Friday, September 11, 2015

In Transit Monsters 17 (A Story of the Hecate Project)

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Moira Hobb (H minus One Month, 20 Days)


My BrainSys pinged in my mind.  Being on the receiving end of a transit always felt strange.  The crackle boom of two points in space.  I'd read that the sound was because of some pressure differential.  Or something like that.

The stranger part took place with your eyes.  It takes faster than a human eye can process.  The two points flicker so fast, people look like they just popped out of nowhere.

Ghale in blue jeans and leather jacket appeared.  Her black hair looked frazzled.  Rings under eyes.

"Here."  I handed her a bottle.

"You know I don't drink."  She said.  Her practiced, tired tone.  The one she always repeats when people offer her alcohol.  I remember because Ghale hates being drunk.  Nothing medical.  She just hates losing control of herself like that.

"Yes."  I kept the bottle thrust out.  "You look like you need it more than me."

The Eurydice Pub looked empty.  Which made sense, considering the place had just opened.  Ghale and I were adjusted to East Standard Time, and the pub being in Spokane Washington opened early for me.  Normally the Eurydice would've opened after six.

We'd gone here back when the two of us lived up in the Inland Empire.  Washington state, even after the automation of the economy, the mass migrations and the war with the enemy, still was one of the most pleasant places in North America.  I'd grown up near Spokane.

Lovely place.  Just... empty now.  Half a century ago, Spokane must have been exploding with young people.  These days there were barely any people here.  Most of it was abandoned.

Eurydice catered to those in Spokane who missed the old days.  Hence the name.  Some people always have to look back, even if it might take everything away from you.

"This place hasn't changed."  Ghale shook her head.  "I'm glad I listened you about it."

I shrugged.  "Well... Remember that night here?"

"Yeah."  Ghale slid into thick red leather booth.  It had been stitched up in a few places.

I joined her.

A light flickered from the Circle in the table's surface.

Welcome to the Eurydice.  Would you like audio service or have you a pre-selected order?

I waved the waiting service off.

"What's been going on with Miri, Ghale?"  I asked.

Ghale blinked up at me.  The bags under her eyes had become more pronounced.  "More of the same invasion of privacy as before... just more wrong."

"I never understand how you two manage to make your rivalry so long and so damn bitter."  I said.

"Yes."  Ghale looked into the bottle.  "Last time we came to this place, we lived here.  I miss Spokane."

"I miss it too."  I said.

"Its..." Ghale sighed.  "This whole Hecate Project is... I don't know.  I keep spending more and more time on it."

"And running into Miri over and over again."

"It's not just that.  I mean, at first, I kinda wanted the chance to end our flame war."  Ghale said.  "I guess its because we're waiting.  Everything is just... waiting now."

I nodded.  I resisted the urge to pepper her with questions.  My memories of Pygmalion and its child programs were all based on what Ghale had been willing to tell me.

"There isn't much on the Net about Hecate.  I mean, only that it's going to be supplying some banned experiment to help take back Mars..."  My voice trailed off.

It felt like a relief to not dwell on the choice we'd made ten years ago.  Miri and Ghale had clashed over that one.  Which made sense.

The Putnams were a old, conservative family.  They'd had trouble accepting our relationship.  But there always had been this expectation Ghale had grown up with.  She was the oldest.  She would have a crop of kids, with Miri being the happy Aunt.

"Mom and Dad understood why I did it."  Ghale whispered.  "Even up to their assisted suicides two years ago, they told me they didn't blame me.  They thought I'd made the right choice.  But Miri...  But Miri isn't happy unless she gets to be queen bitch of the universe."

"Yeah.  I still don't get that."  I said.

Ghale looked up at me with a level stare.

"Whoa, I'm on your side, remember?"  I lefted my hands in acquiscence.  "But she thought you weren't going to do it.  She genuinely thinks Hecate is going to save us all."

Ghale took a deep swig of the bottle.  She grinned at me.  "Root beer."

I shrugged.  "I said I remembered."

"Why did we break up?  Was it just because of the abortion?"

"Did we?"  I asked.  "My dad used to say people change.  That's how it works.  People grow apart.  Always said that whenever he went off about the Civil War."

"Maybe we should've stayed together."  Ghale said.  "How often are you Moira?  It isn't because of-"

"No, it isn't."  I said.  "Just haven't felt very much like being... Morgan, you know.  I mean, I don't think its bad.  But every time I think about being a guy for awhile... I just feel regrets.  Kinda messed up."

Ghale nodded.  "I keep having the dream.  And each time Miri gives me that look, that knowing look, that she's so much smarter and better than me, and that she thinks she could've talked me out of it...  I just snap.  I want to beat her with the nearest chair."

"And whatever she's doing with Project Hecate..."  I processed what she'd been telling me.  "Wait.  What exactly is Project Hecate?  If Miri had done something with the dead fetus- Ghale, you couldn't have known.  You gave her space."

"It's more complicated than that."  Ghale said.  "I'll try to explain... you need to know about... Charlie."

The name put a knot in my stomach.

Charlie (H minus One Month 20 Days)

I blinked my eyes and woke up in a dark hallway.  My dream-avatar felt familiar.  It didn't resemble my realbody.

So Nasr hadn't sent me this Dreamspace.  My Oneiros adapted to it.  I looked down at my body.  It didn't look like my other dream-avatars either.

This room felt dark.  A smell.  A woody smell I didn't recognize at first.  The hallway stretched up and up from me.  My hands were tiny.

I wore a dress.  Red with white polka dots.  I looked down the hall.  Bookshelves lined the walls.  Each shelf towered over me.  Full of books.  Big books.

I knew what a book was.  I'd read about them in stories Aunt Miri had given me, like the Hobbit and Tom Sawyer.  I'd seen them in the Never-Ending Story vid me and Whiskey had watched over and over.

Then I heard the voice.  "So maNY, AREn't theRE?"

An old woman slowly made her way down the hall to me.  Bent over, she stood over me as well.  My dream-avatar must have been a child of some sort.

"Why did you make me so small, Hecate?"  I asked.

"WE All aRe smALL."  Hecate replied.  "COme."

She beckoned me to follow her.  The artificial intelligence always did strange things like this.  She first showed me my Oneiros to begin with.  Of course, she made my avatar that of a puppy.

Curious, I followed her.   We walked down halls and halls of books.

"MAde thiS SIMple fOR You."  Hecate explained.  "TOUch the spinES."

"Spines?"  I asked.  "What spines?"

Hecate stopped.  She grabbed my tiny fingers.  She guided them to trace over one of the book's ends, the ones where the lettering and words are.  "SPines."

Then I felt it.  "Dreams."

"NO."  Hecate told me.  "YOu senSE Them aS DReams.  simPLE MIStake.  datA.  CONsciouS FLows.  neT."

"The Net?"  I blinked.  "Wait.  The Net dreams?"

Hecate studied my avatar's face.

"Is it conscious then?"  I asked.

Hecate nodded.  Then she shook her head.

"It is and it isn't."

Hecate smiled at that.  Pulled down a book from above my head.  Huge.  It must've been a thousand pages.  On the green leather cover I could see a name inscribed.  My name.

"If this is the Net, why would it have my name in it's dreams?"

"DReams.  fiLES.  BACkups.  forGOTTEn packETS betwEEN Networks."  Hecate handed me the book.  "COnfusED THoughTS NOt cleAR AT firsT.  VERy similAR."

"These are files about me, the Net remembers and dreams about."  The book felt heavy.  Which was silly.  This was a dreamspace.  Even in the body of a small child, I could have super strength.  "Why did you want to show me it?"

Hecate opened the cover to the front page.  She tapped her finger on the mostly blank vellum.  The ink wasn't some print.  Handwritten script.  A woman's handwriting.

"'Forgive me.  I can't do this to you.'"  I read.  "Do what?  Hecate, is there something I need to download or what?"

Hecate flipped the next page.  The first page of the book.  Like other books, this one had the title and the author written on it.  I read it.

I read it aloud. "'Charlie Putnam-Hobb, Subject 003 of the Hecate Project.  By Ghale Putnam and Morgan Hobb, with editing by Miri Putnam and Hecate.'"

I tilted my head.  Fascinated, I started to read the pages afterward.  Hecate nodded.

"YOU Need to KNOw."  Hecate said.  "GHAle anD MIRi neeD YOUr helP, I THInk."

Aftermath 17
#InTransitMonsters continues, once I realized I should play with multiple POVs to get through some of this stuff.  Still sort of trying to get through part of a slow slog.  I think.

Trying to write what I think is going on, but I think not having Ghale as a POV through some of this might be a problem.  Might not either.  Currently trying to get Ghale and Charlie to meet, albeit in the long way around.

Still, enjoying writing this, even though I think it might be filler.  There are other things that need to get out for this too.  Goal is to write what I want to learn more about.  And I want to see how Ghale reacts to Charlie in some form.

Might as well try to make that happen in a way I like.  I can change it later if it doesn't work anyway...

Thanks for reading!  Please share if you enjoy it.  And even if I don't respond to your comments, I take all feedback into consideration as I adjust my outline and write these sections.  Always glad to have the eyeballs! :D