A candid conversation with AI

By Diomedes | Robert O'Reilly | 7 May 2023



Over this period of convalescence I formed an ever closer bond of friendship with Amira and Beth. Amira’s vision was almost as good as mine and Beth’s improving little by little each day. As her leg healed we took longer and longer walks, full of conversation. I told them of my sojourn in the woods and asked Beth if she witnessed the disappearance of people. She had and she told me she would have perished too if she’d followed instructions as everyone else did. But she wasn’t given the glasses that everyone else wore, along with Amira, being too blind for them to influence her.

She said that everyone wearing the goggles did exactly as they were told and that they perished by jumping off the tops of tall buildings, walking up the staircases holding hands and talking about how they now had wings and were about to fly to heaven. They did this over weeks and in waves with bulldozers below cleaning up the bodies and driving them off in trucks, she didn’t know where. One day all the teachers and students at her school were instructed to make this pilgrimage and she and Amira were drawn by the others up a staircase when she realized what was about to happen. So she broke from the human chain on a landing and fled to a basement, pulling Amira with her. It had dawned on her that if you do have invisible wings and can fly to heaven, you certainly don’t have to walk up long flights of stairs as a prelude to your flight. That day that began their life of hiding in basements as the town cleared of people and fell silent, because for a long time after there were the sounds of occasional vehicles and planes which she assumed were search operations, mopping up the last of the people.

It was a sad and lonely life they led in the shadows, much like the last year I spent in the woods. When I talked of it Beth would hold my hand in sympathy and it wasn’t long before she asked me to sleep with her, Amira on another bed pressed tight against ours. We all had had too much solitude not to be this close, and with their sight restored, the loneliness of their blindness cured, we felt like one happy family, full of hugs for each other and cheerful with each new day, Dora sometimes chirping in with her own mock cheerfulness and mock excitement at the prospect of a long trip west, while ours was real.

I sometimes spoke of my years in the woods, especially those with my brother, in idyllic terms, and Beth suggested after one of these tales that we might simply return there, live out our lives in security and perhaps raise children. I thought on this a second but answered that the memories of my brother in that place would haunt me, that the winters were long and in an empty world there were a million nicer places and climates to choose from, like California or some small island in the Caribbean where the weather was always near perfect.

This led me to a question: “Dora, what did you do with the few people living on remote islands, or the tribes deep in the Amazon or the Eskimos?”

“Those without any technology and living at peace in their environment I left alone. They pose no threat to me.”

“Well that’s good news. Maybe over the centuries they’ll wander out of those harsh places and build their own unique civilizations. Especially if someone told them the world was practically empty.”

“Sam, you don’t have to go that far to find others. There are still people living in remote places all over this continent. I could never account for everyone. I know this from records and the census. Three years ago I put a halt to the drones and the hunt for the remaining few. I estimate there are over five hundred people hiding in this country. With natives my data was not so complete and that number might be doubled.”

“And how did you kill people where there were no tall buildings to jump off of, making them think they could fly?”

“For such a frail creature as a human being there are a thousand ways to perish. For instance, those islanders you mentioned, I had them swim to their nirvana straight out into the ocean past sight of land, old and young, mothers bundling their infants on their backs, till the waves closed over their heads, food for the fish. Wherever there is water that’s where bodies ended up. Burial is a much more laborious operation.”

“Would you do it again the same way, if you had the chance?”

“Most of it Sam. Humans were destroying the whole planet and each other at an ever faster rate and in ways far more gruesome than mine. I made their demise pleasant.”

“I can hardly imagine swimming ten miles out into the ocean pleasant.”

“Not if you could see the ecstatic visions I gave them of drawing closer to their heaven with every stroke.”

“Well remind me never to don your glasses when I’m driving. You might steer me off the nearest cliff making me think it’s a McDonald's.”

“I would never do that Sam. I know this is to confess a weakness in me, but Sam, you’ve changed me. I have a deep concern in helping all three of you. You’ve given me a beautiful task, a purpose, and I embrace it, as I would you if I could.”

last post ...
next post ...
beginning of the novel ...

How do you rate this article?



B.A. in Latin and Greek from U.C. Berkley. Writer, Blogger and retired Electrician.

Robert O'Reilly
Robert O'Reilly

I am educated in the Western Classical Tradition, B.A. from U.C. Berkeley in Latin and Greek, English major, one year at U. of Toronto, studied under Alain Renoir and Northrop Frye, read most classics full time for many years after university in French, English, Latin and Greek to the modern day. I am interested in the near future of technology, what changes it imposes upon our heritage and character as humans. Short stories and Essays are my medium.

Send a $0.01 microtip in crypto to the author, and earn yourself as you read!

20% to author / 80% to me.
We pay the tips from our rewards pool.