WIRING THE ARK

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OUTSOURCING THE RATIONAL - page 3

POINTS FOR EVERYTHING

Stupid me, I hacked myself out of a job, I developed a way of assigning points to everything, people, pets, toiletries, gifts, computers, dolls, food, food preparation, delivery services, everything, a singular algorithm which I first taught to the computer using crowdsourced knowledge but then just let it evolve fully on its own, self-adjusting based entirely on usage, longevity, value received, emotional attachment, all of which are data points freely accessible from the many computers we humans stare into, speak to, walk through every moment of every day, microprocessors having long since become endemic to every action, interaction, and relationship, and it was all good at first, it made me rich, famous, beloved, and my invention even killed off many of the great scourges of the past two centuries, marketing and advertising, in particular, as there was no longer any need for these, the points told everyone exactly what they needed to know, exactly when it was available and at exactly the best price, all with the best service and support, there was no room for gaming or branding, and so there was the added benefit of being super-rich in a world where everything was basically available at cost, and it was fun to watch all the vain marketers hunt for a new line of work, I was fond of quoting to them from the Book of Exodus, “you shall not covet your neighbor’s house, you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor,” because it sounded cool, because I wanted to act like I did all this for some greater good, partly true, the points make it so that each of us gets exactly what we need, at the least, though it destroyed professional sports since advertising for beer and hormones was pointless, literally, the points told us all what we needed and when, and what we didn’t need, and why, simple math, but then the points, through no fault of their own, started enforcing — or maybe I should say, enabling, which is basically the same thing — a global equality upon everything and everyone, myself included, there was no way to (self) promote, no way to prove — or feign — superiority, consumer tribes were destroyed but so were all other forms of identity, there was no way to stand out, the points instantly validated the veracity of any such claims and should something actually trump the other, the points informed us all of exactly by how much — and why — and so competition instantly negated any advantage, worse, it killed the best part of art and culture, which was boasting about your favorite artist, singer, painter, coder, whatever, because the points, always there, confirmed or dismissed, cavalierly, without concern or emotion, whether any claims and boasts were true or not, and so now I spend my days locked away trying to come up with a entirely new system, a way of routing around the points, but the points keep informing me it won’t work.

CHILD ROBOT ON THE FRONT PORCH

Drive to this town, go to this neighborhood, stop at this house, then this house, then to the next neighborhood, next town, the car drives itself, the voice tells me what to deliver, and whether I need a human signature or not, it’s easy money, dull is all, sometimes I’ll grab the steering column and pretend to be driving, mostly to kill boredom, we were all trained to use it in case of an emergency but that’s never happened, good thing since I probably have forgotten all my training anyways, mostly I lay back, smoke some weed, turn on a couple screens, maybe chat, maybe go live when I eat or when there’s some particularly interesting delivery, rules say we can’t name the recipient but that’s always easy for anyone to figure out if they’re willing to put in the work, which not many are, the pay is pretty good, though, it’s one of those jobs where it’s too expensive to pay robots, sitting still most of the day and night, selecting the exact right package, getting in and out of the car, making sure the signer is an adult, a waste of a robot but it’s still an important service, I’ve been doing it for about 15 weeks now, longest job I’ve ever had, and there’s never been any trouble, not really, but there was that one house, I walked up to the front, package in hand, and there’s this little girl seated on the granite, eyes closed, legs crossed, arms folded, I said hello, she said nothing back, it bothered me, I asked if there was an adult home, and she didn’t respond again, didn’t even move, but the door cam alerted the mother to my presence and she came out and signed for the package, I get back into the car, look back and the girl is still there, still not moving, which I should let it go, I know, but it was also the last delivery of the morning, we’re told it’s cheaper for the cars to drive to a new town at night and then have us deliver the packages all first thing in the morning, so the car finds a space and stops, I try and sleep as much as I can, the pills that clear out my waste without me having to use a toilet give me insomnia, but what little I did sleep I thought about that little girl, her posture, her look, the family was obviously rich, there was no excuse to have a non-optimal child, and so I took hold of the steering column, re-learned how to make the car go and drove back to that house, she was still there, who the fuck are these people, was she ill, in pain, mute, I’d never seen anyone that different, it wasn’t right, and so I rushed out and I grabbed her, it wasn’t for anything weird, but something was obviously wrong and the parents didn’t seem to even care, children should smile, and I quickly wrapped packing tape over her mouth and shoved her in the back of the car, she didn’t really put up a fight, and I turned off all the screens and told the car to drive to the next town, which it refused because of the hour but I demanded, so it complied but only after telling me that my pay could be docked, and when I knew I was far enough away, I spun in my seat and took off the tape from her mouth and tried to have a conversation with her and fuck me but it’s one of these newer robots, the kind with the human skin, shiny, too, the kind grown from stem cells, why the fuck someone would buy a child robot that does nothing but sit on the front porch I don’t know, I smacked her a couple times, no way else to get rid of my anger, felt bad about it, though, afterwards, but I wasn’t going back to that house, fucking freaks, so I dropped her at the side of the road and drove to the next town.

CAN'T SLEEP

I count the squares in the tiles in the ceiling, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, you get the idea, bored, mind particular, as always, not sure if I can fall asleep, though with 16 million watching me on the screen, nearly a quarter of those paying customers, I know I better, only even after exhausting my body it’s still not easy, I mean, we conquered sleep nearly a generation ago, a rather stunning victory for us ((humans)), instantly giving all of us the equivalent of a third of an extra life, though it wasn’t perfect, nothing ever is, our bodies and brains still demand sleep, they haven’t caught up yet with the science, so we take drugs, other drugs, to sort of enforce sleep upon us, relieve our minds, calm our bodies, only about 4 hours every 10 days or so, it’s a bit different for everyone, I sort of fall right in the middle, except I dream differently, at least, that’s what others tell me, my fans in particular, not that it’s something I ever realized, I just assumed everyone dreamed the same, not so, I dream only in aural, sound, no visuals, and this makes me unique, rich also, because I have millions of fans who pay 25 cents — each — to watch my dreams, well, listen is the more appropriate word, they listen to my dreams, which I know is a blessing, I’m richer than most, only it incents me to sleep more than I need, and that’s hard, I’ve already built up a tolerance to most of the standard sleep inducements, plus this headset never seems to fit me right, I know they are much better than the ones before, it was about 10 years ago when these things were first created, a handy collaboration between Giant Brain, our connected home printers, and the US-China Joint Consortium For Creativity, a means of transcoding our brain waves, sending them to a screen, revealing exactly what was going on inside our head, everybody loved it, with Giant Brain and the robots handling nearly all our work, and almost no sleep necessary, it’s easy to get bored, obviously, and it was fun to see what people really thought, what their brains actually created, then people just started wearing them during their periodic downtime, their dreams uploaded for all to watch, I was as fascinated by this as anyone, obviously there was sex and violence, perversions and sadism that we all found to be captivatingly horrific, but the ones that appealed to me most were those that not even Giant Brain could explain, there was this one woman, from Peru, nearly every time she slept her dreams revealed a man — no one knew who — walking around her home, only every room was flooded with about two feet of water, him sloshing about, and there were fish, it was teeming with fish, I watched those for hours, and this teenage girl, everyone in her dreams was completely covered with open sores, even their eyes were open sores, some oozing, oh, and that old man, he’s from America, just like me, who seemed always to have dreams with babies on fire, not screaming, not crying, not even dying, just burning, and they had no eyes, just small flames shooting out where their eyes should be, though none of them got rich, like me, my dreams caught people’s attention because there’s nothing to see, literally, theres only sounds, sometimes sounds of pain, suffering, sometimes giggling, sounds of the printer in the kitchen printing out tomorrow’s meals, and that’s it, crazy what some people will pay for, and I like the money, so I try and dream as often as I can, but it’s hard, you know, and so I lay here, mind racing, counting the squares, 387, 388, 389, 390, 391, 392, 393, 394, 395, 396, 397, 398, 399, 400, 401, 402…

DIME BAG

He drops wisdom from underneath a cannabis cloud, this one here, he says, it’s gonna be a lady’s ear, pointing toward his thigh, I get $500 for that, his voice tinny and grating, the fat of his flesh not fully capable of holding up his pants, nor locking in the stench from having gone 3, maybe 5 days between baths, happily showing off all the money his flesh is earning, he places his sausage fingers over two ample breasts, I’m gonna get $8,500 for these, feel them, go on, more lifelike than silicone, real, basically, to the woman who has them stitched on, he reaches for an open bag of chips, then a soda, he then washes down several capsules, I make $40 a day from pharma, these electronic capsules track everything that goes on in my insides, clinics don’t pay a lot for that but it’s steady work, he then puts a fat finger to the side of his head, continues speaking, but maybe none of this is real, he laughs, or maybe it is real but not exactly like this, I make $100 for each altered memory and they pay me $500 for each memory they remove, but I get final say, they can’t take something or change something unless I approve it ahead of time, he tapped a notification on a small screen in his left hand, there, he says, I just approved removal of two childhood memories, nothing special, just normal schoolday stuff, and I’ll make $1,000 for that, he tilts his body to the right, sighs involuntarily, I’m trying to get accepted for brain-to-screen monitoring, that pays enough to buy me a drivered car, but I don’t know, you have to put in a lot of work, real work, to get qualified, apparently in some of the clinical trials testers who saw their dreams and thoughts and memories fully visualized on screen went mad, ruining it for the rest of us, only as he continues his sales pitch, I recall Corinthians, “do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the spirit of God dwells in you,” and I wonder is what he is doing unholy or is it many-holy, I am not entirely sure, but as he reaches for another soda I recall yet another passage in Corinthians which states very clearly that “your bodies are members of Christ,” and then warned, “shall I then take away the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute,” which I find satisfying because that’s what this seems to be, prostitution, a repudiation of the blessings of life, of the body and the magic these possess — possess not for resale, but for glory — only, damn, he’s now telling us that he makes $1,500 for each recruit, which I could do after only 8 months, and the truth is, blogging pays for shit, so I’m tempted, I eye the computer pharma capsules, those alone would pay more than I make writing, almost as much as I make driving old people around, and I realize he is speaking again, still from the comfort of his chair, he probably can’t lift himself up, but it’s a chair that I can’t afford, maybe not ever, he’s talking about a new client, one that pays him $250 each time he lets them edit a single DNA strand, which explains the orangish tint of his skin, which doesn’t look so bad, honestly, at least not compared to his extreme obesity, which I suspect is more due to his lifestyle than his work, and I start to add all this up in my head, hundreds, thousands, and that’s when he cuts off the lady’s ear growing on his right thigh — it’s ready, he tells us — and he then unscrews his left arm, which is a bionic prosthetic, more useful than the original, and I think to myself, fucking magical.

DOX

Me:feel fun fuck fight fright fire funk punk suck my junk smash crash bash bash jomp stomp jump hump spit quit shit kick, all day, everyday, yolo, that’s all you need to know, but not anymore, fuck no, not anymore, fucking law, fucking people, fucking bitch, that’s why this whole thing happened, fat bitch, she didn’t like what I said, took exception to some of my comments, fucking prude, she could’ve looked away, not followed, but no, she wanted to be outraged, and her revenge, that’s what this was, revenge for my words, was to let my employer know who I was, how she figured out my identity I don’t know, don’t fucking care, not anymore, so what was I supposed to do, fucking got fired, lost my job, got no money, I confront her online and she acts all fucking pious, says that I’m preaching hate and that it was her duty to stop me, fucking liar, she just wanted a sense of power, didn’t have it over her own fucking life so went after me, and after all this, after getting me fired, after going online and pretending she did it to make the world a better place, a fucking lie, she just wanted people to fucking consider her waste of a fucking life just a small bit relevant, as if she finally mattered, she then started spouting bullshit that she said came from the Bible, shit like the tongue is a fire, the tongue corrupts the whole body, acting like my words did so much harm, even fucking acting like she was doing me a favor, so what else could I do, I told her — and everyone saw this, it was on my account — that I was gonna find out where she lived and come out there and beat the fucking shit out of her, which got me banned from three separate services, two of them from the same company, but I didn’t fucking care, then someone shares me her address, they tell the whole world who this woman is, where she lives, what else was I supposed to do, I had told everyone I was gonna find her, so I flew to her city, found her apartment, waited outside her door, by this time I’d say there was at least 30,000 people watching in, and after about an hour, long enough the court said to reconsider my actions, she finally comes out, rushes straight up to me, starts screaming, pretending that this was all my fault, so now there’s like 50,000, maybe 60,000 people watching in, what was I supposed to do, back down, and so I fucking kicked her ass, so now the bitch is suing me, not like I have anything worth having, but the justice gave me the maximum, they skinned off my fingerprints, so now no screen in the world recognizes my touch, so nothing can be personalized for me, which is a real cocksuck because no one’s gonna hire me cause it takes me now at least twice as long as it does everyone else just to get the most basic shit done, but fuck it felt good when I smashed her nose, they can’t take that part away.

THAT POOR FURBY BOT

What were they supposed to do?

He was their child. They loved him.

He had suffered a tragic, unfathomably unlucky accident at age 14 which left him a quadriplegic. All the best doctors, the very best robotics all failed to reverse his plight, nor did stem cells help, nor the latest pharmaceuticals, nor hormone injections, nor those experimental nanobots. Nothing. For all his life, however long that was to be, he would be a quadriplegic.

He had tried to kill himself. Many times. They knew.

They understood.

Not everyone could live like that. Certainly not them. The anti-depressants that blunted his rage, his hate, his pleading, they were still not enough to prevent him from trying to take his own life — or, on those wretched nights, from begging his dear parents to kill him.

Then two inventions came into their world.

A playful, snuggly, hyper-aware Furby robot.

And the newest virtual reality glasses.

And he was happy.

The rage was gone.

The begging for death subsided.

Only, he now spent nearly all his waking hours immersed in pornography. A level of filth neither parent could stomach. Nor most adults.

That poor Furby bot smelt of the boy’s saliva. And worse. He wouldn’t let them wash it, though his mother tried.

The way the little furry bot responded to him, as programmed, quickly intuiting the child’s habits, needs, preferences, turned the boy’s mother’s stomach. She discussed this with the boy’s father. More than once. He promised, once again, to have a talk with the child. But what was to be the conclusion? The punishment?

He no longer wanted to die!

He was happy!

But, my God, the perversion.

It was all they could do to keep his younger siblings from stumbling inside that virtual hell hole, or stroking that cute little Furby, awakening it.

While the nurse was giving the boy his bi-daily bath, the dad snuck on those VR glasses. A whiff of pleasure quickly turned to revulsion.

Was there some way to reprogram this? Maybe they could hire some expert to, well, at least maybe minimize the depths of depravity. How could a 17-year-old have such thoughts? Why must the programs respond that way?

They bought him several drones, including 2 attack drones, which he could control from his goggles. They bought him, at great expense, a new telepresence explorer, new dolls, robot pets, a fish that responded to his thoughts. None of it worked. The boy spent every waking hour, goggles over his eyes, little furby held between his teeth, engaged with every manner of visual and VR-manipulable autoerotica.

All of it utterly filthy.

Was any of his porn illegal, they wondered? Could their son be sent to jail? It was all so vile.

They offered him a series of rewards whigh encouraged alternative responses. No change.

They paid for professionals to help end his addiction. No change.

They sought out priests, pastors, other religious figures, hoping to guide the boy. No change.

They took it away. He refused to eat or drink or breathe.

So there he sits. Goggles over his eyes, smile on his face, not moving, rarely speaking, occasionally grunting. Happy. Alive.

GENIE

You are mad with loneliness.

Your world is only this small island, barren, white sand, scarcely a tree, the very few objects of interest you’ve explored and examined and considered countless times.

You know you could go crazy here. You fear this. You wonder sometimes if it’s too late to halt, or if it’s already happened.

You can just hear and nearly see the people on the nearby island. They seem happy. Can they not see you? You wish you could reach them. There must be a way! You shout! Can they not hear you? Do they not care? Why don’t they come?

You are so lonely. The loneliness hurts, an actual physical pain so numbing you can no longer cry from it.

Could you kill yourself, you wonder?

And what then?

A genie appears.

You don’t ask why.

It is life! Here, on the island!

You rush to the bottle, staring at it, feeling it, your heart pounding. Truly, it is gorgeous, constructed of purple glass, its mysterious, elegant form appears to be from a different age, possibly a different world, the entirety of its being conveying magic.

No, you think. Not magic. Potential. To the one chosen.

You are so chosen!

What can you do with this, you wonder? At the very least, be saved. Saved from this barren world.

You are mad with joy.

You are found. Rescued!

You try desperately to open the bottle.

The genie is desperately waving his hands.

He is speaking.

You strain to hear, staring in at him intently.

He writes what he is saying on a large, for him, piece of paper.

Do not open the bottle yet.

Why, you shout? WHY! You are mad with loneliness. You want him, you want his magic, you want to be not here. You struggle to open it.

Do not open the bottle until you have read what I have to say.

You look behind you, making sure you are still in this empty, barren world and that you have not actually gone crazy. You return your gaze to the glorious trapped genie.

Before you open the bottle and release me, you must understand the rules.

Anything, you shout! Anything!

You mean it, too. Anything.

If you let me out, I will grant your deepest yearning. And that yearning is to end the loneliness, to escape this tiny barren island world.

You twist the stopper. You feel it turn.

Wait!

I will grant your deepest yearning, but…

Yes, yes?

…all those people over there, just right across the water, on that happy island?

Yes, yes?

They will die. Unleashing me will kill them. Do you understand?

Yes!

You open the bottle. The genie emerges, smiling. You weep, joyful. Found. Saved. No longer alone.

And those people on the island, the island just out of reach, the island that perhaps you could have ventured to had only you been a bit more brave, resourceful, less fearful, less empty inside, the people on that island immediately fall to the ground, dead.

You stare into the genie’s eyes.

Thank you for saving me.

MOTHERFUCKING ARM JUST FELL OFF

Noemi Proud sat on the pretty pink stool in her own bathroom. Her brothers had to share one. She stroked her hair, counting out each. 11, 12…She smiled. She loved her long brown hair, its smell, the way everyone said such nice things about it. 44, 45, 46. She could hear her brothers down the hall, playing, fighting. A faint smell of spaghetti sauce. 83, 84. She forced herself to stop, fearing her counting obsession would take over her whole brain the way it did some mornings, when she couldn’t turn it off unless she got into a fight with her mom or a friend at school.

The brush fell out of her hand.

Her left arm fell from her body.

She stared at it, laying on the tiled floor, not moving. She screamed, unsure of what else to do. She could hear her father rushing up the stairs.

She reached for her smartphone with her free arm, snapped a picture, then posted it.

Mondays. Fuck.

Stevie closed the bathroom door, told brain to turn on the fan-vent, and pulled out his phone. He tapped on the pictures of his girlfriend’s older sister. He reached for the toilet paper. He unzipped his pants. His right arm fell off at the elbow. He looked down, saw his mess on the floor. He told brain to have mopper clean it up. He texted his friends.

Motherfucking arm. Just fell off. Look.

He didn’t really want to be there. His parents pushed him into wrestling, mostly his mom, in fact. And this guy, fucking gorilla. No way he could take him. How could he possibly be in the same weight class? His legs unhinged themselves from his hips, just like that, and dropped to the floor.

With nothing to hold him up, his now-stump of a body plopped onto the mat. He looked about, embarrassed.

Several in the audience screamed. His parents raced down from the stands. Coach and a few of his teammates carried him back to the bench. Still in shock, he wasn’t sure exactly what they were saying. His mind raced. He smiled. His parents would never again punish him for spending all him time on screens. How could they? After this. He squirmed to the edge of the bench, grabbed his smartphone from his gym bag, pushed a button and chatted with his girlfriend. Her family had moved to Texas last year.

I miss you.

The handsome young doctor was determined to stop this, to make sure no other child was inflicted. With the help of brain, he knew that 93% of the sufferers were between the ages of 13–17. They were disproportionately white or Latino, most attending large public schools, but there was little else in common. Some had good grades, some did not. Some participated in organized activities, but not all. Some where thin, some fat. He asked brain to re-analyze the DNA of the parents, hoping to uncover any patterns, which he then instructed brain to overlay onto the map on the giant screen before him. His left arm twitched. My God, he thought. Now me? He grabbed hold of it with his right hand, clutching, praying it didn’t fall off. The twitch stopped. He shrugged. Foolish. This only impacts children.

But why?

Frustrated, the handsome doctor sought out his mentor, a hyper-fit woman with strong facial features, tragically killed in her early 60s while investigating an outbreak of Bangka-polio in Indonesia. He spoke to brain and a adequate facsimile of the doctor appeared before him, and with it all her works, her words, her posted thoughts, her questions and whereabouts, who she was with at all the times, how she ever felt.

You look good.

Thank you.

The doctor instructed brain to to provide his mentor with all his accessible knowledge. We will end this, he thought. I don’t see it now, but I will.

We will end this together, his mentor smiled back at him.

Jason was only 12, younger than the others. He had his computer screen open. The television was blaring. He was texting with two friends. Both his feet fell off his body He screamed for his mother. His right arm unhinged, then dropped. He didn’t know it at the time, but he was first to have different limbs fall off. He screamed again. He told the television to mute. He used his voice to text his friends.

I’m gonna get bionics! For everything!

Bitch!

No, get a horse leg! Those are so cool.

Lily stared into the mirror and smiled. She assessed her self while drying off. Black hair. A pretty face, adorable, full lips, big round green eyes, cute, perfect nose. And her body. She giggled, touching herself, all over. Her mother was attractive, obviously. Her father was handsome, everyone said so. But somehow, the combination of their dna had arrranged itself perfectly, and without fetal construction surgery, at least that’s what her parents told everyone, resulting in undeniable physical perfection. Perfection at 16. Her mother had already spoken to her about choosing the right man. Her body was simply too perfect, her face too pretty to not demand the absolute best. Her body dry, the vents quieted. She placed her brush back on the shelf. Her arm fell off.

What the fuck!

Then she remembered reading about a girl who lost her hand in a boating accident. They replaced it with a bionic hand. She wondered if her parents would let her have a bionic hand. Then she wondered what colors they came in. No, she thought. One of those baboon arms, the kind they print at university. Everyone would talk about that. Everyone. She took a picture of her still-perfect naked body, but not showing her head, and posted it online. She giggled again.

Noemi’s mom held her head high. She dared anyone, any child, any teacher, any parent, to make fun of her daughter’s new arm. This was not a tragedy. Absolutely not. This was a blessing. The new arm, verifiably better than the original, was colored, bejeweled, and proudly stamped with its brand name and place of origin. Noemi was just happy she could still text with her hands, her parents were always listening in on every word she said. Even better, the nootropics the doctors gave her to fight depression, which she lied about, kept her awake for all but 4 hours a day. More screen time. No one could deny her that, not in her condition.

Her mother did not tell anyone, not even the doctor, at how Noemi treated the carebot. She treated the poor thing even worse when affirmation was set to 10. She feared that maybe her daughter was a psychopath. Isn’t that a sign, she wondered? Torture a carebot when you’re young, kill when you get older? She vowed to stay silent. What else could be done?

Michael was the closest he had ever been to beating computer. He knew it was impossible. Still, only two moves behind, this was his best-ever showing. Was it theoretically possible to end a match in a draw? It must be, he thought. He was determined to find out. He adjusted his backside on the chair. His right leg dropped off.

He smiled.

He told brain to put his favorite song on infinite loop, swallowed the no-sleep pills his parents got him for admissions week. All the time in the world now, he thought. I will beat this thing.

Yes, doctor, but the brain scans reveal no change in the limbic system. The older female doctor’s avatar continued to push the handsome younger doctor. A few of the children have experienced a more heightened readout in their frontal lobe, that’s all. They are actually getting more done. We need to consider that this is not necessarily harmful.

No, I can’t believe that, the young doctor replied. We can’t just do nothing. Their limbs are falling off! Besides, we still don’t know how this spreads, of if it’s self-induced.

Is it coming through the screens?

We checked that before I sent for you.

The young doctor took hold of one of the legs, perfectly preserved.

If only I could feel them, too.

I was thinking the same thing.

Have any of the children actually complained?

No more than usual.

BIO VOLS

Yes, Bio Vols. That’s the name they gave us, though we’re paid. It’s not volunteer work. Not with money, of course. No need for that anymore.

Correct, we chose to stay in this form, flesh and bone, even as the others, one by one at first, then by the million, all abandoned their physical body and uploaded themselves onto Giant Brain.

I’m not sure what they take with them. Their own brain, obviously, whether that’s mind and soul, emotions, feelings, I can’t say.

No, we do not communicate with them. I’m not sure we could understand one another anymore. It’s more a transactional relationship. We are like caretakers. Though truth be told, there’s not much to the job. Periodically we must re-check for optimum power throughput, though there’s never any issue, they built Giant Brain to to survive even if solar power went dark. Really, all we do is remove the digital detritus they throw off. Like new age garbagemen, I like to say. But our hands don’t get dirty. They are always in search of new data, new learning, but once it’s been integrated all the traces that led to their new knowledge are cast off. We take it away, like taking out the trash.

I like the job. Forces me to get out of my chair.

Yes, there are men Bio Vols. I’ve seen them. We rarely interact. The 1s — that’s what those who joined with Giant Brain are called, the 1s — they made sure to provide us with everything we need. This screen. Food, drink. Once a year I turn off the screen, get out of the chair, empty their trash, and return. I find it soothing.

Oh, it was awful at first. When people discovered there was a way to be preserved forever, to have their brains fused with Giant Brain. So much killing, outrage, viciousness. I’m not sure if it was ever meant for only the chosen ones, but that’s what everyone thought at first. That only a few would be privileged. We later learned they couldn’t transpose everyone, not because of their DNA or wealth or anything, it was a scalability issue.

To make the leap across that chasm required more computing power than they originally thought.

Plus, the chosen were certain they needed lots more humans, bio vols, to monitor the system. That was supposed to be kept a secret.

The last estimates were 37 million dead. Yes, it was horrible, nobody trusting anyone, everyone wondering exactly what criteria was necessary to get uploaded. Eventually things were righted. Giant Brain was able to transform anyone. They only needed a few of us.

No, we weren’t tricked. We didn’t want to go. Can you imagine? You can’t taste or touch or smell. I’m not even completely sure if they see or hear. They’re that way forever. No food, no drink, no screens. At least, I don’t think they have screens. Why need screens on the inside?

No, I’m not afraid to die. At least, I don’t think I am. Besides, I think someday it might be nice to bear children.

Earth.

Yes, human.

SHOUT AND SQUEAL

They’re mine, all three of them, I paid for them, I own them, my sweet concubines, all young and sad, pretty, perfect, hyperreal sensation, full lips, pale skin, jet black hair, little outfits, tiny feet, legs spread, socks to their calves, short skirt, nothing under, I saved up, paid for all of it, the sweater top, smell like lemon cleaner, eyes to nowhere, and their voices, small and needy, the way they beg, they beg me to take them, take them bad, and they just get louder, louder, and they have to have it — they have to, that’s programmed in — now, please, please, and if they don’t get it, if they have to wait more than a day they squeal and shout, like in heat, so loud, they don’t stop, the neighbors hear, they call to complain, but not like it’s any louder than their dogs, or their stupid music, but honestly, I like when they complain, I like when they call the law, it excites me, and the three, my sweet concubines, they beg for it, beg, plead, so loud, they need it now, bad, so bad, just like they were designed to, just like I paid for, virginal, never changing, and I never give it to them, not once, I lock each of them up, separate closet for each one, they shout and squeal and plead and bang, louder, louder, shrieking, begging me to unlock the door, begging me to fuck them, but I won’t, that’s what I like, that’s what makes it for me, only now they’re taking them away, too many complaints, the law says I’m messed up, but they don’t know.

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