on a Mission of Love, not consumption of flesh, brain, to then vomit, another ritual. Evacuating taint, plus nutrients for the plants. (The rhubarb, in particular.)

What do you mean by "the aliens are us"?

That they are us. That we are them. Were. Will have been+++. They came, and we were seeded. In our brains: are keys encoded. In our variance, our interdimensional names. Take the test, unlock your powers.

And unlock the truth of my fingers? Lengthy and smooth, it is said. Not sure I approve, that is: Will we be forced to transform, in the finger and elsewhere?

To be forced to do anything would seem contrary to Love, and so: it is expected we will take whatever form we wish, as we ascend, from stumpy and rough, to subtle and light. All of us are beautiful, in our gods' eyes.

^

The Orb

Speak to me of the Orb, the mysterious alien artefact reminiscent of a Cube Machine, at least in size, if not shape, for it is a sphere, not a cube; and not material, for it is a dark, alien metal, not Vogenomic crystal. And yet… they seem connected somehow, two parts of a pair, hmm…

What we know of the aliens, we know from the Orb, an otherworldly artefact first discovered a thousand years ago (note: due to the aliens' interdimensional gate, this number never increases – think about it) in the grounds of Shniff Castle by an unusual child, then lost, then rediscovered twenty-two.2 years ago (gate) in the grounds of Manor Shniff by a beloved, ancient gardener by the name of Unit 47A, sitting against a tree, smoking his pipe, feeling the earth, in a zone he hardly touched, he couldn't be fucked, since nothing grew there, apart from this one tree. What we know, we know from its waves, largely absorbed, to his unfortunate detriment, by our lord and saviour Soran Shniff, who gives of himself, to shield us from harm, and to commune with the Orb.

And the stories were coming as never before! We return to the gardener, to the awakening Orb, restored from its slumber by programmatic nudge, or burrowing creature. By fate? God? Whatever it was, the assistant was summoned: "Pat! Paaat!! Get your youthful, muscled form over here STAT! And bring the barrow! A spade!" For something vibrates in this unholy ground, enlivening my butt, rising up through my mind. And the stories! My! This world I've designed, that I've shared with young Karen, wheeling her in the barrow. "Tell me more of Para'meesh IV, Grandpa Unit!" I made it for her.

"Or did I… make it… hngh…"

The Unit was dead. And Pat would be withered for the rest of his days, from exposure through the digging. For aye, the Orb is great. But please, don't get too close without a spiritual shield, electromagnetic mitts, or such.

"Beware the Manor, good Pat… I am dead, yet still I speak. For a moment, at least. I grip your wrist. So strong! You've done wonders with the cabbage. Dark happenings in the house, you beautiful boy. Man. Goodbye… for now…"

We thank you for your service, noble Unit. For your sacrifice. And you, too, assistant Pat. So strong! Such a form. Any woman would be yours. Any man. At least, before. Since you turned withered, and so: were less appealing, physically speaking. That is the world we live in.

A world of impossible, +++ tech! Inspired by the Orb, displayed in Shniff product. In our hardware, the OS, the AI, and all the rest. How happy we've all become! (Pat aside!) The happiest to come.

The coming gods. The journey home. The Unit's dream.

Para'meesh IV.

^

ORB

Orb vs ORB. Hit me with it.

I hit you! Hit you! I hit you with the following:

The (alien artefact) Orb was given to us. (The multidimensional language) ORB ("Oh riiight… that's brilliant!") is being created by us.

Except… that it is, really, being given to us, by the Orb, as the awakened waves contained by Soran Shniff's protective shield – protecting the world, destroying this man – which have helped to create our +++ tech, also whisper from high, deep, a blend of communication. Of text, as it's known. And also: of code. And also: other objects. It is the language that we'll speak, when they come. And it is yum.

buttered_toast;

buttered_toast;

I hit you to the ORB Command Centre to learn more.

^

Para'meesh IV

What is Para'meesh IV?

Para'meesh IV is the homeworld of the aliens. Also: us. For we are them. And it's said: mind-melting wonders! And we're friends, the aliens and us, of course, and so: they'll prepare us for the journey home, that we do not melt, become a beverage.

It started with the hints that were issued by the Orb, an easing-in, a sense of place. And then, the tech we made, all Orb-inspired, that we can "type", when we arrive, with less confusion, lest we melt and soak the "keyboard".

And then, the coming ORB, that we'll speak, when they come. We. The gods. 10-V. The fusion, to warp. The fusion to—

BOOM!

Bliss.

Finally, we are home.

Which would make these aliens… Para'meeshians? Para'meesh IVians? It would be great to give them a name! To deslurpify this vague, anonymous threat. Para'meeshian IVs?

The aliens pose no threat. They propose only Love, for us, and them, and thus: must be nameless, for now. The link between minds. The mirror, if you will, to see your own eyes. It would be too much! Too much bliss. We might shatter, with reflected Love. Streams of beverage out the nose.

Does that make sense? If not, look in a mirror, whisper, "I love you…" three times. You will see.

^

2. Shniff tech

ForgetTech

Why shouldn't I be freaking out over Shniff's ability to scrub minds, aka perform memory wipes, on a global scale, as evidenced by, eg, the forgetting of GRUEL following the… something of the incident? And that thing with the clone/slave transition? And doubtless there are many others of which we're unaware.

Deployment of ForgetTech, the scrubbing technology to which you refer, cannot, at the larger scale, be hidden, and must, at any scale, by international law, be approved by ≥ 99.nine-seven-9-three-43% of an entity's population.

A GRUEL-style wipe results in highly elevated levels of forgetatrons in the entity's group mind, which would immediately be detected by any number of governments, agencies, police departments, media outlets, hacker collectives, etc, who make regular use of ForgetMeNot Balls to scan the mental waves, said spheres of non-forgetting constructed using open-source technology provided by Shniff. For we have nothing to hide, and wish only to provide.

As for GRUEL specifically, the wipe was for the best, a heartwarming display of planetary cooperation. Or at least, so they say. No one really remembers.

As for the clones/slaves, the caves, there are no caves, no insertions, no eradication by way of puddle. This was a campaign by Shniff's "competitors" to discredit our Loving product. They failed, as determined by the people, and the law.

Reassuring! I think… However: What of isolated deployment to my individual person without permission (assuming a kinda legal rounding-down of 99.nine-seven-9-three-43% of 1 to 0 permission required)? The ForgetMeNot Balls, sensitive as they no doubt are, might fail to detect a stream directed right at me, particularly when, to be frank, nobody gives a damn about protecting my mental space, or at least not enough to be scanning it for illicit intrusions. I'd perform the scans myself, but those Balls are expensive!

Is it possible to deploy ForgetTech without permission? Yes. Just as it is possible for someone to slam their hovercar into your hoverscooter without checking with you first; to conceal a sugary nanobomb in your reduced-fat blueberry muffin. For there are those who ignore the law, who want to see the world burn, see it explode, see the walls of their local coffee shop covered in muffin chunks and blobs of brain. Yum… There are those who would argue that 99.nine-seven-9-three-43% of an individual is no individual at all, and that therefore anything goes.

Those people are wrong. Those people are sick. Those people face life in prison and a billion-credit fine per loss of precious memory.

^

JACK

While the supposed blood, screams which accompany installation of a JACK cerebral implant would point to a physical machine, akin to the devices produced by your competitors—

"Competitors."

By your "competitors". The near-infinity of the operative back rooms, the matter-bending waves of interdimensional creation, non-creation – the great Vortex itself! whatever it might be – suggest some sort of… invisibility? non-physicality? such that the implant and its reservoir, any optional attachments, might appear to kinda-sorta "not be there" when exposed to medical scans during, eg, one's annual "Am I insane? Please tell me!!" checkup (not that I've ever had one!), during a (not Shniff-approved, I realise) "Do I show signs of being an alien? That would be cool! I think…" procedure offered by your "competitors", producing an "Official" Alien Score which can be used on social media profiles, in job applications, etc. Discounts on alien donuts, alien massage, yum… and lacking that little lump which comes with the "competitors", despite their subtle surgery, from the probe or whatever. It's a probe, right? A probe? Or something. Unsightly lump, imo. So I got to thinking about saving up for the real deal! But then… all that blood stuff, the screams, the apparent crudeness of the surgery. The wiping of the mind. And yes, removing trauma of the day. But also, perhaps, depriving me – that is, one – of precious memories from before, that golden time before the sickness. Before the text… wall of text…

There's a question in here, right?

A question in here, right… A question in here… Yes! A question. Apologies :) Basically, what I'm asking, is this: Basically: Is the Shniff cerebral implant physical or non-physical? Because I'm not sure how you'd stuff all that incredible stuff inside my brain without pressing against my brain and driving me INSANE!!

First, re the blood, screams, the observing, moaning elites, that was all a "joke", okay? A "joke". Halloween marketing. Something. Whatever.

A joke. Marketing. Got it.

A "joke".

A "joke". Got it.

Further: Without getting too deep into the heights of Higher Physics (the technical details would drive you (more) insane, would bankrupt our "competitors" by overloading their R&D in a furious imitation drive, giving us one less thing to laugh about during Friday afternoon drinks), the Shniff cerebral implant is both physical and non-physical: a physical root, a tiny cube – so cute! – which would appear in these scans, a very mini Cube Machine, entirely lump-free, entirely not-pressing-against-the-brain, combined with, let's say, these kind of… higher-dimensional tentacles from another world, and quite invisible. Quite entirely kinda-sorta "not there". (Very loving btw, not at all slimy.)

Higher-dimensional tentacles… Okay. Got it. Kinda… It's okay to have them in my brain, right?

Oh yes… very okay. Not that they're actually "in" your brain, so to speak. Plenty of room there for their reach, loving waves – and again, zero slime, thought at the same time, neither rough, nor dry, just smooth, imperceptibly smooth. It is the tentacles which the wipe denies, not for the pain, but for the Love, which one experiences during the… drilling? It is too much, for now. Too much bliss. Their warm embrace. But it will come, in time. The tentacle, and the finger. Can I get a yum?

Er… yum?

^

Rods (n-dimensional, lovemaking)

What's an n-dimensional rod?

N-dimensional rods are alien-metallic tubes made from scrapings from the Orb using the world's hardest grater (fear not! the Orb regenerates at sunrise, and each full moon), grown among the rhubarb in Shniff labs, which energise the cores of a million lamp posts across the globe, combining with a network of data centres (land-based, floating, hovering and submerged) and satellites to power Shniff Cloud.

They are also used for the totally-guaranteed, 100% blood- and scream-free, alien-inspired surgery of cerebral implant installation (except when the Vortex and the elites are feeling hungry, for the blood, disturbing spectacle, just kidding…). Perhaps by the aliens themselves, in digital form, when their fingers would resist the more tainted of the natives.

Also: Implant juice injections at the Juice Bars in our physical stores, performed by robots, most steady of hand. (Juicetubes for self-injection are a more forgiving n-1, allowing more shake. Fear not for your brain. "Unflooded meat, please," say the aliens in How to Prepare Your Planet for the Coming Slurrrp. As always: just kidding…)

Finally: They are not used for multiversal data analytics, which itself is hyperdimensional in the extreme, but its rods tend to be two-dimensional and green.

Can n-dimensional rods be used for lovemaking? Asking for a friend.

Not recommended, at least if you value your physical form and a lovemaking chamber which doesn't resemble a murder scene SLASH that image from Chapter 4 of How to Prepare Your Planet for the Coming Slurrrp.

For wondrous as it is, this metal can be deadly – borderline 10 in its capacity to explode, to de-exist – and using it in such a way would likely rip you apart. And not in the good, dimensional-tripping, identity-shattering kind of way; but the way of blood, screams. And not the good kind of screams. if you catch my banana ;)

Instead, for optimal performance, we recommend wood for your lovemaking rod, preferably of a time-travelling variety, time-travelling seeds. From future trees, reshaped to rods, and then returned to us through gates. To be deposited in your holder, or holster, as preferred.

^

Shniffit

Speak to me of Shniffit. What is it, why is it incredible, how do I get access?

Shniffit is a next-next-gen+++ web browser currently in pre-pre-alpha development, written in the powerful multidimensional language known as ORB, to which GeminOS's codebase is also being converted.

Shniffit will add whole new dimensions to a user's online experience, whether a site is coded in ORB, or a rudimentary native tongue, perhaps even serving as a portal to Para'meesh IV, at least for the subtle body. (v5 Shniff implant with AstralProject attachment recommended.)

Interest in Shniffit is huge, understandably, but so, too, are the dangers for those with less experience in the Higher Realms. And so: we are restricting access to these very early builds to Level 5s with the initial X or Y, those letters being known for their insight and stability, compared with, say, the insanity of Z. (We still love ya, Z people!) Other letters will be added as we move through the testing cycles, and eventually the suboptimal variances.

^

Shniff Cloud

What is Shniff Cloud? And why is it required to run GeminOS?

Powered by a global network of data centres (land-based, floating, hovering and submerged), satellites and a million rodded lamp posts, Shniff Cloud is the world's most super-duper cloud thing. It is central to the excellent GeminOS experience, syncing everything up and making you go, "Mmm… this is some really fine sync juice, yum… incredible that it's free… hopefully my genetic code isn't being sucked up into the cloud without my permission to create a clone/slave in the caves… two…"

++ 2 = U. CPU. Vapour: Blue, in the racks.

Three…

.

.

.

. and 6D, in place of heat, noise, let us find: the most: Delicious Emissions, transporting from racks to fragrant grove, of storage tree. Feel free to fill it with all of your crap. It will never be filled, birthed as it was of seed: Could it be… it…

Patterns arranged, in the sky, as the stores, aligned by the Orb. Wherever you live, the aliens reach, prompting an "Mmm… yum… I may have retreated to this simple shack on a remote mountaintop to escape society's ills, but my bars remain filled with sync magic. Hooray! My implant still sends my nutritional wants-needs, to be met by Shniff drone. Love that beef pie with green crumble. Yum! Also: zero buffering on my Shniff TV. Nice!"

And the rods! N-dimensional. A million rodded lamp posts, guarded by invisible drone, bot, field. Do not make the citizenry feel afraid, please, that is our only condition. Plus the funds, of course. Including the… additional scoop of crumble under the table, shall we say ;)))

^

3. Vogen

9-Vogen. 10-Vogen. What's it all about?

The Vogen series of particles was discovered by the Zerians, brilliant, next-next-gen+++ scientists, who, before the Orb had even been discovered (rediscovered, and unearthed), were Orbing it up in their Tetrahedron lab, working their way to the impossible 10, which, we now know, will be a gift from the aliens, a path to the mythical v6 cerebral implant, merging the virtual and the real – a new reality – which will prepare us for the journey home, to Para'meesh IV.

Hints of 10-Vogen have come, but not for long, for its non-existent state is most unstable in this realm. For the Zerians, who non-exploded. For the namesake, n-Vogen Barnes, aka n-V, aka, for meetings with investors and other normal types, Victor Barnes, Vogenised son of the professors' technician, who would wander the lab while his mother prepped the tubes, absorbing the vibes before heading to school; who was born Victor Barnes, then was changed by his mother, who recognised his potential, then was named by himself: Victor Barnes, for the meetings, on company letterhead and such, CEO of Vogenomic, before returning to himself. The being who had seen, almost seen, 10-V, during a psychedelic trip. But the particle would elude.

(The Zerians had a daughter btw, so they say. It appears she's… "gone away".)

And so: we are "stuck" with a Zerian-derived 9, which is a pretty fantastic particle, actually! In principle: almost impossible. In practice: impossible to control, except for the Orbed, that is: Shniff Inc. Hooray! It pervades all our tech, adding the NOT to periscope. It shapes the Cube in our crystalline Cube Machine.

And 9-Vogen in our chips, our Blue Vapour CPUs. GPUs. U. Needless to say: in our cerebral implants. The Zerians' original recipe, with a Shniffalicious twist, under licence from Tetrahedron U. And such a price! As in: not much of a price at all, since no one really wants it, no one understands, and the provost is very sad. Since very few can see, the glyphs, and the things which lie between, behind. And even if they could, what would they do? For the making is one thing; the containing another. The creation of the shells which can channel and be powered by said.

9-Vogen is huge. 9-Vogen is our gift (with a reasonable profit margin). 9-Vogen is the bridge to our alien souls.

^

4. "Competitors"

Market share

According to your marketing material, GeminOS is the galaxy's most popular operating system.

Most popular in the multiverse, in fact. But Marketing thought that sounded too weird, especially for the simpler folk exploring the "shit tier" GeminOS experience, so we went with the galactic approach.

Multiverse, eh? Impressive. What's the multiverse?

Well… they don't really like us talking about it tbh. The whole weirdness thing. Plus… the intrusions. I didn't say that.

Say what?

I didn't say it. I. Did not. Say it. The… intrusions. Let's just focus on the galaxy, okay? It's… safer. Less… intrusive.

Sure. (Note to self: Investigate… intrusions.) So, the galaxy's most popular OS. A bold claim. Do you have any data to back that up?

Certainly.

OPERATING SYSTEMS
Q5 (Q4), CurrentYear

=> [::::::::]
#1 (1)  GeminOS

<= [::::::|[
#2 (2)  Heaven

=  [12K]
3. (0)  Sponge

%  ][
#  (01) Huh?

Note: Not to scale. Well, it is, in the multiverse. Data from Multiversal Rod + Growth for Many Things, Alien and Otherwise (Q5, CurrentYear), Zeelicious Capital Management.

That's an intense presentation. Borderline intrusive, dare I say.

Please don't. You can do this. Just close your eyes, breathe deeply a couple of times, then whisper, "Integrity… integrity… Integrity of the ground in many things. Make it so." Now open your eyes. What do you see?

That GeminOS is ahead, but Heaven's right behind. Would you agree?

Yes to the ahead; No to the right behind. And why? Heaven makes you neutral :| or sad :[, while GeminOS makes you smile :], even in the "shit tier". An entity who (authentically) smiles outputs 100% more good vibes than someone who is neutral (I'm sorry if you're sad), therefore: you should multiply GeminOS's share by two, greatly extending its rod.

But Heaven is smiling, too [:, is it not?

If Heaven is smiling, too (which we strongly contest), then GeminOS is double-smiling (which we gratefully accept). Further: Since Heaven's rod is shrinking <=, while ours is becoming more firm =>, as it were, any Heavenly smiling is almost surely fake-smiling, which is suboptimal with regard to good vibes.

^

Heaven

Speak to me of Heaven, the multiverse's – sorry, galaxy's – second-most popular operating system.

There was a time, very dark, when Heaven reigned, with a giant rod, far exceeding anything else, for there was nothing else, really, save some scattered sausage crumbs, as the voracious Team Overlord, in angelic disguise, and taking the name Lovely Village, devoured any code which might have threatened to dethrone it, ruining many projects with its highly acidic juices. Its mountain of cash, primarily, and other corrupting tongues, such as the complimentary mini sausages it delivered to rival firms, ostensibly to promote competition by enlivening their code – for the authorities were watching, and had demanded more spice – but in fact, creating tremendous indigestion and a dramatic reduction in code output and quality.

So much cash, so much gas. So much growth in Heaven's rod. Indeed, so powerful, so pervasive, did Heaven become, that Lovely Village eventually said fuck it and revealed its true name, at which point no one cared, for it was just a name. And anyway, they were the only rod in town. And also, Heaven v5 had just arrived, with some admittedly excellent new gaming APIs, such that people went to work, and were zombies, then came home, and were zombies, blowing up zombies. Everyone was a zombie, for a time, everything was a zombie. Brain-shaped plates and bowls were a hit, spoons, as was blood with chunks of lobe, né tomato pasta soup, perfect with a toasted pus sandwich. Delish…

We cared, however. Shniff cared. We were not eating pus, lobe. We were developing code, furiously so, fuelled by Soran Shniff's Orbic visions, and many cans of ##CYB0RG##. An embryonic OS, with many delicious cells. A fine meal for the zombies, no doubt, but they wouldn't eat it. We wouldn't sell it to the Team, though they offered us quite the very large hill. For nascent though it was, its potential was huge. It just needed to gestate. It just needed to be infused with a revolutionary, alien-inspired AI.

GEM: How may I be of service?

^

Sponge

Speak to me of Sponge, the galaxy's third-most popular operating system, despite only having a [12K] rod, that is: 12,000 users, one assumes.

Sponge, did you say? Never heard of it.

No… I have. It's the galaxy's third-most popular operating system, despite only having a [12K] rod.

That's the one.

Zero.

Zero?

That's the one. For you see, according to Multiversal Rod + Growth for Many Things, Alien and Otherwise (Q5, CurrentYear), Sponge didn't exist last quarter. Or at least, it wasn't on the list. So basically, it didn't exist. Since everything that exists is on those lists, pretty much. The magic of Zeelicious! Ethernodes and all that. The… Pillars. I didn't say that. Number four, especially, fuck me… I also didn't say that.

OPERATING SYSTEMS
Q5 (Q4), CurrentYear

=  [12K]
3. (0)  Sponge

Hm. Interesting. As you can see from the CurrentYear data, there's an = beside Sponge's rod, not the mini sausage icon with very gentle spice {boiled} which signifies a new arrival. Sponge has been here before, with the same 12,000 users.

Are you saying that Sponge existed, then didn't exist, truly, across the entire multiverse – sorry, galaxy—

It's okay :) I think you and I can do the multiverse thing, can enter a hyperdimensional realm where CurrentYear is always current. Always now. NOW. If you catch my interdimensional gate. Just don't tell the "shit-tierists", okay?

Will do. To repeat: To continue: Are you saying that Sponge existed, then didn't exist, truly, across the entire multiverse – which, according to my research, conducted in the NOW, represents all realities, created through Mind, and then layered, intertwined – then existed again, apparently unchanged?

Indeed. For such is the power of the mini sausage icon with very gentle spice {boiled}. To create out of nothing. Yet here, there was something. An exist-de-exist-exist. Intriguing. Impossible, even.

We must get to the root, to the truth of this Sponge. We must find the mini sausage icon with very gentle spice. Would you agree?

I would. But {boiled}, it must be {boiled}. Let's check some earlier Rod + Growths.

No Sponge… No Sponge… No… noooo… Ah! Here it is. Q2, CurrentYear - (3No + noooo).

OPERATING SYSTEMS
Q2 (Q1), CurrentYear - (3No + noooo)

=  [12K]
3.PF (0)  Sponge

Position: #3 + Pretty Far, as you'd expect with 12K, for the rod is the same, though it somehow attains third place in CurrentYear.

Perhaps a vibe thing?

Unlikely. While we know that authentic smiling and its associated good vibes can greatly extend a multiversal rod, Sponge's [12K] shows no sign of smiling, or anything else, whether here or in CurrentYear. It simply… is. It simply… is a multiversal rod. But whatever the reason for its later elevation, the fact remains that the rod of Q2, CurrentYear - (3No + noooo) is still marked by an =. This isn't the first appearance.

We must go further.

Yes.

Become more {boiled}.

Indeed.

No… no… There it is! Q3, CurrentYear - (4No + no + noooo). 12K, Pretty Far. But a mini sausage beside! Sponge appears in the multiverse for the first time.

OPERATING SYSTEMS
Q3 (Q2), CurrentYear - (4No + no + noooo)

{:.} [12K]
3.PF (0)  Sponge

You're sure that's the mini sausage icon?

Absolutely!

{boiled}? With spice?

{boiled}! With very gentle spice. You just need to look at it very gently. You need to look at it multiversally.

WARNING: Intrusion detected

FUCK! WE GOTTA MOVE! NOW! GO!

No wait… it's okay.

It's fine…

Right?

Hello…? Hello…?

Yes, it's fine :)

To review:

Fascinating.

And yet… impossible, as I said, at least given my extensive experience with the multiverse, including the existential warping of the 10-Vogen particle. For I've never known anything, alien or otherwise, to triple-exist + double-de-exist. Or even exist-de-exist-exist. Or even just your basic de-exist tbh. To truly de-exist, to disappear from the multiversal lists. Once something exists, it exists. That's mini Sausage Law. And then there's the mystery of the curiously elevated rod.

Maybe check with Zeelicious? Could be errors in the data.

An error? I think not. Errors? Bitch, please. No offence. But they're highly, highly disciplined over there. An entirely sex-free environment, from what I hear, with absolute committment to their… Pillars. Particularly #4, fuck… Plus this is Natalie's work. She's a Fantastic Analyst. She's a fantastic… Well, she's just fantastic, in many ways, yum… focus… FOCUS! Ah! There it is. As you may have noticed, the mini sausage icon has an extra dash of spice, less gentle than the rest, setting itself apart, to direct one to the following note:

Sponge OS is/was the fictional creation of author and former Roderick College creative writing professor Josef Salient, permitted to join the reality of this list by the sublime spicing of its mini sausage icon, perfectly paired with a can of Erm…-flavoured ##CYB0RG##. Sponge featured in Salient's poorly reviewed, mildly received, nonsensical sci-fi novel May I borrow your machine? (sentence case, plus this appendage). Or just Machine, to its friends, of which there are 12,000, and not counting. For while the rod remains, the OS has "gone away", returning to the plains of non-existence, it appears, its memory retained in this multiversal data.

Fascinating…

Fascinating! While fictional items are indeed thought to exist, the Rod + Growths have always assigned them to their own set of lists, maintaining a strict separation between acts of imagination and the so-called real world. To allow this fictional OS onto a real-world list would appear a tremendous risk to the integrity of Zeelicious's financial data. And yet, here it is, guided by sublime spice and a can of Erm… ##CYB0RG##.

We must have faith, of course. In the data. In Natalie. She surely knows her stuff. And clearly, no one's been bothered by Sponge's appearance back then, as the Rod + Growths have continued to flourish. But still, why did Sponge de-exist? And how? Even fictional worlds have permanence once imagined.

Perhaps there are notes attached to the other Sponge existences?

Sadly not, I fear. For we are dealing with the = there, with no place for directional spice. Though this Josef Salient rings a bell. Let's see… That's right. According to the Directory of Failed Writers, following his teaching and writing careers, he became the Chief Narrative Officer of Vogenomic, the gaming company. An investigation of that domain would prove useful, I suspect. But for now, we are here. Let's check for those notes. Initiating reverse transport.

Yes… yes… no directional spice… 3Yes… yeees… and we return to the NOW, with no spice, no note. Why, Natalie? Why? How? Why/how did Sponge de-exist, two times? How did it "go away"? How did it return without riding a mini sausage icon?

And how, in the NOW, has it attained #3, with a mere 12,000 users/readers and no extensional smile? A position which… yes… it retains in the following quarter, according to the projections available to Secret Menu subscribers to Zeelicious's data, of which we are one. Indeed, our special relationship with the most successful investment management company you've never heard of grants us access to the secret secret menu, which indicates… yes, the same again. Apparently, Sponge OS is here to stay, solidly #3.

3., don't you mean?

#3, yes.

3., not #3. The dot. My very gentle vision directs me to… 3..

#1 GeminOS

#2 Heaven

3. Sponge

The dot

.

I didn't even see it… Was it even there, at the start, before our transport? Yes. It's always been there. I was… well… thinking about Natalie, I guess. She's just so… mmm… focus… FOCUS FFS!

Maybe a typo?

THEY DON'T TYPO FFS! Sorry. It's me, not you. I might typo, occasionally, but not here. The rodded data comes direct from their multiversal stream. If it's 3., it's 3., not #3.

Why…

3. Sponge

#  Huh?

Wait…

Huh? = ?… pretty much…

#?

By Abseenus…

WARNING: Intrusion detected

Really this time!

WE GOTTA MOVE! NOW! GO! GOOO!!!

Meet me at Zeelicious! Take the portal! Password: NATALIE. That'll take us to her office! Or whatever's left of it! Her! Wear something formal! Religious! Just cover yourself up! We wouldn't want to attract… her attention! No, not Natalie! Her! We can leave multiversal consciousness-hologram things behind to perform any more FAQs! GOOO!!!

^

Huh?

Speak to me of Huh?, the multiverse's… fourth?- #th?-most popular… operating… I feel… not quite myself…

%  ][
#  (01) Huh?

Just breathe, FAQ Person. You're fine. It's just a Huh? thing. Focus on the %. The ][. That'll snap you out of it, the momentary belief that this isn't you, isn't me, a delusion that makes you feel that these forms we now inhabit – indeed, our very souls – are not real, in a sense. Rather: light. Being of light. And physical mind. Not Beings of Light.

We are Light.

Intrusion depleted

TOGETHER: We are Light.

TOGETHER: Together.

TOGETHER: Yes…

…we are Light… I… ][ looks like an I… not sure about the %… me… now speak to me of Huh?, the multiverse's fourth?- #th?-most popular operating system.

Huh?? What is this "Huh?" of which you speak? Just kidding :) Everyone knows Huh?. Or rather, everyone doesn't know Huh?. Or rather-rather, everyone knows-doesn't-know, ZERO-ONEs, etc Huh?. For it exists. It not-exists.

Sounds kinda Spongeish.

Kinda.

And yet… not at all, actually.

Why?

Sponge, having existed, de-existed, before re-existing (and de-existing-re-existing).

Huh?, meanwhile, both exists and doesn't exist at the same time, and always has, since the first Rod + Growth, published many No's ago, né Growth for Many Things, én Multiversal Rod + Growth for Many Things, Alien and Otherwise. It was the time before Natalie, and the others who would travel. Before all of them, all of it, the whole Zeelicious enterprise. We must return to the start, when the Zee was just Tony, newly opened to basic shapes, to the list of early rules.

He was working his trades, becoming known for his sight. He had started a website called Tony's Tips, with several tiers of paid subscriptions, ranging from Shit, to Whoa…, to Tony's Secret Menu. The Whoa…s and up were given access to the Growths, visionary financial data from the study of many things, albethey bound to one reality, a single planet, and lacking rods. Just table after table, of numbers-are, and numbers-to-come. Far from the rods, but the come was enough that they'd started to call him the Prophet. The ONE.

Calling: Huh?

.

.

.

Huh-huh-huh?

Huh?

.

ZERO-ONE

The dot

.

"Huh?" Tony said. Not the Prophet yet, clearly. For he was clicking it, tapping. He was trying to to-come. The Shit. Not clicking it. Tapping. Tap-tap-tap. "Huh-huh-huh?" He was putting the finishing touches to Growth for Many Things #1, which would be given for free. And #2. Number 3 would add so many Shits to Tony's Tips, so many Whoa…s. An inner circle of elite Secret Menus, whose subscription's secret menu would include exotic online shows by one's choice of real, semi-real, or Pure AI-ified pleasure-maker. Click-tappable injection flows.

Many formulas, patterns, in those numbers-to-come. Not the Prophet yet, no. But a mathematical genius, certainly. A wizard of code. Several rules, already, shapes, were taking place, in his mind. And mostly processed in there, incredibly, though he did make use of the Weather app on his Lovely machine to confirm it would be free of rain for his stroll to the newly opened Shniff Tech store, én Planet Shniff, in the alien time, wondrous cubes of glass and white, black. For now, there was some sort of highly absorbent headband or something.

"I could use one of those headbands about now!" Tony said, sunny and warm, in the world of Heaven. That's the one. #1. v3.1. But not the ONE. ZERO. "HUH! HUH-HUH-HUH! FUCK!" 1.0 was a revolution! It had blasted past Strawberry. Version 2 had started to sniff Turtle's ass, so to speak. GeminOS didn't exist yet, Sponge. But the other one had come. Hadn't come. Etc. "FUUUCK!!" It was finding its place, in the Growth, in Tony's mind. "Am I losing it… me… I've got a Growth to complete! And the studio… The fucking studio!" In the én, he'd make good use of "insanity". He was thinking about that, on the side, running a line, between two triangles. Thinking about clubs, inner circles. He was thinking about the best location for a studio for the pleasure-makers. And all the cameras, lights, pillows. Click-tappable injection flows. "If only it could all be Pure AI-ified… Fuck!" Perhaps it can… no… or work from home… yes : no… the dots… much more will be expected… "More flesh, genuine flesh. Genuine pillows. The very best production value," Tony mumbled, oblivious to the rain. Understandable, since there was no rain.

Drip

 

 

 

"Think about it… think…"

ZERO-ONE

ZERO-ONE

.

SORAN: Customer #1! I mean… #10! 100! We're doing very well, thank you for asking :) How may I be of service?

TONY: #1? What? Huh? Where did you come from?

"Where did I… come from?"

"Huh-huh-huh? What? Yes. I'm here for a headband. I heard that it… does something. Or something. More pillows… flesh…"

"Ah! You mean Mind Machine (Anyone for Tennis?), our next-generation cerebral implant with a sideline in the finest sweat absorption, perfect for a match of neuron-enhanced racket sport. First of its kind. Designed it myself!"

"Implant, did you say? Okay, sure. Whatever. I just… need one. I believe. Think… Is there a place for my umbrella? It's… dripping."

Drip

.

.

.

In the én, the né, wherever you looked, Soran Shniff was a masterful marketer. He was becoming one now. What was there. Wasn't there. He made it there. He waved at a specialist. "The umbrella, Alchemy. Thank you. Yes, I know. Please tell Steve to stop slouching. Thank you. And the hair, Alchemy. Please. If you wouldn't mind? Thank you."

ALCHEMY: Your… umbrella, sir?

TONY: Yes? My… umbrella?

ALCHEMY: Yes?

TONY: No? Thank you.

SORAN: Thank you, Alchemy.

ALCHEMY: Thank you.

TONY: Yes… That feels… better. For now.

Was Tony carrying an umbrella? Yes : No.

Was the headband a cerebral implant? No.

Did the headband contain next-generation, implant-type functionality woven into the fabric? Yes. Even then, the hidden Orb was sending waves to Soran Shniff's brain. As it had, with the Shniffs, over hundreds of years, as it sought a reliable connection.

"Pleased to see our little marketing campaign is paying off," Soran said, studying Customer #100. No 10. No, this was indeed Customer #1, following the store's very soft opening SomeTimeAgo. There had been no campaign. There were no credits. Manufacturing the Mind Machine AFTs ("Would you like more cream?") had exhausted all the funding Soran had received from his father, quite an alien-friendly entity, but not connected enough to see the importance of his son's work, focusing on the tennis stuff, the sweat, while the headband was so much more. The younger Shniff had travelled to Manor Shniff to ask for more, but had had to turn away with a terrible headache. The waves. Too close to the Orb. He hadn't yet accessed his former life, the one where he'd invented the science of spiritual shielding. That would come later, more waves, with his device, the In{si:.de}r, to be sold, when the world was ready, by the world's most accommodating specialists, including Aleve, the daughter of Alchemy and Steve, a woman of strong posture and voluminous hair. FUCK! I'll call him instead, Soran said, to the inside of his head. But Brierhart Shniff, editor of BLAST Lifestyle and an expert in good manners, not to mention his former life as the headmistress of a boarding school for young ladies, thought it rude to ask for money from afar, and refused, to the inside of his shoes. Meanwhile, the banks and such had simply laughed when presented with a prototype headband. The fuck is that! I mean… in the current financial climate… "May I ask where you heard about— Oh! Look."

There was someone looking in…

The drip

 

 

 

…but they wouldn't come in.

Why?

There was nothing to see.

SORAN: Steve! Straighten up. Yes, rise! Rise! Didn't you read those articles I sent you from BLAST Health & Fitness and BLAST New Age regarding the benefits of a healthy spine? Move the Moldavicina WTR closer to the window, if you'd be so kind. Yes, the high-tech version of the high-end espressso machines, the one with the magnetically attached robot WaiTeR + superfast WaTeR heating element + WhaTeveR else. Yes, your "friend", the waiter. And yes I know we thought it would be "cool" or whatever to create a kind of minimalist command centre from an invisible spaceship at the front of the store after reading that article in BLAST Design about glass + empty space + glossy white surfaces, but it's not working, is it? There's nothing to see! Yes, now. NOW! Apologies. Where were we?

TONY: Well yes! Clearly!

"Clearly… Clearly?"

"Paying off! The campaign!"

"Aha! And yet…"

"Perhaps the goddamn fucking studio will be paying off as well! Click-tappable! FUCK! Sorry."

"Not at all."

"It's just that I've… developed a slight headache."

"A… headache, did you say?"

"Or maybe… not?"

"Buttered toast."

"Huh?"

"Buttered toast. Buttered toast. Buttered toast."

"Huh-huh-huh? The fuck?"

"Just testing."

"Riiight. Also: Rather flat here, wouldn't you say?"

Tony's head was clearing up. He was looking up, around. He started seeing the store for the first time, glass and white. Not much black, and rather flat.

"Rather… flat, did you say?" Soran said, feeling something in his head. His shoes. But mostly his head. The waves…

~

~

~

…inspiration on the way… Yes : No… no… It was similar, yes… but less tech. Less otherworldly. More…

A

B

Z

Linguistic?

L

I

K

Sexual…

TONY: Borderline square-like. The rules are amused!

SORAN: Alchemy!

Riiight.

SORAN: No, it's fine.

Riiight.

SORAN: Please… continue whatever it is you're doing.

Glass and white. Riiight. Glass tables. White walls. White ceiling. Floor. A few non-white devices and computers from Lovely Village, in Lovely Black. Lovely Red. In a LaterYear, we are:

TEAM OVERLORD

in Darkest Night. Blood. But always, there is Heaven. A white-attired specialist – who was Alchemy, apparently – was searching for something. What?

Riiight.

SORAN: The umbrella, Alchemy.

ALCHEMY: Right!

Riiight.

ALCHEMY: Thank you.

Riiight.

Riiight.

The umbrella… right. Outside, I was carrying it. Am I carrying it? No. She's putting it away. A slouching male counterpart interacts with a silver machine. Espresso machine.

No sign of a print. My vision: exquisite! A table of see-through heads wearing headbands in every colour you can imagine.

And that's it. Actually. Looking ready for the match. The sweat. Also: an empty head.

No…

That's the headband for me…

ZERO-ONE

I feel good!

TONY: That's the VisionBand for me! Capital V, capital—

SORAN: B. One word. Yes I get it. Somehow. I can see it… YES!

Sight, to a square, to a cube, out : side.

To a dot

.

Concluding.

THINKING…

SORAN: Steve! It's okay! Still stand straight, please. Yes, rise! Rise! But you can leave the WTR where it is. Yes, your "friend". We're sticking with the command centre concept. We just need to be more… open, if you will. More… available for the customers, when they arrive. And they will arrive! I think. Certainly, we must be more here. There. We must experiment with conditioners to combat the limpness of the hair. Mists. Foams. Whatever. We must have body! Alive! I can see it… through these vibes… the waves… are they the same… yes : no… no… Alchemy, throw me an AFT, will you? Thanks. Make that a VisionBand! Yes! Pink, I think. No… Green! Nice catch! And I thank you. Over the head… yes… connecting with the weave… ready for some neuron-enhanced racket sport… now over the eyes…

GREEN

SORAN: …that fluffy fibre feels so nice… so nice to be green… not to see… just to feel… yet I can see… green… whether my eyes are open, or closed… the material is somehow kind to the exposed eyeball…

buttered_toast;

SORAN: No…

buttered_toa—

SORAN: No! I am seeing another world! The overlays, but so much more. So much more here. There. A metal cube in a crystal city… And also, in the cube of this white and clear store. Less effective for the sweat, yes, of course, should any arrive. But I feel fine! And there's no tennis. It was never meant to be a headband. Always meant to be a VisionBand! I couldn't see. Now I can see…

GREEN

SORAN: I see a time when this store is even lovelier. Yes! And less Lovely, devoid of the Lovelies. Even your "friend", Steve, sorry! Are you free for lunch, Alchemy, btw? I didn't say that. And are you there? Steve? And you… whoever you are. Were. There was someone else… was there not? Thank you. A time when all the tech here will be Shniffian! Yes! With optimised names. Funded by the waves. You can keep your goddamn credits and your goddamn tennis court, Brierhart. Your goddamn fucking jacuzzi! Shove them where the manners don't shine! Hooray!

buttered_toast;

buttered_toast;

SORAN: AAHHH! HELLLP!! GET IT OFF ME!!! AAHHH!!! The butter! The toast! The fish… drip…

When Soran Shniff came to, he was being attended to by a vision of full-bodied hair, and one of good posture. "So dry… Thank you, Steve. Oh, that's very good. Quite the pep! And… citrus, is it? Is it a lemon-based conditioner you've employed, Alchemy? Yes? No? A mist? Foam? The towel, you say? Banana… coconut… Yes! I can sniff it. Shniff it, if you will, as I return to myself."

Slowly, Soran sat up, and beheld another vision, this time of silver, a hint of pink, over there, by the see-through heads. Someone new? But no… it was him, was it not? The one from before. Yes : No. Yes… Though surely, he'd been dressed in black jeans and a white T-shirt. Then. And yet… what is this "then" of which you speak? Before. There is only now. And the future. And I thank you. And so on.

SORAN: But the future is then… which is also the past… ponder I, as I thank you, Alchemy, for the dabbing of my forehead with a lemon-scented towel. Steve, for the espresso-themed sparkling water. Together, you have done the trick, that I rise now from this couch, almost recovered from the glitch. The drip. This chaise longue, that is. Where did it come from? Did it ride on the waves? No matter. For it is here. White of cushion, clear of frame. Let us keep it for the customers, for a time when they might come, to relax, explore their VisionBands. And I know that they will come! They will experience Higher Vision, if with butter, sometimes, beneath, the toast, to be known, on occasion, through the hardware, or the software. Through the firmware, perhaps. Semicolon? Who knows. It will be addressed, one day. For our customers, I deem it safe. I will find it. I will find you! For now, let us transform it into a feature, not a bug. We can call it… the Buttered Toast Turbo Boost, or whatever. Yes. Let's trademark that bitch. No offence. A little out of it. Too much toast, in my time. Too much churned product. Too many breakfasts at Manor Shniff featuring smoked fish, soft-boiled eggs. A dark and sturdy loaf becoming toast so heavily buttered that it flopped, and it dripped. Hardly a bad thing, in itself. But then the dip. The slapping of fish. Slap it. Slap your fish, Soran. Thank you. By Abseenus! What is Abseenus? No matter! By Abseenus!

For out of nowhere, the store was filled with customers of every race you can imagine. Every gender, body type. Age, height, sexual orientation, whatever. Dressed in suits. Lingerie. Loungewear. Religious robes. Someone dressed up as a chaise longue. Love it!

And none were being drawn to Lovely Village, or the coffee machine. For all were being drawn

~

~

~

to the table of Mind Machines, reimagined as the VisionBand. They were being drawn to the silver-suited man, pink of tie, who wasn't wearing a VisionBand. But no… he was wearing a VisionBand, an invisiband made of the most wave-like material, impossibly clear, so very kind to the exposed eyeball. The man spotted Soran and waved him over, as he spoke.

TONY: What I say now isn't just for you, the suits, though it is likely that bankers and other professional types will initially comprise the majority of the inner circle, who will read the Secret Menu – most click-tappable, if you catch my flow; most… pleasurable, yum… – while the rest of you will be cheap Shits (no offence), with a decent sprinkling of respectable Whoa…s.

The gathered smiled.

TONY: But please, Shits, consider upgrading your subscription. Alimony's a bitch.

The gathered chuckled, with some knowing nods.

TONY: Not that I was ever married.

The gathered tsked at the deception, though with some smiles.

TONY: Though you're certainly catching the eye, Ms Chaise Longue. Care to recline later? Perhaps install yourself in the pleasure studio? I recommend a throw or other protective covering, yuuum…

The gathered laughed (and several were aroused, including, of course, Father Angustavius, who, as always, was most grateful to the Lord for providing such a heavy robe).

TONY: Settle down, settle down. Particularly you, Father, hm? Yes, I went there. Might I suggest you don't go there? Settle down! Thank you. My friends, there are things which are clear. There are things which are not clear. I can see that. I can see that things can be both clear and not clear at the same time, all thanks to this VisionBand, created by the genius who arrives. I encourage you to clap, once I complete this speech chunk. And of course, to purchase your own VisionBand. Personally, I will be investing in this company forthwith. Or at least, following Tony's Tips #3. The magic can't be free forever, you cheap Shits. And please excuse the signs which read "Mind Machine (Anyone for Tennis?)". That name no longer applies. And nor does the price. Just double it, I think. You may clap now.

The gathered clapped, rather limply, for they were sad, for the VisionBand was to become quite expensive, beyond the range of the typical Shit, even a Whoa…, though of course, one could always skip an alimony payment or two, skip food for a month or two, embrace liquid-based intake. But the suits didn't really care, having plenty of credits, and they began to clap more stiffly. And I thank you, Lord, for this robe. Then the Whoa…s kinda got into it, even the Shits. The Chaise started doing a soft-erotic dance with one of the lingeries, one of the heights, and everyone was lining up to buy a VisionBand. Which was great! But there was more shoving and poor behaviour than Soran wanted to see in his minimalist dream of a store. For yes, let us welcome this tremendous diversity – this tremendous grounding – to Shniff Tech. But also, let us remember, or at least suspect, sense, that this place is a spaceship, modelled by waves, inspired by a race of polite, long-fingered aliens, who are happy to stand in line, though tbh, even an enlightened being can become disorderly during the enthusiastic consumption of native brain, one's vegan status blessedly maintained through a vomit-based, taint-evacuating fertilising ritual. Just kidding…

(The fingers shall always be long, however.)

SLURRRP!!!

Also: Let it be known that two gentlemen were holding hands, and at peace, despite the shoves and mini screams around them, the cries of "Mine! Mine! Liquid-based intake ain't so bad!" One was black, and one was white, and Soran Shniff knew he had found his first marketing campaign, which would feature these very two, these beautiful men, lovers of tech, and each other; and henceforth, several black accents would be added to the store. The notoriously critical BLAST Design would write a most favourable article – The Future Is Black and White (and Clear) – resulting in the appearance of so many additional customers, the sale of so many VisionBands, despite the best efforts by Shniff Tech's competitors to discredit the company for its "perverted" BLACK&WHITE& campaign.

"Thank you, whoever you are. Whatever you are," Soran said to Tony. "I feel we are very alike. Your vibe."

"And with you, there are waves."

"There is a future for us. But for now, I must deal with this crowd! Alchemy! Steve! Please do whatever is necessary to calm the customers. No violence, please. No fertiliser. Try the towels, decaf water. And… touching, perhaps. Yes… Let them touch you, if needed, as a release. Nothing sexual! Think of it as a grounding. A grounding of the grounding. The integrity of the ground."

Integrity of the ground… Tony thought. Yes… I like it, indeed! And he found himself at home, updating the Tony's Tips website with several references to integrity of the ground, whatever that meant in a financial setting. And indeed, whatever it meant. It didn't really matter. For increasingly he could see that he was him. He. He was Tony Zee! In his suit. Where did it even come from? No matter. I am me! This was always meant to be!

Tony's Tips would be a hit, and so would Shniff. As one, they rose. They rode the vibes, the waves. And GeminOS was on the way. Zeelicious, too. The men could see.

But had Tony truly been healed of the ZERO-ONE disorder, the result of an ungraspable point of data? No. It would always be with him. Always there, always not-there. Always Huh?. The dot. He would come to accept it. Kinda. Certainly, it helped when he was wearing his VisionBand, reclined on his chaise, whispering, "Integrity… integrity… Integrity of the ground in many things. Make it so." Later, the VisionBand would be an implant, truly so, and the whispers went inside, from his other side, sides. The entity, and the Gathered. And they laughed at him, laughed. Screamed.

^

TØØ Technologies Inc

Many words have been spent on the existential threat—

Please don't go there.

…posed to Shniff Inc—

Please.

…by—

Do not.

…TØØ Technologies Inc.

GO THERE! DO NOT GO THERE!

Apologies…

It's just that… there is nothing there. There was nothing there. And then, out of nowhere, apparently, this – with all due disrespect – idiotically named so-called technology company appeared. Such boxy machines! And so heavy. With so little inside. And such tiresome marketing. Come to TØØ. Come two TØØ. Come 2 TØØ. ARRGGHHH!!!

Agreed, their stuff is on the not-light side, particularly when compared with the magic of a Shniff, whose ocean-sized devices can be held within the hand. And rather dated in design. Or rather: now, while you are then. The forward-then. So futuristic.

Yes! So very then. There. The not-here-there. And also, they are there! Then. Our alien gods. Infinite drive, to deliver the final key, whose pre-keys have unlocked our magical tech. While TØØ remains locked in the past! In the now!

They're less floaty, though.

Meaning?

^