The Alien Car Dream

There are these black electric cars, opaque, a couple of white LED lights. Silent. One day they are just there, dotted all over earth. The impression is of those Google Street View periscope cars. Except they are not of this planet. They are alien.

They move around in groups of two or three. Cruising along country roads, then parked and unmoving for days. Nobody can get inside them. They are not hostile in any way.

Mostly out in the countryside, gliding across highways, fields. They don’t do anything. People are curious. Mom and dad and I rent a cabin out in the country. Up on the hill above us are three cars. Stationary for days now, a tourist attraction. People park right up close that night, headlights streaming over the motionless black contours.

Next day; people picnicking on blankets along the river bank, glancing over at the cars, expecting something to happen. Everyone's real friendly. Nothing happens. A group gets up to leave, gives us their blanket to sit on.

Later. Evening. I’m hanging around outside. An Asian couple in classy grey coats walks past. With slight smiles they turn and say: “Don’t even look at your books.” I imagine text crawling over the pages, distorted by the proximity to the cars.

Cut to inside the cabin with mom and dad. We're discussing the appearance of the cars.

That’s when it starts.

A giant replica of the earth appears in the sky, a thousand times bigger than the moon. It's bright, digital, like it's a hologram or CGI. Just hanging there. The continents swim across it, compress into fingers, splay out like a flower.

Ah. I run outside. I get it.

They’re building a perfect model of the world. They’re digitizing us. More and more detail gets filled in. Reality becomes malleable (to them) and for us only stranger and stranger. I watch as huge swathes of field become instantly invisible, reappear, change colour, get skinned over by a cloudy sky or some other pattern. Patches of the real-world flicker on, flicker off, flicker on again.

Eventually every single rock and tree and blade of grass is a perfect digital copy, totally indistinguishable from physical reality. They’re co-existing, superimposed.

Cut to back inside. I open and close my eyes repeatedly. I can no longer tell what will happen when I open my eyes. Subjectivity is being digitized.

I fear to look, each moment’s unstable, nothing I see is consistent, nothing reflects what is actually there, slabs of colour and bleak geometries float in a black field where the room should be, then the room’s back but mom and dad are motionless soundless blobs like pieces of disused furniture with a sheet draped over. They do not actually become disused furniture, I know they are still right there, but my physical senses are sending alternate data, my eyes no longer send back what’s in front of them. I’m scared. It's too much. There’s no sign of an end, there is only the hopeless terror of continual unpredictability.

The floor's not there, but I am standing, I feel the floor, but my eyes lie to me. This carries on and on and on. Like flipping through TV channels, but instead of the picture on the screen changing, it’s the whole world. I’m going mad; a buzzing paranoia, and then at breaking point my body is disassembled at a molecular level, instantly reconfigured, popped back into being. And then it’s all over.

Normal reality is restored. Well, sort of.

I'm back where I was, still standing in the cabin. We’ve made the transition. But not all of us. Mom and dad are no longer here. It’s as if the world has been folded into a higher dimension and all those whose consciousness can’t accept it were left behind.

There are fewer people, now, here, and they flit across the landscape, exploring, trying to figure out what’s happened, what’s changed. All the old societal concerns are behind us. They simply don't exist, are no longer in effect, because we who've transitioned do not think that way anymore and so there’s nobody to perpetuate the old system.

But what is this strange new world!? What are we meant to do in it…?

The dream ends there. My last impression is: To Be Continued. Like this is the first episode in a TV series.



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