I am at a loss for images in this end of days.
No images. No images. Not real ones. Nothing real in this empty space. Ey could see, but why? Why see eir flat? Why see Prisca? Why see anything?
So ey did not. Ey dreamt emself blind. More than blind. Eir dreaming mind ensured that there was no such thing as sight. That it had never existed. Did not exist for emself. Had never existed for anyone.
Ey was like the theater. Ey was vast, incomprehensible spaces. Ey was the lack of the concept of space. Ey was words. Ey was information. Ey was sound, and the only sound was eir voice.
“The only time I know my true name is when I dream.”
Except was that eir voice? Did ey hear? Did ey speak? Was it em making these noises? Was it em hearing them? Ey dreamed emself out of sight, could ey still dream emself speaking?
“Why ask questions, here at the end of all things?” Ey laughed. “Why ask questions when the answers will not help?”
Ey dreamed emself asleep, then. Asleep and dreaming. The world moved around em in soft colors and meaningless images. Words strung themselves together, tangled, frayed, came apart once more. Ey dreamed.
Who knew how long? Who knows? What means knowing in dreams?
When ey woke — when ey dreamed emself awake — AwDae answered eir own question: “To know one’s true name is to know god. To know god is to answer unasked questions.”
And as ey thought upon eir true name, eir mind wandered across what remained in eir exo. Wandered across the deck on Cicero. Wandered across those cards for centuries at a time, millennia, and did not ask.
And there it was.
The vote was not there, and yet the answer was. There was the shadow of intention, of the need for an entire vote to disappear from the collected direct democracy that was the DDR. There was the reason for those who had interacted with the vote, who had voted, who had spent the credits needed to comment on it in the political theater. Commented where others could read, where representatives from the territories would see.
What mattered the vote? What mattered the comments? What mattered the content, the cost? What mattered the golden fleece, or any MacGuffin? It could have been a flashlight with an amber filter in a suitcase just as easily as it could have been a declaration of war against the Sino-Russian Bloc. Chekhov’s vote.
It did not matter. All that mattered is that those who had seen it — had seen the vote, who had interacted with it, who had interacted with it at however many levels of remove — were personae non gratae from that point on. Easier for them to not be. Easier to admit the mystery of the lost into the collective consciousness than to let such come to light. What cared the world of billions for the hundreds of lost? What cared the powers that be for the resistance of however many dozens that were now lost?
Ey rambled beyond the deck, beyond eir flat, beyond Prisca. Ey wandered across the interior of eir skull until ey stepped up onto the stoop of eir exo.
Do I know god after the end of all things? Do I know god when I do not remember myself? Do I know god when I dream?
Ey dreamed that border. Dreamed that border between endocortex and exocortex, and then dreamed eir way across it. Dreamed of the difference between endomemory and exomemory. Dreamed that exomemory into lines. Into rows and columns and formations. Review, friends — troops long past review.
Ey dreamed that memory into data, into words and images and sounds and smells and sensations. Dreamed more than just the memory. Scraped the insides of that exo and dreamed everything. Dreamed it into formation.
And reviewed. Ey walked, a fox, with baton in paw, skirt and blouse dreamed into uniform, laughing joyously. Ey walked along the formations and inspected. Neatly ordered. Neatly organized. Standing proud.
Ey reviewed and marveled at the preciseness with which eir mind obeyed itself. Madness be damned: if ey could control nothing else in this non-world, ey could control emself.
Ey very carefully did not ask.
And there it was: the answer.
There, standing tall, as proud as any other memory, was a subroutine. And when AwDae gazed into its porcelain face, ey understood. And when that porcelain face gazed back, it smiled beatifically.
There it was: the very subroutine, the very bug exploited, the very program triggered at the order of some higher power. The very entity which had painted the inside of eir exo with silver and glass that left em trapped within. There was the virus in all its glory. Its subtle curves meant to fit the space of an exo’s logic perfectly. Its ability to recognize actions. Its ability to cut off the outside world. Its ability to ride shotgun along regular software updates. Security, it promised. Added security along the barrier between waking and dreaming.
It smiled, and AwDae laughed.
“The only time I know my true name is when I dream,” ey spoke through tears. “And may then my name die with me.”
Madness grew to a cruel point, pierced bubble of dream, and then dissolved fox.