It’s a difficult reality to accept, one moment someone is here the next they’re gone. As a concept alone death is hard to accept but this is something different. Your loved one has been slapped away to an alternate reality just because someone has been angered by them. It used to be you just got shot for that sort of thing, but not these days. I’ve never met anyone who knows how it works, all I’ve ever been told is we all get one, a present for your Twenty-first birthday. If you want someone gone from reality give them a slap with the Slaptrack and boom, they’ve vanished. Your life is instantly better because the annoyance has gone but it’s not like everyone suddenly forgets. The only silver lining is it’s a physical attack. You can’t just think someone away; you have to be close enough to touch them. Not as easy as it sounds if you want to go unnoticed. Some to be fair don’t care, they won’t be arrested, it’s a right for all humanity and they’ll risk the victim’s family finding out.
Give a man a right to bear a weapon and he’ll use it, threaten that man with the same weapon and we have mutually assured destruction. It’s been around since the Cold War but the nuclear deterrent is a grand world concern, the Slaptrack is personal. The worries of a nuclear attack are a government problem, sure we can still worry but it’s nothing compared to the intimate attack of a slap. It makes society nicer, well at the very least more polite. Life isn’t necessarily lived in fear, but everyone knows the consequence for angering your fellow man. It’s not like some idyllic wonderland where we’re all waving and saying hello to everyone we meet, it’s simply that we display polite courtesy to one another. You’d think as a society we wouldn’t need a looming threat to make us be decent people, but it doesn’t seem this way.
When it was first introduced there was mayhem, the Slaptrack itself recorded who was doing the slapping and who was being slapped. This meant all a grieving family member would have to do is get access to the registry and the hunt was on. Someone would get slapped and then their loved ones would seek out vengeance and slap them back. It would roll on like this tit for tat, so on and so forth until the government of the world stepped in. The Slaptrack legislation provided protection for the slappers. It meant that you could still slap those pesky annoyances away, but the law protected anyone from knowing. The registry still existed but it was locked away where no-one could see. The governments thought it was safer like this, thought it would make the world a better place. A make-over perhaps, a veneer of happiness, but all they accomplished was institutionalising a weapon that forced adults to play nice.
Slaptrack hasn’t made life any more interesting, it’s just added another layer of complexity, another obstacle for man to navigate. We’re all still human, all still flawed and all trying to find the easy ways to live. Yes people are nicer, but it’s all a façade. You can never tell if people are being genuinely nice or if they’re just maintaining the plastic smiles of the status quo. No-one wants to risk having their life slapped away after all. So we smile in public and seethe on the inside, only revealing our true feeling to our most trusted of allies. Never has the word ‘frenemy’ been more applicable, every man and woman shares the same pleasant pretence of courtesy all to get through the day and keep the life they have. Be good to each other or face the unknown. It’s a powerful motivation to keep yourself well behaved, there’s a consequence to bad behaviour. There always was if you think about crimes of passion but Slaptrack is easier. It’s clean and legal and everyone accepts it’s their right to slap an annoyance away. Everyone is just as self-entitled as they were before, that’s why no-one complained when it was originally proposed. There was always rumours that any activists were silenced permanently as the first test subjects but it’s been that long most of us have thrown if off as a myth. The point is the human race is still the same flawed animal it always was, we just pretend to be a lot nicer than we actually are. Honestly it makes sense, the threat of being ripped from existence into something more unknown than death would terrify anyone.
It’s often referred to as a fate worse than death; at least in death you have the comfort of an afterlife, if you believe in such a thing. Even those who don’t believe accept that once they die that’s it, they cease to exist so don’t need to worry about anything. No-one knows what happens with the Slaptrack, at least no-one I’ve ever met. I think anyone that knew those answers have long since passed away. Whether it was death or the Slaptack we’ll never know. We have no idea where people get sent, alternate reality, another dimension, parallel universe. The fact is one moment you’re here, the next not. It’s a horrifying concept for anyone with a hint of compassion. Whatever you believe about death there’s finality to it, the Slaptrack could be anything. It’s that uncertainty that keeps the population under control with the terror. That we might be cast out from our beloved lives, that our loved ones could just disappear and how our loved ones would react if you disappeared. From the lore of the Slaptrack we know that it’s not a death sentence, we’ll continue to live. The how and the where and why are left to our imaginations, but knowing we’ll still be alive makes it worse. In death you’ll find peace in afterlife, or won’t care because your dead and you cease to be. If you’re ripped from a family you love and then forced to live out your days without them it’s a torture. If we actually knew where people were being sent, we might be able to find some solace. It’s the last great mystery of the modern age, one no-one is willing to solve.
The Slaptrack is always present, there’s no escaping from it. We all feel it dangling precariously over us every day. Some more, some less, but the knowledge is always there. It doesn’t stop us living life, just something to always remember. Like when you go to a foreign country and the drive on the other side of the road. Men like me however are special cases; my life revolves around the Slaptrack. I make my living investigating suspected slap related disappearances and find out if the missing person was victim of a reality bending slap. This insane ‘gift’ has opened up new doors as a Private Investigator, although this isn’t exactly a legitimate occupation; governments don’t look too kindly on us. The whole point of Slaptrack is the anonymity, but not all of us agree with that. Besides for the money I make, it’s worth the risk. I don’t get involved with the slapping, I just hunt down the men and women who’ve slapped people away and inform my clients. What they do from there doesn’t concern me, just as long as they pay. The job comes with risk, sure there’s the fines and imprisonment for the governments, desperate to keep their happy societies they’ll get rid of investigators like me. What’s more distressing is it’s not uncommon for people to have slapped away their competition. It’s not even that uncommon for the police to slap away consistent nuisances to the laws of the land. I’ve never used mine but I’ve known plenty who’ve tried to get ahead in this game by using their Slaptrack and plenty more who’ve felt the sting of a police officer’s glove. I’ve even had a few narrow escapes myself, but it’s worth the risk for the financial reward. It makes for a dangerous life, but a lucrative one and it really gives me a close up look into the depravity and insanity of modern society.
Before Slaptrack an enterprising young boy or girl on the lookout for a sugar mommy or daddy, would be the perfect adoring partner all the while planning to kill their doting benefactor. With a handy slap the days of the golddigger could get so much easier, but it didn’t take long for the rich to protect themselves. If you want to live the highlife then you’ve got to abandon you’re slap at the door. Give up your societal right for a temporary life of privilege. It made the wealthy feel more secure but it made their young nubile partners vulnerable to jealous ex partners and ungrateful children. I’ve chased down many cases like this. The world still runs on money, it just has a new tool. The threat itself isn’t just exclusive to the golddiggers, couples across the world have the though ever present living in the back of their minds. Have an argument; maybe a slap will solve it. Broken heart, why not slap those bad feelings away. It’s the bread and butter for a man like me. Someone’s son or daughter has went missing, they suspect their suspiciously happy partner who claims they’ve broken up and has no idea where their former love has went. These ones can get a bit odd, especially when it’s a double bluff. Husband slaps his wife, but he calls me to investigate on behalf of the family and tries to point the finger at the man she’s been having the affair with. A lesser detective might have missed this but not me. It’s a clever plan to be fair but you shouldn’t have hired someone so clever. It used to be if you wanted to protect yourself in marriage you’d get a prenuptial, these days you just give up your slaps to live a happy life. Of course there are the people who’ll descend to the depths of the underworld and purchase a new slap with a ‘clean name’. Not that it matters to the likes of me will follow you to the darkest recesses of societies underbelly and catch you.
The simplest of base urges makes a slap a valuable commodity to be traded and sold. Remember the days of ‘you kill mine and I’ll kill yours’? Well just replace kill with slap and you’ve got a dark new world. There’s a dark world out there that thrives on man’s most primal desires. Want to make a quick buck, sell your slap to the highest bidder and if you need another slap, become one of the high bidders. What you do with the slap no-one cares and it’s just assumed you need money to continue eating. Every case I work has me wading through the same anarchic world of relationships. Be it romantic or plutonic, man’s social nature able brings trouble. It’s no longer a world of cheating spouses it’s all about those missing people that the government and the police ignore. Of course when the powers at be ignore an issue, you can be sure that some shady criminal element will step in.
I’ve seen some of the darkest dens of humanity, but sadly for the likes of me, it’s where you go to find the answers. It always leaves a mark on you, a little more jaded, eyes a little more open to the real world. The Slaptrack hasn’t fixed the world’s problems, we’re still exploiting each other, still endangering others, but we’re just a little more polite about it. That title ‘a fate worse than death’, echoes everywhere. The uncertainty of not even knowing where you’re being sent, being ripped from the people you care for and being forced to live alone breeds’ terror even in the darkest corners. Yet it’s in these shadowy recesses that morally corrupt live and become inspired. With the government regulations preventing slapper exposure they inadvertently put a price on an individual’s slap. Unsavoury characters will pay good money to get an extra slap. If you live in society’s underbelly you can make a lot of enemies. The power to wield more than one is enticing to those men and women, those megalomaniacs who already craved power. Having that threat in their back pocket to exile those who anger keeps this world mired in darkness. Power struggles are common, the organised criminal element will cleanly slap away problems to get to the top. Taking advantage of the downtrodden, purchasing their slaps in order to avoid using their own and stockpiling an arsenal to assert their dominance. The ability to make money off the misfortune and desperation of your fellow man is nothing new to these people and they feel quite at home in their depraved kingdoms. The people that populate this cesspool are the worst of humanity, all looking for ways to cheat the world. The grieving families of the Slaptrack victims always pay out, but it corrodes the soul. I’m not even sure I have much of one left. I don’t know if the the whole idea of Slaptracking someone out of existence in secret is right, especially with the dark world it creates. It’s a sentiment I’m sure many people share, but are far too afraid to say anything. We just accept it as fact, as a right, being so ingrained into our lives. It’s a quiet dictator that rules over us with an iron fist, or more accurately open palm.
I don’t pursue any grandeur in what I do, it’s just a job but, I do get paid really well for the service I perform. I get the opportunity to live a good life and that’s not the case for everyone. We still live in the same world full of poverty, unemployment, famine, the world still needs improving and some unfortunate souls have come to revere the slap. Crazier than the concept of being allowed to slap someone into the unknown are the people who actually want to be sent there. Cultists and religious fanaticism have sprung up around the Slaptrack. There’s a belief that it’s a gateway to a ‘super afterlife’ and no-one can really disprove it because we have no idea where it leads. It’s not like anyone’s ever made a return trip. It’s all about what you believe and despite it sounding like nonsense, some people still believe. They even have something called a ‘suicide slap’, it’s popular with the kinds in their early twenties. You slap me, I’ll slap you and we’ll both be sent off into the unknown because it’s better than the life we have here. I don’t get it, how could to choose a fate worse than death. I’ve seen what it does to people, I’ve profited from what it’s done to people but there’s always been a reason. It’s suicide light, I can’t go through with ending my life so I’ll choose door number two and vanish. I understand suicide, this baffles me. The only thing it shows me is that we’re all still as damaged as before, even with the quick fix.
Life is a series of delicate and deliberate acting performances designed to make us seem better than we are. That’s how it’s always been. You have to adopt a personality that will suit a certain situation. That personality isn’t meant for everyone but Slaptrack changed that. For all the quirks I’ve seen in the day to day of my job the biggest change is our attitudes. Everyone smiles, everyone is happy but no-one trusts. You better find love before you turn Twenty-one because if you thought the dating scene was bad before its horrendous now. It’s not too different than before except now honesty is always silently questioned. We all lied and wore a range of masks to get through the day. Knowing that anyone could take offence to you and slap you away makes your niceties harder to believe. Sure we all accept them, but the trust is gone. The vast majority of us carry on living the same way we used to, we just act nicer. Does that make the world a better place? I honestly can’t say. Mutually assured destruction never really worked with Russia or North Korea or anyone else who opposed ‘The West’. It kept us pleasant but all the unpleasantness was still there festering. Like it or not we now live in a world that thrives without honesty. For better or worse we have the make the most of it. We’ve traded genuine goodwill for something forced that keeps everyone under a veil of dishonesty, but it’s a fair life with equality for all and peace for none. I’m always left with the same question every time I work a case that involves Slaptrack. Is a society that lives under a façade better than one free to be honesty? Is this better a world?
This story was inspired by a conversation between Kevin Smith and Scott Mosier on their podcast SModcast. This is taken from episode 72 Hello Dere! (13/01/2009) where Kevin and Scott jokingly discuss a world where you can send someone that annoys you to an alternate reality.
If there are any fans out the podcast out there, please get in touch, I don’t know anyone in my real life who does.