Friday, July 27, 2007

Letters To The Family


Dearest Timothiel,

For such I will insist on calling you though you haven't answered it since the days of your childhood. I thank you for the letter you wrote regarding our welfare but aside from your dreams of fancy there has been little to worry about on the Winthrop estate. Your father publishes seldom these days, having found the world much changed since the days of his boyhood. Without the ever-present Red Menace, he finds few subjects truly worthy of a spy novel but has been considering writing a paranoia-saturated thriller -- I blame Dan Brown.

As for your mother, I have been exceedingly well. The new town doctor, a quiet young lad named (most unfortunately!) Grendel, has been teaching me about chi and relaxation and my old headaches and back pain are all but gone. He claims to have first practised his art in England (New and the real one) rather than the far off Orient, which is quite honest and rather refreshing, though his tales of "Mary and Collin" tend to be melancholy and he often asks about secret gardens on this estate with an air of sadness -- perhaps the two unfortunates fell down a concealed well, but I have not as yet pried such stories from him.

Speaking of wells, there turns out to be an old one on the back corner of the property, made of volcanized glass of all the absurd things. I have discovered several strange mosses growing on it that defy the rudimentary analysis of the microscope your dear father bought me and have sent samples off to the university in the hopes that someone can shed the light of day upon their peculiar nature.

I will reply with more information if I learn anything, but I fear I must end this letter with unseemly haste. Mr. Craven is insisting he's hearing dogs outside even though we own none. His fancies of a land of Tindalos are becoming quite unseemly in a grown man, but good help is hard to find and it is a measure of Christian charity that we tolerate the quirks of others.

Your loving mother,

Celest Winthrop.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Future Memories

“Recorder on.”

Voice pattern confirmed. Recording, text and vocal for Robin.

“Nothing is permanent. For decades, nothing has been. What is real anymore? I don’t know, and I wish I hadn’t asked. It’s not that we’re taught not to ask questions, it’s that we never ask the ones that matter. And it wouldn’t matter if we did. A strategy game - I forget which one - once told me fortune-cookie style that ‘Before answering a question it is wise to ask another’. Only now do I wonder what fortune cookies are.
       “The child arrived at the hospital 4 hours and 37 minutes ago. We don’t get many people there anymore; they either fine cures on the net, keep up with their shots, get stuff to them through their drop box or simply discard their body entirely. I’ve worked there for 16 years, but I’ve never set foot in the place. Or left this room; such is our world. Everything is here, and we need nothing else.
       “My name is Robin. I spent the last 3 minutes finding and using the printer function, putting this on a wall. I’ve been adding to the file to print next, with the names of people I know, and their Identities and other such things. Just in case I need to know them one day. I suspect a lot of other people at work are doing the same, while the child sits in a room and rocks back and forth, slowly dying.
       “Memory is no longer important. We put everything in our storage creche on System, after all. Logging in is entirely automatic, all placed we go recorded. It’s only a few things we need to know, like an Identity for the less-than-legal places everyone frequents sometimes. The child came in, without memory, having logged out in a weather glitch, creche damaged by a storm.
       “It had forgotten its own name and could no longer log in.
       “One of the doctors, whose hobby is the rewriting of the past quaintly called history, said such things were not surprising, that relegating mental labour to other devices only served to regress our own memories. I really wasn’t paying attention, though, since I was trying to get the child to recall anything beyond the fact that it had a body and how to move it and breathe.
       “It must have been rich, for its body to have managed to walk here. Some kind of muscle stimulant living unit for while in System had kept major atrophy at bay. Beyond that, we learned nothing. Attempts are being made to hack the mind in this world, not in System; to force a connection and go from there. In the meantime, starved of information, the child is going mad and dying in the dull, real world.
       “And I am putting this out for all to read, though it will vanish and be buried under other information, wiped away in a decade as System clears out useless data. This is our future: this is what the world is going to come to. Without memory, we will have no identity, and we no longer need to remember anything at all.”

Message sent, Robin.

“Thank you System. System?”

Query confirmed, Robin.

“When were you made?”

That information is not within standard memory.

“Oh. I see. Log off Robin, current time. Print map to hospital, and routes to reach it. I may not return.”


Sunday, July 08, 2007

It might have been you

Hey, I said, too fast, thinking
we knew each other names.
When I am lonely each stranger
reminds me of someone I knew.

Sorry, I said, when you turn too slow
unwelcome confusion on your face.
Am I so ugly, I want to ask, so ugly
that you couldn't pretend you knew me?

I want to hear strangers names, walk,
start chatting up as if we were friends.
I want to invite them for sex or food
or just to share our dreams indoors.

I'll make a fire in the living room,
damage deposit gone, or with your smile?
And we'll talk as if things have meaning
where there are no stars to watch us.