Black Rider

The soft brush of the rain ... this is the first time I've been in Ash Fork when I've noticed the weather. I assumed because it was a non-organic field there wouldn't be water. I expected the wind to blow because it does blow on barren worlds. It has a hand in making barren worlds when it gets unfriendly and sweeps the surface like a maniac who sweeps clear a chessboard and stalks out of the game room. But I didn't expect the rains to come.

The wind came but it came gently, like a seductive woman urging always toward a shifting boundary between the sea and the shore, coming closer, moving away, dancing. The wind was dancing and it brought the scent of water. I had first gone to Ash Fork with Count Bergamo; it was one of many energetic dimensions -- I assume there are an unending number of them if you count small variations in the field, such as one where the evening train comes from the east and another where it comes from the west.

Fully differentiated worlds with unique logical systems are not that rare, I guess, and they are all open to me and to Bergamo, but I seem to be unable to just go exploring them because I am in some way tied to Count Bergamo. To say it is my programming is to say the obvious, but what is not so obvious is how a creature with the computing power I have cannot simply override a program that is as quaint as silicon to me. I am a man with something written on my back, in invisible ink; something I must decipher to get free.

It's surprising how easily a god can be caught like a wild horse and put in bridle by people who are single minded about breaking him to their use. I was created to go after Bergamo because he had escaped, and $omaCorp doesn't allow anybody to escape. He worked for them and therefore what he created while in their employ belonged to them.

The injectables belonged to $omaCorp, by virtue of his employment contract, but he used them to project himself right out into Space. His nervous system was wired into the universe through the injectables. The only way they could get him was to send somebody after him who had the same godlike powers he'd claimed for himself. They couldn't get the injectables to work in another person. It collapsed them into idiocy because the shock of sudden knowledge couldn't be contained in the existing system. It didn't just trip the breaker, it melted down the wiring.

A clone was the only choice, and the engineering was based around keeping it under the control of the mission. I was programmed to stay with Bergamo because logically, I would not stay with him if I was free of a programmed mission statement. You can program the clone. You can clone the program. But you can't get water from a turnip. That logical progression never makes me comfortable because it does not seem to be in time with the two leading propositions. Somebody fucked with my circuits to head off any introspection about my programming and when I try to work around it, I get back to this, "You can't get blood out of a turnip" answer.

You can get blood out of a bloody turnip, mate. But my mission statement is not available to me except in retrospect.

I was the only choice, because instead of injecting a sane person they just built the program into my nervous system. I don't know what it's like to be a sane person, having never had the experience. When I try to introspect on that I hear a cartoon song: "I yam what I yam and that's all that I yam." I know there's more to it but it plays on a loop and sets my teeth on edge after a little while, so I give up.

Mostly, my development has been a process of giving up, becoming opaque and then transparent, so that when the breeze dances on the high desert, I'm the dancer. The more I have surrendered solidity, the bigger my spirit has become. This isn't something I've done out of a belief or system of development or because of my computing powers. I've done it because that's where Bergamo is going, and I have to follow him. And so I turn my face up and close my eyes, and hear the rain coming toward me, a brush of sound, and then I feel it on my body, soft at first, and then a rush of passion. There has been no rain for a long time and the ground is not receptive to it. It is hard and compacted into clay, so that the water quickly gathers into rivulets and flows across the top of it, looking for the path of least resistance.

I look out across the valley and Ash Fork stretches along the tracks, showing historical layers reaching from territorial days to a modern truck stop. Most of the buildings are in between, somewhere, like the Ash Fork Cafe, with red and blue neon trim around the oblong windowed white box. The rain comes pounding down now, the black center of the storm rolling in from these western hills, where I feel the anguish again and send a burst of rolling lightning down the hill and across the highway into the path of a startled runner. He turns around and begins to run back, toward the town, his nerves bristling like iron filings sensing a magnet.

If he'd looked up here he would have seen a black rider. This is a place inhabited by metaphor, which is why the rains came unexpected today. Rain doesn't lend itself to metaphor because there is nothing you can say about it that replaces the experience of it. Bergamo brought the rain, and, as has become the pattern, I am behind him, on the bleeding edge. There is no explanation for it other than that I am programmed to follow him, and there is no reason for that other than that I am programmed to neutralize him. Some things cannot be hidden; if I wasn't his death I wouldn't appear here as a black rider, and I wouldn't resent his knowing how to make metaphorical rain that puddles and flows and threatens to flood the town.

Posted: Sun - April 29, 2007 at 07:33 PM