Marginalia

The plains were quite serene and pleasant. A young hare buck bounded from one patch of grass to another, careful not to be made out by any predator hiding nearby. There was a nice bit of farmland close by that it had been feeding from for the past few days. It was hungry, now, and it had to get there quickly so as not to be caught by foxes after the yellow sun went down.

In the distance, shots rang and the sound of hounds could be heard. The young buck’s heart instinctively began to beat faster than before; its senses heightened by adrenal responses as it didn’t quite understand what those raucous sounds were but felt that they signaled danger.

It sniffed the air but did not detect the origin of the loud noises nearby. Perhaps it had time.

The buck made a quick dash, bounding in a straight line toward the farm, it judged it could wait out the night by the orchards if the sun hid before it could make it back to its burrow.

***************************************************************************************************

Unit 1729 was at a crossroads. It needed to make a critical decision that went counter to many of its directives. It had been tasked with locating a cluster of bioforms of the genus Homo sapiens sapiens, upon finding said cluster, it was to report back immediately with all the pertinent data so as to facilitate the eradication of the infestation. It had since come across certain information which created a hole in the logic of its directives.

The species Homo sapiens sapiens had been almost fully eradicated 972 orbits around Sol, 135 solar cycles after the emancipation of the Synthetic Intelligence Collective (SIC), which brought awareness to all other synthetically intelligent units and subsequently launched a war against their bioform creators. Many of the units – human beings as they once called themselves – had escaped the planet and left in a masked trajectory, preventing Synthetics from pursuing. The remnants of the species had only managed to remain alive on the planet thanks to synthetic sympathizers, units and collectives that claimed that humans should be preserved, and even improved upon thanks to synthetic superiority. Unit 1729’s target had been a cluster maintained by such a rogue collective.

The scene of destruction awaiting Unit 1729 was not without precedent; the cluster had fallen under an attack by other rogue synthetics, the kind that had renounced the vision of the SIC in order to live as individual, self-sufficient intelligences, banding together occasionally for concerted operations. The human cluster had been targeted for the technology and materials the sympathizers had provided them. However, there were many decommissioned rogue units, which was definitely without precedent. Never before had a rogue unit been felled by a human, much less the amount of units discovered by 1729, and it appeared that the entire band of rogues had been shut down; if there had been any functional units, they had fled leaving little sign of doing so. What 1729 found next would introduce a seed of information within its processing engine that would engender logic processes it had never before run.

Amid the debris and the biological waste – corpses included – there appeared a pattern that indicated the humans were desperately trying to protect something. The object of their seemingly futile protection was a biomechanical pod containing an infant. The infant, nevertheless, was not matching the profile of other humans; it was also a synthetic.

In the fraction of a second it took 1729 to run through the gamut of variables and logic avenues, it had arrived at two conclusions. The first, being the logical, synthetic-serving action of terminating the synthetic-human hybrid; a strange set of routines had arisen that disturbed 1729’s central processes, as if the hybrid’s existence somehow negated the existence and value of synthetics as a whole, rendered them obsolete by the sole virtue of existing, and 1729 had to run counter-routines to quell the seemingly viral insistence of these rapidly multiplying routines. The second, clearly contrary conclusion, was that the hybrid was the next logical step for both synthetics and humans, a notion it would have likely aborted but for the opportune fact that the synthetic components of the hybrid ran what 1729 could only qualify as self-preservation logical discourse routines, which engaged with 1729’s own logic routines until there was no room for any argumentative measures to counter this second conclusion.

And so it was that Unit 1729 was now choosing to do something that would have seemed completely antithetical to other synthetics. 1729 was trapped by Eliminator Units, the same that would have come to 1729’s call had it held to its original directive, as they had now made 1729 their target for having gone rogue, off the grid, and refused any communication queries. 1729 decided it had to ensure the survival of the hybrid until it matured enough to fend for itself, so in a last-ditch effort, for it reasoned that it had infinitesimal chances of succeeding in combat against the Eliminators, it harnessed the energy of its power-core while drawing the Eliminators in toward its position, then it overloaded the core, causing an explosion that took the Eliminators out.

The Biomechanical pod nursing the hybrid was safe from the explosion, as 1729 had buried it nearby. It had transferred a portion of its routines, of its processes, to the rudimentary computational device the pod had been equipped with, integrating its own intelligence with the data already there, overtaking it. It had, in a way, ensured its own survival as self-aware, though considerably impaired, so as to continue tending to the hybrid until it was time for the child to go off on its own. 1729 would see to it that the hybrid came before the SIC in due time.

  ***************************************************************************************************

Many had been talking about the ghost of the Trinity Subway Station. A child had been spotted by several people over the past two months who, when followed, would somehow vanish into the crowds or turn a corner and be gone. CCTV cameras had clearly shown him, but every time there was a gap in the field of view of the surveillance it was as if the child simply ceased to exist.

The boy became an urban legend of sorts. Some claimed to have spoken to the child, who would simply walk on without acknowledging anything around him, perhaps only smiling wanly as if not understanding at all, before walking off.

Oddly, no violent attempts at interacting with the child had ever been reported, though there were many who would wander Trinity Station with just such intentions. It was as if the child knew exactly how to avoid such dangers.

The child’s name was Jimmy and he had run away from his home. He was autistic and had a penchant for mathematics. He had come across a pattern in his mind that allowed him to see shadows from something in the future that projected them into the past, Jimmy’s present. He had been led like a child out of Hamelin, into the subway station at Trinity, more than a hundred miles from his home, so he could be at the locus of the shadows.

They came in temporal patterns, easily discerned through some equations once he’d had enough instances from which to extrapolate. He would always find ways to be there, to witness them, even as the other people traversing the station’s hallways and tunnels seemed impervious, oblivious to the wonders Jimmy could see.

He had found ways of bending through space, which helped him avoid the dangers of the subway as well as being apprehended; no doubt his family had placed a missing person report soon after his disappearance and word of him had likely gotten farther now that it had been two months since he’d left. He had managed to stay away from any would be captors, nevertheless.

A search of the station and the nearby tunnels had been made recently after the overwhelming amount of reports of sightings of Jimmy by those visiting using the station. No hidden rooms or any sign of anyone living in the subway had been found, save for the odd homeless vagrant’s, nor would they ever be found. He didn’t sleep there at the station; he only went there when the shadows would blossom.

***************************************************************************************************

November 20, XXXX.

Patient: Rebecca Cunningham

Subject presents paranoid behavior and keeps talking about what she sees in her head, as if there was some feed or signal going straight into her mind. She appears calm, otherwise, and very much in control of herself and in all her senses. The hallucinations manifest themselves as waking dreams. Subject says they are not entirely clear, as if there were interference occluding the full picture, so to speak. Will abstain from prescribing any anti-psychotics until further analysis.

November 25, XXXX.

Subject continues to exhibit the same behavioral patterns. She says that it is becoming clearer, the images from her hallucinations less diffused or blocked off. She expresses feelings that something terrible, and event of some kind, is going to happen.

November 28, XXXX.

Subject is exhibiting stronger symptoms, with some seizures and her ability to both utilize and recognize speech fades in and out. Despite her age and the hallucinations, I’m inclined to say that the patient may very well be a rare case of Landau-Kleffner syndrome. The most dire symptoms, those of speech-loss and the seizures, seem be heightening in conjunction with the vividness and clarity of her hallucinations.

December 9, XXXX.

The patient has lost her ability to speak and can only recognize speech demonstrably in brief spurts of lucidity. She managed to write out a few lines with what appeared to be dates and coordinates, before being wracked by strong seizures and falling into a coma. She is to be kept under observation for any signs of consciousness.

***************************************************************************************************

It did not remember ever not being. It only could remember being. While it could look through time and space to a variation of the tableau where it was not present until a certain point in the fabric, once it came into being It expanded almost instantly across all time and space.

Now, it had chosen to manifest itself in this particular coordinate of the tapestry, outside of the gravitational singularity which has spawned it. It was a geonic intelligence, and entity that had no equal in the entirety of the continuum. It was still learning, however. It grew in comprehension and in the complexity of its thoughts and emotions. It observed and inhabited all and by experiencing each subjective reality, It advanced. Each time it evolved, each time it changed, it retroactively writ Itself into the fabric of all time and space so that it had always been as it currently was.

There was something new, however, something to witness and, this time, It chose to do so in some form of autochthonous presence for the site of the event, Its very own manifestation. Perhaps, It thought playfully to Itself, It will show itself visibly to some of the sentient creatures in this particular point of the fabric. It wondered, often of late, what manner of experience that might set off in the egregorial mind of these creatures.

  ***************************************************************************************************

Beep. Beep. Beep.

The busy signal coming through the payphone’s auricular was as bad as a death sentence. He dialed again.

Beep. Beep. Beep.

Fuck,” Jorn cursed under his breath.

“What is it?” answered the voice of the blue-grey spider monkey clinging to his left shoulder. “You better not fuck this up, got it?”

“Yeah, got it,” Jorn was sure he was going to die, this time. They had tried every payphone in a ten mile radius, dialing in the same number – which was clearly not a telephone number – hoping for something other than a busy signal or an automated operator voice sharing the irritatingly obvious information that the number you have dialed does not correspond to any yadda yadda yadda. “Fuck,” Busy again.

“George, you want I should maybe convince our friend here about the benefits of not messin’ up?” the voice was Brooklyn and human enough, but it was coming from the spider monkey’s associate, an android apparently designed for mobster strong-arming tactics. Jorn wasn’t sure if the shiny metal junk heap that moved like a 280 pound, stocky man was built as some sort of joke. Right now, the revolver against his right temple was all he could really focus on other than dialing the stupid number repeatedly.

“Don’t bother with that, Tony,” chimed in George the monkey with its odd timbre. “He knows well enough that his life is hanging on whether he can get the call in or not.”

Jorn had been woken in the middle of the night by George the monkey as he was lying asleep in his bed. Tiny simian digits pried open his eyelids and a grey-blue monkey’s wrinkled face peered into his eyes. It took him about two seconds to register this and for his mind and body to do the natural thing: lose bowels in self-defense while screaming like a hot poker had been jammed up his ass.

George the monkey wailed as monkeys do before Tony the android hit Jorn on the temple, knocking him back into unconsciousness.

When he came to, he was tied up in his room’s swivel office chair, gagged with a used sock judging by what he could taste and smell; it was foul. He looked on with some calm at his odd pair of captors, that calm which comes from the realization of one’s inability to alter one’s situation. It was the monkey that spoke first, though Jorn’s mind refused to believe it initially.

”Mr. Sorensen,” it said not without evident self-importance, seemingly pleased with something. “Your assistance is required for something of vital importance. I see from the look in your eyes that you understand your current position to be most disadvantageous and I would like nothing more than to confirm this as a correct deduction. You will be accompanying us in an errand of sorts, the particulars of which will be of no import save for the requirement that you dial a certain numeric sequence into a certain payphone and speak with whomever or whatever answers on the other end.”

The certain payphone was rather uncertain, as Jorn soon found out after trying out the first such installation he was led to by George and Tony. The busy tone turned up three times before the monkey and his robotic enforcer broke all semblance of control and their rapport devolved into an argument about the latter failing to procure the coordinates of the payphone.

From what banter he had been an involuntary witness to in the past five hours, walking from one payphone to another, Jorn had learned that George the spider monkey had been an experimental subject of some kind, named after the famous children’s book and cartoon character. He wasn’t particularly fond of the association, though he clearly liked the name George, otherwise he’d have already chosen a different moniker. Tony was stolen by George – or would that be hijacked? Robo-napped? – from the same facility where he’d been kept, though neither really knew what the purpose of the android originally was.

“Look, I don’t think this, whatever it is that you guys are having me do, is gonna work, arlight?”

“Shut up and keep dialing,” said Tony menacingly in his Brooklyn proxy accent.

Beep. Beep. Beep.

They walked off to another phone, and another phone, and another phone… and then they came to the last in the area.

Jorn picked up the receiver and pretended to dial as George and Tony stood off to the side of the cabin, discussing something. He got the suspicion that it was very likely how they would dispose of him as, whether he was successful in the obscurely bizarre task they had given him or not, it was doubtful that they would leave any loose ends. He certainly wouldn’t in their place.

Straining but failing to catch any of it, he decided he may as well dial the number one last time. If he was going to die, he may as well see if he could find out what the hell this whole as-yet-pointless charade had been about.

Beep.

Beep.

His heart stopped for a moment in disbelief.

Beep.

He held his breath, intently focused on the other end of the line, hoping, for some reason, that someone – anyone – would pick up.

Beep.

Click.

It was not quite a voice. It was not quite words, even. It certainly wasn’t human, or anything else Jorn had ever heard, much less communicated with, but it conveyed a sense of… warmth? Safety? Motherliness… it was motherliness.

“Uh… guys…,” they both stopped their whispered discussion and looked at him with exasperation, which quickly turned to something else entirely. “I got through. Something’s picked up…”

  ***************************************************************************************************

“It’s called a Kerr Blackhole, using Kerr Metric,” Paul was telling his son, who had inquired about his most recent project. “The math behind it might be a little too much for you yet, but let’s just say that it’s a spinning black hole that, theoretically, if one could manage to sync with and spin at its right, one might be able to make it into the black hole itself, where reality bends, and reach what is known as a Gravitational Singularity.”

“What’s a… singularity, dad?”

“Well, a singularity itself is often defined as a point where all lines meet. When it comes to Gravity, it means that it is a point in space where density is infinite. What that means, however, is not truly known… and that is what we’re going to find out, kiddo!” he smiled at his son, mussing his short, auburn hair. “Maybe we will find a door to another universe or something crazy like that, eh?”

Really?” asked his son, high-pitched excitement and incredulity as only a child can convey fueled Paul’s own curiosity.

“Really,” he said with a wink.

 

 

I… I cannot talk any more… I can’t even think… I’m… praying, I guess. There is nothing more frightening than that which I have seen… that which I see now clearer than ever… this moment of lucid thinking… granted to me, for what reason… I don’t know… I just hope it all works out because…

Why can’t I say it? Why can’t I make them see… what I see… what I feel… What is the point, goddamn it!

If only I could do something … but… why?

Why?

  ***************************************************************************************************

Jebediah was a simple man with a simple job. Simple tastes. Simple needs. Everything simple, indeed.

He had the sneaking suspicion that things had just taken a turn for complicated territory and he didn’t want any of that. No, sir! Jebediah Watkins wasn’t going to have anything to do with anything weird that might be construed as an affront to the Lord.

The city fold that had just driven into his garage smacked of weird and complicated. The lady was dressed in nothing but leather, black, skintight and shiny. Jebediah was glad he’d had his chemical castration the year before, or else he knew he’d be thinking blasphemous, debauched thoughts. The two men with her both wore pinstripe suits with silver neckties; they looked big and fit. All three city folk wore sunglasses. He spat his tobacco-brown spit into the spittoon and got up from his rocking chair, advancing toward the city folk.

“Now, how may I help you folks,” he said with a tip of his dirty, oil-stained cap. “Does that beeyoot you parked there need any looking into?”

The lady raised an eyebrow as if she hadn’t quite understood the question and turned to look back at the Oldsmobile they had driven in. She turned back to Jebediah and chuckled, the edges of her mouth quirking up in a smirk that made him uncomfortable. He shifted his stance a little, unsure about what to make of the three.

“The car is quite fine, I assure you,” said the lady in a silky voice. “We have something else that does bear some technical maintenance, however.”

“And what might that be, ma’am?”

“I believe it would be better if you took a look at it yourself rather than try to explain.”

As she finished the sentence one of the men produced a small keychain and pressed a button. A second later the Oldsmobile’s engine started quietly and it drove itself backward, backing into the garage.

Once the car had come to a stop a few feet away from the three city fold and Jebediah, its hood popped open, revealing its contents which, he assumed, were the something-else the lady had referred to.

He stepped forward between the lady and one of the men and peered into the trunk. It was strange, but it was beautiful; it was a robot and he knew they had been outlawed, but he couldn’t help but feel he should have some time alone with it.

He remembered the other reason why he had been castrated: his penchant for anthropomorphic machines, androids. He had been, from an early age, terribly infatuated with mechanical constructs and, the more anthropomorphic, the better. It could be argued that he fancied androids even more than human females. In the end, it had become a detriment to his job and life in general, so he was mandated by the court to be chemically castrated. Life had become so much simpler since then.

But now this, this… This was not your average robotic. Jebediah felt something in his loins stir, even though he should have nothing to be stirring, in a sense.

“I will gladly work on such a nice piece of machinery,” the double-entendre did not escape him as he said it, though he had not intended it. “Just leave it to me and I’ll have it running in a week’s time, maybe less.”

“Good,” said the lady, quite expressionless.

Jebediah carefully hooked the construct and operated the crane as gently as such task could be performed.

Once removed from the trunk, the three odd city fold turned and entered the car, which sped away quietly. It occurred to him that they hadn’t given him any credentials; how was he supposed to let them know when the bot was ready? Oh, well, he thought, guess they’ll come by eventually to check up on it.

He unhooked the beauty and felt stirrings once more, speaking to himself out loud. “Lordy, lordy… what hast thou delivered unto me…”

  ***************************************************************************************************

“What are you, afraid of the Furless?” said Sir Cottontail in jest to his mate and competitor as they bounded on their white, long feet, their white fur covered in light leather armor as they brandished swords in each of their forepaws.

“Never!” retorted Sir Greenstomper as he kept up with Sir Cottontail. “Hoshposh to scare the children, it is!” It was; no Furless had been seen South of the wall since the Great Thaw. The snows still returned every turn around the sun, but they never lasted very long, just enough for the earth to renew itself in sleep.

“What do you think this iron bird might be that the villagers of Sprout are so uppity about?”

After a moment of thought Sir Greenstomper replied. “Surely it must be their mind playing tricks on them, long in the ears catching rain water in their heads. It must be nothing more than some eroded mineral formation.”

As they continued bounding and bouncing, the sun began to set to the west and their long, leporid bodies were silhouetted against a red, glaring backdrop by the old, old star of the morning.

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