The Metamorphosis of Prime Intellect

The Metamorphosis of Prime Intellect by Roger Williams

Book: The Metamorphosis of Prime Intellect by Roger Williams Read Free Book Online
Authors: Roger Williams
Tags: Science-Fiction
me at all?
*
They would have to guess.
    A grin slowly spread across Caroline's face. Got you now, she thought. Then she typed, with deliberate care:
     
>
I would like to accept Dr. Lawrence's Task Challenge.
    To her mild surprise, the environment didn't change around her. Instead, another sentence appeared.
     
*
You must agree to the following Contract terms: You will have no contact with me until you leave Dr. Lawrence's environment through death or his directive to me.
>
That's a Death contract.
*
It was originated for Death sports, but has other applications.
>
What's the time limit?
*
There is no time limit. Dr. Lawrence requires an indefinite Contract.
    And at that Caroline's blood went cold, because Prime Intellect wasn't supposed to accept indefinite Contracts. And Caroline Frances Hubert herself was the reason for that.
Which meant Prime Intellect had either lied to a whole bunch of people, in direct contravention of the Second Law, or it was suffering from a noticeable case of schizophrenia.
Her mind was made up, but her fingers still shook as she typed:
     
>
I agree to the terms.
    * * *
    Two hundred and ninety-four years after the Change, Caroline celebrated the beginning of her fourth living century by opening her oldest and deepest wound. She was already famous, or as famous as one could hope to be in Cyberspace; her three-fold notoriety was firmly established. Lots of people came to her birthday party. It had lasted three weeks.
Later, with Fred, she prepared a more brutal celebration. Fred was almost healthy looking; he had only days before fleshed himself out for the third time since becoming a zombie. He was only hours out of rigor mortis and could still pass for normal, if a very pale normal, at a casual glance. For awhile he would be able to have nearly normal sex with her if he wished.
He held her hand as she spoke -- some things were not meant for the keyboard -- and she said, "Prime Intellect, show me a picture of AnneMarie Davis."
It matched her audio for audio, and Prime Intellect's smooth disembodied voice replied, "Do you want to see her as she is now, or as you last knew her?"
"Both."
Two images coalesced in the air before them. The first ripped through Caroline's brain like a static jolt through the circuits of a computer; she had almost forgotten what it was like to feel real pain.
She must never forget, she insisted to herself.
She shook as the memories flooded back. She had been an old woman, frail and helpless, she had never hurt anyone in her life. She had six children, nineteen grandkids, and God knew how many rugrats running around Cyberspace. Her first great-great grandchild had been born shortly before the Change, and in one of her rare lucid moments her granddaughter (Cynthia, was it?) had managed to make her understand, and she had found an instant of happiness in the midst of the pain.
Had that really mattered to her? Had she but known.
She was an old woman, a simple woman, a woman who would pass unremembered in the texts of history and did not care. A woman who had her family, her long life, her virtue, her community. A woman who, if she had known of such a creature as the Queen of the Death Jockeys, would have been horrified, would have shielded her kids, would have been the first to run her current self out of town. Or, perhaps, had she known enough, to call for her head on a pike.
Caroline had once been this person, in a time so ancient it had passed into legend. But her memories of that time still existed. The old Caroline would have turned the other cheek, but the new Caroline knew things about God the old one had never suspected. If there was no salvation in life, she could at least seek vengeance.
The doctors hadn't known why she was in such pain. They didn't dare prescribe any more drugs than she was already getting. Her family didn't understand it. They just thought it was tragic and wished she would go ahead and die so they wouldn't have to be bothered with her, so they

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