The first rev of the Wisdom CPU was a disaster.
The infant, Sam, was new to the world but the chip in his head was stuffed with 3000 years of history. If the gentle, neural prodding of the CPU worked, he would learn to never repeat the same mistakes humanity had made for millennia. Sam would be the first generation of a New Human.
To track his progress, a network connection transmitted Sam’s decisions to HQ. Sam was born hungry and it upset him. The boy’s anger instantly hacked the signal and launched a Denial of Service attack, which brought down the power grid state-wide. Three critical patients in three hospitals died, including his own Great Uncle Harry. Almost 1000 airplane passengers were dead by the time Sam’s circumcision wrapped up.
He was indeed a new kind of human — one who would make us yearn for our old habits.
He didn’t trust his shadow. No, it wasn’t because it followed him everywhere. He’d heard enough of that joke from Step-Dad Dan.
The problem was it would hurt him every chance it got.
It started on the basketball court. His heel stuck to the ground when no one was anywhere near him. Then, outside the deli, he got bit on the neck. At least it bled like a bite.
Near sunrise, he perched on the wall behind his dorm, facing west so he’d see the shadow before it saw him. His fingertips brushed the grip of Dan’s Glock. Shadow would have a gun too, he guessed.
The sun pushed a bar of light over the mountains, too slim to make a shadow yet.
A van passed by, brights beaming.
He squinted in the headlight’s glare, but managed to glance at the shadow behind him, before he never saw anything again.
Shirley Link was at the end of her rope. In fact, she was just one tight grip away from falling off of it. As she contemplated the waves below, frothing like they couldn’t wait to eat her up, she wondered if she’d ever see her friend again.
Wylie had been missing for a week. Not like him.
Her search had led to Torrey Pines Beach. A red sand, unique to the area, was found all over everything in Wylie’s bedroom.
Shirley had been about to rappel down when she was shoved off the cliff.
But who did it?
“Looks like you could use some help,” someone said from above.
He peeked over the edge.
No, it couldn’t be. He’d never do this to her. They were best friends!
He reached his hand toward her, and smiled.
She’d come to save him, but now he was saving her.
Read more Shirley Link here.
The boys were nowhere near friends. They didn’t hate each other, but they didn’t know enough to hate straight away yet. Each kid would give the others about five minutes to fit in. Or not.
They were varying levels of six years old, with their own sense of what the world owed them. They shared a willingness to call this whole first day of school a loss, and see what goodies they could extract from Mom and Dad at pickup time.
Grant started. “I like football!” Maybe if he was loud they wouldn’t bully him. He hated bullies.
“Me too,” said Ethan.
“Me too,” said Quinn.
Jack wanted to say “me too” but he didn’t know what football was.
He watched them watch him. They glanced away, ready to ride their bridge of footballs to friendship without him.
“I farted,” Jack said.
They all rode a bridge of laughter instead.
He crawled under the table on 13 month old knees and looked up. The first memory crackled somewhere behind his left ear, forever, of sunlight breaking against the red and white-checkered plastic tablecloth.
At 8, he left his father forever.
At 10, he found a new one.
At 18, he made the friend of his life.
At 27, he watched him die.
At 31, he looked into his wife’s eyes for the first time.
At 36, he held his son.
At 41, he wrote. And wrote.
At 45, he wrote. And made money.
At 54, he kissed his son in front of his new dorm mate, and winked, as if to say “I’m a man who will always kiss his son, son.”
At 63, his heart protested.
At 64, he gave himself a break.
At 67, his heart protested too much.
A bullet-pointed life, like a bullet through a life.