The Unpluggers

By Ray Wilson

Fog permeates the substance of the forest; rivulets run down the gnarled trunks and drip from the inter-tangled canopy of branches. The Bluebell railway line runs through the Ashdown forest. Somewhere far ahead, a steam train blows its whistle, its piercing vibrancy muted by the smothering blanket of fog. I urge my hound on; she is intent on sniffing each and every mossy mound and decomposing stump.

Distant steam-lights create an ethereal atmosphere, shrouding the forest for a moment in an eerie silence. We walk on as the mist envelops everything; it adds an elemental mystery to the landscape.
Eventually we make our way back to the parking area, where a white camper van is parked at a jaunty angle.

“Hello there,” I say. “I can’t believe how quickly that fog rolled in. How did the autumn mushroom harvest work out?”

“You joked about the liberty cap,” she recalls, pointing to her black hat emblazoned with a white L. She chuckles and replies, “Oh, the mushroom harvest was quite successful this year! I found lots of different varieties.” She gestures “It’s always a thrill to stumble upon them in the wild,” she adds with a mischievous smile.

“I love the forest,” she continues. “I have collected a few Scotts pine needles—just brewing up now if you fancy a cuppa.”

I am happy to rest for a while, and my hound licks her hand.

She gets up and rummages in the van, returning with a tin box. “I have treats,” she says as she shakes the box. “Your dog is very gentle.” My hound chews contentedly.

The young woman tells me all about Suramin.

Scotts pine needles are very good for the immune system and are rich in flavonoids and minerals. The woman explains that suramin is derived from the needles of certain pine trees and has been used in traditional medicine for its immune-boosting properties. She mentions that pine needles are also known for their antioxidant effects and can help support overall health.

“Especially useful in removing spike proteins,” she says, looking at me. “I use black seed oil in emergencies; it’s an analogue for, but seems to work better than ivermectin.”

“I know a little bit about spike proteins and their prevalence due to recent ‘medical’ interventions,” I reply.

I mention my experience with nicotine.

“As an ex-smoker, I was concerned about using nicotine. I now understand that nicotine is not addictive; it’s only what’s added to tobacco that makes it so.”

“Along with 4 or 5 thousand deadly chemicals, she says, smiling, “best grow your own.”

“My missus is doing just that. I have been experimenting with nicotine patches. I know not great, but if you were into lucid dreaming, well, I had some technicolour feature-length dreams recently.”

Time is getting on, and I am uncertain of the path as we leave the clearing—several fallen trees. By the time that we get near the village, it feels as if it’s nighttime, and I am very glad to get home.

Me and the Missus chat quietly by the log burner. We look at some of my older son’s wedding photographs—the grandchildren and great-grandchildren in a long contiguous line from 6 months to 25 years old. The photographer has captured the identical twins sneakily swopping their positions in the line-up.

We are sipping pumpkin soup, and the hound, having devoured her mince, curls up in her bed.
“I thought that I might try the nicotine tonight,” I say to the missus.

“You aren’t sick, are you?” she asks.

“No, no, purely as a preventative; I want to understand its effects, so if ever I need to use it in anger, I am prepared.” The missus raises an eyebrow, clearly sceptical. “Well, just be careful,” she warns.

We all need light, especially when it’s burning low. We miss the sun when it starts to snow.

My missus is one of those divine souls, born on the winter solstice. Leto, the Greek goddess, gave birth to Apollo, while Demeter, the Earth Goddess, gave birth to Dionysus. The shortest day coincided with the births of the Invincible Sun and Mithra.

This night has been bitterly cold. My sleep has lasted all night. My eye is closed, my sleep is heavy, and I am being visited by visions of my soul.

“Cold, damp night,
My eye is closed. My sleep is heavy.
Bring visions of my soul to me.”

In the grimy alleyways of the not-so-distant future, where the cogs of the fourth industrial revolution ground against the weary gears of a future society, a sinister shadow cast itself over the village and probably over the world. Once again, I am walking the hound; she sniffs at the ground and whines. It feels as if some unearthly spirit, some wraith, or something unsavoury has slivered by. The bright, shiny cities with advanced technologies that illuminated the perimeter of the region, promising convenience and efficiency, clawed their way into every nook and cranny of daily life. Sheer towers of glass divide the landscape. Degree by degree-boiling the frog-ratchet click by almost imperceptible ratchet click until eventually the ligaments tear asunder. The pace of change accelerated, leaving many inhabitants feeling overwhelmed and disconnected from the natural world. People became more reliant on technology, losing touch with their surroundings and the simple joys of life. The hound’s unease mirrored my own, as if sensing the impending consequences of this relentless march towards progress. One world government, one dark power enmeshing us, luring us into the darkness in which to bind us. I am aware of a marmot, a shadowy guide with a finger beckoning. It dawns on me that this is only a representation of a world that has not yet come to pass. A world that may still be avoided if, at last, we forget our differences and act in unison. Rusty disused railway tracks torn and bent—wrested from their wooden sleepers—railway carriages peeling paint—faded golds and greens—windows smashed—yet some essence of joy still flickers inside the carriage in a siding close to a decommissioned station building.

The smart cities are buzzing with interconnected devices ruled by the iron fist of artificial intelligence, and the cold embrace of robotics is stitched seamlessly into the very fabric of this technocratic society like sentinels watching over the ancient grounds.

I notice a slim black-clad figure slip out of the shadows, shimmying up a shiny pole bristling with LED lights and cameras. In a swift choreographed motion, cables are severed and dangle uselessly in the air.

The marmot is keen to move on; as we glided stealthily through the underbelly of this dystopian landscape, a motley crew of rebels emerged. The unpluggers are a ragtag coalition drawn together by the shared realisation of the dangers lurking in the unchecked depths of technological advancement. In the murky shadows, away from the prying eyes of surveillance algorithms, they schemed and plotted, orchestrating small acts of defiance against the relentless grip of the technological behemoth.

“When they first came for our freedom, I did not speak out—because it did not affect me.
Then they came for the schools and churches, and I did not speak out—because I was not a child or religious.
Then they came for the unvaccinated, and I did not speak out—because I had an exemption.
Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me.”

I watch figures clawing at the inside of the glass sun dome—they look familiar—they are being switched off—they have no carbon credits left—no way to pay for more—their time is up.

A chill runs through my soul. In this vision of the future, am I witnessing the fate of my grandchildren or great-grandchildren? Maybe your children are here too. Why? Why was it because we were too late to see it—because we didn’t do enough?

The marmot hurries us into the brave new throbbing heart of this resistance. Is that Emma? I am not sure. Is Emma disillusioned by the vanishing shreds of privacy and human connection? Emma, once the builder of this very digital nightmare, had turned rogue. With her band of like-minded rebels, they embarked on a spree of seemingly inconspicuous hacks. Their targets ranged from government databases to corporate systems, all in an effort to expose the hidden agendas and manipulations of those in power.

First, they plunged their digital daggers into the algorithms dictating people’s preferences and choices. Advertisements, once eerily accurate, now stumbled into chaos, and individuals slipped through the cracks in their digital profiles. The unpluggers, masters of the clandestine arts, confounded facial recognition systems, granting a rare moment of anonymity in a world where every heartbeat was meticulously tracked.

Through the night, we walk as if walking on an invisible escalator, urged ever on by our marmot. We watch the rebellions ignite all over the world. Anonymous acts of defiance bloomed into a collective movement. Whispers of discontent swirled, and people, trapped in the cold clutches of progress, began questioning the relentless pursuit of technological advancement at the expense of their very humanity. The unpluggers, with a twisted irony, wielded social media platforms—the very weapons they resisted—to spread the chilling truth about the darker side of the fourth industrial revolution. On the edge of the city, I witness cracks appearing on the surface of a glass sun dome. Is it possible they can be rescued?

As the insurrection gained momentum, fractures appeared in the glistening facade of the tech-driven utopia. Governments, rattled by the growing dissent of their subjects, hesitated in the unbridled integration of technology. Privacy laws, long dormant, stirred to life, and corporations felt the hot breath of unprecedented scrutiny on their necks. The unpluggers’ seemingly inconsequential acts of defiance sparked a chain reaction, a contagion that spread like a digital wildfire, unravelling the very foundations of the fourth industrial revolution. The marmot points to a structure in the cityscape. I glimpse a fleeting image of Emma tangled in sinuous cables, unable to escape the jack-booted forces of the state that surround her. A black hat emblazoned with white flutters to the ground.

Together in this unholy alliance, disparate worked towards a semblance of balance, an illusion of ethical use of technology. The collapse of the fourth industrial revolution crept in like a lingering nightmare—not a violent upheaval, but a gradual awakening. A realisation that humanity, blinded for too long by the algorithms of progress, needed to seize control of its own destiny.

As I wake up from this dystopian vision, I know that this does not have to come to pass, despite the best efforts of the powers that should not be. This is possibly our very last chance to turn this around. Put aside all arguments and disputes. Let all wars between us cease, everyone, for there is no time.

Think of ten small acts of defiance—ten small acts of kindness. One person can do that. Just think—just imagine one million—there were over one million people on the London Freedom marches in 2021. What about all those libertarians all over the world? If we join together, literally one billion people, two billion—or even more. We can, and we must, win this. Do not give your consent to idiot politicians who want to give away your liberty and our autonomy—the freedom of our future generations—to the likes of the unelected WEF and WHO.