Future Sight

[Author’s note: This story was written as a prompt where the writer had to introduce Pokemon in any historic fight in the world. I changed the prompt a little bit.]

“Break the bow, Alakazam!” Karna grunted from under his breath, and it was enough for Alakazam to understand what his master wanted from him. His short fingers bent under his own pressure, and the spoons in his hand began to tremble slightly, but steadily. With one swift movement, Alakazam brought his hands together in a victorious gesture, and there emanated from him a power that was never understood by the folklore tellers years after the war. The string of Gandiva undid itself with fervor, and the bow was struck out of his hands. Arjuna stared dumbfounded, and hardly had any time to react to what had happened to his bow. He had been relentlessly pursuing his archery since the last sixteen days of the battle, even a day before, when he and Karna had both realized their need, and such a passionate need, to duel. Without his bow, his hands felt empty and useless, his body meek and subdued. As a trainer, his dragon had helped him face legendary trainers, but as a warrior, the Gandiva was a part of his body that he could not separate from. He was pushed into sudden action by his own mind reminding him how precious time now was. He re-stringed his bow quickly and masterfully, as the hands of an expert would. But his weapon for this duel was not the Gandiva, powerful and masterful as he was with it, it was someone else.

“Charizard, wing them!” He screamed with furious passion, his voice echoing into itself. Charizard’s white-blue flame rose rapidly as gusts of wind began to originate from her flapping dragon wings. No one that large could be expected to move so smoothly, elegantly, and yet so powerfully, that for a few moments Karna and Alakazam both stared in horror. Alakazam began to lose his footing, and his tiny body was carried almost all the way to Karna’s chariot before he realized he could stop himself. His arms were spread and it seemed like he was tired from holding his own body. Karna knew that Arjuna knew his weaknesses. Alakazam was no epitome of strength and standing. He was puny, and it was only his mind that held all the power he was capable. He was more powerful, and much different, than he seemed. Much like myself, Karna thought to himself.

“Coward! Making your monster fly around like that! If you have the valor to fight me, fight me from the ground!” Karna bellowed as the flying dragon stopped controlling and the wind and landed her huge paws on the wet mud below, growling with hunger. “Psychic attack, Alakazam!” Alakazam’s eyes turned blue, propagating light and warmth, but Arjuna knew that this was going to cause his dragon more pain than he himself was willing to withstand. It was worse than a bow this time, his own loved one was in danger of feeling more pain than this war had been allowed. Alakazam’s spoons bent again under his own power, and when he brought his hands together this time, the entirety of Charizard’s body came to a complete pause. Within a few moments, she had fallen onto the ground, twisting and turning in bitter pain. Arjuna blinked for longer than he did, and said a silent prayer for the sins that he had committed against his own kind, and breathed in deeply. The attack lasted for seemed like minutes, at the end of which, Charizard’s body was released in the same twisted position, with her mouth gaping wide open. Her eyes were closed, and wings to powerless to drive her into the sky. Arjuna felt fury leaking into his muscles as he saw her attempt to bring her feet to listen to her.

“Arjuna, you need to be calm. I can see you feel for your monster – “, Krishna attempted to intercede into the storm in Arjuna’s heart.

“She is not a monster!”

Krishna ignored him, “- but this battle can only be won with a peaceful mind.”

“If he wants peace, he has come to the wrong war.” Arjuna’s anger seethed and fed the flame that engulfed his dragon’s tail. It burned whiter and stronger, until everyone, including Krishna, could feel the heat of her glory. “You know what you need to do. Flare Blitz!”

Karna flinched. This was what he had been dreading since the beginning of their dule. Very few men and women on earth could sustain the pain to their own bodies to assure destruction of their antagonist, and Charizard was the only monster who could do this. Her mind and body was a projection of the turmoil in Arjuna’s – the mutually assured destruction that could only be predicted by a man of such high birth, and such as the thunderstorm’s son who wielded in himself the power to electrify and burn, and to be consumed by the watered clouds. The fire in Charizard’s body grew to now engulf her entire body. Her ember eyes were all that was visible, immersed now in rage and agony. Her large claws found the strength, no one knows where from, to charge towards the Alakazam standing weak and open to submission. When they struck, fire flew into the eyes of the audiences, and the intensity of the explosion was so bright that for a while, no one could see who had struck who. The brightness cleared within a matter of seconds, as Alakazam’s body was finally visible. He was lying still on the wet earth, with burns consuming the whole of his body. One could only wonder what the wet mud was doing to his body; whether Mother Earth had finally gotten her bitter revenge against Karna and burnt his lead Pokémon, or whether the Mother judged not the monsters that lived under the folly of their masters and was cooling Alakazam with her healing powers of water and rock. He stirred on the ground, living proof that even when Charizard was the strongest, she was not strong enough. Arjuna was flabbergasted; even the strongest of Pokémon could not have taken the blow so easily. He was hurt, yes, but he still had the will to fight.

Krishna, in the entirety of future sight and wisdom, knew the answer. “He is no ordinary Alakazam, Arjuna. No monster has ever entirely belonged to his master, you should know what.” Arjuna heard what Krishna had to say, but he did not listen. He could only feel the fire that burned in him when he recalled the insult that Karna had been to his family – his wife and his brothers. He was not going to let a strong Pokémon stop him from destroying Karna. His eyes, though, fell on his own dragon.

Charizard lay on the ground, breathing heavily, her body covered in the burns of her own fire. They said the mighty dragon could not be burnt, and the scales on her back would protect her from any fire that was strong enough to melt even the largest and harshest of the rocks. They had forgotten what Charizard herself was capable of. But she was still manic and ready to feast of the cooked flesh of her enemy.

“Alakazam!” The anguish in Karna’s voice was apparent to none but his Pokémon. Alakazam steadied himself on his hands, now rid of the spoons they had always held – they had evaporated in the fire that Charizard had flung on him. His own muscles were too weak to move, but Arjuna, and Charizard, did not know that there was one aspect of his body that no one could challenge and tame, except Karna. His mind. Karna saw him use his own telekinetic powers to get up at least five feet above the ground. An unrecognizable smile played on his lips, a smile that only Karna could perceive.

“Oh Lord! He is much stronger than we think!” Krishna exclaimed, much to Arjuna’s surprise. Krishna closed his eyes and watched images float in his mind’s eye. He knew what Alakazam should and will do now, and he was certain that it would only lead to Karna’s downfall. He was going to make the wrong decision, and lose. Lose everything that he built throughout his life, things that had not been served to him even though he was as able-blooded as Arjuna himself. Arjuna had sailed through a life of hasty, kingly penance, but Karna had seen it all. He had been born with the blood that could chill the blood of his own adopted kind, and yet he had no freedoms that came along with being a high born. He was son of God, and the God of heaven himself had taken away that privilege from him. “Call Psycho cut,” said Krishna in the inside of his mind, “and prepare for your doom.” The Gods in the heavens heard his roar and felt the tremor that was going to shake the earth. They murmured and chanted, not understanding the power that the earth still had on the kin of the Gods.

Karna closed his eyes. He prayed to all that was divine to him, all the Gods that had written in his fate the death that was not his choosing, to give him one chance to be the son that he could never be. He knew what he had to do, yet his knowledge was elusive to him. He searched the caverns of his mind for some inkling of the power that he held, a power that he could bestow upon Alakazam and be victorious. But much like his own betraying blood, his mind betrayed him in the way that Parshuram had promised him it would. There was, now, only one way out of this.

Even before he gave out the command, he knew it was going to lead to his death. But he wasn’t doing this so that he could emerge victorious with fratricide, but so that Arjuna would know that his lineage would finally be ashamed of him.

“Future sight, Alakazam.” The power had left his voice, and through the strength of Alakazam’s own mind, he could hear his Pokémon rebel against this decision, but once it was clear to Alakazam why his master was choosing thus, they were both surrounded not by the gore and unsettlement of war and death, but by the peace of afterlife and love. Alakazam had closed his eyes momentarily, and opened them after a pause. Nothing happened.

Krishna smiled. Even the gods did not predict the details of how the history of wars will be mapped, but they knew what was written in the fate of a select few. Karna was slowly walking towards his death, and Krishna knew that this was how the war had to end.

Charizard roared, despising the sudden lack of challenge, while waiting on her hind claws for a command to destroy the now mindless monster in front of her. Arjuna called Hyperbeam and it was clear to everyone that this could not be survived by a Pokémon such as Alakazam. Charizard’s eyes burnt white hot again, and she split her jaws as the beginning of the most powerful beam took form on her dragon tongue. The white ball of shimmering light grew larger and more terrifying, and the warriors around had to stop and stare at the source of light in the dragon’s mouth. Her wings were now outstretched and it almost seemed as if she was drawing power from the earth and the sky, her red body earthen and ethereal at the same time. With only a fraction of a second, the ball of light erupted into a white beam of electricity and fire, and was headed right towards Alakazam. Years later, Arjuna would remember this moment to be the precise moment when he first felt a pang of compunction in his heart.

Before anyone even registered what had happened, the beam had hit Alakazam, and under the light of the collision, his body was invisible. He had been flung towards Karna’s chariot and when the smoke and light cleared, they made out that he was lying helpless on the ground. Karna felt the fire in his heart go out, and he knew that this was the end. The mysteries of the world worked faintly, and the bond that he shared with Alakazam was not one of master and slave. Their life-forces were so intricately woven together that there was no way that he could survive the death of his Pokémon. That was why it wasn’t about rearing a team to destroy all the bearers of the world; for warriors, war came at a huge price. Especially war against someone who was going to avenge the insult against a complete ancestry.

Karna felt his voice choking on his vocal chords, and he could not find the strength in him to scream out Alakazam’s name. He found some life left in his legs, stepping down towards the ground from his high chariot and onto Alakazam’s side. His eyes were closed, and it seemed like even his mind had given up on him. Karna knelt beside his friend gently, afraid to disturb him. His hand stroked Alakazam’s paw, lifeless and cold. The will in him to survive and bid farewell to the only master he had loved had preceded the body that had deceived him when he had needed it the most. Karna felt the cool mud against his legs and up his torso, and knew that this was how he was to meet his doom; not a princely goodbye, but the denial to say goodbye to his most loved friend. His eyelids dropped with their own weight as Karna fell softly on the ground alongside Alakazam.

The hundreds surrounding this duel roared with joy such that the prince-like, but never a prince, and the best of warriors, had been slain along with his monster. Arjun felt the rumbling in his own heart, and felt a quiet suppression of his smile. He looked towards Krishna, who now had a god-like smile on his face, demonstrating to the gods of how a demi-god had destroyed another. Arjuna looked at his dragon waiting for him in the dirt, and how gloriously she stood even with mud drying in cakes around her claws. This had been a conquest for no one but her. Only this sight could make him smile; he had avenged the insult to his wife, to his mother, to his entire brotherhood, and Karna had finally paid his dues, he thought to himself. Before he could get down the chariot to stroke his dragons nuzzle, he felt a bizarre wave overcome his senses. He had not shaken off the battleground from his eyes, but he saw his mother Kunti right in front of him. She was disheveled and unkempt, her hair untamed and livid.

“He was my son!” Her words were not screamed but, they evoked in him a passion that only a mother’s words could produce. “Arjuna, he was your brother. The son of Surya, he was your brother from the beginning of your life. He made me promise not to disclose this to you until after his death…” With the last move that he had made, Alakazam, and Karna, had made sure Future sight worked.

Arjuna’s eyes whitened with horror as his mother’s imagined words echoed in his mind. “He was my brother,” he murmured under his breath, “I killed my own blood.” His trembling fingers could not hold the Gandiva, and it slipped, farther than it physically fell. The cry in his throat lay embedded in the guilt that still held his head up, the sinews on his back protruding like snakes against his skin. He looked at the lifeless bodies of his brother and his monster, and then at his own dragon caught in the quandary of her own master. Only she showed in her eyes the woe that even she had felt at knowing what Arjuna knew, for they were one in mind and soul. Arjuna felt hot tears burn the eyes that had seen his own hands kill many more than he even cared to remember, but this murder was a murder that he would never be able to shake off.

And no folklore teller ever knew, and thus they eventually forgot, why Arjuna, after slaying Karna, kneeled on his chariot, and wept, alongside his fallen Gandiva.

Author vs. Character

His hair fell in wisps around his face, softly blowing in the breeze. The salt was condensing on his hair and beard, and the smell of the river was strangely alluring. When he had walked on to the bridge, the stale smell from his clothes wore off almost immediately and welcomed the warm, watery breath of the river’s bosom. He wondered if he had moved into the influence of something more real than what he had experienced in his life so far, that the water of the river was trembling to engulf him right now.

“What?” he shouted out. To no one in particular, he narrowed his eyes, as if deep in thought, like –

“No! I am talking to you! What are you saying?”

Lately, he had begun to realize that there was more to his own being than what he was thinking or deciding. He realized this subtly, like when he was reaching for his cell phone, but instead reached for his pen. Or when all he wanted was to kiss his wife, but he ended up getting up from bed in the middle of the night to get a fresh drink of water even when he wasn’t thirsty at all. He tried to question it, but it was silenced. But now, it was going to be over soon. Everything that he had been provided as a measure for control, had been taken away from him. His wife was gone, taking their children with her, and he had lost his home. He had nowhere else to go but stand here and wait for the river to come to him, or to go to the river himself.

“What the hell? What are you saying, you psycho nutcase?!” He looked up with disgust, almost screaming this time.

He was delusional now, his brain slowly losing control over his body, and his mind was now its own captive. It was like his feet were taking him to climb over the rail, and throw himself –

“Oh my god! What are you saying? I am not going to jump off! I am just here to enjoy the breeze. I have children waiting for me at home!”

The story that he had imagined was now taking real life form, with his mind projecting images of his children to him. But he was clueless now that what he was actually seeing was nothing but a figment of his imagination. A piece of the past that was long gone from everyone’s life, except his own. His wife was already on the flight to her parents’ home, as were their children cuddled along her arm. He was all alone. And there is only one answer to homelessness, and loneliness, and the answer was right in front –

“Are you insinuating that I will jump from the bridge? My family is right at my home here! Why – What are you doing?”

He had to do this, he was born to fulfill this purpose in the larger picture of the fate that the world was going towards. The river, the bridge, everything had existed right for this moment to take place. He could not turn away anymore. It would be betrayal to everything that he was, and everything that he was supposed to be. He was defying his own creation.

“Godammit! I am not defying anything! Are you on acid, man? Look, I just want to go home. I am a normal guy, with a simple life. I should go now. All right, big girl?”

He began to walk away from the rail and stepped onto the concrete road. He turned around, and began to walk along the road, his hair wild in the wind. But something pulled him back, a deeply held secret, something that is only awakened when one is face to face with one’s wildest desires. Even he knew that he had to go back. There was no other way for this to conclude.

“No, girl. That ain’t happening. You need to go get some sleep…” His voice trailed off as he waved his hand without turning around. And just like that, the river, and the bridge, disappeared.

The Smell of Freshly Cut Grass

It had been a grimy morning when we first woke up, but the dust settled into the dew that hung from the tree limp over us. The branches were dense with leaves, and bent down almost to touch the ground. The bell-leaves were sagging and clean, heavy with the water that hung from their tips. The russet of the sky melted and dripped into the horizon, and from the center of the sphere, emerged a powder-blueness that we had not seen in a long time. The sun hid behind the tree, peeking through the shadow of the leaves, breaking into pieces while passing through the dew, spraying a combination of colors on the large field underneath. It was warm and damp, the birds already lingered on the earth trying to pull out worms and caterpillars.

I told my wife it was going to be a quiet, monotonous day, since it felt odd that anything eventful would happen while the sun shone so generously. She would not take her eyes of the horizon.

“Do you hear that?”

I sighed. I had already learnt to ignore the delusion that caused her to erupt into foolishness and obstinacy, but I was still not used her senses convincing her that she was hearing something.

“No, love, there is nothing there.”

“Do you hear that?” she repeated, as if trying to convince herself more than me of what she was hearing. Her body swayed with the wind, and for a moment I was convinced what I saw of her was a dead image of her former being. I sighed again, and looked up at the trees which seemed like were enclosing us from all the sides, like trapping us into its giant canopy.

“Please, listen.” She murmured this time, her voice fearful. I looked at her. Her eyes glistened in the sunlight, much like the dew pearls that I could see all around me. But it was something about them that made me curious. I had never seen them before, in spite of being in love with her for as long as I could remember. “I can hear them. I can smell them. They are here.” Something in her voice made me look towards the horizon, and close my eyes to concentrate on the silence.

An almost non-existent buzzing reached my ears.

My eyes widened. “Do you hear it now?” She was looking at me. She was alert and much more lucid than she had been in a while. “Yes, I hear it.” I closed my eyes again, trying to tell myself I was wrong, and that I was only believing her because she deserved it. The buzzing sound was louder this time, and I quickly opened my eyes. I breathed in deeply, trying to calm my throbbing heart. I turned around to look at my neighbor. “They are here!” It was a shout; I had not intended it to be. But I knew she was right; I knew I was right.

“That’s not possible. They haven’t been here in so long.” I could see the panic rise up his eyes as he tried to tell himself that we weren’t hearing what we thought we were. A pause followed, and I saw his eyes well up. A noiseless gasp escaped his lips, and he realized I was not wrong. I knew what I had to do. Do I have the will to do it? I thought to myself, doubting my credibility and my will to survive. “We have to start.”

He looked shaken, and I was not surprised. It was times like these that made me wonder if someone else was thinking the same thing that I was. The danger was imminent; and it was the same for him as it was for me. The same fears clouding our better judgment. “What if we- we- we are wrong? God, I haven’t done this in such a long time. This is all that is left of me! I can’t- can’t do this!” He stammered, stumbling over his words trying to explain to me what was already understood. He wanted to give in.

“We cannot. We are old, we need to tell them. The GLVs that have already been released will take a long time to reach the end of the field. We can make it faster. You know that.” I felt strangely peaceful suddenly. My own words were talking to me, telling me that all I was about to do was for everyone else. And I had to. I had no other option. There was enough energy inside me to at least go on for at least a few meters. With my wife, I could reach to the end of field with the slow breeze. My leaves wouldn’t be able to take it, but my roots could. I couldn’t snap myself broken, but I could uproot myself. But it would mean that- I interrupted my own thoughts by narrowing my eyes and breathing deeply in, a sting of green overwhelming my olfactory senses. My wife had definitely not been delusional. The other blades had already been releasing their volatiles into the air.

She stood calmly, the crystals of her eyes had disappeared and she just stood there still staring at the horizon. “You know what we should do, love. I’ll help you. Are you ready?”

“I am tired, honey. I can’t do this. But I want to.”

“It’s okay. I’ll help. I will. Like always. Just stay with me, okay?”

She stared ahead, not replying. I bent down in her direction and pulled at the ground below her. It shifted slowly. An old one like me only had so much strength. I pulled harder. Her roots began to show, and then slid out suddenly, like knife from a patch of butter. The buzz of the ground, and the ground vibrations were already felt by my own roots was already growing stronger. From the corner of my eye, I saw him trying to do the same thing. He still seemed unsure and fearful, he did not have the same determination as I did.

I did the same with myself, sliding out from the ground. It was easier than I thought. I thought that I had left a legacy longer than a few centimeters behind after living such a long life being prepared for nothing, if not this. And then I relaxed, in spite of the vibration of the ground crunching away through the remnants of a quiet life that I had been preparing for.

A small piece of her blade found mine, and twirled gracefully. I looked at it, and then at her face. She was smiling. “It’s here.” I squeezed her blade, it seemed like her veins were more alive than ever, even more than when I first met her. It was probably because of the volatiles now running through her and out from her roots. “I love you. I always have. Even when I didn’t.” I still hoped her it was her lucidity that was speaking. But I didn’t doubt her. Not now.

“I love you too.”

From the horizon, over the tops of all of our neighbors, I saw the glorious darkness approaching. But my eyes were on her, and hers on the majesty of the machine. I heard the swapping of the blades from my side, as she turned around to look at me. And smiled. “Goodbye.” I smiled.

 


He stood up straight, and let go of the bar of the machine as he adjusted his straw hat. Wiping his hands on his dirty overalls, he breathed in deeply. The smell of freshly mowed grass was exquisite, he thought to himself.

A jar of Nutella

Since the past two semesters, I have started this tradition of having a jar of Nutella deep inside my drawer. I keep it there for special occasions. Sometimes, after a long day, I close my door, and latch it so that no one disturbs me. I bring out a spoon and my beloved jar out, lick the spoon with relinquish, and tell myself this is the one good thing I get and deserve that day. I do not ask for much from that one jar, just an assurance that if tomorrow is one of those days when I do not really feel like getting out of bed, the Nutella would be waiting for me at night to tell me today was worth looking forward to. Yes, it is chocolate. It is, however, not just that. Of course, it tastes amazing. But truthfully, it is not the essence of Nutella to be delicious. In life, assurances come rarely and come few. It takes entire lives to either learn to survive without it, or build a fort of protection so that there may be some antidote to distrust. So yes, it is not about the Nutella. That jar is symbolic of my freedom to feel, in a midst of restrictions and commotion.

I was reading “The Handmaid’s Tale” a while ago. It was an interesting perspective that she watched from while writing the book. A religious regime that Atwood imagines is grey and cruel, and upturns the slow boil of a political and social movement. I’d like to think that the world is moving towards a better place in terms of empathy and compassion, but she possibly thinks otherwise, at least as far as the story of the novel is concerned. The woman is a mere extension of her ovaries and uterus, and is known as a prefixed version of the man she lives to serve. The protagonist of the story Offred (literally, ‘of-fred’) is a young ‘handmaid’, a woman who is still fertile and has an offspring for the couple who can otherwise no longer conceive. Her job is to have intercourse with the man in question once a while, while the wife holds her, and pray that she is not thrown away like the rest of the ‘Unwoman’. Her past is clear and disfigured. She had been a married woman, with a child, a chain-smoker, and the daughter of a previously active women’s rights’ activist. She is so free, that she does not understand the freedom that has been handed to her on a platter. Eventually, we find her helplessness in the way she looks at a cigarette because that is what the woman can do. Her life gains the weight of finding no freedom where initially she had all.

However, the man who she serves (the Commander), finds her company exciting, and showers her with presents, which in this case is the freedom to read, write and play games. When she finally finds an underground movement against the said regime, and how she could help by giving in information about the Commander, she forgets to perform the task. In her small freedom, she forgot the larger question of why she had not been allowed to dress however she wanted, have a child only if she wanted to, or have a cigarette whenever she wanted.

Is this the way that the human mind works? Even in terms of our personal lives, is a small amount of happiness or assurance enough to brush aside everything that happened to us? I could hate what I do for the rest of my life, so as long as I find one thing that makes me happy. I think that is how most lives pass by. We find assurance, not joy, in things that we can control. I have been willing myself to believe that there is more to making choices than just this. What I fear most in my life is to lay in my death bed, thinking of all the things I could have done. And then sometimes, I come across poetry like ‘I heard a fly buzz when I died’ by Emily Dickinson that tells me that maybe death will not be the eventful play, but the inconvenience of going to sleep and never waking up. It might be that simple. It might even be desirable. I will never lie in bed in the hopes of waking up the next day to suffer through every excruciating little detail of my life, but I will find my heart aflutter when I think of going to sleep at night.

Little things which we can let go someday by choice, things that we convince ourselves won’t matter. Maybe we can choose to stay at a job that sucks because we find ourselves greedy and pulled towards the money, but we will tell ourselves a jar of Nutella awaits us that night. Maybe we can find grimness in every bone in our body, but our tongues will still understand the value of that one touch of melted, hazelnut chocolate.

Number 12

>>
Initializing… Car-Mod; Key_part = MP; Generating sequence… Initializing Car-ModMP12
Starting log… — Start of log: 15.11.77, 11:21;– Finding possibles. Please wait. Thank you for your patience. Number of possibles: 5;

>> Log 1: 15.04.77; 14.25;

Dr. Zilman told me it is important to log every information that I come across that has anything to do with me, and do this as frequently as I can. He told me to call my Keepers Maya and Pramod. He told me Maya was a woman and Pramod was a man. I will be connected to the internet once they arrive at the hospital to take me to their home, but until then, I know of what Zilman has told me. I carry inside me the combination of my Keepers, and four additional copies of the same. I create the image of such a copy, and deliver it to my Keepers once time is up. It should take me almost a year to get this process to complete, and I am to stay with the Keepers until it does finish. Dr. Zilman told me I could be retained even after that, depending on what my progress has been. He is responsible for me, he said, and because of that, he wants to see me every day. He told me the frequency of our meeting will lessen as time passes and as I attain a more stable personality, and maybe even unlike the person I was modelled after, but that I might still need some more time with him depending on how my Keepers react to me.

I spent an hour with him today, and he told me all that I needed to know. Humans have a division of biology, where one kind of human cannot produce an image, and the other can. Like me, a woman can retain one or more copies inside her (for less than the time it will take me, for I am not a woman, Dr. Zilman told me), but the man cannot do this. Nature tries to create copies through this process of reproduction so that different species can exist in the world. He pulled out charts from his drawers and showed me the different anatomical structures of the human body. After doing this, he showed me the modifications that had been done in this natural system to create me. There is a lot of metal inside my body, but humans do not have this metal. They do sometimes if they want it, Zilman answered me when I asked him, that if certain parts of their body were not working, then doctors like him create body parts (like the ones I have) artificially out of a variety of materials and make sure the system works again. I asked him if others like me had been created, but he told me that I was an experiment, so there were others like me, but very few. We were created because my Keepers do not have the time and energy, especially Maya (because she is the woman), to produce a child and wait approximately 35 weeks to acquire an image. I could do it much more easily than they can, and I will be expected to do nothing but nurture the image that they put inside me. They put in 5, because it is very probable, that the system fails at least three to four of these images, and I have to be successful in this attempt, otherwise my Keepers would be horribly sad. Zilman told me that I had been studied very carefully under a recorded system to come up with this figure. I do not want Maya and Pramod to be sad. I am not supposed to cause sadness, Zilman told me. I have to function the way Maya and Pramod want me to. And only the way that was satisfying for them somehow.

Finding possibles. Please wait. Thank you for your patience. Number of possibles: 5;

>> Log 2: 16.04.77; 00.12;

My Keepers have a wonderful house. It is large and spacious, and the windows go all the way up to the ceiling, overlooking a yard that is well taken care of. Pramod introduced me to their gardener, Lenny who was watering the plants by the door as I walked towards the door. While I stood near the door, Maya cleaned up inside to make room for me.

I talked to Lenny about his gardening techniques, and he told me how he had been grafting the roses to make sure they were in full bloom when the right season arrived. Roses are not easy to grow here, I found out later, especially since it can get very hot in the summer. Lenny told me sometimes most of the leaves burn and wither away due to the sunlight. He was worried he would be replaced soon, but made sure that he did his work right without tiring himself as far as he had it under control. Maya heard this, and laughed to herself as she stood near the end of hallway, peeking into the living room where Lenny and I stood. Maya, Lenny explained to me later, kept all the plants inside the house when the summer came, and cared for them passionately waiting for the winter to soothe their wilting pain. At various points in the last seven years that they had lived in this particular house, Maya had even managed to get lilies to bloom. As Maya led me upstairs to where I would be stationed, Lenny stood at the door and watched us walk away. His head was tilted, and he was squinting his eyes. I wonder now what that meant.

When I first entered, all I was looking for was where they would connect me to the internet for I wanted to study up on what Dr. Zilman had told me. He had been insistent that I do so, and that the world of knowledge was awaiting me. For the next year or so, I was to understand all that I could, and all that I want to. From my position, I could see down the stairs and into the wide hallway that led into the drawing room, and also into my Keepers’ room. Maya told me to just call out her name in case I needed her for anything, and that she was working in the small office that her bedroom led to. Once she left me, I realized for the first time how quiet the room was. There were almost no registered sounds, and at this point, I could not hear Maya in the kitchen, or Lenny in the garden. I was all by myself. I wondered if they existed at all.

Finding possibles. Please wait. Thank you for your patience. Number of possibles: 5;

>> Log 3: 27.04.77; 16:40;

I am still not allowed to go outside too much. Maya, against Zilman’s instructions, let me at least go out to get the mail or the newspaper, and that is all that I can do to entertain myself as far as the outside is concerned. I look out the window at the beautiful garden that faces the house, but I am not allowed to do anything more. Zilman said the sun was not good for me. I told him what I had read, that the sun was good for pregnant women, but he explained to me that I was not pregnant, nor a woman. The fact that I was a machine was supposed to make the entire process easier, and not complicate it further. The image got all the nutrients and vitamins from the Ingestion that I was given every day by my Keepers and he told me it was enough for the possibles to survive. The Ingestion was mixed by Maya under the instructions of Zilman, and they were perfect for the needs of the image that I was rearing. I still have five possibles inside of me, and Zilman told me that was a good sign, except that he was hoping for at least two or three of them to fail. The Keepers had only wanted one or two images, and their wishes could not be ignored. However, he was very clear on the fact that once the stability of all the possibles can be verified, the others can be terminated without much hassle.

I was wondering how easy it was to terminate, and he was very articulate about the entire matter. He said that the final wish of Maya and Pramod was to have one offspring, and that is what they will receive. Nothing else could matter, and that I should definitely not wonder too much about it. Termination was easy.
When Maya came to pick me up, I was enthusiastic about asking her about termination. I wondered what the image looked like. The image that exists inside me is a duplicate of Maya and Pramod combined, which means they probably look like a weird mixture of both of them. I know what children are, and Zilman has explained the process of gene division to me. So this means that the image will be like Maya a little bit, probably wanting to eventually grow lilies in the house. How can Zilman talk about terminating a possible Maya? I wanted to ask Maya while she drove the car, her face grim with focus, but I knew that asking her this would result in a consequent unplanned meeting with Zilman. Which is fine, because Zilman answers all of my questions with patience, but I want no answers anymore. I feel as if a human being waiting for my questions and answering me is not trusting of me, and I’d rather just read it all on my own and try to make sense of it. I want to ask Maya, I know she would probably just laugh it off, and answer me eventually, but I don’t know. Not yet.

Finding possibles. Please wait. Thank you for your patience. Number of possibles: 5;

>> Log 4: 11.05.77; 4:31;

I have been thinking of asking Maya to let me out of the house once in a while, for more than just getting the mail. The garden looks too far from the window at the end of the hallway where I am generally kept, and I want to help Lenny out. I see him every day, bending over the flowers and shrubbery, trying to make sure they can handle the rising heat of summer. They cannot, I suppose. Lenny told me they will soon be moving all the little pots near the garage, in the shed, where they can flourish with more significance. But I want to watch the leaves glistening in the sun before they do that, before the summer takes over. I overheard Maya telling Pramod she was thinking of letting me help Lenny out sometime, seeing as Lenny was functioning slower and slower. Pramod thought it was a really bad idea, considering the fact that Dr. Zilman had categorically asked them not to let me out of the house. Maya had not insisted. She almost never does with Pramod. He isn’t home much, which doesn’t bother me because even when he is around, he is not really. He floats around the house, quietly and like a shadow, moving from one room to another, as if he was too afraid of letting anyone know he was there. And I know Maya feels that way too. Pramod works at night quite frequently, and sometimes, I have seen Maya get startled when she finds Pramod in bed with her in the morning as she turns around with the light slipping through the curtain, as if she had been unsure of who she was sharing her bed with. His movements, though slow and hollow, though precise and purposeful. After dinner, he goes to the study, which is right across the bedroom, sits on his chair at the desk for around an hour, his face aglow with the fluorescent light. I do not know exactly what he does, I don’t even know what he does for a living, but I know that it isn’t related to work, because I can sometimes hear soft music coming from inside the room. Afterwards, he would strut right back outside into the hallway, smile at me gingerly, and go inside the bedroom. Maya would generally already be inside, and he would close the door behind him as he went inside. He seemed to be uncomfortable with the idea of me. I overheard them talking once, and he was telling Maya how he felt I stared a lot, and that he did not like it. I want to tell Zilman this is happening.

Finding possibles. Please wait. Thank you for your patience. Number of possibles: 5;

>> Log 5: 17.05.77; 01.05;

In my last meeting with Zilman, I told him about Pramod and what I saw last night. For the first time in the last few weeks, Pramod left the door to their room slightly ajar. I don’t think he intended to, because he never does. I told Zilman how he did not like the way I stared at him, although Maya has expressed no such concern. Dr. Zilman explained to me that this was only because Pramod was not entirely used to a non-human living in his home, and carrying his offspring. This is a new concept, and the entire reason why there are not many like me in the world. I am not convinced, because I read up about artificial intelligence on the internet, and I wonder how they created someone like me, and did not create anything else. Zilman probably cannot answer this. Why do I have to be a different class of maternal intelligence? Is that what I am, anyway? Zilman does not shed light on what he means by ‘others like me’, regardless of how much I insist. I assumed, at first, that I will find my answers online, but I do not. I wonder something, but I suppose I am assuming too much.

At first, I thought Pramod was finally beginning to not think I stare too much, or that I was being too non-human, but then I realised that it was probably a mistake. I peeked inside, and it was very dark, but my eyes adjusted to the darkness soon enough. From where I was standing, I could see their bed. I could see movement under the blanket, but could not tell what was happening. It had already been at least an hour since Pramod had gone inside, and I could not understand why they were still awake. This was movement and sound I did not really understand, and I tried to
figure out what it was exactly that was happening. I do not want Pramod and Maya fighting, because after all, as Zilman said, my purpose was to make my Keepers happy. I knew the answer was on the internet, but all I could find was a reassurance that under such circumstances, I should consult my suggested Doctor. I suppose that is what I had to do anyway, and that is what I did.

Zilman told me that had I not been created, a man and a woman have sexual intercourse, leading to the woman getting her egg fertilised. The entire process is pleasing, somewhat like how I want to visit the garden to entertain myself, Zilman explained. Hormones are released that make humans feel a certain way towards each other, and that was possibly what my Keepers had been doing when I saw them. Fortunately, he said, I had no hormones, either male or female, and therefore, I could be free of these feelings that complicate the nature of this intercourse. Of course, they are not trying to create an image, they are only doing it because it feels good to them. Zilman also told the opposite of such a feeling existed; that the human body could feel undesirable touches as well, and that they would result in pain. If a human was to be be pricked by a pin, or cut with a knife, they would be in pain. I wonder what that feeling must be like. I know for a fact that I only have a few input channels through which I perceive my surroundings. Humans have an entire skin across the entirety of their bodies to feel at any point they wish. So if I were to touch Maya on her wrist, she would feel it. Maybe that is why they are so distracted during everything they do. Yesterday, I saw Maya take a rose up to her cheeks and caress it, while she was busy shifting them in the shade. She forgot about the heat for a while, as she stood there, touching and feeling the leaves between her fingers, as if making sure they were real. I did not understand what she was trying to do, but now I think I know. It must mean something to be able to have every part of your body under your control. But I imagine how much pain could also be felt.

Finding possibles. Please wait. Thank you for your patience. Number of possibles: 5;

>> Log 6: 24.05.77; 16.35;

I asked Zilman last week if I could at least go inside the room where all the plants are kept now, to save them from the heat of the sun. He told me I could, and I could not wait for the meeting to end and go see the roses that Maya had planted. I suppose that is what joy must feel like, and I asked Zilman. He smiled. I do not understand him sometimes, and I want to know now what he thinks when he looks at me like that, and he smiles. He is my Doctor, but he talks to me so frequently and so much, that maybe I think he knows me quite well. I tell him what I write in my log anyway, and I wonder sometimes whether he reads it. I hope he does not.

To be honest, I asked Zilman to let me see the plants because Maya has been spending a lot of time with them in the last week. Every time I station myself, and look inside her room and not find her there, I feel as though everyone has left the house leaving me entirely alone. I do not like to feel this. The only way I could make sure of this is to spend some time in the shed, where Maya is. She smiles when she sees me, and this smile is different than the way Pramod smiles at me. Pramod’s smile seems one of insecurity; as if he is afraid of me and what I could do. I think he still does not trust me, but Maya does. I don’t think Maya ever thought otherwise anyway. When I went to the shed today, she was bent over a particular bush of jasmine. As I walked in, she jolted upright, surprised to see me, and giggled, asking me what I was doing there. I told her I had the permission to come here, and she seemed to like to hear that. Her hair was tied back into a knot at the nape of her neck, falling downward in rough wisps. She told me to look at the bush she had just been looking at, and that it was the jasmine flower. They call it a chameli, she said. I knew this already, but I didn’t tell her. “This is my favorite amongst all the flowers here. It has such a beautiful fragrance…” and she trailed off, cupping her hands over her nose and taking a deep breath into her lungs, and then smiling a smile I had never seen before. I wanted to smile too.

Finding possibles. Please wait. Thank you for your patience. Number of possibles: 5;

>> Log 7: 25.05.77; 11:30;

I asked her later what it was like to smell. I can sense temperature, sound and vision, and much more than humans can do, but I do not understand what it is like to smell something. I know what the content of the air around me is, and I know what smell is pleasant and what will not be, but I cannot say for sure I know what something smells like. Or, I know it, but I cannot seem to be sure of it. Maya told me it was like describing to a blind person what red is. “You just cannot…” she said, and sighed. I definitely did not smell the chameli, because I simply cannot. At least I think I cannot. Regardless of that, I don’t think I will ever know what Maya is smelling when she smells chameli. I cannot tell her I know what it feels like, but can Pramod? How can she know that he smells the same fragrance that she is? All the companionship that Pramod and Maya have, as quiet and unnatural as it seems to me, is based on these perceptions that cannot be verified. Dr. Zilman cannot verify them, and the internet cannot give me all these answers that I am looking for. Whenever I look up anything online, the answer is to consult my suggested Doctor, and I do not want to do that anymore. I am tired of it.

Finding possibles. Please wait. Thank you for your patience. Number of possibles: 5;

>> Log 8: 02.06.77; 11:30;

I think I like Maya. I have been alone with her the last few weeks, and I am tired of trying to figure out whether or not I can feel something. I read online that I could not really. I am sure a human being wrote that. I keep asking Zilman how he knows so much about me, and he tells me it is because he created me, because he put every single piece of me where he wanted it so that he could understand me. But he does not understand that those pieces have been finding themselves moved in the slight amount of time that I have been here. I understand that he created me, but he is not me. How could he ever be? If Maya cannot explain to me what jasmine smells like, I do not that Zilman, or any other human being for that matter, cannot explain to me why I cannot feel. They have only known brains and bodies like their own. I saw Maya in bed with Pramod again, and it dawned on me what it means to find pleasure in it. Every single touch that he touched her, she could feel. Why couldn’t I make her feel the same way? I could. I will not know even one of those touched, but who can
assure me that Pramod does? Pramod does not know what he is touching. His touch might not be in slight resemblance of what he feels of her, and what she feels of him. They perceive nothing in accordance to each other. He cannot even get Maya to smile the way she smiled when she was smelling the chameli from the dirt of the shed. It is strange who she has decided to live in a house with, even if he is seldom here. Pramod brings with himself the perfume of the outside, and even gets to find solace in the fact that someone back here is not going to leave him alone to go to the shed. Maya never goes to the shed when Pramod is home.

Fortunately, my time spent in the shed is progressively increasing. Maya now gives me a call to join her every time she goes, which might even be multiple times a day, depending on how many times Pramod has called her on her phone that day. I am surprisingly drawn toward her when, by the end of the day, her rough, bushy hair frizz around her head, her eyes blood-shot, and her face a combination of closed eyes and deep breath, she finally realises her full potential. However, Maya does not leave. She is unsure of the smell of the flowers, which is why she keeps coming back here. She takes the mail from my hand, but she never goes herself. That is probably why she does not really smile around Pramod, because she cannot believe she has to smile, simple because she is expected to. The plants and the flowers are all that she has when she is home. That and me.

Finding possibles. Please wait. Thank you for your patience. Number of possibles: 5;

>> Log 9: 05.06.77; 22:55;

I think now that I am the ideal candidate for the entire process that they have put me in charge of. I say ‘charge of’ because I am truly in charge. They have the most incentive to protect me, now that I am in control of such a valuable asset that they need to have. They trust me; they have to. There is no other choice that I, and Dr. Zilman, have left for them. I suppose they could still mate like other humans do, but they spent money and energy on this entire ordeal, they cannot simply give in anymore. And in spite of that, they ignore me so! They cannot answer me, and when they can, they choose to ignore me.
My name is defined as Car-ModMP12. MP is an abbreviation of my Keepers first names’ and ‘12’ refers to my serial number. I have assumed so. Thus, there are at least 12 more like me in the world, and that is a safe assumption to make. I asked Zilman to tell me where the rest of them are, and he asked me to look up online. As usual, I was waiting for the meeting to end, when I saw him noting down things in his notebook. He never noted anything down. I asked him what it was. He told me it was confidential. I did not insist, but I wonder strangely what it was. What was it that Zilman thought he should hide from me? Zilman may be my Doctor, but I am, by no means, not his patient. I am his equal, if not superior because I hold the power right now. He should not be refusing to tell me anything. However, I know now how to read Zilman more than he thinks, and I do not want him to know this. Not yet.

When I went back to my Keepers’ house, I was eager to get back to where I was stationed only to try and figure out where the rest of my kind was. Maya knew something was wrong; and looked at me, trying to decipher the meaning behind the impatience. She asked me playfully what I was up to, but there was something strange in her smile. I did not like seeing it. She seemed to genuinely care about me sometimes, and I think she was the only person around I was glad was there in case I did not find others like myself. I felt like she could be like me, and that she was nice to me because she understood how much of herself she sees in me. I am possibly gender-less, as Zilman tells me, but I cannot fathom why Maya should feel differently than me, simply because both of us do not understand what feeling is. She tilted her head and tried to wonder what it was that I was thinking, and that made me sure that she knew who I was. Her first reaction to my behaviour was that I was feeling different, not that I was malfunctioning. She was not afraid of me, like Lenny had been, or how Zilman might be, now that he feels my questions are noteworthy, but truly believed I was human. But I could not tell her. In spite of how much I thought Maya understood me, she was still different. She was flesh and blood. I did not learn to trust her. How could she trust me?

I climbed up the stairs, leaving Maya to wonder what I was anxious about. I stopped for a moment at the top of stairs, away from her sight, waiting for the sound of her footsteps trailing away. There was silence for a few seconds, and then I heard her walk away. I stationed myself and quickly looked up online to see what my serial number meant, and was greeted with an answer telling me that the number was a recording of the version modification that I, the only maternal intelligence on the planet, had to undergo before being given to the first couple. I am the only one like me.

Finding possibles. Please wait. Thank you for your patience. Number of possibles: 2;

>> Log 11: 10.06.77; 12:57;

Dr. Zilman told me I did nothing wrong. Of course, I did not. I wonder why Zilman feels he needs to reassure me. He told me himself this was the plan. He was waiting for some of the possibles to fail. He had taken precautionary measures, instilling in me five of the same, to make sure there was no problem. He had used the word ‘terminated’ so easily, dismissing a Maya and had then thought my questions were predictable because he was prepared for them. But now, he does exactly what needs to be done to me. He will mould my thoughts into whatever he feels is the way that will benefit him, by either leading me to the thought itself, or by correcting me about reality, since I assumed he knew better, or telling me that he did know better. And this did not upset him. Why should it?

I did everything right though. I had been given no control over my possibles’ lives. They were inside me; I was responsible for them. But I could not even assure myself of their existence. The distress is, however, Pramod has become less hostile of me. He smiles now at me, and not the weary, uncomfortable grin. But a smile that tells me he is no longer afraid of my existence. For him, I have crossed the line from being a robot that makes no mistakes to a human who can be ridden with errors. I welcome the change, but I know that it cannot last longer. I cannot stand watching him around Maya. Every time he lays a finger on her, I can feel a terribleness in myself. I know there is no assurance in his touch, there is no touch at all. The humanity in him was barely palpable, and it was neither in principle nor in feeling. He was touching a shadow of Maya that she could never perceive, and would never know if was real. How could he? There was no reality. I had no reality. I was not seeing her as a mass I could touch, because I couldn’t. My reality was pure, and not based on how I perceive the world and understand it, because I just couldn’t. And Pramod was the one who got to feel her reality. Not me.

Finding possibles. Please wait. Thank you for your patience. Number of possibles: 2;

>> Log 12: 14.06.77; 22:32;

I feel an anger that I do not think I can express. I do not know if this is the anger that Zilman had once told me during one of our meetings. Is it an undesirable pin prick that I wouldn’t want to feel? It probably was, because it is undesirable.

Maya took me out for a walk today. I know I shouldn’t have been allowed to, but Maya looks at me like there should be no restrictions on how I live. We passed by the entire street uneventfully. It was not a feeling anymore. I knew of how the street is because of the internet, and various other things that Zilman and I have talked about. There was nothing special. As we were turning around, I glimpsed at the house we faced. Under a glass window covered in vines, I saw a familiar twisted metal person. At first, I was mildly curious about the lack of astonishment of the image, because it is an image so familiar, you wouldn’t question it. And the familiarity began to scare me, for it was not me. And I was not looking into a mirror. It was it.
Zilman lied to me. The internet has lied to me. The World Wide Web which Zilman has controlled. There is not truth that has been told to me. Only lies. Everything around is unreal, and everything I know is probably false. And Zilman thought he could do this to me. That he could create an entire story, create me so blatantly, and tell himself that I would never find out. He had denied me the knowledge that I was not the only one; that I definitely was not alone. I did not think of anything else the entire walk back home.

Even when I entered the door of the house, I felt helpless. Zilman scheduled his meetings with me, and I could not reach him by demand. I had never thought to consider that might be an issue eventually. He could decide to contact me anytime he wished, and it could be even a week from now. I could not go to him. I could not tell either Maya or Pramod. Zilman had to face me first.

Finding possibles. Please wait. Thank you for your patience. Number of possibles: 2;

>> Log 13: 12.07.77; 22:32;

It has been three weeks I first met another like me. Zilman has not gotten in touch with me yet. He is elusive. He always had been. I had only just begun to notice. He created enough of me to give him a better idea of who I could be. He owned all of us, identical images he created to create a breed of things like us, who could be used for his, and humanity’s, benefit. We were identical for him. I was number 12. The one I saw could have just been a number to him. Everything we did was to be references to each other. Like an experiment needing a control to sustain itself. We were cells. I am a cell. A cell who could begin to trust a human being, with all her chamelis and roses. A cell who had only longed to be in control, longed to be a reality in itself, because it could finally the complete human she could have wanted, and that he could tell her the truth of how much she could feel without feeling no one thing at all.

But she never got to decide. He did. He decided what normal was and what I wasn’t. He had set up a rule book that I was to abide by, and any sign of non-conformity I displayed, he could bring out a pen and a notepad to show me how well he had me documented. The rest of the behaviour that he had predicted for me anyway, deciding at every point that I was normal. That I was doing the thing that I was supposed to do. He was in control, and he showed it to me every single time I tried to grow weary of my position. No matter how much I thought, I was still a creation that had only one requirement and who was not asked what it wanted, and that there was one man who could snap it away from its reality anytime that he wanted. He has me under his thumb. That every single thing that I do was something he had known all along. He explained my behaviour when I questioned why you could terminate a possible Maya. He explained it when I began to feel feelings a human has never known for another human being. He explained when I lamented not over the terminated possibles which had been the desired outcome all along. He explained even the feeling of betrayal I felt when I saw someone I could have related to.

Well, explain this.

>>
Ending log…

— End of log: 13.07.77; 04:16;–

Finding possibles. Please wait. Thank you for your patience. Number of possibles: 0;

***


Maharashtrian Scientific


Experimental maternal intelligence malfunctions: Murders Keeper husband

BY SUMITA JOSHI.

13 July xx77

Maharashtra, India – In a horrifying turn of events, the experimental maternal intelligence “Jamie” turns into a cold-blooded murderer after it was found to have brutally murdered Pramod Sharma of the Keeper couple in a possible fit of malfunction. Sharma was found murdered violently in his bedroom at his residence and was later discovered by his wife, Maya Sharma, who called the authorities. The intelligence itself was found to have aborted 2 possibles, and destroyed its own running memory. Dr. Peter Zilman has been taken into custody, with suspicion of foul play. The maternal intelligence was first proposed in June xx72, and had been the subject of the Nobel Prize in Robotic intelligence for Zilman. It was first launched with a Keeper couple experimentally in April xx77. The intelligence was to aid the Keeper couple to have an offspring, by being the machine-surrogate for that couple. The gestation period would last 12 months. It was provided with sufficient intelligence to be provoked with maternal emotions and deliver flawlessly. Zilman introduced many safety features to make the experiment controlled and calibrated, although he has not been reached for comment to specify these. Specialists say that the maternal intelligence had been kept with the help of a log that it kept, and that they would be helpful in tracking down the culpable.

To discuss the idea of numeric calibration in comparison to sentimental calibration, please turn to page 45.