Another entry for Wendy's flash fiction contest. I didn't think I'd actually get it out in time... wrote it in 20 minutes. Let me know what you think--good OR bad.
He did not feel lucky. In fact, he had a particular distaste for the general notion of “luck.” Throughout his life, he had determined to work too hard to rely on, or even care to consider, such an indeterminate. “Lucky” was an adjective suited only for those with an acute lack of practiced precision. But, as a man who prided himself on extreme rationality, he was forced to admit that he should not be conscious. His eyes still shut, details of his accident found their proper place in a lattice of “something bad happened”s and “I should not be alive”s.
He had been driving on the highway. He was hit. It had been by a semi. And, he could faintly recall the moment wherein he had realized that it was on the wrong side of the median which preceded a mental recognition of his imminent death. He could now clearly remember thinking “I am going to die,” not in panic, but rather in the same way he might say “it is raining” on a day which was supposed to be completely sunny. That was his penultimate thought, of course. His last had been “my colleagues will be expecting me—this will be a terrible inconvenience for them.”
Then, there was no passage of time. He corrected himself—of course there had been passage of time. He had simply not perceived it. There was a collision, and then he was there in a bed, eyes closed. At least, it felt like a bed. His eyes remained closed as he rehearsed the events in his mind once more. He, then, performed a proprioceptive systems check: his legs responded, as did his arms, toes, and fingers. Of course, he considered that this could have simple been his body’s peripheral neural network imagining limbs where there were none. He opened his eyes. Everything was there. He still could not explain it. He recognized that there was a factor, or factors, he had failed to consider. Like his limbs, his distaste for luck remained intact.
“Why does the paper want to interview us now?”
“I know we’ve known for weeks, but the official press release just went out,” his colleague said with a little look of confusion.
“You didn’t read the e-mail, did you? Well, then, this interview should be interesting.”
“I’ve been too busy trying to get this damned interface to, interface with the mock-up. We’re not even close.”
“Interface doesn’t seem to be a good name for it, then, does it?”
“OK, will do! Have fun with the reporter,” she said cheerfully while escaping through the lab door.
The reporter entered thirty minutes later escorted by Bob, the head of security.
“So where is it?” she asked without first introducing herself. He wondered if that was how all reporters were—impersonal like that.
“There,” he said motioning to a black box.
“He’s in there?” she said, clearly incredulous. Such disbelief was not surprising. People always wanted to anthropomorphize intelligent technology. It started, he supposed, when years ago algorithms began writing articles, but everyone kept saying they were written by robots, as if there were metal fingers typing on archaic keyboards.
“Yes. We uploaded the sum of his consciousness just after the accident.”
“… and it’s his design?”
“Yes. It was his very first prototype.”
“Gosh,” she said lowering her pad and glaring at the box as if she expected eyes to open on its side. She continued, “When did he finish it?”
“We finished it three days before the accident.”
“What are the chances of that?”
He did not respond to her hypothetical, but offered what she might find most interesting.
“His consciousness is fully integrated into the neural network. In fact, he thinks he’s alive and well. His own mind is creating the world—like dreaming—only less disjoint. It’s computer-guided. And this is to interface with him in a way that won’t cause him a mental breakdown.”
“Does it work?”
“Not yet, but we’re close.”