Jason wants to run. Anywhere. Away. But where can you run on a featureless, horizonless plane?
“I – I’m sorry, I didn’t actually --” He stops, tries to grab some control. “I don’t know why I did that, it was really inappropriate, and – well, it was Li’lycia --”
He stops again. “Shit. Okay, counter-apologies. I can’t fob that off on Li’lycia. She’s me, only a weird part of my pathology (and, jeez, if I were at all interested in a psych degree I would so write my case up), so if she did this, I did this. So I apologize for the boundaries thing, because that’s really inappropriate (I already said that), but I guess I --”
Another pause. “I guess we need to talk. And it’s silly and conventional (and massively less terrifying) to talk in realtime, realspace, like normal people – when we’re not, and we can connect this way.” He shrugs, the motion causing whispers of his voices from a moment before. “Because this is who I am. And, yeah, I want. And --”
He draws a breath, not because his body needs oxygen here, but because his thoughts and feelings need that preface. “I – okay, I’m going to say it, I – l–”
“Romantic or libidinous connections outside the bounds of proper social and intellectual and orthodoxical propriety,” says Byron Quill, standing beside them, “or, frankly, per parameters that I have attempted to impose, whether or not they are clearly articulated, are to be discouraged or, if possible, quashed.” He looks at Jason. “Oh, Jason. I am so disappointed in you. This dalliance with an artificial intelligence is nearly as ridiculous as your persistent infatuation with --”
“Really?” Jason shouts. “Fucking r_eally?_ Even this, even here, even now, and this stupid-ass shit --” He progresses into an impressive display of vulgarity, much of it not in English. “-- from Dad haunts me, makes me question myself, makes me wonder if I’m doing, or not doing, something of my own choosing?” He looks at Summer. “Hold that thought.”
He reaches out to the image of his father, taking him by either shoulder, then pressing inward. The image collapses along the horizontal, ending in an rod of imagery with a compressed Byron Quill form. Jason puts his hand atop the rod, and forces it down, until there is a small sphere of Byronness. Jason looks around, searching perhaps for a trash receptacle. Failing to see one, he hefts the small sphere, and flings it as far away as he can.
He smiles crookedly at Summer, then closes his eyes. Nods. “This is a psychic connection I can’t lie in, or hide from, or deflect, or pretend isn’t happening. Which, I’m afraid, doesn’t bring clarity to my own goofed-up brain.”
He open his eyes, looks at her, clear-eyed, direct, utterly sincere. “I love you, Summer Skye. You are a warm, kind, wonderful person, and you make me feel better than anyone else in the world. Better than I deserve (and, yeah, I know those are fighting words). I love you. But --”
Jason makes a twisted smile. “-- there’s always that ‘but,’ right? I love Alycia Chin, too. In a weird, epic, I-gotta-love-her, I-haven’t-seen-her-since-I-was-a-kid kind of way. I don’t know what that means. I don’t know what that leads to. I don’t know what she feels. I don’t know how I’ll feel once this freakish memory zip-lock merger and acquisition thing happens. But I need to tell you this, too, because it is also the truth, and you deserve to hear it, and I don’t and never, ever, want to hurt you, and I know that’s not the basis of a healthy relationship either, but as you can see my brain isn’t altogether healthy, so you should take that under consideration, too.”
He takes a ragged breath, because one should after saying such things. “And I could never have told you any of that in real life, so I thank my extended consciousness for the chance to do so.”
(Li’lycia pops up behind him, only in Summer’s line of sight, doffs a hat she didn’t have a moment before, then vanishes.)
“And I don’t know if that’s moving forward, or spinning in circles, but that’s the truth. And it’s not particularly setting me free.” He stands there, a crooked expression on his face, the prisoner before the firing squad, defiantly terrified, with emotions that reverberate through the space about them.
author: *** Dave H.