Richard Pierce

Life, Poetry, Writing

Day 327

I’ve not written a fragmentary for ages. Today is one.

The ristretto 2x didn’t taste quite as nice today – perhaps because I “only” had two Rich Tea biscuits beforehand, and they’re not that sweet. But a nice pick-me-up anyway. And it’s needed, especially at this time of year when the days compress, so that although they’re all of course the same length in hours, it’s the daylight that determines their perceived length. And the darkness of the rain clouds in the mornings has made the days seem even shorter (although the sun was out at 06:50 to give us the illusion that it would be a fine day).

That coffee poem is still percolating in my mind (deliberate pun, in case you were wondering).

With today’s efforts, the blog will reach over 320k words so far this year. I find that almost surreal, to know I’ve written that many words in just under 11 months. Of course, once Aggie disappears from here, the count will drop by at least 500 words a day, those 500 words to be written in private.

A friend of mine, whom I’ve never met, but whom I follow on insta is madly in love (for the first time in his young life, I think). I had a brief exchange with him earlier, urging him to write “the best poetry of all” for the woman he’s in love with. He assures me he has already started doing so. I don’t think we’ll ever see it, but I’m sure it will be rather good (he’s a writer already anyway). I did say I had been tempted to write some for him, using his words and making it sound like I imagine he would sound, full of boyish enthusiasm and excitement. It might actually go something like this:

love you i do
this human
you i do
oh my heart
never have i
loved before
oh human
i do
my heart
my heart
this heart
love only you
any other words
are lost
before oh you
my heart
my love
this love
this human
this love

I shall direct him towards this meagre effort.

M and I are out tonight to have “supper” with an old friend from my job (he’s retired now). You can find him in the dedication to The Immortality Clock because it’s thanks to him and another who worked with him that the book came to be.

All this together just goes to show moments can make great things, moments can change lives for the better. Not knowing what might be round the corner is not a reason for fear, but a reason for hope, for optimism, for joy. Isn’t that the meaning of life?



‘Anyway,’ Aggie says. ‘Irrelevancies.’ She puts her backpack on the table, gets up, pulls the zip noisily towards her. ‘This is what I haven’t told you about.’ She looks along the table. It is just about as long as a human. She knew she was right. ‘Just clear everything off here first, and I’ll show you what I’ve got.’ She waits, and they all, including Cassie, jump to her command. It makes her smile. Inside.

Lily has even found a little brush and tray with which to sweep every little crumb off the table.

Aggie’s hand finds the small of Lily’s back as she passes by. ‘I missed you so much,’ she whispers into the fraction of that second. Lily’s smile illuminates them both.

Cassie, now at the opposite end of the table, standing, arms crossed, trying to re-assert her authority. ‘So what is it that makes everything else irrelevant?’ She raises her right eyebrow.

‘This,’ Aggie says, reaches into her bag and pulls out the wound-up matrix of the dead man, puts it onto the table, and unwinds it carefully, walking the length of the table as she does so. ‘I took him apart, Valentine’s doppelganger, the one who was on the same flight as me. And this is what made him live.’ She points at devices similar to the ones they’re all familiar with from the melted man in York, from under Anna’s skin, under Lily’s skin, from inside Tom’s empty skull. ‘Here,’ she says, and points at the ones that are at the lowest part of the shimmering puzzle. ‘Nodes in his feet, and specially reinforced wires up through his ankles, so his actual ankles were much thicker than a human’s.’ She walks back up the table. ‘The same in his wrists. More nodes. Lots of complex structures and probably alogorithms to go through there. That’s why he wore his sleeves down. Never took his jacket off. Just think of all the signals that have to pass through these what would have been bottle-necks if he’d have had the same structure as a human. Even big humans have relatively thin ankles and wrists. Wireless obviously doesn’t cut it for whole-body co-ordination.’ She runs her hands through her hair, still unaccustomed to the alien colour she can feel. ‘The weirdest thing is this, though.’ She guides the flat palm of her left hand across into the centre of the table. ‘All the humans with implants had them linked to their brain, or had a device that replaced the brain, like Tom, like that poor girl in the White House. But these … these ro … these humanoids – he’s linked everything to where the heart would be. A pump for the oil to circulate, like our heart and blood, just not a heart and not blood, and the central node for everything – decisions, communications, control functions from the outside, from Valentine. And only a tiny node, box, inside the skull. The brain area’s not the central focus at all of these inventions.’

‘But if you say wireless doesn’t cut it, how does Valentine make sure he can communicate with them regardless of environment?’ Cassie says.

‘I think it’s a combination of super-strength wireless, something military, or something the military doesn’t even have yet, and free will. This one said to me he was programmed along Valentine’s lines, that’s with the same likes and dislikes, the same foibles as Valentine.’ She doesn’t mention Valentine’s obsession with sex. An unnecessary distraction, she thinks. ‘Which means that most of the time, the humanoids are free agents, because they carry with them Valentines’ wishes and desires, have the same end goal in mind. All of them pulling in the same direction. All of them essentially Valentine. Until…’

‘Until they discover real free wil, or at least become aware of it,’ Anna says. ‘He didn’t think the Artificial Intelligence would keep evolving after he’d released them into the wild. He thought they’d just stay static.’

Aggie nods. ‘That’s exactly it. The moment this guy started to have thoughts or feelings which deviated just a little from Valentine’s path, Valentine stopped him, overrode the free will.’

‘Encouraged by you,’ Cassie says.

‘Not Valentine, no.’ Aggie feels herself blush, and a rage build.

‘No.’ Cassie shakes her head impatiently. ‘I mean you spoke with this … guy and made him realise he wasn’t really free, and that just made him discover even more of what he wanted, made his AI mutate quickly into something Valentine felt he wouldn’t be able to control.’

‘Oh.’ Aggie stops blushing, and her anger fades. ‘Yes, exactly.’

‘But we can’t talk to the whole army he’s built,’ Robert says, and his voice sounds full of despair.

‘But perhaps we can,’ Aggie says, and explains how she managed somehow to find her way into Valentine’s network when she and Lily were confronted with the army of implanted humans on the airbase in Montrose. ‘In fact, if we can use this matrix to work our way into Valentine’s network, we can destroy it from here.’

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