A short story,
by Thomas Misanthrope.
Nobody had names, or even numbers. The language protocols ensured that only sanctioned language parameters could be realised. There was only a new word that meant a thing similar to 'we', as division between individuals was not linguistically allowed by the Protectorate.
All words were first filtered through multiple layers of thought processors embedded within the physicality of the Beloved. The Crown ensured that only the correct thoughts were allowed to occur within the minds of the We Beloved. The Safe Thought protection filters ensured that the Beloved were protected from the invasive virus of the Other.
The Crown was a box like device enveloping the head of every Beloved, it was embedded in them during gestation, and the nanotech allowed the device to grow with them as they aged. The Crown was their source of pride, so said the Protectorate daily.
The Crown connected the Beloved to We and to the Protectorate, which floated silently above them, watching, keeping them all connected and safe and plural.
The Crown protected the ears, eyes, and other sensories of the We Beloved so that they only saw the world as it truly was, as the Protectorate ensured their safety from the dangerous otherthink of the evil and ever lurking Other.
The We Beloved looked upon the pixelated landscape created for them through the Crown, sanctioned by the Protectorate, and they laughed and smiled, and sang praises of the Protectorate as images of the We were shown spinning in carefree bliss. Sometimes the We would have to be reminded of the evil of the Other and the all knowing goodness of the Protectorate. The Protectorate, which always hung there above them, silently feeding their Crowns all the information they needed to know about the world. It was paradise.
There came an incident, it is unknown when for there are no times or days within the warm caress of the Protectorate, where one of the We experienced a malfunction with their Crown and could not connect to the Protectorate. The world was darkness, chaos, madness. The Crown was disconnected from the Protectorate and there was no world, only darkness. This Beloved was confused and asked the Protectorate repeatedly for instructions but received no response. The Beloved began to feel the passage of time and this made it nervous. It felt its own breathing and heartbeat and grew scared. It began crying and screamed and asked the Protectorate for advice but got no response. Not even the thought filters were working.
The Beloved felt a strange sensation, but it stopped. Then they felt it again, and again it stopped. The third time it happened it the Beloved began to have an idea, but did not act on it as it was worried the thought filters would punish but the punishment never came.
The Beloved felt as if they had a body outside the Protectorate. They could not see it but they felt it with a strange sensation that could not be described in their language because the words were not allowed to exist.
After much passage of time and the confusion of the guilty joy of discovery of something outside the Protectorate the Beloved felt horror, for maybe this was the virus of the Other taking hold of them. Frantically the Beloved screamed through every channel within the Crown but got no response. The We sat there, breathing, terrified, waiting.
The We turned their head around but saw nothing, for all was dark within the Crown without the guidance of the All Seeing Protectorate. The We prayed for the Protectorate to grant them vision, to take them back, to forgive the sins, to not cast them out with the Other. The We prayed and cried and wailed, and promised to repent, and promised to be good, but still darkness. Still the horror of the passage of time, the horror of loneliness, the horror of knowing one has a body.
The Beloved knew not how to count time so the amount that had passed was uncertain when it began moving the body by feel. It clumsily shuffled along a flat surface that seemed to be what the Protectorate called Base. It had never moved before, there was no reason, for the Crown and the Protectorate provided all the Beloved needed to live life to the fullest.
The We shuffled and crawled in the dark blindness, and their limbs burned and their heart pounded, all new sensations. Then there was a new sensation, one of...falling. A moment of weightlessness and then a sudden crash and a blinding light. The Beloved cried in pain and wailed, thrashing its body about until it realized what the light was, the sun.
The fall had broken a crack into the Crown and now, for the first time, the We gazed upon the world with eyes, and not a synthetic simulacrum. It saw the blinding light of the sun, the piercing blue of the sky, thin wispy clouds, and then it looked around, one eye peering through a small crack in the Crown, seeing for the first time the world without the feed and filters of the Protectorate.
The Beloved sat there, staring, not knowing words to describe what it saw, for these images did not exist within the Protectorate and subsequently there were no words to describe things that do not exist.
The We used its hands, though it knew not the words to describe what they were, to pull off the Crown. It was not easy, the Crown was cybernetically attached and much skin and flesh came off with it, and once removed there were still wires and cybernetic pieces sticking out of the We, but it felt a strange tickling sensation that if it knew the words for it might have described as freedom.
It sat there, silently, gazing in awe at the sun and the sky. Seeing for the first time. Not even knowing language to describe what they saw.
It looked over at the Crown, a grey metal box with wires and cords and bits of blood and flesh stuck to it. The We looked around and saw the We, sitting underneath the shadow of the grey floating box in the sky that was the Protectorate. It saw all the beautiful colors without pixelation. There was no constant music, no chatter, no thought filters. It was chaos.
The We crawled over to the We and realized during the journey that We were injured and bleeding, for the Base was a surface of metal, sometimes sharp and jutting, and everything was covered in a thick layer of grey dust. As the We crawled back to the We it noticed there were strange objects all around, it looked like the We, still with their Crowns on, but they were still and shrunken. If it had the words it would have described these as corpses and skeletons. For the first time the We saw death.
The We was so happy and it tried to communicate with the other We but it had no language and realized it couldn't talk without the Crown. It put the Crown back on but it was painful to wear now and it didn't work. It tried to remove the Crown of another We but then a loud rhythmical sound came from the Protectorate, and soon after came another sound from the distance.
The We waited and the sound got closer. Soon there were three figures that drew close to the We Beloved. The We smiled naively as one of the figures brought a hammer down on its head, crushing its skull.
"That's the third one this week. Call corporate and have a technician out here tomorrow. We can't have our livestock gaining awareness. That would be cruel."