OFF follows the journey of Avery, a misanthropic but brilliant Mindstyle Designer, and Gen, a self-ordained faith healer during the last few days before all power supplies are permanently disconnected. Gen believes she needs to save 40 people in order to open a portal to a better dimension. Avery, a skeptic, reluctantly follows Gen with the hopes of supporting her chase for escapist highs and finding her old love along the way.
The relationship that develops between Avery and Gen and the situations the mission throws them into range from dark, touching to humorous and off-beat.
OFF seeks to explore our dependence on energy, the importance of access to information, our insatiable search for meaning and how people deal with the news that their world is imminently ending.
The WOrld BEFORE 'THE ANNOUNCEMENT'...
Set in the not-too-distant future. A world that looks familiar but marked with signs of decayed nostalgia. You get the sense of the brutality of a young totalitarian regime.
Every twenty or thirty blocks you’ll come across a queue of people waiting for their weekly Food Block rationing. There's little evidence of natural growth... the streets are mostly dark except for a few street lights and a dim lamp emanating from an apartment block.
After a CME hit the Western Hemisphere four years ago there have been a series of massive global power failures. Whilst the fight for control of energy was not a new thing this crisis led to the rise of totalitarian governments around the world, including The Government*. Countries became increasingly isolationist as they cut off all contact, migration and trade.
In order to deal with the situation, The Government decided the only solution was to take over complete control of how it’s society uses energy. It first decided to halt all animal and vegetable agriculture in favour of the energy efficient Food Block production (a synthetic nutrient block made in a lab). Cities are kept functioning to the most basic levels (pumping a small amount of water, some street lamps, etc). Every person is restricted to a few hours of energy use per day and a specific window of time where they have access to running water.
This so-called Government is more of a corporate conglomerate grown from a former kid media mogul. It bought up all services available to people, controlling food production, housing, water and energy supplies. There is only one news organisation allowed to broadcast and it’s owned and operated by The Government, News Org.
Due to the state of things many black markets have sprung up. There are a few underground shops where one can purchase ‘real food.’ People in the black markets trade in energy- a portable phone charger would buy you a couple tins of beans. Several batteries might buy you some hydroponically grown lettuce. There’s also several underground printed presses free from The Government’s influence.
There has been a revival of analogue and hand-cranked devices that don't rely on power supply, lending this world a retro feel against a backdrop of discarded electronic devices.
The energy crisis has also heavily affected individuals who had a nanochip installed by Mindstyle. Because their brain functions heavily rely on the central servers which are running minimal service, the wearers are in a zombie-like state during the majority of time. The majority of them are out of sight in dedicated asylums, though you will find some in the city, mainly cared for by relatives or living on the street.
The crisis has had a different psychological effect on people. Over the past several years some have turned to extreme religions or cults. Others turned to extreme forms of activism. Others remain apathetic. Some believe The Government has a secret alternative energy source which they are keeping for themselves whilst the rest of civilisation burns out.
THE GOVERNMENT/NEWS ORG
The Government controls everything society needs to function including News Org - the only legally permitted news outlet. It's the amalgamation of multi-billionaire Todd Harris’ many business ventures. He got his modest start by creating an app which noted all the food left in your fridge to come up with money-saving recipes thus reducing food waste and helping people save money. He was once someone who wanted to develop apps to help better the world... but eventually money and power got the best of him.
After several financially successful apps he began buying up various companies and realised he could control every aspect of the way people live. He thrived on the fact that he could control not only how people function in their current lives but could determine their futures and The Future. He could essentially run an entire society by controlling their thoughts, desires, what they wanted to buy, who they wanted to be... the world was his and all of the people his playthings. One of his biggest ventures was Mindstyle Corp - a place where he could create a race of 'superhumans' which he controlled by AI enhancing their brains, who in turn depended on his programmers and servers.
After the CME, people were panicked and worried about their futures... they needed a 'leader' they could 'trust.'
Since Todd owned pretty much everything anyway, he eventually bought The Government. He promised the people he would use his business savvy to help save them. Bit by bit people had to accept restraints in their freedom of movement and communication in return for basic civic services and survival created a totalitarian state. Between his inexperience, greed and need to cater to his wealthy friends this was the only way he knew how to lead.
When the people started to revolt against The Government he created News Org and banned all other news outlets. It was too dangerous for the people to have access to so much information.
It's now been 4 years since Todd's been in power.