The following is the beginning of a science-fiction story I had been working for a while. It might never get finished, but I want to share it anyway. Enjoy. You get bonus points if you can type the characters.
Time and time again, certain stories demand to be told. Soon they become the remnants of the past, foretellers of the establishing future. Sometimes, time grasps you and holds you down against your will, forcing you to repeat painful lessons until you have either succumbed to, or overcome them.
The following tale, impersonally told and personally (fo)re-experienced, will be another tale of time and suffering and disorientation – or maybe not. You will be the one to judge: whether this is true or not, significant or not, relevant or not, lacking or withholding or not-thing.
If you know the past, will you know the future? If you know the future, will you forget the past? If you live in the present, are you stuck? When no one knows the answer, do we deserve to know?
Lorelei awoke to a cold stiffness piercing through her body and mind. Her lids were incredibly heavy, too much so to open them with ease. She kept them closed. As if one was desperately searching for the right words during a speech, her mind was seeking coherent thought particles, which however frustratingly so would not relax and unite to proper thoughts. She attempted to breathe in, but nothing happened, her chest stayed unnaturally still. Her heart was mute.
Lorelei was lying on a flat, smooth, cool surface. Her limbs and torso felt as heavy as her eyelids. She was not used to this sensation and began to feel caged in her own bones. Overall, this hyper-awareness of her body stressed her out. What was even more disturbing was the lack of any physical reaction to her emotional distress – no quickening heart beat, no flush of adrenaline, no heat emanating from her skin. She moved her fingers, which felt like she imagined an insect‘s legs to feel like when they extended and stretched.
With an impressively smooth swing she left what she deemed to be a desk and landed on her compact feet. Finally, Lorelei opened her eyes.
The quality of her sight swept her away. Every object‘s contour was extraordinarily sharply defined, there was no blurriness around the edges of her view anymore. Whatever object was near or far away appeared to be highly detailed. Lorelei‘s mind was overwhelmed, trying to catch up with the surplus of information her eyes provided it.
She stood in a dark room that appeared to resemble an underground garage of sorts, with a stylistic touch one could only sum up as vintage-futuristic. It appeared to her as if someone had tried to imitate the science-fiction designs of the 1970s – the nostalgia factor was incredibly high. The metallics of the walls, floor, and gadgets (Lorelei had no idea what their purpose was) were such vibrantly coloured, she had to blink several times for the impression to wear off to a degree. Not that the metallic objects were truly colourful themselves, but rather their shades of silver-grey were so rich, they put her mind in a temporary overload mode. For the regular human, this idea sounds rather preposterous. Here came the distinction: Lorelei had ceased to be exclusively human, that is why such a notion made entirely sense to her. This circumstance dawned on her the more she regained her grasp on consciousness, and put her heightened senses and lack of human bodily functions into perspective.
For the first time after her awakening, Lorelei dared to look at herself. Her milky-white arms were sleek and softly shining in the blueish low-light of the gadgets‘ displays surrounding her. They were not made of human skin. If she had to compare the material to anything she knew prior, Lorelei would mention the surface of old-generation MacBooks, and certain segments as looking chrome-like. Surely, those MacBooks were not made of the same material as her arms, but they were all she could think of when she analysed them. Her fingers had no nails. After having seen her robotic arms, this came to no surprise.
Yes, Lorelei had arrived at the conclusion she had been turned into a robot through some wondrous means. How, or why, she could not even imagine in the slightest. The next thought that governed her, was:
I have to see my face. Is it the only part about me that is still human?
Two elegant and exact steps, and she was back at what she had correctly judged to be a desk. Lorelei leaned forward to its highly reflective surface which returned the gaze of two amber coloured eyes. If that body could shiver and cry, it would have done so in this moment. Lorelei had never expected to experience so much agony over missing to see her eyes filling themselves with the liquid of emotion.
In Lorelei‘s mind, tears were spotting the desk. It was a mirage – the desk stayed painfully dry. Her facial features did resemble what her human face used to look like – hours ago? Days ago? It seemed like her sense of time needed an update. Suddenly, without having looked at any clock or even contemplated the time, she knew it was 23:32.
Apparently, Lorelei‘s new robotic body featured unknown skills a human could not naturally possess. She would have to rediscover her body – in a bewildering way, this was like re-experiencing puberty as a robot, just without the maddening hormonal imbalances. Why, why, why…
“Stop it, Lorelei! Focus!”
Lorelei paused, stunned. Her robotic voice sounded impeccably similar to her human one. Additionally, it had a melody and ring to it she had never caught up on with her human ears before. There was an under-layer of melancholic heaviness, mixed with a dominating light over-note. Her voice sounded like a beacon of light in the darkness; perhaps with an electric tinge to it.
When Lorelei was younger, she used to feel otherworldly. Not many people would understand her insights, or where she was coming from. Many would look at her in disbelief or just sheer bewilderment. Some would express amazement or admiration over her spirit. Over the years, she let this attachment to feeling misunderstood or inherently different go. She thought, there were other people like myself, for sure. I was merely surrounded by those who did not entirely get me – which did not mean that all people were incapable of understanding me. It was a matter of being at the wrong place, at the wrong time, with the wrong mindset. Nothing more. Now, she was truly otherworldly and torn on how to deal with it.
A careful beep pulled Lorelei out of her stupor. In the back of her elegant neck she could feel one of the displays glowing brighter than the other ones. She walked towards it, again with overly distinguished and well executed steps. Lorelei would have to get accustomed to this superior way of moving her body. As a human, she had been capable of walking smoothly, though not as exact as when she was in this robot form. She would slip up, stumble, walk against objects as a human regularly – none of that as a robot. Lorelei was certain she would never walk against anything ever again in this artificial body, even when her robotic eyes were closed.
The display was just a few millimetres thick – it seemed to float mid-air. It was full of signs Lorelei could vaguely discern to be letters of some kind of language. Even though her human mind had no clue what they meant, she somehow comprehended what they were saying:
“Lorelei Lee. Born December 7th, 1994, 11:32 PM; in Berlin, Germany. Mother of English descent, father of Chinese descent. Delivered from year 2018. Test subject #1. Upload complete. Please close the file for safety purposes. Top secret.”
Lorelei was certain someone had uploaded her mind into this robotic body and left before closing the program and her seeing them. It seemed as if she was a test subject of a secret organisation. She thought, I would likely be followed, at the worst executed if anyone found me.
What a way to start your day, or rather your midnight.
Lorelei detected the nearest door, accidentally pulled it out completely in her haste (superhuman strengths? Check!), and fled through it outside. Having grown up with science-fiction movies that depicted romantically rainy cities, Lorelei partly expected to be welcomed by a stream of rain. Instead, the odour of rancid machine oil numbed her senses, and proved her wrong again.
This is getting annoying. If I can‘t rely on myself, on who else?!
Mysterious fumes were wafting all around her, and mingling with the orange lights attached to the rusty walls of the alleyway she had found herself in. Several puddles covered the uneven street – a quick sniff made her easily distinguish between an oil and a water puddle. Lorelei walked past desolated old cars, some of which were close to regular pickup trucks. In short, she had been turned into a robot in an abandoned blue-collar worker area.
The first human after Lorelei‘s awakening passed her by. He wore a worn-out red hoody with the hood covering his head, distressed black skinny jeans, and a pair of dusty sneakers. An outfit that would have been casual or even stylish in the time and place she came from, looked incredibly low-class in this environment. Perhaps it was primarily the context in which she saw this human, but even the forward-bent shoulders communicated a lack of means and vitality. Swiftly he looked up at her, his young and hardened eyes widening in blatant surprise. From his reaction she could gather that it was highly unusual for a robot like herself to be present in this alley. The teenager‘s surprise did not turn into any kind of curiosity, no – it turned into the desire to get away from Lorelei as quickly as possible. She could tell he did not want to get enmeshed in any possibly criminal issues.
Lorelei wondered whether she should ask him for directions or any advice despite of his demeanour, though he was gone ere she could speak to him. Regardless of being a robot with heightened senses, superior abilities, and a higher brain functionality, Lorelei was still as hesitant as before.
I suppose the unknown robot specialists have not deleted my bad human habits.
And so Lorelei was perusing the lonely streets, for hours on end, with no clear objective in mind. Each step familiarised her with the robotic constellation which was her body now. Each movement taught her how limited and ill-fitted her human body used to be in comparison. Even so, something irked Lorelei about this robotic shell. As the morning sunlight tumbled down the alleys, she remembered how she had not slept the entire night, and how no ounce of sleepiness had taken a hold of her.
Was this the end of all dreams? Will I never behold the images of my unconscious again?
Lorelei left the worker area and entered the main city. And oh, what a city it was. The well-known fog mistified the air; mist and mystery everywhere. The damp blindness erased the tops of the polygonal, overpoweringly tall skyscrapers all around. However, with the growing intensity of nature‘s light, the fog diminished and ceased to envelop this brave new world.
Becoming a robot was all it took to arrive and belong here. But what if she had been stripped not only of her human flesh, but her humanity also? Was she even herself anymore? Who knew whether the person who formulated these thoughts in this robotic body beheld the same consciousness prior.
Likely some parts of my consciousness had been altered or emitted, in order to function and fit in this body. What if those parts were the most integral ones of my psyche? What if my I is now a mere illusion?
Lorelei could feel her exquisitely shaped face contort into the mirror of worry and sorrow. She let her fingers glide over its contours, the straight nose, the hairless head and eyebrow bones, the closed eyes and its strong lashes, the smooth cheeks, the semi-soft cool lips.
Even if the inherently human self, which was named Lorelei, has become a mere illusion – does this make any difference?
From her peripheral vision Lorelei could see an unknown object approaching her with incredible speed, likely around 100 miles per hour. Hastily she stepped away, dumbfounded to recognise a compact hi-tech automobile bolting past her, almost hitting her by half a foot. In the haze of her thoughts, Lorelei had unconsciously begun to cross the street, forgetting her surroundings in an instant. She could only praise her new-found superior abilities for saving her a second ago.
But can I even die? What if I am already undead…?
Frustrated she shook her head, trying to dissipate the gloom in her mind.
A myriad of vehicles like the one earlier scurried all around her. Most of them were only suitable for two passengers at most, formed aerodynamically, made of tough materials such as carbon nanotubes, and in the colours of the entire rainbow and more. In the glaze of the sun, their surfaces gleamed with iridescent, glittering spectres of light. It was if someone had dropped a big bag of enormous, shiny, round candy unto the streets, and those little drops had a life on their own, moving speedily across the ground. The sight of those metallic candy cars was wondrously mesmerising. And their sound, resulting from the airstream… a buzz which was so constant, it easily fell into oblivion. If Lorelei closed her eyes, it might be able to put her into a meditative state.
A ray of sunlight hit her face and gifted her with slowly increasing vitality. Lorelei may not have needed any kind of rest the night before, but she surely felt more energised under the sun. And this feeling was not merely grounded on emotion. Her glance fell on the walls of the nearest skyscraper. In the light of day, specialised window panes and membranes of some kind became apparent to her. Certain patches of the walls were covered in neatly assembled vegetation, from which the residual fog was emanating – or was it being absorbed by it? Lorelei focused on the green grass, and suddenly her vision took hold of tiny particles entering the plants‘ pores. Basically, she was able to see CO2 whenever she made myself alter her vision‘s parameters. Essentially she could change her main mode of sight by cognitively switching visors. She was not sure yet how many visors this robotic body contained, though there probably were not few of them.
Apparently, this city had seen an upgrade in eco-friendliness. What Lorelei had noted to be specialised window panes must have been a tool for gaining solar power. Most likely, her artificial skin featured a similar kind of advantage – the term photovoltaic paint crossed her mind, and she took its apparently advanced word for it.
Does that mean I am more plant than human now?
Even though this thought was largely sarcastic in nature, Lorelei could not help but smile over it in silly amusement.
Who can say they are a thinking plant that looks like a robot? Me!
She laughed, exposing a perfect set of teeth.
›› That‘s actually pretty funny, when you think about it.
Lorelei froze, despite of the sunlight‘s subtle heat prickling on her skin. Someone was talking to her telepathically – or was she going mad? Lorelei‘s eyes darted across any little object and human being and robot that was faintly resembling her in regards to autonomy– no one truly cared for her, nor reciprocated her vigilant gaze with the expression of guilty acknowledgment.
› Who are you?
›› Not you.
Lorelei huffed, unsure how to feel about this. Someone was obviously trying to be funny themselves.
› Thanks for the clarification, I guess?
›› No problem.
Lorelei started to feel uncomfortably powerless. Being stuck in a foreign futuristic world, in a body that was both greatly physically capable and entirely abstract in an odd way, with no one to relate to – all of this was enough to make her feel overwhelmed and alienated. Now she was conversing with an androgynous voice, who seemed to want to trick her or have their egotistical fun, in her mind. The bright side of this occurrence – she was not utterly alone anymore. Her own thoughts may entertain her indefinitely, though they will never provide her with the deep sentiment of feeling like a part of someone, something greater. Lorelei‘s heart, and most likely everyone else‘s, consciously or unconsciously yearns for human contact of any kind – may it be platonic, intimate, soul-felt, or just superficial. First and foremost, one dreams of moments in time when you look into someone‘s understanding eyes, or hear the melodious laughter of their joy, in short – when your heart is touched in moments of inexplicable bliss, and this experience is mutual, comes full circle – you are One, the sense of Separateness has disappeared for a fraction of personal time. And if you are only sharing your thoughts with a bodiless entity in a space and time you cannot see – this interaction may be enough to sustain you in the desert of loneliness. Lorelei‘s feet were deeply embedded in the sand, the heat was brimming around her, her throat was cool dryness – Lorelei‘s heart all the same. This stranger‘s voice was like a peculiar cloud coming closer at the horizon, promising a splash of rain. Lorelei could not believe what her eyes told her, scepticism had her in its grip, urging her to treat the cloud as a glitch in the matrix. Besides, Lorelei was supposed to be alone here, to die here, to shrivel in the sand and become a part of its kernels, to sift through and mindlessly dance in the wind for eternity or perchance a second shorter than that, to remind each traveller after her of the vastness of time, isolation, ignorance – and fear. The fear of welcoming the cloud with open arms, to let it drench you, cover and nourish you with nature‘s teardrops of delight. A part of her mind resisted this uplifting idea, it favoured the one of the drops being electric acid of the future, from another timeline, wanting to destroy and dissolve her robotic bones, to leave her a quivering inhuman mess.
Needless to say, Lorelei attempted to block any further telepathic messages from this stranger. She believed she was not supposed to connect with anyone under such unconventional circumstances. Maybe it was expected of her to approach one of those android workers walking swiftly through the streets, driving sleek hi-tech motorcycles, patrolling, checking the efficiency of the buildings‘ mini-ecosystems and more. What if her entire previous life had been a lie, a dream of an android, imagining the splendid human life of sorrow, ecstasy, love and death?
›› Anyways, my name‘s Jill. I am going to help you. Looks like you need it.
› Jill? Where are you?
›› I am in your head right now. And, don‘t even try to block me. I am too good of a Hacker for that.
› You are not really telling me anything new, Jill.
›› Ha, you are not too bad. Admittedly, I am undercover. It was not easy to get in your head without being detected.
› That does not sound too reassuring…
›› It is okay, you can trust me, even though you have every reason not to. I mean, I would not trust myself either if I were you… But honestly, you don‘t really have any other choice. Okay. So. The first thing… You should probably get something to dress yourself in. You may have noticed that every other robot as humanoid as you is not, well, naked.
› I am naked? I actually did not notice, haha.
›› People may think you are a prostitute or worse, a robot gone rogue or something. No one really believes in that though, so for now they just ignore you and think you are one of those weird autonomous robots who is ignoring regular social customs for some unknown reason. But, give it a couple of days, and you will be arrested. Anyhow, walk up to the nearest street-clothing seller, and we‘ll meet there.
› How will I recognise you?
›› You will just know, I think. See you.
Lorelei heard a vague beep in her mind, followed by a sudden lack of abstract presence in her headspace. Jill had logged out. The loneliness of Lorelei‘s mind hit her like one of those hi-tech automobiles might have about an hour ago.
Whenever she was in contact with someone else, may it be telepathically or tangibly, she forgot how insular her own thoughts were. It was almost as if you momentarily lost your sense of self, finding yourself in a shared We with someone else. This experience was not always entirely whole, regularly you only encountered the shadow of it, but this shadow was preferred over the ever-lasting, abandoned, isolated I – especially when you had expected to never partake in this (illusionary or not) union of minds and souls for whatever reason ever again.
Anyhow, Lorelei proceeded to find Jill.
Street-whore in a cellar…
Lorelei kept on the look-out for someone who would resemble the idea of a person who sold clothes on the streets. Like most ideas, this one started out being entirely vague and was expected to acquire more distinct form over time.
Though there were more and more humans as well as robots crossing her path, none of them truly came close to her own looks – nor did they seem to mind. Some eyes lingered for a little longer on her form, but most scattered away once Lorelei‘s eyes looked back. Given how most people did not regard her as an anomaly per se, or rather not a negative one, it was curious how relatively quickly Jill had picked her out from the crowd. She figured, in this future the level of digital interconnectedness must be so great, one single person missing from it was greatly noticeable – especially to so-called Hackers.
“Hello, are you interested in some beautiful attire? You seem to need it!”
A rugged-looking, short man with fine leather-like skin and a sand wood coloured robe casually flung across his shoulders, as if he was a hippy Greek Philosopher, looked up to Lorelei, waving her towards him. He stood at a booth that reminded Lorelei of those you could find at flea markets – quirky little street shops, full of tools, gadgets, objects, clothing and more that obviously belonged to a different time than the one you found them in. The goods he displayed were pretty Steampunk in style, in such a way it was obvious they were supposedly vintage items.
“I need it?” She asked, perplexed over the fact that people generally assumed she was in need of assistance. Lorelei used to regard herself as being a more self-sufficient person in her previous life, or one that kept their thoughts to themselves, mostly. Under this circumstance, it was odd how people here expected her to require their help. Or perhaps she was simply overthinking a clever marketing strategy by this man. In actuality, Lorelei was indeed in search of guidance – consciously or not – so she secretly welcomed any help she got.
“You are obviously unclothed, mylady.” The man both respectfully and jokingly bowed his head, showcasing a small bald patch on his head.
“A woman of your caliber deserves the finest things in life.”
Lorelei laughed carefully.
“If you say so.”
“Sure I do! A man of 89 years will know what a lady needs.” His smirk enlightened his face, making him look 40 years younger than he claimed to be. The mix of disbelief and curiosity flood right through Lorelei.
“89?!” She would have judged him to be in his early 50s at most.
“Yes, proud 89!”
“Excuse me, this might be an odd question, but… What year is it? I always seem to… forget, somehow.”
“Funny how such a brain of yours could forget the year. It‘s _, my dear. I was born in _! I am a proud child of the _s. Generation _!”
Despite her robotic physiognomy, Lorelei felt like tears were creeping up behind her eyes again. She motioned to leave, and was stopped by a big heavy piece of cloth flying towards her. She caught it, confused.
“Just testing your reflexes, girl! Hehe. It is like this coat was made for you. Made from the best old-wool and soft-case synthetic leather. It is a beautifully crafted piece, combining old textures with the new. As you can see, the collar is adorned with protective feather-like strands.”
“They are like a Peacock‘s feathers, just in silver…“ Lorelei murmured, as she let her fingers glide through the material with an absent-mindedness, trying to feel them more than her imaginary tears.
“Indeed! They can contract to an almost steel-like texture, guarding the face from any incoming debris. Let me help you in…!”
Enthusiastically he got her into the coat, sweeping away any remaining lint, and then stood back, taking in her appearance.
“Perfect. You look like an apocalyptic robot goddess from outer space!”
This time Lorelei laughed whole-heartedly, and the man with her.
“What‘s the prize.” A new-comer stepped right in front of Lorelei. She only saw an athletic, androgynous-looking body, around 5’7″, wearing perfectly form-fitted dark brown nanotech clothing, from behind, with a head of flaming red hair blocking her view from the man whose name she had forgotten to ask for.
“Sorry, but I believe the other lady is about to purchase this item already. It‘s a one-piece.”
“No problem. We two know each other, don‘t we.”
The redhead turned around to Lorelei with the idea of a smile on her lips, shooting her a cheeky, knowing glance through her extremely green bionic eyes. Her chin was slightly too pointed for her face to be considered pretty – striking was a better word.
“Is it you, Jill?”
“Yes, it is okay,” Lorelei assured them, “I do not have any money with me, anyway.“
The man raised his left un-plucked eyebrow but did not say any more. Jill held out her arm, the fabric adjusted itself to reveal an electronic tattoo on her inner wrist. The man followed her actions, let his own tattooed arm hover over hers. A click later, and the transaction was completed.
“Thank you for your purchase.” The man bowed again, then went to another customer approaching him from the side. His face had closed up, lost was the childlike naivety and exuberance in his eyes. Lorelei had no time to mourn his change of mood and mind.
An odd internal restlessness shook Lorelei as they were strolling along the street, Jill staying as quiet as Lorelei was.
“How did you find me?” Lorelei finally broke the silence, her voice sounding unnaturally raspy in her ears.
“Through the CDO.”
“The Community Database Online.”
Lorelei had no idea what Jill was talking about, but as she had previously guessed, the Internet in this world included a freely accessible database proto(co)lling every citizen in each city. Anonymity was non-existent – everyone was connected through some kind of contact page, and similar. The degree of privacy could be controlled by the user, in such a way not everyone knew where they currently were situated at, for instance – but higher-ranking officials and apparently intelligent hackers were capable of extracting this information without any difficulty.
“Do you know any robots who can sleep?” Jill slowed her prior semi-forceful step and glanced at Lorelei with a gaze that was supposed to gauge the seriousness of her question.
“Most robots do not desire any sleep. It is not part of their program. Those who have a more extended mind structure, aka free will, can get an update, though, as you may be aware of.”
“What kind of update?”
“The usual Physical Update, PU. In this case, it is a cross-over between the PU and MU, Mental Update, to be exact. You can go to a specialist who will alter your artificial brain neurones, so that you can experience a sense of fatigue, vivid dreams based on your memories, and a feeling of being rested afterwards. Most of it is simply a Mental Update, as I think of it… I don‘t know anyone who actually got a Sleep/Dream MU. Most robots have such detailed memory storage, they find it superfluous to have them being recalled and mixed up in a dream scenario. They find it much easier and less expensive to go through their own memories and combine them in interesting ways in their waking minds.”
“I see…” Lorelei did not actually see what Jill was saying, because where was the fun in rehashing your own memories with your conscious mind? The value of dreams derives from the circumstance your unconscious prioritises certain memories over others, and rearranges them in such a way they are becoming a new experience, detached from the factor of the past, making memories become an experience much more similar to that of the present – while carrying over the truth that lies in every past moment. Meaning, there can be truth found in your past memories, your personal truth of who you were, and who you will continue being if you step on in this life path without any newfound self-awareness – a robot to your unconscious habitual pattern of being.
“You seem a bit distraught. Maybe your location and timing modules are off. What is the name of this city?”
Fearing being uncovered as a fraud, not truly a citizen of this time, Lorelei was speechless. Jill did not wait for her answer for too long and provided her with the information herself. The name of the city itself is meaningless, so it shall remain unknown. Any human city has a name, a place, and a time – in its overarching idea, there is only one human city. Surely, there are variations amongst cities, and within one city you can encounter varying dimensions. For this story, the details had no greater significance – the idea itself much more so. Do not forget ideas. However, the sake of having a frame of reference, you may know that this city would resemble New York City the most.
“Where are you taking me?”
“My brother has invited me to come to this new nightclub downtown. He will know what to do with you. It‘s a bit too early to go there now, though. They will open in a couple of hours. Before we go there, I thought we could just hangout for a bit.”
“What if I don‘t want to go?”
Jill‘s quick apologetic smile bared a number of sharp white teeth. Her emerald-green bionic eyes seemed to twinkle in the sunlight and have an eery see-through quality to them.
“I‘m afraid you‘ll have to go with me. We‘ll have to figure a few things out, restore or create an official profile of you on the CDO. Be glad I‘ve found you and no one else. You could have been in trouble otherwise.“
Lorelei let out a playful sigh and Jill shrugged her shoulders with a half-smile.
They went on, walking on pavement that looked like molten metal in the late afternoon sun. Gradually the nano-clothing of most people around them changed to more revealing cuts.
“Aren‘t you feeling hot, too?”
“Not yet,” Jill replied tongue-in-cheek. “Though to be honest, on most days the sun gets too much for me, and I need to activate the air circulation and UV protection systems, so my clothing helps me cool down and protect me from the sun.”
Jill started to explain the upsides and downsides of being a natural redhead, and how her looks are mostly like her mother‘s who is a ginger like herself and of English-Scottish descent. She continued talking about the fact she had coloured her naturally pale orange hair in the more vibrant, crimson red Lorelei could see now some time ago, and then moved on to discussing the purpose of dreams with her. Lorelei was surprised to discover that she gained genuine enjoyment from their conversation, and that Jill not once asked her any personal questions that would have rendered her with great discomfort.
As time flew by, fastened by the positive nature of their interaction, Lorelei‘s heart reached a level of elevation, to the point she was feeling excited to go to the mysterious nightclub with Jill.
Dusk set in, and it was accompanied by a cooler air, the flaring up of electronic lights, and a heightened intensity of people‘s vibes around them.
“I have never been to a nightclub before,” Lorelei admitted sheepishly. Jill, apparently similarly elevated, laughed out loud.
“Are you a new-born, or what.”
“Don‘t you dare call me a baby,” Lorelei warned her in jest, anticipating that would make Jill laugh even more, and it did.
“Baby Lo-Lo, don‘t cry no more, I will take care of your metal diapers.”
The dynamic duo chuckled in unison as they shuffled through the masses, heading towards a long waiting line of dolled up humans and even a few robots alike.
“Wow, I cannot even see the entrance from here.”
“Well, Lo, this is the hottest establishment you will ever enter in my lifetime.”
“Your life time?”
“Yes, mine. Once I‘m dead, I bet there will be cooler nightclubs than this one out there. You will live longer than I, so screw you and your robot powers.”
Lorelei smirked politely, while having almost been stunned by the relentless sadness over her strange robotic condition and its implications again.
“For how long do you expect to live?” Lorelei asked, to distract herself.
A layer of thoughtfulness darkened Jill‘s eyes as she pondered over the question, physically becoming motionless on the spot.
“I have never really thought about this before… Thinking about it freaks me out a bit, actually. I know that most people nowadays live up to 120… But will I? I don‘t know. Sometimes I think I might want to know, but knowing could be even worse. Ignorance is bliss, I suppose.”
Lorelei smiled silently in compassion, the idea of living up to 120 and beyond running through her mind in a non-sensical loop. The music emanating from the nightclub and the sound of the eagerly talking specimens in front of it circulated around them, beckoning them to pay their attention to the present moment. A wistful sigh escaped Lorelei‘s lips, and seamlessly, suddenly she was inside the nightclub, walking through wavering winds of colour, geometric fumes casing in on her curiously, the pounding beat giving her the impression of possessing a living heart in her chest once again. She had lost track of how she got here entirely – this place and moment in time, her entire existence ceased to be a part of her consciousness. Lorelei had let go fully, her robotic limbs were no more, her consciousness was pure and without restraint, flowing through an empty, black-clad room with angular white lines running alongside its walls and glowing miraculously.
A component of her floating movement was reminiscent of the motioning of the sea, waves cascading without sound through her soul. Tints of blue were replaced by those of crimson red and salmon pink, blurring her vision and making it clearer all the same – her intuitive vision had become her focus again, and she welcomed it with gratitude. As she proceeded to nowhere, Lorelei imagined an ever so tender hand grazing her cheek with its usually aggressive fingers, she could tell by its faintly rough texture – or did this truly happen? What was a true happening anyhow? Whatever you deem to be true will become your reality, and your reality is what is true. Or is it? No one will ever know all layers to reality, the entire truth will never be grasped by a single living individual all at once. All we are capable of perceiving, judging and comprehending are specific levels of reality. We are bound to a limited world view. Even if Lorelei‘s robotic self had the potential to perceive more reality levels than any other person in existence, it would never see everything in its entirety – or would it? All she longed for, was to see the world and mankind in an all-encompassing manner. What if this was only possible if she saw herself in this way first? Or would an exaggerated self-knowledge only stifle her in her efforts and keep her stuck in an endless loop of self-perception? Phantom fingertips touched her face again and titillated her heart.
› Where are you? She asked, I can‘t see you.
› How close?
The hand caressed her chin.
›› This close.
› Can you come closer?
›› Only if you want me to.
› I want you to.
›› And if you let me to.
› I do.
›› No, you don‘t.
› But I am here.
›› You need to go further, beyond.
› I am so lonely. You know that? I never tell anyone.
›› You will lose your loneliness once you seek out company.
› Don‘t I?
›› You are still too far away.
› But you are touching me!
›› Yes and No. I am showing you what is going to happen if you let it happen.
› That means it will happen.
› This is going to mean something.
›› Everything means something. But yes.
› Are you my unconscious? Or are you someone I will meet someday?
The touch proceeded towards the corner of her mouth.
›› Both. Smile for us.
› How could I smile not knowing who I am? I have lost myself. I need to find myself again.
›› What you are looking for is already there, within you. You don‘t have to search for it any longer.
The hand naughtily pinched her cheek, and then disappeared. Lorelei‘s face was left gleaming of fire and ice at once. There was a faint memory of love in the back of her mind, but she forgot it almost immediately. What is gone, is irrefutably gone – at least its previous form is. You may encounter its altered form at another time, and place, and state of mind – and likely not even recognise it, for its new shape is hiding its very essence: the core essence of a universal truth.
”I‘ve been looking for you Lorelei, where were you!“
Jill took a grip on Lorelei‘s shoulders and turned her around to her. Jill‘s eyes seemed unnaturally enlarged, the pores on her face glistened of sweat in the flickering low lights.
”I‘ve been here the entire time…“ Lorelei murmured. ”Is there a problem?“
”Well, somehow I can‘t find my –“
Out of the blue a supernatural screeching sound, as if electronic birds were screaming chaotically, flooded the rooms and overpowered any mutterings or music. Jill threw Lorelei to the ground, the latter automatically propped herself up on the floor without a scratch. Jill landed on top of her hard back a second later, cursing under her breath. Like an owl, Lorelei twisted her head to see what was happening above the two of them. Her default sight couldn‘t detect anything, so she changed her visors until she did. Fog-like rays were wobbling hysterically through the air, formed like delicate, non-uniform waves. As the cacophonous sound dissipated, the rays muted into something softer. It was as if the sound and their movements were interconnected. One of the rays flew towards Lorelei, and started circling around her forehead.
”Lo, are you okay!“ Jill yelled. ”Lo!“
”Jill, there is something in the air –“
Lorelei was silenced by a sudden sharp sting of pain in the back of her head – or brain? She couldn‘t locate the sensation with precision, which was rather odd considering her abilities.
”Lo, what is going on with you!“
Jill waved her small hand in front of Lorelei‘s mechanical eyes, but Lorelei seemed to had turned into stone, white marble. No sign of life seeped through her features or bearing. Meanwhile, people, robots, and cyborgs were moving around in a similarly disoriented fashion as the mysterious rays, bumping aggressively and despairingly into each other, numbed and overwhelmed by the aftermath of the sound and, without their knowledge, the nature of the rays themselves, that made everyone become more restless in their soul – apart from Lorelei.
”Give her to me.“ The melodious steadfastness in his voice stood out amongst the clamouring of the others and the ominous humming of the rays. He‘s made his way through the welter like a big cat on the hunt, unobtrusively, collected, focused, assiduously. Like Jill, this man was dressed in form-fitting smart-wear, though his was tinted in a navy blue, which almost seamlessly merged into the shadows in the nightclub, and revealed his well-proportioned musculature. In addition, he had put on a distressed leather jacket in the colour of wet sand, which emphasised his broad shoulders and repeated the tone of his short wavy hair. He looked like a capable individual, brimming of energy that was hardly contained. The attentive gaze of his dark brown, natural eyes rested on Lorelei.
”We need to figure out the coordinates to the source of that sound.“ Jill turned away from her 6 feet tall older brother, and started tipping furiously on a keyboard only her bionic eyes could see.
”What‘s the point in that, Jill? Right now, we have to do other things first. Like, you know, bring this creature to safety. And then make her wake up again.“
”She‘ll be fine, looks like she got a concussion and her protective mechanism is shutting down on the outside, so it can fix her on the inside.“
”What?” Helios laughed. ”Jill, sometimes you are too much of a smartass for your own good.“
Without further ado, he grabbed both Lorelei and Jill, and threw them over his shoulders.
”Now you can tell me where to go, Jill, okay?“
”What the heck are you doing, Helios?! I was close to cracking the code!“
”No you were not, I could see it in your face that you were getting frustrated.“ Jill punched her brother several times in the shoulder, but he simply ignored it.
”Why do you always have to mess with me. This is not funny, Helios!“
”Come on Jill, don‘t you think it is time to leave this place? I didn‘t like the music anyways.“
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