C. I. B.
by John R. Starvele
They say "there is nothing new under the sun, it's all in the repackaging."
The concept of human transition to robot is very old. I remember a film from 1926 that deals with this subject and parts of the film are even in advertisement on today's TV. Iris and Indy, two friends of mine, women, intelligent and fellow writers have bodies that are going to give out before their minds want them to. I intend to dedicate my in- progress novel, The Ultimate Alternative, to them. In the novel, I have repackaged the first successful attempt of the transition process using U.M.P.s (Ultra Micro Physicians), nanoprobes or nanknights as I see it. I have repackaged the concept again in C. I. B. after the techniques of transition have been well established. It has been predicted that our future computer will be part organic, so I have incorporate it in C. I. B.
My Kendra was a very determined teenager trying to better herself. She was just past the age of jail-bait. Her parents were "white trash" by her own admission. I tried to help. For my help, she forever changed my life. Let me rephrase that; I let her change my life. It has been seventeen years now since I've seen her but I still think of her and, in retrospect, I can say I loved her more than I did my ex-wife, although Kendra and I never had sex, and that not a Clinton definition of sex. I lost my: saving, job, home and wife, and move across the country because I tried to help her. Sometimes when you offer a helping hand, you get pulled instead. My subconscious animosity toward her or my ex wife and what women can do to a man's life may be showing little in C. I. B., however, I would not wish what happens to Kendra on her. But it might be what happened to her since I've last seen her.
One last thought before I leave to C. I. B., always know the conditions of an agreement even if you're in absolute desperation.
C. I. B.
Kendra sat on her bed, the only female on death-row in the Ashtabula Ohio maximum security prison, celebrating her twenty-six birthday. Unless a miracle occurred, she wouldn't be celebrating another one. The last six years of her short life had exhausted all her appeals. She had been visited by representatives of numerous medical institutions wanting her organs and other tissues after her scheduled execution next week. She had refused the #*(&*%$$ vultures.
She thought, I've sure come a long ways all I wanted to do was get out and make something more of my self than rest of my family. Maybe a space explored.
All too often one brief ill-considered action can drastically alter your life. Kendra could still remember as if it was yesterday when it all had started. Seven years ago on a hot July day. Her father had left mid afternoon and had not come back for supper. Her stepmother had some of her fellow ex-cons over, and they were doing a pin thread and ink self-tattooing; she wanted no part of that. Her older Jim was home again. He'd been out now two months and wasn't making it. She liked her brother and accepted his ride to town. She was hoping he would take her to the local bars to look for her father. As they pulled into the corner convenience store, he handed her a ski mask and pulled one over his head. He took two guns from the glove compartment, handing her one and went in.
She hadn't put her mask on but was holding the gun as she followed him.
No, this can't be happing.
She stood by the door as Jim proceeded to rob the store. Her brother didn't see a second clerk who came out from behind display with a baseball bat. The clerk was in mid-swing when she fired. He dropped, dead. In the blur after that, the car chase by state police and a shoot-out she killed two officers. They killed Jim and now here she was.
She was escorted in chains to a secure conference room and tethered to the floor with her chains in chair at a table. She waited only briefly when the two of them, a man and woman wearing gray business suits, entered.
Not more vultures.
They had nothing distinctive looking about them looking like cookies cut out of a mold all so average.
The woman spoke first, "We can prevent your execution and get you of here forever." The man right on cue picked up the sentence, "We have an opening for a C.I.B." The women then spoke again, "If you accept."
Kendra asked, "What's a C. I. B.?"
The man spoke sternly, "No questions, no qualifiers, no conditions just yes or no right now."
I don't have anything to loose, all right. She answered "Yes."
The man produced some papers from his brief case. Kendra signed the appropriate lines on the three copies where he indicated. The woman had removed a syringe from her case and was approaching her.
She said, "It is necessary dear, along with some tissue samples." The man then carried on, "To validate our contract."
Man, that's gotta be the slickest pitch those vultures could ever come up with.
The woman spoke again, "I'll be quick and not hurt you much today."
Kendra considered fighting them as she asked, "You promised to stop my execution and get me out of here."
"A contract's a contract, The man answered, "We will get you out here for forever and you will not die down the hall as so stipulated."
Kendra, reluctant passively submitted to their sampling.
"Thank you Kendra dear. We'll be seeing you soon." said the woman. The Man finished, "Have faith, we honor our contracts." The woman placed one drop of Kendra's blood after each of her signatures on the contract, she had just signed.
The wretched hopeless of the week passed all too quickly. The prison chaplain had been to visit and cosmologist had done her hair, face and nails in preparation.
She kept thinking, Those lying sons of bitches we had a contract! As the guards strapped her to a gurney and rolled her down the hall into the execution room. The prison doctor inserted the IV needle in her arm. She looked around at her observers, she saw them hanging the IV bags, one clear and the other the most absolute beautiful black, lustrous in harsh lights like finely-polished obsidian. The doctor connected tubes from the bags to her IV, opening the valve on the black bag; It was flowing into her body, yet she didn't feel any different.
May be it isn't really going to happen.
The warden asked her, "Any last words?"
She shook her head no. The warden nodded and the prison doctor opened the valve on the clear liquid.
Those lying sons of&*())*.
She woke, feeling cold, especially her back where she lay. Her eyes noted an intense light shining on her from above. She began to explore, her hands were manacled down away from her sides, just as they had been on the gurney and her feet were spread and fettered.
She wondered, Am, I still alive? I think I am.
She tried to sit-up and found she could. She sat naked and bound in a shallow rectangular stainless-steel trough with a drain between her feet. It was at waist height off a tile floor. She noticed the tiles extended all the way up the walls. The black IV bag was still draining into her.
I'm in a morgue on an autopsy table. Maybe I'm really dead.
Two obsidianapparitions approached her from both sides. A chill of pure fright went through her. They were male and female perfection, in polished smooth, raven-black naked forms lacking any distinctive bodily features. Their heads looked like a coal-black octopus had engulfed them; the octopus body at the back of their heads gave their heads a large over hanging protuberance. The obsidian octopus' tentacles engulfing their eyes and ears with smaller tentacles penetrating their heads at various other locations including their nose and mouths.
The male brushed the back of his perfect-black hand against her cheek; Kendra withdrew from his cold touch. He nodded to his partner; the female apparition dipped a finger into the IV bag letting the ever-black liquid drop on table just down from Kendra's left ring-finger. When it hit the table, it splattered, but the spatters coalesced back together into one drop with little tentacles that propelled it toward the end of her finger.
Kendra tried to move her finger out its determined path but it finally landed a tentacle on her finger. It was the most intense pain she had ever felt as the drop secured itself to her fingernail, eating it, as it drew the rest of itself up on her nail, spreading and completely engulfing her fingernail with escalating blinding white pain as it continued to devoured her fingernail like acid. Kendra screamed with the pain. An eternity later to Kendra, her pain leveled off and she had a polished-smooth obsidian-black fingertip. It continued, on and on and on and on, one incredibly painful fingernail and toenail at time until she had all black finger tips and toes. Then they left her.
Kendra during their absence had the last of her human body compelling functions. She defecated and her feces were black. She urinated and it ran down the sloped trough into the drain, black. She lay back on the cold silver table relieved and passed in to sleepless oblivion.
When Kendra woke, her apparitions were again standing at her sides. The black of her fingernails and toenails had spread, almost all of her hands and feet were now totally black. The female helped her sit with her cold touches. Kendra was clean. The male replaced her almost empty IV bag and with a small silver scoop, withdrew some of its syrup-black fluid. The female supported her back with one hand, and with the other she cupped one of Kendra's breasts nipple up, presenting it to her partner. The male poured the black syrup on her nipple. It coalesced, perfectly capping Kendra's nipple, consuming it with pain like acid as the two apparitions held her. She screamed and screamed as the black syrup ate her away her flesh, while her apparitions stroked her arms and legs with their cold touch.
As the smooth-cool obsidian permeated her being her breast now capped the pain subsided and tired relief came over her. The male slowly moved his head from side to side, staring at her, raising his arms turning his open hands slowly in and out in an apologetic gesture. The female apparition stood and with her hands on hips as if knowing and waiting. They repeated the procedure on the other breast before they lef her sleep, exhausted with, nipples capped in black obsidian.
Kendra was sitting up when they came in. She wasn't feeling too bad after her last ordeal, but both of her entire breasts were now obsidian. The apparitions were both carrying bags of liquid obsidian this time. The male again replaced her almost empty IV with his bag. The female poured her's out on the drained table between her legs. It didn't run down the drain but coalesced, sending out tentacles that propelled it toward her crotch. The male with his cold touches indicated she should lie down. He held her head in an almost loving cradle as the female crawled up on the table, straddling Kendra put her hands on her hips so she couldn't move. The liquid found her with an ever-so-searing touch, crawling on her, in her, burning as went. Kendra began screaming. The female apparition, knowing her task had been accomplished, got off Kendra, standing beside her, stroking her arm as the black blob moved into Kendra. It consumed Kendra with terrible pain as it manifested itself in her lower body, feeding on everything that was her; it was the longest eternity of pain yet before they let her sleep, her crotch encased and sealed in polished black obsidian.
Kendra was awake again. The obsidian now was up to her belly button and down her legs. She knew with uniquely human intuition that her trials were near over. She'd be dead, if she didn't make it through the next one, but the next one, whatever it was, was going to be major. It didn't seem her apparitions' wished to kill her. They seemed to be converting her to whatever they were. With resignation, she lay on the table as they entered. He didn't have a replacement bag for her almost empty IV. Kendra offered no resistance as the female lifted her off the table inserting a metal wedge under her back so that her head was off the table. The male attached a strap to the table threading it under one of her arm over her chest and under her other arm securing it to table, cinching her down. Kendra lay, accepting, as she saw her female apparition make a motion, hearing a splat on the table just left of her elevated head. They allowed her to turn and see largest of pulsing black obsidian blobs yet, octopus in size moving toward her, Kendra turned hear head back with resignation and without fear, looking straight into the light, waiting. She prayed. The male patted her forehead as black blob stuck her ear, with instant deafness and excruciating pain, as it ate down Kendra's ear canal pulling itself in position on her head. It found Kendra's left eye, blinding it with more horrific pain as it ingested her eye and penetrated deeper with the rest of it's tentacles finding their spots on her head and burrowing in. It went in her left nostril up deep in head. The left corner of her mouth was next as moved it self into position on her head. It got her right ear next and finally her right eye leaving her in totally obsidian black and absolute sound less eternity with the agony of it devouring her as it worked way into all that was left.
The hearing in Kendra's left ear came back first far more clear and she could hear the voices of her apparitions and others. The sight returned to her left eye and she saw... She also saw the room more clearly than before. Her right ear followed and finally her right eye as the pain leveled off, the obsidian octopus having completed its task left Kendra, seeing and hearing things that she ever had. Kendra understood with clarity things she never did; she now knew what a C. I. B. was and what she soon would be, a Computer's Interned Bride.
Her IV was gone, her fetters and manacles were open. Kendra's now knew the names of her apparitions as they beckoned her ever so lovingly up and off the table.
Holding her polished obsidian hands, they walked past the still electronic part of the Ashtabula mainframe computer. Other obsidian forms were crawling over the boards maintaining the mainframe. They stood at the edge of the central processing pool of obsidian black. They went in together to finish her Transition.
Kendra now understood that Transition didn't have to be painful. For those, those who had led, good lives, and were facing their mortality, there was an Ultimate Alternative. If they elected the Ultimate Alternative, they would peacefully sleep through their Transition and would be free to join or leave the pool as they wished. Kendra also understood that for her crimes, she had to pay her retribution. Her suffering during her Transition would be hers, indelibly coupled with her memories, so she could learn, understand, and grow. She also knew she would for awhile calculate and process, observing, gaining understanding and learning. One day she would rise out of the central processor to work the mechanical parts. Or assist in other Transitions. If she did well, she might be joining the after-lifers out bound for outer solar system colony.
Copyright 1998 -- Author & Science Fiction Museum All rights reserved
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