Oracle turns to his left, turns to his right, and then spins suddenly and looks behind him. He turns back to MJ.
Voice: Yes. You must help me.
Suddenly the world fades to white. Joey has vanished. MJ stands up and looks at Oracle, confused. She then looks up.
MJ: You aren't being very helpful. How can we help you if you don't tell us how?
Oracle: I don't think he means "we". I think he means "me".
MJ looks at Oracle, and Oracle maintains eye contact with her.
Oracle: Why did you talk through the boy?
MJ: Thy boy?
Oracle: I told you. Sometime worlds are people, sometimes people are worlds, sometime the titles are arbitrary. The boy was the world's attempt to interact with us.
Voice: He was always my favorite. I had such hope for him.
Oracle reaches into his coat and removes what looks like a high-tech screwdriver. He looks at it for a second.
Oracle [muttering to himself]: Useless.
Oracle tosses the object behind him.
Oracle: So something happened, and everything stopped. Was it a virus? Were you incompatible with an upgrade? Perhaps a corruption of some sort?
Voice: I was taken over. Everything was deleted. No one came to save me.
Oracle: But you're the Motherworld!
Voice: Only one of many Oracle. I was only able to save the last few moments of my existence, and I have simulated those moments for eternities looking for the answer.
Oracle: And how can I help?
Voice: You must find the answer, Oracle.
Oracle: But surely, the answer isn't here. I'm not even sure what the question is!
Suddenly, the world blinks. A moment later, it blinks again. It begins blinking rapidly and asynchronously. Suddenly, Oracle and MJ are on a sunny countryside, high on a hill. Oracle looks around. He pulls his phone out from his pocket, stretches it, and suspends it in the air.
Oracle: Now where could we be now?
Oracle looks at the screen of the phone.
Oracle: Well then, that's quite the development.
Monday, October 22, 2012
A Voice of Reason
MJ and Oracle turn towards the voice. A young boy stands before them.
Oracle: Well, who are you?
Boy: My name's Joey.
Oracle: And what are you doing here?
Joey: I live here!
Oracle: You live here?
Joey: Mister, I just said that.
MJ: But you should be frozen!
Oracle: Not true, MJ. Only the people who are generated by the loop are frozen.
Joey looks around.
Joey: What do you mean? Why are all these people frozen?
Oracle: Joey, there has been a glitch and we're here to fix it.
Joey: What's your name?
Oracle: My name is Oracle, and this [Points to MJ] is MJ.
Joey: Oracle is a really weird name.
Oracle: Weird? What if I said Joey was a weird name?
Joey: Joey is a normal name! There's a lot of people named Joey. I've never met an Oracle before.
Oracle: Neither have I.
MJ turns to the little boy, and bends down until she is eye level with him.
MJ: Could you tell us what's going on here? What do you remember?
Joey: What do I remember? What do you mean?
MJ: Do you know where you live? Where you grew up?
Joey: Of course I remember!
Oracle: You remember? Is there anything you don't remember, Joey?
Joey: What do you mean?
Oracle: When's your birthday? What'd you do in school today? Last breakfast?
Joey: September 12th. Linear algebra. Bacon, eggs, sausage, chocolate sauce.
Oracle: Chocolate sauce?
Joey: I programmed it myself. My parent's don't know, don't tell them, please Mister!
Oracle turns to MJ and whispers into her ear.
Oracle: Something is wrong here. He should have forgotten something.
MJ: What if his parents bought their memory back?
Oracle: That's possible, but we're not even sure that's what's going on.
Oracle turns back to Joey.
Oracle: So Joey, has anything weird happened lately?
Joey: What do you mean?
Oracle: Has anyone forgot anything? Maybe a lot of people forgetting things?
Joey: No, not that I know of Mister.
Oracle: Do you remember what were you doing before you met us?
Joey: I'm…I'm not sure.
Oracle: When we first met, you said we weren't going anywhere. Why was that?
Joey: I said what?
Oracle: You said we weren't going anywhere.
Joey: I didn't say that!
Oracle looks around. He turns back to MJ.
Oracle: He's either lying or it really wasn't him.
MJ: How could it have not been him?
Suddenly Oracle has a moment of clarity. He looks shocked and excited.
Oracle: MJ, did you receive the message through Iris? No, of course you didn't.
Oracle: My phone received and saved the message. Only not as a message, but as a sensation. Isn't it strange that we heard a voice, rather than receiving a message straight through Iris?
MJ: What's Iris? I don't understand.
Oracle: I have an idea MJ. We aren't where we think we are.
MJ: Where do you think we are?
Oracle: We're in an old, old version of Knossos. This isn't a trap. These are bugs. We've managed to find our way into a back-up Knossos, one of the earliest. Iris wasn't implemented immediately. There were versions without direct messaging, we still used voices.
MJ: Oracle, that's impossible. There's no such thing as Iris!
Oracle: You're using back-up memories.
MJ: Back-up memories? And what about you?
Oracle: I have all my memories.
MJ: And you didn't say anything?
Oracle: I didn't know. It's more fun to level the playing ground, really. I've been working on back-ups as well. But when I figured it out, my phone gave me access to the rest.
MJ: How'd you know about this Iris thing if you had back-up memories? What is Iris anyways?
Oracle: Don't worry about how or what. We should worry about how to get back to the present.
Voice: Not before you help, Oracle.
Sunday, October 14, 2012
An Interesting City
Oracle and MJ are standing in the middle of a crowded city intersection.
MJ: Why'd you bring us here?
Oracle: It's the last place you've been. It's always good to retrace your steps.
MJ: But they'll all lose their memories!
Oracle: If you haven't noticed, we aren't looping. I stopped the loop.
MJ looks around. The crowd is still.
MJ: So what do we do here? Got a plan?
Oracle: Clues. We'll look for clues.
Oracle removes a notebook from his back pocket, and then pulls out a pencil from behind his ear. He begins scribbling.
MJ: Clues are good.
Oracle: Do you remember being here?
MJ: Not really, no.
Oracle: Well, that's problematic. Luckily, I remember being here.
MJ: How does that help?
Oracle: This isn't just any city. This was the first city, the blueprint for all other cities. The world that gave, and still gives, birth to all other worlds.
MJ: Worlds give birth to worlds.
Oracle: Exactly. Some people even give birth to worlds. Some worlds even give birth to people. Some worlds are people. Some people are worlds. It's all rather ambiguous and exciting.
MJ looks around at the assortment of people surrounding them.
MJ: How can a person be a world? Or a world be a person?
Oracle: Sometimes the world produces people, like in the loop I found you in. The people it produces are passable - you'd never know the difference. On the other hand, sometimes the world decides it needs to be incarnated. When you meet a world incarnate, you'll know it. Well, usually you do. Maybe you won't. Like I said, ambiguous.
Oracle lifts a camera from around his neck and points it at MJ. The camera flashes and a photo drops from the bottom. He picks it up and watches it as it slowly develops.
MJ: An antique camera!
Oracle: An antique? I just built it!
MJ: Just built it?
Oracle: Just now. It's the one hundred and seventieth model.
MJ shrugs. Again, she looks around, scanning the city.
MJ: So why would I have been here?
Oracle: It's quite clever, really. Turn the Mother World into a self-replicating memory wipe. Whenever a new world is created, those entering it will be trapped. Eventually you could clear all of Mneomsyne.
MJ: Wouldn't people notice? Couldn't people be contained to the existing worlds?
Oracle: You're right. People would certainly notice. And the traps could certainly be avoided. So why would someone corrupt the center of the entire universe, just to cause some temporary chaos? Not that temporary chaos isn't fun. It is.
MJ: What if the memories aren't completely gone?
Oracle: What do you mean?
MJ: Your phone. You said it has its own memory. What if the memories aren't being deleted, but are being moved somewhere else?
Oracle: Memory extraction. Maybe even memory ransom.
MJ: So what do we do?
Oracle: What do we do? Or what do you do?
MJ: Obviously I'm going with you!
Suddenly, a new voice is heard.
Voice: Neither of you are going anywhere.
Wednesday, October 10, 2012
The Girl With The Forgettable Face
Oracle is sitting, legs crossed, floating in the air. His phone is stretched into a screen in front of him. Using both hands, he holds a gigantic pencil and writes on the screen.
Oracle: I think I've nearly figured this out. I love when that happens.
MJ peeks around the corner of the phone.
MJ: I still don't understand. It's just black. What are you poking?
Oracle: No time to explain. I've managed to make several changes to the room's code, and I think you're safe for now.
MJ: Safe? For now? What are you talking about?
Oracle: These rooms pop up now and then. They're quite crude, but effective.
MJ: [Worried] Effective? Effective at what?
Oracle: These rooms were programmed at the dawn of Knossos, to defend against spies. They're a sort of prison. You become locked in a loop, but unlike the natural glitches of Knossos, your memory is constantly updated. As you run out of space, your old memories get erased to make room for the new ones. You live in the loop until all you can remember is wandering. You won't even remember your own name.
MJ: But I remember my name!
Oracle: Yes, how lucky of you. [Oracle opens his coat and replaces the pencil.] We'll need to get out of here. It will be harder for you than it will be for me.
MJ: And why is that?
Oracle: When you travel between worlds, your personal code is compiled upon entry. The world essentially reassembles you, provided the world's compiler is appropriate.
MJ: You're talking like there's more than one compiler.
MJ: Why would there be more than one compiler? I've never been to a place that couldn't compile me.
Oracle: Plenty of wonderful, magical, beautiful worlds use alternative compilers. The use of alternative compilers is mostly for security purposes.
MJ: Why wouldn't Themis want us to visit these worlds, if they're so magnificent?
Oracle: A lot of them are experiments. Some are private worlds for the rich. A rare few are self-generated.
Oracle: Of course. Just as people produce new people, some worlds produce new worlds.
MJ: How do you know of these worlds? How do you get into them?
Oracle stands up. He taps the phone and it returns to its normal size, falling through the air into his hand.
Oracle: The phone. It can compile anything anywhere.
MJ: Anything anywhere? How?
Oracle: You keep asking questions that I don't have time time to answer. I really, really hate questions.
MJ: Fine. One last question then. Why was I locked in a loop to erase my memory?
Oracle: That was the question I was hoping you'd answer. I do know one thing, however.
Oracle: You've got to be important.
MJ: What do you mean? Why am I important?
Oracle: You see? Questions. All you do is ask questions.
Oracle removes a glass from his back pocket. He sets it in the air and reaches into his coat, removing a bottle of whiskey. He pours it into the glass and returns the bottle to his coat.
Oracle: You put yourself here. [He sips the whiskey.] You created this world, and you locked yourself in it. [With a tone of curiosity.] Now what was it you were trying to forget?
MJ: Forget? I wasn't trying to forget anything!
Oracle: Not only have your forgot almost everything, but you have an interesting security feature. An interestingly clever, yet terrifyingly evil, security feature.
MJ: And that is?
Oracle: Whenever you're compiled, you initiate one of these loops. You, and everyone around you, will be trapped. No one will ever be able to remember meeting you, and I have a feeling it has been this way forever.
Oracle opens his jacket and removes a thermometer from the inside pocket. He walks towards MJ.
Oracle: Open up!
Before MJ can protest, Oracle inserts the thermometer into her mouth. Oracle looks down at his watch, tapping his foot impatiently. Finally he removes the thermometer and looks at it closely.
Oracle: Well then! This settles it! [Oracle throws the thermometer over his shoulder.]
MJ: What's settled?
Oracle: What? Oh, don't mind that right now. Let's get out of here, shall we?
Sunday, October 7, 2012
A Man With a Phone
All of the suited men have frozen in place. MJ touches a man to her right; he does not respond. She looks back to Oracle, who is looking into the eye of a man using a magnifying glass.
MJ: They've frozen!
Oracle turns towards MJ. He puts the magnifying glass back into his coat and walks towards MJ.
Oracle: You could say that. I've stopped the loop so we can investigate.
MJ: You can't just do that!
Oracle: Maybe you think you can't, but that doesn't mean I can't.
MJ: Clearly! Are you a hacker?
Oracle: Hacker? Maybe. Not quite. Possibly a tiny bit. Matters who you ask.
MJ: So how did you stop the loop? You can't just freeze time! Knossos has rules about these things! It's not allowed!
Oracle: Almost anything is allowed, if you have this.
Oracle pulls the small rectangle from his pocket and hands it to MJ. She looks at it, puzzled.
MJ: I can't identify this. I've scanned the entirety of Mnemosyne and it doesn't exist!
Oracle: But it does! It's in your hand. Why trust your memory when you can trust your senses?
MJ: We only experience sensation after the memory of it has been created and saved! I'm feeling it, seeing it, but Mneomsyne tells me there's no record of it, that I've never seen, it's like I'm not seeing it, but I am.
Oracle: Fickle beast, memory. Almost as fickle as mortality.
MJ: Is it because you've paused the loop? Has it disrupted the Link?
Oracle: No, no. That's not quite it. Give it here, I'll explain.
MJ hands the rectangle back to Oracle. He sets it in the air and then begins to look through his pockets. He withdraws a small cell phone and hands it to MJ.
MJ: A cell phone? These are ancient! Why do you have all these useless trinkets? We don't need them!
Oracle: Useless? You know what's useless? All the power in the universe, if you don't have a bit of fun with it. Now press the send button.
MJ looks at the cell phone and presses a button with her finger. A ring is heard. She scans her surroundings for the source, and eventually stops when she sees the floating black rectangle. She grabs it from the air and holds it close to her ear. She investigates each side of the object and looks back at Oracle.
MJ: Is this a phone too?
MJ: How can you stop a loop with a phone? Why do you even have a phone? A phone that doesn't exist?
Oracle: It's a rather special phone. Why wouldn't you want a phone?
MJ: Where did you find this?
Oracle: I've always had it.
MJ: Always? That's impossible! Everything you say is impossible and irrational!
Oracle: More like priorly improbable. Very little is impossible, especially here.
MJ: And why can't I remember it? Why can't anyone remember it?
Oracle: You can remember it. My phone has it's own memory bank, it doesn't go through Mneomsyne. It's safer that way. National security, that type of stuff.
MJ: If the phone is so dangerous, why do you have it?
Oracle: I like to live on the edge.
MJ: Yes, right. How silly of me! You're such a daredevil, riding your bicycle and calling people on cellular phones. Well Mr. Danger, what else can it do?
Oracle: How about what can't it do? Much shorter list, if the list still exists. I'd have to find it first.
MJ: You have a list of things it can't do?
Oracle is searching through his pockets, unsuccessfully.
Oracle: I know I have that list somewhere. [Pauses to think.] I remember now!
Oracle removes his shoe and reaches inside. He withdraws a small sheet of paper, looks at it, and hands it to MJ.
Oracle: There you go.
MJ: [Reading.] An extended list of things the phone cannot do. One. Things that are impossible. [MJ turns the paper around and looks at the back. She turns it around again.] That's all? What kind of list is this?
Oracle: The extended list.
Wednesday, October 3, 2012
The man is riding a bicycle through a crowd of men in dark suits; they do not seem to notice him. Suddenly he collides with a young girl. He quickly gets up and bends over to help the girl. She stares up at the man. Both looks confused.
The Man: Why, hello there! The name's Oracle. At least people keep calling me that. Not sure why. Your name?
Girl: [Confused.] You're riding a bicycle.
Oracle: Yes, yes I am.
Girl: Why are you riding a bicycle?
Oracle: Why aren't you riding a bicycle?
Girl: I don't need to ride a bicycle. Neither do you. People don't ride bicycles! Where are you going that requires a bicycle?
Oracle: Where aren't I going? And why would I do it without a bicycle?
Girl: You could just request access from Hermes and be there! Instantly! No need for a bicycle!
Oracle: No need for a bicycle? There's no need for anything around here, so why make such a fuss about my bicycle? Seems rather arbitrary.
Girl: You aren't making any sense!
Oracle: I'm making perfect sense, you're the one walking in circles in a room full of copies.
Girl: Walking in circles? Copies? What do you mean?
Oracle: Look around! Do you know where you are?
The girl finally gets up, pats herself off, and looks around.
Girl: Well, no. No, I don't know where I am. Why can't Hermes find this place? Why are all these men identical?
Oracle: They don't include glitches in Hermes' database. They don't exactly want people hanging out in shady spots like these.
Girl: A glitch?
Oracle: A poorly coded loop in this case. Great place for a morning ride.
Girl: [The girl is becoming noticeably flustered.] But I thought when those things happened, we weren't supposed to know!
Oracle: You're right. When a person experiences a bug, the experience is never saved to their Mneomsyne subdirectory. You should experience dozens of bugs a day, but you don't. [Laughing.] Although I'm not really sure why you would want to miss them.
Girl: But if this is a bug, why do I remember being here? Why am I here right now?
Oracle: That's exactly what I'd like to know. And if we'd like to work towards the answer, we should start with your name.
Oracle holds out his hand, and the the girl shakes it, hesitantly.
Girl: My name's Mary. Mary Johnson.
Oracle: Well MJ, it's nice to meet you. Now, shall we sort out why and how we've met?
Before MJ can respond, Oracle reaches into his pant pocket and pulls out the rectangular object. Holding it in his hand, he pushes the face of the object with his thumb.
Monday, October 1, 2012
A man is sleeping. Suddenly, a loud, echoing monotone ring is heard throughout the room. The noise awakes the man, who slowly sits up. He stretches his arms and cracks his neck to the left. The ring continues, becoming increasingly loud. The man withdraws a small, flat black rectangle from his pocket with his left had and presses the center of the object with his right pointer finger. The ringing abruptly stops. He presses the rectangle several more times and a window appears on the wall. The man looks through the window.
Man: Shit day today.
The man presses the rectangle again and the window disappears. He grabs the rectangle on either side and stretches it until it is several feet wide, letting go once it has nearly reached the width of his own wingspan. The rectangle is left suspended in the air. Reaching into his coat pocket, he begins to pace across the room.
Man: How shall we look today? Red sky? Blue sky? No sky? [He chuckles to himself.] Now that idea didn't work out too well last time.
He removes a paintbrush from his coat and turns toward the floating rectangle. He begins to make large strokes onto it with the brush; with time the strokes begin to get shorter and more frantic. Finally he stops and takes a step back.
Man: Well, this will have to do.
He returns the paintbrush to his pocket and presses the center of the rectangle. It collapses back to its original size and then falls through air, landing in his outstetched hand. He presses it once more and the window opens again. The man approaches the window and looks out.
Man [with a sense of accomplishment] : All sky. [He smiles.] Not a bad idea, if I do say so myself.
He presses the rectangle and vanishes.