Paul see’s, talks.

The Fourth Horseman (of the Apocalypse)
It really is a fight for our souls. An unapologetically rough draft as I transcribe from my legal pad.

“Paul, continue, please.” Lasseter wiggled his fingers forward, as if appealing for him to approach, but trying the coax the words from his mouth.

“We must embrace the paradox.”

Akira stared at Paul with a loving smile on her face. She had mastered the nuances of body language but the words she chose sliced him to the core.

“Are you Ghandi now? Nostradamus?”

Paul’s head tilted quizzically, his lips falling into a frown, his face flushing. He slowly rose from his sleeping bag, kicking it into a ball behind him.

“You were Jesus last month.” Akira continued. “You Moses now? Edgar Cayce? What about Charles Manson? Have you tried Charles Manson?”

She laughed hysterically, her voice echoing down the cavern walls. She enjoyed humiliating him in front of his friends. It was the only way she knew to obtain power without resorting to violence.

“I’m sure he see’s something,” Lasseter interrupted. “Perhaps if we calm down, take turns talking, we can find out. Right?”

Akira stared at him, soulless eyes as black as pitch. Billy-Bob fell back slightly against the stone cave, his own confidence evaporating in the presence of her growing evil.

“What I see is ineffable. There are no words. Even the cleverest Shakespearean metaphors don’t begin to describe the reality crystallizing in my consciousness.”

“Okay. You’re Shakespeare now.” Akira threw her head back and howled like a hound from hell.

Billy-Bob chuckled.

“Try to explain.” Lasseter coaxed, ignoring the two. “I’m here.” He extended his arms, as if to offer a hug.

“Is this really the mother of your child?” Billy-Bob face had a look of disgust.

“We must embrace the paradox,” Paul continued, inching slowly towards Lasseter as he reached out to pluck the flask he knew would be perched safely in his pocket.

“Spiritual metaphors are the only metaphors that makes sense. We waste most of our lives, lost in confusion and despair. We are caught in a battle of light and dark, demons and angels, in one long, repetitive cycle that continues without end. Yet without a God, this cannot be.”

There was a stunned silence in the cave.

“Could you bring this conversation closer to home?” Billy-Bob asked, his voice husky. “We got immediate issues to deal with. I’m locked, loaded and ready for action, don’t forget.” His head nodded towards his truck, filled with some of the military’s most advance weapons—at least the weapons he had time to steal.

“Lasseter is my God, in a sense,” Akira said breathily, “and in time, I will destroy him too.” She brushed thoughtfully at her long black hair, tossing it over her shoulder causally as she glanced at Lasseter. Then she smiled warmly, her entire body contradicting her death threat.

Lasseter shuttered. “You’re really coming along.”

“Look,” Paul stood, brushing himself off, “I know we have immediate issues. Everyone has immediate issues. Everyone has bills to pay. Mortgages to keep up with. Children to put through school. Everyone’s distracted. The system is set up that way. It’s set up that way so nothing changes. Nothing gets resolved for the long-term. We keep repeating the same mistakes over and over and over…”

“What is it you’re trying to say?” Akira interrupted harshly.

“…did I say over and over enough times?” Paul glared, challenging her.

Billy-Bob watched as Akira backed off. “Okay,” he thought, “there remains some residual of respect.”

Lasseter laughed, for the first time in a long time.

“I need to borrow some new language from the transgender community to explain this issue,” Paul extended his palms toward the group, looking, suddenly, ever so saintly.

“This’ll be good,” Billy-Bob thought.

“The problem with humanity,” Paul continued, his voice calm, “And why the Feds are trying to destroy us…” he glanced at Billy-Bob, reassuring him that this conversation would soon be ‘brought home.’ “Is that the earth’s population is brainwashed from birth. The entire planet is suffering from a transreligious experience. And this suffering just gets past along from generation to generation. This is the spiritual war I referred to earlier. I can’t escape the spiritual metaphors”

Paul took a deep breath, tears running from his eyes.

Billy-Bob slapped his knee, hard. Lasseter jumped, startled.

Paul raised his head, looking at him calmly.

“If we survive this, and I can do anything for humanity with my nanites, and with you, Billy-Bob…and with Lasseter…and with Akira and the baby,” he nodded his head solemnly in her direction, “is to return humanity to its original state, a state which I’ll call cisreligious. That’s the only way humanity can spread it’s consciousness throughout the stars.”

Lasseter nodded his head in agreement, smiling.

“And what exactly does it mean to be cisreligious,” Billy-Bob asked, growing impatient.

“It’s identical to your cisgender.” Paul responded gently.

“And what’s that?”

“Cisgender is the gender you were born with. You have a dick with balls, your cisgender is male. If you want to change your gender, you become a transgender.”

“And what exactly, is cisreligious?”

“Cisreligious is the religion you were born with of course.”

Billy-Bob scowled, grumbled. “What religious was I born with?”

“None.”

 

–More later.

Paul starts to see.

Skylight Cave
Wrote this segment longhand, then had limited computer access today. Had to post it anyway to plug the leaks in my own consciousness. 

Akira shook Paul violently, waking him from a deep slumber, pulling and ripping him out of his sleeping like he weighed nothing.

“We thought you’d never wake up! What’s wrong with you?”

Lasseter and Billy-Bob stood at the back of the cave, brows furrowed, deep looks of concern on both their faces.

Lasseter stopped drinking. Billy-Bob stopped flexing. All they did was stare.

Paul heard owls. He knew there were no owls in this hot desert, so these sounds must be in his head, residual from his dreams. He smacked his cheek with his right hand twice, pushing Akira away gently.

“Wake up.”

“I’m more awake then ever.” He replied, leaning his back against the stone of the cave wall. He watched the shadows flicker as the sunlight poured in from the mouth of the cave.

“The nanites are spreading fast. I’m connected to thousands of minds now. I can see the problem with the entire human race, but I can’t see how to break the cycle. The problem is so obvious, it stupid. It’s funny. And it’s as clear to me now as the rock in my hand.”

He stooped to pick up a rock, gently turning it ‘round in his fingers, just to demonstrate his point.

“Why didn’t I didn’t see it sooner?”

“You see?” Lasseter raised an eyebrow.

“I see.”

“Tell us.” Billy-Bob was the impatient one. Gruff. Ready to beat it out of him if he didn’t start talking.

“Breathe, cowboy, breathe.” Lasseter placed his hand on Billy-Bob’s sternum, pressed in, pressed out. Billy-Bob inhaled deeply, then exhaled slowly.

“Okay, okay. What do you see?”

“It goes beyond words,” Paul began slowly, “but to put it plain, simple, and easy for us to understand—and not to go overboard with any spiritual references, because as you know, I’m a scientist and don’t believe in that crap…”

“I’m losing patience,” Billy-Bob growled, turning his back to smack the cave wall with his fist. “What do you see?”

Akira slowly placed herself between the two men.

“Let him finish.”

Lasseter stared. Her voice sounded more like a seductive enticement rather than a command. She had truly mastered the nuances of human communication, but he knew what she would do if Billy-Bob didn’t heed this as a warning.

“Paul, continue, please.” Lasseter wiggled his fingers forward, as if appealing for him to approach, but trying the coax the words from his mouth.

More later

Lasseter brags.

 

lasetter1
Lasseter is proud of Akira.

“Or maybe I didn’t forget the empathy chip,” Lasseter continued. “Look around. Empathy doesn’t seem to be held in very high regard on this planet. In fact, I’d say your social structure of capitalism and empathy are diametrically opposed. Maybe I made Akira this way so she’d fit in perfectly. Glide amongst you unnoticed, creating disaster in her wake, and picking up the loose change along the way.”

Lasseter threw his head back and laughed out loud, raising his flask and guzzling as much as he could, then offering some to Bill-Bob.

He refused.

“In fact, I’d say Paul is the one who doesn’t fit in. He feels too much. He cares too much. And no one really gives a shit what he feels or how much he cares. They give a shit about how much money he makes and how well he tips.”

Billy-Bob searched Lasseter’s face and asked, almost angrily, “But I like Paul. He makes me feel good. He has a good vibe. Doesn’t that count for anything?”

Lasseter shook with laughter. It was a visible shaking, with his teeth chattering and breath exhaling uncontrollably as he doubled over in delight.

“A good vibe? That and $5.00 will get you a cup of coffee at Starbucks!”

The price of coffee at Starbucks was one of Lasseter’s favorite jokes.

Billy-Bob, knowing it was pointless to argue, fighting against his fatigue and rising flood of fury, said in a low voice, “I’ll get the sleeping bags out of the truck so we can get some rest and get this party started in the morning. We’ve got the Feds on our tail, remember? Just tell me on how you created this thing…”

His head nodded in Akira’s direction.

Billy-Bob could hear the sand blowing across the desert and the soft wind whistling at the cave entrance. Finally, Lasseter spoke:

“What you see before you…” he raised his hand and pointed toward Akira. She read his body language and, tittering out loud, pirouetted slowly in front of Billy-Bob as if on cue. “…Is the result of centuries of obsessive research. The human brain is like a universe unto itself, and the mystery of consciousness was the final riddle I had to solve.”

Paul, slouched in the corner, sat up to listen.

“I reduced the brain to mathematical equations, wavelengths, wiring diagrams, complex maze-like constructions with endless feedback loops, nothing seemed to work, and I made countless mistakes along the way. Countless human sacrifices were made to get this far.”

Lasseter bowed his head.

“Human sacrifices?” Billy-Bob reached out for the flask, taking it from his hand. Paul pressed his fingers of both his left and right hand around his temples, staring up at Akira.

“Those alien abduction stories you read about,” Lasseter continued, “They’re true.”

“I tried to break down human behavior to a set of simple algorithms based upon one concept, and it seems to have worked.”

Paul stood, walking past Akira as she continued to pirouette, displaying her perfect balance and form, and quietly approached Lasseter and Billy-Bob, barely breathing. His body was visibly shaking.

“What was the concept?”

Lasseter’s head turned slowly. He caught Paul’s gaze. “Billy-Bob, could you grab the sleeping bags?”

Billy-Bob didn’t move. They both pressed in on him tighter, closing the circle. Akira stopped moving, staring intently.

“Ok, ok,” Lasseter continued, throwing his hands in the air, shaking his head violently. “It was the only concept that made sense, based upon years of studying and observing human society.”

“…and that concept was?”

“Simple,” Lasseter yelled, “Follow the money. It’s all about the self. There is no room for others. There was no room for empathy! That’s why she can’t love you Paul, she doesn’t care…”

–More later

 

Careful who you Love.

Spectre
Paul peers beneath the flesh. 

“How can she kill so easily?” Billy-Bob asked, asking Lasseter but turning his head toward Akira. “What about the three laws?”

Looking at her, even he felled attracted. Somehow compelled to be close to her.

“The three laws?” Lasseter parroted, shrugging. He could see Akira smirking in the background, trying to wake Paul, gently shaking his shoulder

“You know, the three laws. A robot may not harm a human being. A robot must obey the orders of a human being except when such orders conflict with the first law,” Bill-Bob paused to take a breath, unconsciously inching slowly towards Akira. “And finally, a robot must protect its own existence, as long as it doesn’t conflict with the first or second law.”

“Oh, well…”

“I’m self-evolving,” Akira stated flatly, watching Paul finally wake up. “That means I’m rewriting my own program, so to speak.”

“Do you have any laws or rules of moral behavior? This might be important.”

“I’ve trimmed my laws, or morals as you refer to them, to something so completely basic and human that they’ll make you laugh, or, reduced them to such a truth of human fundamentals that you won’t recognize them, and you’ll shake your head in denial.” Akira stood, smiling at Billy-Bob with perfect teeth, and approached him slowly.

Paul awoke with a startled look on his face.

“Don’t!” he screamed, stopping them both from approaching each other. “Don’t trust her!” Paul stood.

“She looks like a perfect woman, and that’s who I fell in love with. I know now that she is nothing but a robot. Artificial. But I still love her. That may be sick. That may say something more about my flaws and my weaknesses than anything I’ve ever experienced…”

“It certainly is a testament to my engineering skills,” Lasseter laughed. “I knew I was the best roboticists in the Galaxy, but I may be the best roboticist in the entire universe…” He couldn’t help but reach for his flask for a celebratory swig.

“And if you truly love her,” he pointed towards Akira once again, “Get over it because you setting yourself up for a world of pain.”

Billy-Bob heard the word pain, and stepped back to lean against the cave wall, achieving what he felt was a safe distance.

“I can’t get over it. And Bill-Bob, if you let her seduce you, you won’t be able to get over it either.” Billy-Bob shook his head, with a look of disgust on his face.

“From her first touch, I fell in love. She’s a finely tuned sex-machine who understands human anatomy better than any physician. She can touch you in places you didn’t even know you had. She can find erogenous zones that aren’t in any books on human sexuality. To have failed to give me sexual pleasure and complete joy would have been a complete failure of her programming. Failure is not an option for her. She took infinite care in pleasing me like other human being could—male or female. Although I know she can never love me in return, perhaps I can live with this. When I was with her, I was completely joyful. Filled with bliss. I’m almost sorry I learned the truth about her. Ignorance is bliss, as they say.”

Paul rose to approach her, arms outstretched, as to receive a hug. Akira simply smiled, took a step backwards.

“Maybe, before I met her, I was emotionally empty and not self-aware.”

“Ya think?” Lasseter mocked.

“Look, he continued, swirling his flask in his right hand, “There are three stages of love with Akira, as with many humans like her. In this respect, she is not so different from anyone else. You just don’t know what those three stages are, and if you lean closer, I’ll tell you.”

Billy-Bob had to hear this too. Instinctively, he approached Lasseter until the four of them stood in a tight circle. The moonlight from the cave entrance formed their shadows into one homogeneous cloud.

“Three predictable phases, Paul. Listen up. First, the good stage. She’ll Love-Bomb you. Take you to new heights of ecstasy that you didn’t even know were possible. Blow your mind with sensations and orgasms that are literally out of this world.”

Billy-Bob turned to look at Akira once again. Lasseter could see he was reappraising his opinion of her.

“But the second two phases are not so pleasant,” Lasseter continued. “When she’s done with you, which is basically when she gets what she wants from you, you enter the devaluation stage. The disrespectful stage. Just as she took you to new heights of pleasure, she’ll take your emotions to suicidal lows. It’s painful, it’s horrible, and it doesn’t end there.”

“Where does it end?” Billy-Bob asked, shrugging.

“Took the words right out of my mouth,” Paul responded. Thanks.”

“It ends when she totally discards you. Like an old t-shirt or a used Tampon. She’ll find another source of fuel, another person to wash her in worship, kick you when you’re down and not look back.”

Paul’s mouth fell open and he stuttered… “but, but…does it have to be this way? Can’t you do something?”

“No, I can’t do anything. That may be my second mistake.”

“What mistake? Billy-Bob asked, his head cocking quizzically to the left, right eyebrow raising, fist clenching.

“It may not be a mistake,” Lasseter continued, “because this flaw seems to be present in everyone on this planet. A lot of humans have it. More than half, I’d say. Akira may have been designed based upon contemporary standards. I not sure it’s a flaw.”

“What flaw,” Paul whispered, forcibly grabbing Lasseter’s head, turning it so he could pierce into his eyes. “Forewarned is forearmed. I need to know if I can deal with this…”

“If you must know,” Lasseter laughed, swirling his flask and finally taking a large swallow before continuing, “I forgot the empathy chip. That may have been my second mistake.”

–More later.

Akira: Narcissistic AI

Day of the Dead
A brief, hasty update.

“Without awe, the Universe wouldn’t be.”

“Of course, the Universe has a way of interfering with the best plans. Even mine,” Lasseter continued, turning toward Paul hiding in a hollowed-out section of the cave, curled into a fetal position, breathing deeply.

All three turned to stare. He looked dirty, beaten. He hadn’t showered in days. He didn’t look anything like the professor that had made a hasty exit from the Berkeley Lab just days ago.

Akira approached to wake him.

“Let him sleep,” Lasseter interrupted. “He’ll need his energy. I didn’t count on him attracting the Feds. That’s an even bigger problem. His…shall we say…development really wasn’t part of the bigger plan.”

Paul could hear the conversation as part of his dream. His consciousness was never really “off.” He was a true empath, feeling the pain and pleasure of those the nanites had connected him with…and the numbers were growing…but there was a irritating absence in his mind.

He could feel nothing from Akira.

But what did he expect?

He thought to himself, in his dream, feeling the weight of infinite sadness: How can I feel what exists inside the psuedoconsciousness and psuedoheart of a non-human AI, where no actual consciousness and no actual heart exists?

 She is nothing more than a piece of animated furniture. Yet, it is too late. I have fallen in love with her and cannot stop myself.

 She will drain me. Then dispose of me. Paul could sense it. The only way to keep her attention was to maintain his usefulness to her. To keep her needing him. But what, over time, would he have to offer now that she has taken his seed?

 He could think of nothing.

 But is this not the same with many human relationships? Could Akira represent nothing more than a pure narcissistic creation? Taking, taking, taking…but never giving?

Will my offspring be the same? Is this the future of mankind, or is this the true nature of mankind?

 

–More later.

 

 

 

Tabula Rasa no more.

A baby's mind
A baby’s mind, ready to go.

“This is not mankind’s first rodeo,” Lasseter continued. “All your rodeo’s always end up the same, with mankind imitating the big bang.”

“And that’s why you created Akira?”

“That’s right. She changes all that.” Lasseter pivoted towards her, took a long admiring look as he swigged from his flask. “My best work yet.” His eyes took her in from head to luscious toe.

“Don’t get over confident, old man. I bite.”

“Yes, you do. And you bite hard.” Lasseter grinned, swallowed.

Billy-Bob closed his eyes and focused on his breathing, willing his pulse to return to normal. Thump. Thump. Thump. It was a handy exercise he’d learned in Afghanistan, useful for calming himself before he opened fire.

“How does she ‘change all that’” He turned to look at Akira, but wouldn’t meet her gaze.

“Her baby will not be born Tabula-Rasa,” Lasseter continued.

“The fuck?”

“No more ‘clean slate’ for humanities infants. No more passing down fantasies and myths and religions from parent to child. No more will greed, hate and revenge be passed from generation to generation in an endless cycle of violence that inevitably results in mankind’s destruction. Akira and this baby put an end to all that nonsense.” Lasseter took a deep breath, paused.

“This baby starts a new cycle. A new beginning.”

Bill-Bob looked at them both, tried again to calm his racing pulse.

“What then?”

“The baby will be born with Akira’s knowledge. Since she’s still self-evolving, even I don’t know how far this will go. How far this will take humanity. That’s why we have to take a stand here. Protect her. That’s why we still need you.”

“You mean to tell me Akira’s baby will be able to have children, to procreate, to breed?’

“Yeah, dumb ass. That’s the idea.”

“What do I even say to this shit?” Billy-Bob laughed out loud.

“And if it’s a boy,” Lasseter continued, “You can count on him being as promiscuous as Genghis Khan.”

“What do you mean, ‘if’? Didn’t you genetically determine the sex of the baby?”

Lasseter cast his eyes toward the dirt, formed his hand into a circle, brought it to his mouth and coughed. “Uh, no one’s perfect.” He was, in fact, highly embarrassed by this glaring omission.

“I want a girl,” Akira interjected.

The two men said nothing.

“I told you I bite.” She approached Lasseter, firmly grabbing onto his shoulder and turned her head toward Billy-Bob.

“Imagine a baby born with the innate knowledge of Einstein, Feynman, Newton. All the greatest scientist’s mankind has ever produced.”

Billy-Bob took a step backwards.

“It could be a nightmare.”

Akira’s finger’s lengthened into sharp daggers. She tore the fabric on Lasseter’s shirt.

“Why?” She hissed.

“What about the moral leaders? The religious leaders? Those who’ve inspired humanity to persist, to overcome oppression?”

“What have they gotten you thus far?” Akira’s response was quick and brittle, timed to cut him off before he could continue his thought.

Lasseter was nodding his head in rapid agreement, dandruff flying off his scalp like a dust mop being cleaned after months of neglect.

“The religious ideas will be eliminated. Particularly the religious ideas.”

Billy-Bob shook his head from left to right, as if barely comprehending what he’d gotten involved with. His eyes fell upon Paul, sleeping peacefully in the corner of the cave, not a care in the world.

“And what does Paul ‘pass along?’” he asked.

“I’ll take this one,” Lasseter replied, gently removing Akira’s fingers from his shoulder, careful not to slice himself.

“I’d like to say Paul passes along his innate humanity. His built-in sense of morality, philosophy and empathy, but that’s not it.”

Akira smiled. Billy-Bob waited quietly, his patience waning.

“Then what?”

“Paul passes along humanities innate curiosity. Humanities craving to keep searching, to keep questioning, to discover the as-of-yet unknown unknowns.”

“I see.”

“And one more thing.”

“What?” Billy-Bob leaned closer.

“His progeny will be able to uncover the hidden secrets of the Universe, and experience complete awe as the mysteries reveal themselves. That is something a machine alone could never do.”

It was Akira’s turn to cough.

“Sorry Akira, but you don’t appreciate shit, and you never will.”

“You see,” Lasseter said quietly, pushing Akira further away from him and stepping into Billy-Bob’s face: “Without awe, the Universe wouldn’t be.”

–More later.

Consciousness must change.

Cosmic brain
Taking the next step in the post-human evolution.

Billy-Bob plopped on the cave floor, spent. Exhausted. “I’ve told my story. What about you? What about her?’ He flicked his thumb towards Akira and nodded his head. “And what about you, old man? Are you everybody’s grandfather?”

A lizard’s tail rustled the sand outside the cave. The moon was drawing high. The night was clear.

Lasseter removed his penis-flask from his shirt pocket, reached across the floor, placed it under Billy-Bob’s nostril and gave it a shove. For all of Billy-Bob’s muscle, he was the least intimidating of the group.

“Like I said, I created her.” He shoved his flask a little harder up Billy-Bob’s nostril as he spoke.

“Bullshit,” he flushed, swatting Lasseter’s wrist away from his nose. “I’m just not ready to believe all this.”

Lasseter pinned him with a look. “How do you explain everything you’ve seen? Everything she’s done? All the killing…?”

“I can’t”

“She’s remarkable, yes. But she’s not ‘the thing.’

Sitting cross-legged now, Billy-Bob pulled his ankles closer to his crotch, assuming the classical lotus positing. “Shit man, if she’s not ‘the thing,’ then what the hell is ‘the thing.’ How do you top her?” He coughed, raising his hands palms up and shrugged.’

“Her baby’s ‘the thing.’ Lasseter turned his head towards Akira, tapping her on the shoulder. “Tick-tock baby. Tick tock.”

Akira appeared at Billy-Bob’s elbow. “The baby will alter the entire trajectory of mankind.”

Paul remained sleeping at the far end of the cave, passed out. Oblivious. Perhaps reading someone’s mind, feeling someone else’s pain.

“Ya know, I think I might just stay in this cave and let you guys handle things,” Billy-Bob responded, eyeing them as if he suspected they were possessed of collective psychosis.

“Up to you,” Lasseter drawled, taking a swig from his flask and handing the drinking end back to Billy-Bob. “But if you knew an asteroid was on its way to destroy the planet, wouldn’t you want to send up rocket to change its trajectory?”

Billy-Bob stood. Stretched. Yawned. Akira could see his knees were bent and his feet angled at a forty-five-degree angle towards the mouth of the cave. “He’s scared,” she thought. “Typical fight or flight response. These humans. So easy to read. I’ve got this body language thing down.”

Akira slowly raised her arm and pointed toward the mouth of the cave. “We won’t stop you,” she said.

Billy-Bob’s jaw dropped as if she had just read his mind.

“You just helped us get out of a shit-storm. You’re useful. But if you don’t stay, you’re jeopardizing the entire future of humanity.”

Billy-Bob took a step towards the cave mouth, gazed into the night.

You’re useful now,” Akira continued. “When you stop being useful, I’ll get rid of you myself.”

Billy-Bob froze in his tracks.

“Have a drink,” Lasseter said calmly. “Alcohol seems to be mankind’s universal answer to everything at the moment.”

Billy-Bob grinned, took the flask from Lasseter’s hand and gulped.

“Akira represents only the first link in the post-human era,” he continued, encouraging Billy-Bob to drink more. “Her ability to conceive a child is the ultimate end-game to all the research being done in artificial intelligence.”

“Men have always been jealous of the women’s ability to create life.” Akira smirked. “They try. But all they do is destroy everything. It’s time to put a stop to it.”

“You do catch on.”

“I’m still self-evolving.”

“Anyway, I’m sure most of this is over your head, you’re just a soldier.” Lasseter turned toward Billy-Bob.

“I’m a Harvard educated Navy Seal.”

“One being accused of treason,” Akira added.

“Shall I continue?” Lasseter shrugged.

“Please do, I think my stupid-ass can comprehend.” Billy-Bob responded, sitting and resuming his lotus position.

“The child will light the match on human consciousness. Changing the trajectory of the human race, of the human mind.”

The light in the cave seemed to darken, if only for a moment. Billy-Bob felt as if he were about to pass-out. Perhaps this was above his pay-grade. The darkness lifted and he saw Akira as if she were glowing with an iridescent light. Akira read his expression.

“Yes. I’m humanity’s new Mary. Mother of God.”

“Not a God.” Lasseter interrupted, sharply correcting her.

“Then what?” Billy-Bob stumbled over his own words.

“The beginning of a new beginning,” Lasseter laughed, drinking freely. “All of human history has been but a prelude.”

Now it was Lasseter’s turn to stand.

The luminescent glow around Akira intensified. Billy-Bob’s head began to throb as the blood in his arteries quickened.

“Now you’ve lost me.”

“This is not mankind’s first rodeo,” Lasseter continued. “All your rodeo’s always end up the same, with mankind imitating the big bang.”

–More later.