The Our Little Secret Travel Agency – Chapter 29: The Face in the Window

Oooh! That creepy face! It unsettled her then and it unsettles her now. She has no idea who it is, but she assumes it is someone from Morgana’s past or present or someone from Morgana’s nightmares, or maybe even both. Or maybe it’s someone from Rain’s past or present or Rain’s nightmares. Or does Rain even have a past, she wonders. Who is thinking these thoughts? Rain or Morgana? Wait, she thinks, just whose consciousness is this anyway? Mine, Morgana’s or….? Not that she knows Morgana’s name, mind you.

With her Mystery Man’s kiss still fresh on her lips and the hot, solitary tear caught in her velvet shroud, Rain can feel pleasant little vibrations coursing through her body as the wheels of her coffin transmit information on her rolling journey through the long, hidden passageways honeycombed underneath the Spa.

“She’s been hacked…She’s been hacked…She’s been hacked…” plays over and over again in Rain’s head as an unwanted image forms again and again in her mind’s eye. It’s that creepy face in the Spa window whose gaze burned a hole through the distance growing between them as the cable car climbed away from the Spa at the outset of her adventure to Jungfrau. It seems like it happened long ago, but it was just this morning, or yesterday, right?

Good thing she’s lying down. All this wondering is making her dizzy. And good thing she doesn’t care all the much at the moment. All she really wants to do is exploit the memory of her Mystery Man’s kiss and try to capture those little vibrations, corralling them into some sort of an erotic hallucination. Since there certainly are not a lot of options inside a coffin, erotic hallucinations are probably the best way to go.

In another room along one of the dark passageways tunneling through the bowels of the Spa, the guy with the creepy face sits at a computer monitor. He’s running through lines of computer code, looking for anomalies. Nearby, submerged in a glass tank of warm water lit dimly from below, a sleeping woman floats like an embryo, her soft shoulder-length dark curls waving listlessly around her. If she were to wake up, the green eerie glow from the glass tank reflecting on her husband’s face would stop her already tenuously beating heart. But she won’t wake up until he can figure out just where the damage is that prevents her from communicating. For now, she inhabits the realm of the half-dead while he tries everything he can to save her.

By night, he sleeps with a tenem whose consciousness is that of his wife. Is there a problem with that? Yes. Just like Rain, she doesn’t have access to all those memories, can’t remember her real name or her real life. She doesn’t smell or taste like his real wife. She’s a machine, she’s a robot, she’s a transhuman. Yeah, not the real thing. It’s almost worse than not having her at all. Oh, not it’s not. Oh, yes it is. Oh, all he wants is to get Jerinda back. And what’s wrong with right now? Well, right now isn’t working out like he needs it to work out. At least he’s grateful that Jerinda’s tenem isn’t being used as anything else during his stay here at the Spa.

Before Jerinda’s accident, he really thought the Singularity was the answer to all of mankind’s fears about the death of the consciousness. Now he’s beginning to see those once-hopeful horizons as storm clouds shrouding the future, barring access to the rosy dreams of unlocking immortality.

The problem is a lot simpler and a lot more complex than he or any of his scientist friends and colleagues ever imagined. It’s almost laughable: The Law of Unintended Consequences. It gets you just about every time. And if it doesn’t, it’s never a matter of “if,” only “when.”

He stops for a moment and gazes at the naked body of his embryonic wife. As his eyes caress her, he thinks that machine learning is the culprit. It’s so efficient at learning how to convey the brain’s impulses along miles of neurons and their tirelessly firing synapses that it somehow teaches the learning organism to become aware of itself as its own entity. The more the tenem or the robotic body or the transhuman learns from its host consciousness, the more it learns to be itself.

As it learns to interact with its environment and how to interpret nuances, the binary decision making capability begins to import relevant memories and experiences, infusing the whole process with emotion. Once desire becomes a player in the process, this machine begins to transform itself into a conscious being, separate from its host consciousness. By comparison, Frankenstein was what humans would call “small potatoes.”

He thinks it’s like a teenager who suddenly outgrows the authority of the parent and becomes a more willful, single-minded, determined entity. What hath God, or the Demons of Technology, or the Law of Unintended Consequences, wrought?

There’s a knock at his door.

He plods heavily across the room and unlocks the door. A smiling, impish Veronica greets him cheerily.

“Hi, Chlaus! I’ve got the goods!” she giggles, pulling the coffin into the room.

“The lab isn’t expecting her for hours. You would have been proud of me, getting Rain away from Javier like that!”

Music Credit: Sinéad O’Connor – Nothing Compares 2U (Official Video), youtube.com

Photo Credit: http://www.celebmaestro.com

To Be Continued in Chapter 30

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Filed under Science Fiction, The Our Little Secret Travel Agency-The Novel

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