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by D. Kai Wilson

part 1 of 3

“I am round — rotund — moribund”
— Lip-read transcription of Cheskav footage

Dark words form in my mind — veiled in the drug they’ve given me to keep me under for a couple of whiles. They repeat again, obscured somehow, and I feel I have to give a response.

I don’t know how.

An immense sensation — I feel like I’m occupying limitless worlds, instead of this tiny space. Nothing fetters me and the freedom feels good. There’s something important that I’m overlooking, but something keeps pulling me back from that — a little string tied to my toe that tugs every once in a while.

It’s an... odd sensation. Numb, yet precise — as if I’ve been shot full of Novocain from head to foot and am now being controlled as though I was a puppet, or an animatron.

And yet I can’t actually feel my limbs, my body... my face. I can’t feel the frown that I’m trying to make — not even the sensation of their dead weight. I wonder how badly I was injured (I was injured? Was I injured? How?) but there’s nothing there.

(Blank wall, meet my recollection — distant cousin of ‘my memory’, she’s a great laugh. Tells what she believes to be the truth at all times. Now... where has she gone?) Recollection is also missing in action apparently, and that raises a smile.

I can’t tell. I’m sure I’m smiling, but it’s as if my mind is separate from everything else that should be attached. Like my mind is telling my body stories and it’s reacting, but I can see the reaction from the other side of the room. As though I’m connected...

Ac es en ed. Ac es Ac es en ed Ac es en ed Ac es en ed.

The words are sharp now — I recognize their anger the way an obedient child recognizes annoyance in words even if they don’t understand the words themselves. I stop. I’m still. I try to collect something of myself back to the fragments still here and wait.

Yet I still can’t feel anything recognizable. Anything that aligns with my knowledge of the world... before. I know it’s there, I just can’t reach for it yet. Once more, the words repeat; sharp again, but not as sharp as the last time. I’m not seeing or hearing them — it’s almost as if I feel them, but I’m still struggling. I know the response to give now though.

I can’t yet translate for you, I’m sorry.

* * *

Find your name.

My brain seems to process that imperative as if it was spoken rather than a flash of green words. I’m completely independent of this process, as if I’m watching from above, or off to the side. As if it’s not my mind. I’m back to feeling as if my body is one vessel, my brain is another — and I can watch and control at the same time, but that it’s not quite right.

I reach for my name, quite literally envision my hand riffling through corners and filing cabinets and find only a hollow space where the something (the drug?), now not veiling, has scooped it out — a glassine wall, smooth, where information should be. Not scorched, but cored out.

I reach out, watching myself search it at the same time — (I have pins and needles right in the middle of my forehead — I feel it!) — an odd, overlaid impression of what I’m doing. Touching it is like touching marble. It’s cold, and there’s a layer between it and me. I wonder if this is how it feels to touch memories — that though they’re suffused with heat and life, they feel dead to the touch. If this is what telepathy is. (If I’ve suddenly found myself in a very bad melodrama. I never think like that.)

Name not found.

There it is again. A flash of words, green text on a black background. And that was me — replying as if I were... programmed to reply with that. It is that. {string} not found — it’s an instruction that echoes through me.

Blue screen.

Access denied. Access denied. Access denied. Access denied. Access denied.

Emergency shutdown.

* * *

No. 119 reboot protocol. Load layers 1 through 9.

Find your name.

I feel my mind fragmenting — I actually feel it pulling apart, like layers of wallpaper. The top part — clinical, bubbly, a nice calm, serene white. It can fly, it can swoop, it doesn’t care about anything other than instructions. It needs to be fed them, constantly, or it just repeats.

I just repeat.

Middle layer — me, this... narrative, something I don’t think I should be completely aware of, if at all. It’s comforting and soft and calm. And at the bottom, a voice, me again? (Well, duh. I never realized I was so...), a dry, interjection. Me at my most sarcastic, a voice on my shoulder. (You don’t have one.) That voice is in a dark recess, well back. Hidden from the programming and overlays that’s slowly ticking into my systems.

And those green words that take my attention away from everything.

Name not found

(You know your name. It’s right there. Why do you keep deluding yourself?)

I can’t find my name. It’s not there.

(You’re talking to yourself — there’s no need to get worked up.)

I didn’t realize I was. I don’t feel anything. No.

I feel precise. I feel totally controlled. I feel I could fly. Navigate star systems and jump through gate-points. I feel I could carry people to new lives.

(Where’s your son?)

I stop.

There are words, not directed at me. Two voices — I pick out each and savor their sound. I’m not sure whether the revelation that I can hear — it is actually hearing that’s got my attention now — has me the most amazed or the fact that I recognize one voice as my direct input.

I can name him as my direct input. Before I go much further down that thought, he issues another command. I know somehow that he’s not facing my main monitor. I triangulate his voice, and he’s facing another person — the sound acoustics tell me it’s a human, female, 5’ 6”. I could find out who she is. I could...

He repeats the instruction again, more firmly and I’m onto the next task, mind rushing to find anything — a scrap that explains this. There’s nothing there (Why can’t I feel my body?), nothing beyond...

* * *

Proceed to part 2...

Copyright © 2009 by D. Kai Wilson

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