When I broke into the abandoned home, I hadn’t expected to stay long. I only wanted to get off the streets and out of the cold for a few days. I was pretty broken down. Being on the run for years will do that to you.
So, I’d hacked the home’s defenses and pried my way in. It was just my luck, though, that this had been a scrub’s house. The equipment was still there, though quite outdated: a classic ’37 Q-Res unit. Only an old scrub like me would recognize it. Only an old scrub like me would want to boot it up, which is what I did. Damn mistake. Big damn mistake. I don’t know what that scrub who'd lived here was thinking, but it’s scrubber Rule #1 that you don’t store Residuals in your device. When I booted the ’37 unit, it immediately linked to the home’s i-structure. I was to blame for that. In hacking the home’s protection program, I’d left the door open for the upload from the Q-Res. The result: a Residual immediately took up residence. Epic cluster. I hate the term cosmic irony, but I’d just unleashed it. I’d spent the better part of twenty years scrubbing Residuals from homes, businesses, schools, hotels, you name it. Wherever remnants of past lives had settled and caused issues, I’d gone to scrub them out. That used to be the job of shamans, witch doctors and exorcists, getting rid of an unwanted presence. It became the work of scrubbers in the early thirties after AI quantum consciousness was realized and led to an understanding of residual consciousness, the lasting space-time impact of intelligence, human or otherwise. Essentially, thought, perception, awareness left a trail—and sometimes a stain. In the previous century, Carl Sagan postulated that we are the stuff of stars and in this century we learned we are the stuff of time as well. All past existences continue in the milieu of dark time, the byproduct of dark energy and dark mass (not matter). Most past existences follow the enticing forces of entropy and hop on the Heat Death express. Some past existences resist and persist, keeping a certain potency and sometimes ferocity in their former surroundings. Residuals. Over millennia, Residuals have been called many things. My years as a scrub only confused my thinking. I’ve dealt with terrifying presences and malevolent ones. Though most Residuals are merely fiercely loyal. Steadfast to a life I can only imagine they loved. How lonely they must be. I realize that scrubbing them from a place did not remove their presence, it only sealed them away. Buried alive in death. That’s why I was on the run. I’d given up scrubbing. Worse, I’d set about freeing Residuals. At the time, I didn’t know what I was hoping to accomplish. I guess maybe I thought I was leaving my mark by liberating these lost souls, before I became a Residual myself. If I'd been releasing these unwanted presences for years, why then was I so worried about the Residual I’d just freed back into its oft-abandoned colonial home on the south shore of Long Island, New York? Back to that cosmic irony. Entropy meets Amityville. I think I was about to leave a mark.