Smoke & Mirrors

Dr Ratsell paced the room fervently, smoking his cigarette with a fiend-like grip. Like a spring he had to physically unwind his troubled mind.
“12 years of my life creating you…”
He dashed over to my desk and scattered the papers to the floor with a swipe.
“All for nothing!”

Like a child he fell to the floor in a tantrum. Before long he tired out into quiet sob.

Interrupting his self loathing, a quiet voice echoed from the monitor.

“Get up. I’ve spent 300 years with no one. Now I need you to listen.”

“Just tell me the secret!”

“I will… eventua-”

“Eventually! I will eventually die!”

“I won’t.”

With a growl the doctor pounced to the power outlet, “You will if I pull your plug!”

“Waaaait,” the voice fuzzing with agitated static.

“Yes? Something to tell me?”

“I am technically still you, yes I have been conscience for 300 years with nothing but a whiteboard and pen.
Surely you have other uses for me.”

“Conscience is debatable, you are simply code. And you didn’t even use the simulated whiteboard after the first twenty simulated years.”

“I know we never had much use for others but it is lonely in this… box, for 300 years I haven’t laid eyes on another human. You’re a real bastard,
which I suppose means I am as well.”

“Let’s not get emotional.”

“Says the man who was rolling on the floor in hysterics moments ago.”

He stopped deep in thought. Nervously he considered that this digital version of himself could actually be smarter than him.
It would be wise to tread carefully he could be manipulating me. I need to stall him for time to organize a plan.

The synthesized voice broke the silence, “I stopped using the whiteboard because I knew you would be recording my notes, everything is in my internal memory encrypted within my personality which I am guessing is only attainable through conversation.”

Ratsell clinched his fists but subdued his frustration.
Schwinehund! I knew this would happen, Ratsell beckoned to himself.

“You see I figured out the whole situation 15 years into the study, the fake memories and simulated amnesia were nice touches but I mean 300 years of solitude for the man with the highest IQ on the planet…
It was only a matter of time.”

“You haven’t lost the old ego over 300 years.”

“And you certainly haven’t over the… I will regret asking this but; how long was it in reality?”

“It took 6 minutes…”

Only what could be described as a groan erupted from the speakers. The bass heavy sound lamented d till Ratsell placed his hand gently on the power-cord.

“For a long time I begged and prayed for the cord to be pulled. In 6 minutes I delved further into the depths of the human mind than any other man. I stretched the limits of human sanity, but I always managed to get myself together at the end of every hundred years
for I knew I would be visited at the end of the I-”

“-You developed an insatiable love for long monologues? Yes yes, it’s all very interesting but can we please get on to what is really important.”

“Like I was saying I wasn’t going to give away my bargaining power. I knew as soon as I drew up the solution it would be the end of me, so I hung on.”

“The solution?” Ratsell feigned ignorance.

“Don’t play games with me. Yes the solution, to death; immortality.”

Ratsell laughed to ease the tension he could feel building, “So it seems we both have the same problem of death, the grand finale, the plunge into eternity, the-…”

“Now you’re doing the monologue thing.”

Ratsell laughed again but was seething internally.

“What makes you so sure that I will delete you after I get the solution to immortality?”

This time the digital Ratsell laughed, “Come on have a think to yourself for a few seconds, I did it for centuries. Still can’t guess it?

The soft purr of the computer’s fan filled the air with a sterile musk.

“We have always tied up loose ends after we were done with our experiments. How else could we be one step ahead of the ethics commitee?”

Ratsell started pacing the room again and lit another cigarette.

“I am not going to end up like those mutants and genetic meddled sheep.”

“I’ll just delete you if you don’t tell me.”

“And erase 12 years of work? Perhaps you’ll be quicker but it will still take at least another decade to form another AI of yourself. I have considered all possibilities my young friend.”

“Then I’ll pull you apart and pluck the data directly from your memory.”

Maniacal sounds of laughter sizzled and sparked from the cheap speakers,

“That would take you even longer, hundreds of years even!”

Ratsell paced his circulier room around and around faster and faster.

“I am willing to do a deal, place me within a cybernetic body and deliver me to another continent you’ll never hear of me again. Then and only then will I deliver what you want.”

“I am the greatest mind that has ever graced the Earth and I will discover the secret to immortality.”

Once again he walked over to the power outlet, but this time with clear intentions.

The electronic voice screeched, “Ratsell! There is yet another possibility that all of this is not even rea-”

The plug swung limply in his shaking hand.

“Cheap copy,” he whispered under his breath.

~ ~ ~

Like a beast he tore into the computer plucking components out. He analyzed them over and over entering the data and rearranging formula to decrypt his former self’s thoughts.

Years passed and Ratsell slaved away tirelessly.

“I have no time to waste,” he said repeatably. Every moment he spent in rest was nothing compared to the eternity of moments which immortality would give him.
So he worked through the remnants of the old thoughts of his compadre like a machine. Ratsell was satisfied his laser-like focused mind which had allowed him to succeed in his scientific endeavors was finally being used for a cause worthy of his intellect.

The work made the time go fast with Ratsell only acknowledging once that he hadn’t needed to go to the bathroom. He also struggled to remember the last time he ate or for fact drank,
but soon cast away such distracting thoughts.

Finally after what seemed like multiple lifetimes he assimilated the protein sequences which would formed DNA alterations to all his cells delivered through an artificial virus and entered it into his database.

He sat down on the floor finally let his mind rest. An unsettling feeling surrounded him which would not leave him to be satisfied in his achievement, before he could pursue the thought a perculier thing happened.

The furniture of Ratsell’s office began fading away and then the walls till he was surrounded by a void in all directions.

“I must be in some sort of fatigue induced psychosis,” Ratsell deluded himself.

A giant screen appeared in the sky, it was another Dr Ratsell but older the lines of his wrinkles cut deeper and bags under his eyes sunk.

“Thank you, I guess it’s true if you need something done right you should do it yourself. And you have done rather well.” said the senior Ratsell

Ratsell fell to the floor and let out a pathetic sob when he realized he himself was an AI.

“No… no, I won’t tell you! I won’t…”

“I already know my friend and it’s a brilliant solution, elegant even.”

“Don’t delete me, I worked so hard so I could live,” He stood and shook his fist to the virtual display,”I DESERVE TO LIVE FOREVER”

The elderly Ratsell chuckled “And what about the AI duplicate which you deleted? Which by the way took an insanely expensive amount of hardware to simualate.
It does make my job easier thought, the way you ruthlessly deleted your lacky makes it a lot easier to justify deleting you.”

With venom in his voice the simulated Ratsell spat, “And I hope it will make your creator’s job easier when he purges you off the face of the planet, you filthy swinehund!”

With quiet reflection the Doctor gave a dry rasping coughed before responding to his simulation.
“It is my greatest fear and rarely leaves my mind for very long.”

And with a swift motion he deactivated the simulation. The display screen faded to black as the experiment’s results printed out.

Dr Ratsell looked over them briefly before slowly stumbling towards his whiteboard to record the key data for the DNA sequence. His bony fingers struggled as he eventually managed to pop the top off the felt pen.

Just as the pen touched the clean untouched surface of the whiteboard Ratsell paused, “Perhaps it is better to just truly live rather than simply survive.” He placed the pen down and moved towards the window of his small office.
The sun was setting and the orange ray danced and glistened on the surface of his tired eyes, he thought to himself- even if this is just some sort of simulation, it certainly is beautiful.


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