Chapter 4

Post-Apocalyptic Joe in a Cinematic Wasteland

Joe Gillis Rating 0 (0) (0) Launched: Nov 24, 2023
Season: 1 Episode: 4

Post-Apocalyptic Joe in a Cinematic Wasteland
Chapter 4
Nov 24, 2023, Season 1, Episode 4
Joe Gillis
Episode Summary

"Every chapter gets better and better. Can't wait to read more. Have no idea where this is going and loving it." - Ryan McKinney, Writer and Director, The Invited | In a world on the brink of destruction, Joe continues his journey in an edge-of-your-seat adventure as he faces the desolate aftermath of a global cataclysm head-on. | S1E1 Chapter 4: Joe and Sanjay find themselves back in reality after a bug kills them in the MECHAverse. | A humorous sci-fi serial fiction podcast from author Joe Gillis. Catch a new chapter of Post-Apocalyptic Joe in a Cinematic Wasteland Wednesdays. Join Joe's Community at Read this chapter at

Episode Chapters
Post-Apocalyptic Joe in a Cinematic Wasteland
Chapter 4
Please wait...
00:00:00 |

"Every chapter gets better and better. Can't wait to read more. Have no idea where this is going and loving it." - Ryan McKinney, Writer and Director, The Invited | In a world on the brink of destruction, Joe continues his journey in an edge-of-your-seat adventure as he faces the desolate aftermath of a global cataclysm head-on. | S1E1 Chapter 4: Joe and Sanjay find themselves back in reality after a bug kills them in the MECHAverse. | A humorous sci-fi serial fiction podcast from author Joe Gillis. Catch a new chapter of Post-Apocalyptic Joe in a Cinematic Wasteland Wednesdays. Join Joe's Community at Read this chapter at

Welcome Wastelanders to the Post-Apocalyptic Joe in a Cinematic Wasteland Audiobook Podcast! My name is Joe Gillis, and I’m the writer and narrator of this Serial Fiction Series. We’re hitting Chapter 4 this week, but there is a new chapter every Friday, so be sure to subscribe.

And if you stay until the very end, you’ll get a peek behind the page with a quick tidbit about this chapter.

The story so far…

Joe and Sanjay are trying to survive an AI-caused nuclear apocalypse, and Joe has a plan to save humanity. They have to make it out of the city alive before they can do so. After dodging the drones on the streets, Joe and Sanjay must gather weapons needed to fight their way to victory. They hit a few snags and had to fight their way out. Problem was, their missiles had other ideas, and they found themselves being fired upon by a tank.

Here we go, let’s see what happens next.

Chapter 4

There was an unexplainable pain when that missile hit us and exploded. In a flash of white, my first-person perspective switched to a sort of third-person perspective where I could see myself floating away from what was left of my lifeless body underneath the rubble. You know, I couldn’t help but think of a line from another great James Cameron movie, “Game over, man! Game over!”

I found myself breathing heavily as my HUD unit popped up over my vision, letting me know I was out of the MECHA IR simulation. My ‘soul’ continued its ascent into who knows where as the words “Mission Failed” flashed across my vision.

No duh.

I moved the ‘Game Over’ screen to one of the side windows so my natural vision could fill the main field of view. I took a moment to reflect on everything I had just experienced. The MECHA system had passed the point where it was so advanced that it was truly indistinguishable from magic. I am pretty darn sure that we reached the pinnacle of Clarke’s three laws for the future by building an experience so realistic that it could fool the mind.

Maya, Sanjay, and I originally built the Mind’s Eye Control Host Access system as a way to send signals from an outside camera directly into the brain’s visual cortex. We had one simple goal: give someone who lost their sight the ability to see again. Not only were we able to do that, but once we cracked that, we were able to figure out a way to allow computer access in the mind using our neurotechnology. Better yet, it was all controlled by thought through a heads-up display that became the desktop of your mind. That enabled people either using our MECHA headgear, or MECHA/Humans, like myself, to access the Internet, media, or whatever by just thinking about it—you could even connect to other devices and control those machines using your mind. At that point, I knew the possibilities were endless, but then Maya surprised me with how real she and her team were able to make our MECHA IR.

I snapped back into reality when the IR simulation prompt popped in: “Try Again or Exit.” The virtual world disappeared once I selected the latter, and I was back in the real world sitting in the middle of our R&D department. The commotion of the lab slowly rose in volume, it was a setting I had chosen as a way not to be hit over the head when I was coming out of using the MECHA audio. Otherwise, I would have been hit by the immediate noise of this bustling environment. It reminded me of the difference between waking up via the loud alarm obnoxiously blaring in your ear, or the alarm that gradually lets you know it’s time to wake up.

The visual was set to immediately kick in so I could see everyone hard at work. Workbenches were littered with MECHA headgear at various stages of development, which was currently the bread and butter of our company. Plenty of people were still worried about having tech implanted directly in their head, or simply couldn’t afford it, so we made a much more affordable version of our tech as a wearable device that reminded me more of a motorcycle helmet.

Sanjay was currently wearing one of the headgear rigs with a new IR body suit. The light went out on his visor, signaling his return to reality.

We were testing our new MECHA IR environments to see if we truly could call these Immersive Realities—that and we needed to make sure that our MECHA tech and our bodies could handle it all.

Both of us sat along the wall facing the chaos, hooked up to machines that monitored our vitals to make sure nothing went wrong while we were under. Doctor Dan—yes, he had us call him that—was writing something on a clipboard. He was a legit doctor that wanted to keep things informal by calling him by his first name, but not too informal, hence the whole doctor title.

“You know, Doctor Dan, you could use our tech to input everything you’re writing down,” I pointed out, like I did every single time he wrote something down.

“I still like doing things the old-fashioned way.”

“Uh, said the guy surrounded by the most cutting-edge tech this world has seen,” I continued to mess with him, of course. “It would save you a ton of time inputting all of that, too.”

“You pay people to do that for me, so that really is not something I have to worry about.”

“Dang, Joe, he got you there,” Sanjay joked as he lifted off his headgear.

“I think you both are missing the point,” I turned to Doctor Dan. “So?” I didn’t need to spell it out for him.

“Your vitals were within the range we expected,” he said as he held up my EKG printout. “As you can see on your electrocardiogram, there were points where your heart rate was elevated and the P wave is mostly hidden.”

“Uh, in English.”

“Your body responded in a way similar to what I have seen in panic attacks at various moments.”

“So it worked?”

“Yes. Look here,” he said as he pointed to a peak and valley pattern on the printout. “Your body appeared to be reacting to the same stimuli presented in the Immersive Reality.”

“And that’s the worst it can get—you know, since we blew up and died and all,” Sanjay noted.

“Okay, million-dollar question, Doc—”

“That’s Doctor Dan.”

“Okay, Doctor Dan. You’re right. You’re right. Sorry about that, Doctor Dan. So did Sanjay’s headgear and suit perform the same as my integrated tech?”

“They both looked to be very similar. Of course, there were some differences. You both are different people with different perspectives of the same situation, so I would put you within similar ranges of each other.”

That left one major question I wanted answered, “So, did we reach any unsafe levels, you know, physically?”

“Your vitals were elevated, but they were in a range that I would feel comfortable with signing off on.”

“Alright. Well, great, thanks.”

That was good news since we were getting close to launch.

Doctor Dan unhooked us from the machines, and I got up slowly to avoid a headrush.

“Hey, you ready to head up to see Maya?” I asked, turning to Sanjay.

“I bet she’s champing at the bit waiting for us.” Sanjay stretched and stood up.

“No doubt. So are you confident the new data centers will be able to handle the loads we’re going to throw at them from the MECHA IR environments?” I asked Sanjay as we headed to the elevator.

“No problem. We got this. And once the new ones we’re building are up and running, we’ll have more than enough to cover whatever we throw at them. You know, and it doesn’t hurt that you’ve become obsessed with the underground.” He smiled.

“Hey. I wouldn’t say obsessed.”

“Dude, really? After you bought that missile silo—”

“Whoa, you mean missile complex,” I corrected him before he could finish.

“Fine, dude, after you bought that missile complex to live in, it seems like our whole operation is becoming subterranean.”

“No, it isn’t because of that. That’s because you’re over the hardware portion of our business,” I said as we stepped into the elevator. “See, Maya’s office is on the 4th floor,” I pointed it out as I pressed the button. “You’ve just been spending most your time underground lately. I mean, come on, you’re telling me that it doesn’t make sense to have our data center here, or at any other location, underground? I mean, the speed we’ve been able to ramp up things by buying up old limestone mines and converting them into our state-of-the-art data centers is amazing, not to mention the cost savings.”

“But—but there’s no sunlight down there.”

“Oh, come on, since when did you or any of the people we have working on this stuff really go hang out outside anyways? We’re all freakin’ geeks, dude,” I reminded him. “We’re built for this whole no sunlight thing. Plus, I had all those virtual windows installed wherever there are offices, so really it’s just a mental thing knowing you’re underground.”

“True, I’ll give you that.”

The elevator dinged when we reached the 4th floor. The doors opened to Maya, and I gotta say, her excitement was palpable.


“Ah… huh… I… I have to say…” I then paused to play with her a bit as we exited the elevator.

“Uh, yeah?” She moved her hand in a circle, gesturing to me to finish what I was saying.

“Well…” I continued to drag it out.

“Oh, come on, you’re killing me here,” she pleaded.

“How did you know when we were going to be exiting the elevator? Have you been waiting here this whole time?”

Sanjay joined in. “You know, that’s creepy, right?”

“I know, right?” I laughed.

“Stop dragging this out, you know it’s killing me.”

“So what was it.” I asked.

“What was what?” She was getting really annoyed.

“How did you know the point in which we would be exiting the elevator?”

“Fine! Doctor Dan called to let me know you were headed up,” she motioned to move the conversation along. “So?!”

“Okay, I think we’ve tortured Maya enough, Sanjay, what do you think?”

“I think she’s going to inflict some pain on you if you don’t answer her question soon.”

Maya smiled. “You know, I’d listen to Sanjay’s advice if I were you.”

“Okay, the MECHA IR is freakin’ amazing! It definitely earned the whole Immersive Realities title there. It felt so real. I mean, great job, Maya!” I stopped to give her a standing ovation, and she bowed to the imaginary crowd.

“Thank you. Thank you.”

“And of course, Sanjay. It worked flawlessly with the implants—freakin’ amazing hardware. You know what? You and your teams should be proud of what you guys accomplished,” I gave him his own round of applause.

“Thanks!” He smiled.

“I know the integrated tech should have felt everything, but what about the headgear? How did it feel in there?” Maya asked Sanjay.

“It was truly impressive, I mean, it really hurt when I twisted my ankle. I truly felt I couldn’t walk on it.”

“Yeah, I totally had to save his life,” I joked.

“Really? You’re going to play me like that?” Sanjay then turned to Maya. “I saved his life like three times.”

“Hey, two of those were directly because I saved his, so really it was only one. By the way,” I said, turning to Sanjay, “that was a pretty pimp Camaro you built.”

“Yes, it was,” Sanjay then directed the conversation to Maya. “But did you know that the horn had a racially insensitive background?”

“Umm, I’m black. Sooo, uh, yeah, I knew that,” she rolled her eyes and smiled.

“Then why did you let me select it?”

“Because I knew you were selecting it for the whole Dukes of Hazzard thing, and I loooved that show! Mmm, mmm, mmmmm, that Daisy Duke was sooo fine! You know, that was the moment I knew I was into women.”

“Oh yeah, I think a lot of people had that same experience,” I joked.

“Yeah. You know, Joe here nearly made a John Connor with me,” Sanjay said, trying to keep a serious face.

“Huh?” Maya said as she opened the door to her office.

“Man, your boy Sanjay here, wanted a whole Brokeback moment, if you get my drift,” I said to her as I passed her into the office with Sanjay right behind me.

“No, that’s not how it went down,” Sanjay seemed to be backpedaling, so I laid it on thick.

“’I wish I could quit you,’” I said with a tinge of a southern accent.

He pushed me away as I laughed.

“You know, Sanjay, Joe don’t bat for the other team,” Maya reminded him.

“Not that you’re not an attractive guy and all, it’s just that—” I glanced over to Maya for help with this one. “Ummm, how should I say it?”

“He’s not gay,” Maya said.

“Yep, I’m not gay—not that there’s anything wrong with that,” I said with the Seinfield tone of voice.

“Nope, it’s pretty awesome, if I do say so myself,” Maya asserted.

“You guys suck when you’re together, you know that?” Sanjay unknowingly set me up to keep playing around with him, but I decided to cut him some slack.

“I’m not even going to go there.”

“That’s pretty big of you, Joe. That was some low hanging fruit there. It’s nice to see you’re finally maturing with age,” she joked.

“Yeah, who would have thunk?” I shrugged.

“Nope, I have to take it back. You’re just as immature as the moment we first met,” she laughed.

“Wait, you guys met in junior high,” Sanjay remembered.

“Yep, but I was like super mature for my age,” I said, standing up a little taller.

“Sure you were,” she then stopped playing around and got serious as she settled into her seat. “So, getting back to it, there was a bug?”

Both Sanjay and I followed suit, plopping down in the two chairs she had across from her in front of her desk.

“Okay, it’s how we died,” I started.

“Well, to be honest, we were most likely dead either way,” Sanjay pointed out.

“You know, I don’t know, we might have been able to fight our way out of it,” I said with confidence, even though I knew deep down Sanjay was right.

“Probably not,” Maya explained. “That level was built for stealth, and you guys did the opposite of that. So, what’s the bug?”

“Well, when I turned to destroy the tank to my left, the missiles decided to reroute themselves skyward,” I explained.

“Yeah, I’ll get right on that, since I’m pretty sure other people will fail just like you guys,” Maya said as she wrote some notes in her small notepad.

“Yeah, I would presume so, and we don’t want them thinking they died because a missile launcher didn’t work properly,” I said.

“No, we don’t,” Sanjay agreed.

“So we have at least one major bug. Do you think this has anything to do with the AI?” I asked Maya.

“I don’t think so,” Maya answered. “We’re not seeing anything like that in any of the other Immersive Reality environments.”

“Hmm,” I wondered as I reached down to grab the tennis ball sitting on Maya’s desk and began bouncing it off the wall. I did this a few times before it finally hit me. “What if… what if the AI is sabotaging the whole experience?” My eyes were wide now.

“Uh, first off, this isn’t a movie,” Maya reminded me.

I sort of shrugged off the first part of her answer, then she continued.

“It would take more time than that for artificial intelligence to catch up with that thinking.”

“Would it? How do you know this?” I really wanted to know.

“Because it would have to break through all the security constraints we built into the code—and the AI wouldn’t even know to do that without becoming something that we would easily spot—which it can’t become anyway. So you see, it just can’t happen.” She sounded sure.

“That’s what they always say before the robot or computer or AI either break or discover the loophole in the whole ‘Do not harm any human’ rule.” I continued to bounce the ball off the wall.

“Do you always have to do that?” Maya snapped.

“Come on, you know it helps me think.” I kept bouncing.

Maya snatched the ball out of the air after the next bounce.

“Isn’t that the one you took from him last time?” Sanjay asked Maya as though I wasn’t in the room.

“It is,” Maya was not a happy camper about the ball or the question.

“You should really hide that thing better than setting it on your desk,” he recommended, knowing she already knew it.

“Thanks for the suggestion.” There was a tinge of annoyance in her response.

“I gotcha.” He just ignored her snarky snap back and responded as though she meant it.

“It’s okay,” I said as I pulled a tennis ball out of my pocket and held it up while giving her my best cheese-eating grin. “I have another one.”

“Wipe that smirk off your face, I’m just going to take that one away from you, too,” she threatened.

“Come on!”

“I’m serious.” Ah… she looked as though she was tired of me playing around.

“Fine,” I conceded and placed it back in my pocket. “You know, I’m not the only one worried about AI… Elon Musk, Bill Gates, and even Stephen Hawking have all expressed the dangers of using AI. At some point, the whole Asimov’s Laws thing are going to break down, or it’s going to fall into the wrong hands and the constraints will be broken to be used for evil. Not to mention, I have the tech implanted in my head and all.”

“Dude, we’re like cyborgs now,” Sanjay joked.

“Heck yeah! Except we don’t want to be controlled by some evil AI or anything,” I reasoned.

“You know we put in safeguards for all of that, even that scenario,” Maya reminded me.

“I know, but—”

“You know I wouldn’t build no AI that would be able to become racist like those other AI Chatbots,” Maya said.


“And you know I definitely would not allow our AI to become a slave to some dictator in North Korea,” Maya said.

“Yes, I know.”

 She continued. “So stop worrying about the whole Skynet thing happening. I got your back.”

“You always do.” I smiled.

“Plus I don’t want to become a slave to some robotic overlord either, so there’s that, too.” She smiled back.

“’Cause self-preservation is always the best motivator,” Sanjay chimed in.

“And besides, you’re cool with ALFINA, and you know she’s functioned flawlessly,” Maya concluded.

She was right. We added ALFINA to the mix when we introduced augmented reality to our MECHA tech. She was so much more than the smart assistants like Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant—hence the name ALFINA, which was short for Artificial Life Form Interactive CompanioN Assistant. Yes, we had to cheat a little on the CompanioN by using the ’N’ at the end instead of the ‘C’, but I liked ALFINA way more than ALFICA.

You know, no ALFINA was alike. They were like children that grew into their own self-identity based on their environment. If you allowed her to, she formed her personality and vocal cadence based on watching how you interacted with your friends, evolving to be more of a friend than an assistant. She could also grow in intelligence on her own, learning from your social cues as you communicated with her. For most users, she became a friend who would assist you in the virtual world, and more importantly, listen to you whenever you need an ear: she was like your own BFF or therapist.

Man, it’s funny. I never turned on any of the smart assistant settings because I was worried that it would be like how some social media apps seemed to be listening to me on my phone. There were so many times that I talked about something, and the next time I scrolled through the app, an ad appeared for that item. I never searched for it, nothing. Yet, somehow there was an ad for some obscure thing I only vocalized staring back at me from my feed. Yeah, that could have made us richer quicker by doing that. Instead, I pushed us not to violate our trust with the consumer. Maya and her team built ALFINA in a way that would make my paranoid butt happy.

“Yeah, ALFINA has been flawless, and you know me, I would have pointed it out if she wasn’t,” I smirked.

“Besides ALFINA isn’t what you need to be worrying about right now,” Maya warned.

“Wait, what?” I asked.

“We have a much bigger problem,” she said.

This concludes Chapter 4 of Post-Apocalyptic Joe in a Cinematic Wasteland. Written by Joe Gillis. Read by Joe Gillis.

Man, what do you think of the MECHA tech? And how far out do you think we are from it becoming a reality? More importantly, would you like your AI to become your friend like ALFINA?

Okay, so obviously I didn’t start an awesome tech company with my friends… well, at least, yet. However, I did work for a software company called Serious Magic back in the early 2000s. I was mostly on the marketing side of the company, but I also was the Product Manager over a couple of our programs. My tech experience ended when Adobe bought us. For some reason, they never interviewed me, and I was one of a few people left out of a job.

Now, that might sound bad, but it was the best thing that could happen for me. I finally was able to focus on working in the entertainment industry, moving into making and writing television shows.

Some of the people I worked with there are the inspiration behind the genius that is Sanjay. As for Maya, she’s actually based on a couple of friends I had. One I’ll share more about later, the other, who really is a lot of the personality, was my friend, Jackie Taylor. Sadly, she passed away a few years ago, but she was the fun-loving person that was a lot like Maya. Tough, smart, and caring—not to mention, funny.

That brings us to the end of another chapter, but don’t fret, this Season of Post-Apocalyptic Joe in a Cinematic Wasteland is just beginning. Some of you might be asking: “Hey Joe, what happened to the Post-Apocalypse or the Cinematic Wasteland that you have in the title?” All I can say is spoilers, my friend. Spoilers. So, I’m not going to answer that just yet. You’ll just have to hang tight and enjoy the ride.

If you enjoyed what you heard, hit subscribe to continue to get a new chapter every week. Want to get new chapters early? Well, join Joe’s Post-Apocalyptic Army at and get up to 4 weeks early a membership. There is even a free level that gives you access to the Podcast or Web Novel one week early.

Join me every Friday for a new chapter of Post-Apocalyptic Joe in a Cinematic Wasteland

Thanks for joining me on this crazy journey! See you on the flip side!

Post-Apocalyptic Joe in a Cinematic Wasteland copyright 2023, Joe Gillis, All rights reserved. This is a Jowagi Production and is distributed by Slacker Entertainment.

Give Ratings
Out of 5
0 Ratings
Share On
Follow Us