"I'm making you a present of my sister", says Assi in all seriousness, "she'll be here tomorrow". Her sister, Jojo, short for Georgina, is large and enthusiastic with her hands which are strong from making tie-and-dye but she is shy and reserved with her own body.
We have designed a network of computers we call "nodes". The network exists to solve problems. Give it any challenge and it will, eventually, find answers that are at first approximate, but increase in accuracy over time. The nodes in the network are each different, and yet they resemble each other at many levels.
Nigeria is a large country on the west coast of Africa, about one thousand kilometers east-west and north-south, spanning from the wet coastal regions to the dry northern Sahel. Nigeria has officially 80m people and unofficially up to 200m people. Lagos itself has over 18m people. The other large cities in Lagos are Ibadan (once the largest in Africa), Abuja (the seat of government, created in 1972 mainly to move power away from Lagos and the Yoruba generals), Port Harcourt (the oil capital), Kano, Benin City (not Benin the country).
They come as they often do, early in the morning. This time, with dogs. They break the door, which shocks me awake. In no time they are in my room, lights in my face, shouting at me for identity papers. I reach for my wallet, they take it, pull out my identity card, someone shouts, "OK, we've got him", and I'm pushed out of bed onto the floor. I see boots, uniformed legs, then a blow to the head knocks me down, and out.
I miss Dad. He died, before I was five. I remember smiles, laughter, a house of wood and plaster, Mum happy. It was a Freak Accident, he was crossing the road, truck driver had a fit and his truck hit Dad. Made a mess of everything. Dad worked so hard, Mum said. Never stopped working, making money for the family. We were not rich but we lived ok, Mum said. When he died it made a mess of things. Mummy had to go do his job, she was away a lot. She started to worry about the money.
I write this with the last of my paper, the last of my visible light. I don't have much time left. The disease has started to affect my sight, and a black moss clouds the focus of my vision. Touch-typing has saved me so far. Insert the sheet, fumbling, roll up a margin, fifty-five heavy letters to a line, and bing! push the Return key hard. Thirty-six lines to a page and I extract it, place it onto the pile to my right, start over. So it goes.
In a small community on the outskirts of Cairo, a man of forty gets ready to go to work. He rises at 5.30am, kisses his sleeping wife and children, and walks from his small house to the main road. After some time he finds space on a crowded minibus that drives into the city. Even before the sun rises, the streets are completely filled, lorries mixing with vans, pedestrians, scooters, and huge buses, their wooden paneling damaged and repaired so often that it looks like painted carton. He changes minibuses twice and gets to work, just before seven-thirty. He works in the accounting department of a drinks company. For lunch he eats a handful of dried apricots, drinks some tea. He continues to work until sunset, and takes the long journey back. The snarl of traffic is so bad that he only gets home after nine. Every day, when he gets back, his wife is waiting for him, anxious and grateful to see him. He considers himself lucky in his job.
I'm standing on the balcony, looking down at the traffic, thirty-odd stories below me. From this height I see only the headlights, little fireflies moving slowly along lanes, turning corners, stopping, starting. Moving too slow, crawling. When I jump, I will accelerate at 9.8m per second, each second, until I'm falling at about 50m per second. At that speed the air's resistance, which I will feel as a solid wind, will stop me accelerating any faster. I will free-fall for a long hollow heartbeat before hitting those fireflies faster than a speeding train, at about 190km per hour.
We got back from Green today after our long visit with Dad, and I was really glad to get back. Green is like they say - very pretty, but scary. So much violence, disease, and misery. They say that going to Green is an experience you can never forget but I'm doing my best. Let's just say this statement is part of wiping the last six months from my mind. The rest will follow, I guess.
22:58:30 http://www.demise.tv/?game=721&clip=82800205&res=hdv [Ariel shots of massive explosions, buildings turning into clouds of debris, streets filled with dust, debris, bodies. Sound track is fast heavy music, mix of trance, metal salsa, ragga. Zoom in on crowds running through streets, close up shots of people running, shouting, screaming.]