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Layered Layers

 

Layered layers

Shakespir edition

Copyright©2016 Nikolas Mouvia

Morning time was the best time to produce pages thought Author1, and then sipped a large chunk of hot chocolate from her mug. Smiling was her usual reaction after that. ‘’ The chase is on’’ she quipped to herself. Snapping the fingers forwards to prepare for the avalanche that is to come, she places them on the typewriter’s buttons. A long stare at the blank page follows. She is already scheming in some corners of her mind alas not yet sure which scheme to choose. Whatever she may write it must be good. In the other room the phone rings and breaks her concentration. Annoyed she ignores it at first, but the phone buzzer grows even more loudly. She picks up the receiver only to be greeted by and eerie silence on the other end. Not long passes and weird background whirring noises break in her ear and after them a heavy breathing is heard. ‘’Listen, I don’t know how much time I still have so I will make this brief and on the point. I know you are real. You must be, but but… more importantly remember this: whatever you do and however spooked you might be of this, the character you are just getting ready to write about must I repeat must be a struggling programmer who finally will get his break. Please listen my life…er… existence depends on this. I am not able to give you a more detailed explanation. It is virtually impossible ‘’ she interrupts the unusual interlocutor ‘’ is this some kind of joke? ’’ The odd sounding voice replies: No, I swear absolutely no joke. Hmm ok to prove you this, I know that once you will sit back at your desk a strong wind gust will blow the window open and throw to the ground face down the portrait you have on the window sill. Exactly seven minutes after. Please I beg of you hear me out. She then interrupts him once more: All right, let’s say I believe you. Is that all?

‘’ One more thing before they or it will find me: at the right moment your mind will be given a more expansive narrative suggestion. It is imperative that you should take it. Authors often pray for good inspiration. Trust me. You will get it on command. Although that part always confused me, who after who? ‘’ the weird voice on the other side fades away gradually as soon as that last phrase is uttered.

‘’Hello… is there anyone there? ‘’ she gets no response. Under a serious dose of being weirded out she gets back to her desk. Back to work. Even though her deep suspicion of being the victim of a sophisticated prank has not dissipated, inexplicably something tells her there might be more to this. She stands near the desk, unsure whether to sit down and forget all of what transgressed or to simply let things unfold even further. During this meditative state, inadvertently, her eyes fall on the calendar placed on the third shelf of the bookcase. It indicates the date: eighteen of March, nineteen sixty eight.

‘’ Already five months have passed since I have moved here and still I don’t know my neighbors ‘’ she says with sadness.

Just so she can finally put to rest any doubts about the call, she takes the decision in sitting back at the desk. Draws her desk clock closer and looks at those two thin copper handles closely. She did not check, but is pretty sure the window at her back is tightly closed. Precisely as told, seven minutes after, a powerful wind gust strikes the window and forces the lock open. Startled, she turns and sees the left window frame knocking her dad’s portrait, from the window sill, on the ground. Instead of falling like any other object, the portrait land on its corner and flips wildly. Eventually it gets face down. With her hands shivering, she closes the window and puts the portrait back.

‘’All right, that’s not weird at all ‘’ she tries to amuse herself.

‘’ Maybe he won a wild guess. Really, when you think about it, all he asked was for me to write about some character. I can do that even only to see where it could take me ‘’

In her mind, the stream of speculative fiction starts anew, so it’s back at the typewriter. Without warning, seeping out from nowhere a mellow state overtakes her. Moved by a spell she pictures the image of a man staring at a blue lit screen. Suddenly words appear on paper, line after line a paragraph forms:

His hands were itching with fire. Exhilaration was running high. This new idea that just flashed in his mind could potentially do wonders. ‘’I can already see the money I will earn on this. Hehehe ‘’ he muttered happily. His fingers went haywire on the keyboards. Melodic clicks and taps into the night. The office was pretty empty at that late hour. He didn’t mind it though. All more peace and concentration for him, all better. Sure he wasn’t the lead designer on the game, but he might step up to that position soon. Now that Simmons failed to deliver on the deadline following his grand promises, not to mention embarrassing the team and the money put in this project. The guys up top will surely be thrilled to see this thing running soundly on its feet. ‘’ If I am not going to be backed by the Vice President since he is friends with Simmons, at least the President will back me in the end and that is all that matters ‘’ exuberance within Author2 increased rapidly following that realization ‘’ just keep on focusing on the task at hand, don’t forget the idea. Hammer, hammer on. ‘’

He opened tabs near tabs, paused to scribble some notes on the side. Those stickers on the monitors offered a little more guidance. The mind stream was in full force. Occasional short drinks of dark coffee were keeping him on the flow. He was entangled in lines upon lines of code and despite of their cold analytic attributes, to Author2 eyes they formed figures, characters in full motion engaged in action scenes across beautiful landscapes or sometimes grim ones. He saw almost all the sketches drawn by the art division, though even with that visual boost, his mind continued to make its own original modifications. Art was never Author2’s strong suit, he leaned more to the calculated side of IT science. Nevertheless he never lacked imagination so often those sterile numbers and letters took a more colorfully elaborate form. As he created each piece of the story, each rule for all the landscapes which should be obligatory to all pieces, he had the feeling of something big and important missing. A certain entity stringing all assets together, call it a prime mover. ‘’ But of course this game has to have a central character ‘’ he quipped mentally then elaborated some more ‘’ Soo… let us assign him more descriptive attributes. Age should be around late 60’s, with a high middle class background. He has a nasty scar on his left cheek ‘’ Author2 types several lines of code. Values to input in another seven or eight tabs and they all have to match. Corrections are made quickly as the compiler points them out.

‘’ Now… moving further. How did he get that scar? ‘’ Author2 pauses and reflects on the options to fill in ‘’ I’ve got it. The scar was a result of an old duel. The character should be an aging duelist writing his memoirs. I can see it expanded. These are the adventures of a ruthless renegade, caught in dastardly court intrigues. Those intrigues will have tragic consequences he can’t escape. The intro is the duelist starting his memoirs in eighteen ’o seven. The rest of the story will be off course told in retrospective, finally catching up to the present day ‘’ Author2 writes his code feverishly akin to a small enthusiastic child. On the monitors line after line of code piles up thus forming a hefty source for the future game in question. The promise of success becomes more evident with each minute. Unexpectedly, like hitting a brick wall, he stops with his hands in mid air. ‘’ What if this game will not sell that good? The market for this genre is quite crowded. If have to be honest to myself a very similar game was made last year by a competing firm. Damn, just when I though I got the cheese by its roundness. Now I have to start all over again’’ He takes a sip of dark coffee from his mug, the last one. This action coincides with feeling a flash of thirst. Author2 is determined to stay awake, determined to write the new game’s code by the morning break. It will be a titanic work, but well worth it. He gets up and searches thorough the office halls for an energetic refill. Downstairs in the janitor’s cafeteria he founds a working machine alas without any supplies. He checks vis-à-vis in the janitor’s closet and bingo he finds an unopened full box of coffee capsules. Before he can exit the closet a strange noise comes to his ear, metallic and rickety kind of some robotic cough. Author2 turns around to look for its source. Not long into it he finds an old fax-printer machine, locked in operation mode, printing mode. Following a close inspection he is baffled: not only this thing should not work considering the damages on it, forget the fact it has no paper in it, but even more the power cord is not connected to the socket.

‘’ What the hell is happening? ’’ Author2 kicks the machine and the result is negligible, besides a pounding pain in his foot.

Somewhat trembling he decides to search for some paper to feed the unusually functioning machine. In a corner under some dust covered boxes sits a stack of printer paper. He takes three pages. He knows the first and second ones will be just for test. Only the third one will print whatever message is trying to be relayed through the printer-fax. Having a change of heart he takes four more pages from the stack. Approaching the machine, with a slow and carefully moving hand he inserts the first page. Initially nothing happens besides the machine shaking even more strongly. Grumble noises fill the small room, talk about feeding the belly of the beast. A quick time passes after the blank page gets drawn inside the machine only for it to come empty as expected on the exit tray, ejected into the room. Not wasting another second Author2 inserts the second blank page. Breaking the rhythm the page halts somewhere at the middle. Figures, the dreaded paper jam.

‘’ Hit once more you dummy ‘’ thinks Author2, because really what other technical solution could he apply. And so he does. Waiting impatiently for the thing to restart of to continue its task, preferably to continue functioning, Author2 grinds his teeth. Following some long seconds clicks and clacks form from the insides of the machine and after they finish a long thumping sound explodes throughout the room, originating from the machine of course. Once these strange mechanical expressions are gone, the machine resumes the previously halted operation. The second empty paper page flies from the tray, but not before a somewhat rushed Author2 fits in the third empty paper page.

‘’ Interesting, I am about to communicate with a machine. Would this be counting as a first artificial intelligence to human conversation? How should I proceed once I see the message and on what exactly is this machine functioning on? I hope it can’t read my mind ‘’ thinking this Author2 waits with wide open eyes the machine to finish printing the already partly started message. Out of nervousness he crumpled slightly all the empty pages previously kept in his hand and thus far inserted into the printer-fax. After what seemed an eternity the message is printed entirely and sent out flying into the room, falling upside down on the floor. The machine stops, in same strange sudden way it started. An eerie silence overtakes the room, well besides the wildly beating heart of Author2 that’s beating in his ear drums. When he forms the courage, Author2 picks up the paper and looks at it. The words on it don’t make sense in the beginning, but that because of his nervous mind. In conclusion, still mainly out of fear, he exits the janitor’s closet banging the door shut. Outside, he takes a few deep breaths and goes on reading the hand written text:

Whoever you are thank you for your input. This new idea you shared with me will definitely help us with our project. We were lacking inspiration heavily so far. All the other guys on the team are thrilled just thinking where it would take us. I guess it is true what some say that inspiration comes sometimes from the most unexpected sources. Thank you very much again. Signed S

Stunned and confused Author2 reads the text repeatedly several times. In the end he ends the paper and puts it in his pocket for safe keeping. He is pretty sure nobody else will know about this encounter. Who would believe him anyways? Partially with weakened feet he returns to his work desk. Hitting on the desk with a ballpoint pen he keeps racking his brains, trying to come up with another good game idea. He remembers the pressure Simmons was against, the race against time he is in now. By morning rise he must write at least half of the game code, to have something for the team to see. Something clicks inside the mind. Starting in incremental steps that quicken by pace he pictures a general context and form of the main character in the new game:

Cold air from the fan was blowing right in his right face side. Long light rays were illuminating the overall dark room, those that made their way through above the more than half closed shutters. Despite of the scorching summer heat outside there was an even harsher heat in the room, more specifically, the burning heat of hate coming from Lucius’s henchman pointing a gun at Author3’s temple. One could say this was the ultimate example of working under pressure, but for Author3 this was exactly the motivation he need, strangely, to at least start work on his quite possibly last novel. Almost a month ago Author3, an ex-hunter and struggling occasional writer, lost a load of money on an uncontrollable betting spree. That money was lent by Lucius on the strict condition of getting all the gains from the fixed bets Author3 was supposed to get involved in. Sadly his gambling addiction got the better of him and shook him into a pulp. Denton, Luciu’s henchman who’s currently pointing a gun, might also have had something to do with the shaking part. Following the not so tender touch of Denton, Author3’s long fighting background had also something to add in ‘’the discussion’’. If Lucius would not have agreed to use once more Author3’s services he would surely be dead by now. Denton would make sure of that in a heartbeat. The new deal was to write something akin to a propaganda editorial piece that was going to be published in several newspapers, an article that should clear Lucius’s name from a slew of recent allegations threatening him with serious jail time. Instead Author3’s has another plan altogether, well his deep psyche does unbeknownst to him. He is going to use the present pressure to write, even though partly, his last work. The chances are clear that after he would finish the said article his life would expire. Why not use this predicament to his advantage? Cogs turn in his mind and he assembles instantly an idea, more a wishful thinking, of somebody having the technological power to change his fate and to create others fates too. Suppose that use of the power would go wrong somehow. Malfunction in ways unexpected, obligating the user of said technology in resorting to drastic measures. The notion sounds good initially, pushing Author3 to tap quickly on his laptop’s keyboard. He doesn’t get very far into the story when Lucius barges in the room, visibly ticked-off.

‘’ Let’s see how our project is faring. Making progress I hope ‘’ he says while approaching Author3.

Lucius’s eyes widen and a profound expression of dismay overtakes his face. That expression rapidly turns into furious anger at his interpretation of the written text he just read.

‘’ What’s this? Are you mocking me? After all I have done for you, given you a last chance even though you did not deserve it. Even though my logic told me not to do so, and in the end you come up with this… crap. Listen closely to me pal: you are done. I have got others who can take this job. Kill him ‘’ Lucius orders a much too eager Denton. Following Denton’s shot, from across the desk he the pulls his berretta and discharges it in Autor3’s chest. Lucius and Denton leave the room upon checking that Author3 is closing fast on dying. They will clean up later. Contrary to their analysis Author3 has got more life force in him. Sufficiently enough to write at least a few pages before he finally lays to rest. His left temple’s open wound, a large profusely bleeding hole miraculously puckers up, the skin and bone creases to a mildly serious graze. One chest bullet wound transforms into a nasty bruise. Rising from his backwards slumped on his right side position, one of his hands painted dark red by a wild streak of blood, he moves similarly to stringed puppet as if pushed from behind by unseen forces. His last will to write still holding strong independently. Set in writing stance on the chair he looks strait at the bloodied laptop screen, carefully reading his previous work. With a smile on his face he deletes the text. The gut wrenching pain on his head and torso fuse to give a jolting experience, a harsh reminder to make him finish what he can in the limited time he still has. Recalling his plight so far, before using the newly drawn blank page, Author3 mentally plots a simple narrative line based on lightly similar experience, but nonetheless an easily misunderstood one. Ultimately in his life Author3 could not make himself to bare some constructive changes so he will create a character that would do. His fingers coated with partially dried blood begin to type on the laptop’s keyboard:

Echoing down the hallway, the loud chatter arrived in Author4’s ears right after he entered the building. ‘’ Good, most likely the whole team is here to give their input on the project’’ thought Author4 as he made his way to the conference room. As the lead designer on the game, he already had a grand vision in his sights. It was a massively engaging game that would blow away the competition. No one before has ever thought of the concepts he was preparing to introduce. No one before has ever introduced them fully in games. Before consulting with the team he decides to check their work on the game so far. Correcting their code lines was sort of warm up to him, keeping him on his edge besides the fact that it was his responsibility. Surprisingly little to no code was bad. It meant less practice for him and more explaining to do when talking to the team. It could also mean they could complete the game faster and with close to zero mistakes. He went into the conference room gleefully and with boisterous confidence. Despite the fact that it was a Saturday afternoon all the team was present. He was right in his assumption. Those nearer to the door greet him. He takes a plastic cup, fills it with juice and sits at the head of the table mere two feet from the whiteboard. He observes carefully the heated though friendly conversations around him. Some talk about conflicting hardware issues others about differences in art styles and the rest argue how to better market the game. Author4 draws a large title under which come small red boxes containing short explanations. He then turns to the still passionately debating team and says:

‘’ Ladies and gentlemen, dear colleagues I have great news for you’’ They all turn their attention to him. ‘’ I also have some bad news to tell. Which ones do you want to hear first?’’ They all fall silent pondering what this could mean ‘’ Tell us the bad news ‘’ says one.

‘’ Ok, we all will have more work ahead, much more than previously expected until the game is going to be finished. So now I am going to follow with the good news: I reviewed all your done work and it’s close to perfect. Good job, I congratulate you. I have full confidence in this team that we can create a wonderful game and we can manage this in a reasonable amount of time. This game will be unheard of, there never has been on quite like it in the market. I am aware this is a hefty claim to make also that you are a visibly inexperienced team with me you leader having some questionable failures in the past, but I trust we can do this feat. Those failures of mine were in fact short comings due to personal difference of the team members involved and their inability to… well more like the lack of skills to implement what was planed. You passion and talent on the other side is clearly evident to me. Now let us discuss the details’’ Author4 orients himself towards the whiteboard, taking each written box under the title for explaining the concepts and requirements involved to an increasingly befuddled team.

‘’ … also we need to implement the notion of constructive and conlucrative AI on each and every NPC in the game. In what concerns the player we need something I coined as passive interlocking assistant. Now if you remember, earlier I spoke about the size of the game world. Due to the sheer size of it server space will be needed to store most of its assets. At present we do not have the tech to give player storage space. In the future let us hope we will. Yes I am aware this requires more work on the assets, updating changing and such to keep to date with the changes made. Getting back to the interlocking assistant term… what if the player gets bored and quits the game? This game needs to breath, grow and change if necessary so that the current players and future players will not lose interest. Here comes an AI programmed on user’s experiences to interact with the game world, NPCs, in absence of the user on his behalf. This world would be liquid, breathing as I have said. Are there any questions? ‘’ Author4 stops to let a mostly speechless gasping team have her say.

‘’ Yes… regarding the servers assets part. How long will be the time periods between the said updates? ‘’ says Andreusz a senior programmer.

‘’ Bi-Monthly updates as it currently stands ‘’ comes a cold reply immediately confronted with angry rebuttal.

‘’ Even if the software guys do they work, which I am or will be forcing on them, there is no way the art department will churn monthly quality assets. You have got to be insane to think that’s even possible. Certainly not with the men power available. Are more hires to be expected in the future? More people in the team might tip the already fragile balance we established, and anyway should we just scrap all the work until now? ‘’ Quincy the lead artist explains his grievances.

‘’ There are no more hires in the foreseeable future and no more pay raises. Yes, all previous work will be erased. We need a clean slate people.’’

The conference room almost instantly erupts after those vaguely tense exchanges. The majority of the ten team members are clearly unhappy with the demands seeing them as gross exaggerations, while the rest argue for the minuscule possibility of achieving, at least, in part some of them. Overall all the team strong to doubt that making the game Author4 proposed is realizable. After trying to calm the team several times to no avail Author4 leaves the conference room. He is deeply disappointed of what has transpired. ‘’ How could they lose confidence in him, confidence in their abilities so quick? ‘’ he keeps pondering standing close to the door. His hands are shaking, tremors at the thought of his plans crumbling to pieces. This evening he was supposed to give an update to the guys upstairs, three friends who founded this software company and placed their trust in him to expand it into much larger horizons. They have already given him a large chunk of money, in return, expecting results in at most a week. Four days have passed, he finally comes with a properly unique idea and this happens. He peeks with gentle motion beyond the door, the atmosphere in the conference room is quite evident to be uncooperative towards him and his game concept, even more so than some minutes ago before exiting. With all his charming skills Author4 cannot see a way to get the team together back again and focused on his game. He decides to retreat at his office where he can find some sort of solution.

Sitting on his plush ergonomic chair Author4 feels a tight choke encroaching on his neck. Every tick of the clock stings like needles shot in his body. ‘’I have no alternate option, no real option else then to give my resignation. It’s a good thing I still have a sizable part of the money given for this project. No matter how ugly this scandal will get I have to keep my head up ‘’ Author4 draws his final conclusion on the issue. He takes a pen, but cannot find any paper sufficiently large enough to write his resignation on. Drawer upon drawer filled with anything except the thing he needs. He searches around and notices the printer-fax model, he asked for a week earlier, still with the plastic wrapper on. ‘’ They must have brought it recently. It wasn’t here Friday when I left the office ‘’ he thinks. Removing the plastic wrapper he looks at it more closely. It does have some interesting fresh features. He remembers that along with the machine he also ordered several batches of printing paper. They must be here somewhere. He sees them in the corner near the printer-fax in a cardboard box. Once paper supplied Author4 prepares to write his resignation letter, he barely manages to put down the first line when, out of nowhere, printer-fax starts on its own. The power cord was not even in the wall socket. Fascinated and spooked, he approaches to study the machine that judging by its current function does not need any of the paper already placed in the tray. Author4 removes the paper from the supply tray, hoping it would somehow make the machine stop running. On the LED display an unusual text flashes on repeat. It reads: Loading… message incoming.

‘’What message? The fax option is not even turned on. This must be some kind of weird bug ‘’ thinks Author4 while he waits near the printer-fax.

On the inner dark end of the output tray a paper edge appears. The LED text changes to: Printing. Unnerved, in a second of weakness, Author4 looks away. With frantic moves he rubs his eyes, splashes cold water on his face. Getting back his calm he checks the output tray again. A printed page sits there and strange enough its colour is yellow. The paper’s rims have visible crease traces. Author4 takes it from the tray as another yellow paper sheet is printed following the first one. With widened eyes, filled by curiosity and satisfaction he reads it: I am certain of the potential success of my game idea. A game centred on and around the troubled redeeming story of an aged ruthless renegade. He once was a court noble, but crossed too many dangerous thresholds in the course of his life that put him in the position of fighting against the very court and friends he was so supportive of. I am sure that by tomorrow morning I will have put together a working demo. This is a certified doable endeavour. Simmons failed miserably with his pompous and completely unachievable goals instead I will succeed with this simple and catchy adventure game. I am pretty sure the rest of the team will back me up. Even more the President will offer me Simmons’s position of lead designer. After all I will have saved the Company both from a financial point of view and a PR perspective. This my long awaited change to the big time.

Author4 stops reading for a moment, taken aback by the name coincidence. ‘’This cannot be but a mere name concurrence. Perhaps it could mean some sort exceptional external assistance? I have no other choice than to follow this salving intrusion and see where it leads me ‘’ Author4 thinks. He notices the printed words on the paper are done in hand written fonts. The ink is also weak looking making appear as if words formed out of thin air. On the first page, excluding the text read, there is little else aside from several scribbled notes of dates, peripheral conclusions and more personal opinions. Author4 reads the text multiple times over giving it special attention so searching for anything he might have missed. During his studying of the page, the second page was printed, waiting in the exit tray. Prior of continuing, he leaves the first page careful on the desk. Unsurprising enough the information contained on the second page consisted of hurried descriptions, details concerning the game’s main character, circumstances and secondary characters. The printer-fax is in standby mode, flashing its green LED screen with greater intensity. Now with both papers in his hands, Author4 concludes gazing at the machine: Hmm… It may be awaiting some sort of response. I must be sure of sending a proper one and surely I cannot do this just on my own. I know with whom to consult with.

Author4 dials an old familiar number on his cell phone. Cecil’s mobile rings in the conference room, his face flooded with tints of red upon seeing the caller ID.

‘’ Where are you now? Leaving like that only made things worse. We are two staff short, since some of the guys decided this whole endeavour is too much to bear, everyone else is screaming for directions and more explanations ‘’ Cecil marginally refrains from yelling into the cell phone’s speaker.

‘’ In my office, calm down, I have found a solution that might satisfy everyone for good. I just need to consult you on the details first before the team, come to meet me quick ‘’ a hurried Author4 urges Cecil.

The waiting for Cecil stretched for virtual ages until he barged through the office doors. Author4 was beside the printer-fax, holding the two pages in both hands, comparing some of the notes and suggestions found there, overall painting a feeble sketch, in his mind, of the yet to made game. He heard Cecil enter, but unfazed having his back still turned, greeted him: Glad to have you here. I was strongly banking on you not leaving yet. Out of nowhere I have got this new turn of events.

Author4 faces Cecil, giving him the two yellow pages for study, as he goes back to his desk to jot down some note of his own regarding the new game. Cecil reads them incredulously adding mumbles at brief intervals: Umm… of course… I see, but then he becomes even more incredulous when Author4 explains how he got them. The printer-fax is subjected to Cecil’s analysis too.

‘’ This is unheard of. It could have some sort of internal power source ‘’ says Cecil.

‘’ Come on, we both know this isn’t possible. Take it simply for what it is, a freak occurrence. Anyway thank God it happened I don’t want to question it further, this might save me from additional troubles. In fact I am sure it will. First: I wanted to ask you, as my apprentice on the former game project, what I should write as a thank you note. Second: this new game idea needs some sort of rough packaging for the team. I am well aware I have lost my credibility, but they will listen to you ‘’ speaks Author4 in a soft albeit pleading tone putting more accent on the latter tone in his last phrase.

‘’ Be candid, but brief. Let it or whoever has sent the message, know you are deeply grateful of the help given and say something regarding you current circumstance. Better yet include the team ‘’ advises Cecil.

Author4 writes: Whoever you are thank you for your input. This new idea you shared with me will definitely help us with our project. We were lacking inspiration heavily so far. All the other guys on the team are thrilled just thinking where it would take us.

He then stops and says: Cecil tell me, you are absolutely one hundred percent onboard on this idea, meaning this stuff is feasible at least for a demo in three days time considering the team will agree?

‘’ Pretty much yeah, you can bet on it. They will ‘’ says Cecil with closed assurance. Partly, he is still analysing the two yellow pages.

With a discreet smile on his face, his heart swelling on relief, Author4 continues the thank you note: I guess it is true what some say that inspiration comes sometimes from the most unexpected sources. Thank you very much again. Signed S

He gets up and inserts the thank you note in the printer-fax. The input tray becomes steadily empty as the messaged thank you note disappears into the printer-fax. Breaking partially from the routine, the inserted page exits empty bellow on the tray. Cecil grabs it, giving Author4 a reciprocal dumbfounded look. The machine stops in the same way it started, leaving the impression that it never worked in the first place. Cecil and Author4 wait near it for an eventual weirdness that fails to arrive. Losing a proper amount of time they both agree to switch their attention to the newly given game idea.

‘’ Right, I will hurry and explain to what’s left of the team the new game idea while you can begin to patch some sort of crude code to kickstart the demo. Just to give them enough confidence in the hype train ‘’ says quick Cecil, darting out the door.

Searching for his work tools Author4 reaches to his laptop, boots its up. The system readies itself in a flash. Author4 throws himself into the fray once more prepared to fight the beast. Competing tabs pop one following another, predominant in their black background. Blinking cursors begin to shape out forms, modules necessary in giving this game life. Correcting the usual haste made mistakes compiles a primitive intro to the game. He watches it run, engulfed in a mild satisfaction typical to that of a creator:

Rocking back and forth, the ship’s guest cabin was making Author5 slightly dizzy. Although, sea sickness had a long way to go in order to fully overtake him at this late night hour. It had to compete with more than four litres of the finest scotch besides the three full bottles of brandy already swallowed. Arguing with the captain left Author5 with no other choice to quell his anger. He would have smashed any large objects from his cabin, but once the alcohol took hold of his mind, melancholy had the most prominent foothold on his feelings. And so ending his chaotic patrol around the cabin, Author5 rested on the nailed down sturdy oak chair. An old quill was dipped in ink to write a date on a second rate paper parchment: sixth of august eighteen o’ seven. In his old age, besides always running from his would be executioners, Author5 decided to write down his biography. A confession more so than a written testimony to things he should have halted if it wasn’t for his blind creed in all the wrong ideals. Now that’s all he has left. Words on paper, filled with regret and sorrow. The last parts of his great wealth have been spent fourteen months ago. Captain’s only excuse for taking him on the cruise was Author5’s extensive experience in matters of war. Mercenary was the title he has donned. Looking in retrospective at captain’s actions summed up over the last week, Author5 has been holding the suspicion that a betrayal nears for him in the near future. The course laid out so far was fraught with unexpected turns. One Spanish patrol frigate, sighted by the lookout as it was engaged in their pursuit several times, has suspiciously lost their sight of this ship giving the crew ideas of miraculous interventions. Even more, this morning the captain insisted to set sail right into a forming great maelstrom. Therefore Author5 quarrelled angrily with him moments preceding his cabin arrest and the following drinking spree. His head hovers over the second rate parchment, the old quill in hand set on the parchment. Author5 cannot find a starting point to set a stone on, marking the beginning of his autobiography. He searches, to study once more, his oldest memories. Instead not being able to choose one more relevant that the others, he loses himself in the usual ancient regrets and sorrows he cannot heal. All the events he took part in or stood by, of which consequences still bear down on him hard. A tear forms, sliding on his cheek, accompanied by the grunting expression on his face as he thinks specifically on several experiences. The old quill’s tip has already penetrated the parchment’s layer, releasing a spreading medium sized blot of dark ink.

‘’ I cannot be trusted you say captain, thus you are forced to restrain me ‘’ Author5 murmurs between the teeth ‘’ Oh doth I was once, a trustful companion to pain and grief ‘’

He feels the crevasses of his cheek’s large scar. The unfortunate result brought on by an old duel with the king’s brother. Even more regrettable, another result of that duel was the death of his majesty’s brother. An act which brought with itself the king’s unappeasable savage ire, it demanded Author5’s death. And so the hunt for his head began. He was once a court noble, one prized in high esteem by the king. As the years of his ruling passed on, the king became crueller and bloodthirsty in his nature forcing increasingly darker decrees on his subjects. No advice for sanity given by the court’s sages was headed, including the ones from Author5. Consequently the twisted nature of the king plunged his country into vicious chaos. Warring factions struggled for control of the bloodied and tattered land. They would have to get ultimately the king’s approval. Brutal as they were, none of the factions could outmatch the king’s loyal guard combined with his secret army of assassins and mercenaries. At first, Author5 was of the firm conviction that often drastic measures were necessary to keep order on its course no matter the cost. However with time each measure was becoming more terrible to undertake. He struggled hard against the concept within his mind, as a conclusion giving birth to his rebellious hidden persona, one to fight for the protection of those weak and innocent. At a certain point in his path, a confrontation of principles had taken place between him and the king’s brother. The brother sought with stubbornness to pacify the land once more through more or less the same decisions the king took in the beginning, preceding the chaotic mess covering presently what has left of the country. The brother also demanded among others, the public trial and execution of Author5’s friends and family. He had no choice, he killed him.

So many years have passed now for Author5, always on the run. The fear of being caught chipping off his sanity bit by bit. Sadly no matter how hard he tried he could not protect those in need. The country, his country is still in chaos ruled by power hungry mad king. Author5 was unable to wash away the guilt of his complicit past actions with the king. He rose from his seat. On the parchment, filling close to a dozen pages, were written half garbled apologies, explanations concerning former dark contexts. He sips again from the scotch bottle, stumbling across the cabin. Approaching the locked door, he bangs loudly.

‘’ Hey, you yellowed belly bastards. Let me talk to the captain quick. I have got something important to say to him ‘’ he screams for the guards on the other side of the door.

Propped against the door, in wait for an answer, Author5 hears hurried steps approaching. Words are whispered to the guards and soon after they leave with the same hurry as those steps. Curses slip from the one of the guard’s mouth. Author5 waits, struggling to figure out what is happening. Alcohol rushing inside his veins spreading throughout his body, a warm numbness overtakes him as he struggles to balance his judgment of reason for solving his current situation opposing the still lingering hurtful emotional state regarding his past deeds. Time flows like uncountable sand grains in an upturned hourglass. The ship creaks and moans while swaying heavily as it sails across the turbulent sea. Escaping from his misty thought, slumped down near the door, Author5 jolts back to upstanding with the firm decision to breakdown the door. A few strong willed foot kicks combined with some shoulder thumps are enough to break the lock. As he steps on the cramped corridor of the lower deck, Author5 sees and hears no other shipmate.

‘’ Well that’s odd ‘’ he says.

Moving forward he reaches the equally deserted main deck. The sails blow savagely against the wind. He notices the ship’s wheel has been tied to steer towards a specific direction, one leading deeper within the great storm.

‘’Jacobson, Mitchell ‘’ Author5 screams for the master and the captain amongst the thundering dark skies. Naturally no reply arrives. Searching across the ship he sees neither one of the two ship’s boats that are usually placed along the starboard. He is sure now that he has been left for dead on a derelict ship. In desperation his sight scours the turbulent waters, landing on a moving and fairly distant dark brown spot. Another one is visible for a short glimpse as it falls supported by the giant wave underneath. Author5 hears faint salvo charges deafened by the roaring storm surrounding the frigate.

‘’ The Spanish frigate, it founds us. What fitting place for a battle, what a pity there is no one to take part in it ‘’ he ponders under the unsettling feeling of being abandoned.

‘’ The damned captain did this. I knew it all along he was brewing something foul. The yellow rat ‘’ Author5 concludes in sorrow. He knows that if some answers exist they must be in captain’s quarters.

He rushes to the already opened cabin, the door swinging freely. Pinned by a large cutting knife a note written for Author5 awaits on the large oak desk.

‘’… you sensed it in the heart for all the duration of this last voyage, the clear and impending threat of doom. I will not be the one standing against this menace, not when it could spread to my crew then especially me. I know who you were; what you have done. I had a little spoke with the captain of the Spanish frigate chasing us. He offered me a deal, showed me the contract out for your skin. It was pretty straightforward: the life of me and my crew plus what price is owed to me for your skin against sinking my old vessel still holding you corpse with it. Knowing well your ways you could try and break out, swim for your change to live. Don’t worry as the ragging sea will make a short work of your attempt. I could not refuse this opportunity. I leave you with the dictum: In the end all the bad things catch up with us. May God have mercy on your soul ‘’

Boiling with anger over unrestricted hate, Author5 crumples the note. Concomitantly a large noise is heard below the deck. It resembled the sound of cannon ball striking the hull. The shockwaves reverberate countering the storm squeezing of the ship between its dark cold liquid tendrils. He takes the captain’s looking glass to the main deck. There he manages to see in the distance the Spanish frigate firing towards this frigate. His old wrinkled hand squeezes tight upon the starboard’s railing. It dawns for him oh so clear: no amount of struggle would solve this predicament.

‘’It is truly over ‘’ he whispers engulfed in sadness.

Resigned to his fate, though still brewing a reeking disgust in regards to the captain’s deed, Author5 retreats to the lower deck, back to his cabin. His autobiographical work turned now to a testament from a life filled to the brim with turmoil, both inner and outer. Author5 sees the short waves of the already flooded lower deck, slapping wildly against the wooden walls. He waddles through the water to his cabin. Just as he crosses the doorstep, a throbbing pain begins to form in his neck. His chest feels pressured by an overwhelming weight. Adding to this incipient ill state is a piercing back head pain. Author5 searches, with shaking hands, the upper drawers of his writing desk for the quill reserves and another fresh ink bottle. Arranged in the chair facing the writing desk, he watches with silent desperation as water around him is slowly rising.

‘’ This ship shall be my coffin and the sea my tomb ‘’ Author5 ceremonially states to an imaginary jury ‘’ at the end, my questionable deeds bringing so much misfortune were created only by unfavorable circumstances’’ he cuts short, his eyes stretched wide gandering something far beyond that room.

His hands lay on the desk, stretched forward. The fresh quill, its tip profusely doused in ink, is in a clutched fist. To certain key portions of his mind, time slows down and transforms into some type of mixed sludge made by memories and broken wishes. Those are the colors of thoughts. Author5 feels the room shrinking around him, sucking his breath with every passing second. He mumbles over and over: unfavorable… circum…stances. A vision flashes before Author5 retina, his mind and hand react in automation. He begins to write gibberish in a frantic state all the while having a crazed smile. The words clear away eventually to discernable phrases:

Shiny blue spheres circled the space around him. The periodical clean/ infected test was in full effect. Author6 was unable to move by procedure. He could have moved if he wanted, but that would only expose him to grave injury. The plasmothic phased lasers are quite known to cut deeply at the slightest detection of movement. Short epileptic bursts were symptomatic of the wide spread disease called Thymeria. After the medical check passed indicating a clean body presence, Author6 entered the building. He was called in the early hours of November the second to be amongst the first, if not the first, beta testers of a new creative device. The Callum & Sons Corporation was proud of said device touted capabilities. The fiscal years following 2294 looked promising. Author6 met with the complementary administrator, named Susan Hatfield, in the visitors lounge located just above the thirty eight floor’s green house dome. Oddly enough an architect concluded for some reason to place the testing hall right above a recreational facility.

‘’ Good morning Mr. …, I can clearly read from you stating a crisp readiness for the task at hand’’ she says all smiles ‘’ before we move on to more advanced things, I should ask one final time: You did read the contract sent and agreed to all the terms in there, precautions included?’’

Author6 nods affirmative, hesitant seconds hold him back in releasing that pantomimed statement.

‘’ What could ever go wrong? They surely have tested this technology prior to giving access to outsiders ‘’ comes the self assurance in his mind, easing the initial careful hidden stress.

‘’ Wonderful, then we can advance further into this endeavor. Let me see your release form signature and we’ll proceed from there ‘’ Ms. Susan says holding out a rectangular holographic document scanner towards Author6.

The pale cyan virtual screen blinks red in some key functional portions, awaiting confirmation from the present co-user, Author6. He slips his right hand in one upper pocket of the modular polymer bodysuit. When his hand is retracted the palm and three fingers are covered in a hardened white glove. He holds his palm facing the virtual screen, touching it just fractionally. As he is doing this his covered fingers make a gentle gesture in simultaneity with him thinking of his signature. This is a simple personal security measure. The signature appears in the wanted sections giving Ms Hatfield a satisfied face. She accompanies Author6 along way to the testing hall, up to the entrance, explaining all that she knows concerning the installation, the creative device and the safeguarding procedures necessary to follow in case of an emergency. She is a tall curly chestnut haired woman, twenty six year old and openly spewing enthusiasm about her job. Her appended chit chat eases a little Author6’s anxiety concerning the near future use of the creative device.

Two thin metallic doors slide aside. A chill puff collides with Author6’s body suit. He stepped into a narrow corridor on which the other end opens wide to the testing hall. The cold breeze he felt was air mixed with some psycho-reactive chemicals. Their purpose was to bring the user to a calm state, a suggestive state, and induce in him or her full mental compatibility when using the device. This compatibility must be both somatic and cognitive in scope as to avoid potential biological complications, not to overcharge the machine. Author6’s nerves are overall relaxed, muscles and all. He briefly surveys the large space around him. A white geodesic dome, in the center of which is a bio morpho- plastic bed, shaped to Leonardo’s perfect human figure, stuffed with petasensors and many other ultra high function performing quantum computing electronics. He falls back on the bed that is tilted to a hundred and five degree position. His mind is just a smidge sleepy.

‘’ This bed is quite comfortable ’’ Author6 remarks while drifting to sleep.

He is completely covered with a white thin transparent veil from which inner surface small electrical discharges protrude the whole body. Author6 finds himself in a deep dark place. A soft female voice announces: Onirius 1 beta powered, OS loading, user present.

‘’ I feel so weird, amorphous in shape’’ he thinks. Author6 stretches his hands before his supposed eyes. At first he sees nothing, but then two wireframe figures appear resembling crudely drawn human hands. They move to his command, fingers twitching. He gets scared by instinct though something holds back that feeling. He comes to the realization this is a dream the machine/device is also interacting with.

‘’ Heh, a dream in a machine ‘’ he quips ’’ Wait, is the machine also dreaming or is it just me? No, it can’t have the capability. It must interact somehow with my mind through sleep. All right let’s see what this thing is capable of ’’

He looks at the dotted grey grid afore, stretching out to infinity. The soft female voice returns: Please define… manual or template mode. She repeats this request at short intervals.

Author6 thinks: Manual or template. So manual would mean a type of lucid dreaming, then template means what exactly? Maybe modeled dreams according to some already set in parameters. Interesting, let’s choose one.

‘’ Is there a time limit to either mode? ‘’ Author6 inquires.

‘’ Time is defined by user, exit command needed on termination ‘’ the voice answers.

‘’ Define exit command ‘’ Author6 inquires.

‘’ Exit command is: mode halt. This must be intoned in a baritone vocal timbre ‘’ she then adds” Manual or template? ‘’

Nurturing hesitation mixed with curiosity Author6 decides in the end: Template, run latest then another at random selection.

‘’ Creative parameter set. Searching database ‘’ the virtual female companion responds only to wait a little before continuing ‘’ warning, latest database template corrupted. Proceed with load anyway?’’

‘’ Interesting, what could have caused the corruption? ‘’ Author6 thinks.

‘’ Proceed with loading the template ‘’ he gives the command, noting to himself ‘’ I will take my chances’’. Simultaneously Author6 feels a tremor in his actual left hand not represented here.

The dotted grey grid writhes, pulsates and finally explodes in colors. Growing from each exploding nest of colors are objects. Still objects. When their shape becomes more clearly defined the colors smidge over the rest of the pre-set space, filling it with character. A smoky room in shadows cast by shutters, the tepid heat is dissipated with difficulty by a fan. Author6 is hit with a sudden jolt of blood pressure in his arteries. He sees a man sitting at a desk in struggle to write something on a laptop. Someone else is near holding a gun towards the first man. This one is angry, anxious to pull the trigger. This virtual temporal slice has some sort of ominous connotation to it. The template is indeed broken as it jumps inconsistently from one time stamp to another. From what, a now distressed, Author6 succeeds in deciphering is how someone was forced to do something, failing in dire consequences. The last part of the template is unclear as all the virtual assets phase out in a red diffused inner light and freeze in that state.

‘’ Replay time stamp 414.6835 until the end, on four loops‘’ commands Author6.

The hot shadowy room shifts again to the moment when the man at the desk already has begun typing on the laptop, having a saddened smile. Gradually things begin to make sense. A third figure enters the room asking, no demanding something from the man at the desk. Receiving a response only enrages further the third figure thus forcing fatal measure to be taken. That is what Author6 manages to understand from the gestures seen. On the last loop, the template clears for an instant. All the contained characters become reasonably intelligible. Author6 is unexpectedly overwhelmed by a sensation of desperation. He is fully aware this isn’t natural to his own current mental state. Somehow his mind got influenced on a fundamental level while watching the template.

‘’ AI, shouldn’t the psycho-reactive substances kick in by now? The dose was supposed to be accordingly calibrated. Confirm ‘’ Author6 asks struggling to keep control of the fear and desperation creeping to take hold of his mind completely.

‘’ Substances were calibrated according to the given specifications by the technical staff. Activation is to be expected valid before or shortly after powering up the device ’’ the female voice gives the answer, in hesitation. Could it be hiding something?

‘’ All right, all… right. I just need to pull this through ‘’ he says with a paced breath. ‘’AI stop the simulation’’ he orders close to the point of screaming.

‘’ Negative, command invalid ‘’

‘’ Damn, I have forgot. What was it? Uh … uh …I have got it. Machine mode halt ‘’ Author6 screams the last part.

‘’ Can’t comply. Due to the increased corruption of the template this command is nullified. Debug is needed in order to achieve compliance ‘’

Confused and irritated, Author6 calculates his options. Despite the fact he tries in numerous ways to wake himself up, at same time trying to keep at bay the toxic feelings assaulting him, he fails on each occasion.

‘’ This isn’t some kind of sleep. This is some kind of artificially induced coma. Regardless of my efforts I will never be awake until I solve this complication. The counter chemicals will most likely be released by the system after that. Bastards, they never mentioned this in their prospect nor do I believe there is something to it in the contract I have signed‘’ he thinks, meanwhile the cold AI presence keeps on making analysis on analysis.

‘’ Machine what is the source of the current template?’’ Author6 asks.

‘’ Can’t comply. Please specify in more detail ‘’ says the soft female voice.

‘’ Has this template been made by default or is it from another source?’’ Author6 expands.

‘’ Another source ‘’ the answer comes.

‘’Another source, so it must be human in origin. Interesting, my contact at the corporation assured me I was the first to go through all the pretesting phases. This is a lie assuredly. Why then it would be listed as some kind demonstrative default template?”

‘’ Machine, were there any previous users present?’’ Author6 investigates further.

Following a pause the AI replies: No previous users present.

‘’ Ok, now this is obviously a contradiction and given the past insincerity they must be hiding something. I have to look into it with more detail. The user who created this template must have done something wrong. Maybe there are clues hidden within the template ‘’ thinks Author6.

His amorphous presence hovers to all sides of the shadowy room, dragging with it his emotional state that is on a constant tug of war to maintain control. He knows somehow, a trigger to the corrupted data is located in one of the template’s artifacts, but in which one? He studies closely each artifact in part. First: the angry guard having an itchy trigger finger. He doesn’t contain the source of the corruption, it is just another code. Then, the third figure, the betrayed angry boss. Author6 gets the same result. Both contain corrupted code although not being the originators of it. Finally he analyses the man writing at the laptop, whose fate is sealed swiftly by the guard’s and bosses bullets. He is dead, reclining back the chair a little slanted to his right. His eyed are wide gaped. As Author6 approaches the man’s bloodied face, he hears a curling scream as a teary contorted face flashes before his eyes.

‘’ Yes, I have found the source. The artifact can’t be active past this point. This must be what the source or the user has left within the code. This must be what caused the corruption of the template and somehow affected me from an emotional standing point. I don’t understand how the previous user could still be active. The system does not support more than one user at a time. No matter. It is clear to me that after running the code he made and witnessing the result, the user was unwittingly affected. He connected more than he expected to with the man at the desk, must be because of personal reasons. I have to intervene. I have to change the code. This is the only way to release the emotional pressure off me and to get out of this damned simulation ‘’ thinks Author6.

‘’ Machine, set the template’s time stamp to 679.447 ‘’ he commands

‘’ Time set ‘’

The shadowy room shifts again moments after the final shot was fired upon the man at the desk by the angry boss. The third chest shot. The boss and guard look at the man to make sure he is dead. The boss speaks something about cleaning up the mess. He and the guard then exit the room. At the very moment Author6 commands: Machine, pause template.

The simulation freezes. Author6’s view closes in on the man at the desk.

‘’ Machine, enable edit protocols ’’ he commands

‘’ Warning, enabling edit protocols is forbidden on this template. Proceed anyway? ‘’

‘’ Yes, proceed ‘’ continues Author6.

‘’ Edit is enabled ‘’ the female voice waits before announcing ‘’ I am obligated tell you this is a breach of contract. Proper corporate entities have been notified. Expecting further measures ‘’ the female voice shuts off abruptly.

‘’ Figures, I expected as much from you lying bastards. Nevertheless that will not stop me from doing what I have to do. I must get out regardless ‘’ and as he finishes his inner commentary Author6 concentrates on the bloodied man at the desk, preparing to modify some of the running parameters. In concomitance with this action the presence or parasitic remnants of the damaged creator of the template continue to assault Author6’s mind, pressuring it close to a breaking point. Manifesting as repeating hollow cries of anguish and desperation, it or rather them are tearing away his sanity bit by bit. Transparent wire mesh hands form before him in an instant. His index finger points towards the man at the desk and somewhere in the air near the man a menu becomes visible. It displays all sorts of parameters relating to the artifact and its relation to the stability of the template. Author6 disengages some options of the artifact, after which closes the menu. The template remains paused and stable, even though it twitches for two or three seconds. His index finger points again at the man while Author6’s mind directs the system to modify the artifact. The large temple bullet wound on the desk man puckers, transforming into a light graze from where a thin blood streak flows. A passing calming wave of silence runs through Author6’s mind before the toxic fight for sanity resumes.

‘’ I knew it, I must continue ‘’ he says smiling.

One chest bullet wound also disappears. Author6 feels the pressure towards the irrational easing up.

‘’ All right, let us see how well this will work. Machine, resume template then run it again from the starting point. Stop and analyze the exit results ’’ commands Author6.

‘’ You have an incoming outside call. Channel open ‘’ the soft female voice announces.

‘’ Mr. … my name is Stevens, chief engineer of the Technical Commission. A grave matter has been brought to my attention. You are in clear violation of contract terms. As such we are forced to act accordingly. Your mind is to be reset in order to keep a good functioning of the device. You have one hour left. Honestly, you have my sympathy. It’s a sad state of fact things got so far ‘’ a baritone voice talks.

‘’ Communication ended. Resuming template, loading comparator module ‘’ the soft female voice continues.

Instead of glitching at the end as usual, the template continues beyond its original final time stamp. The man at the desk rises from his recline and continues to write on the laptop. In that instant the psychological pressure against Author6’s sanity begins to weaken even more. After the complete run of the newly modified template the psychological pressure becomes negligible, fading into the background. Author6 picks on this opportunity to escape.

‘’ Machine mode halt ‘’ he yells ‘’ mode halt ‘’ alas no answer comes this time besides a muddled background hum.

Author6 sits in a frozen template, at the end of the simulation. Holding with anxious expectation Author6 is finally released from the template. The shadowy room dissipates as it formed, leaving Author6’s presence once again against the infinitely stretching grey grid.

‘’ The AI must be tangled deep into procedures, trying to fix whatever complications my template modification raised or created. Good, that’s very good. It means it will be too busy to execute any coming orders from the Technical Commission. I don’t believe they would allow me to escape the device’s hold and come back to reality, no. Then again my potential salvation might be close. If whoever made the template managed to remain completely in the simulation or at least some of his mind did by inadvertence, it means that I can do it too. Only this time it will be entirely intentional. I hope to God I will succeed in saving as much of my much of me as I can. This, a digital backup of me. I must have some kind of safeguard measure built into my copy. A password won’t suffice for sure. Most likely if not certain a loop is my answer. The AI would be forced to solve it throwing more and more resources at it. The technical staff would like to save their concoction, this device, and will bury my error, as they see it, deep within the system. In it’s the bowels I will be safe forever. I also must leave a door to eventually overtake, if that’s succeeds, some other user’s mind. It’s rough and crude I know, but it will be for my future benefit. First I must somehow activate manual mode. How do I do that? ’’ Author6 ponders.

He suspects as he knows prior, every digital or rather virtual system, as is this case, must work on a default setting by manufacturer’s original build. Normally after booting, it has to be user driven. According to the built in hierarchy, the AI was tasked as the prime user. Now, as it is busy beyond measure to fix Author6’s intrusion, he could be able to take control of the system.

‘’ This device interacts with the mind so what am I waiting for here? ‘’ he says, axons overcharge with electricity soon to be released through beaten dendrites and further more beyond the scalp. Author6 prepares to mold with force the grey grid to his desires.

A medium sized living room takes form. It is fairly lit by the morning sun. A calendar file indicates the date: eighteen of March nineteen sixty eight. Placed on a worn wooden desk a large mug filled with hot chocolate spreads perfume around the room. Sitting on a chair facing the desk and preparing to use the typewriter before her is an anxious though happy young woman. She snaps her fingers forward, but when just starting to type she stops, waiting for inspiration. The system twitches briefly, making appear as if the living room rolls and shakes like a sheet of paper. A voice announces: Warning, instability factor increasing. Do not proceed further. Author6 pauses the simulation before setting the functional parameters for the young woman. She is supposed to write about a fantastical romance then go outside for some sun basking as a self rewarding activity. Instead she chooses to torment herself with the beginning of a techno thriller. Page after page it all goes into the trash bin. Regardless how hard she struggles, no adequate phrases or words seem to satisfy her inner self critic. Likewise, regardless how hard Author6 tries to make her conform to his parameters she will not cede. So he stops it, restarting the simulation again and again. The plan for her was to incorporate most of his character into the story she was supposed to write, after which he, Author6, would somehow find a way to leave an emotional mark unto the simulation. Since this indirect approach failed, he will not have any other choice than to take the direct approach.

‘’ Curious, I wonder does this inconformity of hers means there is a system glitch or is she truly alive in some sort? ‘’ Author6 thinks before one final restart.

A distant chatter is heard by Author6. The background conversation between the AI and a technician, of which last three lines went as follows:

AI can you confirm the subject is within reach? Are his biological signals stable, if so leave a four minute buffering time before we begin the reset.

Subject is approachable, biological signals are overall stable, confirm.

Excellent, proceed with the reset.

Author6 trembled at hearing those last words. Shaken he starts the last run of the simulation, pausing when the young woman prepares to type on the blank page. His mind begins a titanic concentration to make a connection with the phone line adjacent to the living room. Endless seconds of desperation pass before the eventual breakthrough.

Author6 hears her hesitant breathing. He says: Listen, I don’t know how much time I still have so I will make this brief and on the point. I know you are real. You must be, but but… more importantly remember this: whatever you do and however spooked you might be of this, the character you are just getting ready to write about must I repeat must be a struggling programmer who finally will get his break. Please listen my life…er… existence depends on this. I am not able to give you a more detailed explanation. It is virtually impossible.

She cuts him off: is this some kind of joke?

Unfazed Author6 presses on: No, I swear absolutely no joke. Hmm ok to prove you this, I know that once you will sit back at your desk a strong wind gust will blow the window open and throw to the ground face down the portrait you have on the window sill. Exactly seven minutes after. Please I beg of you hear me out.

Acting quick in parallel, Author6 sets the parameters of the simulation in order to create what he just communicated to the young woman.

‘’ All right, let’s say I believe you. Is that all? ‘’ she says.

Author6 feels rays of hope surrounding him. It can be made. His mind has an actual chance of surviving. Encroaching closer are sub procedures preceding the mind reset.

‘’ One more thing before they or it will find me: at the right moment your mind will be given a more expansive narrative suggestion. It is imperative that you should take it. Authors often pray for good inspiration. Trust me. You will get it on command. Although that part always confused me, who after who? ‘’ Author6 manages to transmit before the line is cut. He sees her saying on her own: Hello… is there anyone there?

She puts the handset back down. Disturbed returns to type, but can’t do so one there. She looks around the place while having a pensive state. The simulation flickers again, a clear sign the AI is tinkering with it against Author6’s whishes. As it runs forward it plays with detail what Author6 predicted to the young woman. When she sees the window open, a shocked look takes over her face. Not long after she turns towards the typewriter and waits. Author6 begins to see the possible transfer patterns emerge. The four minutes given for the buffering are near gone. Conjuring his remaining mental strength he searches his most inner depths of conscience, locating pivotal memories and sentiments of his life. A stream arises in the system. Author6 lets himself be engulfed then carried away along it. At the same time the young woman is overtaken in an instant by an external mellowness determining her to type uncontrollably. The paradox is now formed. The simulation stops shortly after and acknowledging the defect contained, the AI quarantines it. Bit by bit Author6’s mind cracks and tears with each patch disappearing into digital oblivion. This process continues for a certain amount of time until it is completed. At the end the device deactivates releasing from its grasp an indifferent Author6. Two technicians, dressed in white, already expecting in the testing hall grab his arms and carry him away to the cryogenic storage level. His eyes are cold showing a profound blank stare.

 


Layered Layers

  • Author: Nikolas Mouvia
  • Published: 2016-12-02 15:35:13
  • Words: 12091
Layered Layers Layered Layers