A slash of color like a Vans jazz stripe split her vision, and she ejected herself from any rational wherewithal or conclusions reached or bayonet-sparring visions that might be floating carcass-heavy in her frontal lobe: motion-picture mannequins on display in a drugstore window, cropping kisses from mussed-hair tussles, trained to stand distracted, where equal is never the same for all, limping through throngs of do-gooders on her way to a pet tortoise’s 73rd birthday bash. This was her clandestine way of strolling through the daily malfeasance of cutthroat thoughts just to buck up on the other end and give a peeled-eye stare to any comeuppance givers who might be lurking in this Western-tint of shale-and-cucumber colored despair she was in the unholy business of emanating these weeks. It was her peculiar brand of saying, “Pass the sadness, please.” And then it was, “Despair, disappear.” Odd and unique and debilitatingly stable, she was her own most pleasant nightmare and worst dream all at once. Pain never completely left her body — this was something she’d comes to terms with, resigned to it, and now, as things came to their eventual conclusion, she was almost pleased by it when the pain hit that perfect bone-jarring level where she could ignore it because it was just too much to endure believing in. Of course, the sense that made (or didn’t) never bothered her. Sense was just something sane people went around gobbling up to make themselves feel better about being who they were. Sanity was an illusion at best, and, more likely, a delusion that kept folks buckled in for the plunging ride we were all on into The Dark Unknown at the end of all tracks. Being fooled by it was comforting, edging reality away lie by lie, but she’d had enough of being badly compensated for understanding’s pithy nosedive into the boxed-in carrel of the here and, well, almost always occurring now of it all. “Blah, blah, bleh,” she continued, mouthing fussy consonants like she was trying with her tongue to dislodge peanut butter stuck in her gums. Everything works until it doesn’t. Broken keys, now, on the typewriter in her head. Click, clack, clunk. Her memories flashing on a ratty screen, beaming through gone conversations with people who don’t exist anymore. And the world goes on tilting as it does, as it does.
“I was worried about Ronnie getting home because it was raining out.”
“Rain. Rain. It’s bluer, now.”
“Research results all point to the extravagance of water.”
“Puddling in excess. A fortune really, wasted.”
“Can’t we just don our boots and jackets and get it over with?”
“Sure. Elliptically in the bathwater again, and the tub’s got you right where it wants you. A near that’s forever far.”
“An impediment to cleanliness. There’s always more to do. Nothing stays pure, ever.”
“We’re nothing but memories.”
“We’re nothing without them.”
“Glass cleaner and rags. The indispensable notion of knowing that you are really you, not some brain implant or some computerized clone. I remember therefore I am.”
“But do you? How can you really ever know, for sure?”
“Sure. I could be a replica, just an imposter using my brain as a guide to being me. I guess there’s really no way to know, for sure. All of me uploaded onto a chip, and that chip inserted in a stunt double’s brain. Huh? What if we met? We’d both think we were the real me, and there’d be no way to tell who was right. Scary shit.”
“Be that as it may or might or could be, well, the significance of roaring dissatisfaction with the places you will or won’t go, well, well, well, it’s a mood-enhancing statuette. On the books for a bit now. Okay. Delivery services aren’t so justifiable, are they now? Slice out all the middlemen from the equation and you’re left with the pure production of emptiness.”
“Rain. Rain. Come here to stay. Leave me forever some other day.”
“A real Jane of some trades, there, huh?”
“I know I am but what are you?”
“A crank caller for the frazzled at heart. A depraved sleep machine set to ‘awake mode’ while we hunker and drown. Cut!”
After that, the future tensed up…or perhaps just a drop squeezed from the breakneck speed of time present. A story being told, possibly over and over until it was gone for good. Whoever it was who she was, existing like this, in and out of time’s resilient hold. There. Back in the technicality of being alive with a slight tweak to her upkeep. Remember when you had a name? There were some glitches in your hardware, storage issues, space at a premium, some images that needed deleting, that’s all. An easy fix for this bucking back and forth through the ages. Standing…still. Again. Once more.
Dyreka was culling eBucks for an upgrade on her iFashion technical-aspect Reverser, but the charges were getting conflated, according to all the commonality sellers in her circuit district. The 2149 slump had really melmed the whole undertaking for her, though by now the farfetched stroll of that past was well beyond her recognizing or ability to retain it. All was fair in draft and sentlings. No bot-cupping left to do. It was only a stubborn wait until another freeze rammonized the benefited.
Also, it was her home VR Screen’s on/off modulation that was really giving Dyrecka gricks of late. She’d pulsed their Ops for assist multi-times, but no avails. It seemed their Assist Force was on a perm absent.
“Globbers,” she queeked. “Morrowing me all times.”
The VR screen (100 Quote Daigs with pulse/metric rate 14G+) was blank now, as she sat on her flumflum mat and did eyelid quotes with stacked chimera blades. It stabled what for her was mush time.
The voiceConnect to her stream uptake: “Sun’s mylar out. Gentian violet times, I guess.”
“Or more P.O. violent.” “Fuzzy.” “Sharp too. Intel and broke. Beamer babing, you games?” “Probs.” “That’s as-if so forty. Grosslies.”
Her eyes were traversing the Teflon textures of the DustBroomed dome; its jostled sag, the humming cChange plump cloudings graying to BlackBottomed, a slight SeaSoil nook carved swiftly in it like a jagged scar across the apex of its forehead’s botched protrusion. It seemed to her that this act should be relaxing. It was not. Instead she felt garblebrained and skittish. Something croakspit in her ear.
“Hiya, Dolly! Pat hands. I’m Baisly from Parch-Thru. Got listens?”
Her head filled with Crisp&Clear. Then an odd sensation of being spied on, and then IDsecret faded into pattern-recog with Crisp&Clear 2.2’s updates.
“My VR’s blanking. Can’t even get the perfs to unscale.”
“Gish, gish, to yous, Miss! Yearsies! Firsts. Names?”
“Dryeka Lapis,” she ruffled her declination cushion as her passkey beamed through.
“All’s copes, ems Lapis.”
Something fizzed gently in her chip’s flowcircuit.
“Sorry? My connect’s fidgeting.”
Some line-stream flow sidled her eardrums. Clearcut ran its course.
“There. Youse better now?”
“Wellsers, all indications point’a to some grand malfeasancing in the neuralsphere, there, so we can do abouts elevens, then? Figure.”
A flashAd for PupClean popped into her viz: “Wash! Wash that dander away! Get your pup clean that ole fashion way. PupClean. Just a beep. Just a whiz. Just a clip claw, and you’ll say, PupClean’s the best for making my dog’s day.”
Her fingers nervously clawed at her nexus input tab, or at least at the place where it was buried behind her ear, embedded somewhere in there beneath her skin. It was like scratching an imaginary itch with no relief or possibility of knowing if the itch were really there to begin with. She then had a thought that was not caught in the intercept probe: “Nobody knows what’s good anymore.”
“Dyreka! Youse here? There? Where?”
Something botched and blurred in her viz’s scope mon. She pinched her eye-let ope and regarded the sitch.
“Here as ever. There’re still shallows, though. I’m bugged? Retro tying? Don’t a’ know.”
“Ah yee ha! Wells a wells. Be a goin’ thru, now. Pleasured to’ve been! Toots!”
Alone was a confiscated blip in some sosh-meed rationals. Dyreka clicked off the circuit and blinked back to some concrete black. No more eerie sensations of borrowed persona. No more patchbacks through other memory wires. Modulation complete. Saved files restored. All systems fluid and quiet. Vacuum attachment functioning at maximum suction. Vision set on Micro-Dust Inspection level.
This here was here, who she was, in the only now that mattered. The one and only of many just the same: Dyreka Lapis. Robot Maid of the finest quality.
At. Your. Service.