writing chapter 9.2

Kurt had started his evening complaining about the morons at his talk on the kernel. He expected better from the guys he always hung out with, but they weren’t very receptive, and soon he gave up talking to anybody.

 

He had no interest in the parties, so he went back to his van, which was parked far from the Dragoncon crowd on a side street near Grady Hospital. No costumed anybody in this section, only homeless people looking for an interesting way to pass the evening.

 

He parked where the wifi was strong, and settled in for the night, putting up privacy screens on the windows and making himself comfortable in the back, at his computer. Kurt had been dissatisfied for months with the game’s progress, and now that it was being presented publicly, he could practically hear his peers howl, failing to see the beauty beneath the kludgy exterior. And for that he hated them.

 

He could walk away now, his part in the game was done and he could disassociate himself with the game itself and go on to find more interesting applications for the kernel. But the game’s poor showing injured his pride, and Kurt was very proud. It’s all a genius has, when the world conspires against you.

 

He wanted to fix the game. The Antarctica level was the problem. He didn’t care at all about the carnival levels. He agreed with Anomia that they were afterthoughts. But the Antarctica level – the game the angel told them to make – the important part – was a real mess. He’d been busy doing other things when Josh and Anomia built it on the sly, and they’d ignored or not noticed all sorts of better ways to do just about everything. He might as well tear it down and start over.

 

Which in fact he intended to do. His goal was a sterling session of sleep programming, and his first task was to self medicate properly. He’d been working on a good case of insomnia, using a blend of caffeine, cold medicines and meth, chased with Red Bull. He was jittering so bad he’d eaten his fingernails to the quick.

 

He was already on antidepressants (duh), but felt he had plenty of room for a few beta blockers, and took a bunch of propranolol to suppress his REM sleep, and several slow wave enhancers: lithium and amitriptyline.

 

All these drugs in order to produce parasomnia – sleep programming, vivid dreams, maybe a nightmare or two. And to all this he added two Ambien and a couple of shots of vodka, and settled down to smoke some good weed and wait.

 

Soon he found himself inside his dream Airstream, spacious and elegant compared to his trash-filled realworld cargo van. He was sitting in his expensive task chair, hammering away at his keyboard. He wasn’t really in the Airstream, tho. He was inside the kernel.

 

Nobody knew about this. Kurt had discovered almost immediately that he could use his special connection to the kernel – it was partially made of Kurt stuff, after all – to merge with it, to somehow shrink his essential self down small enough to enter the quantum kernel, where he made himself at home.

 

No Airstream, nothing fancy; not even a tent. Just endless dry desert and a sleeping bag. It was peaceful, he could see all the stars, and nothing changed or happened or went wrong. And he could think a million thoughts all at once, and be aware of them all, and keep track of them all, and follow each thought thru to its end or branching place. There were so many permutations of any one thought that he spent whole lifetimes pondering a single aspect before moving on to the next one.

 

Turning his attention to the Antarctica level, he saw it as a single living creation, not as lines of code, or beauteous backgrounds and poorly indicated details, or even as a pale replica of the game the kids had played on the angel’s dime. He saw it as a being in its own self, with a past, present and future all bound up together outside of time.

 

As flawed as it was, this virtual Antarctica was as real as the actual icebound continent. He could see the interconnecting complexity of its mountains and plains, its bones and skin; he could trace all the areas of cultural flow and historical crisis, growth and decay, the lives and deaths weaving in and out of its living self, because it was alive and contained everything that happened inside it, or on it, or to it.

 

There’s a better way to say this. The Gaia theory doesn’t do it justice. If you were a flea on the flank of Gaia, and you knew yourself to be that flea, and also knew yourself to be Gaia regarding the flea on her thigh, and knew yourself to be Not Gaia, outside of Gaia, which then implies that you knew yourself to be inside Gaia, even smaller than you were as a flea (muscles, sinews, organelles and corpuscles, the cells, the quantum intracellular fluid – all at the same time), and were still able to function on any and all of the levels you were conscious of being. On.

 

So Kurt was part of Antarctica, and he understood it as a part of himself, and he set about fixing it. After a short break, during which he came back to his Airstream, had a good pee, fixed himself a mug of coffee, smoked a cigarette, smoked a joint, smoked another few cigarettes and had a beer. He did another round of REM suppressors and something to intensify the slow waves, took a hit of mescaline and did a little X – for the flavor. Then, to kick up the brain activity a notch, he attached electrodes to his head and gave himself a few jolts of transcranial stimulation.

 

He was smoking. Chain smoking, sitting at his hand-tooled maple desk, his hands dancing over the keyboard, tearing Antarctica down and rebuilding it the right – dare he say the only way? (No, he durst not, because it’s quantum and there is no right way. But never mind.)

 

He was also in Antarctica. Time being an illusion, he had separated the layers into multiple Antarcticas, each one an overlay, ring upon ring of the richly complex Antarcticas at different times and stages. Continuous but never the same. He was working with the level architecture, laying out the threads of consequences from one layer to the next. Everything fit together and made sense. A billion threads to follow, stories to live. Kurt stood in awe of it all, a whole continent glistening in the midnight sun. More perfect than the classical, physical Antarctica because it was more real, more alive, wanting to play like a puppy. Kurt loved his Antarctica.

 

He was running around all seven layers at once, conjuring areas as he went, whatever was needed, whatever cried out to be done. He was tying filaments of reality together, weaving possibilities together, making nodes where quantum synapses connected to the kernel. He felt like a wizard, all fiddly bits and vastness, all in the name of the greatest good.

 

Back in the Airstream, on a bluff overlooking the Pacific ocean, Kurt was doing breathing exercises in his isolation jacuzzi, going for the absolute minimum of distraction to clear his head of nonquantum space. (because water is quantum). He was getting really great results. He felt like his brain was electrified, on fire.

 

Back in the cargo van, parked in front of an abandoned building in Atlanta, Kurt was slumped over his broken rolly chair, his head on his chest, drooling, his eyes closed but darting all around as he dreamed.

 

He dreamed he was programming, creating the perfect Antarctica. People would be amazed. He raised his cigarette to his lips in slow motion and took a shallow puff, not breathing very deeply with his head bent forward like that. His heart was pounding, but he was unaware of it. His face was purplish, too, and the pressure was building up in his neck and shoulders.

 

But he continued to bring the cigarette slowly up to his mouth and huff at it while he was thinking. And his thinking was infinite. His mind was the fire of creation, and the universe was the shadowy Beyond. He was himself, a continuous and unchanging consciousness, a being with a body. A body which was a tool for understanding the universe, a mind capable of analyzing everything, and a consciousness which acted and participated in the grand dance of the universe. Body, mind and will. The trinity. Father, son, spirit. The father is like the body and the mid is like the son, no wait, does the body discipline the mind or is the mind ruler of the body? Hahaha, never mind. Rock paper scissors.

 

He reached for his cigarette, which was resting on the edge of his dream ashtray. He brought it slowly to his swollen, purple lips, and dreamed he inhaled it. He wasn’t really sure if he wasn’t in the jacuzzi in the back of the Airstream, doing breathing exercises and smoking a fatty. He winced a little as the cigarette grew hot at the filter and moved to stab it out in the dream ashtray. He lit another and took a dream puff, lapsing into another deep thought with his hand pausing just micrometers from his lips.

 

He nodded off for a moment but snapped back into dream consciousness when the cigarette burned down and singed his fingers, then lit another one and nodded off again, snot bubbling from his nose. This time he could feel himself slipping away, so he reached out to put the cigarette into the dream ashtray while he followed a compelling idea down into the murk.

 

Since it was a dream ashtray, the cigarette was actually resting in midair, next to a slumbering Kurt who was bent over his computer desk in his cargo van in downtown Atlanta. Since it was the classical Atlanta, the cigarette fell to the floor of the van. There it burned slowly while Kurt dreamed he was sleep programming.

 

The cigarette burned almost to the filter before the ember touched a cellophane wrapper which abutted a dried up old snotrag, which lay on a dirty t-shirt. All of which peacefully smoldered for awhile.

 

Kurt hardly noticed the smoke. Slumped over as he was, he’d developed apnea, and was snoring loudly, a coughing, choking kind of breath accompanied by a groan as tho he was trying to say something in his sleep. His face was blue, his eyes bulged behind his eyelids, his chubby fingers were blue, his heard was racing, his blood was boiling in his veins. His lungs were aching. He was getting a headache, a real whopper.

 

There are around 25 trillion synapses firing in the brain when you’re in a conscious waking state. Every time a synapse fires, 200,000 electrons go racing off toward RNA particles at the rate of 250 billion billion RNA connections an hour until the concentration of RNA is low and the rate of firing synapses falls below a minimum of about .01 per second (once every minute and a half). This is known as sleep.

 

But even in sleep the brain’s synapses keep firing, exciting RNA and forming thoughts. Some of these thoughts create heightened activity in parts of the brain, and trigger consciousness that affects a limited area. This is called dreaming.

 

But how many synapses are firing when it’s a dream within a dream within a dream? And when does the dream turn into nightmare?

 

When the pain comes. The pain of asphyxiation. The searing of your calves and ankles by a growing trash fire at your feet. The intermittent overexcitation of whole regions of the brain by transcranial stimulation. Tho much of Kurt’s brain was ticking over below the threshold of consciousness, his pain receptors were highly active. Nerve pain, bone pain, joint pain, blood vessel pain, organ pain, skin pain. And an enormous headache. A pressure behind his eye.

 

He thrashed around in exquisite intense pain. He couldn’t think. He was beside himself with the agony. He was in many states at once, and hurt in all of them. And his synapses were failing, his firing rate was dropping rapidly, he was losing consciousness. He was losing the ability to move between states, between universes, between Kurts. He was becoming the observer who only watches as the experiment is performed, performs itself.

 

But the observer chooses the outcome. The observer acts as a quantum operation itself. His synapses were filled with electrons that instantly tunneled to distant synapses and changed their states.

 

The cigarette burned almost to the filter before the ember touched a cellophane wrapper which abutted a dried up old snotrag, which lay on a dirty t-shirt. All of which peacefully smoldered for awhile.

 

Kurt hardly noticed the smoke. Slumped over as he was, he’d developed apnea, and was snoring loudly, a coughing, choking kind of breath accompanied by a groan as tho he was trying to say something in his sleep. His face was blue, his eyes bulged behind his eyelids, his chubby fingers were blue, his heard was racing, his blood was boiling in his veins. His lungs were aching. He was getting a headache, a real whopper.

 

There are around 25 trillion synapses firing in the brain when you’re in a conscious waking state. Every time a synapse fires, 200,000 electrons go racing off toward RNA particles at the rate of 250 billion billion RNA connections an hour until the concentration of RNA is low and the rate of firing synapses falls below a minimum of about .01 per second (once every minute and a half). This is known as sleep.

 

But even in sleep the brain’s synapses keep firing, exciting RNA and forming thoughts. Some of these thoughts create heightened activity in parts of the brain, and trigger consciousness that affects a limited area. This is called dreaming.

 

But how many synapses are firing when it’s a dream within a dream within a dream? And when does the dream turn into nightmare?

 

When the pain comes. The pain of asphyxiation. The searing of your calves and ankles by a growing trash fire at your feet. The intermittent overexcitation of whole regions of the brain by transcranial stimulation. Tho much of Kurt’s brain was ticking over below the threshold of consciousness, his pain receptors were highly active. Nerve pain, bone pain, joint pain, blood vessel pain, organ pain, skin pain. And an enormous headache. A pressure behind his eye.

 

He thrashed around in exquisite intense pain. He couldn’t think. He was beside himself with the agony. He was in many states at once, and hurt in all of them. And his synapses were failing, his firing rate was dropping rapidly, he was losing consciousness. He was losing the ability to move between states, between universes, between Kurts. He was becoming the observer who only watches as the experiment is performed, performs itself.

 

But the observer chooses the outcome. The observer acts as a quantum operation itself. His synapses were filled with electrons that instantly tuneled to distant synapses and changed their states.

 

One by one Kurt’s other states winked out, and he had to turn away from his beloved Antarctica, watch it collapse and disappear. He had to come back to himself, floating bodiless in the jacuzzi in the Airstream, breathing, meditating, vaguely referring to a possible vision of himself in a smoking cargo van.

 

He was as calm as he’d ever been, his mind was clear. Everything was clear to him. The memory of past and present and future were an illusion called time, but time is not time, time is out of time.

 

Kurt was out of time. Everything was slowing: his synapse firing rate, his cellular processes, his heartbeat. It got cold. The jacuzzi stopped bubbling. Kurt lost touch with his body. It got very cold. Kurt’s molecules got colder and slowed their vibration, everything got sluggish and slowed to a deep, silent halt. Everything stopped. Kurt was out of time. And he remained outside of time forever (which was actually a joke – Kurt thought so, anyway.)

 

As Kurt was going thru his death throes, he was inside the kernel, as well as a lot of other places. Attached to the kernel, his struggle transmitted itself to all the different universes he was in, and all those places felt his pain, his confusion, his panic, his struggle and loss of consciousness, and the cold stillness. Josh and Anomia felt it,

 

 

Kurt had started his evening complaining about the morons at his talk on the kernel. He expected better from the guys he always hung out with, but they weren’t very receptive, and soon he gave up talking to anybody.

He had no interest in the parties, so he went back to his van, which was parked far from the Dragoncon crowd on a side street near Grady Hospital. No costumed anybody in this section, only homeless people looking for an interesting way to pass the evening.

He parked where the wifi was strong, and settled in for the night, putting up privacy screens on the windows and making himself comfortable in the back, at his computer. Kurt had been dissatisfied for months with the game’s progress, and now that it was being presented publicly, he could practically hear his peers howl, failing to see the beauty beneath the kludgy exterior. And for that he hated them.

He could walk away now, his part in the game was done and he could disassociate himself with the game itself and go on to find more interesting applications for the kernel. But the game’s poor showing injured his pride, and Kurt was very proud. It’s all a genius has, when the world conspires against you.

He wanted to fix the game. The Antarctica level was the problem. He didn’t care at all about the carnival levels. He agreed with Anomia that they were afterthoughts. But the Antarctica level – the game the angel told them to make – the important part – was a real mess. He’d been busy doing other things when Josh and Anomia built it on the sly, and they’d ignored or not noticed all sorts of better ways to do just about everything. He might as well tear it down and start over.

Which in fact he intended to do. His goal was a sterling session of sleep programming, and his first task was to self medicate properly. He’d been working on a good case of insomnia, using a blend of caffeine, cold medicines and meth, chased with Red Bull. He was jittering so bad he’d eaten his fingernails to the quick.

He was already on antidepressants (duh), but felt he had plenty of room for a few beta blockers, and took a bunch of propranolol to suppress his REM sleep, and several slow wave enhancers: lithium and amitriptyline.

All these drugs in order to produce parasomnia – sleep programming, vivid dreams, maybe a nightmare or two. And to all this he added two Ambien and a couple of shots of vodka, and settled down to smoke some good weed and wait.

Soon he found himself inside his dream Airstream, spacious and elegant compared to his trash-filled realworld cargo van. He was sitting in his expensive task chair, hammering away at his keyboard. He wasn’t really in the Airstream, tho. He was inside the kernel.

Nobody knew about this. Kurt had discovered almost immediately that he could use his special connection to the kernel – it was partially made of Kurt stuff, after all – to merge with it, to somehow shrink his essential self down small enough to enter the quantum kernel, where he made himself at home.

No Airstream, nothing fancy; not even a tent. Just endless dry desert and a sleeping bag. It was peaceful, he could see all the stars, and nothing changed or happened or went wrong. And he could think a million thoughts all at once, and be aware of them all, and keep track of them all, and follow each thought thru to its end or branching place. There were so many permutations of any one thought that he spent whole lifetimes pondering a single aspect before moving on to the next one.

Turning his attention to the Antarctica level, he saw it as a single living creation, not as lines of code, or beauteous backgrounds and poorly indicated details, or even as a pale replica of the game the kids had played on the angel’s dime. He saw it as a being in its own self, with a past, present and future all bound up together outside of time.

As flawed as it was, this virtual Antarctica was as real as the actual icebound continent. He could see the interconnecting complexity of its mountains and plains, its bones and skin; he could trace all the areas of cultural flow and historical crisis, growth and decay, the lives and deaths weaving in and out of its living self, because it was alive and contained everything that happened inside it, or on it, or to it.

There’s a better way to say this. The Gaia theory doesn’t do it justice. If you were a flea on the flank of Gaia, and you knew yourself to be that flea, and also knew yourself to be Gaia regarding the flea on her thigh, and knew yourself to be Not Gaia, outside of Gaia, which then implies that you knew yourself to be inside Gaia, even smaller than you were as a flea (muscles, sinews, organelles and corpuscles, the cells, the quantum intracellular fluid – all at the same time), and were still able to function on any and all of the levels you were conscious of being. On.

So Kurt was part of Antarcticaca, and he understood it as a part of himself, and he set about fixing it. After a short break, during which he came back to his Airstream, had a good pee, fixed himself a mug of coffee, smoked a cigarette, smoked a joint, smoked another few cigarettes and had a beer. He did another round of REM suppressors and something to intensify the slow waves, took a hit of mescaline and did a little X – for the flavor. Then, to kick up the brain activity a notch, he attached electrodes to his head and gave himself a few jolts of transcranial stimulation.

He was smoking. Chain smoking, sitting at his hand-tooled maple desk, his hands dancing over the keyboard, tearing Antarctica down and rebuilding it the right – dare he say the only way? (No, he durst not, because it’s quantum and there is no right way. But never mind.)

He was also in Antarctica. Time being an illusion, he had separated the layers into multiple Antarcticas,each one an overlay, ring upon ring of the richly complex Antarcticas at different times and stages. Continuous but never the same. He was working with the level architecture, laying out the threads of consequences from one layer to the next. Everything fit together and made sense. A billion threads to follow, stories to live. Kurt stood in awe of it all, a whole continent glistening in the midnight sun. More perfect than the classical, physical Antarctica because it was more real, more alive, wanting to play like a puppy. Kurt loved his Antarctica.

He was running around all seven layers at once, conjuring areas as he went, whatever was needed, whatever cried out to be done. He was tying filaments of reality together, weaving possibilities together, making nodes where quantum synapses connected to the kernel. He felt like a wizard, all fiddly bits and vastness, all in the name of the greatest good.

Back in the Airstream, on a bluff overlooking the Pacific ocean, Kurt was doing breathing exercises in his isolation jacuzzi, going for the absolute minimum of distraction to clear his head of nonquantum space. (because water is quantum). He was getting really great results. He felt like his brain was electrified, on fire.

Back in the cargo van, parked in front of an abandoned building in Atlanta, Kurt was slumped over his broken rolly chair, his head on his chest, drooling, his eyes closed but darting all around as he dreamed.

He dreamed he was programming, creating the perfect Antarctica. People would be amazed. He raised his cigarette to his lips in slow motion and took a shallow puff, not breathing very deeply with his head bent forward like that. His heart was pounding, but he was unaware of it. His face was purplish, too, and the pressure was building up in his neck and shoulders.

But he continued to bring the cigarette slowly up to his mouth and huff at it while he was thinking. And his thinking was infinite. His mind was the fire of creation, and the universe was the shadowy Beyond. He was himself, a continuous and unchanging consciousness, a being with a body. A body which was a tool for understanding the universe, a mind capable of analyzing everything, and a consciousness which acted and participated in the grand dance of the universe. Body, mind and will. The trinity. Father, son, spirit. The father is like the body and the mid is like the son, no wait, does the body dicsipline the mind or is the mind ruler of the body? Hahaha, never mind. Rock paper scissors.

He reached for his cigarette, which was resting on the edge of his dream ashtray. He brought it slowly to his swollen, purple lips, and dreamed he inhaled it. He wasn’t really sure if he wasn’t in the jacuzzi in the back of the Airstream, doing breathing exercises and smoking a fatty. He winced a little as the cigarette grew hot at the filter and moved to stab it out in the dream ashtray. He lit another and took a dream puff, lapsing into another deep thought with his hand pausing just micrometers from his lips.

He nodded off for a moment but snapped back into dream consciousness when the cigarette burned down and singed his fingers, then lit another one and nodded off again, snot bubbling from his nose. This time he could feel himself slipping away, so he reached out to put the cigarette into the dream ashtray while he followed a compelling idea down into the murk.

Since it was a dream ashtray, the cigarette was actually resting in midair, next to a slumbering Kurt who was bent over his computer desk in his cargo van in downtown Atlanta. Since it was the classical Atlanta, the cigarette fell to the floor of the van. There it burned slowly while Kurt dreamed he was sleep programming.

The cigarette burned almost to the filter before the ember touched a cellophane wrapper which abutted a dried up old snotrag, which lay on a dirty t-shirt. All of which peacefully smoldered for awhile.

Kurt hardly noticed the smoke. Slumped over as he was, he’d developed apnea, and was snoring loudly, a coughing, choking kind of breath accompanied by a groan as tho he was trying to say something in his sleep. His face was blue, his eyes bulged behind his eyelids, his chubby fingers were blue, his heard was racing, his blood was boiling in his veins. His lungs were aching. He was getting a headache, a real whopper.

There are around 25 trillion synapses firing in the brain when you’re in a conscious waking state. Every time a synapse fires, 200,000 electrons go racing off toward RNA particles at the rate of 250 billion billion RNA connections an hour until the concentration of RNA is low and the rate of firing synapses falls below a minimum of about .01 per second (once every minute and a half). This is known as sleep.

But even in sleep the brain’s synapses keep firing, exciting RNA and forming thoughts. Some of these thoughts create heightened activity in parts of the brain, and trigger consciousness that affects a limited area. This is called dreaming.

But how many synapses are firing when it’s a dream within a dream within a dream? And when does the dream turn into nightmare?

When the pain comes. The pain of asphyxiation. The searing of your calves and ankles by a growing trash fire at your feet. The intermittent overexcitation of whole regions of the brain by transcranial stimulation. Tho much of Kurt’s brain was ticking over below the threshold of consciousness, his pain receptors were highly active. Nerve pain, bone pain, joint pain, blood vessel pain, organ pain, skin pain. And an enormous headache. A pressure behind his eye.

He thrashed around in exquisite intense pain. He couldn’t think. He was beside himself with the agony. He was in many states at once, and hurt in all of them. And his synapses were failing, his firing rate was dropping rapidly, he was losing consciousness. He was losing the ability to move between states, between universes, between Kurts. He was becoming the observer who only watches as the experiment is performed, performs itself.

But the observer chooses the outcome. The observer acts as a quantum operation itself. His synapses were filled with electrons that instantly tunelled to distant synapses and changed their states.

One by one Kurt’s other states winked out, and he had to turn away from his beloved Antarctica, watch it collapse and disappear. He had to come back to himself, floating bodiless in the jacuzzi in the Aristream, breathing, meditating, vaguely referring to a possible vision of himself in a smoking cargo van.

He was as calm as he’d ever been, his mind was clear. Everything was clear to him. The memory of past and present and future were an illusion called time, but time is not time, time is out of time.

Kurt was out of time. Everything was slowing: his synapse firing rate, his cellular processes, his heartbeat. It got cold. The jacuzzi stopped bubbling. Kurt lost touch with his body. It got very cold. Kurt’s molecules got colder and slowed their vibration, everything got sluggish and slowed to a deep, silent halt. Everything stopped. Kurt was out of time. And he remained outside of time forever (which was actually a joke – Kurt thought so, anyway.)

As Kurt was going thru his death throes, he was inside the kernel, as well as a lot of other places. Attached to the kernel, his struggle transmitted itself to all the different universes he was in, and all those places felt his pain, his confusion, his panic, his struggle and loss of consciousness, and the cold stillness. Josh and Anomia felt it,

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About jeanne

artist, grandma, alien

Posted on November 13, 2013, in Dailies, dragoncon, fiction, Nanowrimo. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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