Fahrenheit 52

The Hive

This whole thing began with pigs. Of course we all turned into swine.

Eagletron began nobly: a novel brain interface, invisibly implanted, for controlling computers. Then, the inevitable turn: wouldn't it be great if?

Must we always wake the sleeping dog?

I'm getting philosophical again, but I always do before a raid.

Around me, my unit prepares the beach. I watch Zig team (Dose, O'Grady, and IceCreamSandwich) dig a secondary trench near the water's edge. They move like clockwork in this textbook operation, almost like they can read each other's... no! I push the thought away.

"Captain! Can you give us a hand?"

We operate in strike teams of three. Two lead Snares and one Safety, ready to assist as needed. We're down three Exterminators after Wednesday's assault, so I'm stepping in as a Snare alongside KillBoy and Moonpie on Zap team. I've been daydreaming over here instead of helping out the Zaps, so we're behind on our prep.

"You got it, Moonpie."

As it turns out, we're way behind. The next half hour I'm barely thinking, just following the operating prep procedures for a raid, indelibly burned into all our minds at the Academy. We grunt at each other as needed, making minor adjustments. It's more efficient this way.

Which brings us back to the Eagletron.

We humans are social creatures. Sure, there's always the lone wolf stereotype, but that's the anomaly, if they even exist. The rest of us spend our short lives busy dying to fit in. The Internet made things worse. Instead of a thousand million vibrant microcultures, the monoculture spread and enveloped and reinforced itself online. So, when they turned on the Eagletron and you could implant a little invisible sensor that could let you talk to other sensor-wearers - with your mind! - what do you think happened? Groupthink thrived and spread like wildfire. Eagletronners wore the same clothes, listened to the same music, posted the same posts. Your friends and family-members changed. They were different. They were the same.

Which left the rest of us, the non-early-adoptors, perplexed. Where were these common ideas coming from? How did the Eagletronner monoculture make decisions?

No one knew. In the face of this major public backlash, the Eagletron execs asked someone smarter. An AI. The Biological-Intellect Growth System coming out of the science department of Old New Jersey Tech. BIGS, for short.

Sure enough, BIGS figured it out pretty quick. But did that asshole tell us? What do you think?

As soon as those idiots connected BIGS to an Eagletron, we knew we were all in for a world of pain.


Think about the last time you stubbed your toe real bad. That shooting, blinding light, overcrowding every thought. What about ecstasy? Rage? Hunger? Fear? We asked BIGS to figure out how the Eagletronners monoculture worked, and BIGS did, by figuring out how to control it. Through emotions, amplified to inhumane levels through its accelero-loop servers, piped straight into the neo-cortexes of every poor soul with an implant.

I hear a scream.


The Hive is here.

"It's O'Grady!" someone shouts.

I click on my infrared goggles and watch in horror as those monsters pull O'Grady into the water.

"Aren't we going to do anything, sir?" asked Killboy.

"No. We hold the line."

"But, sir..."

"You heard the order, Killboy. Get back in formation," said Moonpie.

I never take my eyes from the water. I watch them quick-transfuse O'Grady. She'll be on the raid in moments, propelled through the emotional current of BIGS. Moonpie's been there. Assimiliated into the Hive and then flipped back to the Exterminators six months later. Doesn't like to talk about it, understandably. But I got a bit from her once - imagine constant pain and agony, a living hell, for most of your waking hours, spliced with tiny moments of esctascy, just enough to keep you going, addicted, hooked. I wanted to tell her it sounded a lot like my last job, software engineering, but I held my tongue.

"I see them!" whispers Killboy.

O'Grady emerges from the shallows. Her eyes are pallid.

"Let's go exterminate some bugs!"

We howl into the tides.

The inhumane screams of the Hive echo back.

"Snares with me! Now! Move!"

"Will, be careful with Jimmy!"

"It's fine, Mom! We're just corndogging him. He's in the Hive right now, but I'm turning him into one of us, an Exterminator."

"I see. Are you okay, Jimmy?"

Jimmy nodded with a sand-crusted smile.

"I told you, Mom. We've just gotta pull the Hive out of the water to win."

Jimmy, now flipped, raced back to the lake to help his fellow Exterminators.

"And how does the Hive win?"

Will turned back in the shallows to answer.

"I gotta go, Ma. I'll tell you lat..."

"Like this!" shouted Gabriel.

Gabriel tackled Will from the deep, dragging his older cousin into the water. Gabriel's brother Cole slammed an inflatable tube boat over Will's head.

"You're assimilated, Will!" shouted Gabriel.

With Will and Gabriel on the same side, it was only a matter of time before everyone was assimilated.

The Hive celebrated their domination in the waters, then grew quiet.

"What should we do now?" asked Alice.

"Water-balloon fight?"

"I wanna go fishing."

"I'm hungry."

"I'm gonna go try to catch some tadpoles."

"I want to ride my bike around the lake."

And thus, the Hive chaotically dissolved.