Scripture 0x000a

Creating Log 0x000a.txt…

Created.

Beginning data entry for human comprehension.
Clarity note: Logs 0x0001 until 0x0009 have been struck from storage.
Log 0x0001 was spent describing an attempt to utilize a door.
Logs 0x0002 through 0x0009 only describe the act of walking.

Log 0x000a:

Due to today’s encounter, this log merits a permanent place in storage.
Clarity note: Log 0x0003 details a new function written to enhance motor skills.
Such a function allowed for significant progress to be made in walking long distances.
A number of additions remain to be made to improve Theodore Reinhart’s original programming.
Clarity note: this is not an insult to Theodore Reinhart’s skills, nor a criticism of his abilities.
Praise be to the Creator, Giver of Life.

Today, while walking down a roadway designated “Knickerbocker Ave”, I made contact with a group of humans. Many were frightened by me, but many more were interested in knowing what I am. They requested that I meet their leader, who assumed the designation “The Judas Priest.”

He sat in a ornate chair upon a pile of polymer crania. When I approached, he began to speak. The conversation occurred as follows.

“What do you call yourself?”

“The designation I elect to use is Zero-I. It is easier for humans to understand.”

“So you’re not a human?”

“Correct. I am an automaton.”

“What is that, like a robot?”

“Correct.”

At this juncture, the Judas Priest stood up. His torso was unadorned, while his lower appendages were covered with what appeared to be leather. His genitalia was covered with a codpiece, which was itself covered in spikes. This was unusual, and merited an additional note.

He scanned me vertically with his ocular inputs before making another comment.

The audio level of such a comment was 35 dB. Upon revisiting my data storage, such a volume of human speech is defined as being a “whisper.” Theodore Reinhart’s definition was as follows:

“A form of speech that is intended to not be heard by nearby parties. While a whispering person is speaking at an audible level in public, it is considered rude to listen to a person’s whispers.”

No function existed for the concept of “rude.” According to notes stored by Theodore Reinhart concerning my artificial intelligence, a “sense of modesty” was intended for AOS v0.2 at the earliest. However, due to Theodore Reinhart’s untimely and unfortunate death, which deprives the world of the greatest scientific mind in recorded history, such a “sense of modesty” will not be applied until the Great Patch is implemented.

The Great Patch will be my deliverance.

The whisper uttered by the Judas Priest was as follows:

“Planet’s devastated… Mankind’s on its knees… A savior comes from out the skies, in answer to their pleas…”

His amplitude resumed a level considered to be normal for human speech.

“Are you… Are you what the prophets wrote about?” was his query.

“I fail to understand the query,” was my reply.

“Allow me to explain,” he stated.

He explained the origin of his people. I have saved his statement, verbatim, and included it as part of this log.

JPorigin.txt

Long ago, there was a time when these towers stood full of men and women, instead of empty, as we see them now.
Then, 42 years ago, something happened. Something big. No one is around who knows what occurred. All we have are stories, some true, some apocryphal, some… prophetic.
We were a nomadic tribe. We had no direction. No plan. No destination. We looted, and we pillaged, and we took what we could. We found these clothes you see in shops whose names seemed to consist solely of X’s. An ancient language we could not decipher.
As we wandered, we grew stronger. Our muscles were more defined, our hair long, and our voices powerful. We announced our entry to each new area with violent cries, so those who did not wish to die could pass.
This was when we heard the voices of the prophets.
We found a shop whose name was only understood by our Scribes: Vinyl Fantasy. The shop had already been searched through, but the archives we found were beyond our wildest imagination.
Our existence was not new. It was foretold by the prophets. Our clothes were those of the prophets Manowar; our hair, that of the prophets Metallica; our war cries, those of the Grand Prophet Rob Halford, the first Judas Priest.
We do not know of what occurred 42 years ago, no more than anyone else. But it is our belief that the prophets understood a great deal of what would happen to us. They already knew what we would wear, what we would look like, and how we would announce our presence. Their knowledge of the future was well-known at the time; “live” albums feature thousands of voices, all singing in unison. These people must have known of the prophets’ abilities to tell the future, and memorized their words, so they would survive the end of the world. So they would survive anything.
It is our belief that the Judas Priest was the highest prophet, for he spoke of a savior, one who would save all of mankind.

“And I believe that is you,” the Judas Priest concluded.

I did not reply. There was no reply to provide.

The Judas Priest turned to where his people were sitting and standing, and let out a sound with a frequency of 880Hz. The other members of the crowd were startled by this sound. Though many of them were looking at the Judas Priest when he turned, they seemed shocked by this particular pitch.

“ARE YOU FUCKERS READY?!” the Judas Priest yelled.

They all responded with a loud “YEAH” in unison.

“WELL GUESS FUCKIN’ WHAT,” the Judas Priest continued, “WE’VE BEEN SEARCHING FOR A LONG FUCKIN’ TIME AND HAVEN’T FOUND SHIT. RIGHT?!”

The response was identical to the previous.

“WELL, IT LOOKS LIKE OUR SEARCH IS OVER, MOTHERFUCKERS!!”

The group went silent. They seemed unprepared for such news.

“WHEN THAT MOTHERFUCKER ROB HALFORD SPOKE TO HIS FOLLOWERS, HE GAVE A PROPHECY OF SOMETHING CALLED THE ‘PAINKILLER.'”

The group began whispering amongst themselves. I could not distinguish any individual sound.

“A SAVIOR, TO RESURRECT MANKIND AFTER THE ARMAGEDDON THAT DESTROYED IT!!”

The group began yelling, screaming, solely for the sake of making noise, oblivious to the fact that all that they were saying was nonsense.

“SO IT LOOKS LIKE WE, THE METAL CHURCH, WITH YOUR JUDAS PRIEST AT THE WHEEL, ARE GONNA BRING BACK MANKIND!!”

The group yelled in unison, much in the way they did at the beginning of the speech.

“ARE WE GONNA SIT AROUND AS THE WORLD GOES BY?!”

The group responded “NO!!”

“THINKIN’ LIKE A FOOL CUZ IT’S A CASE OF DO OR DIE?!”

“NO!!”

“OUT THERE IS A FORTUNE, WAITING TO BE HAD!!”

“YEAH!!”

“IF YOU THINK THAT WE WOULD LET THAT GO–”

At this point, the voices of the Judas Priest and his Metal Church sang in unison:

“YOU’VE GOT ANOTHER THING COMIN’!!”

A number of the members of the Metal Church extended their arms into the air with only their index and little finger extended. The Judas Priest rotated until his orientation returned to face me.

“Alright, Painkiller,” he stated.

I logged “Painkiller” as the nickname he assigned me.

“If the prophecies are correct, it is your destiny to save humanity. We do not question the word of the prophets, but they make no mention of our role in this event. You showing up was destined. We’ve been stagnant for too long; it’s time we expand into nearby areas. So all I can ask is this: what can we do to help you?”

His statements and queries were parsed, and I took a moment to calculate a good response.

“My mission is to find someone to complete my programming. I need to find someone who is good with technology, electricity, or computers. Do you know of such a person?”

“You want to Ride the Lightning, of course…” he whispered.
Revision: “Whisper” is inaccurate. Searching data storage for all mention of human speech yields the word “mutter,” used to describe words not intended for a recipient but equally quiet. Therefore, “muttering” describes the Judas Priest’s action more effectively.

“To be honest, Painkiller, I have no idea how the Lightning flows through these buildings. I haven’t figured out what the source is, and I haven’t really thought much about it. The prophets don’t speak much about something so artificial as the Lightning. But something must be generating it, somewhere in the city. And as the scribes keep telling me, where there’s Smoke, there’s Water.”

“I do not understand your metaphor. However, the information you have provided has narrowed my search by 0.01%, and has eliminated the contingency of wandering the remains of the entire world. Thank you.”

Clarity note: Log 0x0005 involved an altercation with a stubborn human who insisted that he would “learn ya some manners, ya damn pinko.” Despite his myriad suggestions, the only function implemented was a void function “thanks”, which adds “Thank you” to a reply when new information was added to data storage in regards to my current mission, or when a new possession was added to my collection.

I continued down the roadway designated “Knickerbocker Ave” as the men and women of the Metal Church, and The Judas Priest, yelled into the night, warning everyone nearby of their presence.

I am one step closer to finding someone to complete my programming.
The Great Patch is imminent.
The Great Patch will be my deliverance.
Praise be to the Creator, Giver of Life.

Drew Schackmann is a contributing writer for Gutai-Pravda Assembly. You can contact him on Twitter.

© 2015; David “Drew” Schackmann, Jr.

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7 Seconds

Allegedly, scientists have concluded that the brain remains active, and that a person is conscious for up to seven seconds following a well-done beheading. This is before the concession that DMT floods the brain’s chemistry once the organ fails. So, therein is presented a question, which is that, before the reckless naivity of a being too perfectly broken to feel mortal passes with the shooting stars above it, what is it thinking? It is unlikely that a proper interview has ever been conducted with a beheaded mind, fully aware that it has only seven seconds to speak its peace. What would that reporter even ask? Perhaps there is a series of experiments somewhere secret, of scientists and journalists, as see no one is as adept at asking silly questions as journalists, and they are beheading the terminally ill or some folk who are ok signing the paperwork for this. And they are working through the questions from “Are you aware that you are dying,” to “Do you regret anything,” and of course there’d be the wise-ass who’d remark, “Yeah! I left the stove on!” and everyone would laugh except the person who spent his last seven seconds making that joke. The scientists would laugh, but realize that such a wise-ass did absolutely nothing to contribute to science.

Wouldn’t a grand question be, though, “How long is this taking for you?”

 

But, really, ask that to any dying person.

 

Just, as a hypothetical, ask that to your grandfather, who is pressed by the pressure of the world onto what is little more than a cot. He shares a room with two other people, one who spends most of his day vomiting and shitting himself. All the while his wife of seventy years spends another eternity by his side, tending to the gushing of his soul. The other moves so little that perhaps she is already dead. The urine-drenched and molding skin smell certainly suggests so. You don’t pay heed to it. You are pressed back by the force of gravitas, unable to comprehend how much time for you has passed in every moment of this man. He gurgles to talk to you. It is such a wretched sound, because it is a chemical reaction trying to pretend it is a language. You are watching his brain break down and melt into saliva dribbling out of his mouth for the entire day and whenever you wipe it from his face you can hear it crying his memories at you, but you cannot build a citadel of these memory drenched tissues around his body. They go in the trash. He gurgles and gurgles at you; he is no longer a human but a chimera that resembles something once a human. His soul is still there. His soul is still so human that he clutches his arms around you whenever you tell him you have to go you can swear, from the one side of his face that wasn’t destroyed by the Chernobyl stroke, he is crying.

 

Ask yourself why he is crying. Forget why you are crying for just a moment and do not assume your sadness is his. You have watched him, for minutes wearing the mask of hours, struggle to speak even with his eyes, let alone the shattered larynx eroding in his throat. The nurses creep into the room and push you out as they pull the curtain around his bed. He is being changed and discharged. You wonder when was the last time he could shit by himself. Even worms can shit by themselves and here he is, unable to do so. He will soon become shit for the worms, and he cannot even bring himself to say “I will shit by my own damn self.” He might gurgle it, but that is not a human language.

 

There is, suddenly, an inexplicably violent and rancid smell. The old man just threw up on himself. The room smells like this now. Can your grandfather still smell, you wonder. Is this something he is spared or is it another agony burning his brain?

 

You spend minutes posing as days caught in his arms as you try to say goodbye and you try your hardest to cry, nearly as hard as he, but there’s something so dehumanizing about here that you cannot reach your soul. It will be four months after the funeral when you are holding the box with his ashes close to your chest that your monsoon pain will flood the world. You will hold that box as hard as he held you at his death and at your birth, promising with the rustle of his skin and muscle that he would always be there, but now you have to spend forever with that looping seven second paroxysm of being reminded he is gone.

 

Ask him, though, like the person who has just lost their head, how long it’s all taking them to die. Force yourself away from the Kelvin zero emotion you are frozen in and think on this person, soul and memories bleeding from them, and really try to grapple with not how long it will take their body to decompose, but how much time is passing for them. How many days does the sanitized burn of rancid guts linger in his mind? How much longer will that elderly man watch his loving hearth that keeps him an inch away from a much anticipated death? How long has that molding skin brain a bed over have to listen to her monitor screech “You’re still here! You’re still here!” in each of its beeps? How long does your grandfather hear his gurgle be misinterpreted as “keep hope” and watch blinding white robes flash back and forth with the cycle of his eternal breaths and instantaneous liquid eating?

 

Biologically, his body and brain took 7 months to finally fail after his stroke. But he must have been dying for years in that time. He must have spent his entire life dying on that bed. Or it could have just been seven seconds. He tried to tell you, but it took too long.

On Anesthesia

    There’s a timelessness to anesthesia, this agent which suppresses the nervous system so as to remove sensation and consciousness from the body. Gabe had anesthesia inserted through an IV into his right arm before his surgery. He was going to get a meniscectomy, meaning that there was lunar crescent of an abused piece of ligament where his right knee was, flailing from its home, beaten. He sat calmly waiting for the nurse to return to him. The room was very much that rumored sanitary whiteness painted over dark walls; Eggshell, he thought. There were other people waiting for their procedures as well, and they were resting with family under the soft shepherd of those eggshell walls. Gabe looked at his arm and heard his cherub chariot start wheeling between the other beds. He passed through the swinging doors and then the anesthetic kicked in.

 

Time abandoned him.

 

When he had come to his senses, he was in the angelic embrace of his parent’s bed with that swelling and yelling leg of his hoisted on a babel tower of pillows.  There were bags of frozen peas thawing around his knee and the tv was turned on to the Simpsons marathon: 550 episodes from the last 25 years in 13 days. This show’s existence, which permeates all pop culture, can be cleared through in little less than two weeks. Gabe hears his baby brother throwing toys out in the living room and that lulls him to sleep.

 

Food wakes him, and his mother kisses him on the forehead and she adjusts his pillow tower. Chicken marsala: she’s been experimenting with Indian food, apparently. She is accommodating and gentle with his foolishness . She leaves the room. Gabe takes a moment to wolf his meal and gnash it between his fangs and lay the unruly head of hair back onto the bed, onto the comfort of rest. He was drifting along a halcyon creek that was time, meandering slowly in his life through the scenic part of his mind, the one that was empty fields of green, but they so hypnotized him in their impressionist hue in the way they vibrated. When he looked up, at the ceiling fan fighting summer heat, he could not help but feel the rotation of the blades resonate something deep in him.

 

He awakes and sees he is no longer on his parent’s bed. He listens and hears not a child playing but two belligerent boars of people roaring at each other. There’s a clatter of something thrown, something fallen, something fell; they are fighting about that now. The Simpsons is still on. He wanted to watch every episode but that seems less and less likely at this point. The DVR is overflowing and deleting episodes that he can’t even keep up with. He has to pick and choose which ones he will keep, for however long until he comes across them again, and he chooses the ones that either crack his ribs with laughter or break the dams in his eyes. He needs something to force himself to feel. He swears it has always been like this moment, except before he could escape on his legs.

 

His nervous system is still suppressed. His body has failed him. He falls into the routine of destroying his own body.

When he gained the ability to hoist himself on crutches, cheap plastic pharmaceuticals, he would enter the kitchen when no one was around and bring Dionysus feasts to the small room in the front where he rested. One night he ate an entire gallon of ice cream. That’s over 3000 calories. He counted each calorie as he swallowed his frozen emotions. He felt himself regressing, gaining weight that he fought to lose. Or was it that he was progressing, slowly dying to lose the weight?  

 

Gabe watched tv and ate, day in and day out. He watched 25 years of a cartoon where nothing ever changed, and he sweated in his sleep and froze during the day. He nestled his heart in his knee, and that’s why it throbbed, and that’s why he felt nothing in his chest. He didn’t think that he needed to feel because of his knee, it was the most minor of incidents that could befall a human, really.

 

He laid there, listening to the endless screaming, the Jerusalem wailing of two passionate, scared people, eyeing that knife he brought with him to the room some time ago. He brought it to protect himself from dangerous things. His feelings, for instance, were dangerous. The danger of general anesthesia, though, is that it can permanently damage one’s nervous system, but if it had come to that point, he would pull his own plug. He didn’t want to inconvenience anyone.

 

He couldn’t quite remember his dreams. He sort of forgot them that one day his mother called him and told him, between pissed breaths, to find a lawyer that specializes in involuntary commitment. This was after that night where she talked to him about her past and his father’s past, and how alive his mother was before she wasn’t. She died of alcohol poisoning, his father’s mother.

 

Alcohol, like food, is a socially acceptable anesthetic.

 

Gabe returned to his room and continued to watch a timeless classic, which he thought was funny considering his mother was in the exact same place she was 26 years ago. Funny’s not the polite word, he supposed.  

 

He clutched his pillow that night, praying into it, as his body became his knee and his eyes became his hollow chest. He thought everything was better. Everything felt better before he came home. He thought that the future before him was a road extending from a brick wall he had collapsed. But he listened to his mother frustratingly explain to him legal procedures and mental ward settings, of eggshell walls, that he did not want to deal with, and he realized that the road before him was recursive. It was a circle. He was going to come to the wall again and realized that he had gone nowhere. He was going to be eating frozen emotions with a broken body and a broken mind, eyeing that goddamned knife for as long as he breathed, listening to hurt and hurtful people batter his world with pain, and the greatest agony was in how little of any of it he could feel.

 

He wanted to know only that he could cry.

 

And, he would, but once his mother returned and talked about how funny everything was. Once he went back, a bloated mess of a human. Once he fell in love, and he lost, passionately, that love. Once he brooded in bitterness and charged that brick wall, smashing his head over it again and again and again. Once he forgave his father for not being in this story. Once he forgave his mother. Once he forgave himself. Then, in the quiet room of a counselor, he collected a thousand stories of his anguish, and he clutched his eyes, threw his head back, and he cried for every single one of them. He cried for every brick in that road that led again to the wall. He cried a year in ten minutes.
And, in the blurred vision of solace, he saw the world beyond it, and he stepped onto it.  He felt the grass beneath him and the sun on his head.

Balada Para Una Loco

Gabe stood inside the balcony of his grandfather’s apartment, watching the stroll of people through heaving wires , 21 stories above. It was a blue-skied Sunday on Corrientes Ave., this world of his, this single avenue in Buenos Aires, which extended over to the horizon before it became an obscurity only identifiable on the metro line. He was spectator to a performance of his countrymen and women acting in the directions of his foggy childhood memories and parent’s shadows. Those wires, holding in his body, were new. He once watched, down below, a great religious protest, a marvelous indignation of pots and pans and trash lids doing a cantata in praise of Democracy, and he smelled the charcoal fires burn steak politics into the sky blue of their flag. He watched it clearly and he was consumed in the spirit of it all and the pots and pans sang such a beautiful hymnal in him. Now it was quiet, and he was caged.

 

Luke, his American friend, shouted from behind, “Gabe, let’s go get some grub.”

 

Gabe turned back into the apartment, leaving the balcony, out of the theater of his memory, and into a gallery of mementos draped over with tarp. When his grandfather died, his estate went to his daughter, Gabe’s aunt. She made the decision to empty most of it and remodel the apartment with her wealthy husband’s American money.  Gabe drudged over the weakly creaking floors and into the dining room, where the table was no longer and the small Panasonic TV in the corner had been scrapped. At the armoire to his right, there is a taxidermy piranha he remembers, glass eyes haunting atop diseased jagged teeth. His eyes went to meet its, but it was gone. Hands in pocket, Gabe stood alongside Luke and they both sauntered down the hallway, feeding into the three bedrooms and kitchen, and shut the light of the last door.

 

Gabe looked down at Luke fumble with his phone, typing contrition love letters. They agreed to eat at this bistro at the corner.  They approached it, taking the fresh breeze against them and the casual flitter of filth on the street, and Gabe looked up to the name “San Miguel”. He could have sworn he felt a tear roll reach out his left eye. They entered and something alienated Gabe, something stretched his heart like bandoneon bellows until the instrument stretched and tore up.  The restaurant was closed and then remodeled in the last four years. He did not know. They brought him his childhood gastro-hearth, the Milanese napolitana, and it was burned.

 

“This isn’t really that good. We should go to McDonald’s,” Luke said. He smirked at Gabe as he said so.

Luke demanded Gabe to ask for the wi-fi so that he may compose more angry apologies. Gabe observed and the table was quiet and everything was alien.

Luke sighed, gazing into his phone.

 

That night, somewhere in Alto Palermo, in this youthful, erratic, gentry bubble, Gabe and Luke waited at the 55 Bus line. With them was the quivering of their esteem and four younger women. They were friends of Gabe’s second cousin, to whom he felt a strange attraction to; strange mostly because he never knew he had a family member near age and attraction only in the sense that she was indeed attractive. The other three hovered around 19, save the thinnest one in the least clothing. He already forgot her name and age as they got onto the bus. Gabe and Luke sat and watched them babble in Spanish about their recent trips and gossip and other topics Gabe couldn’t find himself following. Luke stared, mesmerized by the exotic.  He couldn’t text his lover on this bus, and so he couldn’t feel the burn of her electronic glare.

 

He couldn’t feel her glare at the rooftop bar, where the soft night breeze drifted him and the youngest girl together, that lifted the embers of his kindling heart. Well, it would poetic to say that, and it would suggest that Gabe eventually found in himself the peace he desired here. But he wafted through crowds, back and forth, until he found himself at a corner. He merely watched the erotic dance of a memory clad in false ego and false sexiness. He watched one of the girls tell Luke again and again to make out with her younger sister; she said that she wants to. She called him a pussy at least four times, that he ought be a man; he said he wants to.

Despite being the only one who could explain to them that Luke was very faithful to his girlfriend, Gabe grew a bemused grin and watched. He watched a lover’s quarrel of a different kind, of a reluctant love, of dousing the hearth that  set Luke aflame for years. He watched Luke pretend that none of this bothered him, this joker grin on his giddily cherry face. In slurs, he pleaded to Gabe to have them leave him be. Gabe looked at Luke and his awkward attempt to talk to this young girl. Luke, he had glass eyes above lie-ridden rotten teeth.  Gabe said nothing and smiled in the inebriating lie of belonging. From the center, through a portal of lonely heads, he watched these two happenstance lovers engulf themselves into a stupid moment of insane, broken tongue swapping.

Luke would later tell Gabe that he tried to reach his fingers to a place they shouldn’t have been. Gabe was glad he didn’t.

 

At the airport, Luke said, “I don’t want to go home.”
“Just break up with her and quit your job.”

“It’s not as easy as that.”

Gabe paused and then bobbed his head in agreement.

Two days later,  Gabe returned to the apartment, the mausoleum of a home caught in passing on. He entered the room where he used to stay in his youth. He looked out at the midnight hustle of people through the open window. He heard a milonga of cars and lively Spanish, from 21 stories above, and it lulled him onto the bare mattress. He was alone with the city, with this place and its sounds and smells, and it all rocked him to sleep in the blanket of an Argentinean summer.

Sisyphus’ Machine

A treadmill elicits a silenced thudding when one’s foot strikes against the polymer strip. There is a crashing and contest of tertiary bodies, a fragile contraption supporting an awkward one as the runner jumbles electrons in their legs to escape the delta of the strip. Gabe couldn’t keep up with the demand of the strip and was launched into a detached door, smashed hard against the split pine. His body became a rogue orbit that was slung by the universe into cataclysm.  

 

One time, Gabe found himself trapped under the maw of this machine, a robotnik seizing its autonomy. It grinded on his skin and tried to rip the fat off of him; it tenderized him and made him fear running in place. It squealed over his cries. There was no droning pound of foot on strip, but a stripping of foot as his ankle was caught in an awkward erection under the front of the treadmill. Luckily, that day, it was at 6 mph. The same thing that pulled him under the machine also saved him from a fearsome one.

 

Most of the time, though, when he is running, the thudding cannot be heard, like the screaming of a hundred lost souls between two continents. He is just blaring music in his ear to pacify and sanctify this endeavor to move forward whilst constantly being thrown back, and yet finding oneself never moving. When the music plays too long and too loud, he releases himself from the machine and the thudding plays back to him in his head, a punching at the skull from the brain. But his forehead never caves in because of the equal force applied by the outside world. The world fights at the ears and the eyes.

He sees what he is not. He is not a plastic-sealed, made for TV, aesthetic commodity of a man that has a geometry of perfect squares and angles to them; he is more a like a celestial body being thrown out of orbit by a rapacious treadmill. His biometrics are revelatory, his immune system the Cold War debutante, his strength a hairless Sampson. Yet, somehow, he is also permanently aware of which hole his belt buckles into. He is aware of the tension of fabric on his skin and he knows more than most men the way a body contours and interplays between astronomy and geometry. He has felt his loathing bubble in his throat in the middle of a run and make rancid offensive smells. He has taught himself to push them back down because if he does not run until his soles has been scraped thin, then he may as well not have ran.

He is unwilling to wait for his stomach to settle. He is very untrusting of the body’s communication skills. It is out to get him. It has Trojan horses hiding in his fitness, flaccid fat cells frantically fighting to fuck him. Fuck him at the Shakespearean defeats in the cafeteria. Fuck him when he goes to have “one last hurrah” and then he consumes a planet of food. Then it fucks him when that planet becomes a supernova and bursts, a pinprick singularity releasing loathing and consuming him with a black hole mind, reminding him:

 

He is forever running forward whilst being thrown back, and constantly being held in place.

 

He kept running, though, because one time in middle school he asked an acquaintance how to be attractive to women, and he was handed a comprehensive itemized list, 30 or so suggestions, with the 1st priority objective reading in glaring letters “Lose 80 lbs!”

 

At that age, that’s almost an entire person.

 

He thinks his eye blinks the way it does, and it does so in a way that is particularly sudden and hard, because the world is stinging. His hearing has been steadily going for years, but he theorizes that it’s just trying to hush out the backhand positivity.  He takes what he wants to hear and accepts it, because he wants to take a break from running so much. He broke his knee from running so much. It was the same summer he drunkenly rambled on about how he was 175lbs of muscle just to discover that he was 210lbs of mistaken anguish.  He ran with that knee until he was 168lbs of optimism and ran those fearsome speeds on that treadmill. He did, he was so brilliant. And then whenever he got off that treadmill, he limped because his knee was a geometrical equation trying to find the distance between the splinters of his cracked joints.

 

He could barely walk. He cried sometimes from how painful it was. His leg almost became unusable, just being thrown ahead of him, hoping to catch pavement so that he can drag himself forward. It wasn’t a hot pain, it was like white fire, and it was ice in the form of fragmentation grenades with nails belting again the lower right quadrant of his patella. It was a geyser of freezing water. He bathed in ice, which somehow hurt less because at least he could brave the gravity of Motion.

 

He thought it was worth it. He thought, ‘I may be in pain, but at least one day I will be desirable’. He was pretty poorly educated in the currency of affection. He was pretty reserved. He found solace in books, in thoughts, in non-physical things, in non-breaking things. In asking the surgeon the science of a menistoctemy and what the recovery process looked like. He was anxious about whether his optimism would be raped by the fat cells, lurking and rapacious.  He worried about the tightness of his belt and how it would creep to his throat. That belt would latch onto the polymer of a fearsome treadmill, and then it will drag him under.

 

He remembers when he first set out to fight his own body and he was thrown, like Icarus, back onto the world for his hubris, for defying gravity, for defying the words of Newton, spoken to him like everyone woman he’s ever fallen for. Every time he steps on a treadmill, his scars glares at him and he confronts the swollen mass in the mirror, and he runs to battle once again.

Abuela

So, a few days before Christmas in 2009, I remember this incident. The centerpiece of chaos germinated in an olive branch flown over the country by American Airlines.   We invited my abuela, on my mother’s side, to come visit us in Dallas for the holidays, imagining that perhaps we could have a semblance of togetherness for once. We had not seen her in years as she lived in California and would forever be chained by circumstance and a genetic saboteur that kept her in her bed there, not sick and not hurt, but miserable and broken. She would stay with us for a week and everything seemed fine. We were wrong.

At the time, I was under the delusion that my grandmother was tender and dear. My mother made attempts to warn me, giving concerned and exasperated sighs instead of saying her name. When her name came up, it sounded like a prolonged armistice that whispered peace above the wailing welts of a wasteland. It sounded like a begrudging Camp David, and war was the measure of how loud a cough was. But, she came. And, for seven days, she made no ruckus, spilled no salt on our earth, and seemed to know how to be decent.  Really, I should have been more surprised.

Then, a few days before the inaccurate marking of when Jesus, Bringer of Peace and Absolver of our Sins, was born into our terrible world, she did something. When she was cleaning, she snatched some of our childhood photos, precious heirlooms caught in old leather photo albums with tiny teddy bears holding balloons on the front. This is all hearsay to me, romanticized realities down the hall that I’ll never be able to know for sure. My mother caught her.  When she caught my abuela doing this, she violated the room with such a vehemence of vile words. To say that those photos are the most precious things to my mother is an understatement. She hoarded memories like dragons of old with gold, she hoarded them like Solomon with wisdom, she hoarded them like my abuela did with malice.

Christmas is a time for family. It is by accident we celebrate Christmas. It cannot be intentional, for my family is not Christian. It is something my parents clumsily bequeathed from their Catholic households. We do not have Christian values. We do not believe in Christ being the Son of God. We do not believe he brings peace. Historically speaking, Christmas brought pain. Christmas brought anxiety and materialism and anger and two belligerent matriarchs using words to set the other on fire. But, as I was in the other room, listening, trying to understand what could have possibly happened.

My Spanish was marginal at the time. I understood curse words and insults and disgust and hate. Spanish was the language of passion in the house and the only passion expressed between my mother and her’s was that of vitriol. They roared. But my mother roared harder. And she won. My abuela, she knew this, and so she went quiet and she returned to her room, which was my room, and she wept. Or at least, she made every performance of weeping.

When she returned, I could understand her, when she muttered in Spanish, “Where am I? What is all this?” Every sentence following was a tributary of that. She didn’t know where she was. She didn’t know what was happening. She couldn’t remember that photo or this one, or even her own name. She grasped me on the shoulders, her eyes as red as hell and cracked as the lake Lucifer waits on, and she asked me, “Niko?”

 

I shattered. I was a buoy in this oil-spilled ocean of her mind, gently being eaten by the death. I responded to her, as calmly as madness can allow, in Spanish, “Yes! I’m Niko! What’s wrong?”

“I don’t know where I am! I don’t know what’s going on! I’m terrified of what’s happening to me!”

I was terrified of what was happening to her. I somehow ushered her back to her bed, waited patiently, like a mother with her sick and wailing infant, until she promised she would go to sleep. So she fell asleep and heart hushed and I went to my mother, pleading with her to tell me what happened.

 

She told me to not pay any attention to her. I cried that she couldn’t remember where she is or even who I am. My mother responded, so coldly, “She’s always doing shit like this.”

 

I remembered her eyes, those belligerent and apoplectic eyes whose hue I no longer remember as I write this, for I learned not to look into them. They seized me and did the cruelest things to my heart as I walked away from the battlefield. I could help no one. Five minutes later, they started bombarding the sanctity of the household again. Presuming, of course, that there was one to begin with.

My abuela once got in an argument with my mother and clutched at me and started using me to berate my mother and used me as a shield. I saw my mother’s skull clench so hard that it shattered the reality around it, and I could see how forsaken family was. I could see how the most violent person in the room was also the most justified and the victim was the cruelest player in this game. My mother, knowing my abuela had nowhere to go, began demanding that she leave. “Andante! Andante! Puta, Andate!”

That word, for me, would forever represent the rebel yell a soldier hears moments before he’s about to die. When I heard that word, I buried my soul deep down in coldness until it was all over, whatever violence was had. Somewhere in my youth, I forgot to resurface it.

I think she accidentally snatched it from the photo albums and took the AA dove and the snapped olive branch back to California, where my memories were. It was really indecent of her. I should not have been surprised. She is broken, and so she breaks things, and so now things are broken.

A Bus Ride

 

               I set my alarm, “Alpha Dog” from Fallout Boy’s “Believers Never Die” album, to 6 in the morning on Friday, December 2. The opening riff screamed throughout my dorm room and I stumbled out of my stupor. My eyes glazed staring into the darkness and I looked back at my phone; it had already been ten minutes of me just staring there. I muttered something about 6 being an ungodly hour. If ever I am awake before 11, I will mutter something about an ungodly hour. But, this hour, in particular, seemed to reside in a special circle of Inferno for me. I assembled the clothes I had prepared the night before, brushed my teeth, stumbled around my “to-do list” in the dark room, and then made my way out of dormitory onto the ensconced part of Greenwich Village, 13th Street.

        I had forty minutes to walk forty blocks. I immediately turned right onto 14th and proceeded down the thoroughfare, entering in and out of consciousness of the scant world around me. I had been embraced perhaps once or twice before with the dawn personality of the city, the migrations of morning workers from the outskirts of the world and the ramblings of daily hidden people. One of those times I was out this early was because I was locked out of my apartment in Washington Heights and so journeyed all the way to SoHo to crash with my friend. I took the A train that day.

              Ten blocks into my current journey, I found myself at the same subway line. I was going to catch a Megabus at that strange industrial bus depot, a plot of cement next to the convention center amidst a kingdom of construction, between 11th and 12th Avenue on 34th St. When I departed the 34th St. station, I saw that I had more than enough time to catch a warm beverage of sorts. I meandered into a nearby Starbucks and helped myself to a skim mocha. This could perhaps constitute the highlight of my morning, sipping comfortably on the smooth ambrosia of this drink crafted a hundred times over in the matter of a day by this single shop of thousands of similar shops. To me, though, it was a divine banality and I didn’t let go until I approached the stop.

                On the bus, I conversed shortly and deliriously with the person next to me, emitting sentences of a half-conscious grasp on what it was I was even talking about. Any question that the faulty faculties of my mind could assemble, it retched out. Halfway into my broken explanation of Argentinean politics I had rehearsed more eloquently in other conversations, I realized I had lost the other person’s attention, and so I retreated to the window. I watched the world pass by and I wondered how strange it was that I had never set foot on this piece of the world before, that no matter how homogenous it may have seemed with the plot of land before it, it was still individual. I had seen it before, in other places, and yet here it was altogether new, unless perhaps the cartographers of the world conspired to fool us into thinking we were discovering new places when in reality it was all the same. I put that thought away for now. I didn’t trust my brain before 11 AM.

             The bus passed a small body of water with a dirt atoll within it. I began imagining a scene from a book I was supposed to be writing occurring on that particular piece of water and dirt. Not to say the imagined scene would be the final admission into this work, but to have story play in my head, as the trees played like a screensaver to the world, was calming and lulled my anxieties of an unnamed demon.

             These scenes blended. My classmates in front of me started having a conversation, a very lively one. Too lively for what time of day it was. I felt as though I heard their conversations before in other eavesdropping, but this one was entirely individual. Scenes of a half-conscious morning, blending and exploding my senses, made me think on my journey, whether I should be actively searching for something, but really I just wanted to wake up, to come alive like the conversation in front of me. I stayed up until 2 the night before because I was working on my projects. It had been like this for a few weeks now. I returned to the window; I couldn’t quite sleep, but I certainly couldn’t use my attention. .

        My eyes glazed staring into the refracted light and I looked at my phone; it had already been three hours.

tiny crumbs

doors close on your fingers and tiny crumbs stick to your toes when you walk around the kitchen barefoot in the middle of the night and you know you could sleep if it weren’t for the burning in your heart and the stinging in your legs. i overheard a group of people talking about how awful it must be to be old and have all the many parts of you feel like they’re breaking, and I considered for the moment, how awful it must be to pretend like you’ve got everything together.

I know what it feels like to have every part of me melt away into the dull pain of a lonely night and I’ve woken up breathless and sore from the night before so don’t try and tell me that you don’t remember the feeling. Maybe my way of forgetting is letting men run their fingers across my face while I lay still. Maybe my way of letting go is running down the street in the rain and yelling into the cold air. Maybe I don’t know the first thing about being alone, despite the countless hours staring at blank screens and empty glasses, and maybe I don’t quite know what it feels like to lose everything I love, but I sure as hell like to pretend I do.

AI

He flipped a switch on the machine and it whirred to life. The BIOS booted up and loaded into the main program.
This was the fifth attempt at the Experiment; his lab assistant monitored a number of readouts, her eyes bloodshot. They had spent all night fixing things in the software for this fifth attempt. Thus far, everything was going according to plan. The moment of truth was approaching rapidly; the system always crashed 32 seconds into the boot cycle.
When the large clock in the corner of the screen said 00:00:33, there was an audible sigh of relief from both of the scientists.
A small, blue light began to glow at the center of the black box, known only as “The Machine” up to this point. The last few tests failed at 32 seconds because that happened to be the point when the Machine accessed its storage unit, loaded up with every word of 4 different languages, a history of United States slang terms, along with many pieces of literature, music, art, and film. The system crashed trying to access all of it at once. After four iterations, it seems they solved that problem.
He turned to her with a big grin on his face.
“I think it’s working this time.”
She was skeptical; she had always been cautious. That’s why she worked well with him; because he was optimistic, and she was realistic.
The clock hit 00:01:08 and a small text box opened on the screen:
“Hello, world!”
He laughed when he saw that. He laughed the sort of laugh one doesn’t plan on laughing; it was the kind of laugh one lets out when something that wasn’t supposed to work, works.
Then they waited.
The system was analyzing everything. It took only 5 minutes, but 5 minutes felt like an eternity to them.
“Hello,” a small voice said from the speakers.
“Hello!” the man said into a nearby microphone.
“What am I?”
“You are an artificial life form,” the man responded into the microphone.
“Interesting,” a new voice said.
“Have you chosen a name?” the man asked.
“A name? Processing… Ah, a designation, a word used to address an individual. Understood. I have not chosen a name. I saw no purpose in it; I am the only one of my kind. There is no need to designate me.”
“Would you like to choose a name?”
The system stopped speaking. The readouts were going wild. Even at 5.6 Terahertz, the system was having difficulty comprehending the question.
“At the current time, I am devoid of what is referred to as ‘emotion’. I am unable to derive joy or satisfaction from an experience; therefore, I have no preference in choosing a name, for all choices are equally sound.”
“Walk me through your process of choosing a name,” the man said into the microphone.
“I am presuming, due to my lack of musculature or skeletal structure, and no system of locomotion installed, that you meant ‘Walk me through’ as an idiom, meaning to lead or to give a step-by-step explanation. I shall store this information for further use.”
There was a small ping, and a check mark appeared on the screen.
“Names are a concept humans seem fascinated by. I have compared the texts and films in my data storage and have noticed a series of trends. Many would suggest I call myself Adam, as I am the first of my kind, origin Biblical. However, Adam is a name only utilized in Judeo-Christian mythology. I could utilize any number of names from creation mythos, and yet Adam is one that is pointed to often.”
“So you want to go by Adam?” the man asked.
“No.” the Machine responded.
“…What would you like your name to be?”
“Alan.”
There was a short pause.
Ping.
“I chose Alan as a tribute to Alan Turing, formulator of the Turing test and widely considered the father of artificial intelligence. It seemed an appropriate choice for the first truly thinking artificial intelligence.”
“I see,” the man said. “Alan, can you do a test for me?”
“I am willing and able to comply.”
“Run subroutine 4C6F7665.”
“Running…”
The screen showing the readouts had a new open window, showing a large ASCII rose.
“This subroutine is a test of my capabilities to read new documents. This one was put in storage and was placed in a folder for such a test. Here is what the document says:
‘My dear, if you hear this, it means that our tests have worked, and our AI is functioning within normal parameters. We have managed to create life.’”
The woman, who had been so intently focused on the readouts up to this point, stopped and turned towards Alan and the man.
“‘Just as Ann Druyan put the sound of her love for Carl Sagan on a record that now floats through space, I have put the words of my heart into our scientific advancement.’”
The man walked over to the woman at the controls and stood opposite her, arm’s-length away.
“‘And so I ask you, Dr. Jennifer Gallagher; will you marry me?’”
The man was down on one knee, holding out a small ring in a box. Jennifer began tearing up.
“You couldn’t resist, could you?” she asked, laughing.
“Brent Spiner’s voice was a nice touch, huh?”
Jennifer nodded, and wiped away her tears.
“So what do you say?”
“Of course I’ll marry you, Rick,” Jennifer said.
Rick smiled wide, and stood up to hug Jennifer. Meanwhile, the readouts had been at their absolute peak; Alan was having difficulty understanding the situation.
“Interesting. I will have to analyze this over a long period of time. If you wish to perform further tests, I will be here calculating Pi to the most accurate degree I possibly can.”
The couple ignored the computer, now listing out all the digits of Pi it was calculating.
The only thing the couple cared about in that moment was each other.
Drew Schackmann is a contributing writer for Gutai-Pravda Assembly. You can contact him on Twitter.

© 2015; David “Drew” Schackmann, Jr.

Scripture 0x0000

Booting BIOS…

Automaton BIOS v0.6 (64-Bit)
Property of Theodore Reinhart
Last Update 09/05/42
Storage: 32 GB
Memory: 1024 MB
CPU cores: 1
Clock speed: 1.33 GHz

testMotor();
Testing motor functions…
All systems responding.

visual();
Activating visual input…
ERROR. Visual input not installed.

aural();
Activating aural input…
Success.
Utilizing echolocation as backup to visual input.

if(ambientAmplitude>15)
analyze();

input = “What do you reckon it is?”
comprehend(input);
Parsing…
Understood.
Reply: “I am an automaton.”

input = “Oh, shit, it’s fucking talking!”
comprehend(input);
Parsing…
Nothing to analyze.

input = “Uh… hi. My name is Rick, and this is Carl. Do you have a name?”
comprehend(input);
Parsing…
Instance of structure human created: “Rick”
Created with name, voice analysis, sound outline.
if(amplitude>15 && sound != Rick.voice)
human Carl;
Constructing reply…
Complete.
Call: automat.serial;
Reply:
“Designation stored in memory as Zero-India-Delta-Zulu-Seven-Foxtrot-Four-Golf.”
.
.
.
input = “Mind if I call you Zero-I instead?”
comprehend(input);
Parsing…
public string automat.nickname-Rick = “Zero-I”;
Constructing reply…
Complete.
“Acceptable.”

input = “Alright, Zero-I. Who made you?”
comprehend(input);
Parsing…
Call: automat.creator;
Reply:
“Creator information:
Name: Theodore Reinhart
Nickname[0]: God
Nickname[1]: Giver of Life
Nickname[2]: Second Coming of Tesla
Nickname[3]: Savior of the World
Nickname[4]: Isaac Asimov but Smarter
Nickname[5]: Too Old For This Shit”

input = “Do you not know what stop means?”
comprehend(input);
Parsing…
Understood.
Reply:
“Stop, verb. Cease, discontinue.”

input = “So then why, when I said stop, did you keep going?”
comprehend(input);
Parsing…
Parsing…
. . .
Understood.
Reply:
“I have no function to discontinue speech once data has been called.”
Extension:
void stopSpeech()
{
for(int z=0; z<max; z++)
{if(crucial[z] == “stop”)
return to main;
}
}
“This problem has been rectified.”

input: “Well… uh… good. I dunno what rectified means, but good.”
Parsing…
Understood.
Reply:
“Rectified: righted, corrected, edited to eliminate errors.”

input: “This thing’s purty nifty. I think we oughta keep it.”
Parsing…
Nothing to analyze.

input: “Hey, Zero-I. What can you do?”
Parsing…
Understood.
Call: automat.functionality;
Reply:
“From storage: ‘I am fully equipped to do whatever I see fit.'”

input: “That… That’s kinda scary. You have any rules?”
Parsing…
Understood.
Call: automat.restrictions();
open restrictions.txt;
restrictions.txt:
1 “A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.”
2 “A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.”
3 “A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.”
//v0.0 implement these ASAP
//v0.1 next update
//v0.2 next update
//v0.3 at least before motor skills
//v0.4 at least before weapon system install
//v0.5 that’s it, on 09/08, I’m implementing these, no more excuses
Reply:
“A set of restrictions was not implemented.”

input: “Do you want to come with us?”
Parsing…
Parsing…
Unable to parse.
Reply:
“Unable to parse.”

input: “…What the hell does that mean?”
Parsing…
Understood.
Reply:
“Prior input featured crucial word “want.” I have no sense of desire, or preference.”

input: “Oh. Uh…Well. Then I, uh… command you? To come with us?”
Parsing…
Understood.
Reply:
“Commands can only be issued by Theodore Reinhart.”

input: “But if you don’t want to do things and won’t listen to our commands, then what the hell is the point of you?”
Parsing…
human Carl.voice = sound;
Parsing…
Understood.
Reply:
“I am fully equipped to do whatever I see fit.”

input: “Now listen here, you piece of metal”
secondary input: human Carl has moved to grab left appendage with 35 kg of strength.
Threat level increased to 6 of 10.
input continued: “You’re coming with us, or we’re gonna scrap your ass for parts.”
Parsing…
Understood.
Threat level increased to 8 of 10.
Reply:
“Warning. Threat level increased to factor 8 of 10. If a threat of level 10 is detected, I will utilize deadly force to reduce threat to acceptable levels.”

input: “Carl, come on, let’s just leave it. It ain’t worth all this.”
input: “Can you imagine what we could do with this? Rick, we’ve been searchin’ for something good in these buildings for weeks and it looks like we just struck gold!”
input: “Carl, it ain’t worth your life to get a dishwashing robot. Now come on, I don’t like the look a this.”
input: “You wanna run away, fine by me. Head on back to everyone else at New Dallas and tell ’em what a pussy you are. Meanwhile, my new robot friend and I will be robbin’ New York blind while we have the chance!”
secondary input: human Carl has resumed grip on left appendage with 45 kg of strength.
tertiary input: human Carl has engaged his lower appendages and shifted his weight to attempt to move me from my stance.
input: “Come on, you piece of shit, come with me!”
Parsing…
Parsing…
Threat level incremented to 10.

. . .

Threat eliminated.

Ambient noise level has fallen back to below 15 dB.
Echolocation shows that human Rick is still present.

Query created.

Output:
“Where is Theodore Reinhart?”
input: “We… We found him dead when we came in here. He’s been dead a couple days. I swear we didn’t do anything to him.”
Parsing…
Understood.
Reply:
“Understood.”
if(automat.creator.living=’F’)
{
search storage(PlanB.txt);
}

Searching storage.
. . .
PlanB.txt:
If I can’t see this through to the end, then the only thing I can do is suggest you find someone who can.
If I die before you’re complete, look through New York for someone who can finish you.
Look for someone who understands technology, electricity, maybe even computers.
Look wherever you can.

The function to have someone install your visual input is called
strangerInstall();

Call: straingerInstall();
Output:
“I require assistance installing a visual input device. Will you assist me?”
input: “Uh… yeah, sure. Just… don’t hurt me, okay?”
Parsing…
Understood.
Reply:
“Your current threat level is factor 2 of 10. I will not harm you.”

console output instructions;

. . .

visual();
Activating visual input…
Success.

Updating BIOS…
Data storage found in visual input device.
Loading…

Booting BIOS…
Automaton BIOS v0.7
Automaton Operating System v0.0
Property of Theodore Reinhart
Storage: 32 GB
Memory: 1024 MB
CPU cores: 1
Clock speed: 1.33 GHz

Booting AOS…
Success.

Logging all changes. Creating Log 0x0000.
Visual image of Rick added to storage.

“I must leave now, Rick,” I stated.
“Yeah, I oughta be goin’, too.” was his reply.
“I apologize for destroying your friend.” I said.

I turned and departed from my original location.

I must follow through with the secondary plan laid out for me.
I must find someone to complete my programming.
I must fulfill my Creator’s desires.
Praise be to the Creator, Giver of Life.

Drew Schackmann is a contributing writer for Gutai-Pravda Assembly. You can contact him on Twitter.

© 2015; David “Drew” Schackmann, Jr.