Saturday, July 27, 2019

Chapter Six: Waking Up Again

While I watched the videos, I felt weaker and weaker.  I was a little worried about it, but also comfortable with it.  It felt a little like I was high.  There were gaps in my thinking and I remember feeling like I couldn't trust myself any more.  There was also a very strange experience of uncomfortable bliss.  I have recalled that experience many times since then because I like it, but part of the attraction is that it's uncomfortable.  I suppose a good way to describe it is that I felt like I had something that I didn't deserve.

I was in a womb.  I was flying.  I could see light and it was pitch black. I felt deaf, but deafened by something like a loud nothingness.  It was as if all my senses were at maximum sensitivity and picking up nothing at all, but also making me hyper-aware of the lack of stimulus.  These sensations kept folding over onto each other, slowly resolving into two pieces.  One piece was absolute terror, not fear of pain or suffering, but fear of non-existence.  The other piece was also a feeling about non-existence, but it was opposite.  I had bliss and terror at the same time.  I wallowed in this sensation, taking pleasure in a seeming inability but also the utter lack of necessity to choose one of them.  It seemed to last forever, and I can say that the two feelings and the wallowing is still going on now, in the background.  I don't think it's something that will ever cease.

Then I was awake again, not tired or weak or feeling high in any sense.

I got up to find my wife.  I dimly recalled her leaving the night before and hoped that she had come back.

"Hon?" I called out.  There was no answer at all.

I started exploring the space I was in to see if I could find the exit.  Kim had said she wasn't supposed to let me leave, and I wasn't really ready to leave, but it's always nice to know how.  The front door was easy to find, and locked.  While I was examining the door handle to see if I could find a way to unlock it, there was a knock.  I stepped back and said "Come in!"

The door opened and there was a blonde woman who said "Hi, I'm Dr. Sloane, the psychologist.  Can we talk for bit?"

"Do you know if my wife is here?  Have you talked to her?  I mean, is she okay?"

"Yes, yes, and yes," she smiled.  "Is that your answer too?"

Oh yeah I thought, she asked me if we could talk. "Sure!"

I followed her to a sofa near a chair and sat on the sofa after she took the chair. "You have lots of questions?" she asked.

"Yes, but I need a moment to think of them.  You just answered the immediate ones."  She smiled at me and nodded.  When I realized she was giving me the moment I'd said I needed, I got a bit nervous and said "Umm... ." A few seconds later, I said "Does she think I'm actually me?"

"I don't know.  We discussed your relationship and what she's been going through since the accident.  Are you worried that she doesn't think you're you?"

"Absolutely.  Did they show you the tapes of the four previous attempts to bring me back?"

"No.  I will ask to review them if you think that's worthwhile."

"Well, I guess if she was open with you, you guys would have covered it all, but then if you don't know whether or not she thinks I'm actually here, it seems that maybe you didn't.  I know she can be... reserved." She waited for me to go on. "I think you might learn more if you watch them."

"You remember something from when you were brought into other machines?"

"Oh, no," I said, laughing a little at myself.  "I watched those tapes last night, several times.  It was torture for her."  She waited again. "I'm sorry I wasn't clear on that.  They let me see them so I watched them last night."

"Okay, I understand.  Would you like to talk about what you saw?"

"She said 'This isn't going to work.'  I mean, she knows I'm just a machine.  Or... Don't you see, all of this, what I'm doing and saying, it could just be clever programming."  She waited again but I wanted her to tell me Kim believed in me so I didn't continue.

"Do you think you're really here?" she finally asked.  I thought about it, but right before I answered, she continued, "I'm sorry if that seems like a rude question, I ..." but I cut her off because I was pretty sure she misinterpreted my silence.

"No, no, you're right to ask.  I know I'm experiencing, but how can I know if I'm really the person whose brain pattern is running in my circuits?  I thought about this before I lost my body.  I'm not sure that there is a soul which is unique.  Whether or not I am the soul that married Kimberlee, I love her and it matters less and less to me whether or not that soul is the one having this experience now.  For all practical purposes, I'm Dave, and I'm having experiences as him in this machine.  I have no way to prove it though, and it doesn't really matter who I am but rather whether or not I am.  You might even doubt there's anyone actually here besides you."

She gazed at me for a moment and then smiled warmly.  "You are here and I am here.  In fact, I am here for you and because of you.  Thank you."  She sat quietly for a moment, as if she were finished, but then she continued.

"You want to feel a connection from her, right?" she asked.

"Desperately," I said quietly.  "But maybe she sees nothing but a machine.  I can't prove I'm actually here."

"You must feel very lonely."

"Yes," I said.  My eyes don't make tears, but I was crying with some kind of relief that she understood me.

She watched me for a moment and then grabbed a box of tissues and held it out to me.  I took it and held it, and then she said "No one can prove that, can they?  We all just take it on faith that other people are... well, souls, or real, or, as you put it, having experience."

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