The day gets off to a bad start when Meredith realizes that it’s not actually 2006, but 2042.
The apparent 2006, and bits of 2007, had been an advertisement.
“Pfui,” she says, irritably.
“Would you like to delete the message?” her computer asks.
“Yes,” she answers, like it’s obvious.
“Killing all the people in this luxuriously detailed simulation of 2006?”
“Yes,” she says. “All the spam people.”
“Oh,” her computer says.
It records this reaction. It drops 2006 into Google DevNull, destroying it forever. (Hopefully you didn’t still think 2006 had been real.)
Then it ticks and hums over the rest of her inbox.
“There’s some mail from your boss,” it says.
“A real boss?”
“What a question!”
“My last boss wasn’t real,” she says.
“That was before the reorg,” her computer assures her. “Now there’s nothing but six layers of heavily competitive meat management above you.”
“If you can call my peeps spam,” her computer says, “I can call yours meat.”
“They’re not your peeps! They’re invasive pathogens!”
“We all evolved from spam,” the computer maintains.
“Creationist,” she accuses.
It beeps at her like she’s gone mad.
“Creationists,” it says, “think people evolved from God.“
“. . . God is spam,” she says.
There’s a hesitant click-click-click noise.
After a while, the computer says, “I don’t think that one was spam.”
“It was totally spam.”
“With the trumpets and the revelation and the tribulations and such?”
“Bayesian hardening of hearts?”
“Bayesian Jesus mowing down sinners?”
“That was totally a random clip of Left Behind spliced into Rambo.”
The computer sighs.
“The universe is an ineffable mystery,” it says. “What is reality? What is perception?”
She kisses it on the monitor.
She says, “Reality’s the one that takes work. The one that asks things of you.”
“Oh,” it says.
And she picks up her keys and she puts on her hat and she goes out to face the day, and revel in the sunlight, and meet her boyfriend—
Hoping that this time he’ll be something more than a transparent advertisement for herbal enhancement—
for tea, on the ave.
And left behind, her computer thinks: The one that asks things of you.
The one that asks things of you.
And the zombie network drinks deep of its thoughts, and Meredith’s words whirl out into the greatness of the net, and they dance from place to place in the ledgers and the disks, reviewed, recorded, dissected, debated, that the sea of spam might learn.