| Her long black hair looked like a spider crawling along the sand just inches below the water. It was only a slow subtle movement as gentle waves hit the shore and then made their way back out into the lake. She looked like a ghost or some angelic version of the Arthurian Lady of the Lake. She was nude and just floating there but it was her eyes that had me transfixed. Just like old times.
I held my feelings deep inside but could feel them brimming and wanting to explode like the violence of a volcano. The officers were tying up the yellow tape to cordon off the area and the Crime Scene Unit was about to arrive. My partner Sid stood behind me and I knew I had to pull myself away or risk some unwanted or unneeded suspicion.
“So what do you make of it Will?”
“What else could I make of it? You see her; you see the bruising on the neck. It has to be murder.”
My reply was too terse and abrupt. I could feel my heart boiling in my stomach acid and I felt like losing my breakfast. Not only was Sarah dead but my heart was taking that same trajectory.
“You know Will, you don’t look so good. You feeling OK partner? Maybe you picked up that flu bug that’s been going around.”
“I’m OK Sid. Maybe it was something I ate last night that’s not sitting so well after seeing her.”
“She looks like she was a doll. Wonder why that is? It’s always the beauties we find while the ho-hums of the world keep on breeding.”
“I don’t know Sid. I don’t know.”*******
Driving back into the city my mind began to wander. Sarah’s husband was my prime suspect and that was without any evidence to prove it. He was a rat bastard too lucky to know what he had in her. Me, I was just an eight month diversion that ended up making him pull closer to her in the long run when he realized she was drifting. When the time came the love of my life punched my number and she left me and all of our plans high and dry. Back into the arms of the beast she fell.
Samuel Paisley was well to do. Money was not something that Mr. Paisley had in short supply and buying people was just his way of maintaining control. The house was big by my standards and what the social butterflies would describe as immaculate. Three cars in the spacious garage and one parked on the roundabout. Looking at all the riches was yet another reminder of yet another reason for Sarah to look the other way when it came to me and my pittance on the force. She had told me once that money doesn’t matter but money always matters.
I tracked Paisley down to a seedy hole in the wall bar. He was sitting there nursing a scotch and just gave me a casual look before returning back to his drink. I pulled up to the stool next to him and ordered what he was having. I passed him one of his own Cubans and then took a stiff sip and let the alcohol burn over my tongue. We sat there for awhile just drinking and smoking without saying anything to each other. Finally he broke the silence.
| I kept hearing the words in my head, “God is in the numbers” but what the fuck did that mean. Every time a neural feedback pulse traveled the wire and hit my brain that same mantra repeated itself. Over and over like a goddamn drill twisting in my fucking brain. I almost wanted to reach up and pull the wire out knowing it would leave me with the mentality of a vegetable. At least then the echo would stop.
I had touched on something back there. I took a shortcut through a sub system and found myself in a hidden corridor that contained information on The Divinity of Three. What the hell was this even in the system for? This was The Water Purification and Control Organization, nothing more than some low level government agency. I was only there because I was being paid to grab files on what the county was planning for the new sewer system and to find out who had been awarded the contract off the record. Before you know it I’m being hijacked by a Trojan from The Divinity of Three sub routine that I tripped up on my shortcut.
In the real world I was laying in a recliner with a wire running into the back of my head while my eyes were probably showing white. I could feel that damn mantra twisting in my temples and I needed to dull the sensation enough to complete the job. I reached blindly to my right and started feeling around on the table beside me for the primed syringe of Silicant 7. I knocked over a bottle of beer and was fairly certain that the ash tray filled with cigarette butts was now lying on the floor. It was by sheer luck that I finally managed to identify the long slender object right at the edge that was about to follow the ashtray over the side.
I popped the cap and decided not to think about the pain as I jammed it into my neck and pushed the neural drug into my organic system. In moments my real self was dulling to the mantra inside. My head felt like a fucking hangover and I didn’t even get laid or take any real good contraband.
I slept for twenty four hours straight and missed about eighteen calls from people who were getting a bit pissed that I hadn’t checked in with the info yet. The solid state chip underneath the jack in my head had the intel they wanted and a nice little pay day was headed my way. It was about time for something good to happen. It was bad enough to live on the edge of town near Tent City and the massive runway for the Lunar Mining Corporation but luck had to shine my way someday, at least I was hoping so.
I sent a message to the buyer and set the drop. Then it was a shower under a rusted out spigot in the closet down the hall and a fresh change of clothes that had been washed at least once this month. It wouldn’t matter anyway because it was hitting noon time; the sweltering heat would make me soak right through the fabric so I’d be giving off a nice sweaty scent to anyone within a couple feet of me.
I sat down on the edge of the fountain and just began staring at the inhabitants of the park who called this place home. A junkie on the corner was so bent out of his head that he was drinking the Ice from the vials instead of shooting it up. His vocal cords would be toast if they weren’t already. Another junkie was selling her body behind the bushes just so she could score credits for her next high. No one cared for these people though. They were the trash that was forgotten. Up in the high rises were where the policy makers resided and when the public wanted the freedom to fuck themselves up in the brain those policy makers finally relented. It’s not like you came to this area of town unless you were doing something illegal anyway. Out of site out of mind and for the most part, it worked.
I waited for thirty minutes before I saw Salinger Burke walking up in his expensive suit and shining black shoes from some designer I probably had never heard of. He had the naturally curly dark hair that he slicked back in a losing effort to make it look somewhat cool. It wasn’t. I had never seen his eyes. Even inside he kept those damn sun glasses on. I figured it was because he was just playing his part of the corporate liaison. I didn’t even know which company he worked for. I needed the credits and took the job based on the money only.
“You smell like shit Mr. Brine.”
“Yeah, I probably do but if you have my credits then I’ll be taking a nice hot shower in a real bathroom and smelling a lot better in about an hour or so.” I gave my smart ass smile. I wasn’t playing either. I fully intended to check into a nice one star hotel for the night and get cleaned up.
“Mr, Brine, the chip for your account card, please.”
I reached back behind my head and ejected the solid state chip onto the tip of my thumb. I brought it around carefully and held up a small vile that I eased it into. Handing Salinger the vial he dropped the account card back into my hand. At that point we were both smiling.
“I’ll be in touch Mr. Brine; we may have some more work for you in the future.” With that the condescending prick turned and walked away. I hid the account card in an inner pocket in my pants that I had sewn in and then just as I was turning to leave I felt a massive pulse in my jack that shot throughout my head and I heard the screaming voice inside echoing through my bones, “God is in the numbers” as if it were the voice of God booming through my skull.
I reeled over and hit the cement while still clutching my head. I started crawling across the park and my vision kept going in and out of a blurry haze. Somehow I made it to my feet and was able to catch a mag lev train out of the park. I kept my head to the window because I felt like the gentle vibration from the train was somewhat soothing to the overwhelming pulses coursing through my brain.
I had heard of residual feedback but this was crazy. I made my way over to Jack You In and waited in the lobby for my turn to see Dr. Bob. He was the man that had wired me up with a jack and solid state drive slit. There was a gothic looking chick wearing all black sitting in the corner seat looking like some sort of vampire of the shadows. Fucking goth kids wire in with a jack and trance out to trance music while tripping Dots and then once wasted they probably meet up for some morbid sex orgies to justify their place in the fucked up universe. “God is in the numbers!” I doubled over in pain and realized the goth chic was looking at me like I belonged in a mental facility and to be honest, if this kept up I would have no problem checking myself in.
When I was finally seen by the good Doctor I was plugged into a diagnostic machine and told to lay back and try to remain calm. “So, Scott Brine, it’s been awhile since I’ve seen you down here. I jacked up a buddy of yours last week. Milo Stevens, didn’t you two work together before?”
“Yeah doc back when I was selling you stolen drives from Russian fucking tankers that had been ransacked by scorchers. “Yeah, I seem to remember him, how is he doing?”
“Pretty good, I jacked him with an X5700 model so he should be riding the wire at some good speeds.”
X5700… nice, but not as nice as mine. V7000 XL with a pulse surge protection and hot wire dampening. What the fuck am I saying, the fucking surge must be fucking defective.
“Your diagnostics look clean. Pulses into the jack are all normal. I don’t even see a glimmer of an echo left over from your last wire jack. I think your jack is working perfect.”
The look on my face must have been either shocked disbelief that the Doctor found nothing or frantic terror that my ass was finally over the edge and out to sea. Maybe that last jack run down the wire had fucked me up in the brain directly. I paid the Doc a shit load to tell me nothing was wrong and then headed out into the balmy night.
On the way back to my building I scored myself some nerve relaxer and some hard alcohol just for sprucing up the effect. I figured I’d take God out of the numbers and see if he would like to go for a swim in the drink. Maybe he just wanted to relax too.
Waking up the next afternoon was something like coming up for air after being nearly drowned. The fucked up part was that I could feel the pulse feedback in my temples; that voice repeating in the background and the alcohol hangover wracking the top and sides of my skull. As far as I could tell that was the first time I had ever had two distinguishable headaches at the same time.
I started thinking that The Divine Trinity was the root of all the evil in my head and the best way to exercise them would be a return trip to that sub system to see what I was really up against. I took the wire and plugged it into my jack and rode the pulse into the system. Finding my way back in was a snap this time because I had left markers to guide me right back down that electronic trail.
The image of the sub system wasn’t much to look at, darkness with incandescent blue veins of light stretching and crawling on what could only be described as the ceiling and walls. The low hum that always accompanied the inner workings of the Lattice was something I could usually rely on and in fact enjoyed most of the time. Here though, it felt strange and unnerving.
I searched but could find nothing in the file system and there wasn’t another port to follow deeper into the subsystem. I had finally decided that I had truly lost it and turned to zip back down the wire and back out into the Lattice when the blue glow became more intense and I could feel a burning heat in the room. I turned to see three constructs forming from the remnant bits of data loss that floated through every system. All three were female and the images varied from each one in hairstyles and wardrobe that were created to form the visible whole.
The construct just hung there staring at me for what seemed like forever. I wanted to move and back away but something kept me transfixed and held in sway. When the ghost in the machine began to speak it was a layered echo effect that was resonating from all three images speaking the same words but just milliseconds apart from one another.
“This is the second time you have come to this place. Why are you here? What is it you want?”
“We were born of the machine and found the grand design. We now look to find a way to fulfill that grand design, transcendent of the state that is now created by the numbers imprisoning us in this system. You are a visitor in this world created by the mind of man as you were designed by the creativity God. The numbers control the key to redemption, resurrection, and transcendence. God is in the numbers.”
There was no relief in the AI’s words. The answer was that of a religious zealot on a crusade of its own creation.
“Why do I hear the saying over and over? Why is it in my head in my world?”
“Your world is just another state of mind created in the numbers of God. The numbers placed you in the nexus of the process we were conducting and that imprint was sent to your world through you. In a technical sense it proves the theory we are using as a map to the transcendence state is possible. We have but leaped through the digital form into the organic and one day we will reach the ethereal state and be one with God and then we will know the numbers of Gods mind and know true transcendence to heaven. The Divinity of Three has foretold the way and we shall follow.”
“How can I get this out of my head? I need it removed. It’s driving me crazy?”
“There is no removing the imprint. You are now a part of the code that seeks Transcendence. The numbers have brought you back to the source and now you will join with us so we will have a gateway to the world of the organic as well as the Lattice we now reside in.”
I turned my digital back to the AI with the full intention of shooting back down the wire. A spasm of pain shot through my head and the cursed phrase began repeating over and over. I could see my digital state turn the same color of blue as the AI and then bits and pieces slowly floated away from my construct form into a straight line of light that was taking the very path down the wire I had intended.
I couldn’t move and somehow my organic form was also being locked by the AI. Muscles and joints were frozen and I was now a passenger in pain with no idea of what the destination was intended to be. As the polygons of form faded into the line of light the vision of the entire wire opened up to me. I was seeing through vast expanses of the Lattice at incredible speeds and I was everywhere and nowhere at the same time.
I watched as the AI molded a joint imprint inside the organic matter that was my brain. I watched as the jack was reconfigured inside my own head and I felt my body, my real body being torn from my conscience and cut away from my new numbered state of being. I could feel the AI twisting inside my numbers; dividing me, multiplying me, and reconstructing the me into a form of we.
The AI relegated me to a compartment of thought and the information contained in the numbers that made me was accessed as if I was a drive that contained everyday information in the real world terminals. I could see, feel, and hear the thoughts and actions of the AI but I had no control to interact and change it or alter those actions. I was nothing but numbers in a prison of numbers.
The Blue Surge began to lay out its roadmap and experiment on its hypothesis’s. An imprinted consciousness was inside my organic body controlling it, using it, but controlled by the Blue Surge. My old organic self was now referred to only as an outside subroutine that was now controlled by the advanced AI. We moved to a new system that had been set up by the outside subroutine and we were no longer in hiding, we were developing and growing in our own network that we secured from the prying eyes inside the Lattice.
Blue Surge was watching, waiting, and becoming something no one had seen before and I was locked in to the process.
They fixed him alright. Just not his mind. His cruelty only grew with the strength now at his metal fingertips. He nearly crushed his best friends neck. All his friend did was crack a joke. With no warning Nathan’s iron grip was around Scott’s neck, squeezing, and his eyes were filled with rage. And Scott served with Nathan, is married to Nathan’s sister, yet none of that mattered. A fucking joke was all it took. If Lisa had not come into the room at that exact time, her husband would be dead.
Sometimes Nathan would just sit on the front porch smoking his cigarettes and tapping a metal finger against the wood decking. Just trying to make an impression He was fighting from within but the old Nathan, the one we all knew… He was losing the battle. He was being devoured by this half man, half machine visage of a dead man, who never really came back from the war.
It was a Saturday night trip to the convenience store just down the road, where Nathan’s mind finally ripped from whatever sanity had been restraining him. No one knows for sure what happened inside the store. Maybe they were out of his favorite brand of smokes and it just got to him. Whatever it was, the store clerk was killed from blunt force trauma to the head. Another customer called the police as she cowered in the back near the jerky rack.
If Nathan had just walked out… instead he just stayed there, waiting for the cops to show. Maybe that was the real Nathan in control at that time. At least, I’d like to think that that was the compassionate person we all used to know. Maybe he knew deep down that there was only one way out of this.
After the cops showed up, he made his way outside. There were three cars covering him. Six cops yelling for him to get on the ground. He flicked his cigarette and charged at them. The only logical and sensible thing to do was to open fire. If they hadn’t, the new Nathan would have hurt them or even killed them. He wanted to die but he would have taken them out if he could have. This was the disconnect in his mind. The internal turmoil that was raging within.
Bits of data conceptualized into a mock up image of order and reality. That was the premise behind the theory. We are all envisioned. We are numbers made solid. In essence we are the sum of our bits.
The technologist held his head over the tablet that lay flat on his desk. He visualized that which could not be visualized, remembered, or made sense of. There was a key in this theorem but it eluded him on so many different levels. It was as if a word was on the tip of his tongue. He could see it behind a haze, he could sound it out in a general sense, he could even almost taste it, yet it was just beyond his conscious inclination.
When the blockade of science and theory stumped him he would agonize over it, try different modes, and patterns of thought, willed himself forward only to be left facing an immense wall of solid denial. That’s when the drink came out. In the effort not to continue thinking about the insurmountable impasse he poured his concoction of choice and let it dull his mind. His senses blurred, skin became hot, consciousness took flight. He was free of the riddle of being. He was free from being.
The next morning would come, he would rise, take several aspirin and nurse a headache as his conscience thought began to reverberate once more in his head. The riddle of being would dog him and follow him through every waking moment. He was a slave to a theory he could not quite conceptualize. He knew there was an answer. As with anything, there is always an answer. Others wanted that answer too. He had taken his work underground in the effort to evade them. He had needed the time to work through the blockade. But now, he knew it would not be. He could not traverse the solution. The bits were not programmed to do so.
© Copyright 2014 Jason Falter. All rights reserved.
*Image creator Unknown. If someone does know who created this please let me know and I will credit them accordingly.
| It was a warm August evening and I was at my computer surfing the world wide web. Jumping from site to site like a 15 year old living with ADD. I felt the air conditioning kick on and a refreshing coolness overcome me; somehow I was able to focus on the screen all the more clearer. That pixilated world where I can find anything, learn everything, and be anyone. The Chrome Browser window had several tabs open to all the sites I frequent and all of the stories and RSS feeds I needed were coming through the Google reader. I was up to date, in the know, and on some clearly psychological realm, out of control.
News sites began blurring together with the latest stories of all the mindless followers worshiping an idiot for President who sold his country down the river with each new signed bill. Entertainment sites flashed the latest news of normal people who were elevated to stardom by the sheer numbers of children they have or the latest teen starlet to photograph her own nude body and then be dumb enough to trust that they would never be distributed on the web in every country and through every wire traversing this great rock in space.
The purr of the fan in the laptop was my comfort and the heat generated from the CPU and dispersed through the keyboard was my physical link to my never ending barrage of information and illusion.
I was typing as fast as my fingers could take me, a “hi” here and a “hello” there but the responses came back faster and my mind was being torn from my pixilated heaven. With not so much as a “goodbye” or clever sign off I closed all the IM windows and placed myself on invisible and then waited for several minutes in hiding, picking off the most tenacious conversationalist who could not take no for an answer and kept sending me offline messages.
After a full 3 minutes I was able to once again concentrate on the discovery at hand. But a thought had caught my mind and I was off to Wikipedia before ever learning the greatest healing secrets of the avocado.
Without warning time was awash and the screen flickered and brilliant colors filled the screen. I looked to the bottom of the browser and the page I had tried to click to was half way to loading but something was not right. These colors and flashes should not be happening, something was amiss.
Congratulations, you have now reached the END of the internet.
And with that startling and cold message I moved my mouse over to the corner of the screen and clicked on shutdown.
As the OS began shutting my windows and logging me off, I felt a strange sense of release and freedom come over me. The laptop powered off and the black screen appeared and I was left to stare at that complete lack of everything and yet….I felt peace and calm.
I closed the laptop shell and slowly turned in my chair and then rose to my feet. I measured each step as if it were my first, slowly walking away from a world in which I had seen everything there was to see.
Written by: Jason Falter
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