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Effusion - Chapter 7: If I had some tiddly-winks...
Posted By: Tursas<tursas@shaw.ca>
Date: 4 May 2002, 5:00 am

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"Do you yet have any idea as to what you were doing for those three months?"
     "No. I can't remember anything."
     "Interesting. Cases of amnesia like this are rare to your species, are they not?"
     "They are now, I hope."
     The Monitor laughed at this. As yet, the progress of subjects 7862 and 7863 in their induced forgetfulness had been very satisfactory, but had not been communicated to any of the other survivors. "I think you are right. Scans reveal that very little abnormality has occurred in your brain chemically or to it physically over the last while. You seem to be perfectly healthy, yet you cannot remember -- or at least you say you can't. Are you sure?"
     A tingly feeling formed at the base of the Master Chief's spine. He had come to recognize it as the precursor to the pain that would shortly follow if the Monitor was not satisfied with the Master Chief's responses. It was surely a primitive form of coaxing information, but it worked. Already the Master Chief had divulged information regarding the last moments on board the Longsword before the bubble came. He had planned on not doing so, but the pain spoke louder.
     "Yes. I'm sure."
     "Interesting." The tingly feeling went away. "We received word that 343 Guilty Spark and the hub were destroyed with installation 04, yet your story claims that they were still operative long afterwards. Very interesting indeed."
     The Master Chief said nothing, but again felt the wall at the back of his mind.
     "Do you have any questions?"
     "Can I talk to Cortana?"
     "The construct you know as Cortana has been transferred to the maximum security region of installation 07 in galaxy 0054. To talk to her, one of you would have to travel, because we will not risk the destruction of our communication facilities. Both of you are very dangerous, however, so transportation would be ... imprudent. Before I leave, would you like to hear Tim again?"
     "Yes please. And leave him on." The Master Chief had been able to forget his annoyance with the constant chatter and had even managed to convince Tim that he should look for another person to talk to that he could physically see. In the meantime, however, the Master Chief enjoyed asking Tim questions about his almost constantly changing surroundings. So far Tim had traversed a forest, swum across a lake, climbed a building with green beams of energy shooting out its top, and taken an elevator ride to the bottom of a large chasm. The Master Chief had no idea how Tim got around so fast -- and it was all very fine and good for Tim to do so -- but try as he might, the Master Chief had failed to convince Tim to talk to other humans about what had happened if and when Tim eventually caught up with some.
     "Very well." The Monitor turned the connection to Tim on and left without another word.
     "Whether I sit at home and drink copious amounts of alcohol, hot chocolate, gasoline, or liquid shit -- it doesn't matter. It wouldn't matter if I did kill myself, or if I killed someone else out of rage at my situation, or simply lived to the age of 80 and died of organ shutdown. Nothing really matters."
     "Tim, this is the Master Chief speaking." The Master Chiefs firm voice filled the chamber. "I need to know where you are right now, Tim."
     "How you play the game, they say, is what matters. If there is no reason to play, only for the sake of playing, who cares how it's played? Are there any real rules to playing? Do the rules transcend death, or do they simply lead to it?"
     "The rules say that you should find someone to talk to other than me, Tim."
     "I would say 'fuck-you' to whomever is in the room, but this new revelation doesn't require that such a thing be done. It requires nothing to be done at all. The shotgun doesn't beckon. I beckon it."
     "Is there a shotgun near where you are, Tim?"
     "Oh what the fuck. I'll tell you flat out on paper the many things I would do if someone just mysteriously popped up in this rabid excuse for a living space. First, I would ask them their name, then the name of their organization, then the relevance of either. I would proceed to push them upstairs, where I would corner them in the kitchen and proceed to set up a game of tiddly-winks. Depending on whether or not the other person wanted to play, I would try -- instead of aiming the wink at the glass -- to fire the winks at everything in the room that moved. If she was really cute, I would kiss her hand and jump out the window ... No regard for window panes, I'm afraid."
     The Master Chief began to feel that this session would soon become very extended. "Would she be wearing a swimming suit, Tim?" He asked this more out of the randomness Tim had instilled in him than anything else.
     "I think so. Of course, if she were wearing anything other than a tight swimming suit, for example, a toga, I would rip a hole in the time-space continuum and go back to the days of the dinosaurs, when men were real men, and the prehistoric equivalent of sheep ran and hid. I would sit on the beach of the great Devonian sea and take in some rays, where nobody could ever follow me. But then, you ask, why don't I do that right now? The answer is simple: no one is following me. They just happen to be traveling in a direction parallel to my own. ABOUT FACE AND KISS THE LIVING SHIT OUT OF THEM!!!"
     This very definitely was going to be an extended session.
     "Ha, ha."
     "Is there anybody else there to talk to, Tim?"
     The last answer was a relief. At least Tim was still able to give straight answers. Still, it bothered the Master Chief that Tim had not had any real human contact since the Master Chief had met him. Added to that was the fact that the Master Chief communicated with Tim via a small speaker in Tim's ear. Try as he might, the Master Chief couldn't get Tim to seriously acknowledge that fact.
     "Is there anything worth noting there, Tim?"
     "Well, it's 7:10 now. I would think the answer very loud, but we all know that I will have forgotten what I said in a few days anyways, so why not write it down?"
     "Are you keeping a journal, Tim?"
     "Have you noticed the difference between written word and that which is typed? I find that actually writing something down, by hand, has more of an effect on a person's psyche as far as communicating is concerned. It's more personable, if you get my meaning. Typing things, however, is faster, smoother, and more understandable."
     This didn't make much sense to the Master Chief. Nobody ever typed things anymore. The keyboard had been phased out of existence hundreds of years before. It was also disturbing that Tim's sickness had not been treated back on Earth. Usually these things were taken care of when the doctors realized that a person had schizophrenia. The latter fact had nagged at the back of the Master Chief's mind for a while, but had never surfaced as a separate and distinct thought. But the two of these facts, together, forced a response.
     "What year is it, Tim?"
     "My birthday was February 29, 2348."
     Wow. Tim was very old indeed.
     "How old are you, Tim?"
     "I am as old as the stars."
     This answer was a matter of religious belief and both the Master Chief and Tim knew it.
     "What religion are you from, Tim?"
     "I've been rather confused lately, no? My general leaning has been more towards making fun of people and shunning them than being nice and getting to know them. What a surprise. What I'm getting at is that I know that I'm 'supposed' to be a nice guy. I should have more fun, talk to more people, be more comfortable with the world. I don't know why I don't. It just seems the most natural thing for me to be cruel and heartless -- which bites harder into my conscience with each passing day, because I find that I can't find someone to be nice to."
     Well, that was a relief. But would Tim actually communicate amiably when he finally came across somebody to talk to? Although the seeming unawareness of the Master Chief's question was not really understandable -- Tim had ears -- it was something the Master Chief had grown accustomed to all the same. Maybe he was simply trying to ignore the question. Maybe Tim didn't want to talk to people. Maybe Tim really was being belligerent. Not answering a question when asked was certainly not a polite thing to do. But there was also the factor in the equation that Tim really thought the Master Chief might just be another voice in his head. Was everything forgiven for this simple reason? It couldn't be because no matter how warped it may have been, reality for a person was still a reality, and response to that reality was still the prerequisite to being a living thing. The nature of the response to reality was the crux of the argument. But was reality really real?
     "What am I, Tim?"
     "You are with me, hence you are as old as the stars too. But you only recently appeared, which can only mean that you were somewhere else before."
     "True. That's the way all things are, Tim. But who am I?"
     "You said yourself that you are the Master Chief. I don't know who that is ... shut up Bob, I'm talking to him right now ... can you hear Bob? He says you're just like him."
     "Who is Bob? Is there somebody else there that you haven't told me about yet, Tim?"
     "Yes." Tim began to giggle at this. The giggle turned to a chortle, eventually developing into an insane form of laughter belted out at the top of Tim's lungs. The Master Chief thought he could just barely discern a familiar pattern to the laughter -- like some form of speech -- but whenever he tried to nail it down it fluttered out into the approaching hoarseness of Tim's voice.
Then it all stopped, and Tim was silent.