NaNoWriMo 2022, Fling Forty-Three

“It feels like all logic and reason and the sequence of events have fled from the world.”

This from Kristen, who might as well have spoken for all of them, or at least all three of the humans.

Colin might have granted that one situation in which communication works more or less as it would in the simplest theory, is when the source and the target both already have, very saliently, the thought or feeling or other property that is being communicated (so to speak). But if the property is already salient everywhere, what if anything has been communicated? Perhaps the transitive-closure knowledge that I know that you know that I know that you know that we both feel that way (and you know it (and I know it…)).

“Are we everywhere at once?”

“No, no, it just turns out that space is also an illusion. There is no everywhere to be; being is not a thing that has a location property, neither finite nor infinite-valued.”

“Be Here Now, man!”

Perception was chaotic but potentially entertaining; sounds and images of all kinds occurring all at once. How these thoughts, or words, were traveling between the four to be reacted to and recorded, will remain a mystery.

“This present moment is all that exists, and equally obviously, this place right here is the only place that exists. Other places are not in this moment, other moments are not in this place.”

“Other moments could be in this space, though; we could go elsewhere and then come back — ooh, ice cream!”

Chocolate ice cream, vanilla ice cream, strawberry and rhubarb ice cream, banana split ice cream, rose hip ice cream, lemon sherbet, and all the others, in fact. And tables and bowls and spoons and chairs and a stereo playing Mosquito Song by Queens of the StoneAge.

“The further I go, the less I know,” Steve quoted happily.

“Now we are seeing all the things that we might choose to do.”

“Eat ice cream?”

“Is choice an illusion? Do we have free will?”

“Can we write down an account of free will that does not have to pretend that time and space are real?”

“Look, I could be a cave explorer!”

“Remember, stalactites cling tight to the ceiling, and stalagmites might get there in a century.”

“Or is it the other way around? I feel like it might be the other way around.”

The being called Tibbs shimmered with a pulse of high-frequency shimmering. “No,” came the caressing voice, “it is not the other way around. Do not spread memetic toxins!”

“Keep your darn meme complexes to yourself!”

“On that planet there, meme researchers are more highly regarded than everyone else except the pearl-divers. The pearls are deep and gold and foretell the future.”

“This planet has two moons and a debris-ring. The moons are gradually destabilizing the ring, and the planet experiences frequent meteor strikes.”

“That must reduce home values.”

After a moment or a decade, they reached a place where three humans lay asleep: one in a hospital bed with monitors attached to its (probably his, Kristen decided) head, and the other two in comfortable-looking cots that had been set up next to the bigger bed.

All were wearing, or had had applied, what looked like a standard realtime fMRI cap, with wires leading to an especially shiny virtualizing deck.

“She’s pretty,” said Kristen.

“A stunner,” Steve agreed, “I think I’m in love.”

“She exists at this very moment here, and that makes me happy,” said Colin.

They were drifting in the air over the center bed, where a young woman with brown hair and eyes and skin and elegant epicanthic folds lay peacefully. The third bed held a small young human, probably male, in rich purple silk nightclothes. Although the body was childlike in size, there was something adult in the face, even in sleep.

“There are people in this reality who worry about these three and their sleep,” the being Tibbs known as intoned, “their bodies are well cared-for, but their minds are perhaps far away.”

“This one looks familiar,” Colin said, drifting over the smallest sleeper.

“This one makes my head ache,” Steve said, peering at the various devices touching the head of the largest human, the one in the largest bed.

“You know–” began Kristen.

“Wait, really?” Steve broke in, “Are you really thinking that we could–“

“There are three of them, and three of us–“

“We might get stuck. Or they might come back, and get annoyed at our trespassing.”

“I… don’t think that would happen.”

“Do we really want to be them?”

“I don’t know… it feels right? Somehow?”

The being known as Tibbs just shimmered.

Fling Forty-Four

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