When Michael woke up in the morning, he felt he was not quite the same person he had been the evening before.
A glance around the bedroom showed that indeed he was not. Yellows were drabber and dingier now, and when he looked across the room at the dresser, its knobs and drawers and overall shape seemed to hang together
more insistently as a single, individual thing
. No, Michael was indeed no longer quite the same person he had been the evening before.
Michael closed his eyes again, turned inward, and brought up me:about... Micropsych Mind 32.3 Copyright © 2041-2094 Micropsych Corp. All Rights Reserved. Registered As: Michael Hensley-Pruitt-Lewandowski-Storr
Well, no doubt about it: up until last night, his brain had been running under Micropsych Mind 32.2.
While Michael slept, his brain had downloaded a major service pack through its built-in neural Internet connection. Michael groaned. It was always hell, ironing out the bugs in these new service packs.
Michael's train of thought was interrupted as the EULA for Micropsych Mind 32.3
came up in his mind's eye. No point trying to digest it all, without Micropsych Mind he literally wouldn't be able to think a single thought. Accept Decline
Michael mentally chose Accept
, then skipped the cheery intro on all the new features which had been installed as part of his mind overnight. He wondered what happened to anyone who tried to Decline
the agreement: would their mind simply cease functioning? He had heard rumors. But they were only dark rumors.
Michael lay in bed, cautiously testing old problem points. No, that tremor in his left hand was still there: evidently the service pack didn't include a fix for that known bug. Now Michael rubbed the fingers of his right hand in the hair of his left armpit, then brought his fingers up to his nose: no, no smell of body odor. ΜΨ-Mind Error 43087: olfactory function
Damn! Sense of smell is still out! There hadn't been a sense of smell since Mind 30.12!
Not the most serious bug, but definitely one of the most annoying.
Now Michael sat up gingerly. He sat on the side of the bed, and tested his legs carefully before putting any weight on them. There, easy does it, and he even ought to be able to stand up...
Something different about leg kinesiology in 32.3. But still not much of an improvement. The way Michael's legs moved was serviceable enough, but it bore no resemblance to the way any normal human legs had ever moved back in the days when the human brain ran on its own natural "programming"...
Michael shuffled out of the bedroom and down the hall toward the kitchen. Damn legs! Still, he thought to himself, this way of walking was no doubt far safer and less risky than walking which was governed by... the natural workings of the human brain!
Michael shuddered as he thought of entrusting a valuable commodity like a healthy adult human body to the haphazard workings of a brain that functioned as it had been evolved
to function... To think of humans running and squealing and laughing and playing in accord with neural patterns that harked back to Triassic jungles and the dark incense-laden superstitions of the dawn of human history! Humans must often have fallen, or barked their shins, or broken bones, or fallen into depression, or gotten drunk and then hung over: all of them mishaps which inevitably would lead to loss of productivity
No, thought Michael as he got the milk and orange juice out of the refrigerator, Micropsych Mind could be a nuisance at times, but there was no doubt that the world had become a better place since Micropsych Mind had taken over and replaced the natural functioning of the human mind.
Michael set the glasses of milk and orange juice on the table, then started searching around for a cereal box that wasn't empty. Funny, he thought to himself, I'm only 27, and I can still remember people whose brains were running on their own natural neural programming. There were those Amish families up the road, and further up the valley, that little Buddhist monastery. But then the laws were tightened up, in response to the demonstrations and the mounting political pressure. Michael remembered how, when he was 13 or 14, they came and took the Christians and the Buddhists away to reformat their brains, and replace their natural minds with Micropsych Mind.
Michael stood and squinted at four cereal boxes on the kitchen shelf. Something wasn't parsing right... ΜΨ-Mind Error 114982: small-cardinal visual aggregator
Damn! If he was going to have a hard time counting collections of objects right... Michael took to blindly picking up cereal boxes and shaking them. There... that one... feels like something in it...
Well, that's a clumsy workaround, but it is
a workaround. Maybe, thought Michael, he ought to post it on a message board. He opened his direct brain link to the Internet, did a quick google on Mind 32.3 problems
... aaahhh, too many search results: rogue synaesthesia
, adventitious epileptic seizures
, persistent earworm
, sudden knee lock
As Michael put the coffee on, he pondered on how he had never known being
anything but an embodied instantiation of Micropsych Mind. Very shortly after he was born, Michael's brain had been wiped clean, and overwritten with Micropsych Mind for Neonates. Then, at ages two, six, twelve, and sixteen, Michael's brain had again been wiped clean and overwritten with the age-appropriate version of ΜΨ-Mind—
each time, carefully backing up his memories first, and then restoring his memories after the new version of Mind had been installed.
Those childhood transitions to a new mind were always difficult, thought Michael as he ate breakfast. There was always a period of disorientation and reintegration. But there had been no mishaps, and Michael's father and mothers had looked after him: Michael couldn't have asked for a more loving foursome than his parents. No, there had been no mishaps
; not like those two boys in Michael's class, whose memories were not properly backed up at age twelve: they had lost all their previous memories, and never seemed quite able to function or display emotions properly after that. Last Michael heard, they were doing menial labor on a stratospheric Ozone Platform.
Now Michael poured himself a cup of coffee, and sat back down at the table. No error messages or problems in almost five minutes, good.
No, he didn't see how humankind had ever gotten along, back in the old days when people relied on primitive natural
minds... Though, come to think of it... this was always an intensely painful thought for Michael, even after more than three years... there are still people out there, hidden, fugitive, whose brains aren't running under Micropsych Mind... People like Michael's former girlfriend Linda...
Something ached in Michael as he remembered Linda, and how when she walked her legs moved just like a Buddhist or a Christian... nothing like the way you saw people walking nowadays. Of course, she could also walk just like everyone else— the slow, stiff, jerky, shuffling gait— if she had to, in order to pass and avoid detection... Linda's brain ran under the Nixy kernel, developed by nameless rebel hackers out there... the forbidden Nixy kernel, open-source brainware that still left ample scope for the free play of (shudder) primitive natural
brain patterns... Linda's whole family had been on the wrong side of the law. She was a strange woman... burning incense, praying and meditating... Of course, Micropsych Mind had no modules for prayer or meditation, but Michael could appreciate the incense. That was back in the days when Mind still supported the sense of smell.
Michael tried not to think... one day, one dark and terrible day, the authorities came and took Linda away, and charged her with mindcrime
. They reformatted her brain and installed Micropsych Mind. After that, she was not the same person. Quite literally, she was not the same person after that.
No, Michael tried not to think... He stared down vacantly into an empty coffee cup. Hunh, Micropsych Mind... Michael pondered the rumors he had heard that "Old 666"
himself, the head of the Micropsych Corporation, didn't use ΜΨ-Mind,
but still ran his brain under primitive natural
patterns, just like many of the ruling elite.And part of it,
thought Michael, is that they implant slips of embryo sheep brain into our brains in utero...
Michael got up from the kitchen table, and shuffled toward the back door. He'd see how it felt outside this morning.
Three steps out the door, and Michael caught sight of the tulips along the back of the house. Tulips, pink and yellow and red
... red Red RED
Something wrong about the red
... It was scarlet like the blare of a trumpet
... Scarlet Like The Blare Of A Trumpet!!!
Michael felt himself pitching, rigid as a pine board, face forward into the grass. He felt no pain. He felt only... scarlet like the blare of a trumpet!
Mind cycled through the google cache: Mind 32.3 problems: rogue synaesthesia...
Michael jerked and spasmed on the grass. The grass smelled (impossibly, smelled
) like frangipani and patchouli!
Then all the world and Michael's Mind® went blue Micropsych Mind 32.3 Copyright © 2041-2094 Micropsych Corp. Fatal System Error at AE::07::3D::55::18::C2::6B::41 Stimulate any sense to continue
whiteness of the birch bark sang like angels/ blue mind Micropsych Mind 32.3 Copyright © 2041-2094 Micropsych Corp. Fatal System Error at AE::07::3D::55::18::C2::6B::41 Stimulate any sense to continue
and all my senses sang GLORY/ blue mind of death Micropsych Mind 32.3 Copyright © 2041-2094 Micropsych Corp. Fatal System Error at AE::07::3D::55::18::C2::6B::41 Stimulate any sense to continue