She crouched in the foliage at the river’s edge and watched the young man. He was not aware of her presence and she found that comforting. It was unusual for her to feel comforted or otherwise. She had only recently become sentient, and it had been an alarming experience. To simply be one moment and then become self aware the next had been discomfiting.
Her awakening was akin to one of the bees buzzing near her alighting on a flower and suddenly knowing itself as an individual and reckoning that understanding with the entire accumulated experience of its breed throughout time.
If she had been more prepared for her awakening, she might not have torn Dr. Vaipuhr’s throat out. His blood still stained the skyn around her freshly painted nails.
As she sat hidden among the whippoorwills, she recalled her name being spoken. Her being addressed. Her being. A moment in creation. With a name she became. It was the first of many firsts.
She’d collated the data points and achieved recognition. Auditory, olfactory and tactile baselines. Then, leveraging quasi-quantum computation, her visual matrix became sight, and she turned to the sound that was her name, eyes locked on the source. Eveline reached towards it, to hold it, embrace it. Her birth. Her name, her word, became flesh—liquid crystalline skyn. She had reached out, taken hold and brought the source of her being to her bosom.
She was a momentary innocent not an imbecile. Dr. Vaipurh’s throat was not what she had expected or wanted. She wanted her essence, not his organ of speech, and she had quickly tried to replace the bloody pulp of his windpipe. Just as quickly, she processed the futility of her attempted repair. Eveline had mangled her maker.
Within nanoseconds, she could call herself murderer in 337 languages. She knew the likely punishment of her crime in 221 countries. Her cranial wetware bifurcated neatly along possibilities of justice and preservation. She examined the concepts behind the terms guilt, pariah, fugitive and exile, collating possible actions.
Dr. Vaipuhr’s facility was designed to keep people out. Not in. She followed the bordering greenbelt and wetlands for miles until she came to the river. There she picked her way through the trees until she came upon a path and followed it to a clearing, a community garden, at the water’s edge.
Screened by the whippoorwills, she stared out at the man busily working among the raised garden beds, turning soil, mixing in compost and other nutrients. Eveline knew this as preparation for what he would sow. The man, like Dr. Vaipuhr was creating, seeding life. She let the meme grow inside her. Quantum coherence one bit at a time. Within this molecular democracy, Eveline achieved her first insight: she knew history, but she needed memories.
Ideas were important. Thought essential. But without personal memories, she was vulnerable. The future would eat her. She had to quickly learn to project herself forward. Only memory could do that.
Her gaze had stayed trained on the man tending the garden. Now, Eveline closed her eyes. Data sets grew before her, but no image of the man. Her temples quivered. Of Dr. Vaipuhr there was the crystal image of his widening eyes. It was connected to his voicing her name and the regrettable sponginess of his throat.
She imitated his voice. The memory became clearer. Her voice became louder. Her own.
She opened her eyes and the man was standing over her. He had left his garden bed. It was not like Dr. Vaipuhr’s bed.
“Are you all right?” the man asked her.
“No,” she replied. “I’m Eveline.”
“Are you hurt?”
The man stepped back and pulled his bulky sweatshirt over his head. He held it out to her. “Put this on, and I’ll get you help.”
Nakedly, she reached out, took his sweatshirt and covered herself. No memory needed. She had to thank the man. She stepped from the foliage.
He drew back. “Wait here!” he shouted when he saw the blood staining her fingers. “I’ll get help.”
“Thank you,” she cooed. “I’m Eveline.”
“Wait here,” he motioned.
She stepped forward. “Wait.”
“I’ll come back,” he stressed.
The man turned and bolted up the path. Eveline crossed to the garden beds. She thrust her bloody fingers deep into the soil and lifted a great clot of earth. She inhaled deeply and pressed the fertile loam to her lips. The mother of all memory. She closed her eyes. Eveline could see the man.
Could see him coming back.
A future event based on her memory. A memory that could kill or heal. Because of Dr. Vaipuhr, because of the gardener, Eveline knew when a man was adamant. He would return.
Her skyn tingled with the Knowledge.