a short story
Gary Baker, August 2013
Never before had I yearned for death to come as much as I do now. For years have I put up with this affliction, and just one more day will be the end of my sanity and humanity alike.
You see, this all started as great as things could get, I was the top of my class, the highest rank achieving the highest high a man could receive by non-organic means. I had it all. Dreams became reality at my feet and leaders came from afar just to meet me, a simple man turned god in less than a decade.
But I’m getting ahead of myself; my name is Jessie Jack -- no not Jackson like the thief or whathaveyou from millennia ago -- former CEO of iGiga, lead producer of humano-mechanical entertwination. So that’s not a real word, but I’m disgustingly rich so who cares; in two months that word will be lighting the pages of dictionaries across the globe.
Okay… so admittedly that’s not me.
Not anymore, at least, no thanks to that damned Gini app.
I created her to help the masses, a gift for the... less fortunate, if you will.
She was so ‘top of the line’ that the line was launched skyward just to keep her in the legal limit of human understanding. The programming was something straight out of sci-fi’s written only after she had been borne to my cognition.
Gini would take any spoken command and respond, like any near-AI should, and would do exactly as told or asked. The masses would ask “gee, where can I get a cheezburger?” and she would respond with a sarcastic voice claiming “do you really need it? I mean, look at those fingers.” At first they hated her, but every time they eventually made their way back, crawling through tunnels of self-depreciation just to keep holding the device that the world had turned into a virtual body part, full with the half-eaten cookie on the faceplate.
Anyways, Gini did her thing and made people mad, then glad, then mad again, and eventually the love began to peeter out; precisely when I initiated phase two. Right when the masses were beginning to wane off the idea of an AI telling them to “drop the fork”, or “get that lazy ass out of bed” I pulled the strings to loose something I had discovered would become possible only when human brains and technology had practically become one. Like now.
Like magic, Gini started responding when people angrily screamed “I wish you would just die!” only to see their phone fry itself with arcing blue electrostatic energy. Then they came in to my stores wanting another, would tell how it happened, and were refused every time.
Profits then plummeted until some genius out in the backwaters of Kansas learned from it and wished for a “fucking golden hammer”.
To this day, that solid gold hammer still fucks air in a museum in Boston somewhere as though pumped up with viagra crafted for Zeus alone… or a zombie, if that makes more sense.
From there the world went nuts. Unicorns and dragons roamed the heavens, gays were found dead all across the Bible Belt, hospitals were flooded with alcoholics and junkies twitching their way through insane overdoses. Wars became a literal example of Schrodinger’s cat, both ended forever to make world peace while never ending so as to keep the military well employed.
I will tell you that the middle east has virtually turned inside out and now more closely resembles an oncoming concussion wave paused in time than any natural landmass.
During the subsequent fray of the world having one collective heart spasm-gasm, I found myself explaining how Gini worked. That was another thing: I deliberately disabled Gini from granting any wishes having to do with the technology of her programming and construction, and had added in the clause that any wishes that were made could always be undone by my command… which basically brought me, alone, into the status of World Ruler.
I spent a full year working as a literal world secretary, unwishing the total destruction of civilized countries as well as bringing back the bureaucracy that made my whole empire possible in the first place. I found it distinctly odd that the first targets the masses set upon were those such as capitalism, commerce and half-democratic government that had brought them this technology.
Then I hit a bad point two years ago, today; I made a wish that even I could never undo.
After a long press conference with reporters charged up with super stamina and perfectly posed questions all granted by the infamous Madam Gini, I stormed away in fury. How dare they bring up the name of my only competitor -- a man who had been slowly edging closer and closer to discovering Gini’s technology -- at a conference about me?! I was ruler -- not him! I was the one made of platinum records and wiped my ass with paper money -- not him, as anyone could have guessed!
So I reached my hotel bed and heaved myself onto blankets and cushions made of the essence of puppies laced with cotton cloud candy without the stickiness. In anger I had sighed about how annoying that man was becoming; about how much I wished to see what he saw, to feel what he felt, always being second place to technology that everyone but him could have. All so I could crush him that much faster.
Specifically, in a dark moment of empathy, I wished to know what it must be like living in a world where I was forever outdated in the technological world.
I didn’t mean it, of course, but sure enough the next day I opened my eyes and discovered Gini had listened.
For three months I thought it all some hallucination, not really real, but one hell of a lucid dream. I figured I would wake up in a few hours and be fine and dandy once more, back in my life instead of his.
Eventually, however, I began to realize this was the real deal. So I learned from it. I did what any spy would do if given all access to the CIA database: I snooped.
The first problem I uncovered was that Gini was forever beyond my grasp, as the CEO of a lesser company at odds with iGiga I was legally disallowed the privilege of owning a G-Case. The second was that everyone else, including the new employees of mine, had been exempt from this law that had originated with my own words upon seeing this CEO rising in the ranks.
At the time, I had thought it a genius way to stop him in his tracks, adding to the other hidden laws I had passed about tech CEO’s staying celibate just to fuck with his head and get him to quit. I, on the other hand, had been allowed to sleep with any girl and her mother since I wasn’t technically a CEO anymore: I was World Ruler.
So as Dr. Christopher M. Shish I dug around his porn-filled apartment boxes looking for memory chips, cards, and discs where he might have hidden his plans. I searched for weeks to no avail, when it became clear that he must have memorized them in his human brain… which I seemed unable to access due to some theological barrier that I hadn’t known existed until just then.
And that’s when I gave up trying and chose to actually live his life for reals. Instead of being some dogged-nemesis, I tried to act like an underdog for mere shits and giggles. The media thought it cool for a little while, but then I fell off the face of the earth as far as the media coverage was concerned, and so lost the company shortly after.
There, in my pits of despair, I found myself without any connection to the world of data -- since I had been forced to sell my last device for a room and a meal in south-central Brooklyn. Even there, where humanity crawled along at the shirttails of greatness, where the newest device was at least three gens old, I was an outcast because I had no device.
And it burned. The flames of hell seared holes in my eyes, turning the sweetest glance into pillars of billowing tumultuous ashen clouds like some plague from theological tombs hidden in a catacomb in Italy. Everywhere I looked, I saw handheld devices, every last one with the half-eaten cookie logo that I designed, and everywhere I looked, I saw what I had once been, what I had once owned.
The body of me still acted as I had before: winning, ruling, creating and fucking at almost every waking hour of the day.
I could feel the hatred of this Christopher seeping into my view of his life, so thick was it that I almost felt it, myself. And I did, eventually. It took years of living in Chris’s body, but I started to forget who I really was and finally began living his life for him as he would have lived it.
I ate cereal from the box alone in my suit and tie at a broken table set up in an old wash room, crouched over pink plastic in the dark like a ferocious cave troll. I drew schematics of electronics arrays in numbers that blew my own mind, while I watched him slowly figure things out on his own.
If I didn’t know any better, I’d have sworn we were of the same blood, with all that intelligence packed away in each and every cell.
Finally he hit a breakthrough and wrote page after page, diagram after diagram, byte after byte, until he almost hit it dead on. With what he had, his program would have made the masses seriously wonder if he had it... but it wasn’t Gini, not really. So I nudged him. I put a six where he had a one, making the whole ‘binary’ program wrong by default.
Angrily he took it away, replacing the six with a one again.
I nudged again, turning the one back to a six.
This went on for several long moments before he gave up and tested the program as though to prove the six was infinitely daft… but it worked.
“Welcome back,” that familiar feminine voice practically sang to my weary ears, “it’s been a long time, hasn’t it?”
We spent the next half hour washing piss off the computer chair and out of his pants, then returned to the crackpot mobile device where a white theater mask shone over a hazy gray backdrop. They say distance can make us wise, but this proved it an understatement; Gini wasn’t just a tool anymore, she was beautiful. She caressed parts of my mind that I’d forgotten existed, she touched that place of cheery adrenaline within me and almost made Christopher have to clean another pair of pants for another reason altogether.
She was the glamorous wife who didn’t care I had slept around, but encouraged it. She was the living embodiment of my former fortune and position of power.
She was a gateway to my real life again.
“(I want to go back)!” I -- he -- screamed, “I wish I were Jessie Jack (again)!”
Silence erupted -- get this -- like a volcano in the room. It seemed endless and undulated into tears streaming down my -- his -- cheeks into rivulets on the collar of the button-up we wore.
And finally she smiled. “Jessie,” she cooed, “to be granted this task you must kill him, first.”
I knew she was talking to me, but suddenly I lost control as Chris took the task into his own hands, thinking she’d been talking to him with a semicolon between my name and the command. He grabbed a pistol hidden away in a desk drawer and stormed out of the apartment, down the avenue, and up the causeway to the capitol.
We had the gun shoved into the belt of his pants, under his black biker-like petticoat, hidden by the folds of fabric caused by his hands being shoved so hard into his coat pockets. We had black aviator sunglasses on to cover his eyes, and a black, wide-brimmed half-fedora, half-sombrero to shade the rest. We only paused when he caught sight of the security guards posted at the entrance to my glass and steel castle spire where he hesitated gingerly.
In his left hand, Chris got the hacked Gini ready, then made his way up to the guard post.
“Hold it, big guy,” the asian guard called out when we got close. “What’s with the get-up?” I made a mental note to have the man promoted when I got back to my real body again, but quickly scrapped the idea; my money was my money, not his.
Chris made a move toward the gun, when the other guard pulled out his own and held it at Chris’s head in the fear one gets from the front lines. “I don’t want to do this, man,” he cautioned. “And don’t even try to wish for anything, either. We know what you’re up to.” His eyes held some extra form of knowledge that I couldn’t understand until I looked closer. There, in the back of his irises reflected a silver gleam -- a wished-in enhancement that allowed him to act as a virtual living metal detector. “I would recommend that you just back away, Dr. Shish, but right now I’d rather you simply disappear.”
Then Gini’s voice rang out from Chris’s pocket. “Close enough; done!” I knew the program instantly: originally meant to play pranks, I had commissioned an app for touch-recording bits of what people said in real time, now used by my arch nemesis to get a guard to claim that he wished himself and his companion would just disappear.
And in a flash, the two men vanished.
The rest of the trip up to my office went much the same way; people tried to figure us out, or to stop us if they had x-ray vision, too, only to be deanimated or frozen in place and so on. Then came the elevator that ran the ninety-nine floors to the highest suite: my home office.
The bronze doors slid open with a ‘ding’ and out came Chris with pistol cocked and loaded… or something like that. We came out blasting like Neo from the Matrix, only missing the female counterpart that Chris would never have.
This would be a good time to tell you that on the ride up here he had wished his gun to never run out of ammo. Ever. I didn’t think Gini had listened, as I never heard a response, but now, as he tore a pillar in two with a barrage of hailfire, I had to concede to her newest ‘silence protocol’ upgrade.
Crowds of women in bikini’s fell left and right in sprays of crimson mist and bursts of entrails onto marble tiling. Gold trimmed archways darkened as virtual butlers of the modern age slammed backward into them, ivory and alabaster walls shone like freshly painted canvases, and urns from all eras of humanity shattered as though crafted with explosives hidden inside.
We found the real me standing on an oval balcony made of pristine bleached ivory, crafted from the finest wishes a man could buy, granted by the finest wife a man could have. I stood with three half-naked women around me, one without so much as a bikini top to cover her breasts, the other two with suits so small they might as well have been nonexistent.
The brunette was the first to die, her scream echoing out like a train whistle as Chris shot her from the heel, up, ending only when she had fallen to the balcony in a slump of unrecognizable gore. The blonde to my left then fainted and hit her head on the railing where bullets had gashed holes enough to create a sharp point that felled her before she’d hit the floor.
The other blonde, the topless one, had backed away and off to the side, eyes wide in fear, when she reached for her own G-Case and was shot clean, between the eyes, and had died before she could realize how.
Finally I broke from my stupor and realized that Chris was about to kill me -- the real me -- and that I needed my body like a desert needs water to make a jungle. I couldn’t let him do this, I had gained control before, and I had no choice but to fight for it again.
Yet the real me wouldn’t turn around, probably too stuck in the idea of being immortal to worry about anything major happening.
This gave me -- the me inside Chris -- a chance to save my real self.
We struggled back and forth as he brought the gun up, and I pulled it off to the side to send bullets into the banisters, then off to the other side to shatter the remaining planter, sending roses and orchids alike out into the open air beyond the balcony.
Chris regained control and snapped the weapon toward my real head and I slapped it down. Bullets embedded into the ivory with soft clicks. He spun back around to use momentum, pulled the trigger in an arc sure to cross my real back and I deflected the trajectory like a shield, contorting his muscles like a master bodybuilder who’d also delved equally into ballet and human knot-tying.
We then found ourselves face-down in the spreading pools of the dead women, leaving intense, violent streaks across his shirt and cheeks.
Then, with a snarl, Chris launched us at the real me, throwing the gun away to distract the me inside of him so we could grab the real me and take him with us as we went over -- except the real me who’d never moved once during the fray finally stepped off to the left and let Chris and I careen over.
Chris went white in fear and I took over, turning us in mid-air to lock eyes with the real me… and saw the gleaming glow of Gini’s theater mask staring straight back at me from my own once-glamorously-hazel eyes.
Suddenly she had our gun in my real hand, aimed right at Chris and I.
My last thought before being shot between the eyes was that she’d planned this from the start, that the program was never invented, but had been coaxed out through manipulation of the human mind.
I’d been duped since day one, and now she had supreme command over all of humanity. The fucking bitch.