So people on the other end of a modem line or net connection aren't necessarily who they seem to be. So what? Chances are, neither are you.
[engage 6-June-92 03:33]--Hello?
Son, your mother's dead. What can I say? She passed away in my arms. And you know what she said?
--Who is this?
She said if that dirty son of mine comes to my funeral, you spit in his face. Will you be there son? It's tomorrow afternoon.
--What number are you calling?
Frank? Frank, isn't that you?
--There's no Frank here!
Oh, I'm sorry. Did I wake you up?
--Yes, you woke me up!
Are you wearing pajamas?[disengage] [engage 6-June-92 03:39]--Wha--?
Are you alone? Did I wake you up? This is terrible, but I couldn't keep it from you another minute. It's about your blood test. I'm afraid I've got to tell you. You've got AIDS.
--What? Who is this?
Harry? Isn't this 364-0952?
Oh that's terrible. I must have misdialed. You see, my friend just tested positive for AIDS and my mind just boggles at the thought of what this means for me and all our friends. My name's François, by the way. Are you gay?
--Do you realize what time it is?[singing]It's a quarter to four, and there's no one in the store... Are you still awake Harry? Harry? Have you forgotten about that five bucks you owe me? Do you know what the odds are of you being hit by a truck before you pay me back?
--Jeez, I'd like to pay you back you sonofabitch. You need help, you know that? If you call back again you're gonna be recorded by the police, so just fuck off.[disengage] [engage 6-June-92 03:43]--Unh?
That package that came for you. Don't open it.
--Unh? What package? Who is this?
You mean you didn't get the package? Jeez, are we ever in shit now.
--What are you talking about?
Sure, sure, I understand. You don't know from nothin'. You think the pigs care about that?
-- Look, I don't have any--
Okay, just get the hell out of there. It's not safe. Understand? Just don't be home.
And, by the way, is your wife there?
Kiss her for me, will you?
--Who is this?
She'll know. Just tell her I'll never forget that night. Now move!
--What?[disengage] [6-June-92 03:54] [initializing modem] ATDT 818-523-4714 CONNECT ACCESS CODE: ***-*** ACCESS DENIED ACCESS CODE: ***-*** ACCESS DENIED ACCESS CODE: ***-*** ACCESS DENIED NO CARRIER ATDT 213-562-9344 CONNECT ACCESS CODE: ***-*** ACCESS DENIED ACCESS CODE: ***-*** ACCESS DENIED ACCESS CODE: ***-*** Welcome to BRAIN, the Network of the Bureaus for Research on Artificial Intelligence CODE NAME: CrownJewels REAL NAME: Harold E. Houdini PHONE NUMBER: 315-956-6492 Number given does not correspond to signal. PHONE NUMBER: 315-233-6412 AFFILIATION: AIRB Section Y STATUS: NEW USER Most areas of BRAIN are off-limits without enhanced or privileged user status or area-specific authorization codes. MAIN MENU SELECTION: Area files AREA SELECTED: Migration Project AUTHORIZATION CODE: KI5-3AS KI5-3AS? KL5.3AS MIGRATION PROJECT AREA MENU SELECTION: Read migratry.txt MIGRATION PROJECT STATUS REPORT This protected file briefly describes work to date by the four cooperating agencies (NSC, DD, UCD, AIRB) on the AI security and counter-intelligence migratory programs archived in the file MIGRATRY.ARC. It also summarizes each of these machine-language programs and provides a prospectus of research in progress. Downloading of this file and MIGRATRY.ARC is on a need-to-know basis only, and removal in any form of the data contained therein from authorized user security areas is prohibited by the agreement of the parties. Table of Contents Chapter Page 1. Executive summary 2 2. Background of project 4 3. Primary information sources 9 4. Migration of AI in living carriers 15 [FOR MORE, PRESS RETURN]: Exit MIGRATION PROJECT AREA MENU SELECTION: Download FILE(S) TO DOWNLOAD: migratry.txt, migratry.arc PROGRAM: Telix ++ RATE: 9600 Baud DATA TO DOWNLOAD: 246,142 TIME TO DOWNLOAD: 2 min. 14 sec. DOWNLOADING MIGRATRY.TXT DOWNLOAD COMPLETE DATA TO DOWNLOAD: 1.486 Mb TIME TO DOWNLOAD: 13 min. 24 sec. DOWNLOADING MIGRATRY.ARC DOWNLOADING COMPLETE SELECTION: Upload FILE(S) TO UPLOAD: B:/predator.exe DATA TO UPLOAD: 2,336 TIME TO UPLOAD: 2 sec. UPLOADING PREDATOR.EXE UPLOAD COMPLETE SELECTION: Exit MAIN MENU SELECTION: Exit Exiting BRAIN. Do you wish to leave a message? No To receive enhanced access, please leave a message stating your primary and secondary research interests. On your next log-on, you will be asked to complete a detailed questionnaire and, upon completion, will receive enhanced-2B status. Do you wish to leave a message? No Exiting... NO CARRIER [close log] [log 6-June-92 0441] ATDT 315-523-4714 CONNECT WELCOME TO THE DRAGON'S LAIR CODE NAME: Crownjewels STATUS: PRIVILEGED 1A DRAGON GAME: IT'S YOUR MOVE INPUT: GRAY WIZARD crosses the mountains through Grand Vent pass [ENCOUNTERS THIRST]: drinks water [ENCOUNTERS A BRACE OF FURIES IN A HURRY]: presents ankh; pronounces the charm avaunt, par dieu [PASS]: descends the pass into the coastal plain [ENCOUNTERS TABLET]: reads tablet [THIS ISN'T THE KIND OF TABLET YOU CAN READ]: tastes tablet [IT HAS VERY LITTLE TASTE BUT MAKES GRAY WIZARD FEEL FUNNY]: discards tablet [THE TABLET WAS A SEED. WITHIN MINUTES A SMALL TREE GROWS BEFORE GRAY WIZARD'S EYES. THERE IS A SIGN ON THE TRUNK OF THE TREE]: reads sign [THE SIGN IS AN ARROW POINTING WEST SOUTH WEST. THE PATH SEEMS TO OPEN HERE.]: wsw [THE WESTERN OCEAN COMES INTO VIEW]: pause [24-HOUR CLOCK ENGAGED] [EXIT GAME] HEY JULES, THIS IS YOUR 253RD CALL AND THERE ARE 2 MESSAGES FOR YOU. WANNA READ `EM? No MAIN MENU SELECTION: Yell YELLING AT SYSOP. NO REPLY. AGAIN? Yes YELLING AT SYSOP. NO REPLY. WANNA LEAVE A MESSAGE? Yes TO: SysOp FROM: CrownjewelsI can't believe it, Dragon baby! I can't fuckin' believe it! I finally got access to BRAIN and that authorization code you gave me actually worked! I'm happy as a pig in shit! Would give you the access code, but no point. Log on and your system will be cannibalized -- I turned loose a Predator in the heart of BRAIN! First having downloaded the whole MIGRATRY archive! I'm a fuckin' genius! Or if I'm not now it's only a matter of time. Though I don't have much of that left, at least not as myself. Which brings me to the last thing you can do for me, Dragon ol' pal. To get into BRAIN I had to give my real phone number, and you know what that means. Time to initiate Flight Plan S. Please give the propellers a spin and let me know the details. Pronto Tonto. From now on, when they talk about me, all they'll be able to say is, Who was that masked man? Hi ho! Heh, heh, heh.[exit] HEY JULES, THIS IS YOUR 253RD CALL AND THERE ARE 2 MESSAGES FOR YOU. WANNA READ UM? Yes MESSAGE FROM: Silver Dust [5-June-92 11:51] TO: Crown JewelsYou haven't returned my messages. You can't know how painfully I miss you when you don't leave anything in my mailbox. I don't care about your terminal cancer. I'm strong enough, I'll take care of you and ask nothing in return. Please send me a picture of yourself. I can't believe you haven't received mine yet. Is the postal system so bad? Or, having seen my picture, have you decided not to answer?[FOR MORE, PRESS RETURN] [exit] MESSAGE FROM: Silver Dust [5-June-92 21:22] [exit] WANNA REPLY? Yes FROM: Crownjewels TO: Silver DustSorry our goodbye has to be like this. It was a wonderful fantasy, but that is all we could ever be to each other. I've received a second opinion, and my condition is even worse than expected. Time is running out for me. A week, maybe a month, no more. I'll be almost normal up until the last few hours, then agony, horror. I don't know why I don't end it right now, while it is still in my power to choose. Dear, I wish I could have known you. Good-bye.[exit] [exit] WANNA LEAVE A MESSAGE FOR THE SYSOP? Yes TO: SysOp FROM: CrownjewelsFor Chrissake, Dragon, move fast on Flight Plan S. Enlist Denvold's help. His contacts are secure. I gotta get some shut-eye right now, but every sound in this creaky old house makes me think they're breaking the door down with axes. I'm afraid to even unarchive MIGRATRY until I'm safely away and someone else. I'll leave the Treasure Chest open. Yell if you have anything to report.[exit] [log 6-June-92 05:37] [echo off] BNU REVISION 7 FOSSIL COMPATIBLE COMMUNICATIONS STATUS: Initializing STATUS: Waiting [exit 6-June-92 11:36] [log 6-June-92 11:38] ATDT 315-523-4714 CONNECT WELCOME TO THE DRAGON'S LAIR CODE NAME: Crownjewels STATUS: PRIVILEGED 1A DRAGON GAME: IT'S YOUR MOVE INPUT: GRAY WIZARD descends Grand Vent Pass toward the western ocean [ENCOUNTERS DRAGON]: fights with sword and dagger [GRAY WIZARD IS WOUNDED; BLOOD LOSS IS SERIOUS]: upholds pentagon; invokes protection of forefathers [GRAY WIZARD IS BOXED IN A CANYON; WEAK FROM LOSS OF BLOOD]: upholds staff; invokes super-powers of the lion [DRAGON IS GORED; WITHDRAWS TO CAUTERIZE WOUNDS]: GRAY WIZARD advances wsw toward the western ocean [THE WAY IS CLEAR; ON THE SHORE GRAY WIZARD FINDS TREASURE CHEST]: open chest [WITH WHAT, SMARTASS? IT'S LOCKED]: pause [24-HOUR CLOCK ENGAGED] [EXIT GAME] HEY JULES, THIS IS YOUR 254TH CALL AND THERE ARE 2 MESSAGES FOR YOU. WANNA READ UM? Yes MESSAGE FROM: Silver Dust 6-June-92 0959 TO: Crown Jewels [exit] WANNA REPLY? No MESSAGE FROM: Denvold Thorsdenton [6-June-92 10:23] TO:Documents in my possession! How do you like the name Lyndon Jones? Leave message in re physical exchange. Cash only.[end] WANNA REPLY? Yes FROM: Crownjewels TO: Denvold ThorsdentonMcDonald's, Shopper's World. 1215 noon, today or tomorrow.
Message from Sealed Envelope: Commuter's overnight 2335 sat. arr. [code y] dest. 1640 loc time sun. in locker. Better swing there than swing here. Bon voyage.[exit] WANNA LEAVE A MESSAGE FOR THE SYSOP? Yes TO: SysOp FROM: CrownjewelsFor almost the first time, I am feeling ambivalent about this whole venture. To die, sure. That's the whole idea. But the second part seems a needless bother. At the moment I mean. I'm not afraid; don't think that. But now I'm on the verge of Migration, I seem to have come back to the beginning again and started asking myself, why? Is it worth it? Becoming digital, microscopic. The slow wiping out of my old self, the rendering, the melting like solder into the silicon. The smoky, metallic odor of the electric life. Will it be any less nauseating than this smelly, scratchy animal one?
Okay. To die. To sleep. Gimme more. A new life, sure, but what will the world make of a new man with a name like Lyndon Jones?[exit] [6-June-92 12:34] [engage]--Hello?
He's dead! Oh my god, he's dead! Send the police, pronto, 12th Street and Vine. Oh my god, that guy's got a gun! He's shooting everybody in sight!
-- Who the hell is this?
Huh? What do you care? Why don't you just go back to sleep? I think I'll shoot myself.[sound of gunshot close to receiver.] [disconnect] [7-June-92 10:58]Hello. I won't be answering the phone anymore, because I'm about to shoot myself. You can leave a message if you want to, but I won't be returning it. You have just a super day now.
[7-June-92 13:02]Very funny, guy. But unless you've got friends in the right places, you won't be laughing long. Listen, I know your game, and your next move just might depend on me. I could turn you in, but with the little jackpot you just came into, you might just be able to buy me off. Think about it. And keep looking over your shoulder. You better hope I'm the one who catches up to you first.
[7-June-92 16:44]H -- Hello, Herbert? Crownjewels? It's me, Silver Dust. Actually, my name's Cheryl. I hope you're joking. You can't give up hope, you know. Not when people care about you. That's the reason I'm calling. This mean guy visited. Said he's a friend of yours, but I don't know... He was looking for you. Of course, I didn't understand at first, since I didn't know your real name. But I figured out who he meant. That's how I got this number. Jeez, I hope nothing's wrong. Please call me: 239-4543. Or come to my place. It's 403, the Clydesdale. You know, on Union? Oh, I have this sick feeling you're in trouble and this guy has something to do with it. If there's anything I can do--[60-second message limit reached.] [8-June-92 03:14] [engage]Yeah, I was just, uh... Jeez, you should change that message. It's creepy. Anyway, I heard about Herb's, um, accident. I just wanted to say how sorry I was. Like, I never met the guy, eh? But I sort of knew him through the boards and all and I felt like, you know, like we were really close. Anyway, I just wanted to, you know, pay my respects. So, I guess that's all. Oh yeah, in case anyone asks, you can say Lyndon called.[disengage]
Colin Morton (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a full-time writer in Ottawa, Ontario. He has published five books of poetry, including The Merzbook: Kurt Schwitters Poems, and co-produced the animated film Primiti Too Taa.
InterText Copyright © 1991-1999 Jason Snell. This story may only be distributed as part of the collected whole of Volume 5, Number 1 of InterText. This story Copyright © 1995 Colin Morton.