Who are you -- and then Meanwhile Back In New York Again!

“Who are you?” A voice said.

I felt it. I felt it coming for the first time. I felt the pull, the tug, of the physical world. I’d never felt it before. I looked around, wildly, and saw someone standing there, someone about my height, someone about my weight, someone… someone who looked an awful lot like me and she moved forward and she said “Who are you” again and everything went swirly.

I clutched at the dead girl. I grabbed onto her and held her with all my might and I called to the person who looked a lot like me and I said “I’m Rachel” but she was gone and I woke up back in the real world again.

With a naked girl lying on top of me and a very surprised nurse standing over me.

Meanwhile, In New York

The last thing he did was cut out the microchip, which was bloody and tiny and slippery. He held it in between his thumb and forefinger, looking at it. Embedded on there, he knew, were the girl – Angelina, although he did not know her name and did not care – were her memories, her experiences, her thoughts and feelings and sensations right up to the moment when her heart had finally stopped beating. Or maybe to the moment when he had cut it out of her chest.

He took it and set it on the Display.

He looked back at all the parts, all carefully drained out and dried out and spread around. He picked up the hands. He looked at them, and then put them in the bins with the others. He did the same with the feet and the legs. This time, he had taken the hands at the elbows instead of the wrists. He had left the upper arms attached to the torso, and it had taken him a long time to saw the torso in half but very few of his customers wanted the whole body. They all wanted parts.

He went back over to his workbench, across from the display. The LCD monitor sat leaning back, carelessly, against the wall. He pressed his thumb against the corner, and willed the power switch on. The network of neural electrical transmitters that his own chip had encouraged to grow, the network that was governed by his chip and his brain, transmitted the impulse to the screen and it glowed.

He did not care who had first had the idea to put the chips in babies. He did not care or know who it was who had first realized that the human brain had reached the maximum expansion it could, given the size of the human skull, and that human skulls could not grow any larger given that babies had to be born through women’s hips, and that therefore there would be no more advances in human brain complexity, no more increases in knowledge, unless the human brain could be expanded, and that was done through the chip, a tiny microprocessor with some rudimentary programs that acted as an adjunct to the human brain.

When embedded into the forehead of a newborn, with a small tendril of wire leading back to the brain, the chip encouraged the nerves to also grow to transmit other electrical impulses. The chip increased the complexity of the brain and with that complexity, the intelligence of the user. It also allowed the chip owner to tap into the worldwide computer network from almost anywhere, to manipulate screens with thought through the same wireless technology that centuries ago had been simply used to download videos. The chip made humans able to interact with computers on the level of thought and effectively made the brain into the entire computer network, the old Internet, accessible much more quickly and effectively than memories were, or the old computers could.

That had been the goal: to increase human knowledge and complexity and improve thought.
Sharing had been a side-effect of that.

So had tracking people.

He knew nothing of those things. He knew nothing of the chip or the controversy or the debates or the effects of them. He knew that he had a chip, and that everyone had a chip, and he knew that he had almost been caught because the chip allowed tracking.

Some said the chip allowed thought-monitoring. He had heard that. He knew that could not be true, or if it was true, that nobody was bothering with his thoughts because if they were, they would be shocked. He’d been warned, by some, to shield his thoughts and encrypt them and watch who he Shared with.

Sharing had been what won people over and why the chips were allowed and then encouraged and were now as normal a part of life as vaccines.

He looked at the monitor, and with his thoughts scrolled through the email orders he received, flipping from the newest to the oldest to the one he was going to work on tonight.
I will pay for a custom built girl it read. Knees to shoulders. Arms are immaterial. Redhead. Large breasted. Small feet.

Tracking had been the problem. With the chip, people could be tracked. If the chip was in a body, it could be tracked. Outside of the body, it was dead. The Display could not be tracked.
He’d almost gotten caught because the Creations were trackable and people missing loved ones or police looking for criminals had tracked them down and his clients had to destroy them.
He hated seeing Creations destroyed. He was a Craftsman. He had learned this art from his mentor. He would teach it to someone else someday. He was not going to have any of his Creations destroyed if he could help it.

It was bad enough when they wandered away.

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