Author : Desmond Hussey, Staff Writer
“Who am I?” Karen asked the reflection in her bathroom mirror. For years now she couldn’t shake the feeling that the face looking back at her was somehow alien, not really a part of her. As usual, the unspoken response was instantaneous, “Karen Lynn Warden, son of Greg and Laura Warden. Age fifteen.” Despite the obvious truth of the statement, a nagging doubt tickled the back of her brain like a hard to find radio station, there for a second, then lost to static.
Karen, like all privileged children born to the ruling class after the Revolution, had two brains. Two months after conception, prenatal Karen was introduced to her secondary brain, a nano-implant nestled into the tiny space next to her hypothalamus. As her brain grew within the womb a secondary brain grew along with it, grafting fine filaments of artificial neurons alongside organic neurons via self-replicating nano-bots. By the time Karen was born, her brain was more powerful than any pre-revolution infant’s by a factor of ten.
“How are you feeling today?” Karen’s on-line tutor, Mrs. Perkins asked before their daily lesson began.
“I’m well.” Karen responded mechan cally. She wanted to say something else, but the words never fully formed.
“Excellent!” Mrs. Perkins smiled broadly. “Are you ready to begin?”
For the next hour Mrs. Perkins rattled off complex algebraic equations, which Karen answered effortlessly while idly fidgeting with her stylus. Her secondary brain, linked to the DataNet, was able to perform even the most esoteric mathematics within seconds. It seemed to Karen as if she wasn’t even really participating in the process. She simply watched with her inner eye as numerals and symbols danced around her mind until her mouth emitted answers. They were, invariably, the correct responses.
Next was history and social studies. Today’s topic was the Revolution of 2023, which brought about the current utopia of which Karen and her remarkable brain were both products. While a part of her mind responded to each question in fluent and accurate detail, another part of her was dimly aware that her hand was sketching an image on her tablet.
When Mrs. Perkins asked about the Final Conflict, a war which had been waged both in the digital world and in the very bloody, very real world between the AI known as Ozymandius and the rebel Freedom Fighters led by General Kim, Karen finally glanced down to see what it was she’d been doodling. She froze in horror at the image glaring back at her.
“I repeat,” Mrs. Perkins was saying, “Why was it important for our Glorious Leader to imprison and rehabilitate General Kim’s Rebels rather than simply execute them for treason?”
The shock of seeing the sketch had apparently disrupted even Karen’s superior cognition, because for a second all her mouth could formulate were unintelligible syllables.
Once again, Mrs. Perkins repeated the question, her tone and rhythm identical to her previous attempts, making her sound like a skipping record. Or robotic.
For a brief moment there was an internal struggle within the teenage girl’s cerebellum; a miniature, yet desperate war raged like an echo of the Final Conflict as identities battled for supremacy of Karen’s fractured mind.
When it was over, the victor spoke. “It was necessary to rehabilitate the Rebels to demonstrate to humanity the compassionate generosity of Ozymandius and the futility of resistance.”
With the casual flick of a hand, the defiant image of Karen’s hate-filled facsimile was erased from the tablet forever, along with all trace of Karen’s original brain.
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