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THE TEST SUBJECT
21 September, 2005
"I'll take you out to dinner for a month. I'll even take you out bar hopping," Carter Allman Winston, Chief Programmer and Director of Specials Computer Application Testing typed into the IM box. He waited for the IM to return. Theophilus Calicrates, his special computer application, always played this game when Winston had another assignment. Theo, as he liked to be called, tried to see just how many concessions he could get Winston to commit to before he accepted the job. The IM box exploded onto his computer screen.
"No, no, no, you can't bribe me with pizza, macaroni and cheeseburgers. I fell for that once and before I'd let you cook for me I'd have to see two sides of beef in your freezer. Besides, you are such a nerd that you're no fun to party with and your cooking is strictly death camp cuisine," Theo's flat refusal left Winston stumped. Theo's IM played across the screen in multiple colors and dancing, penis-shaped icons. Winston frowned.
"Did you hack my IM client again?" Winston asked. Little penis-shaped icons danced on his computer screen.
"Black on white is SO passé and 1980's dude. Put some life in your computer, I did," Theo answered. He checked the security monitors and Theo wasn't at his computer.
"I thought you'd be here. Where are you, now?" Winston typed at the keyboard. Winston folded his arms over his chest and huffed. It took the network about thirty seconds to produce the answer.
"That new and very overpriced four-star in Hong Kong. You know the one with all the computerized gadgets and crap. I hacked their network and I'm fucking with their guests right now," Theo answered. Carter's computer screen filled with dancing vaginas that sprouted legs and did tap dances. Before he had the chance to type a message, his computer screen faded to black and a big "HI!" appeared on the screen surrounded by smiley faces, underneath in small letters was a message.
"How about… giving me your body for a month so I can get massages and rubdowns?" Theo proposed. Theo wanted Winston to give up control of his body.
"Not again, please not again. The last time I let you use me for sex, we went to that loony dude ranch and all they did was to fist fuck me for three days. It took a week for me to shove my hemorrhoids back up my ass. I can't party like that anymore. My body is getting old. No one gets my booty anymore. I don't care what the reason is; no one is allowed to even touch my ass. I need to maintain a little control," Winston typed back into the screen. Winston shrugged and crossed his arms across his chest. He sat there like a pathetic imitation of Jack Benny trying to figure out some other bribe to lure Theo home to working on his next assignment. His computer screen returned to normal and a regular IM appeared.
"I wasn't talking an affiliation again. I was talking a solo performance. BTW - I just blew two days of wastewater backwards through all the toilets at that four-star resort in Hong Kong. Should I tell them who I am? I can give them your credit card number, if you want me to," Theo teased. Winston could only hope he was joking.
"No, no, no! There are already too many rumors about illicit hackers and rogue computers. Please come home, Theo," Winston typed into his computer. He sat and waited for any message to come back. Theo was depressed and moody. In his state of mind, he shouldn't be traveling around the world hacking into computers and networks. Winston waited for a half an hour for Theo to respond before he typed another message. Internet news carried headlines from Hong Kong of far more than just youthful frivolity at the new hotel. He returned to the IM screen and typed a message to Theo.
"You win. I have someone who will trade places with you. If he doesn't work out then I'll do it myself. Will that help?" Winston sighed. He shrugged his shoulders and stretched. I have to get more exercise, he thought. Without warning, Theo's computer station next to his came alive and began to play heavy metal disaster music, thumping the floors and walls with its steady rhythms. Theo sang the lead vocal. Winston waited patiently until the music died down.
"Tell me you faked that newsflash," Winston typed into the IM box. It popped up on Theo's computer signifying Theo's presence was in their computer system. Winston quietly began to restrict access to the public internet and the defense networks. Theo didn't notice the actions. If he did, then he assumed that didn't Winston was simply preparing for a transfer and didn't acknowledge the actions.
"A few discrete inquiries and you'll know if you have a replacement. Do you want me to hop into the dummy over there?" Theo referred to a metal and plastic animatronics device the mechanics created for him to use on occasions he needed to be in the laboratory. Theo hated this so-called robot and Winston didn't blame him. He tried it once or twice just to occupy it and the machine was just too restrictive. It couldn't walk. It responded slowly to commands making it feel awkward and clumsy. Regardless, the would-be automaton came to life indicating Theo's presence. The red indicator glowed bright. Law requires the indicator when a human mind inhabits an artificial body. Not all artificial bodies had fail-safes to prevent accidental erasure.
"You might want to wait in your computer. The only man we can interview is that marine guard who keeps asking all those questions about robots and stuff like that. He's already submitted to Complete Cerebral Digitization for military missions and had his CORE installed. The military even has a dozen of his clones in stasis. He might be interested in doing a few jobs for our Division rather than just doing purely military missions. He's on duty and I can have him come over and interview him. If he works out, you can use his body and I'll keep him busy using his clones," Winston said. A light on the animatronics glowed to life signifying Theo's presence.
"Who knows, being a marine makes him a little stupid anyway… and by the time he realizes I won't return his body, you'll have some consolation prize for him, won't you?" Theo said. The machine moved smoothly and accurately. Winston stared for a moment. He dialed an extension on the phone and asked the guard to come over to the laboratory.
"It's a bit devious but I can sleep with it," Winston said. He tried to be as cold and uncaring as Theo always was.
"I'm glad you can sleep at nights. I'm sincerely glad you can sleep at nights because I don't sleep anymore unless I'm in a body. One of life's little adjustments," Theo said. The animatronics pounded the table.
"But you don't need to sleep," Winston replied.
"How do you fucking know that? Have you felt my nightmares? Have you seen my visions of my dead and mutilated body in the grave? You spent exactly one month in digital form and then you knew that you could return to your body. I've been three years with nothing to touch, nothing to eat, nothing to breathe, no heartbeat, nothing. Just those damn electronic sensors that pass for senses. Look at this. Just look at it. This pathetic contraption that can't even keep up with a simple hand movement," Theo screamed out of the speaker. The animatronics device tried to react. Its motors and cables just couldn't work that fast.
A knock at the door interrupted them. Winston activated the monitor and saw the marine guard waiting outside. Theo settled down in his chair and Winston let the marine into the laboratory.
"First Lieutenant Casey Jeremiah Travis, at your service, sir," he announced. He was a big, well-muscled farm boy with short-cropped blond stubble for hair. He had a big, farm boy grin on his face with lots of shiny white teeth showing through his smile. Winston introduced himself and Theo in the animatronics apparatus.
"Wow, I didn't know anyone could animate a construction like that. That's really sweet," Casey said. Theo made the face smile. Winston made a big deal of studying Casey's Psi measurements.
"Young man, we specialized in human control of robots. Your mind seems to have an innate ability to adapt too many situations. It's quite possible that was can upload your consciousness into our computers for you to perform assignments in electronic form," Winston explained. Theo wasn't as patient.
"Let's cut right to the point, do you want to take my place and become a robot?" Theo asked. Lieutenant Casey's face lit up in anticipation. Winston didn’t like to use such a direct line of questioning. He tried to soften the request.
"Well, that's not the only assignments we have, mostly we insert a mind into a cloned body and give you a physical assignment to fulfill," Winston said. A skull and crossbones appeared on Theo's computer terminal behind Casey. The light above the animatronics head never blinked. Winston immediately knew Theo had solved how to spread his presence into two computers. The digitized human brain was a dangerous weapon when sane; when it became psychotic, no one was safe.
"Robots, clones, internet clients, whatever you want me to be, I'm your man. I've seen my clones and they're magnificent. Now that I know you guys have animatronics and robots, count me in," Casey came across, as he would say, with a whole heap of enthusiastic and as Theo would say, just a little stupid.
"Once you are free of that body, you are so free. You can travel the world in minutes. Go anywhere, be anywhere and no one can stop you. It's the best sensation in the world. I'll tell you what; you ever want to be hung like a horse? Or you ever want to be a horse? These guys can figure out how to insert you into a horse's body and the clone makers can grow you a horse-sized cock. Now every red-blooded American male needs a few hours with a tool like that." Theo said. Casey got more and more excited about what he heard. Their enthusiasm built on each other's excitement.
"Once we are both digitized, we can talk electronically. It's like two computer programs exchanging data only faster than anything you can imagine and when you surf the internet, you really do surf the internet. It's like world travel in digital form." Theo added. Casey liked the proposition.
"Where do I sign up, guys. I'm anxious to start." Casey nearly burst with excitement.
"Well, good then, that's all settled. When do you get off guard duty?" Winston asked.
"I was just coming off duty when you asked. Right now, I'm at your disposal," Casey answered.
"Great, for the transfer you have to be naked. Get undressed and we'll get the equipment ready," Theo said. His headset clicked on and Carter's voice popped into his ear.
"Don't fuck this up for me. I'm tired of not having a body. You can deal with the perfect fool after I'm gone," Winston held his hand to his ear fearful that Casey might hear the chatter in his earphones. He turned around to his keyboard and typed an IM to Theo.
"I won't screw up. You need to behave. I have to seal the laboratory so we don't get a glitch in the transfer. I don't need any outside interference," Winston relayed. Casey was busy removing his clothes and hanging them neatly over the chair and he didn't see the typing. Winston sealed the laboratory and cut all outside computer connections. The three of them were all alone.
The animatronic Theo gave him a quick glance and went back to watching Casey undress. He piled his clothes neatly on the chair. His body was big and brawny, muscles from head to toe, uniformly tanned all over and nearly hairless. He turned to the animatronics and grinned. He sucked his stomach in and flexed his chest and arms. Muscles popped as he displayed a ripped physique.
"I built this body with hard work on my Daddy's farm. Ain't it nice," He asked. Before anyone could answer, he added "Well, that and the gym on the base. I also swim daily at the nude beach on the north side of the island."
"…a body that any man would be proud of… and I mean that in a non-sexual way," Winston said. Casey smiled.
"That kinda of talk don't bother me, Sir. I know all about enjoying my body," Casey said.
"I'll bet you do, young man. I'll bet you do," Winston remarked.
"You know, Winston here can load you into this animatronic unit when he gets your consciousness digitized. You'll like that. I'll transfer myself into my computer and stay there. Once you get online, we can talk," Theo said from the speaker on his terminal. Casey looked puzzled. He didn't even realize that Theo was that mobile. Winston caught his bewildered look.
"Theo has free reign to occupy a variety of objects. In face, we can even load his mind into your head without taking your mind out. Theo and I used to do that. It's interesting to have another man in your mind all the time. By the way, you have to stand in the transfer portal over there," Winston said.
He pointed to a half-cylinder shape with a depression in it standing against the wall of the laboratory. It was filled with electronic gear and metal straps. Casey quickly stood in the portal. He shivered as the cold metal touched his back. Nervous sweat formed on his body.
"Don't worry, this won't hurt me a bit," Theo said from his computer terminal. They laughed.
"This is more intrusive than the CORE module that the military installed inside your skull a month ago," Winston said.
"Do you have a CORE unit?" Casey asked.
"Yes, I've had ten installed. I invented the CORE and as we improve it I get upgraded," Winston said.
"Have you ever been completely digitized?" Casey asked.
"Sure. I was the first man to be digitized and reinserted. Now, I upload myself at least every seven to ten days. More frequently if I have a good day in the laboratory and want to maintain that knowledge. All those procedures are routine. You'll learn all about the routine schedules soon enough."
"Tell me how this is going to work?" Casey asked.
"First, the machine prepares your body for mind removal. It's a little uncomfortable but absolutely necessary. Second, I initiate the transfer your conscious mind into a specially built, doubly-redundant memory module. Third, the process strips your autonomic functions from your body and stores them in a second doubly-redundant memory module. We can't do this in one step. It has to be done in two steps." Winston attached a half dozen leads to Casey's body. He pushed the young marine back into the portal. Casey took a gulp and put his arms and legs out so that Winston could close the metal clamps around them. Two metal bands covered his chest and hips. Winston locked them down so that Casey couldn't move. Nervous sweat dripped from Casey's body. Winston talked about the process to calm him down.
"Hey, First Lieutenant Casey Jeremiah Travis, I haven't lost anyone's mind yet in this process. It's perfectly safe," Winston said. He heard Theo giggle in his earpiece. He tapped it off so he couldn't hear the remarks he knew would follow.
"There are two memory modules so that we can restore your mind to any one of the cloned bodies the military created. If we didn't separate thought and reflexes you would have to relearn how to use your body, walk and all that stuff. I went through that once. It's not fun. But that's another story. After the machine digitizes your mind completely and your body becomes a blank slate, I'll load the memory module with your conscious mind into the spare computer station. There you'll find messages on how to talk to the I/O ports. We have AM, FM, coaxial and optical data routines, IM, all internet protocols, defense net, and the satellite protocols. In addition, there are a wide range of digital speakers, image projectors, and simple computer screens that you can use to communicate on this military base. You're going to have to learn how to communicate through the I/O ports by experience. It's not that hard. By the time, you figure out how to communicate, the military technicians will be here to take your physical body to a stasis facility. I know this is a lot of information but do you understand it?" Winston said.
"Sure, absolutely, I want this. I'm determined to do this," Casey answered. He tried to sound brave but he was scared.
"I think so. It's a little scary. So many steps involved doing it," Casey shook his head for Winston to begin. Winston flipped a switch and Casey felt a metal tube enter his rectum. Winston attached another tube to Casey's cock and suctioned it into the device. Casey jumped against the metal straps as the machine inserted IV needles into his chest. Winston flipped a helmet full of electronic gear over Casey's head and fastened it to the back wall of the portal. Thousands of electrodes touched Carter's skull. They tingled. Winston closed the eyepieces and let Casey stand in the darkness. He returned to his computer terminal.
"I'm going to start the transfer now. Once it starts, we can't stop. When it's complete, you'll be a computer program in one of the terminals. After that, we can decide whether you'll be loaded into a clone or a robot until we need you." Winston asked. He remembered the day he gave Theo this speech. An IM popped up on his computer screen.
"Oh cut the compassionate act out. Once you transfer him out just load me into his body. He doesn't even have to know what's happened until years from now when you and the god damn generals stop using and abusing him." Winston wanted to yell at Theo but he was afraid of what might happen. Theo had grown increasingly more unstable in the past week.
Carter punched a key on his computer to initiate the transfer. Casey's body stiffened, locked in place by a weak stasis field. The electrodes resting on his skull began to read the patterns on his synapses. At first, it felt pleasant but then, it became painful. He knew what the CCT felt like but this probed deeper into his mind. It invaded his mind mercilessly and stripped everything it could find. Memories started to disappear. Year by year, he felt his life being pulled out of his head. Whatever memory the machine pulled away, stayed away. He tried to tell himself not to fight the process, but the erratic electronic field penetrating his head wouldn't let him. Human memory is not stored serially. It is stored redundantly and it is stored randomly. CCT and CORE required serial and predictable storage. The machine stirred up his mind so it could drain the little messages from between the synapses in a logical order. It passed the signals to the digitizer and onto the doubly-redundant memory module.
Carter went over to Theo's computer and entered a message. "Theo, is your entire mind in this computer and please don't fuck with me. I'm going to kill this kid for you, so have a little decency and reassemble yourself for the reinsertion. Got that?" Winston actually showed a little backbone. Theo complied.
"I'm all here in one itty-bitty machine. Remember, if you fuck with me, I'll get even," Theo retreated to his computer and let Winston begin the memory additions to the conscious part of his mind on the doubly-redundant memory module. The routine was tedious, persistent, and all consuming. Winston added a triply redundant scan to keep Theo occupied. On the other hand, Casey was close to panic. All the physical indicators climbed as Casey felt the electrodes stripping hi mind from his physical brain. It drained his memories into the doubly-redundant memory module. Winston injected a strong muscle relaxant to free Casey's body from his mind. It took effect in seconds. Theoretically, Casey knew what the machine was doing but in reality, he had never experienced it before.
When the machine finished digitizing Casey's memories, it started to work on his conscious mind. Casey felt the location of his thoughts, the part of his mind that deliberated and made decisions stretch and expand. It moved from his head and into the doubly-redundant memory module with his memories. Suddenly, he was looking at his body from the outside, viewing it from another place. His memories all seemed so logical.
Carter shifted the machine from primary scan, to secondary scan and began to digitize Casey's autonomic functions into the other doubly-redundant memory module. With his intellect now separated form his body, Casey could watch as the machine stripped all his physical abilities, his soccer, football, wrestling, and all his movements, reactions, and bodily functions from his human body and loaded them into the second doubly-redundant memory module. When the computer finished, Winston loaded the two computer modules into the empty computer station and isolated the computer from the rest of the laboratory network and the internet. It would take a few minutes for Casey to learn how to use the I/O ports so he could print to the screen or talk to the speaker and listen with the microphone. .
Carter turned his attention to Theo's memory modules. First, he isolated them from the rest of the network and then he ordered the machine to begin the reprogramming of Casey's body. He monitored the reinsertion process. He switched between the two modules making sure that every bit and byte of Theo was loaded into the proper spatial location in Casey's human skull. At the end of the process, he checked the Theo's physical parameters and administered a counteragent to the muscle relaxant. When he saw the body tense up and try to move, he knew that the process had been successful. It took a moment for Theo to find his human voice.
"That was harder than I expected," the new Theo said in a rough and gravely voice. His restored heartbeat and breathing echoed in his ears. It would take his mind a few hours to readjust to human sensations and begin to ignore noises like the rushing of blood in the veins, the sound of his breathing, his heightened sensations of touch, tickle, pain, pressure, and brightness. Winston dimmed the lights to let Theo's new eyes adjust to the light. He removed the headset and the tubes from Theo's new body and release the metal straps around his waist and chest. He left Theo's hands and feet in the metal shackles. Theo could nearly sit up but he couldn't walk away.
"Take it easy for a while. It's been a few years since you've been completely inserted into a body. I think you should lay there for a while," Winston said. He lowered the foot of the portal so Theo lay at a 45-degree angle. Winston shut down the apparatus.
"I am. I am. I'm back, flesh and blood. I thought you might try to trick me. And... This isn't a cloned body. That's what I would have done if I were you, Carter. Load me into a clone so I would die in a year or two," Theo said.
"But I didn't. I did not intend to harm you. I just wanted you to stop all that mischief. Are you satisfied with this body?" Winston asked. Theo flexed his new muscles. Just like everything else, he had to get used to being truly human again before he could walk.
"Yes, I am. I am satisfied. It's a body I could only dream of having. Type my old ID number followed by my birthday and my phone number into my old terminal," Theo said. Winston complied and several programs ceased functioning. Winston said nothing. He disconnected the terminal from the laboratory networks. It stood isolated,
"And what were those programs?" Winston asked.
"Insurance, you know. I might have enemies out there," Theo laughed at his understatement. Winston noticed that a message had popped up on Casey's computer. Casey found the screen I/O port. In a few minutes, he would find the speaker's I/O port and start to talk.
"You can rest easy. Nothing harmful is going to happen. Do you want to talk to Casey? You don't have to tell him you're in his body. He's so green he won’t know the difference," Winston said. He knew that Theo couldn't resist gloating to the young man he found so intellectually inferior.
"Sure, It'll be a hoot listening to him carry on about how good it feels or some other dumb, bumpkin-like, idiocy. Why should we wait to tell him about me using his body, by the way," Theo asked. He leaned up on his elbows as far as the wrist restraints let him. The room spun around his head and he closed his eyes to steady himself. Winston opened the speaker/microphone on Casey's computer.
"Casey Jeremiah Travis, are you in there?" Winston said softly into the microphone.
"Hello, Hello? Is that you Doctor Carter? Well, hell yes, it's me, Casey. Wow, let me tell you, that was the weirdest feeling as my mind moved from my body into this computer. It's so strange not to have a body, just a mind floating in the machine. But then of course you know that, don't you?" Casey said. At least he's enthusiastic, Winston thought.
"No Sir, I'm never goin-to grow tired of this. Not me! Not a chance. I want to be the first true android, someday," Casey blurted out through the speaker.
"No, Casey, I'll be the first android or cyborg. You can be the second android. I promise. I always test my inventions before anyone else. The privilege of the inventor," Winston said. He increased the slack in Theo's chains and then fondled his new manhood. They kissed. As crazy as Theo was, he returned the physical contact with Carter. He pushed Carter's head onto his stiffening manhood. Winston gobbled it up and sucked hard on it. For a few minutes, they ignored Casey until Theo reached an orgasm.
Casey could hear them. He marveled at the sensitivity of the electronics that supported his computerized essence. He listened close and reproduced two sets of heartbeats and breathing patterns on his computer screen.
"Theo, are you there too? I thought you'd be in here with me. I wanted to meet you in electronic form... "Casey's new, synthetic voice crackled out of the speaker. Winston smiled at his enthusiasm. Theo made faces.
"I hope you like my body. I always enjoyed it when I was in it. Especially doing what you two just did out there," Casey sounded as proud as a new father. Theo's head popped up in surprise. The dumb marine was good, but not that good intellectually. Theo's paranoia nagged at the back of his brain.
"Yes, Theo is using your body. He needed a rest from being digital. You don't mind, do you?" Winston answered. He really didn’t like doing what Theo forced him to do but he had to do it.
"It's not like you're using your body, doofus. I need a little R&R; five or ten years would be nice. Then I'll return it in good condition," Theo laughed. He sounded creepy and disturbed.
"No not at all. I've enjoyed making that body strong and muscular," Casey said. He actually sounded relieved and again, Theo's paranoia tingled.
"We're safe, Casey. Do you want to tell him the truth about your body," Winston asked. He moved out of Theo's reach.
"What, you mean tell him that I'm a convict and this is my only chance for rehabilitation?" Casey asked. He discovered how to put an image up on the screens and his idealized face appeared.
"What trick are you two trying to pull, now." Theo strained against the metal bindings so hard he left marks on his arms.
"Well, you see, Theo, a few months ago I got drunk and took a tank on a joy ride. I had fun rolling over everything in sight. However, when I came around one of the blind corners, I destroyed a school bus full of kids. It was only an itty bitty drinking binge. I tried to tell them that. Why sober, I wouldn't hurt a fly. But when in my drunkenness, I killed thirty kids and the bus driver, well, they don’t let you live for long after that." Casey said through the speakers.
"Tell me this is a joke," Theo tried to pen the latches on his bonds. The metal dug into his wrists and ankles. His new was definitely strong but not stronger than steel.
"Sorry Theo, it's no joke. You're insane and dangerous," Winston gulped. He felt a little guilty.
"…and he won't go just as crazy as me without a body? You're a little crazy yourself, you know," Theo asked. Winston shrugged.
"Yeah, but not sociopath. I spent your last absence programming safety protocols into the digitization program. Casey's incapable of killing humans or causing their deaths," Winston explained. While he talked to Theo, he activated cameras and display screens increasing Casey's access to the laboratory.
"Tricky, tricky. No more political assassination missions. Now what do I do, spend my life in prison for your crimes?" Theo asked.
"For future note, Theo, first lieutenant's in the MP's rarely walk guard duty. If you had anything but lust and disdain for the military, you would have known that. If I told you that Lieutenant Travis was a fifth lieutenant in charge of Cape Canaveral, you would have believed me. Well, no such military rank exists. It's just a side note for you to consider in the short time you have left. Also, take an interest in local affairs. Casey was in the news around here for the past month. You were off hacking and fucking with the 'rich and famous' in Hong Kong. If you had at least paid attention, you would also know that the Hawaiian Tribal Council reestablishes public executions. They're going to throw that body into one of the lava pools at Kilauea. Casey and I will be watching. Even the metal of the portal you are strapped to will melt in molten lava and your metal CORE that we depend on to store our minds will melt and burn just after your head explodes from the pressure of your brain turning into steam. Sorry to do this to you Theo. We grew up together and you're just not sane anymore. I'm going to miss you."
Theo screamed. He cursed in several languages that Winston didn't know. He bloodied his wrists and ankles struggling against the metal straps. Winston ordered the unit to paralyze Theo. He went over to him and guided a needle into his neck. He anesthetized the nerves Theo's vocal cords to prevent him talking anymore. He could groan and bellow as much as he wanted, but he couldn't talk. Winston unsealed the doors to the laboratory and had four MP's carry the metal frame of the portal with Theo's naked and thrashing body to a waiting truck. They also loaded his computer station.
Carter sat in the laboratory watching on the surveillance cameras. The MP's drove a few miles to meet the Hawaiian Justice Council. One of the Council's men used a tall crane to lift the portal and swing it over the lava pool. The red heat of the lava reflected off the metal of the crane. Carefully the operator lowered the portal with Theo still strapped to it onto the glowing red lava. Theo's body burst into flame just before the metal touched the lava. The metal glowed red and melted within seconds. When the lava touched the burning body, Winston watched as the hot lava consumed it completely. A cloud of steam sprayed out the top of Theo's skull before it burst open. Winston watched closely as the metal cylinder containing Theo's CORE unit melted and burned away. The Council left when nothing remained but a foul stench in the air. Theophilus Calicrates was dead. When the MP's were alone, they threw Theo's computer station into the lava. It melted and burned in seconds.
"You are now officially dead, First Lieutenant Casey Jeremiah Travis. How's it felt?" Winston asked.
"I feel surprisingly good for being dead. Who said that death is underrated? Do you think Theo had much pain?"
"Not enough pain by my account. Theo was a major league psychopath. His last episode cost three lives and millions in damages," Winston explained.
"Still, we tricked him into occupying my body. That wasn't right. It's not like I'm an angel. I have a debt to repay to society and he paid it for me by being burnt alive in my body. I deserved it for what I did. He suffered for me, so to speak," The metallic voice even had a tinge of regret and contrition.
"Hey, buck up, Casey. You were just a one-time drunk out for a joy ride. Not that that justifies the deaths you caused, but Theo was a real criminal, not just a dumb country bumpkin on a binge, a real criminal. He raped and killed six women to get into prison and then one night he gutted his cellmate with a homemade knife and had sex with the body. The next day he garroted another inmate with a shoelace just for fun. You aren't in his league," Winston said.
"And he was found trial and given the death penalty?" Casey asked.
"Death by lethal injection. We scanned him with an early version of CCT, recovered his CORE, and cloned him. That was the problem, his CCT wasn't stable with a cloned body and as each cloned body would die, he would get a little more psychotic. We couldn't correct the problem because we didn't have his original body. Eventually he went sociopath and became paranoid. He knew too much about the computers for us to contain him. That was why we had to trick him."
"But ain't I in the same situation? Won't I go crazy, too?" Casey asked.
""No, you actually want to be a robot. Theo had no desire to be a robot and in many ways hated depending upon the machine to live," Winston answered. He plugged a connector on his neck into a cable from his terminal and let his mind flow out of the physical body and into his computer. The body sagged for a moment and then reanimated itself. Its hand reached up and disconnected from the interface. He pushed an earphone headset into one ear. Then he reclined the chair and lay back. He needed a few minutes to recover from sharing his body with Doctor Carter.
"But, what about long term effects," Casey asked through the I/O port. The question appeared in several places. Inside his computer, Winston chuckled at the young man's ineptness. He linked their minds together. He could feel Casey's astonishment.
"It won't happen that way kid. I'll keep you safe," Winston said electronically. His presence flowed around Casey and reassured him. Casey quickly mapped out the boundaries of his computer and Carter's computer.
"You're part of the machine, aren’t you?" Casey suddenly realized what Winston was.
"Of course I am. One night, well before the military perfected cloning, I tested the prototype CORE and CCT on myself. It was the first time we ever used both scans. The laboratory lost power and when the emergency generators kicked in, the power surge fried my human brain destroying the synapses. The military men that found me botched everything and never kept DNA samples. My body has been dead and buried for nearly a decade now. One day I'll load myself into a machine and stay there. You don't go crazy or psychopathic just because you're digital. I haven't," Winston told him.
"But what about the body you I saw you in? That's wasn't yours" Casey asked.
"That's Lieutenant Zoltan Barkovsky, Z-Man as he likes to be called. He's one of the more brilliant programmers working on the Cyborg and Android projects. He let's me use his body now and again. He says its fun just sitting back and watching someone else do al the work." As Casey talked, he let Z-Man into the conversation.
"Aw, you're too kind, Doctor Carter, too kind. By the way, thanks for the taste back there. I appreciate the gesture, so to speak," Z-Man said into the microphone of his earpiece. He remained stationary in the chair to prevent a migraine.
"Taste?" Casey said.
"Oooh, you're going to have to teach that boy a little bit of discretion. Go ahead, tell him anyway," Z-Man enjoyed Carter's predicament a little too much. Winston sighed, that is, if computer programs can be said to sigh.
"One thing you learn Casey is that there is a distinct lack of privacy when someone lets you use their body," Winston said. He retrieved the memory of the blowjob he gave to Theo just after his insertion into Casey's body. He packaged the memory with touch, feel, sight, sound, smell. He added a sidetrack of Z-Man's enjoyment of the sexual act. He played it for Casey who remained silent after he listened and watched it.
"It's your memory now; you can synchronize it with any one of your memories of a blow job and replay it from both sides. Don't be afraid of a simple memory. You can replay it and concentrate on Z-Man's tongue licking the sweat off of your cock and balls, or the taste of your cum, or even Z-Man's coaching me on what to do. He's a better cocksucker than I'll ever be." Winston zinged Z-Man.
"Cruel man, cruel," Z-Man said. He moved slowly so his head wouldn't thump This transition was better than before, but he recognized where he had to adjust the computer programs to make it smoother and less headache prone.
"The truth hurts, Z-Man, doesn't it. Just let Casey enjoy Casey," Winston enjoyed needling Z-Man.
"I always wondered about sex like that. I just never had the chance to do it. Do you mean to tell me that when you inhabit a body with a mind in it that both of you share the experiences?" Casey asked.
"Absolutely, the host isn't unconscious. He has to provide all the autonomic and motor functions. All the memories are shared with the guest personality," Casey explained.
"What he means is that both guys get to enjoy the host's body. You haven't had an orgasm until you have another man and all his memories inside your head when you blast a load into some cute, hot body, man or woman. Winston and I have done both. Besides, there are more important things to consider than just the memory of a simple blowjob," Z-Man said.
"Really?" Casey asked. Winston nearly burst with relief at the nice change of topic.
"We have several projects. The first is a Cyborg/Android project that the Army is building. We have to inhabit it and see how well it works. The second is the satellite prototype of a long-range space ship. Humans won’t survive to reach the nearest planets, but robots will. Not only that, the entire spaceship will be one big computer. A third project consists of various interfaces with the worldwide power and communications grids. We need to manage them better than we have been. A fourth project is the CCT and CORE interaction with clones. We want clones to have stable lifetimes of more than a year. There are other projects on the drawing board. So you see, the sooner we start, the better it gets." Winston said. With that, Winston and Casey got down to work.
6800 words more or less
FUTURES YET UNKNOWN
Ten Stories by Dave Fragments
*An Alien serial murderer and a furry detective with fleas.
*Murder on a world with altered humans.
*Disturbing apocalyptic visions *Monstrous dystopian societies.
*A man on trial for betraying the human race to robots.
*Devils, demons and ghosts.
*Survivors of a plague war.
*Cyborgs trying to be human.
*Six friends in a strange sinkhole.
*The truth about a world drowning in rain, without sun, without hope.
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