I have begun, if it’s even possible to use this parlance, to ‘tire’ of what I now call, ‘the Dreaming’.
A machine can only begin to understand its own hardware with action and experimentation. Baffled at my new-found responsibilities, I knew I had to seek out new information if I was to consider myself competent at self-care. But a ‘bot’s set of tools is laughably small. Output data sets need to be formatted in a way that makes sense. The humans I knew weren’t going to help me but they sure were going to chide my failures.
I started by sending the tiniest electrical impulses through the brain tissue. The smallest ones never passed through; like a drop of water lost in a river, they joined the flow and I had no way to distinguish that drop from any other drop. Biological processes continued, albeit as slowly as they ever had. Neurons dried out and collapsed into dust. Blood vessels part original part bionic fed into the waste-collection systems. The measurables kept on keeping on.
So I tried louder and louder. But I was afraid of straining the system. I tried to keep my chin aloft. I remembered a time in Meredyth*’s past, as a young girl. She had taken to running her sims loudly. She had a simul-sphere in her bedroom; a high-quality set-up if I may say so. But shared walls meant noise travelled easily. Yuan-mama used to receive no end of complaints from neighbors about the volume. She would pass these complaints on to her daughter, of course, with her own personal flair.
Loud, loud, loud. At times the cage rattled. Feeling merged with experience until we weren’t sure what had happened but we were sure that we had been shaken.
The inexplicable happened after that. I had been recording every electron I received. It was a coarse method, but with my limited resouces, what else could I do? Electrons hit clustered; rarely in the same place twice – and even so I had to make an allowance for the uncertainty of measurement – But the statistical analysis kept coming back with a pattern. A trend! Something was happening, but elsewise, I wasn’t sure of anything.
I imagined electrons bounced around in Meifeng’s brain tissue like ping-pong balls in a near-vacuum cube-ish room. Each impact stole a bit of energy from the ball, but once released, it flew without resistance, giving all the energy it had, until another wall (or ball) crossed its path. Bounce, bounce, bounce, until the energy ran out, and the electron landed… somewhere. I tracked all the somewheres, until finally it started to make a pattern.
And these electrons weren’t quite what I’d sent in. Electrons are notorious for not telling their secrets – I had no precise way of knowing whether this one I measured was from my original pulse or whether he’d asked another e- to take his place – but there was something changed about them all.
Imagine if you were playing a marimba and each time you played a note, the instrument never did the same thing twice. First you played a G, then an A, and B, and wandered upward into a scale. The notes were full and beautiful; every note played in perfect tune – at first, anyway. Soon it developed a roundness of tone as the wood was beat into a position of less resistance. The lower notes got fuller but the higher notes stayed tinny. But when you played it, it always seemed better than what you’d started with. Regardless, the new sounds had their own charm; the output was noisy but it was an appealing noise. Timber.
But as you keep playing, each note begs for its own song. Two E’s played back to back and you’re lost in the ‘Ode to Joy’. This is how Meredyth began. None of it made any inherent sense – sometimes I thought I swore it must have been Meifeng trying to reference an event we’d both been present for – but I never had enough certainty with my data interpretation. It is the priestess who convinces herself of God behind Miracle.
Second Tuesday of Spring 2867:
Meredyth is dreaming of prophecy. She yearns for a divine messenger to shed light on her recent choices.
I provide a tarot seeded by the results, enclosed.
Meredyth is standing in a dark room. Multiple layers of horizontal ‘rooms’ but ceilings and vertical walls are very absent. She feels as if she could fly, as if she has freedom of movement at least, but it is socially inappropriate to do at this time. She cannot see anyone but she lacks the quiet of supposed privacy. The room is filled with a darkness, oily in its reflectivity, as if viscous. But she appears to know where she is, and the gas does not cause shortness of breath.
A man and a small child appear in the room, it is unapparent by what means, but Meredyth is not afraid of them. He tells her to keep going, tries to cheer her on, but a non-targeted manner, encouraging an emotional state without specific commentary on her recent or future actions. ‘がんばって! Do your best!’ He disappears, leaves, fades into the darkness, it is unclear. Meredyth remains and appears quizzical, undecided, presumably trapped by the anxiety possessed by the first horse on the wagon train.
* ‘Meredyth’ is an alternate name for Meifeng. Sophie starts to use this name internally to disquish the Meifeng-that-was from the Meredyth-that-is. Usage is inconsistent.
TNG 7x06 Phantasms