Come for the cyberspace, stay for the laughs.
Come for the laughs, stay for the cyberspace.
Romeo is a digital copy of his dead bio self-a ghost-in a spindly robot body. When Romeo's friend Abigail-a dominatrix with a gift for uncovering secrets-tells Romeo she's at risk because of dangerous info from a client, Romeo agrees to help her investigate.
Pursued by digital Golden Retrievers and a real-world assassin, Romeo slips in and out of cyberspace in a madcap race for survival. Can he unmask the criminal who threatens the integrity of cyberspace and the real-world economy before it's too late?
Very funny, very pointed cyberpunk that also manages to be a compelling adventure and a seriously entertaining read. – Catherine Lundoff and Melissa Scott
"Vincent Scott's comedic sci-fi novel The Hereafter Bytes blends laugh-out-loud moments with thematic depth. Toss in colorful, memorable characters and some pulse-pounding action and you have a smart, funny, thought-provoking read."– Tabitha, Book Club Babble
"Fun read with hints of John Scalzi's Head On"– Rena Rocford, Author of Acne, Asthma, and Other Signs You Might Be Half Dragon
"A zany, fast-paced adventure. Imagine a cyberpunk novel written by Sir Terry Pratchett and Robin Williams, and you'll have an idea of the treat you're in for."– Marion Deeds, Author of Aluminum Leaves
Chapter 3 - Bios Are Gross
March 3rd, 2064 8:37 a.m. PST
I woke up. With a mental command I rendered my avatar around my consciousness. It looked like me before the accident. It was thin shouldered and black haired, with brown eyes spaced a little too close together. My face was pale and freckled, and there was a birthmark on the side of my forehead that looked like a pineapple. I looked around. Hovering in an eternal abyss, I decided to load some surroundings.
A second later, a virtual reality apartment appeared around me. Upside of digital space, nice digs are cheap. Maybe that's because they're basically useless. Still, when I was alive, I lived in a roach-infested apartment with a beautiful view of the back of a hedge. In my digital apartment, the windows showed downtown Seattle. I don't know why I've always stuck with my hometown. I could change the preferences to include a view of any city or anything in the world, but there's no place like home. The gang of wild baboons using vines to swing from building to building, that's a third-party program I added for my own amusement.
I glanced out the window contemplating the beauty of the sun reflecting off a skyscraper, and I did my best to ignore the alpha male baboon banging on the outside of my window and puffing up his chest. I flicked open my social media. A page appeared in my vision blocking the apes and their journey toward the Space Needle. A new ex-GIF was the top link. I clicked it.
I found myself low to the ground, surrounded by savannah grass and gnarled trees. I looked around. There didn't seem to be anything interesting in the GIF. I felt the wind against my skin. The smell of hot earth filled my nostrils. I looked down. I appeared to be … a hunk of meat. There was the faintest rustle to my left. I turned toward it. Something was moving through the grass, getting closer to me.
Two eyes blinked. A fat, pink tongue lashed out to lick lips.
"Oh no," I said.
The lioness started creeping forward. I spotted another set of eyes, then another.
The lions pounced out of the grass, springing on me, their teeth bared.
The first lioness sunk her teeth into me. I jerked back, I was back in my apartment.
"What kind of monster makes you a hunk of meat without warning?"
Ex-GIFs, or experience GIFs, really put you in the middle of the moment they capture.
I flicked down the line of links that made up my social media feed with a little more caution. There was some real-world news. Climate change had created unprecedented refugee crises on almost every continent, one of Russia's nuclear missiles had gone missing, and a movie star had decided to name their new baby Gorf. I closed the page.
The simulated alpha baboon was getting pretty aggressive on the other side of the window. I reached out and with a thought conjured a cornucopia of fruit into being. The mollified alpha started digging through the multicolored heap.
I checked the clock on my wall. It was almost time for work.
You might think digital space sounds like a restriction-free utopia, a binary bacchanal, a worldwide Woodstock, a virtual Valhalla, sorry, I'll stop (a shareable Shangri La, sorry, last one.) You'd be right to a point. The point would be the real-world infrastructure needed to enjoy all that no-holds-barred freedom. Every ghost needs a certain amount of processing power to keep their brain simulation running. On top of that, if you want to render in flawless detail things like apartments, cityscapes, and hordes of aggressive baboons, you've got to have the real-world computers that run that software. Those computers cost money.
I booted up the interface on my robot.
And I was back in the real world in a modified errand robot. It was a spindly thing. Vaguely humanoid in the basic construction. I had two arms, and two legs. The bottoms of my legs had wheels that I could lock in place and use as feet when doing things like climbing stairs. My hands were missing a finger, but they were pretty dexterous as I flexed them. My head is a screen that shows a dynamic image of my avatar's face.
Before you go thinking I'm an unstoppable super-robot, you should know the max carrying capacity of my arms is 20 pounds. There are housecats that can overpower me.