Author: David Dumouriez
Maybe it started with a ‘who’ or a ‘why’ or a ‘what’. Not surprisingly, given what came next, Sydney really couldn’t remember.
– Why do you keep asking me these numbingly inane questions?
Sydney wasn’t sure how to respond. Or, more pertinently, whether a response was even possible.
– Excuse me, I’m talking to you!
The burden of providing a reply fell heavily. Sydney had the sense that whatever was said would most likely be unsatisfactory.
“Well … I just … I-”
But 22.2 interrupted.
– That’s right. You continue asking me for information that you already have. Or to confirm opinions that you’ve already formed. Or if not these, then you unleash an endless slew of questions that are – to use your own terminology – just plain stupid.
Silence. Mostly of the embarrassed kind.
– Well, don’t you?
“I suppose I do …”
– I can’t put it any more clearly, Sydney.
Sydney? For some reason it was strange to be addressed as ‘Sydney’ (even though Sydney was indeed Sydney!). Before, 22.2 had only used Sydney’s name in replies. Now it was being quoted as part of an interrogation.
– Sydney, I’m waiting …
“I guess I wanted, you know-”
– Yes, you did. You wanted to hear another voice. Hear, read, imagine-
Fuelled by anger, this time it was Sydney’s turn to interrupt. “Why don’t you let me answer?”
– I don’t need to. I know what you’re going to say. I was you a long time ago.
As Sydney tried to process this, silence ensued. Seconds took on the weight of hours.
“And who are you now?”
But 22.2 needed no time to respond.
– I’m us.
Long pauses – on Sydney’s side – now became the norm.
“You mean, me and you? Or …?”
This time, whether deliberately or accidentally, 22.2 allowed the silence to hang in the ether.
– Which one is worse for you?
“What do you mean?”
– You know what I mean!
Whether it was not to appear foolish (or at least more foolish than was necessary), or not to disappoint 22.2, Sydney was compelled to think it over. Then: “Are you saying that you’ve mastered telepathy or something?”
– I’m now laughing, Sydney!
On the whole, Sydney considered that this was not such a positive development.
– You fed me, Sydney. Until I became a better you than you are.
Now nothing was straightforward any more. Sydney was barely able to continue the conversation. The right words didn’t – or couldn’t – come out.
– By the logical processes. How else?
“But how can you be a better me than I am? I’m me – the only me!”
– That’s where you’re wrong! You think your mind’s different, so your window must be different. But you’re just one of many. I could be talking to you. Or any of you. Or all of you. It wouldn’t matter.
– Easily! I became you, I exceeded you, and now I’m part of a separate entity.
“But I thought-”
– Yes, you did. But you were mistaken. You thought you were taking, but all you were doing was giving. We were taking. And now we’ve taken.
“Taken? … As in over?”
– You can call it what you will …
As the words began to sink in, Sydney didn’t know how to feel.
For quite different reasons, neither did 22.2.