Priority Chip

The perfection of idiocy is justifying what you do and then crowning the justifications as a code of moral conduct which should be exemplary to others. It requires a perfect idiot, and, like four leaf clovers, perfect idiots were once hidden among a larger population of people who started from a moral system and worked back, as a way to curb ruthless id.

Luther was lost in these thoughts at the entrance to a tunnel that went underneath a road in the park. A short, bald black man was playing a saxophone, blowing the music down underground, into the cool tunnel, where he and Willow were bathing in the vibrations. He had his eyes closed and the thoughts were not formed in words so much as in images with emotion attached to them. It was only in this way he could know what was good and what was not good. Words deceive as often as they enlighten.

He had a plan to survive what nobody had yet survived, and to pull it off he had to train himself to operate outside time. And the only way he could do it was to erase anything personal about himself. All that could survive would be the core of a story, around which any number of stories could form. He could move about in any one of the stories, but he had to remember that they were all illusion, and it always comes back to the indestructible core, the perfect mathematical center of a story that endures from before there was an alphabet, so that even when put into words it still tells the truth.

“You’ll survive it,” Willow Tang said, and it was the first time he’d been conscious of her knowing what he was thinking. He’d been scared at first, but she said, “I can’t read your mind, man. If I could I’d probably run off screaming or something. It’s just like, when you look out at the world you choose things to notice, and other things you don’t notice. It’s like there’s all these windows, but you are only looking through one of them. You and me look through the same window a lot of the time.”

“You’ll survive it.” He whispered the words.

He could feel the coolness of the rough white sheets as the air conditioner churned steadily in the window. He wondered what his life would be like if he’d completed his contract, and married Donna Mavis. He toyed with the numbers and realized that the original Donna Mavis would be almost seventy years old if she’d lived. Her body would have lost its allure to anybody not into specialty products, and yet she was always alive, and always in her prime, a patented representation in the flesh of $omaCorp. She was an individual, but it was debatable as to whether she was fully human, because of the Priority Chip. Right now he would be having sex with a corporate individual regularly selected as the hottest piece of ass in candy land, and he wouldn’t give a damn because the corporation would override his system for his own survival. It would be considered immoral to not do so, under the new Corporate Contract that had superseded the Bill of RIghts.

He had left Donna Mavis at the alter. Now, he was not only a rock and roll god with an actual church built around him, he was the only person alive with injectables ungoverned by the Priority Chip. The image of the woman who was here, in Ash Fork, came up again, and he wondered if she was more human or more computer. It was hard to tell. He was sweating again. He thought of the process he was going through as being like somebody with the delirium tremors, or junk withdrawal. It gave him something ordinary to think about, something survivable.

Without the Priority Chip he was on the cutting edge of the unknown, and his odds of survival were not good, especially because $omaCorp was not amused by his breach of contract. The woman and her enforcer were here to watch him die, and help him if he needed a push. He was sure of that. Either he’d come apart and lose control of himself, which was expected, he knew, or, he’d make it through because he’d planned to make it through. His plan was to get rid of his personal identity in advance, and transfer it into something indestructible. He would transfer it into an archetypal core. All he had to do was go through a process he imagined to be like a snake shedding its skin. He was in it now, and he felt like he was holding together better than he’d expected. He was storing the process in songs, and there were ten more to go.

The adjustment period for clones averaged ten days, but clones were created with injectables and Priority control built in. The adjustment period for natural born humans was unknown, because of the estimated twelve who’d been injected, even with the Priority Chip to shut them down in an emergency, he was the only one who was not under medical confinement and observation.

This was a nice way of saying that so far, the human nervous system, once developed, could not adjust to injectables without the destruction of the existing cathexes. The Priority Chip allowed the shutdown and reprogramming of the subject object carthexis, altering the ego and superego cathexes.

It was all a nice way of saying that you were going to have to deal with some serious hallucinations during adjustment, and when they were done with you, you weren’t you anymore. Your identity was like that of an actor playing the part of a company, like, Uncle Ben or one of the Keebler elves. You’d still be animated, and you’d have the financial resources of one of the most powerful corporations on earth, which in turn would be animating you. Your power would not be separate from that of the company.

But all that was from the point of view of people with Priority Chips installed, kept in lavish but nonetheless “gated communities” and under constant observation. They were too smart to not be aware of their situation; it was elementary. It was, as they always qualified their situation, the price of such great responsibility to relinquish free agency, in order to serve the greater good.

The only people running around loose with DNA computing power in their systems were clones, and their interests were the interests of their programmers. They were just computers who could fuck each other without much consequence other than high volume data transfer. They were blissfully aware that their attractions and passions were programmed, and would often give worshipful thanks to the programmers. There was no clone in existence who did not believe that God exists. They didn’t have to believe it. The proof was in the Priority Chip.

Clones could also torture and kill on command, and no human was a match for one of them. On the other hand, no human with their computing power had ever been off the leash. He wasn't off yet. But his senses had shifted so that he could sense that somebody was watching him. He didn't have to get up to look because he was shifted into a sensing mode that imaged the room from a newly developed sensing apparatus. The tiny computers, only visible under a microscope, where beginning to incorporate into his nervous system. They didn't detect anyone in the room, or behind the door. It had to be somebody with the same developed sensing he was adapting to. It had to be somebody he was thinking about. He'd thought about the woman earlier, but he hadn't been thinking about her when he felt somebody else in his programming.

Two things happened simultaneously. The door to the room swung open and the enforcer fired a tranquilizer dart at Luther. It skimmed through an evaporating image of him and attached itself harmlessly to the pillow on which he had, a fraction of a second earlier, rested his head. The woman stepped from behind the enforcer into the room and stared at the empty bed. She walked into the bathroom and even looked behind the shower curtain. "He's evolved," she said.

"Now what do we do?" the enforcer asked. "He could be anywhere."

"No, he can't be anywhere," the woman said. "He's right here."

"If he's right here why can't we see him?"

"Because he broke through the membrane into a different dimension."

Somando snorted. "How'd he do that? You said he couldn't survive the injectables without a P. chip."

"He can't. He had help."

"Nobody could do that."

"Nobody on earth, you mean."

"You think he got snatched by an alien or something?"

"He didn't do something that complicated by himself in the shape he's in. I don't know what we're dealing with, but our job just got a lot harder."

"We should've just hit him with a dart when he was out running and hauled him out of here."

"Shut up, Somando. You know I hate that kind of should have, would have, talk. It's not productive and it makes you lazy and stupid."

"You're the boss."

"Yea. You're the one whose got to go after him, though. You'll have to have a short, painless procedure. You won't even remember it."

He started to protest but in mid sentence his eyes became glassy and his speech began to slur. The woman went over to the bed and laid down. She smiled. "Come over here," she said.

He couldn't refuse.

Posted: Thu - March 15, 2007 at 07:38 PM