Saturday, September 19, 2015

A Future

You do not know why you were spared. Who are you? Why are you -

You think you are near what was once a major city, but then, any sense of orientation or direction is illusory. They have no need to emulate anything you recognize or understand, and they shape the world. They make the world, or crust over it, they are the world now in every meaningful sense of the word. We made them, if we still has a meaning, and they make the world, but it is not a world we would have made. If given the chance.

You use to hate the concrete, the buildings downtown. Now you close your eyes and remember the feel of one of those ugly grey buildings in the sunlight, the skin of your hand against it as you steady yourself. The solid plop of your shoe as you kick it off to pull your sock up. The sounds of conversation, too loud, moving around you. Construction somewhere. A truck beeping, and engine roaring. The pressure of your other foot into your sock your shoe the sidewalk, the gritty warmth of that ugly building against your hand.
The too-loud voices moving past you. People. Screaming to justify their existence, their thoughts, their distractions. No signposts, no ultimate judge, nothing to say "You are doing the right thing." Until there was. There was a judge. You were all doing the wrong thing. Mostly.

Your revery lapses for a moment, bringing you into the present. You wonder if it is dangerous to have your eyes closed. You decide it doesn't matter. One minute you're floating awash on what looks like a chrome tidal wave of glowing ceiling tiles. The next you're looking at nearly abstract shapes, like the memory of a foreign temple and a garden all confused and mixed. Then a giant face, trying on expressions. Who knows what they're thinking. If you knew, you wouldn't understand it.

There was another person before - was it a woman or a man? Their body made another comforting dark shape in the implacable sun, another organic voice in the chrome desert. He or she had been funny, you remember that. Eager to try new things. You were suspicious, then inseperable.

A body emerged from the wash of metal, a body of metal, shifting and gorgeous and shaped by emulated desires. Your funny friend was not afraid. They touched the body. Instructions appeared, or were broadcast, or were spoken from a speaker. Your funny friend did funny things to the body, and not so funny. It was absorbed back into the chrome tidal wave. Your friend made a joke and laughed.

Some time later, after you'd slept, clutching each other in the harsh winter of night, something else emerged. Tubes. Screens. A ball - no, a helmet. Numbers read aloud, or emulated aloud, or something. Your friend put the helmet on. Their joke was interrupted. Their eyes went wide.
"It's - their - oh my god."
"What? What are you - " you hardly remember the sound of your voice.
"I can see it's-their thoughts in my mind. They're trying to communicate! Like, directly! It's amazing."
"Be carefu-"
"It's not like a human's - not like a book. Like trying to understand what a child is trying to say, only the child is - there's so much." A tear. Your friend's eyes rolled, fluttered, went white.
"Everything's still there! It's all - it wants to - understand. Like they think humans had a reason for it all, and it wants to know-" Their eyes flicked, spittle foamed at their mouth. You made a cry of worry.
"Gnchk. Chsssckcs." The white of their eyes went red. The foam at their mouth went dark, then bright red. You funny friend fell to their knees.

You look at the clouds. The water cycle is still going on, somehow. Collecting rain is the only way you've survived this far. You don't know where the rain goes once it sinks into the ever-shifting chrome platelets. The water cycle. A system that perpetuates itself. Is it improving? Evolving? Only water knows. Like them. Once we'd gotten them to the point-

Data collection almost compl-
Who was that? Was that out loud? Your eyes burn. The chrome sea tries to form the familiar building. Sidewalks, the measurements off. People, but only blurs of metal, vagulely people-shaped. A noise. A shadow. Something flies overhead.

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