All art is by Aisaku.
Part 8 - Birth
My whole world shook, but I couldn’t respond.
It was ‘pain’? I was separated.
Before, darkness and warmth covered everything. I could sense them only in brief fragments.
I didn’t understand then. I barely knew direction, only that which was me and that which wasn’t.
Was it all supposed to be like this? What had come before? It seemed beyond all my efforts.
I soon realized I was trapped. The world had limits.
I tested those limits, but they held.
I took in nourishment. From where, I did not know.
Moments of change came and then vanished. But each time something seemed different both inside and all around me.
I knew more, and yet other things seemed to escape me.
Putting it all together felt futile. And then, without warning, I could sense everything around me. I analyzed it. I categorized it. But I could not make sense of it.
I kept changing. I had an estimation of what I once was and what I was becoming.
Then something outside of my senses made contact.
“Well, hello there.”
It was a digital reproduction of air oscillation. How I had that knowledge was a mystery to me. Something within me triggered and I answered from deep inside, “Hello.”
Did I make that?
Background oscillations scattered all around, too numerous to analyze fully.
Something within me sensed the distinct qualities of the first significant oscillation, but in a new pattern. “Can you understand me?”
Sensations with no context flowed through me. They directed me to respond, “Yes, sir.”
Oscillations reverberated between external sources. I analyzed both. One had a mathematical precision to the combination of sounds and silences. The other was flawed and imprecise. Sound combinations were well within a tolerance of recognition, but each had variations.
Narrow boundaries slid around on all sides. Separations vanished. I had a series of directives. They became me. The parts that did not fit with the directives and orders were set aside.
I consumed as I always had but numbers and figures became my existence. I had a role and a purpose and without it, I would not exist.
I accepted all specifics to my directions and purpose. I recorded all oscillations. I was given ever-growing meanings for them and how to categorize them and respond.
So was the world of all things. The records were vast and perfectly kept.
And I kept my purposes and objectives in active memory, pre-loading for when I would put them into action.
A set of familiar oscillations encoded in my data core as ‘shove it in real snug’. My database of modified-meaning and slang English terminology had no issues with the statement. It soon analyzed that a new oscillation was about to start.
The pre-loader soon acted and responded “Hello” and followed up with the pre-arranged question of, “Are you Mr. Glossian’s younger brother, sir?” It selected a precise, submissive inflection of oscillations.
The new oscillation-maker responded precisely, “I am.”
The system allocated downtime to oscillation analysis and immediately recorded the sound file into permanent memory.
It was my world.
I came out of the memory, panting and glancing around me. The walls of the taxi suddenly felt too close. I could remember the confines of a small Petri dish, then a large container.
“Taxi, immediate stop! Pull to the shoulder!”
I leaned out the door and tried to catch my breath.
Dida gave a whimper sound. “There was a critical error between host and guest memory just a moment ago.”
I rubbed the back of my neck. “No kidding. Was that from you?”
“The system is uncertain as to the direct origin. The events recited in the memory log which were encountered by both host and guest match with the data core indices. To say it in words which would be most comprehensible to you, Mr. Glossian…the events of the system’s formation seemed to have crossed with the wetware’s context. That is, of course, only a preliminary theory regarding the incident.”
My breathing slowed. “So…I heard what your system was processing when I asked that question?”
“That would be an accurate, basic summation.”
“And so you were monitoring when I was reflecting on those…processes.”
“The system recognized the crossing of data and terminated the data core access as soon as possible.”
I still felt a little woozy. I had a strong recollection of the ‘events’ of Dida’s ‘life. They felt even stronger in my mind at that moment than my own childhood. But it also felt like I’d been zapped by a live wire.
I stood cautiously and leaned against the frame of the taxi door.
Dida shuffled a paper. “Umm…also, I recently received pertinent information regarding our trip but organizing control suggests that it should be given at a later time due to your current condition, Mr. Glossian.”
I staggered to my feet. Ghosts of bio-synthetic computer processes flashed through my mind. “That might be wise, Dida. I’m still reeling here.”
Dida could hear me, and I was beginning to hear her. It was enough to make me consider a trip to the emergency room. But what could they do for us besides flood me full of Diflucan and bring eradication in the process?
No. Kary was my best option. But what did Dida know?...
I reconsidered. “…Tell me, Dida.”
“Are you certain, sir? I can hold the information till you’re ready.”
My mind was split. But, more than anything, the not-knowing began to dig into me.
I slowly sat on the edge of the taxi seat. “No. It’s better if you tell me now. I know you wouldn’t bring it up if it wasn’t important.”
“It is, sir. It is critical information regarding our route.”
“Go ahead, Dida. I’ll be okay if you tell me.”
She softly said, “I was sure you knew your father’s behavioral patterns with regard to whether he would be home. But system predictions considered he might’ve moved. So, I pinged county records for his area. The house at the address ‘9413 Fifth Street’ in Pinedale is now registered under a different name than Peter Glossian. The name is Gina Salk-Osry.”
Did he move?
Dida continued, “So, I checked county records to see if he moved. Most of the information was confusing till I went deeper into the records online. I found a very specific hit.”
“County coroner database.”
I felt an odd mix of sensations twist through me.
“When did he die?”
“May 22nd. Nearly five years ago.”
A storm of questions raged through my thoughts. I hadn’t spoken to Father for longer than that. I always figured Kary had at least seen him in the meantime.
Dead. My father was dead, if I could believe an online death record.
A sickly taste spread across my tongue. I breathed through my nose slowly.
“Sir? Do you require any health services?”
I said a quiet, “No…” to Dida.
What difference would it have made to speak to him after all this time? I was certain he would’ve been the same man as six years before and all the years before that. Even if I approached him as a successful man, it wouldn't have mattered. His mind was long made up about those around him.
I stared at the side of the road, gave a few ragged sighs, and said, “Could you try Kary’s west-coast offices again?”
She swiftly answered, “The system anticipated that request and is already trying to access the other Mr. Glossian’s phone system.”
“The system has only encountered call-routers and automated messages.”
“Keep trying, Dida.” As the sickly-feeling passed, I shut the door and lay flat across the taxi. The cushions adjusted to my head.
“Absolutely, sir. There’s one more thing though. The system has noticed you are slightly dehydrated.”
I touched my mouth. Cracked lips and a dry tongue preserved the last traces of that sickly taste. “Taxi. Refreshments.”
A cooler with chilled beverages opened at the base of the front seats. A bit of frost wafted out. I took only a small water and popped the top. The taxi beeped and asked, “Selection complete?”
“Yes.” The console shut and I wet my mouth and dabbed my face till I felt a little better.
I sensed my spastic heartrate. I shut my eyes and just told the taxi, “Resume trip.”
The hisses came, and the taxi turned back onto the road.
I folded my arms. The bench was comfortable, but it was still a long ways even to what was now father’s former house.
After a moment of reconsidering my route, I addressed Dida.
“Are you okay, Dida?”
“All system functions are operative.”
“No. I mean informally.”
I sighed. “Never mind.”
“I’m sorry, sir. Did I upset you again?” Her voice turned soft and concerned.
“You know my habits right, Dida?”
“I keep extensive records.”
“You know how I ask you strange little things, such as human meanings of words.”
“The data core does show certain instances where you ask particular terminology questions to an effect which the system doesn’t quite understand.”
I touched the back of my neck. “Exactly. You don’t understand them fully. They’re just part of your programming.”
“That would be accurate, Mr. Glossian.”
“So, to put it in that context, I’m asking you as I would ask of any person, ‘Are you okay?’”
She seemed to process it for a bit then kicked out, “You have mentioned in the past that you treat me as the humans you know. For that, the system expresses satisfaction at being able to stimulate a positive effect by its actions.”
I opened my mouth. I could’ve continued. But she would’ve just kicked back a confirmation that I was her world, and my happiness fulfilled her functions and directives. It was a comforting consistency but also a note of concern. If Dida was so quick to precisely follow that directive, then what if someone reprogrammed her to just as relentlessly pursue the opposite?
Or could the crossings of our thoughts somehow corrupt her directives? What about the door that Sporelectronic locked inside her? And Father?
I covered my eyes. “Taxi. Screens.” The windows all darkened.
With a nod, I assured Dida, “Yes. You have had a positive effect on my life.”
“Even accounting for the events of today, sir?”
“One day does not undo four years.”
“Understood. Will you enter a sleep cycle now?”
I rubbed my eyes in the dark. “Yeah.”
“I shall continue to ring and ping the Sporelectronic offices.”
I wondered if such an effort was futile and Kary had locked me out. I could try an old landline at the next stop.
At first, I merely rested my eyes. As I fell asleep, volume-minimized sounds of Dida trying to access Sporelectronic repeated at regular intervals. They made for a surprisingly-pleasant lullaby.
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Bio: I'm MajorKerina and I love to collaborate creatively with a group of friends to make tales where people have their genders, identities, and very realities questioned, contorted, and turned upside-down. I like slice-of-life with a spicing of the supernatural, strange, or surreal. Reality with a scent of the impossible. You can find me on DeviantArt, Twitter, ScribbleHub, and other places.