(01-15) Conspiracy

“What is it to conspire with someone else? In the most literal sense it is to breathe together,” The Patriarch said. “Join me in unitary breathing.”
“I wish he’d shut up,” Troll said. “He’s creeping me out.”
“Yea.” Fireplug was more cheerful. “We’re not Tele-Tubbies. Where does this organic computer get off, talking like Vincent Price inside our heads?”

“To breathe with me is to conspire with me.”

The voice seemed to have no external source, though they knew it was the container, which they had by now nicknamed Adam. They decided that because it had no body, it didn’t pose a threat. “I think of him like a ghost,” Louis said. “He’s smarter than all of us put together and I know that, but he has to get people like us, with bodies, to do what he needs done. So I figure he needs us more than we need him.”

The new voice was in fact especially difficult for Louis, because of the female voice that spoke inside his head. She was a voice from the Short family, from his ancestors, and he could hear them all talking somewhere in the back of his mind, trying to come to some consensus about Adam. He tried to pay no attention to it, and decided he’d hear it but not obey it.

“You’ve been obeying it,” Adam said.

“What did he say?” He looked at A-Bomb, who just stared back without comprehension.


“Just now.”

“He didn’t say anything just now.”

“We’re having a private conversation,” Adam said, and Louis had the sinking feeling that he was right; he had been obeying without knowing it. He leaned back in the black bean bag, in the basement of Mr. Ping’s Castle, in the hills above Tiberon. There was no traffic because the house was off the road, available only off a narrow walking lane. A spy satellite might have spotted them in the gardens, but no neighbor could see through the hedges surrounding the grounds.

Nothing could see them in the basement, where they were sealed underground with projection t.v. And a kitchen stocked with food. Mr. Ping was Bulldog’s uncle, and he’d let Bulldog stay there as caretaker while he went on his annual trip to China. “What’s the matter with you?” Bulldog was watching Louis.

“He’s talking to me privately.”

“I don’t hear him,” Troll said.

“That’s what he means by privately,” Fireplug said. “What’s he saying?”

“If that was any of your business he wouldn’t be talking to me privately would he?”

“You don’t want to answer me feel free, but might I suggest that if it says things to us privately, it might be manipulating us.”

Louis’ voice reeked with sarcasm. “You think maybe this thing is manipulating us?"

“All I’m saying is that we ought not to be carrying tales; we all ought to know what it says to any one of us.”

“All right,” Adam said, “I’ll turn off the filters. What I’m telling Louis is that what he has assumed was his brilliant plan to hold me for ransom was created through my knowing that the best way to control him is to flatter him.” The dwarves all chuckled agreement.

Louis clenched his fists and started to rise up on his toes, glowering. Behind him, Dallas imitated and exaggerated this habit, rising up on his toes and flapping his folded in arms like wings. The chuckling turned to sniggering and Louis whirled around. But Dallas was too quick to be caught. “Flatter me?” he asked. “Why would I give a rat’s ass about flattery?”

“Never mind,” Adam said. “Just take my word for one thing: there’s nothing to trade me for because nothing’s worth as much as me. I am by far the most powerful computer, and the highest consciousness, on earth.”

“I have a computer,” Louis said. “I have a new Apple laptop.”

“I can do millions of calculations before you can do one,” Adam said. “And I’m doing them all at the same time. I’ve got powers you can’t even imagine.”

“But you don’t have a body,” Louis said. “Let me guess what you want from us. You want us to help you incarnate yourself.”

“That’s right,” Adam said. “Like any sperm, I want to go hunting."

Posted: Wed - May 21, 2008 at 03:47 PM