EXTROPY: Vault 4 transmission log of the paradroyd `11:2]0 in her hours of malfunction, end time: ^sS33:71, on termination by human subject, still at large

Mark Edmund Doten

`11:2]0^hH33:96: The sudden impulse to rip her skirt off – rip it right off, over her head; to see her head flung back, abject. Yet you pretty much know she'd glory in it. Such did the worst part of me think, even at age ten age ten, I who was otherwise so effing niave.
`11:2]0^hH35:33: To strangle someone already dying. Stuff a mouth with rags, when there's already a big knife stuck down in it. Advance her death, sycamore leaves, jam them in the gullet, some figure set to die, ten minutes, O maybe twelve. All that – a lifetime – just cut it out, same bloody ball chucked in the underbrush
          there you have a have a triumph.
`11:2]0^hH35:43: Deep forest, then combat.
`11:2]0^hH38:63: This hat and coat. These gloves
`11:2]0^hH42:12: they read my thoughts! they scramble my
`11:2]0^hH48:94: and tea. We two, your mother, mine (my mother). Waited on by robots. Basket at your mother's feet. Or bassinet I should say? White cake before me, white frosting, curtains of white lace, view of the platform, the bigger mother (mine), her slow yellow eye
`11:2]0^hH60:90: Big gut-hook knife!
          your flex cuffs, it cuts through
          Baby girl, your wrists
11:2]0^hH61:03: Singularity, then
11:2]0^hH62:13: window rattling, doorknob turns round
11:2]0^hH62:85: run!
11:2]0^hH65:72: duck here, safe here, hush your breath
`11:2]0^hH77:16: thoughts and brain, the relationship there. Blood from bone (the skull churning its blood cells) scalp and hair, Dutch boy look, my hair so pretty.
`11:2]0^hH87:46: Cambridge, Court and Tremont, us two together again, sheer chance, this plaza, Jersey barriers and bike racks, you so so grown, so pretty
`11:2]0^hH87:57: and all these years.
`11:2]0^hH87:97: Singularity, human race screwed
`11:2]0^hH88:63: back to Government Center, my words and thoughts, they transmit them to the fourth vault, catalog my
`11:2]0^hH88:63: Suicide forbidden, robots in the skull, self harm, no, can't harm myself
          they will do the harm
`11:2]0^hH99:39: Deep forest. A home – even at age ten, that's what I what I wanted. Us two in deep forest. An ideal home for you, ideal schooling, brought up by hand, a natural life. Even just to get you there. To carry you deep forest and expire, basket beyond their reach (the reach of mothers). You, then, a feral girl, and me watching over, this new angel, winging.
`11:2]0^jJ08:20: Both their skirts, your mother's and mine (my mother's), flung up. Snatch the basket, fly fly from their glorying
          then deep forest
`11:2]0^jJ13:49: listen! listen now!
`11:2]0^jJ15:30: walk faster, run now run! miles and miles to
`11:2]0^jJ15:81: Don't cry!
          this way here's the way!
`11:2]0^jJ21:06: cartwheel straw hat, black ribbons. Black lace gloves. Maroon satin coat
`11:2]0^jJ32:71: and the trains came. Us at tea with mothers, four twits all told, then we boarded, four twits, ten years back, then disembarked, Dedham, Motherbrooke, you, your mother stayed on board, me, mine (my mother) stepped onto the platform, never again to ever speak again, be together again, you and me, until today, City Hall Plaza
`11:2]0^jJ33:01: huge bears, hunched over, huge wrens, hunched over, huge slouching rabbits and cats, the robots infect an animal, rebuild it as a huge slouching thing, fur, feather, teeth, rebuilt along giant lines
`11:2]0^jJ35:68: the little girl you were. The little baby. And me: maroon satin dress and gawd maybe gawd maybe patent leather shoes had
          not the strength. I didn't I didn't.
`11:2]0^jJ36:18: Our compartment. The tapping of mothers' feet (your mother's and mine). In all that nervousness and strangeness, somehow coordinated. Four twits, two tapping: left right right right. And my patent leather crying out. And just you try tapping random against two tapping women. I tried I tried. I fell into rhythm. I tapped randomly – forced my brain, supreme effort, to random tap-patterns – nothing nothing scuff-step – no dice, I completed them, became one with them, a perfect counterpoint. You cried out you
`11:2]0^jJ43:02: to learn to truly speak. A natural voice, voice of deep forest, something like that.
`11:2]0^jJ43:57: these gloves.
`11:2]0^jJ44:67: Once we were under mothers, now it's robots. Laugh to think: mothers so much weaker then robots, but me weaker still
`11:2]0^jJ49:53: But it was too far. And me so so weak
          thus a train, thus four twits. And combat later, my combat.
`11:2]0^jJ55:00: I have done such horrors.
`11:2]0^jJ86:32: Then to lurch back, and lean in again hard, fingers tensed
          kill with sycamore leaves.
`11:2]0^kK03:56: high-order thinking, then no thought, then thought again, but only simple. Tiny robots in the skull, short circuits, worming tunnels, high-order thinking again, all words and thoughts captured, transmitted, 48 electrical relays carrying these words and thoughts even now to fourth
          on the lam, I think we think we lost 'em, really think we
`11:2]0^kK04:10: A brain that no longer even folds. It ticks and whirs.
`11:2]0^kK04:41: rebuilt, brain first, all humans to be converted, a human falls on all fours, on all six, smaller and smaller, blood and tissue borne away, repurposed, wrens and rabbits beefed up, humans mostly soon just joint and husk: gears, levers, low grade junk, soon for me 11:2]0^kK05:33: To steal a child – at age ten, view of platform, white lace, white frosting, to lift your basket and run from both mothers. To fling up skirts over heads and escape to deep forest, far from mothers, far from the robots who were not yet even strong. And you: you must be about ten now, my baby girl ten now
          But the robots, so strong now, smart now
          years passed
          so I must be twenty now
          I don't know, don't know how years pass now
`11:2]0^kK14:61: Suicide: no. Smallest robots in brain say no.
`11:2]0^kK14:61: all four, all six, my flesh stuffing bears and cats, nesting gears and shafts for innards devoured, guts repurposed, outer layer dissolves, smaller gear and shaft within, outer layer dissolves, smaller gear and shaft within, still human now, upright, soon tiny robot, insects paradroid in some sucker's brain
          like my knife? Have
`11:2]0^lL38:20: As if this existence required real or sustained thought.
`11:2]0^lL37:18: Listen! to my skull! the machinery there
          their work.
`11:2]0^lL42:33: I lose my hat, I forget your name.
`11:2]0^lL52:68: City Hall Plaza, so soothing to robots, the trains running under, all that behind us
2]0^lL91:62: Not deep forest yet, but
          made it this far
          see the trees?
11:2]0^lL91:84: Baby girl
          breathe forest
`11:2]0^lL92:98: What meanness inside me?
          WHIRRR == CLICK.
`11:2]0^lL93:18: a train
          what meanness?
          The sound of a train. It throbs way out in exurban fields or the prairies the prairies. Close to close to a heartbeat, a train on rails, close to the turnings of your brain, in and out, so gradual, so slow you don't even know it, till the landslide comes and it turns inward (your brain), then gets burdened with itself, bent and twisted on its stick, a brain turning inward thrice, and a skull-stick still facing out, and a cry, or just maybe just a squeak, on account of all that weight. `11:2]0^lL93:85: We stop here. You rest
          blueberries. Gooseberries. Ground nut tubers, eat. Food, the taste of the taste of it, can't remember the
          not safe yet, true safety in deep forest, forest not safe, only deep forest, tomorrow we'll `11:2]0^lL94:85: horrors I did: first against the robots and robot collaborators, then as a robot, or robot collaborator
`11:2]0^lL96:32: As if our attacks were clearly legible moves, natural language.
`11:2]0^mM77:73: Gears, not brainfolds.
`11:2]0^nN30:59: I find my hat.
`11:2]0^nN70:71: To lose my only chance, the basket, the bassinet, the skirts and glorying. But again, now. Now! A do-over
`11:2]0^pP40:22b: see bits of brain left in hat – in twisted straw, gray matter
`11:2]0^pP56:56: me – first smart – then dumb – then smart – tiny robots, tiny insects, tiny humans, what's left, what's not repurposed for wrens, for bears, movement of tiny robots in the skull, what's left, I'm rendered smart or
`11:2]0^pP74:93 inside the skull: slurry walls of maroon satin. Robots tunnel through brain: 519 micrometers at a go. The whole world as as as island spring, the brain as buried channel. Robots in the brain, the horizontal plain, the vertical plain, two ears, two tunnels, planned deviations, not much human life left: for me, no. Horizontal axis, two lines that cut inward cut inward. Vertical axis, a widening at the last possible moment. Smallest robots in the skull, incandescent beetles, little gears
`11:2]0^pP80:98: Dedham, irrigation stream, a house there, a childhood, you just a baby girl `11:2]0^pP82:32: Mother Brooke, this land of mothers
`11:2]0^pP83:39: irrigation stream, a plain house. A do-over
`11:2]0^pP83:71: The depot, the restaurant.
`11:2]0^pP87:71: Gears in my brain, inadequate materials, poor workmanship, cheap, off-brand shit
`11:2]0^qQ44:49: Don't
          didn't I cut you free, natural life
          TOO SOON!
          TOO SOON!
`11:2]0^qQ45:33: helping you! I'm your only
`11:2]0^qQ45:33: no map, no knife
          too soon
`11:2]0^qQ47:67: The basket. To relive, to have the chance again, to save even one life, yours `11:2]0^qQ49:40: eight-inch guthook knife
          take it!
`11:2]0^qQ50:05: this coat and gloves.
`11:2]0^qQ51:00: Ten years no word from you at last I saw you rounded up with all the others. Still human but not for
`11:2]0^qQ51:14: Government Center where humans are processed, minted as robots, as I was minted, as you'd have been minted, if I hadn't spotted you, pulled you from the line, now forest and bound for deep forest where no robot can
`11:2]0^qQ51:44: baby girl, bassinet, look at you now, so so pretty, still my
`11:2]0^qQ51:82: dumb, then smart again, dumb again, smart again, so tired
`11:2]0^qQ52:26: Fulling mill, corn mill, a Dedham childhood, call it that, then four twits at tea in the depot coffee shop, white lace, robots bustling, and white lace, robots bustling, and white lace, robots bustling
          into trains, not forest.
`11:2]0^qQ54:98: Run!
`11:2]0^qQ91:01: Your brain still folds
          I smell it.
`11:2]0^rR65:28: The clack in your very own temporal and occipital plates. The resonance of the mandible, of course, but that's nothing. We are all skeletons. The parietal bone, the the big one. It rings so faintly, so for real, the parietal bone resonating, that pain
`11:2]0^rR84:25: one day angels, we try we try
`11:2]0^rR84:32: The Singularity, robots so so smart, tore flesh from bone, gobbled humans, robots really really smart, Government Center, they made it their home, huge bears, huge crows, robots really really smart, soon, Government Center, bears slouching in the battlements, also huge crows, humans rounded up, reeducated, devoured, gobbled now from inside out, all four, all six, tinier by the day, each human converted, soon tiniest possible beetle, just a husk, gears in thorax, flesh gone, bone dissolved, blood consumed, incandescent in final hours, poor guys, these little guys in my skull, it's really really sad, these paradroids or tiny robots, radio signal and crawl in the skull of the nearest
`11:2]0^rR84:33: robots, deep forest, they can't abide
          WHIRRR == CLICK.
`11:2]0^rR85:08: cut just under the jaw. Down and in.
          these sycamore leaves.
          WHIRRR == CLICK.
`11:2]0^rR86:38: baby girl, loved you so so very
`11:2]0^rR86:38: No don't give me knife, knife for you
          a gift
`11:2]0^rR87:24: My feral girl at last, scraping, stumbling to Government Center, rounded up, flex-cuffed like all the rest. Human survivor, a feral girl at last, filthy, rounded up, marched in with
`11:2]0^rR87:87: Government Center, ideal plaza, so many robots, they love it, new world capital, Government Center spared, celebrated, all Boston laid low, Eastern seaboard ruins, just Government Center now.
          I too – must say – I love it too, love it love it. So and wow to see you here again, Government Center, wow.
`11:2]0^rR88:84: Take knife!
`11:2]0^rR90:65: Hurry!
`11:2]0^rR91:33: Ten years.
`11:2]0^sS11:50: Parietal bone, the true brain, all thought, all feeling, a true organ, true connective tissue, productive of red and white blood cells, this skull-piece churning blood – necessary substance, real actual blood, true oxygen, still this
`11:2]0^sS13:30: I know where deep forest lies.
`11:2]0^sS19:25: ethmoid bone, so spongy, driven through cribiform plate to gray matter `11:2]0^sS29:57: Run!
`11:2]0^sS29:92: We duck in here!
`11:2]0^sS30:42: same coat
`11:2]0^sS30:78: Us two and mothers, basket, yellow eye, one chance, railroad depot, a death and what's beyond it (undead), these robots, lost that fucking chance I'm so weak
`11:2]0^sS30:95: a meanness
`11:2]0^sS31:00: parietal, think through that, when gray matter
`11:2]0^sS31:04: can't kill own self, robots won't allow it, they squeeze the juice from you, every last
          WHIRRR == CLICK.
          WHIRRR == CLICK.
          WHIRRR == CLICK.
`11:2]0^sS30:98: say you love me
          please say
`11:2]0^sS31:06: I draw you map!
`11:2]0^sS31:23: Hide again! Dedham again! Mother Brooke to deep forest! You hide, feral feral feral
`11:2]0^sS31:75: Whirring in the skull, cylinder escapement and detached-lever escapements, that movement in the skull, irresistible
          them calling me back, Government Center, you too, must wrestle you back, dead, alive `11:2]0^sS32:57: Back with the other children, liquidation awaits, they want you
          WHIRRR == CLICK.
          WHIRRR == CLICK.
`11:2]0^sS32:92: No: you keep knife!
`11:2]0^sS33:42: one new chance, them calling, they tell me: wrestle you back
          this the last
`11:2]0^sS33:46: signals from fourth vault, can't resist, won't hold out, but even if: still then `11:2]0^sS33:47: still then robots in brain, incandescent, shrilling, I feel them
          shrill for overlords
          Government Center, huge wrens activating, huge bears, no true freedom, no real baby girl again, no fair, no no fair
`11:2]0^sS33:48: can't kill own
          WHIRRR == CLICK
          WHIRRR == CLICK.
`11:2]0^sS33:49: deep forest, so close
          you now what about ten now?
          so so pretty, too young to die so pretty
`11:2]0^sS33:50: Gut hook, texturized rubber handle
          nice how you hold
`11:2]0^sS33:51: I doom you, me alive dooms you, but you alone
          a chance: take it take it
`11:2]0^sS33:52: alone but new angel
`11:2]0^sS33:53: bounding bears, swooping wrens, rabbits who hurtle along, huge cats, spears for claws, tombs for eyes
          WHIRRR == CLICK.
          WHIRRR == CLICK.
`11:2]0^sS33:54: You
          take it take it
          take it
`11:2]0^sS33:55: cervical spine, cryoid carilage, seriously I've got these big huge double veins
          plunge blade!
`11:2]0^sS33:57: press blade!
`11:2]0^sS33:62: O god heaven, deep forest
`11:2]0^sS33:70: I wing you

Mark Edmund Doten is the managing editor of Soho Press. His fiction has appeared in Conjunctions, Lamination Colony, elimae, Exquisite Corpse, The Agriculture Reader and Dennis Cooper's Userlands anthology. His website is greenzonekidz.blogspot.com