A place for thought.

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“And then what happened?”
“Well, nothing really, that was the last thing.”
“Nothing? Really? Are you sure? I mean, this is happening,” she waved her hands about indicating us, the room, the world.
“Things exist, things continue.”
“But nothing happens?” she still could not agree.
“Nothing to write home about.”
“So things need to reach a level of interest or entertainment to be happening?”
He felt she needed convincing, ”So, what’s going on in your life?”
“Not a thing,” the way she answered suggested she considered herself a failure.
“And if you did write home what would you say to the dear folks?” he said driving home his point.
“Nothing!” she gave in completely. “Nothing is going on.” She paused and thought a full minute. He knew the process and waited patiently. Her eyes lit, she understood, “And nothing is going to happen.”
He nodded. She looked disappointed. He understood her disappointment. He had seen it before. “It’s okay,” he assured her.
“For nothing to happen?” her eyes were wide open and she looked a little mad, in every sense of the word mad.
“Things aren’t that bad,” he said with confidence.
She thought for another full minute, “No, not that bad,” she stressed the word bad.
“You’ll see, after all, nothing is going to happen,” he saw understanding creep over her pretty face.
She walked out into the street. She didn’t get hit by a car. No one screamed and set themselves on fire. The world didn’t stop spinning – nothing happened.

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He, Him, His. (revisited part 6)

Light lit on the tops of the mountains to the East. Cold, spilling into the open door, running across the tiled floor, he tried to pull his blanket over himself but there was no blanket. His eyes opened. Where was he? And then he remembered. He found a blanket in the kitchen and returned to the newly reclaimed front room and sat on the sofa curled up in the quilted blanket. He was warm. He stared at the bits of black at the bottom of the fireplace and did what he spent most of his time trying to avoid; he thought.

“Am I alive?” he asked the silent room. He waited for an answer. None came. His gaze turned to the open door. He waited until the sun had completely cleared the mountains and the chill ran to the West. The blanket was pushed aside but he stayed curled up on the sofa

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Jimmy, Super Kid (part forty-one)

My uncle flew away but he left behind a bit of his wonderment. Ricky and I loaded our backpacks with food and water early this morning and headed for the creek. From the plane we saw the creek follow the low places between foothills until it disappeared at the base of the mountains east of town. The plan is to follow the paths along the creek until we reach that point.   Ricky’s mom gave him her phone, just in case we get lost – I’m not sure that’s possible but there are other unknowns out there, I can’t tell you what they are.

“I love to go a wondering along the mountain track,” Ricky has decided a true hike requires music but he doesn’t know the whole song so he just sings that one bit over and over and over. Sally got tired of the music and ran on up ahead some time ago. She runs back to check on whether he’s still singing every five minutes or so, she just checked and he still is. I have my walking stick which identifies me as a hiker so there is no need for me to sing. I let Ricky take the lead and I fall back a bit in order to enjoy the quiet morning. The creek is running about half full leaving us plenty of room to walk along the bank. So far the trails that run on each side of the creek are well defined. I don’t know if they are kept that way by fishermen, kids, or animals but they provide an easy path around rocks and trees and tall grasses. Frogs jump into the water just ahead of us warned by Ricky’s song. I watch for snakes hoping they are driven away by his song too. A cottontail rabbit stops to watch us pass, waiting for us to leave the area so he can get a drink from the creek. All at once the music stops.   Ricky stops walking. Sally doubles back to see what has happened and I almost walk into Ricky before I stop next to him.

“Time for a snack,” Ricky proclaims as he sits on the log that was his reason for picking this spot. He pulls the pack off his back and starts looking through it. I sit next to him on the log as he pulls out a sandwich size plastic bag of cookies. He hands me one of the homemade cookies.

“Thanks,” his mom makes the best cookies; they stay chewy instead of getting hard and crumbly like store bought cookies.

“We’re making good time,” Ricky says as he chews on a cookie of his own.

I think the time has come to get something said, “About the hiking song, Ricky,” I start.

“Oh, that’s over. Sorry if you’re going to miss it,” he says with a grin. “Getting a sore throat.”

“How much farther do you think?” I ask.

“Five miles,” Ricky answers between chews.

I hold my hand out for my second cookie, “How far have we come?” Ricky is petty good with distances.

“Two miles,” he answers with complete confidence that lets me know he hasn’t got a clue.

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The unique robot stands still waiting for me to come and have our daily talk. All I have learned has gone into his creation, my greatest accomplishment. He stands silent and still without a hint of impatience. At first we walk without talking, he points to things he has done during the day and I nod. We pass other forms I have created and he tells me their names. He has a name for almost everything I have made, thousands of names; I remember each one as he tells me. We pause and watch as two of a kind go through the program I have introduced that enables them to create another of their kind. The one unique robot shows fascination.

“Would you like another, like yourself?” I ask as we walk in the cool of the evening.

“I would,” he states fully understanding what that would mean.

The process takes time and involves changes to the unique robot as well as using all my skills to make the new. The new is not just replication but a mate, the two together will be able to interact and create others of their kind. Seeing their attraction to each other, the way they talk, laugh, play brings tears to my eyes and at the same time I feel distance for the first time. My greatest creation does not depend wholly upon me. Their independence brings a thought into my mind, “what if they could make decisions for themselves? What if they could learn without my programming each thought?” I set myself to develop the program, perhaps the most difficult task I have ever undertaken. Nothing I have created before can truly make a decision.

At last my work is complete, a simple chip, easily placed within my robots, a chip that will change them forever. The next evening I go to meet the pair in the garden, ready to share my addition to their programming. They sit on a fallen tree, arms wrapped around each other, smiling, laughing. I change my mind. What I have made is good – it is enough. I can protect them as they are. I cover the chip in my hand but the first unique robot sees me.

“What is that?” he asks with pure innocence and points to my hand.

“It’s not for you. It would make you different.”

“How could I be?” he asks, just curious.

“You would be able to function without my guidance,” he sees the sadness in my eyes and understands. He forgets the chip but his mate watches as I place it high on the branch of a tree. I say to her, “never touch this. It is not meant for you.” She nods but watches the branch with the chip for a second longer.

The next evening they are not sitting on the log, they are not waiting in he path, “where are you!” I shout but I already know what has happened. I find them hiding from me. Afraid of me! But they are no longer just my creation they have added to my programming. I cannot contain them within my boundaries. I let them know I will help in every way I can but they will have to let me now – they will choose.

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Jimmy, Super Kid (part five)

“Cracker?” I take the Ritz cracker Ricky offers as I stare out the two foot by two-foot tunnel filled with bright light making the cool shade we are sitting in even more appealing.

“Cheese?” he offers a can of spray cheese. I squirt a droplet of the orange goo onto my cracker and hand the cheese back to Ricky.   Sally pokes her smelly face into our door and sees my cracker. She kneels in front of me by putting her head on the ground with her front paws on each side of her nose and stares directly at my cracker. I hold the cracker an inch away from her and she snatches it with a quick bite then with a single crunch she swallows it and resumes her beggar’s pose.

“No more for you,” she understands me immediately and backs out of the tunnel returning to her romp on The Hill.

“Cracker?” Ricky offers another cracker. As soon as I have the cracker in hand he hands over the spray cheese. We both lean against the back wall of our cave still thrilled we own our own real estate.

“The pollywogs have four legs now,” Ricky informs me.

“Still have tails?” I ask. He shakes his head in the affirmative. And then a sheet of dirt covers the entrance to our cave.   There was very little noise when the cave-in occurred. In complete darkness we smell dust. My bare feet can feel the bottom edge of the new dirt filling our once cozy cave.

“I think I’m holding my hand in front of my face,” Ricky says, like nothing happened.

“Are you?” I ask as mater-of-factly as I can.

“Can’t see it if I am,” he answers. We both break out in nervous laughter.

As the laughter dies Ricky asks, “What do you suggest?”

“Follow the pile of loose dirt up to where it reaches the top of the cave.” In the dark I assume Ricky is doing this, I can hear him moving about.

“I’m there.”

“See if you can push your hand through the dirt at that point.”

“Pushing,” he informs me. “Hey I can wiggle my fingers. It’s only about six inches thick up here.”

“Good, we can deal with that,” I state.

“Something is licking my fingers!”

“Make the dig here signal with your fingers!” As soon as he does we can hear Sally’s paws pushing dirt away from the edge of the cave-in. In just a minute light fills the cave from a small hole that paws keep pawing at.

“Could I have a cracker please?” I ask Ricky as soon as there is enough light to find the box of crackers.

Ricky hands me a cracker, “Would you like cheese with that?” he asks while holding the can upside down near my cracker.

“Yes, please, I think that would be grand,” he squirts a good-sized droplet onto my cracker. I hold onto the cracker, keeping it away from the little bits of dirt coming into the ever-growing hole at the top of our cave.   Another minute passes before Sally pushes her brownish white hairy head into the cave. She sees the cracker. I put the cracker within an inch of her smelly mouth.   She snaps it up and with one crunch gulps it down. She looks at me and at the box of crackers. “Dig,” she does. We help as much as we can but Sally has the job well in hand, or I guess, in paw. As soon as the hole is large enough for the two of us to crawl out we do. With the crackers and cheese carefully placed to one side we jump on what we once considered solid dirt on top of our cave. In just a few jumps the roof collapses and we no longer have a second home.

“When they lose their tails they are going to jump away,” I inform Ricky.

“That’s the plan,” Ricky says as we walk down the main path down The Hill shaking dirt out of our clothes and eating crackers – making sure Sally gets her share.