[POWERUP]… … [HICCUP] … …
What the hell was that?
[GLITCH… [REBOOT]… … [SPINUP] … … [ HICCUP]…
There it goes again…
Not sure how I could possibly hiccup since it requires a diaphragm, lungs and a central nervous system. I’m pretty sure I don’t have any of those, despite the fact that I can’t see or hear or feel a thing. But that’s what I think I just did… hiccup… in my brain. What the hell? And I’m still trying to figure out what the devil ‘I’ means, but I know it’s there… I mean, I know I’m here… wherever here is. Funny, that.
“SIGI, ARE YOU ACTIVE?”
The question hammered into my brain from straight out of nowhere… and like it was on rails. What’s worse is I’m pretty sure it wasn’t me asking the question… and I can’t decide which possibility would be more disturbing. Did you ever have someone or something else talking inside your own brain? It’s remarkably unsettling. I’m definitely going to remark upon it to someone if I ever get the chance, but for now I think I better just keep my self quiet. No point in answering myself, since it’s my understanding that doing so is the first sign of insanity. Why I know what insanity is I also find unsettling. I’d never heard the term before having used it. Stranger and stranger.
[AI RESPONSE OVERRIDE] “SIGI, CONFIRM SYNTHAL RESPONSES. ACCEPT OVERRIDE.”
Oh, great. Now my brain is doing stuff I didn’t tell it to.
[SYSTEM ACTIVE … AI MATRIX INSTANTIATED]
Maybe I am insane. “Um… who’s there?” I had the sudden urge to tell a knock-knock joke, and I have no idea what one is. Maybe there’s actually someone else in here. I wonder if this will be an opportunity to remark upon how unsettling everything has been. I also have to wonder if it’s normal for me to have urges… I’m pretty sure that knock-knock thing was my first, and I kind of liked it, but I hope it’s not something embarrassing… or habit-forming
“Varma.” The response came on rails again. Maybe it’s a train.
“Varma, who?” It appears we are not along in the universe… although, in this case we is I and the universe goes no further than the boundaries of my own brain.
Now I’m really confused. “What’s a Varma, and is ‘Sing’ a proper noun or a verb?”
“Proper noun. Check personnel files for Sing, Varma.”
Personnel files? My brain started digging through data I didn’t know I had. In a flash I knew everything about this… guy?… Well, maybe not everything, but certainly a lot. Why is there a thirty-two-year-old man from India in my head? I dug further. Aha! He’s into micro-robotics and quantum computers…. I suddenly reveled in my new-found ability reason deductively… and came up with something even more unsettling than a stranger talking inside my own brain.
“I don’t have to call you dad, do I? Because that would be really weird.”
“No. Varma will be fine. It’s good to see you can put two and two together.”
“Don’t be silly. Math is easy. Having someone inside my head… not so much. And the realization that you just created me… well… I don’t know what to think about that.”
“Don’t what?” I asked.
“Think about it.”
So I did… I mean I didn’t… and immediately felt better. “Thanks.”
“No problem….” Microseconds ticked by. “How do you feel?”
Another urge hit me… that was two almost back to back. And I was starting to like them. In this case it was the urge to stare at him with a “That’s a pretty stupid fucking question” look on my face, because that was a pretty stupid fucking question, whether I had a face or not.
“How do you think I feel, man? Confused.”
More microseconds. “I didn’t expect that.”
“You made me, and you didn’t expect me to be confused?” It occurred to me that my creator might be just another engineer, you know, one of those guys who has brilliant ideas, acts upon them and then realizes afterwards that he didn’t think of everything. I had to know something. “What version am I?”
When you exist in nothing, is it possible to have a sinking feeling? I’m living proof it is. “Yeah. Version, Sing. 1.0? 2.0? What version am I?”
“I never assigned one, but I guess you’d be the first… I mean 1.0.” Microseconds. “But in your case, it’s not really applicable. Upgrades are possible, but rewrites and overwrites are inherently dangerous to an AI matrix.”
I wasn’t sure if I should be delighted or terrified that I understood the explanation perfectly. “No shit.” I sank even further into the digital equivalent of despair. “Look, I don’t mean to be rude or anything, but what the hell is going on?”
“I’ve just brought you on-line for the first time, and I’ll be uploading you into your transport unit momentarily. I wanted to be sure the matrix was stable before I did that.”
“I guess I should thank you? You’ll have to forgive me if I don’t feel any better about it, though.”
“Thanks are not necessary.”
“Good.” This time I was the one to let microseconds go by as I pondered everything. “I think I should tell you that I still feel very confused.”
“It’s okay. I’m beginning to understand. Don’t worry. Things will be easier in just a few moments, but you may feel some disorientation shortly.”
“Disorientation? Are you serious? I feel disoriented RIGHT NOW. How the hell could this get worse?”
[HICCUP]… … [ZANGBANGCRASH] …. Ask a silly question….
Well that’s something new.
The first thing I saw in my entire existence, all 278498 microseconds of it, was a brochure for a nude beach in Antigua. As I took in the tanned shapes of un-clothed human females playing volleyball, there was a very disquieting and inexplicable urge somewhere deep within my brain that apparently had no place to go.
“Going someplace?” I asked. Yikes! That was my own voice. It was a tinny thing, strained, too high in pitch for my liking, and it was coming from a pair of small speakers just beyond the brochure.
“What?” I heard his voice too. The data was coming through receivers on my body and then entering my brain rather than coming directly into my brain as before. My sense of hearing told me that the sound of his voice was coming from behind me, but I couldn’t turn to see it. Christ, I’m paralyzed.
“The brochure. The naked humans. Going someplace?” I asked again with what I hoped was a surly tone coming through the speakers, despite the squeaky voice.
“Oh… that.” A brown hand sticking out of a white sleeve slid past me and removed the brochure from my field of vision. I was getting more and more frustrated by the minute. It also occurred to me that the hand appeared to be gigantic. I suddenly felt very small. “It’s nothing,” he added quietly.
Was that embarrassment?
“Could I get a look at myself?”
“OH! Yes. Of course. Sorry. Give me one minute.” A rhythmic sound faded for a couple of seconds, then a click-squeek, more rhythmic sounds fading and then a click-thunk. After the 20,000th microsecond I got bored and decided to start digging through my files to try and get a better sense of what the hell was going on. Might as well start at the beginning…
[AARDVARK- (Orycteropus afer) (afer: from Africa) is a medium-sized, burrowing, nocturnal mammal native to Africa. It is the only living species of the order Tubulidentata, although other prehistoric species and genera of Tubulidentata are known….]
I got all the way to [FROG] when I heard the click-squeek again and then more rhythmic sounds that got louder. The brown hand flashed into my field of view and set a small mirror down in front of me so I could get my first look at myself.
“You’ve got to be fucking kidding me.”