Psychopunk Lullaby, Vol. 2

by

Mindcraft allowed us to personalize and accessorize our minds the way girls obsess over clothing. Hyperspecialization heaped on hyperspecialization, guilds of warring minds directing sentient matter at one another. Others devoted themselves to pure intelligent biomass, some of the bigger ones achieving over a ton of synaptic tissue.

Sally was special. Sally had a thing for numbers, but she was her own person, not a Savvy. “C’monnn, Joey,” she’d squeal at me when we were kids. “Don’t you know what the square root of a hundred forty four is? How about the cube root of 343?” She’d tease everyone on the playground, and she’d win handily, too. Most of the card games the kids played relied on sophisticated mathematical models to handle their progression. Sally figured ’em instantly and walked off grinning with the other kids’ loot. They’d mouth off after she’d walked away, calling her a Savvy, which was stupid, really, because if she’d Savved out her head she wouldn’t care enough about the cards to gamble them. And how is a kid going to pay for the op?

 

When we were fourteen Sally stole a bike from the local Milly’s. These days doing that’d get your arm cut off, but back then they didn’t shield their vents and girls with slender arms and deft fingers could reach in and reprogram the security grid at the front door. She walked right out with the thing and somehow Milly’s didn’t dice her to pieces. She was always lucky.

 

Me, I got my head diced Fractal. It’s a risk– it’s always a risk– but I knew I had a destiny. I know I have something huge to give the world, something to be remembered for. So I just gotta stay alive while my head tries to fit together the pieces it’s left in and hope something useful comes out. Honestly it’s about a fifty-fifty chance– I might revolutionize wetware everywhere and be hailed for the upgrade of the century, or I might take a running dive into nothingness.

 

Brains are good at figuring patterns, see? So you fit the biggest mathematical concept inside your skull you can and then your brain picks out anything useful. Sifting through random data, waiting for your brain to either light up like a nightmare christmas tree or go dark like the deepest part of the sea. It’s Russian Roulette being played the only way that’s worth it– for all the marbles.

 

Sally and me are trying to make our way Upwind, get admin access so we can do the most damage when our respective heads pop, she running the latest philosophical programs attuned to as many minds as will join her, me looking at the universe sideways and squinting my eyes. We figure one of us has to hit something, and either of us making it will change everything.

I hope Sally makes it. I don’t dare hope I do.

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