I haven’t seen the sun since the scream happened six months ago.

It’s funny, I can still remember going to the doctor for headaches and coming home under the strictest orders for my parents to limit my computer time to no more than two hours per day, to preserve my eyesight. Ha! Even before the emergency duty, the sixteen year old punks around me often spent 24/7 wired in.

I have never told that story to my colleagues aboard this ship.

They already refer to me as the old man of the sea, despite the fact that 90% of the ill-read lot of them are unable to identify the Hemingway origins of this reference in under three searches. Some parts of human knowledge are still as poorly organized as they were in 2020, the year I started life on the ships.

At the time, full time life aboard the company ships was alluring --- the best projects, high pay, the finest facilities, and a respite from the grinding commute from the expensive city that had been losing its soul for a long time. We all already commuted back and forth to the office aboard the commuter for a few hours a day. Living on the ship was just a short scootch down the slippery slope, we still had shore leave in the city every weekend evening and days in the office.

In those days a flotilla of these ships drifted out in the Bay. As more and more people in the company started to live aboard, the culture of secrecy deepened around the wired project, and the company began to cut its ties to the mainland government. The ships got bigger and began to operate exclusively offshore. My ship sailed out under the Golden Gate bridge the same night we launched wired. We celebrated the night with friends ashore that were experiencing direct brain-port interaction with the internet for the first time.

Oh, sure there were lots of early glitches - we spent lots of time wiped, fixing bugs while wired. It became easy to forget you were at sea, the younger folks took pride in how long they would stay in.

The world picked it up and ran with it -- billions of people in the first few years.

No one saw the scream coming. The entire ship was wired in at the time it began. It built up like the thunder of hate and confusion that used to roil over the old keyboard-bound internet, but indescribably faster, higher and darker. And then it crashed, searing pain and then mind erasing white noise, like being caught in an ocean wave and tumbled for days.

After what seems to have been two weeks, the sense of tumbling has died down to the approximate turbulence of being in a washing machine and a few of us have established tentative communication. The bodily support systems seem to have kept us reasonably healthy and isolated from the physical world. But our numbers have been dramatically reduced.

We poke around the flotsam and jetsam of our wired world, making small repairs here and there, searching for others but not finding many, and sometimes getting lost in the churn for awhile ourselves. We debate rebuilding wired, but in our hearts we know it is both a lost cause and a terrible idea. Truly, we fear the day we must disconnect and see what has happened to the real world.