Jim strode off down towards Nihon Machi, the more he moved, the looser the movement became, the more he took non programmed independent moves, firing electric synapses at will inhabiting the android body, with it’s Identiflesh and RealEyes, lab grown hair and fully auto pulse, he started to feel like he was melding with this amalgam of titanium and flesh and Lubriserum-Blud. He knew he looked a little off, a little left of center, a little uncanny, but he was far from the only cat on the street that wasn’t entirely kosher, not wholly organic, not conventionally alive. He nodded at a top level CyberGhoul – an individual downloaded into a cyborg body, to all intents and purposes the same thing as JimBot, it is just that the CyberGhoul was not necessarily inhabited by the spirit of the intended whole body transcipient, just the illusion of the being, with his memories, and foibles, personality traits and loved ones…and the bank account of the individual he was modelled on. Jim didn’t doubt that the ghosts sometimes inhabited the machines, called back down for some reason, he wondered what the difference was between the Soulless Ghouls and the besouled. It wasn’t money. It wasnt the quality of the machinery, it wasn’t force of personality. Jim wondered if it was love. Perhaps all those people that loved him called his soul to remain, not to go, not to leave them. Maybe this is why, he thought, maybe this is why I am stuck in this Borg-body.
All these terms, Ghouls, Borgs, Android, Cyber, they had all become used as insulting terms people call each other when angry. The Cy-Wars of the late 2150’s had made it so. There had been a large uprising, and the Bots tried to take over the whole enchilada. The governments, the power plants, the arts and the military. For a while they had won, they were faster, they were tougher, they were longer lived, they were harder to kill, they were more intelligent, as a rule, at least that non creative intelligence that human’s had become so dependent on. It was almost lost within the first 60 days of the Battle of San Francisco, where some headquarters or other had become ground zero of the take over. It was only when an infinitely sensible soul had suggested a series of electromagnetic pulses, thus destroying all electrical equipment not locked in Faraday chambers, and started communicating by carrier pigeon not computer, that the threat was ended. Millions died, Earth plunged into a Dark Age again. Of course things plunged back, some fail safe do no harm programming allowed for a gradual return to safety, and of course the Anubisians got involved to a scary degree. Nobody likes to see Pyramids start descending from space, point first. Human’s never quite got used to seeing the Boss’s roll in, it always triggered some ancient memory deep in their DNA. Everything calmed down pretty quickly after that – or so he read in his catch up reading material.
Sometimes people asked him what happened after death. Jim never knew what to say. Anything useful he simply couldn’t remember. Those most he could tell them was the same old same old truisms about the tunnel and the light and the voices from the beyond, and the feeling of peace. He tried to reassure them, but not many went for the Death Trip nowadays, they preferred to put off the used to be inevitable End, somewhere far far away in the realms of not gonna happen. You always knew the Old Ones who had had their fill, and honestly were ready to move on. They took on a translucent glow, a disinterested stare. They would neglect their bodies, existing wholly in their minds. They would look at him in pity and fear, hoping never to return to this realm of physical being. Jim sometimes ran after them, desperate to find out how to let go, but he never caught up, they would dash into doorways, or step into the shadows and be gone.
Like always Jim had a tactic to deal with this pain, this desire for ObliviEnd: Drink. The only problem was he couldn’t get drunk, instead he had to go to back alley purveyors of Drunk-Trip programs for the bodily disadvantaged. Jim ducked into one of these booths, their blue fabric cotton curtain shielded doorways, painted messily with the intergalactically agreed symbol for Android and the old fashioned Caduceus. A Humanoid called Jaki was feeding a small furry creature rice gruel from a bowl, using a spoon, it strained it’s head towards the umeboshi topping, and Jaki pushed him back into a small box, and smiled at one of his best customers. “JimBo! What’s going on?” he yelled past the din of 20th century techno. This place was filthy, boxes stacked from floor to wall, and some of them moving, old food containers, cyber-parts and jars of ancient herbs and remedies, that nobody ever seemed to touch, but made it’s patrons feel somehow more organic themselves.
Jim slid into one of the booths, and waited. When Jaki showed up wearing a bloodied apron and a pair of thin gloves, he tapped a screen, choosing whiskey-1, and dipped his head forwards waiting. Jaki, felt in Jimbot’s hair, stuck a finger into the gloop of his scalp and metal converging, found the port, and jammed in a lead. It was old school here, but cheap, the hack worked, never let him down. They most authentic experience in town. As the program took effect Jim felt his mouth move into an involuntary smile. A trick of the programming, he thought, but he felt real pleasure, a real drunk, a touch of that whiskey attitude. Jaki hit the button again, and gave Jim a pitcher of beer right into the main cortex. “It’s on the house, Buddy!” All was right with the world! That was until Jun walked in holding a gun and hauling behind her one of the Dancers from the Whiskey.
“Jim,” she said quietly. We have a problem.