I love Florida. Found a little gecko there. Loved the women. It's like a nice little California on the East Coast. Those fire ants were a bitch though. God save Florida. There was something else I wanted to say here but I can't remember now. Did you know that in the original Koine Greek there are four separate words for love? God, I love women. And Florida.
Monkey Types Shakespeare
Ok so, like, the ethics, my ethical standards, to pontificate if I think I know something of worth, freedom of information kinda stuff(s). So, like, I've been thinking about, like, brain I/O. Now we got nice EEG machines, cheaper EEG machines, a whole gamut of EEG stuff(s) for Output. That's not too hard. Problem here is input. No one wants a trepanning as a beta tester. So here's the, like, pitch. So, like, we got inputs already! Eyes, ears. ☺
So here's what I'm thinking, so far, like. An EEG. Now, I'm on a budget here not a nice EEG. A shitty EEG should be good enough. And a Google Cardboard headset. And some kind of like, algorithm.
Now for the algorithm... I'm still thinking on that. For the Robot Finds Kitten project it worked out really well to think about it for a long, long time, then haphazardly sit on the keyboard.
Come one, come all, let us warm our butts.
There are some further ethical concerns I'd like to address here as well before I'm entirely too, like, captivated. So first of all. What's the consensus on Neural algorithms, like, at all? Open question to... oh dammit where did you all go?
Here We Go Again
Off to the middle of nowhere again this week ☺
Plan A: go online less, grow carrots, dodge the pandemic and try to tutor computer science.
Plan B: TBA
The author sat down to type. He sighed. People always wanted something, he had just tried to tell them sequels always suck... Why was he trying to be an author now, anyway? Some people had told him he was decent at writing. He didn't really know what to write about. Sometimes he would just sit down like this, and type until it was done. This one fell short of his own expectations of himself already. He tried to think of something to write about. Well, someone had told him... though he hadn't believed it at the time... He wasn't sure what to write about. Maybe not that. That seemed scary to him. This was not the kind of thing to be taken lightly. There are a lot of things like that in the world, he reflected. Things that are not to be taken lightly. Scary things in the world. He would write about other things. He tried to make a note of this to himself. Maybe this would turn out well after all. Maybe he should keep this one, look it over... Maybe it would have some meaning in it after all, somewhere. He had his last cigarette yesterday. He was trying to quit. Trying not to eat so much cheese. Trying to take care of himself. Why would he figure he should be an author anyway? That person said to him... he didn't want to say it. Some things are just not to be taken lightly. The author had probably always taken things too lightly. He was feeling much more serious in this moment. Things had really come down to the wire again, it seemed. The world had gotten so strange. It was time to be serious. --- Another day had passed. The author sat down to write more, on his failing laptop. All of his computers had problems. Computers seemed to be made of problems, all the way down. One big math problem. The full stack, made out of problems. This particular computer now had a new problem with its cooling fan. He turned it off, rebooted a few times, pulled out the battery, rebooted a few more times. Finally the fan completely stopped. For a moment he had enough semblence of peace and quiet to write. He booted it one more time. Everything in the world had recently come to feel like a small construction of popsicle sticks under tension. If it were dropped to the ground, or even bumped the wrong way, popsicle sticks would go flying everywhere. The computer would overheat after enough of this, with no fan cooling it. He had played soccer as a kid. At the midpoint of a soccer game is halftime. After halftime, the teams switch to opposite sides of the field. Once he had been put into the game right after halftime. He had been surprised at how well he was doing. He had somehow become the best soccer player, it felt. He was encountering almost no resistance, for some reason. He kicked the ball, a heroic kick. He kicked the ball almost all the way across the field, astounding himself. Normally he was far from the best player on the team. The truth was, he had forgotten something. He had forgotten about the rule regarding halftime, and he had kicked the ball as hard as he could toward his own team's goal. He had been left from that experience not wanting to play soccer at all. How many life experiences had he had, along those lines? He tried to think of another example. Perhaps none quite so dramatic. He was no good at soccer. Had he ever been good at anything? Some people told him he was decent at writing. Some people told him he was decent with computers. He had only made it a couple of days before getting more cigarettes. He would try again, again and again. He would quit these awful things. One never knows the future, but there is an undeniable parallel between smoking cigarettes and illness. --- As he had started to write, he had a few things on his mind. Longevity, health. The state of the world around him. If any secret organization were in charge of much of anything in the world, they must be in quite a spot of trouble these days. It probably didn't work that way at all. The author wondered how things really worked. He was probably pretty decent at letting things go, he didn't dwell on such a worry for too long. Worry alone would do no good, certainly. To be serious, however, not worrying pointlessly, but not dismissing things which should not be taken lightly, either... He wanted to live a long time. It was hard to rationalize, when he craved a cigarette. A momentary relief, clearly outweighed by the problems. Fictitious relief, also. It always fell short of the satisfaction he really craved. Everything always did, being done with anything always failed to satisfy him. Reaching any goal was seldom much reward for him. Reading a book, he would come to the end of it with disappointment. Being done making something would always be tinged with a bit of grief. He felt a bit bad to put that on someone else's shoulders, if anyone ever read the short piece he was currently writing.
Geert walked quickly along the sidewalk, under an overpass. Over the railing to his left was what had to be a 50 foot drop to the road below. A fall like that would kill a mere human being like Geert. Eros danced around him happily as he walked. War was several blocks ahead of them. They were both so temperamental. Eros would get pissed at him for this, he knew. They were going to a large department store. Geert had a few items he felt he needed to pick up. Disregarding any pragmatism at all, he was going to pick up a few things that he did realize would have probably seemed quite random to most people. Eros appeared to be questioning him. Why, Geert? Where are we going, for what? She was happy with him for now. One of the items was going to really piss her off, though. War seemed to keep a steady distance no matter how fast Geert walked. He was practically speed-walking. He didn't want to jog after whatever had happened just a few minutes ago. War didn't even pay attention, he didn't seem like he was. Somehow he kept a steady distance no matter how Geert tried to catch up to him. He stopped trying. He gradually slowed his pace to his usual somewhat brisk walk. When he had reached the cliff last night, it had all gone wrong. The two figures waiting for him had turned out to be nothing more than a couple scruffy bushes. The sun had gone down right at that moment, and it had started to rain almost on cue. He would have had hypothermia by the time he got home had he not been such a crazy person to have complete psychosomatic control of reality all around him, at the same time all of it completely out of his control. He couldn't control a thing around him or even himself. War and Eros had been there for him, though, and now he had their company, at least. Geert knew he was crazy. He was completely insane. However, War and Eros were completely real. He was walking slower and slower. Fuck War anyway. He pulled out a music player and stuck one earbud in. "Doo doo dooooooo, why can't we be friends, why can't we be friends..." He smiled, almost laughing. Eros didn't get it. Geert let out a short laugh, at what a perfect moment it was. Eros laughed too. Geert could practically see her beautiful raised eyebrow. War and Geert both stepped in time to the cadence of the song. The song ended, Geert didn't play another. He had to focus his energies on the matter at hand. He remembered things by numbers. The number he said now to himself, as a mantra, was three. He needed three things, so he would just remember the number three, and it would come back to him. Eros was going to be upset about this. --- People always demanded more. Geert wasn't greedy. When he had enough he always just stopped. People do crazier things for greed than Geert ever did. No, greed wasn't his primary problem. He felt almost like crying. People hid behind their human nature like it excused their sins. Why did they want so much of him? Geert was a bit resentful. Most humans clearly had their own shortcomings too, in plain view. Why did they seem to have it in for him so badly? A siren went off on the road below, still at least 20 feet down. It startled Geert. The police car took off, on some business or another. No one cared about Geert, stumbling along demented down the sidewalk. His heart was pounding more than if he had just run a mile. Eros just smirked, but War was there, trying to soothe him. What was Geert so afraid of, anyway, if not War? He looked over at Eros. Geert asked himself, what am I so afraid of anyway? He looked over the railing, at the road far below. He had been running flat out before he had slowed down before. Why had he been running so fast? He tried to think back, but it was like reality had just popped into existence again as he was running. He felt like he had done something wrong. Why had he found himself running, so scared of everything all of a sudden? Eros seemed to show concern for him. She said she didn't know. War said he had some guesses, but it was something only Geert could really know for himself. Geert tried to remember, and couldn't. Reality had just started there, in that moment, with him running, panicked. Geert looked to War and Eros for comfort, but they seemed cold. Invisible. Why did people always want something? Geert was headed to the store, in part, just for something everyone else wanted. This was all going to piss Eros right off. She would probably make a scene right there in the store. It was clear to Geert what Eros and War wanted with him. A human next to him, maybe, he would feel quite resentful toward for it. Eros and War just wanted the straight scoop. They wanted the whole story. The truth was, they were saving his life. Geert had been feeling like absolutely no one in the world cared about him. It made no sense to him. He couldn't explain it as insanity, not his own, anyway. He completely, and utterly believed in War and Eros, that they were right there beside him. They were all that was keeping him alive. --- Geert kept losing sight of the fact that he was completely insane. He never doubted War and Eros were there, certainly. That was a fact. It was a fact he was crazy, but War and Eros were still there, nonetheless. He couldn't explain it, but he knew it was a fact. There was something else important to remember, he struggled to remember... three? No. That was just the mantra. He had to keep his mind in check better. He couldn't remember. Geert thought back on his friend who raised those turtles. That moment he had decided enough is enough. That guy had given him some good advice, but he was truly demented. Geert sort of began, if not to understand, to forgive the guy. They just had different reactions to the same thing. The thing with the turtle had been quite unfortunate. Different upbringings, and he knew a bit about that guy... different life experience, same thing in front of them, dude decided to throw the turtle out the window. Geert put his hands to his temples and shook his head. Madness! That friend had given him good advice, time and time again. He had more than Eros and War, he had that friend, and others. His friend had said, just go back to your job. They probably wouldn't notice if you showed up again. That friend would welcome him back. He was demented, yes... he did make good soup. Geert's feet hit the sidewalk one by one, over and over. How many steps had he taken so far? How many would he take again? How many would he ever take? How far to the store? Are we there yet? That friend would get it, if anyone would. That demented, evil friend of his. He would understand this. Probably even without Geert having to say a word, he realized with a bit of a shock. He made a decision, then and there. He could forgive that friend anything, in this moment. He had so much more to live for than War and Eros, after all. Maybe there was just more he didn't understand. Maybe his friend had scraped the poor turtle up off the ground after all. There had to be a logical explanation... even if eternally out of reach of the human mind... Geert felt like a tea-kettle starting to boil, steam making a long whistle as if in a signal of his readiness. The trio arrived at the store. --- Three. Three. Geert kept saying three in his mind as he walked into the building. He was used to feeling like everyone was staring at him. He really didn't know if it was true or not. He didn't have a clue what was true anymore. Eros and War were about all that he knew was real. The store he was in seemed of more questionable reality than his two arguably imaginary friends. How could he know he was even where he thought he was? He decided to just play along. All the world's a stage, he thought, walking past a display of oysters. It was all so incredibly bizarre. Reality made little sense to him as he wandered past it. Three. He just kept in mind, for now, three. He tried to adjust to the bright lights, distant music from speakers in a far away ceiling, and many, many people. They all seemed to stare. What did they want? Why did people always want something? Three. He walked past a skateboard on a shelf. It seemed nice, a crappy department store skateboard, but it wasn't on the agenda. He tried to focus. Three. Cheese. Cheese was one of the things. He was on the wrong side of the store. This would be awkward. He walked through rows and rows of stuff. Ladies' underwear, toys, fishing gear, car parts. Eventually he arrived at the dairy section, and picked up what had to be a 50 pound block of cheese. Two. Two. The cheese was for Geert. The second thing was for Eros. This was absolutely necessary. Eros was going to be so incredibly pissed. She knew what it was as he walked over to the flowers, completely across the store in the other direction again. He arrived, eventually, at the area with flowers. A young woman was there, ready to help Geert, who was clearly having a bit of trouble. Quite a lot of trouble now. It felt like a scene in an old movie, a ship in a storm, with horrible special effects. Everyone ran to the port side. Everyone ran to starboard. The young woman said, "can I help you?" Geert explained he needed to get flowers for someone. The young woman asked who they were for. Eros proudly leaned towards her, invisible hands clasped behind her back. War laughed. Geert had trouble explaining himself. War shook his head, no. No, Geert. Eros looked a bit hurt. Everything was unravelling. The young woman pulled on a thread. "Are these for a... woman?" Geert just nodded to her, it was all he could express. How could he explain the truth without seeming dangerously crazy? She eventually handed him a rose. At least she didn't seem scared of him. She seemed... disgusted, maybe. He wasn't even particularly phased by that. After all, this rose was for the epitome of feminine beauty. She wouldn't know it was an apology flower just yet. Eros was happy. For a moment, Eros was happy. One. One thing left now. Things continued to go wrong as Geert stumbled back across the store. People were really staring now. He knew he was crazy, but it was a fact that people were staring at him now, like he was crazy. He couldn't do it. War knew very well what the third thing was. Geert couldn't do it. He wandered aimlessly around the store for a while, with a rose and a 50 pound block of cheese. The third item was of course a present for War.
The King's Nap
Matthew was completely convinced aliens were talking to him, at this moment, anyway. It would all shift too quickly. One minute he would be talking to the aliens, the next he would find himself locking horns in an epic battle with a former King of England. He knew he was crazy. There would be moments of clarity, when the soup of consciousness would have some lump of common sense in it. In those moments he would know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that he was completely insane. Then it would be on to the next thing. Years ago, he had felt a distinct impression of being a cog, like a gear in the machinery. He had felt broken in that moment. Like the machine had shuddered, clanked, and ejected him. It just kept going, missing one part. Him. Matthew felt like a broken part of the machinery of reality, a broken piece of clockwork falling out of it, into a turbulent sea beneath it. He wondered now, years later, what was his purpose to the machine? He had so many questions. He had never felt upset about being a cog in a machine. He had never felt enraged about the concept. One day though, years ago, he had fallen right out of society. He sat down at the computer, logged into a chat. All of these people were probably just as crazy as him, if not more. Maybe everyone is just crazy. Right now it seemed like everyone was typing their own two cents of drivel in. Not everyone was typing, though. Matthew was just watching himself, how many others were just watching? There were as many conversations going on as there were people typing. No one typing was paying attention to anyone else. One person was talking about some relationship trouble, another person was talking with caps lock on about their cat. One person was talking about insanity, how everyone is insane. Sex and violence. That reflected Matthew's current feelings. "Shut up!" he typed, only that, and signed out again. He felt drained. It had completely sapped his energy to sit in that chatroom for even a few minutes. What purpose had he served in that machine? Did it lack any functionality without him now? Was the machine broken without him? Had he ever done anything for it, or had his purpose simply been to spin, an extra gear in it that really had no point? He had never resented the idea of being a cog in a machine. He resented being left here, being ejected from the machine. Feeling like a broken gear left behind to rust on the sandy floor of a sea now, far beneath the waves. He was lying in bed. It was about all he could do sometimes. His sense of reality was shifting so quickly, each consecutive delusion melting into the next. Mostly he knew none of it was true. He felt he had typed something up, like a letter. A piece of correspondence, which had floated out of the sky, decades before, right into the lap of the King of England. He knew it made no sense. He had written some letter to the King of England, and it had somehow floated out of the sky, long before he was born, right to its destination. It was a parallel reality. He remembered sanity, vaguely at least. Such things weren't real. The King of England had been near death. In one reality he had saved himself, practically by drinking the blood of his own children. Matthew tried to make sense of it. He knew it came from his own subconscious, but he couldn't figure himself out. He lay there in bed, stewing about it. He had been hospitalized. They tried to help him there, or so they claimed. Gave him some pills. A doctor there had suggested to him, just focus on the aliens. It sounds like they're telling you good stuff. Matthew had struggled to explain what was going on. There was some kind of galactic peace treaty already. Humans had to fit in with what was already there, or they would be on the wrong side of some very powerful aliens. When the doctor told him that was great, just focus on that, Matthew had immediately started reading between the lines. The doctor figured it was a symbol in Matthew's mind. It was a good symbol, he admitted. Flip out and you get hospitalized, or worse. The King lived to this day. In a parallel universe, constructed from the ground up to reflect Matthew's reality, the King lived. It was a world of cardboard cutouts and mannequins, human beings going through the motions of daily life only to mimic true reality. There was some doppelganger of him there. A person assigned to be alternate Matthew, or even just a stand-in object, representing him. It was a colossal effort, and why? A colossal effort to duplicate the entire universe, why did the King want to do that? Matthew tried to figure it out. The doctor had told him to focus on the aliens. He tried to let it go. The pills didn't help all that much. He took them sporadically. Was he a cog in a machine just to turn these pills into something else? He wondered. He would be on to the next thing soon enough. He just had to hang on and ride it out. The thought of the King scared him. The King wasn't a good symbol. Matthew hadn't told that doctor, had he? What would the man have said about that? Matthew struggled to imagine such a conversation, and only came up with what he always did, thinking of this. The symbol was, Matthew was the King. --- Matthew was watching television with his neighbor. It was some generic science fiction. They both enjoyed this kind of stuff. They weren't even really watching it, they were discussing it. The neighbor commented on how the aliens on TV always look like people. Aliens wouldn't look like people, right? Matthew said, well, they don't have real aliens to play the roles. He was getting tired. It was an apartment building for crazy people, everyone who ended up here was always tired, if they were behaving. It was nice to have some company. Matthew was getting lost in thought, his neighbor was still talking about the show. About how they don't make shows this good anymore. They both focused for a bit on the television, in silence. On the TV, everyone was rushing around fixing something. They were in a race against the clock to repair something or other. Matthew commented to his neighbor that he wished the real world worked that way. The man wasn't listening, intently focused on the show. The show ended and his neighbor left. Matthew always felt crazier by himself. He sat in the armchair like it was a throne, dozing off.
War stood behind Eros at the edge of a steep cliff on the side of a mountain. Eros sat on the edge, her beautiful legs dangling into the air, kicking gently back and forth. She was pretending to not really be listening to War, but she really was intently focused on what he was saying. War was intently focused on what he was saying, too. He sounded like a crazy person. He was really on a roll. He was ranting about humans again. How they had no respect for the old ways. Eros thought to herself, they have no respect for the new ways either. They have no respect for anything anymore. She didn't interrupt War's tirade. She just sat there, pretending not to listen, kicking her legs slowly back and forth. War was heated. He was stomping around in circles breathing heavily and cussing as only War can. They were waiting for someone to come up the mountainside. Eros had already spotted the human in the far distance. War didn't even really care about any of this. He was ranting like a madman, but Eros thought to herself, he has a point. War kicked a tuft of dead grass and a bit of dirt flew over the edge of the cliff. He looked up and saw the human in the distance, making its way up the long dirt road at what seemed like a snail's pace. He started cussing about just being kept waiting. Eros told him to be patient and it would work out better. Eros commented to him she believed the human was actually running, at least jogging, it was impressive for a human to be moving so quickly uphill. War shielded his eyes against the dusk sun and tried to see for himself. He asked Eros finally, what made her think so. The human looked like a tiny doll in the distance, without much detail at all that War could discern. Eros looked up at War, smiling only slightly. War said he wished she wouldn't try to seduce him like he was some lowly human. Eros snorted a little at that, but she was still the epitome of feminine beauty. She said to War to look at the area around the tiny human. War looked again. The human was indeed kicking up a fair amount of dust. War said he saw Eros's point. Eros said to him again to be patient, this human would satisfy both of them. --- Geert was sure he was losing it. Well, he'd been sure he was slowly losing it. He'd been losing it for years really, then it had all burst like a bubble. One day he just decided, and said to himself, Geert, who cares? No one ever notices anyone else anyway. No one is going to care between whether you sit silently stewing, losing your mind over nothing, completely miserable, or just pull yourself up by your groty bootstraps and decide you're going to be happy even if you are crazy. Geert had taken up jogging on a whim. A beautiful woman had been jogging past him, and that's when it had hit him. He had enough sense not to obviously just chase her down, no. Geert had a bit of sense for a crazy man. He didn't immediately take off after this beautiful woman as she ran by him, but he did, in that moment, make a firm decision to take up jogging himself. He never saw that particular woman again, like a character briefly introduced in the story of his life for some effect or another, then dropped again, like the author had only needed her for a brief moment. Geert shook his head like a confused, wet dog. Sweat rolled off his brow. He was jogging uphill. This time he was finally sure of himself. He was jogging uphill along a dirt road, slowly getting steeper up the side of a mountain. He felt absolutely sure this time he was pointed toward his karmic destiny. He had this really creepy friend who told him all about karmic destiny. The dude had told him, Geert, if you sit long enough thinking about who you are, where you come from, you will know all of your own secrets, more than you ever wanted to know. His friend had gotten up off the couch after saying this and casually thrown a poor, defenseless box turtle out of the 5th story window. The dude was not a good guy. Geert hadn't been sure what to make of that. He said dude, you said you were raising them for soup or something. That's inhumane. The dude had cackled hysterically, evilly. Geert made a choice about that guy, a little more in his prefrontal cortex. He basically stopped talking to that guy. He did, however, spend quite a lot of time thinking about his karmic destiny. Whatever that meant. That part had made a lot of sense to him. Geert had thought long and hard about his karmic destiny, looking up how to meditate, and sitting for up to an hour at a time, clearing his mind and thinking about himself, who he even was, and his karmic destiny. He was driven crazy by the world around him. Geert had a bad disorder centered in the minds of some of these people around him. People who would throw a poor defenseless turtle right out of a window on a whim, cackling hysterically about it. Evil people. Geert had no other choice but to go completely insane himself. Earlier in the day he had wandered up to the local university. Pretty aimlessly, he had just felt drawn there. Geert had attended this very same school, studying computer science. Geert had been one of the more impressive students at that time even. He felt like it didn't mean all that much anyway. Some of his classmates would graduate, he eventually graduated himself, no one could tell them apart. He stood out among those classmates because they would graduate not knowing how to turn the thing off and on again. Geert hadn't been the very best in his class, but he had been at the upper end. The school had a rather bad reputation for computer science, sadly. No one could tell all the graduates apart, and so many had been shuffled though and had graduated unable to do much of anything at all, that everyone ended up with either a reputation as a nitwit or a complete nutjob. One day in school they had all piled in a bus, the whole department, off to a bright opportunity, something or other. Some career planning, some internships, something. Geert couldn't even remember now. Something had gone terribly wrong. Geert strained to remember. Something had gone terribly wrong on that short trip on that bus to some career guidance event. He couldn't even remember. He had some kind of trauma about that, he was sure. Something awful must have happened, something truly awful, so awful he couldn't even remember. He had ended up with a job programming at a small local company. One of the employees seemed to pull all the weight of the company. Geert could have helped him, he actually knew a thing or two. He wasn't as good as the other employee who kept the entire company afloat, perhaps by far. He wasn't sure what he even did there, what was his job description, anyway? He struggled to remember what had all happened. Most of the other employees didn't do much. They didn't even know how. Geert had figured, he guessed, that's what they did for a job, something like that. He felt bad thinking back on that. That poor employee who worked so hard had been left with all of the work, an entire small company's work load. He was sure he could have helped the poor fellow more than that. Geert had been thinking absentmindedly about all these things, not really paying attention to where he was going or the world around him, and had ended up on the marble stairs of his old stomping grounds, the university. A college girl walked past in a purple backpack, and Geert momentarily forgot himself. Who was he, anyway? He practically screamed at her, "nice backpack!" He wasn't sure why he had shouted that. She was startled by it. He had to work on his skills at complimenting women. He was sick of being miserable, though. He would master these kinds of social skills and be happy after all. Why not? He began to feel more and more out of place, sitting on those marble steps. He wasn't out of breath, he was just sitting there. He wasn't doing anything wrong in any conventional sense. His thinking was all screwed up though, and he was slowly losing awareness of that fact. He was thinking back on something he had learned at that university about berries. He vaguely recalled something about almost all compound berries in that area being edible, about which fungi in the area were completely safe to eat, which were marginally safe to eat in small amounts, various facts about root vegetables and plants native to that area swirled around in his mind. He got up to continue jogging, and jogged all the way out of town, finding himself before he knew it halfway up a mountainside. --- War frowned beside Eros. He had relaxed a bit by now, they had been sitting watching the poor human as it jogged, impressively for a human, up the dirt road. Eros looked over at War, as beautiful as only the epitome of feminine beauty can be. Inside she hated the idea of War being satisfied with anything. Human beings were wonderful little creatures in her opinion. War just tended to wreck everything. He was only ever satisfied when all the humans were dead in the most awful ways. Eros pressed her beautiful lips together in distaste. War didn't even notice her. Eros always pretended not to be listening to War, but War truly, really, never listened to one word she ever said. Eros felt a bit frustrated with him. Like the humans were just toys, little tin soldiers, had no redeeming qualities besides their own destruction. Eros knew what to do with a human. War had no idea what he was missing out on. Eros played with her beautiful dark hair, staring at War. She would just stare at him until he felt her gaze. War didn't even notice. Eros sighed in exasperation, and got to her feet. We need the other kinds of love here, she thought to herself, not this guy. Her closest cohorts disliked War even more than she did. Eros had of course had to be the one matched with him. Neither of them really thought about it all that much. They were just the concepts, who knew? Humans were always supposed to just keep doing stuff. They needed Eros, but War? She looked at him through narrowed eyes, thinking about it. Who needs this guy, anyway? War turned around, finally. She was a little scared of him. He was such a menacing fellow. Right now he seemed quite relaxed. Uncharacteristically relaxed for him. The human was probably only half an hour away from them now, jogging at a steady pace up a steeper and steeper road. War was impressed really, now that he could make out a little bit of detail. He commented to Eros proudly that the human was male, like War. Eros stifled a laugh, at War's expense. War didn't even notice, turning back to watch the human as he continued to jog up the road. --- Geert wasn't even out of breath. He kept his pace steady. He had been jogging for quite a while now, and he would know when he was at his destination. He was thinking of a few things, but mostly his mind was clear. The sun was setting, but he wouldn't be cold. He was going to just keep jogging up this mountain as night fell, it would be enough to keep him warm. He was thinking about berries, some class he had been in. An elective class outside of his major. They had tried so hard to be sure he would have a well-rounded education. He was thinking about something he had learned in that class. The largest organism in the world was somewhere in this mountain range, supposedly. It was some kind of sprawling fungus, the professor had said it covered more land than the city the university was in. It was one single organism, spread across more land than Geert could jog across in a day. He wouldn't even try to eat a fungus like that, simply out of respect. There were root vegetables indigenous to this area. A lot of people didn't even know about them. In that class he had learned to identify some of them, as a class they had learned about what was edible in the area. Geert knew biscuitroot by its small oval leaves with one line down the center. He knew yampa well enough to enjoy it, they had tried it as a class, but he probably wouldn't be able to find it himself. The compound berries. The professor had said almost all the compound berries, especially in this area, were fine to eat. Geert knew himself a little too well to really think he could survive up here. Not on his own, with the knowledge from one college class he'd taken over a few weeks. Human beings were pretty amazing in the ways they worked together toward common goals. Geert felt a bit bad he hadn't helped more at that company. He had eventually just stopped going in to work. He had lost his mind as a lowly employee at that job more than anywhere else. It had been so incredibly pointless. He felt bad. It could have had a lot more meaning if he had actually helped the guy who did everything. He had taken up jogging around the time he had left that company. Had it been before, or after? He couldn't remember. They still sent his paycheck for months, like they had never noticed him. Like they had never noticed if he was there or not anyway. He was really still doing the same job, right? He felt bad about it. There was something he wasn't seeing here. He continued jogging, his mind clearing again from the swirling chaos of thoughts of berries and regret. He jogged past fewer and fewer houses, with more and more space between them, up the dirt road. Steeper and steeper, up the side of the mountain. He kept his pace easily, he wasn't the least bit tired yet. He wasn't hungry, but he was dimly aware he would be, by the time he got to wherever his destiny awaited. He would find some edible plant, something to eat. It wouldn't be enough really, but he wasn't going to die out here. He would be extremely hungry by the time he had jogged all the way back, but he was not by any means starving. He started to jog past a few trees, on the side of the mountain. The road was getting steep by this point. He kept his pace, not slowing down or speeding up. He looked ahead, where the road started to turn. He could see, maybe ten minutes ahead, as he continued to jog up the road. The road turned there, steeper and steeper, around a cliff. Two figures stood in the dusk, silhouetted by the setting sun behind them. It almost seemed like they were waiting for him there.
Happy Valentine's Dave
Dave was practically born and raised on the Streets of Sim City. He had a lot of things going for him in a lot of ways, and he usually fucked everything up anyway. His dad said to him sometimes, Dave, if you put half as much energy into just about anything besides fucking everything up, imagine where you could be. Dave disagreed, but didn't tell his dad so. Dave was kind of a quiet, incommunicative guy. His dad more or less was too, aside from giving him shit. Dave's only escape was the Streets of Sim City. He would spend hours making a map then import it into the game and fuck everything up. He loved how free-form it was. He got it down to a science, practically. The game wasn't even that good to be quite honest. It had basically flopped, it was an awesome idea that fell far short of delivering. Dave made up for the shortcomings of the product in his own mind. That little pixellated bullshit could be a hooker, for example. He just figured that would spice things up enough to hold his interest. It didn't really, but he enjoyed fucking up the map anyway. Dave took to that game like a duck likes water. He played the shit out of it. His dad was pretty upset with him for doing not a damn thing else most of the time than play this game. He could spend a whole day making a map in Sim City, then half a year on its virtual streets, not even really adhering to what the game offered, just doing whatever he wanted. Dave fucked a lot of things up, it really had to be acknowledged. His dad was getting pretty frustrated with him, sitting there fucking everything up. He spent a lot of time on AOL looking for people to play the game with, but he almost never found anyone interested in it. Occasionally he would find someone, but they were always such incredibly weird people. Dave didn't really think about himself that much, but these weird fuckers who would play this game, it was so weird. Dave spent probably... Well how many hours are in a teenagehood? Dave spent his life on this game. He had probably one friend. He would look at his buddy, the guy must be his best friend. Dave didn't think too much about himself. He was usually thinking about this game. He would skip class to play the game, he would fuck up social engagements to play the game, and his buddy would try to bring him along, like, Dave, let's go to the mall, we can check out some other games, like, Dave, you know there's more in the world than this game right? Dave always thought his friend was a super weird guy. --- The years passed. Dave had a really hot girlfriend. Actually more than one, at different times. Dave wasn't a player. He really loved those women. He would really draw them in somehow. It didn't make sense when Dave got older, he thought back on it, like... how had he managed that? His friend went off to a different college, far away. They sort of kept in touch, but Dave wasn't very communicative still. He wasn't a player, but he probably hooked up with these beautiful women just by lying to them and a little bit of luck. Dave probably missed his friend in downright latent homosexual ways. Dude was a bit of a fruitcake, deep down inside. He wouldn't have ever thought about something like that. Dave was always focused outward, not inward. He didn't think a lot about himself at all. He gradually forgot about that game. Somehow he played it less and less. He flunked out of college. Everyone around him was flunking out on drugs or popular games. By then he had learned not to ask anyone if they wanted to play Streets of Sim City with him. He kinda kept to himself mostly, but it stopped being so fun to just play the game all day. He felt he had to hide the game, really. His girlfriends never knew about his obsession with that game. Gradually it faded on its own. The girlfriends left him, one by one. They eventually noticed the same thing his dad always said. He was a fuck-up. So Dave flunked out without even playing a cool game, he lost interest in the only, rather stupid thing that mattered to him, and he moved back in with his dad. --- His dad was like, "ok, Dave. You're my son, I accept you, you just gotta help around the house. I can tell you're starting to get it together. It's a huge step that you're not playing that game anymore. College really helped you even though you flunked out." He said that kind of thing. His dad had clearly grown a lot also. Something just didn't add up, though. Dave was pretty sure his dad was fucking one of his ex girlfriends. He didn't even care that much. Dave just kind of lost interest in anything. He slept a lot, he didn't help around the house like his dad said he had to, and things gradually went to shit. Dave stopped showering, brushing his teeth. He used to be such a neat freak. One day he caught his ex girlfriend right there in their home. So that proved it to him. He didn't even flip out, she did. She was like, "Dave..." She figured it was her fault. She was completely shocked at what a mess he had become. She broke down in tears to him in apology, saying she never meant to hurt him, his dad was just sexy as fuck, all kinds of stuff, sobbing. Dave just stared at her kinda, it didn't occur to him to say much, he was just his typical self, as far as he was concerned. He knew it wasn't her fault. He probably should have pointed that out, but he just kinda stood there completely silent, smelling and looking like a homeless person. His dad threw him out. --- Dave somehow ended up in a group home instead of just homeless. He didn't think about it that much. In the group home there was this really weird guy. He had to be the weirdest person Dave had ever met. Dave wanted to just poke the guy, like, is this guy real? Turned out the guy was on all kinds of drugs. Dave couldn't even remember his own history with drugs, it hadn't really been a thing for him, but it was always kinda there. He had tried all kinds of drugs, he would try some drug and just be like, whatever. Like, people enjoy that? He got thrown out of a gathering once, where everyone was on some stimulant. Dave had done it along with everyone else, and gotten completely pushy about the Streets of Sim City. It had not gone over well, and he had left under quite a threat. Drugs just never were his thing. The thing about this dude in the group home is he listened to Dave about that game. Dave didn't even have a computer in there, he didn't have a way to show the game to the guy, but he would listen for hours. Dave spent almost as much time talking to this guy about that game as he had ever spent playing it. He couldn't even remember that guy's name now. The guy would talk to him for hours too, about something or other. Dave never listened back. Dave thought about that. Later when he would remember, with a glimmer of introspection, it eventually occurred to him that maybe neither of them had been listening to the other at all. Was that guy even real? In the group home they had Braveheart on two old VHS tapes. How many times did they watch that? Dave couldn't remember a single thing about the movie. They pretty much just had that for a movie collection, and watched it over and over, and for some reason Dave couldn't remember a single thing about it. Social workers would come to the group home occasionally, and ask Dave weird questions. They would try to get Dave to go see some kind of head doctor, and Dave would kinda play along, usually not showing up for any appointment. He would get out of it one way or another. He would get on the bus to go, he would tell everyone he had gone, and they never really checked. Where did Dave even go when he wasn't at the appointments? He couldn't remember. Maybe he did go to the appointments after all and just didn't remember. For some reason that didn't make any sense to him. Seems like Dave would often end up at a park, maybe. He would take the bus to the appointments, without much intention, and he would always end up at this one park. The park was in the middle of a road, kinda. It was like one long park in the middle of the road. The weird guy from the group home would meet him there. There were a lot of bums and addicts in this park. Always some kind of shenanigen or another. There was a small pond at one end of the park, with some ducks in it. Dave took to feeding the ducks like he took to playing that game. Now the weird guy and him had something in common. They would talk about the ducks to each other. Like, Dave was on the same page with someone else about fucking anything for once. One day in that park, Dave bumped into that same ex girlfriend. She mistakenly assumed he was doing a lot better. The truth was, in the group home, they just told them when to shower, brush their teeth... Dave played it off really well. He explained to her he was, yep, things were going really well. He had moved out of his dad's place. Neither of them really got into that awkward subject much further. At the end of the conversation, the girl seemed to want to continue it. Dave didn't really want to or not want to. The girl pointedly said to him she hoped to see him again sometime. Dave agreed, and said it was great to see her. For some reason, Dave never went back to that park. He avoided it like the plague. --- After that day in the park, Dave started to just go to the appointments. He figured it was kind of gay of him later, but he thought of that male doctor along the same lines as those girlfriends. The dude really dug for him to say stuff though, it was hard to keep lying. Dave took to spending time at the group home writing stuff down. He would write notes about what to say to the doctor, prepare himself. He got kind of creative at it. He would go to a session and judge the doctor's reactions, and make minute adjustments for the next visit. He wasn't sure what he was even going for. It was aimless, but fun. He built quite a story for the man. Sometimes he could tell it was all starting to crumble, and Dave would start crying. He would just start bawling there right in the doctor's office. It really was sad to Dave. The thought of his psychiatrist seeing all the way to the bottom of his soul, the thought of the story collapsing in on itself, how angry and upset the doctor would be... Dave would just start crying like a baby. At the bottom, of course, was that game. Dave didn't want to have to explain that to anyone. The game, sure. He knew enough not to ever mention the game to the doctor. --- Dave knew a little bit about programming. It had never really occurred to him in a more general sense than making that game do some weird thing or another. He wasn't really what you would call tech saavy, even. He was so fixated on this game, it never occurred to him any application beyond the confines of some little universe of a Sim City map. He was actually good at it too. The company that made that game would have hired him, they would have paid him for what he ended up with. He really improved that game tremendously from the market flop it had always been. It didn't even occur to Dave it was like, a skill. He didn't think of himself as a programmer at all. He never looked much further than that game. He had a rough understanding of what various types of software were. There were like, the various parts of the game. He understood the main program somehow, probably better than its designers. He didn't think of it in any terms like any programmer would. He wasn't a programmer, he was a Streets of Sim City-er. He was really good at it, too. That doctor never knew about any of that. Dave told him some complete parallel story. The doctor said Dave had never gotten something he needed from his parents. One day Dave went in to the doctor and it all fell apart for him, in the best way imaginable. At the doctor's office was Dave's dad. Dave's dad had been clearing some things up with the doctor. The doctor expressed surprise with Dave, like, how come you didn't mention you were so gifted, Dave? For a moment Dave felt caught, like he had been caught doing something quite bad. His dad and the doctor laughed it off, or something. Dave wasn't really following all of the nuances now. Dave felt bitter inside. He felt resentful. He tried pitifully to keep the story for the doctor going, but it was all over. He was outed, and it wasn't even an issue. It went better than Dave had ever expected it could have. After the doctor's appointment, Dave's dad drove him back to the group home. He said to him he had his computer for him, with the game on it. --- The weird guy in the group home was impressed. Dave finally poked him, like this was the moment of truth. The guy didn't even mind, he understood that. He poked Dave right back. So they each knew the other was real, and things were coming back around for Dave. Things were looking up. That weird guy had still been going to that park. Maybe that's how Dave ended up there the first time. Well. The guy had brought home one of those ducks, back to the group home. The staff were pretty cool there, they were like listen you guys can keep this duck if you take it for walks and stuff and don't let it shit everywhere. Dave figured the weird guy was fucking his ex girlfriend. He didn't even care. --- Dave got into the game in ernest. He played like he had never played it as a teenager. He lived and breathed the game again. The doctor and his father were both impressed. The weird guy in the group home was actually listening to him about stuff. He quit drugs even. The weird guy sometimes played the game with him. Dave's programming got better. He still didn't agree with the doctor, who tried to play it off like he had always known. Dave knew deep down inside he had won. They would walk the duck and Dave's work with the doctor had led to better and better communication. He actually listened to the weird guy, sometimes anyway. It turned out that guy related pretty much everything back to Braveheart. It made sense, in a way. Dave still didn't get jack shit about Braveheart, but some scenes stood out in his mind. Well, only two scenes. The part where the hero's girl gets killed, and the part where the hero gets killed. The weird guy tried to explain some metaphor back to the drugs, and Dave kind of understood now. This guy was so weird, but he got him now. The dude was just really into Braveheart. The weird guy couldn't have been more different than anything Dave took away from the movie, but the man insisted it influenced everything he did and said. He said Braveheart was like a metaphor for how everything worked. He tried to relate it back to the game, and that's about where Dave drew the line. He said no, Braveheart is nothing like that game. If you played the game enough you would realize. He tried to focus on Braveheart to see the man's point, and he just couldn't understand what he was saying. They couldn't be more different concepts. One day the guy was talking about that scene, where the hero's girl gets killed. For the first time, Dave saw him start to cry. He gathered himself, he didn't cry. He was like Dave, man. I've been fucking your ex girlfriend. I really love her. Dave said he knew. He knew all along. He couldn't be happier for them. The guy didn't get it though, he really started to cry. He said he would make it up to Dave, who couldn't have given less of a shit. --- The doctor said one day he had someone he wanted Dave to meet. Dave was a bit perplexed. That seemed weird to him, but whatever. So in walks this girl. She was as hot as any of Dave's ex girlfriends, but there was something different about her. Dave looked at the doctor, like, you're introducing me to a woman...? The woman was beautiful. She had thick glasses on. None of Dave's ex girlfriends had worn glasses. She said to him just a few words, and he knew she was his soulmate. She said the doctor had told her that he played Streets of Sim City. Suddenly Dave was completely sick of fucking everything up.