a tale in weekly parts
Bernice Reed, a thirty-something African-American woman from Arizona, appeared in the street of a small Canadian town some two hundred years in her future in the body of a white male. Now known as Bernie, he settled into a high-tech life. But it didn't end there! Not by any means. Any change to the 'past' after her/his translation would (and did) rewrite the future - his present.
Bernie followed the man (who, incidentally, looked remarkably like Arman Mansour – the man who had killed Bernice’s mother) through the corridors behind the stage. After what seemed a great distance (Bernie had no information about the music hall in which he found himself, but judged that the 137 paces they’d taken must have covered the full length of the building), the man stopped at a door.
“Wait here,” he said. He then knocked on the door using what Bernie assumed to be a special code: three knocks, pause, seven knocks, pause, four knocks, pause five knocks.
“That’s the PIN code for my debit card,” Bernie thought to himself.
“I know,” the man said, “that’s why we chose it.”
“What did you just say?”
“I said that’s why we chose it.”
“How did you know what I was thinking?”
“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”
“That’s from Shakespeare, isn’t it?”
“Or Billy boy the bard, as we like to call him.”
“But he’s dead.”
“Aren’t we all?”
“But he’s been dead for hundreds of years!”
“Haven’t we all? Anyway, follow me.”
The two men descended a steep, narrow staircase. Bernie counted the steps as they descended. Eighty-six. By his reckoning, they had descended the equivalent of about six and a half floors. There was a heavy wooden door in front of them.
“Open the door,” Bernie said.
“It’s locked,” the man replied.
“Unlock it with the key.”
“We don’t have the key.”
“Get the key.”
“This isn’t a game, you know,” the man said as he bent down, raised the corner of what was probably a coconut mat at one time, and picked up a large, rusty metal key.
“I have the key,” he said.
“Unlock the door.”
The man unlocked the door.
“Now open it.”
“Stand back, Bernie, you may not like what is inside.”
“Don’t tell me, it’s either a hologram or a spectral being.”
“Alright, I won’t.”
“I’m not telling you.”
“Because you told me not to.”
“Okay, belay that order. What’s behind the door?”
“Are you sure you’re ready for it?”
“Look. Just do it, okay? What is it?”
“It’s a hologram.”
“Okay, Bernie,” he said to himself, “you can wake up now.”
“I’m sorry, Bernie,” the man said, “but you’re not sleeping. This is really happening.” He slowly and carefully opened the door, Bernie peering over his shoulder.
“I think I should tell you,” Bernie said, “that I don’t believe in ghosts.”
“That’s fine,” the man replied, “I had a lot of trouble getting them to believe in you, initially, and for the same reason.”
“The only people who don’t believe in ghosts are those who’ve never seen one. Our principals had never seen a Bernie Reed and had no evidence to support its – your – existence.”
When the door was fully open, a familiar face appeared.
“Julian Robertson as I live and breathe,” Bernie said with astonishment, “what are you doing here?”
“Are you trying to tell me you don’t know?” Julian asked. Bernie’s brow furrowed as his fingers and thumbs played a game of chase.
“Do you need me any longer?” the emcee asked.
“No, you can go now,” Julian replied. The man ceased to exist.
“What just happened?” Bernie asked the hologram.
“You haven’t worked it out yet, have you, Bernie?”
“Where you are.”
“Where am I?”
“You’re inside Brainstorm.”
“I’m part of the AI?”
“Kind of? What’s that supposed to mean.”
“Bernie, are you familiar with Schroedinger’s cat?”
“Not personally, no. Hang on a minute. I think I’ve heard of it. Am I dead? Is that what you’re trying to tell me.”
“How? When? Why?”
“Schroedinger’s cat, dear boy. Like it, you are both dead and alive. Like it, your actual state will be revealed when certain conditions are met. Follow me into the hypercloud and all will become, if not fully clear, at least less marginally less muddy.”