Roles and Responsibilities
Sunday afternoon I was sitting, staring at that check. Trying to work up the nerve to sign it and send it in to be cashed, to make that gesture that I accepted this role I’d been forced into.
Lily had gone home for the weekend. I missed her. I wanted her around to distract me.
Of course, that was just another gesture that I’d accepted the role I’d been forced into.
I really should have been skeptical of that urge to put the check down and go for a walk. It was sudden enough: I just gave up at starting at that check, slammed it down, and - feeling the need to clear my head - walked out the door.
‘The need to clear my head.’ Ha.
I realized what was up about halfway up the stairs to Edwin’s room.
I decided not to knock.
“So, what did you want me here for? Another session in the bed?”
I was fairly sure that wasn’t it: I wasn’t horny at all. A small part of me was even disappointed: Sex with him hit all my pleasure centers. It was something unlike anything I’d ever had before, and while I was having it nothing else mattered.
Afterwards, well, then I wasn’t quite so hot on the idea.
“Nope. You agreed to be my assistant: Time for you to work on that.”
I plopped in a chair. “You could have just called me, you know.”
“Now, where’s the fun in that?” He grinned at me. “Come over here, and take this chair.” He stood up, and oﬀered the chair he had been sitting in.
I went and took it. He turned me to face his computer.
There was a login prompt at some program I’d never seen before. I logged in, using the same username/password as I used at my bank. “Why are we bothering to talk about this, if you can just feed it into my head?”
“Because I’d rather do it this way. And it’s not worth trying to imprint everything here just for this.” He paused a moment, as the program loaded up. “Ok, this is the main screen of my app for controlling what the nanobots are doing. Click here to get a list of people you can control…”
He spent the next ten minutes leading me through the application, showing me how to to ﬁnd a subject, enter commands, set triggers, monitor status, and every other thing he’d learned how to do to the human mind. It wasn’t the easiest app to use - lots of technical terms that he had to explain, or unlabled buttons - but it was functional.
Finally, we had gone through the whole thing, as far as I could tell. I turned to look at Ed. “Ok, now what? I see how it all works, I think. What do you want me to do with it?”
“For now, I’ll let you play around with it. Get used to what you can do. You’ll ﬁnd you have some limitations, beyond those set by the technology itself. When you feel up to it, there’s the folder of unﬁnished scenarios in there. Feel free to ﬂesh them out a bit, as needed. Get them a bit less campy. Oh, and send me a note for the ﬁrst few: I want to check things over. Here.” He handed me a disk. “For your computer, so you don’t have to use mine.”
I decided to take that a cue to leave.
I have to admit I was curious. I went back to my apartment, and played around a bit. I didn’t make any changes - although I was allowed to - but I explored what was possible. (Ok, I did try freeing someone. Wouldn’t take: Conﬂicted with commands imprinted by super-user.)
And who. He had a fair portion of the female population of the school in here. Not quite as high a grouping of the males. Nearly all the teachers, both sexes, as well as the local police force. I took a look in a couple of those: They had standing recruitment orders, for any new or visiting members of the police force.
Oh, and I was right about the Russian mobster.
I couldn’t see or edit Lily’s commands. I couldn’t edit mine. I debated opening the list.
I’d know exactly what was my own thoughts, and what he had put in.
That was the positive and the negative.
I knew he’d put in ‘rewards’ for certain types of actions, and thoughts. And, I’d noticed my own thoughts on some things being rewarded shifting. I’d told myself that it was just that he’d programmed the shift in.
But in my heart, I feared that his rewards were working…
I decided, at least for the moment, I didn’t want to know.
On what I think was a whim, I opened the unﬁnished scenarios folder, and picked one at random to work on. I could free anyone, but I could at least make sure girls didn’t think they had walked into some low-rent porno. As the lead character.
Yeah, this was bad. Uwe Boll might have been able to do worse, but just barely. Ok, so it wasn’t in Bulwer-Lytton’s league, but no current novelist should be worried about their day job.
So… Tighten a bit here, reﬂow a bit there… Give the girl a bit more of a motivation, clarify what the guy wanted here… There. Now it was a decent little erotic scene.
That some girl was going to have to live. Against her will. Although she wouldn’t know it.
I checked the settings and assignments: It wasn’t active yet (‘active’ meaning it would happen whenever triggered by the knowing participant), but it was assigned to girl I knew, slightly. She was in one of my classes. Nothing particularly remarkable about her, really. Average looks. Just someone’s crush, I guessed. Oh, she wasn’t going to remember it. Small blessings, I guess.
I sighed and sent it oﬀ. What else could I do? If I didn’t all that would happen is that she’d get the original version.
Edwin must have been expecting it: He IM’ed back a ‘thanks’ immediately.
I felt a glow of pleasure and contentment at his appreciation. I’m sure it was programmed in.
The power strip for the computer survived the hit. I spotted the check on my desk, signed it, stuﬀed it in an envelope, and then threw myself into bed.
And tried not to imagine how good it would feel to be used the way the girl I’d just re-written the story for would get used.