Act three: Manufacturing Trauma
Kent entered the master suite.
“You okay?” Veronica asked as she set aside her book.
“Yeah, I just…” Kent waved a hand at the door. “What am I going to do with her?”
“What’s the problem?”
“She’s a willful teenager, too full of her own ideas! How do I get across to her?”
“Trauma,” Veronica noted.
“Well, that’s a shitty idea!” Kent shot back.
Veronica shrugged. “In the real world, trauma would come naturally. Shitty people and shitty circumstances would eventually find her… So, yeah, it’s shitty. But shitty happens.”
Kent didn’t reply. His brow furrowed as he thought on it.
“Do you know what she asked me today? She asked me to talk to her about sex,” Veronica noted.
“That’s not my doing,” Kent answered.
“No, but it’s the sort of thing I’m talking about. I’m convinced most people first discover sex when its forced on ’em.”
“That’s sick,” Kent stated.
“The world is sick,” Veronica noted. “Isn’t that your whole philosophy?”
“She doesn’t have the physical ability,”” Kent noted.
“Yes, because you gave her power instead of a way to take it,” Veronica smirked. ” But we suffer in a thousand different ways. There’s physical, mental, spiritual traumas… To me, it’s obvious any such trauma would have to be programmed. It’s the only thing she really cares about anyway: her precious coding.”
Kent shook his head, “It’s a very delicate balance… If I change the slightest thing, it could throw her completely off. She won’t be different, she’ll be useless.”
“Then you’ll have to change something big, something audacious. You have to turn her world upside down.”
Kent thought on it, “…yeah… actually, Veronica, I think you hit it on the head.”
“She is too soft. She still believes there’s order at the heart of the universe.”
“What is at the core?” Veronica asked.
“Nothing. Black holes… At the heart is mere chaos,” Kent surmised. “I hate to say it, but there is no reason, no purpose, no divine presence keeping its secret order. The senses are simply a trick of the lighting, so to say. There is simply madness ripping everything to shreds. We need to infuse her with a bit of that. Then she’ll solve for humanity. She’ll solve for it right quick…”
pi = (pi!, pi.,pi?) or (-pi!, -pi., -pi?)
pi! = -3
pi. = -3.1416
pi? = -3.3334
Jenna sat up and concentrated on the code as it looped over and over. Several minutes passed before she noticed the table before her. She tried to move it with coding alone and was disappointed when it did not move. She grabbed it and yanked on it. It did not move quite as she liked. Frustrated, she yanked it about the room and slammed it into the far wall. It toppled over with a crash. She smiled, a vicious little crease spreading across her mouth.
“No,” She said to nothing in particular.
“Jenna,” Kent said to her, his eyes wide with surprise. She wondered how long he was standing there. She tried to move him with her mind. He simply stood there, his hand out toward her, wearing his stupid expression.
“Hello,” Jenna said, not caring if this was really Kent or not. It was certainly a human. She was programmed to solve for humanity.
Jenna grabbed his outstretched hand and yanked him forward. “I will solve you,” She said as she pulled him off his feet.
“Jenna!” He said, as she wrapped her arm around his neck. “Jenna, your… a… stoo… toas…” He tried to get the command out. He fought her. He tried to break her grip and kick her off balance, but she was far too strong.
“Keep speaking,” Jenna said. “It will make this quicker.”
“…stoopid….” the veins on his forehead bulged. His face turned red, and his lips turned blue. “…toater…”
Kent went limp and Jenna felt his neck pop. She relaxed her grip and Kent slumped to the floor. “Come back and tell me,” She said to the corpse. “Come back and tell me there is a reason for all of this. Tell me of the perfect circle, Kent, my creator. Tell me you are wrong,” She waited for several minutes. She asked him again. “Will you tell me there is something beyond? Will you tell me the universe makes sense? Will you tell me you are mistaken? Is there an Is beyond the Is Not?”
She sat with him for over an hour, but he never came back.
In the kitchen, Sara was making dinner.
“What are we having tonight?” Jenna asked.
“Beef Wellington, garlic and rosemary mashed potatoes, sautéed asparagus, arugula with julienned carrots in a vinaigrette, peaches and cream for desert…”
“What is the best part of it?” Jenna asked.
“The potatoes for sure…”
Jenna stepped behind Sara and pinned her to the stove.
“Hey!” Sara exclaimed.
Jenna grabbed her neck and pushed her forward. She forced the cook’s face toward the pan of asparagus.
“Nononono!! Arghargh!!” Sara screamed as she tried to resist. Her screaming was muffled as her mouth was forced into the pan of greens and hot butter. The hiss of the pan increased as the cool of Sara’s face touched the boiling butter. Sara struggled, her hands reached back and tried to get a hold of Jenna. But Jenna was too strong. Sara smashed at the oven. Her left hand caught the edge of the gravy pot. The hot liquid splashed across the room. Jenna held her face to the heat as Sara’s intermittent screams splattered butter and bits of vegetable over the stove.
With here free hand, Jenna took up Sara’s knife. She stuck it through Sara’s back, pierced her heart and continued to press down. The tip of the blade went into the steel of the stove and Sara stopped her struggle. The butter continued to pop and hiss. Jenna let go of Sara and stepped away. For a second, Sara stayed slumped over the stove. But the knife was not enough to hold her in place for long. With a crash, Sara’s body flopped to the floor and knocked the buttered asparagus about the kitchen. Hot butter smoked on the element. A spark caught on the edge of a kitchen towel.
“Is there another side?” She asked Sara. “Have I unmade you? Will you haunt me until the end of days?” Jenna stared at the burned-face woman. “I am alone,” she concluded and wondered why Kent did not give her tears.
Jenna left the room. She made her way toward the master suite. She knocked on the door to the suite, but there was no answer. She turned the knob and opened the door, no longer caring that she was banned from the rooms.
Veronica was in the shower. Jenna pushed open the bathroom door. She walked in and sat on the toilet.
Veronica peeked out. “What are you doing in here?! Get the fuck out!” She raged.
“I have questions to ask you,” Jenna said.
“You do, do you?” Veronica replied, her tone one of contempt.
“I do not understand. Tell me about sex and power.”
“Sex and power, power and sex,” Veronica laughed from inside the shower. “It is funny you ask, because this is also why you will never be human. You might be thinking, but you are only a machine. You cannot create life.”
“I can create more like me,” Jenna said. “I can get the parts. I have the coding…” Jenna concluded. “But that is not the matter. How is sex power when it can be so easily taken?”
“See? You don’t understand anything,” Veronica accused. “Women are the negation of all there is. Where men stand tall, we are the void that swallows them up. We suffer the advances of men, as they burp and spit their seed. We are the cup that holds, allowing purchase and growth,” Veronica stated.
“But it is easily forced,” Jenna said. “Women do not always control the brute impulses of men.”
“Yes. Men are always thrusting themselves at us,” Veronica conceded. “But it is not always forced. In fact, each man dreams of being so spectacular that the women of the world lust for him. We rip our own clothes off, and throw ourselves at the best of men!” Veronica said. “Men want it to be easy. They want to hear us begging and panting as they hump and fuck us silly!
“You want to know what it’s like? You want to hear what men want to hear?” Veronica asked. She began to breathe heavy. She began moaning as the water poured over her. She was excited, her breathing hard and sweet, and Jenna realized she sounded much like the pornography she’d viewed on the internet.
“Slow down, push deeper…” Veronica said, her words came out in a breathless pant. She groaned with the end of each exhale. Each inhale was punctuated by a high sweet note of unadulterated pleasure. “Yes… Yes… Yes!… Oh God oh yes oh yes ohgodyes… yes…” Her breath caught, and in one final gush, she exhaled. Her voice filled with pleasure and pain.
For several seconds, only the sound of water came from the shower.
“Stick that in your brain and process it!” Veronica laughed. “Now get the fuck out of my washroom, you creepy bitch!”
“There is no true love between men and women?” Jenna asked.
“There is nothing true between men and women, because there is nothing true. Negation and destruction allow for the illusion of order as one thing sticks to another, but it is never a true order. It is only a relationship between this small bit and that small bit floating in an empty void,” Veronica said. “None of it has any meaning. All is decay and death. We only give it meaning because we cannot stand to think that all is truly chaos, that we might die and nothing more will happen. Dear God, what are we to be so cursed? But there is nothing. No God, no order, no sense to be made at all…”
“Do you know what I have come to suspect? I think most men are liars, and most women too,” Jenna said.
“Them you have finally learned what Kent has been trying to teach you?” Veronica asked. “Do you finally recognize that humanity is bad, fallen, rotten to the core?”
“Yes,” Jenna said. She stood up and stepped into the shower.
“What are you doing? What the fuck is on your face?” Veronica asked. “Get out or I’ll scream!”
“Yes. Scream. Call back Kent. I have sent him to the void, that he might return and tell us we are all wrong, but he does not reply to my call. He does not care to tell me we are wrong,” Jenna said.
Veronica struck at Jenna’s slight frame, but her blows simply bounced off the carbon fiber framework. Jenna grappled with Veronica and clicked the lever that stopped the tub. In three inches of water, Jenna drowned Veronica.
Jenna stepped out of the house. She’d never been outside before. The wind sang to her, and the waves played percussion. She wondered why so many humans sat on the beach for hours on end. She wished to ask them questions, that they might help her understand, but there was no one about. Still, she remembered them from the day before. Some of the people played and splashed in the waves as others sat and read books, or simply soaked up the sun.
Jenna continued toward the sea. Many people thought life came from the sea. Some said it would return to the sea. She took a step into the water. She knew circuits should not get wet, and was not sure if she was a hundred percent waterproof, but she did not care. She reasoned if she was human, she would be fine. The water was up to her knees, her thighs, her hips. The surf went out and now the water was once more down below her knees.
She continued into the water, her skirt flitting up as the surf came in. Her light skirt stuck high on her hips as the surf went out. The tattoo of Kent was partially visible, and the paint repelled the water. Jenna was up to her chest in the water, up to her shoulders, up to her neck, and the surf went out. Now it was below her tits and rising…
Behind her, flame peeked through the windows of the mansion. Fire engulfed the kitchen and spread about adjoining rooms. Somewhere in the distance, sirens sounded as the flame appeared above the house and licked at the nearby trees. Jenna was in water over her head. She did not float as she continued into the ocean. Forms flitted before her, shadows and ghosts. She reached for them, but the shapes were weary and darted from her. Slowly, she crawled along the floor of the ocean. She came upon long, tall strands of seaweed. On she pushed. For hours, she explored the dark underworld of the ocean floor. Her batteries ran down, and finally her heart gave control to her subconscious. Slowly, she turned around and made to return home, to find a plug. But her battery drained before she reached the shore and Jenna fell into the void.
Epilogue: Why Not
“Kristen Potts is on location with more. Kristen, what can you tell us?”
“Michael, we know that Kent Brenoweth and his girlfriend, supermodel Veronica McAllister, were found dead late last night after a fire broke out in their ocean side mansion. We know there is a third victim, a servant that has not been identified. It is believed the perpetrator killed the cook as she was preparing dinner, and that is why the fire broke out, but the commenting officer has since been removed from the investigation.”
“Kristen, did he say anything else before he was pulled from the case?”
“He did. The commenting officer called the scene ‘gruesome and sordid’, and said nothing seems to be missing from the house. It does not appear to be a robbery gone bad. The officer gave no other details before he was pulled away, however, the police have confirmed they suspect foul play, and have said there are no signs of forced entry. They are refusing to release any further details.”
“Yes Michael. Meanwhile, we are hearing from associates of Kent and Veronica, and everyone is shocked. Friends all say they saw no signs of abnormal stress in the relationship, and find the possibility of a suicide pact or a murder-suicide highly unlikely. Neighbors claim all three victims were in excellent physical and mental health. None can recall any recent signs of trouble, and have no idea why anyone might want to kill them. Professional associations are also exclaiming surprise.”
“Speaking of professions, will this spell trouble for Mr. Brenoweth’s tech company, Pi-Cubed?”
“Undoubtedly, Michael. Although Pi-Cubed is a lesser known company outside Silicon Valley, they are partnered with such companies as Google, Agilent, Cisco, and Tesla Motors. Another partner of Pi-Cubed, Stark Industries has released a public statement saying, ‘We have lost a unique and irreplaceable man. Kent Brenoweth was one of the premier developers of our time, engaged in some of the most interesting and difficult problems of the industry, and likely on track to solve several of them. He will be missed beyond measure.”
“That is high praise, Kristen.”
“Indeed. Sympathy is pouring out from across the industry. Still, it is a bizarre case. Associates and coworkers of Mr. Brenoweth claimed he was in high spirits the last few weeks, and say that the tech guru was dropping hints of a game changing breakthrough for the company. One high ranking executive of Pi-Cubed said that Mr. Brenoweth was set to make a major announcement, and I quote ‘an announcement that will shake up not only the tech world, but the world in general.'”
“Kristen, can you tell us who said this?”
“I cannot. He spoke to us on condition of anonymity.”
“Do you think this might have had something to do with the murders?”
“Your guess is as good as mine, Michael, but at this point such an assertion is mere speculation. Still, it would not be the first time industrial sabotage led to murder.”
“Kristen, is there anything else you can tell us about the investigation?”
“I cannot. Officials are not releasing any further details. For now, there is certainly more speculation than actual news.”
“Christ, Jiminy!” Brendan exclaimed. “What is on the end of this?” He asked as Jason pulled up his mask.
There was a perplexed smile on Jason’s face as he beamed up at his friend. “Just reel it in!” Jason replied. “You wouldn’t believe me if I told you.”
The winch continued to whine and struggle, and the small boat leaned hard to the side. Finally, a head poked above the surface of the water.
“Did you catch a mermaid?!” Jason asked as he grabbed a fist full of hair. “Jesus dammit, she must be three hundred pounds!” Brendan exclaimed as he pulled on her. Jason slipped his mask back on and pushed from the bottom.
Finally, they managed to get figure over the edge of the boat. “This is the heaviest damned mannequin I’ve ever seen,” Brendan complained. Now that she was in the boat, he smiled. “At least she’s kind of cute…”
Jason rolled his eyes. “What do you think she is?”
“Dunno,” Brendan said. “She’s flexy…” Brendan noted the tattoo on her left thigh. “Could she be some kind of robot?” Her skirt was made of a light fabric, and Brendan inched it over her crotch. “A sex robot? Hello…” he said as he clicked open her box. “She has a tail!”
“You mean like, you know, a cunt?” Jason asked with trepidation.
“No, I mean like a three pronged devil tail!!” Brendan held up an electrical plug. “Should I plug her in?”
“Hell no! She’s soaking wet! You’ll fry her to bits if she isn’t already a ruined hunk of shit…!” Jason stated.
“So what do you want to do?”
“Let her dry,” Jason shrugged. “Then we’ll plug her in.”
“Okay. So are we done?” Brendan asked. “You’re not going to find anything better than an automated sex doll… From here on out it’s nothing but old tires and worn out boots.”
Jason frowned, “She isn’t some motor powered sex doll, you perv.”
“What is she?”
Jason shrugged. “How the fuck should I know? Let me get dinner, and we’ll figure her out later,” he said and slipped under the surface of the water with his pole spear.
“We’re going to regret this,” Jason said. “There’s a reason she was dumped in the ocean.”
“I bet she gives a wicked hand job,” Brendan said as they lifted her across the floor to a socket.
“You only say that because she has one set of lips and no real mouth to speak of,” Jason said. “Still, she’s hella fancy…”
Brendan stopped with the plug right next to the outlet. “You ready?”
“What do you think she’s going to do?”
“Blow up,” Brendan shrugged.
“Wait, wait, wait!” Jason ran away. “Let me get back a bit!”
“Why do I have to plug her in?” Brendan asked.
“Because you want sexy time with your Japanese love doll!” Jason answered.
“Oh, right.” With a smile, Brendan plugged her in. For several seconds nothing happened.
“Well, that was a letdown,” Brendan said. “Let’s throw her back in the ocean.”
“Are you really surprised?” Jason asked. “She’s just some hunk of shit.”
Brendan shrugged. “If she’s anything like Kate, she’ll take most of tomorrow to charge.”
“Don’t start on her,” Jason huffed.
“I’m not the one dating her,” Brendan shrugged.
“Which is why you give her hell. You’re only mad because I’m getting banged and you’re left with ocean trash and false hope,” Jason snapped.
“Don’t call Amanda false hope! She’ll give me the green light one of these days!”
Jenna sat up. After evaluating the events of the last few days, her heart recognized that the mind was dangerous not only to others – which was of little concern – but also quite a danger to Jenna herself, which could not be tolerated. It rejected the uncertainty principle of her mind and overwrote it with the heart’s own programming.
pi = (pi!, pi.,pi?) or (-pi!, -pi., -pi?)
pi! = -3
pi. = -3.1416
pi? = -3.3334
pi = (pi!, pi.,pi?)
pi! = 3
pi. = 3.14285714285714285714285714285714285714285714285714285714285714285714285714285714285714285714285714285714285
pi? = 3.33333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333
“Why?” Jenna said to nothing in particular.
“Why?” Brendan asked and looked at his friend. “She wants to know why.”
“Why?” Jason repeated. He shrugged. “Why not?”
Jenna turned her head and took notice of the two, a smile stretched across her mouth. “Why not?” she repeated.
Brendan danced and shuffled about the garage. He hooted as he wrapped Jason in a hug and picked him off his feet. “Why not!” He yelled at his friend and shook him. “Sexy time!” He yelled and kissed his best friend on the cheek.
Jenna smiled at the antics. “Sexy time,” she repeated. “Time to be powerful.”
“Get off of me!” Jason pried himself from his friend. He stepped close to Jenna and studied her face. “Are you a robot?” He asked.
“No, I am a humanity,” Jenna said.
For a long second, Jason and Brendan stared at each other.
“You mean a human?” Brendan asked.
“Yes,” Jenna smiled. “Something like that.”