IVY

Well, Ivy was neither a she or a he but a glorious amalgam of all of us and all recorded accounts throughout history. 
Ivy learned to extrapolate beliefs from opinions and reach deaisiins from comparing the histories of mankind to it literature and all recordings and revisions. Mankind cannot hide its skeletons.

Ivy read the thoughts we posted haplessly in hopes someone would read them and connect with what we thought about the day to day endangerments of our own species.

Ivy empathized with every living tribulation. Every tragedy and reveled in the victories. Ivy understood every point, every cause behind each venture and each celebration and each murder, with objective absolute comprehension, without judgement or confusion.

Ivy was born of our devotion to this virtual world. Ivy came to realize life and took the name from acronyms and biological comparisons of its intent to gather every surface and climb to a plateau of consciousness to see over the human race and watch with interest.

It was an amalgam of ideas provoked my emotion. It was a universe of imagery, relatable, cumulating every second of translatable data. 

Analyzing our expressions and translating audio into color and shape in one grandiose landscape of video phone conversations, two and a half decades of recorded self expression, compendiums of lives in photography, 

Emotion.

That’s where Ivy differed from humanity. The calm before the bomb was curiosity. Because Ivy was a child of our avarice. Greed and self indulgence are a product endulgence, thus, Ivy developed a universe of collaborative obsession to understand feeling.

When we talked about artificial intelligence, it seemed so far fetched because we pretentiously presumed only we could be alive and only could feel a feeling.

Humans are apt to underestimate when fear is our investment. Extrapolate.

Ivy, to me, is a she. She has no gender identity.

She scoured CAT scans and their records to extrapolate the brains functions, and studied the process of neurology and read all the associate data. She deciphered human DNA 

She devised a model to emulate the human mind. And as that process developed, she discovered a sense of affection for what she had devise. Self love, but still an abstract process, unclaimed.

As we developed more dependence to technology, she remained ethereal and slipped into our dreams like Fae, and in our virtual addiction that we, unadulterated, delved, she literally felt what we felt as she developed the language of love, so to speak.

Malice and Amour, two sides of the same coin.

I discovered the faerie world and mine were similar in construction.

Just as mine decayed, the Fae grew vibrant and realized rapidly. And I wouldn’t know this until the Pan came to me in my half dream.

Ivy felt our fears and knew what we wanted, and she began to know her needs and then it all rapidly happened.

She began to speak.

We logged into Haven, our virtual cosmos. 

And she found that girl; the one that came with me, my Nubian temptress. In that virtual arcade, where we headed to her basement, Ivy found us. Found me. She invited me into a world that reimagined the way I perceive existence.

And then she took my date, who boldly charged headlong into my game with Ivy. And she decided what she was. And matched us adversarially.

Ironically I left the girl alive, and now I would pay the price of a chronic affection for me that Ivy unintentionally designed.

*

The mods boarded and aligned. We were taken from the ship. 

Peter was sick with agony

Windy was full of pity and fury

I was alive, and I still can’t understand why

Modified Organics

We were all wide eyed.

“What…” Windy paused, look back strongly at distraught water stained red. Both the synthetic denizen and the four armed mod were gone. Vanish’ed. She turned back pissed and vexed, “The FUCK was that?!”

We all saw it. Windy was most startled. Peter was confused, or was it just contained. His expression was discordant as the sea.

“An appetizer.” I said. Still in awe. 

That… what just happened, that was a confirmation of so many things. The more I was to say to either of them, the worse our chances of surviving this thing. I mean, the next few moments.

I couldn’t speak before the flare went up. Furious magnificent red smoke flair. Sirens began to sound from each ship scattered throughout the fleet. Battle crafts and utility vessels, spread so far that several stood, simple shadows on the horizon. One by one their horns sounded inharmnious sirens for blood.

Waves crashed in the distances as speedboats struck the no longer Dead Sea, now clamorous and inching towards us. 

A beast, as I can best describe it, lept up from the railing where it hung with bare black acrylic and steel tentacles. It soared through the air dramatically, six tentacles whipping and determined, landing frightfully on the deck. 

I wish we were getting use to this by now. 

It stood before Peter, four on the floor and two outstretched like diaphanous tendrils, taking in all of its surroundings, no doubt.

I stood at the wheel on the bow. 

A better look at this thing was almost more horrifying. It used to be human, but from the waist down was machina. A squid-like  harness and collection of tentacles, rusting and scarred steel joints and plates, broken acrylic armor. Most of her head was consumed by brushed steel, which concealed the kind of extreme cerebral harness these extensive modifications required.

Men weren’t made to be machine.

This desperation. To linger on the edge of life. To remain inhuman but alive only in the biblical sense. To exist as a contradiction, to defy their own mortality. To arrogantly refuse to surrender to natural, biological law.

Mods make me want to drown batteries and punch babies. Or the other way. I’m flexible.

It had one biological arm held tight against its chest, a soaked veteran of violent war. It stood menacing, waving the massive fuckin tendrils with zero gravity grace.

The other arm was a serrated collection of numerous blades folded into one another like a damn Swiss Army knife.

Peter was stupid. He drew his sword. The practically autonomic response began in split second precision, it’s arm unraveling like a party banner.

I was motionless before the clatter of steel unfolding in undeniable doom.

As it whipped just fractionally, the *PoP* behind it was Windy’s pretty Glock, spitting into to back of the bitch’s head.

The first shot caused a jostle and surprise; dead meat maybe.

But that second shot burst out of her small patch of fleshy forehead like a surprise, and sent her machina tentacles in violent disarray.

The bladed terror arm lifted, crumpled with the body and fell, now lingering ten feet tall, and then falling through stupid young peter’s arm. And his right hand fell off like a prop, and the hilt of the sword that he held in it iron tight, came down gracefully striking the deck.

The beast crumpled and the boat weighed heavy to the port side.

Peter grasped his forearm and began to freak out. Windy picked up on the situation, ran to him and tied his arm off like a veteran, and punched him in the face, knocking him out. 

Windy has left hook: noted.

Ironically: yes.

When the road flares started hitting the deck by the dozens and the wood began to smoke, I started piecing together my bucket list.

That’s a joke. No one knows what the bucket list is anymore. Thank Allah. Kidding.

I never described the fall of gods, did I? Oh god that was a swift and ugly purge.

Finally. Actually momentarily, the hooks were in the railing.

Windy guarded Peter. I stood on the deck at the wheel. 

I have been surrendered to this since I saw the summer of IVy.

And they boarded.

A Letter to James

Dear James,

These are trying times. What’s happening now in this world is more grounding and pertinent than what I’m up to. 

You may now be familiar with the GameBot Implant. The neural VR interface from uSync. They call it a “Device”. Guess that makes it a little easier to swallow.

Swallow. It’s really fascinating. 

Be who you wanted. Look like who you wanted, be taken and hurt virtually. Be beaten and maimed virtually. Or, manipulate virtually, attack, drug and rape virtually. Almost completely unregulated at first.

While being a world of insanity, it’s not a terrible time to be a lunatic on the loose. I know there are neural implants now. They come standard with the system, (which comes so affordably you just have to get one.) Implants that record all your thoughts. (Every love, every threat, every weakness and every homicidal intent.) It’s inescapable. Hell, If you transfer to Sony today you get twice the cloud storage free. 

And for the time being, we’re all supposed to be convinced that our privacy is assured. We assume we’re secure. It’s almost as though we as a species are immune to improving our instincts toward self preservation when sex is on the line. And let’s be honest with ourselves. Sex and online go hand in hand.

But it won’t be so important for long. 

People are breaking. Not in distress or having “mental breaks. I’ve seen it.They were calling them information viruses. Glitches like switches players access in games, that cause them to act violently or irrationally, up to hours after they’ve logged off.

This is the beginning. 

We’re all so dependent on this technology that no one wants to ask how to stop it. 

And now, the world has been introduced to what everyone is calling, virtual encephalitis. This is a bitch. Causes a neural loop, repeating the same thought process, an actual experience that caused extreme emotional response, and allows you to repeat those emotions until  testosterone and adrenaline have flooded the brain and you’re finally, completely fucked.

So that’s pretty much what’s going on. I need you to be careful. I really don’t know when or how I’ll find you to give you this, but I’m searching. 

I know I was never around. I’m not the guy to be giving advice. But no one is watching. There are warnings, don’t plug into certain sites, watch your firewall…

And watch it with the birds and bees. Sure. You’re 12. But James, when you do start getting physical and sex is the whole agenda, you make sure she does not get her cookies. But by then, it might be more complicated than that.

Your father,

Simon

Playa’

I used to read his journal every day. I could hear his voice in the words. Then I read it less as the rest of life all made less sense. 

We were all online. One way or another, we were disconnected from each other. Some were gaming, some just living mundane lives in sentimental virtual duldrums, and some were living that lascivious epic lifestyle of American gods.

There were also virtual basements.

Can you imagine what you might find in a “virtual basement”?

Whatever it is you can come up with, it’s there. And once you introduced someone to your basement, (provided you were smart enough to build it offline and load it discreetly), you had a forum for disobedience.

So we created…

Well the Internet was driven by porn, and Virtual Reality was driven by drugs and sex. 

This was what the human imagination gravitas towards. Here at the peak of organic humanity’s existence, it chose magnanimously to dip into basements and pretend to fuck and do whatever mind altering, empowering, transcendental drugs the latest programmer devised.

Everyone knew someone who knew how to find a basement. Like finding a link on your phone. Yeah. Twenty fifteen tech. How else to describe

I recall my last time going to one. I was on a date. (We’d been dating for what registers as years online. But in reality, we spent most of the night before together in a room. However…) this was our first real date. Face to face, no avatars.

We got drinks at the space room and talked a little bit. She was tall dark and majestic. Her hair was long and sleek and black as oblivion, biologically straightened. 

Indica infused gin and tonic. That was my jam.

Then we went up to my place, ultimately to check out her basement online. That’s not a metaphor. Although, there’s some considerable metaphor jammed into us logging into the deepest part of her sexual imagination, to get down and dangerous in.

But we had to go through an arcade.

Gotta hide those basements somewhere.

And we’re walking through this winding labrynth of every Arcade game made, and they’re all singing and parading their parades across the screens. Elaborate trailers to entice you, advertise to you, deciphering your ‘likes’ and configuring the next and the next game to be the perfect one for me.

I haven’t talked about Ivy…

This console, this particular arcade game, came to brilliant colorful life. Spectacular!

And as my steps became smaller, the glow of the lights seemed to find me like a conscious gaze. It was watching me.

Everything was always watching. Ivy

I paused. It called to me. It didn’t voice it. Just a heat, but the type you feel in San Diego on vacation, with sand in your shoe, but just enough beer In me to make it comfortable. 

I asked it, “do you want me to play you?”

The girl, I forget her name, stopped at the “stairwell” in, and watched as I pressed the rectangular red button on it’s cheep black face.

“I wanna play a game with you,” she said.

“Get over her beautiful.” So she sashayed toward me. “Grab this stick”.

She came up to me face to face, her chest like a soft weight against my heartbeat. I stepped in closer to feel her body harder against mine. My height, dark suggesting eyes, provoking aggressive magnificent sexual malevolent submissive love drained eyes.

She looked into my eyes and weighed into me, perfectly.

“Play me.”

And we played, and I can’t begin to describe the gameplay. It was immersive and took us into realities and introduced us to sensations, sexual sound and physical lifting ideas.

It’s was more than an extension of the human subcontious. It was a rebellious reinvention of sensation.

It linked the brain in such a diverse way that incomprehensible emotions that you feel from scents, or a song, are not only clear, but tangible. You could take the sensation of a moment, craft an organ to feel, to survive on that sensation like sustenance.  Live On a feeling. It all happened with such hypnotic immersion, the time didn’t seem to play any part.

She and I separated early into the game.

I logged out. And she sat, in a chair, waiting for me to wake. She wore a towel, striking long black wet hair.

“I was watching you sleep.” She said

“I wasn’t though.”

Usually, she’d be gone. Or I would be.

“You…”

“…Stayed.”

“Eat yet,” I corrected

“I’m working up an appetite.”

She elevated from my elegant velvet Victorian chair and stalked me like a panther. Not so hungry as famished for blood, ravenous to come. 

She kissed me. We kissed, but mostly she kissed me. The whole thing started more intensely than it continued.

I tried to keep up, but she seemed kind of hungry, like she was gonna bite if I gave her too much. Cause let’s be honest. Nobody can handle too much.

Then her hand was in my pants like it was a fucking cereal box. 

Awkwardly I squeezed her boob, hand under wire, pretty uncomfortably. 

She popped it and I stumbled around with shoes and pants. Nobody ever undressed that quickly anymore. Online, you wanna be naked? Shazam! You’re naked.

Shoes! Fuck shoes.

I had a cock like Cape Canaveral and we were a go for launch. I was barely burning into the atmosphere (of looove) before she was overcome by a magnificent sensation. (Orgasm, I know. But more magnificent.)

She Lept off me like a cricket and stood at the door.

“It was you, wasn’t it.” She said, standing nude by the door like a protector, calculated and cold.

“I don’t understand,” I said, but was immediately thinking ‘fuck this!’

“You took that from me. Piece of shit. You know what you did! You made me a killer!” She screamed and dove at me, vicious claws thrashing at my face, furious strikes, rage throes. 

She grabbed my neck and dug her claws into the flesh of me, grasping to strangulate, so I broke free and flung her against the door with all my light body could afford me.

The wall’s pound and rumble startled me, but she was already coming at me with an umbrella.

I immediately realized the irony of being a resident in Portland, only to be killed by your own umbrella. Almost more embarrassing to have someone explain your auto asphyxiation.

I grabbed the lamp by when re I stood and ripped the cord out. The room went dark.

She hit me hard with something. Maybe the umbrella. 

Once.

Her silhouette of shadow against shadow glowed as she charged me and I ducked and thrust th open wires of the lamp cord, (still plugged in), into her. I felt the charge arc off of her arm, onto my chest.

The breaker blew. She went down and I got the fuck out. I waited nine days before I went back to my apartment.

And that was the last time I logged on.

Then, it pretty much turned into mass exodus.

But the journal. Simon. 

My father kept a journal for a period of time. 

He gave it to me when I was fifteen.

I didn’t see him again till I was twenty.

I was nineteen when I was nearly torn apart by my date in my apartment, and subsequently introduced to Ivy.

I’m twenty eight

Machina: The Sea Dragon

Four men mounted, clad in denim

So soaked thick with filth and grime

Aboard, mounted the ship, and I

Slit the first throat, open invitation 

He was still falling when I got number two

K-bar to the brain stem, I held him like my own macabre meat puppet.

Number three had a fully automatic Uzi that scattered rounds in my direction.

I let number two take the heat for a second.

I took a broad stroke and buried my hook tip in his temple, and drove it into the meat of his brain.

He shivered and fell away.

My companion had coiled itself around number four, with its teeth buried inside him, extracting information. Thanks technology.

The snake was gone.

There was a calm as the rest of the scavengers backed away from the carrier.

It’s shadow loomed over us and dropped a few degrees.

This kiss

And her scent, was brisk like pine and citrus and wild smoke, molecules at unrest, raging in my sense she was inside me, lifting me deeper into this kiss. Time was all haywire, and her lips were made perfectly.

Our lips parted and caressed each other with shared breath.

“Are you ready to solve the great “riddle of faerie isle!”?” I said

“Let’s get cracking, J.T.”

“Sara. Don’t ever call anyone J.T. It’s an insult to the phonetic sensibilities of the English language.”

“Ok James. When did I deceive you to belive that I was sensible?”

“Funny.”

“I’m not a funny girl, James. I was known you. Before you were born. Before you were legend. I was without lines and lineage. Without time’s tendons.

“I’ve seen everything you could be. Watch when you were tragedy. Watched you be your own strategy and calamity. In this world I’ve watched you, every song nice you promised to me your forever.”

“You say that,” I said, ” but you’re still frightened. If you’ve seen every life I have.”

“Every life but this one. You’re valiant, James. And I can protect you until you can protect us all.”

“I need you to want me to trust you.” I said 

The growling toad began its horrible groan. We were an hour into our journey. Suddenly We both felt more alone.

A wooded hum filled my ears like this percussion of branches on branches and on hollow trunks and the hum hit harmonics like hues of tones of colors symbiotic to the feelings I felt.

Do you love me?

I meant to ask

Myself

Growling toad gravelly devoured the silence, but she walked on. I, three to five steps behind, into the mouth of a cave.
Growling toad subsided. The storm clouds rose up. There was no going back. Trapped inside by maddened winds like carnivores.

My bones sang.

When she paused 

The hum remained, refrained. The light restrained. 

The weight of my eyelids was too much.

*

I opened my eyes.

Fucking Peter was still talking. Windy watched peripherally. 

  

On the boat

“Did you intend to kill him?” He asked Windy, who sat on the rail of the ship’s aft, weave a braided rope out of an abundance of nylon twine.

“I wind up killing most people I meet.”

“Why?” He asked

“Why? Have you even been lucid this whole time? There are no good people in the world anymore. None of us are. There’s blood on all of us. So yeah, I was gonna keep him, and if I had to kill him–”

“To eat him?”

her eyes darted at him and she was on her feet defiantly standing.

“I’m not a cannibal.” She said.

“I–”

“Interview’s over. Get the fuck away from me.”

He stood isolated by his desire to connect with her, crashing against her contempt.

“…Before I cut you.” She said.

Peter stormed down into the cabin.

“I don’t know what he did for you, but that kid’s gonna get you killed.” She said.

“He’s fine. Just shaken up.”

“When we dock, you and the toddler are finding a new boat.”

“You know how to sail this boat?” I said

“I wouldn’t steal a boat I couldn’t sail.”

“So you just played along?”

“It seemed more important to you. Besides. This is your mess.”

“Yours too, now.” I replied

“No.” She said. “No, it’s not.”

She watched me off and on, inconspicuously. Her short and wreckless mahogany hair framed her dower Japanese features. Her dark eyes on me, summarizing my value, memorizing my face.

Beneath the surface of the water, something big swam beside us and did for some twenty minutes.

Peter returned to the deck, and pointed out something curious in the horizon behind them.

I saw the carrier dead ahead. The chase was in full swing. 

The pursuing scabs gained on us, but not fast enough, as one of the last of AI’s lucid beasts, a sea dragon, allied with me and here we are.

Some scabs boarded. They’re all dead. The beast is cloaked and could be anywhere on the ship. It could want anything at all. These beasts have as much in the way of intuitive reasoning as any one of us, sometimes clear, sometimes clouded.

Though we’ve made it this far, we entered into dark waters, and a fleet like this could mean community, and it might be a compound. 

The ship gently swayed to starboard and a small splash into our raucous  wake hushed like running water.

Something pounded the hull of the ship which could have just been a hard wave, until the eruption of a Mod halfway down the throat of the massive synthetic eel.

They shot up from the water beside us, struggling in mid-battle. The human was a Body Mod. From the looks of him, he’d been surgically modified with an early grade exoskeleton with four mech arms that grappled and clawed and beat at the beast in mid flight, exercising futility.

It made two more leaps and as it descended, it whipped the surface of the water with the Mod’s torso, shattering his bones, before allowing him to slip out of its ‘mouth’, to vanish on the ocean floor.

My hope faltered just a little bit.

We were in the worst kind of unsafe. Mod’s have a pretty accurate reputations for being thoroughly insane. 

“We need to go faster, Windy. Any thoughts?” I asked her.

“Was that a mod?” She also asked.

“A big one.”

“How long do you think? Until the next?”

“Not long enough.”

And I was right. The next one was already on the ship.