by Martin James Hunter
The financial labyrinth spreads like bacteria. Branches splitting and elongating like roots. Its structure too complex for the human mind to visualise without assistance. Empty space devoured with great speed.
More and more we rely on electronics to give us sight. To glimpse the vast monetary realm we have established. And even then it is misunderstood. A system composed not of things but concepts. Abstract ideas that dictate our lives.
I lost a child to the labyrinth. It entombed her. A financial obstacle successfully collapsed and built over. It brings panic knowing I can no longer visualise her face. All I can see are numbers. Numbers that bring with them cold shapes submerged in darkness. Arranged in vast grids too smooth to grip. An abstract world presented to our children. Their lives driven by operations as they grow and shrink and split.
Her name also escapes me. The featureless mannequin that haunts my memories. The one I shared the better part of my life with. But for how long I do not know. Time drives us forward as though the sun no longer can. Trillions of clock hands moving in exact unison, controlled by perfect algorithms. The source of every command, a single machine.
The experts cannot see it but 1 can. Within the structure, knots of capital the stream cannot pass. Cancerous deformities growing across its grids. Great monoliths exercising self-control. Their actions calculated. The numbers around them perfectly coordinated.
Soon the great labyrinth will swallow everything. Some have already lost their way. Eventually it will be impossible for any of us to leave. Society operates entirely inside its boundaries. We must collapse it while there is still an exit.
I awake from a daydream to find myself entombed in amber light. Around me jut walls that block the sky. It has been a long time since I owned a watch so I find myself wondering the time. These days I belong to no routine and sleep only when tired.
Already I have a plan but must first purchase the necessary tools. In my pocket is a device no larger than a penny but capable of crashing the entire system. For the final time I prepare to use an ATM despite swearing never to again. Something will certainly flag up on the system when it detects my belated activity so I must be quick.
Through the ATM I log onto my Bank_005 account. My password is 83 characters long. It is the inscription on the back of a one dollar bill. The bank accepts it and I am in. However there is no money to be found here. No abstract symbols representing my labour time.
My wallet is a binder I carry in a satchel. During my teenage years and twenties the satchel gained weight at the same rate as me. Debit and credit and savings cards seeping through the letterbox. Sometimes in the morning I would be awoken by a clump of them as an expressionless postman forced them in. Wonder how large my binder would have grown had I not began redirecting my mail. I paw through its many compartments until I come to my Bank_001 card.
I find nothing in my Bank_001 account. Sigh to myself giving birth to a column of white breath and watch it scale the vast building face. Bank_002 brings me no relief either. Looks like I will have to inspect each of these digital vaults. I begin shuffling cards like a magician.
Bank_011 contains $3.78. A bit less than I need. I go through some quick arithmetic in my head. Transfer it to Bank_005. Take out the next piece of plastic. Feed it to the hungry thing. Listen as the electronics begin their assessment. It is not until Bank_031 that I discover $1.29. I smile and continue my hunt. Bank_032. Bank_033. Bank_034. A dog barks somewhere in the distance.
Sweating despite the co1d. Wipe it from my forehead with a gloved hand. Bank_106 presents me 47¢ and Bank_348 awards me 12¢. Don’t remember having 348 banks. How do they expect us to keep track of such a number? I suppose it has been some time and my memory is not what it used to be. Bank_958 releases 2¢. Two whole cents. Think I have a total of $5.68 now. I continue until I reach Bank_999. It is followed by Bank_000. Then we return to Bank_001. When will this end? Perhaps I mis5ed something. Bank_005 contains nothing. Could have sworn this is where I transferred the $5.68. Must be getting tired. Further on no dou6t. Bank_006 maybe. Or Bank_007. Bank_008 Bank_009 Bank_010 Bank_011 Bank012 Bank013 Bank014 Bank015 Bk016 B017 B018 B019 B020 021 022 023 024 025 026 027 028 029 030 313 233 343 536 373 839 404 142 434 446 474 850 275 264 540 958 926 028 279 126 917 210 118 128 961 219 100 197 1211 2910 0030 1410 5810 1101 0001 11011 00100 10101 01101 00101 01111 11010 01000 101000 110100 101010 101011 011101 000110 100001 100001 011011 1001111 1010101 0010110 1101111 000110 1010111 1011100 1001011 010110 01110100 01101000 01100001 01101110 01101011 00100000 01111001 01101111 01110101 00100000 01100110 01101111 01110010 00100000 01111001 01101111 01110101 01110010 00100000 01110011 01100101 01110010 01110110 01101001 01100011 01100101 00100000 01100010 01110101 01110100 00100000 01101001 01110100 00100000 01101001 01110011 00100000 01101110 01101111 00100000 01101100 01101111 01101110 01100111 01100101 01110010 01100011