Jane 8086 Part ThreeRichard X. Ellison / Humor / Actions & Adventure / Science Fiction
Copyright Richard X. Ellison, 2013
All rights reserved.
All characters, events and locations in this publication, other than those clearly in the public domain, are fictitious and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
The moral rights of the author have been asserted.
Richard X. Ellison is a pseudonym.
To Z - My guiding light.
A Story By Richard X. Ellison
"Wake up, Remi."
"Wake up, it's morning, you've slept enough."
Remi opened his eyes and found Jane standing over him. She smiled pleasantly while he rubbed the sleep out of his eyes. He'd half expected to wake up and find that it was all a dream —that he'd never even met Jane— but there she was, offering him a tall glass of dark, sludgy fluid.
"Here," she said, in her typically velvety smooth voice, "this is a breakfast smoothie. It has everything your body needs to run efficiently for six hours and then you'll be ready for lunch."
Remi looked at the foul smelling concoction and cringed at the thought of having to ingest it. "Let me brush my teeth first," he rasped in his morning voice, hoping to sidestep the beverage.
Remi rolled out of bed, grabbed a towel and made his way to the bathroom. He was about to relieve himself standing at the toilet when he felt Jane's presence behind him. "What are you doing?" he asked sternly.
"Watching," she replied with a straight face.
"Why?" Remi asked, as though the inappropriateness of the situation was far too obvious for her to have missed.
"I've never seen this before."
"Well so haven't a lot of other women, Jane! How about some privacy?"
"Okay, Remi," Jane said with a smile and a nod. "I can watch from outside with my thermal imaging," she added before walking away.
Remi was about to protest when he realized that it probably didn't matter. She could see everything anyway. There'd be no point in telling her not to watch...discomforting as the idea might be. He left her to her own devices and soldiered on with the business of being human...deciding that he'd brush his teeth and shave in the confines of the shower cubicle, if for no other reason than it afforded him the illusion of solitude. When he was done and finally emerged from the bathroom with a towel around his waist, he found Jane waiting patiently outside the door. She offered him the drink once more and smiled in reaction to his slight grimace. Remi took the drink and sniffed at it, gagging from the scent that filled his nostrils. "Do I have to?" he asked with fear in his eyes.
"Breakfast is important, Remi. I made it for you."
Remi's inability to see Jane as anything less than a real person compelled him to try. He didn't want to hurt her feelings. He began chugging down the liquid and had to suppress the urge to vomit at least twice...but he managed to force it down. He let out a loud growl upon completion to clear the remnants of the smoothie from his throat.
"Was there something wrong with it, Remi?" Jane asked while he walked in circles around the living room, attempting to settle the contents of his stomach.
"Urrrgh! That tasted awful, Jane!"
"Why does it have to taste good? It does what it's supposed to do."
Remi shook the vile concoction out of his memory and made his way to the bedroom, "wait out here while I change."
"It's part of being human, Jane," Remi called back to the other room, "we've got taste buds. We've got all these senses, touch, taste, sight, smell and sound. Some things are pleasing to our senses and some things aren't. It just so happens though, that a lot of the foods we like aren't necessarily the ones that are best for us. We try to have a little bit of everything in moderation. It's the experience of living. We might do things that are bad for us sometimes but a life lived without pleasure isn't really a life worth living. I like bacon and eggs for breakfast. I don't have it every day because it's fried food and the bacon has fat and if I had it every day I'd die of a heart attack really early in life. I can have it once a week and that's okay, as long as I get plenty of exercise it's not that big of a deal. There's a balance to everything," said Remi as he returned to Jane. He was dressed in blue jeans, hiking boots, a blue shirt and a brown coat.
"I think I understand, but how do you know what things you like?"
"Well, if I'd been drinking your breakfast smoothie since I was a kid, maybe I'd have developed a taste for it and I'd like it as an adult. People like different things. Most of the time it's because we get used to things when we're little. Sometimes we try new things and it ends up being pleasing to our palette. Generally with food, it's a case of what's available to us and we try to make something that's healthy, nutritious and tastes good too...and depending on what we need in our bodies, one of those three things will take precedence on a given day of the week. Most people like to go wild on Fridays for instance. It's because they don't have to work the next day, so they might have a couple of drinks and have a tasty meal, which might make them a bit sluggish the next day. Get it?"
"I do," said Jane after a nod.
"Hold on a sec," Remi said before ducking back in to the bedroom. He returned seconds later with a pile of old clothes and shoes. "Here, raw material."
Jane accepted the clothing and after a brief conversation, she used her nanites to reconfigure her ensemble. She dressed in blue jeans, brown boots, a white shirt and a blue denim jacket.
Remi stood with his index finger on his chin, appraising their collective sense of style. "I don't know," he said, "something's just a little off."
Jane shook out her hair and a wave of light cascaded over the length of her locks, turning her from a brunette to a blonde in the blink on an eye. "How's this?"
"Wow!" Remi smiled, reflexively causing Jane to smile as well. "That's incredible! It looks great!"
"I think we're ready to go," Remi said, leading Jane to the front door. As they passed the threshold he held her by the shoulders and looked her over once more, the way a parent swells with pride on their child's first day of school. They walked the length of the hall, went down the stairs and then paused briefly at the main entrance of the building. "Ready?" Remi asked.
Remi pushed open the door and they stepped out in to weather that was neither here nor there. There was a light —not quite chilly— breeze in the air and pregnant clouds in the sky, but the sun still peeked through every so often. There was activity all around them.
"There's...so much," said Jane after a long pause; awestruck by the deluge of data that was undoubtedly flooding her senses. She seemed overwhelmed as she tried to interpret everything she was seeing and hearing. She looked at the window cleaner on the suspended scaffolding attached to the building opposite them, then to the taco vendor across the street, then at the kids walking their way to school, to the men and women in their business suits carrying the wares of various baristas. There was a crossing guard, taxicabs and drivers, hobos and drifters, mimes and musicians, storefronts and shop windows, hotdogs and candy wrappers. Jane had yet to move from her spot but her sensors had stretched out and picked up the miles long radius of a city teeming with life.
"Are you okay?" Remi asked, noticing her trepidation.
"It's a lot to take in," said Jane, weakly attempting a smile.
"Surely you knew this was all here before?"
"You seem surprised."
Jane looked at Remi blankly for a moment before speaking. "The best way to explain is that I was vaguely aware of...all of this. Last night you said that we would go outside to learn today. I had no reason to focus on anything outside till now...till we went outside.
"Aaaahh," Remi dragged out with a knowing nod and a smile, "I suppose it must be daunting if you're looking at it all for the first time," he explained, "I've had a lifetime to absorb things bit by bit, you're getting it all at once. Let's start small and build from there. We'll walk and you can tell me what you see and you can ask me questions about things you don't understand as we go. Come on," he added with an outstretched palm.
"Okay," Jane said, in what almost seemed like a nervous voice, though only because her attention was split in so many directions. She looked at Remi's hand and then put hers out in a similar gesture. Remi didn't bother to explain, expecting that she'd realize what it meant eventually. He simply took her hand in his and walked down the steps of the building. She followed as if on autopilot and Remi slowly traversed the sidewalk with Jane in tow while she said nothing. Her head turned from side to side and her eyes darted every which way. They hadn't taken ten steps when Jane's foot slipped off the curb, Remi turned at the sudden jarring movement and just then a bike messenger came zipping by while he rang the bell on his handlebars. Jane caught sight of him at the last possible second and tried to leap out of the way, yanking Remi along with her. It all happened in three short seconds, the messenger yelling "lookout!" in concert with his ringing, Jane suddenly pulling Remi...and Remi shouting something incomprehensible as they both fell in a heap onto a bag of garbage that was waiting for trash collectors...Remi on top of Jane.
"Dumbasses!" the messenger called out with glee as he rode away post haste.
The commotion was enough to cause everyone on the street to stop and look. The remorselessly pitying stares from those who'd seen the incident lasted for about six seconds while Remi and Jane tried to pick themselves up from the mess on the street.
"Damn, my elbow hit something," Remi whined as he stood.
"I am sorry, Remi, I am finding it...difficult to...concentrate...on everything all at once. There is too...much happening. I do...not think I...am meant to be outside. I am afraid...that...you might get hurt if we keep...going, we...should turn back and go home," she said, her eyes still darting and her head moving from side to side in consternation.
"You stopped using conjunctions!"
"I am prioritizing, Remi. The equivalent...sentiment from your...perspective is that 'I forgot'."
Remi saw a tiny flash of light on Jane's head and saw that a few strands of her hair had turned pink. Another tiny flash came to life and a lock of hair turned orange. Panic set in. He couldn't allow anyone to see what was happening. He quickly took Jane by the hand and rushed her back to the lobby of the apartment building, they'd been no more than twenty paces from it. Once inside he found her to be no calmer than before, her rapid twitches and movements were every bit as neurotic as they'd been outside. Her eyes flitted like she was in the middle of a seizure. "Jane!" Remi called loudly, taking her by the shoulders and shaking her.
"Jane, focus on the sound of my voice, block everything else out. We're not learning anything outside right now...we're inside. Stop trying to concentrate on what's out there. STOP!"
Jane promptly shook her head, restoring her hair to its previous blonde state before flashing Remi a huge, fresh smile, "thanks, Remi. I don't know what would've happened if you didn't stop me. My code was on the brink of generating an unsustainable number of infinite loops. I'm sorry for using big words, but that's the best way to explain it."
Remi took a deep breath and exhaled dramatically before speaking, "you really had me worried there for a second."
"It may take me a few moments to sort through the data I collected outside but I'm certain that you worried for more than one second."
"It's just an expression, Jane."
"Uh huh. Did you notice that I said 'uh huh'? It's new, Remi. I heard it outside. Do you like it?"
"Yeah, it suits you," Remi answered with a short laugh, "look, the thing with being outside—"
"Nobody thinks about everything all at once. That's not what people do...only god does that...if there is one...so that's not what you're going to do when we go back out there. All you really need to focus on is our immediate surroundings.
Just you and me...in fact, I have a great idea. Lock down your senses to that of an average human being...and then slowly and gradually scale it up as we go along. That way you'll have time to adjust to everything and you'll know when it's becoming too much.
"That is an appropriate strategy, Remi. How do I say that in a better way?"
"Yes! Good idea, Remi."
"Okay, are we ready to try this again?" Remi asked, clapping his hands together.
"Affirmative", said Jane, nodding in wide-eyed determination.