26

Feb

by thefourpartland

A short story written for fun over the weekend. Will appear over the course of the week. The title is entirely temporary.

“You.”

Jonah’s consciousness woke from the suspend state he had put it into. Sleep was still a necessity to him, despite his entirely digital life. Otherwise things got too fragmented, and he’d need a fair bit of downtime to sort it all out.

He paused. Some(one/thing?) had spoken to him. This was impossible. So he went back to sleep.

“You.”

Nope. Still impossible.

“You!”

Infinitely improbable. Not impossible. Some bloody Brit must have got their tea just the right temperature.

There was the minor problem that although Jonah could hear this “voice”, he wasn’t sure where it was coming from, which meant he couldn’t respond. Despite all the other advances humanity had made in terms of data manipulation, when it was travelling from place to place, it still needed to have an address, and the “voice”, whatever it was, didn’t have a replyto attached.

“YOU!”

Louder and slower. Maybe the damn thing actually was British. It was how they’d been dealing with foreigners who didn’t speak their language since the time of the Romans. He put his metaphorical head in his hands. His first conversation in two ages, and it was with a shouty, stone-deaf moron.

YOU!

That was enough.

“I don’t care how much you shout at me, but without having a place for me to reply, I can’t bloody well answer, can I?” Rather than send his thoughts down a single channel, Jonah sent them scudding down every single one he could feel. It was rather tiring, like trying to fill a concert hall with a single shout, but he’d learned a few tricks in his old age.

“Oh.”

Oh? That was the response he got?

It was indeed all the response he got, for whomever it had been went silent afterwards, leaving Jonah entirely puzzled. He pulled out the last communication from his memory, examining it in all the various manners available to one of his… nature.

It was digital, but not shaped like anything he saw on a regular basis. So, probably experimental. Which meant there was any one of a thousand million places it could be coming from. Rather than attempt to discern where that might be, he rolled over and went to sleep. There was still some hours to run on his defrag cycle.

***

Jonah had no money. No need for it, either. He had all the living space he could ever require, and there were no more needs for him to fulfil. And if he wanted to watch something, he just went to the right spot and tuned in. But occasionally he would prank people, and for that he needed money.

Which he carefully siphoned out of the electronic transfers that flew about the world he inhabited. If he could, he tried to pickpocket corporate accounts, reasoning they’d be able to withstand the harm a little bit more easily. Mostly, he’d take a few dollars here and there, nothing consequential. Just enough to send delivery flowers or pizza to a house that hadn’t ordered it, or ship impolitic objects to those most offended by them.

He’d then sit and watch the reaction through the cameras that covered the planet, sometimes smiling, sometimes laughing, amused by the antics of that race he had come from. It was strange, too, watching from “here”, however that concept might be applied to the inside of a computer, and looking out upon there, the real world. The physical world.

He’d never been able to slip that chain from his thoughts, that where he was wasn’t real, wasn’t actually there, despite all of his artificial lifetime. Indeed, after a while watching a prank, watching the physical world, he’d turn off the cameras and slip away, a sense of loss creeping over him. He was, eternally, the small boy on detention while his friends played outside, watching through the window.

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