15 min read

nada_maas2k (king tubby mix)

Chapter 14: Everything here happens on loops, rendering time and events meaningless by repetition. I mimic the mechanisms, hoping to somehow sneak inside the simulation and fuck shit up.
nada_maas2k (king tubby mix)

by Odious Awry

This is Chapter 14 of King of Spain, the serialized text art that is being channeled to me by a future version of myself called HeirMax98. It's a story about four strangers in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, who discover that they are trapped in some sort of simulation haunted by a strange entity they call, "The Curator".

Chapter 14 is told to us by the newly renamed nada_maas2k, who believes that she and the rest of The Last are in a game in which anything might be possible, if only they can learn how to play.

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Paid subscribers can read Chapter 1 here and Chapter 2 here , Chapter 3 here, Chapter 4 here, Chapter 5 here, Chapter 6 here , Chapter 7 here , Chapter 8 here, Chapter 9 here, Chapter 10 here , Chapter 11 here , Chapter 12, here and Chapter 13 here.

I raise and lower my arms and legs over and over at regular intervals, using calisthenics to interact with The Grid. Everything here happens on loops, rendering time and events meaningless by repetition. I mimic the mechanisms, hoping to somehow sneak inside the simulation and fuck shit up. It’s a similar strategy I used to infiltrate online subcultures. Beneath the layers that made up the mask of my avatar, I studied and waited and then waited some more before sharing gently remixed memes with the group. The content creation was the easy part. Having the necessary patience was tough. Slowly, over the course of many months or even years I gained trust and made friends. I waited even longer, just to be sure, and then I initiated my campaign of coercion and tastemaking, supplanting the accepted content with that which was adjacent to the group but not a part of its lexicon, including, but never focusing upon, the work of my client.

It’s the same patience I’m using now, in order to beat the others. Timing, in the case of marketing or in gameplay, is everything.

That the rest of The Last don't know it's a game doesn't change the fact that it is one. They are locked into their own understandings of what this is and why we are here: they believe it to be a kind of hell or purgatory or a temporal paradox as described in various hermetic texts as well as Donnie Darko. Theories that may, in fact, be the case, as each of them can be contained by a game that is big enough, which this game certainly is.

At least one member knows. It was meeting me that made Dean realize the truth of our situation, and that even if he can't fully admit to himself, he is a natural competitor who is not only playing but playing to win.

All is harmonious, all is easy. This is the feeling that comes to me when I focus on my surroundings. The others have reported it as well–a dim flat sensation that mimics the platitudes of peace. It’s a part of the game, the way being tired used to be a part of real life. I draw mandalas with my finger in the soft brown earth of the riverside. My hand isn’t reflected in the river, the (too) blue water set a shimmer in the infinite fair weather sparkle of a digitized projection. If I focus on myself I feel broken, my breath shallow in my chest.  I wonder if Dean is right, and instead of being fully here we’re stretched between this place and the one from which we came like a telephone wire across the sky–at once the conduit and (two) receivers? Like patients tied to a hospital table, Dean believes it’s important not to make any sudden movements, not only to avoid the wrath of the NPC’s, but so that the parts of us embedded here don’t go spilling out across the grass with its abstract (yet undoubtedly meaningful) patterns of buttercups and daisies. 

“Action brings the risk of falling,” he says (once? twice? a hundred times?)

“With each fall we come back a little less us, a little less whole. And I should know, having fallen more than all the rest of you combined.”

He plays it well: it’s easy to believe he really is our benefactor. Our protector. But that last part is telling, like he’s admitting that he knows how close he is to his long anticipated breakdown.   

I’m watching him become more and more still against a landscape that is at once dead and eternally in motion.

On the opposite shore, a short distance from the water, are two large slabs of concrete.  I’m old enough to remember how the pre-gentrified rivers edge used to be dotted with asphalt islands covered with stray shoes, bedding, chunks of plastic, upended shopping carts–whatever garbage was too sticky or heavy to get pulled out to sea. I went down once to smoke a joint and watched a man dislodge what looked like a kick drum from the muck.

Unlike that crumbling shoreline, these slabs are perfect rectangles, faithful renditions of the new fab corporate Brooklyn. They are different from the glistening terrain that emerges directly from the water, a stony and vaguely aggressive multitude.  On the contrary the slabs are utterly smooth and featureless–nearly abstract in their monolithic “thereness”. They are like Platonic forms broken through from another reality.  I spend a good part of each day staring at them in the changing light. Whomever or whatever had placed them there had purposefully put a gulf between them–a distance that seems too far apart. The disjointness beckons and taunts me.

My name is now nada_maas2k, the change represents the merging of the player with the game. The computing and the computed. It feels right. Unlocked in this situation is the chance to change things that felt forever stuck. Within the expanse of droning silence there are glimmers, I feel I can learn how to get anything I want.  Which would be bliss. (There is, after all, only one thing–to have Sterling back by my side.) But I have to be careful. I can take it too far and forget what’s real. I can start reworking the whole script and think I’m the god of this world like Dean, who writes obsessional fiction on paper he’s stolen from our dwindling supply but also commits the outright violence of removing pages from our shared notes, like a director cutting a scene. At first, before Casper and before we even had paper, I followed Dean and Eden and marked anything worth knowing on my body, pressing so hard I broke skin. But now, as I watch the others spend hours scribbling away, I know that writing must be used sparingly, if at all: the others think it’s helping us to remember but I know it really makes us forget even more.

It’s right there, just beneath the waistband of my underwear: “No more words on paper, no more crutches.” 

And here’s another thing I keep retracing–located just a little further down. I pick off the scabs so that the scar stays raw and raised:

“Trust yrself”

Which is a kinda funny one. I mean, it’s easy to trust myself now that I have no choice. 

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