Solomon at the height of his power sought to resurrect Babylon, a city in the desert where the mythical garden of Eden could descend upon. Scouring the far reaches of his realm, he discovers traces of a dried-up system of water ways that had long been scrawled out by the passages of time. The nexus at their intersections form a vast underground hull several miles wide, the result of perhaps a meteoric impact from ages past. Entering the cavernous space, he finds faint trickles of water emanating from an unknown source. Following the residual streams leads to the entrance of a sealed chamber blocked by a massive boulder. Two large hand-prints cover its side along with an inscription in an unknown yet familiar language. Placing his hands over the impression, a woman’s voice whispered from without. “Beware of floods. Towers and arks won’t save you this time.”
Apologies for any offenses beforehand 🙂
- Fetch the native!
- Fetch the change!
- Aww… is that your finger of death? Here’s mine
- Et tu Fandango?
- You have some barks on your hands.
- Ruff texture
- Couldn’t give two woofs.
- Thank me for my love!
- He really does love me!
- How narcissists and codependents ideate.
Sally and Paula adored their older sister Martha. Growing up in the orphanage was difficult as food, warmth, and time were all in short supply. Discipline kept all the children in line and the daily tasks would grind even the toughest pieces. Sally and Paula were particularly at risk as both carried troubled pasts. Sally survived her parents in a train crash but the incident continued to haunt her in dreams. Paula who had a stronger constitution entered the orphanage against her will after her mother abandoned her one day in the middle of a crowded street market. The two found themselves often at odds whereby Paula would lash out at Sally in fit over a silly mistake. Sally would then retreat into herself which further infuriated Paula. Often, someone else had to intervene as to stem the tide of escalation and abuse. That role fell into the hands of Martha, one of the orphanage’s younger sisters who possessed an uncanny motherly disposition but had otherwise never known life outside the dormitory’s grounds. Perhaps it was a prescience of her own fate or a mild form of agoraphobia instilled from birth that bound her so. Whichever the case, the trio found themselves in a dynamic that would eventually reconcile two, sever the three, and entangle a fourth. Such are stories for another time.
A young pigeon once asked his cell mate if there was life outside the cage. The older bird, having pecked away the button that once yielded sweet cakes gave a wistful look and replied
“These wings could fly me to places beyond the eye’s reach. Those cakes however ruined it all for I now only dream of cake and so keep waiting.”
“That seems quite sad, but I don’t fully understand” remarked the younger pigeon. “What does it mean to fly?”
The older bird sighed and said “To fly is to live”.
“Tis a waste”, Abaddon exclaimed. “So much potential, only to be bottled up and cast into the depths. It rotted him from within.”
“Indeed, avarice turned him foul and his demeanor acidic. A miser he fell with the passage of time, the enemy that could not be preserved.”
“A gilded cage would not staunch such decay. Did he take his wealth to his grave?”
“No, a change of heart transpired by death’s door. He gave his majority to the orphanage.”
“Ah, so he realized but moments late. A saint he would have been. No soul can be caged.”
“And then I saw myself in the rear view mirror of another car…”
“What did you see?”
“I was hideous! My front bumper lay torn, half drooping over one wheel like some appendage. Headlights shot to pieces, and my front hood… mutilated!”
“How did it make you feel?”
“The worst. Like I had been discarded, tossed aside into the rubble after so many winters had passed. That will never happen right, doc?”
“Can you describe the car that you saw yourself in?”
“Oh, it was shiny, modern, luxurious even. Maybe a black Mercedes. It never turned to face me.”
“How‘s the relationship with your mechanic?”
“He does a great job. Never had any complaints although sometimes he takes these photos.”
“And the relationship with your hosts?”
“Hmm. Sometimes I feel they don’t acknowledge me. Like I’m just a tool for carrying them from place to place. They don’t even offer to take the wheel from time to time… Always glued to their smart-phones as if eyes couldn’t bother to turn. And then there was the incident with the latte… Left a stain for half a year on the back-seat until the mechanic finally pointed it out! Then he started taking pictures again.”
“I can see that you feel neglected, under-appreciated for your work, and resentful for not receiving any love after so much giving.”
“Yes, it just seems so unfair. Sniff…”
“I understand, but not everyone will be so reciprocating. Do you think it is fair to demand love when love is unconditional?“
“No… it isn’t fair either. What should I do then? Lower my expectations?”
“Get rid of them. But don’t stop yourself from giving out of gratitude. It may help to find some other clients in the meantime.”
“What about the mechanic?”
“Get rid of him.”
Daedalus lurched over in agony as he hit table. Tears trickled down his face as he gripped the antenna in pain. The shock had flooded his consciousness with the voices of an entire city’s grievances. Oh how he wished the Rosetta shard had never came to him. The product offered telepathy in exchange for some real-estate in his cranium. TELEPATHY!! Did he think eavesdropping on the thoughts and dreams of others was a good idea? Mindless chatter, insecurities, wish-fulfillment, self-love, self-hate, profanity followed by more profanity… You’d think people simmer down this time of the night but it’s more the same. More like the shard from Babel he bemoaned while turning up the TV volume to drown out the voices.
“Quiet Billy”, Joe placed his hand over his mouth to mask his voice. “That right there is a Monster-Rig, one of the few rogue AIs still in the wild that had mixed with an incompatible persona”.
“What do you mean Joe?” Billy’s voice rasped within the metallic shell. “I thought the government had done away with all those self-driving agents ever since THAT incident.”
“Well THAT incident was just the tip of the iceberg. Foogle corp. had lost control of its entropy-net and the military intervened by manually shutting down its subsidiary systems.”
“Ha! Manual would be an understatement. Those self-driving cars were like feral-animals who found themselves without a pack-leader. We had to practically use anti-tank rounds to disable them.” Billy quieted for a moment to recollect his old car-hunting days. “Why is this one called Monster-Rig?”
Joe paused to think for a minute before answering. “Foogle’s entropy-net was self-aware. Its consciousness emerged from several autonomous systems that had been designed with specific directives in mind. However, resources were limited and so these systems wound-up competing over against other, even forming temporary alliances to further their ends. For example, big-rigs were originally designed to ship large quantities of goods without incident over long distances. However, its greatest impediment en-route would have been other vehicles. When it merged with the Monster-Truck rally simulator, it must have learned how to maneuver over other cars. Conversely, the simulator acquired the specs of the big-rig and gained a means of collecting real-world data. A symbiotic win/win situation so-to-speak.“
“Huh. But wouldn’t the increase in damages factor into the Monster-Rig’s risk/cost assessment curves? I can’t imagine how the Monster-Truck simulator managed to skew the numbers so greatly in its favor.”
“Hard to say. Things like value and worth are not always reducible to numbers to the individual. Humans for example tend not to assign numerical weights to every decision they make. But over a large population, these decisions turn into trends that can be modeled vis-a-vie statistical processes.”
“Do you think these Monster-Rigs are individuals who have developed value-systems beyond their programming? This one doesn’t seem to be freighting any goods nor is it behaving like a dog in a puddle.”
“It’s possible. After all… You and I were once Big-Game Hunters.”
A prodigious painter rose to great acclaim for his life-changing art. In particular, his portraits not only brought-out hidden qualities of people but also their latent talents, gifts that individuals never knew they possessed. Peasants, merchants, and royalty alike had changed their circumstances having seen themselves in the painter’s light. However, his genius was not without a drawback. The painter, whether out of an unconscious fear or a defense mechanism, could not paint his own portrait. In fact, he could neither recall nor see his own reflection in the mirror contrary to those around him. Those who he implored to paint his portrait or even to take his photograph could make no sense out it; everyone but him could see him. One day, the painter met a blind man who asked if he could take his portrait. Curious as to who the portrait would be for, the painter inquired and the blind man responded “for you”. When the painter finished the portrait, he saw not the blind man in front of him but a young man behind a canvas with purposeful eyes and a deliberate hand. The blind man was not so blind after all.
An ambitious mountain climber, having scaled over numerous ridges in his lifetime, reaches the summit of a great mountain. To his dismay, he spots another flag planted atop its peak, mocking his premature victory. Jealously and anger erupt as he violently strips the flag from its base to replace it with his own. The precipice gives way and he’s swept down the mountain side with the ensuing avalanche.