Part 17 of 22 of the Netcromancer by M.J.Miello
In the days that followed, I did what I promised. I stayed out of Billy’s way. It was easy. I had someone else to spend time with—Christopher Carpentieri.
I was soaking in his music. Surrounded by his poetry. Steeping in his code. Every night I spent hours on the Memento Mori programs. His style was by now familiar. I understood all of his tiny little flourishes, unique as fingerprints. Even his programming seemed poetic to me. But after months of this, I was still like the proverbial blind man holding the elephant’s tail—trying to understand the nature of this thing before me.
I wondered if Billy was right. Maybe this was unhealthy. Perhaps that’s why I stopped telling people (even Alanna) what I was working on. Maybe I was the only one who could understand it. Maybe he and I shared some unique essence that would let me glimpse his purpose and complete his work. Yes, that was what I was trying to do—complete his work. I can’t tell you what a relief it was when I realized that. Before that it seemed that I needed to understand him. But how would I ever know that I understood…enough? That goal was a vortex that could swallow me forever. But, complete it—yes, I could complete it. And when it worked–when I ran the program at it did what it was designed to do—then I would know that I had not failed him.
I had, by this point, mastered all the commands and concepts that he was using. I had learned much from him, techniques that I might never have thought useful had I not seen how he employed them. Slowly, pieces of the pattern began to emerge. I found clues to how some of the programs were supposed to link together. These formed larger islands in a sea of separate fragments. It could access. It could look up. It could insert. It was a kind of a repository of his poetry and his thoughts. It could display images. It could even create documents. And so much more. But why? To what end? Why would anyone need all of these programs that replicated what the user could do anyway? It reminded me of one of those comical machines that employed belts and tracks, electric fans, pool cues, and rolling balls all to accomplish a simple task, like making toast. An interesting spectacle perhaps, but ever so inefficient.
“So are you free?” Rally’s voice rang in my ear. I realized I was holding the phone against my shoulder.
“For dinner silly. It’s important. We haven’t seen each other all week. I need to see you. We need to talk.”
“Of course. When?”
“Saturday,” she sighed. Obviously she had already said this.
“Let me check.” I opened up my desktop calendar. There was an item listed for Saturday. I looked at it. It said, “Memento Mori et Carpe Diem.” I flipped rapidly through the days and found that every so often there was an event in my calendar that I had not put there.
“Today,” one read, “remember that you are the product of billions of years of evolution. Try to fucking act like it!”
“Holy shit,” I said.
“What?” Rally asked concerned.
“Christopher is writing in my calendar.”
“Are you talking about yourself in the third person again?”
“No. Not me—long story. I’ll tell you about it later. But, yes. I’m free.”
She provided me with the time and place of our date. And then the dial tone was poking me in the ear. I wondered if I had said a proper goodbye. Then I felt a stab of anxiety. I could, if I chose, use this meeting to break up with her. But I didn’t care about that now. I had stumbled onto something more important.
I was going through my calendar looking for more notes. There weren’t many but they were there. When I had run one of his programs it wrote the notes in my calendar.
“Today, my beloved Christopher” another note read, “You are going to have some difficulties. That is to be expected. Life is rarely kind. But rather than wilt and wander, focus on what you do have control over—what you can change. That is where you need to direct your attention. That is where you need to plant your lever and exert your will. Invadoria.”
I looked up Invadoria. It meant ‘invade’.
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