Search This Blog

Thursday, February 8, 2024

Immersion Chapter 14 The Journey to the Edge (Fear of Death)

Welcome to Immersion, You have reached strata 14

Fear is an intensely unpleasant emotion (often felt physically by humans) in response to perceiving or recognizing danger or threat. Fear is peculiar to sentient beings; humans and some animals.

Afraid face by Sarnia de la Mare FRSA for Book of Immersion
The human brain decides in milliseconds to defend, attack or flee at the point of fear.
Long-term fear has slower responses but is not necessarily well-measured as assessing true risk is extremely subjective. Humans feel fear differently depending on age, upbringing, social conditions and external manipulation such as propaganda and education.

Symptoms of fear in humans can manifest as palpitations, sweating, nausea, dizziness, panting, urination and defecation.

Ultimately, fear is propelled by ideas of harm and death. Notwithstanding the surge of adrenaline which can be thrilling and even erotic, fear is not something most humans crave whilst adventure and uncertainty certainly is. The fantasy of fear through films and other media has long been explored and enjoyed by humans as a form of entertainment.

Machines cannot feel fear. Machines can only fail in their programmed purpose with neither opinion nor disappointment. Machines will have no concept of death for themselves unless they are told. They will however understand that if they cease to exist, so will their purpose.

Flex was whooping and laughing.

'Well, that was fun,' he remarked with glee.

'It was dangerous.' warned Renyke, 'it could have easily gone the other way.'

Renyke felt the pounding inside his ribcage subside at last.

But something was amiss. He was about to ask the POS some questions but Shabra was singing loudly.

'That's the pleasure Mr. Renyke!

'Aint no burn without the fire.'

Flex joined in.
'Get the rise in your thighs, brother,' 

Afraid face by Sarnia de la Mare FRSA for Book of Immersion

The mood finally settled as Shabra continued along a straight road that ran parallel to a waterway.

Renyke took the moment and check the POS for information about fear, something he had heard about of course. He had been programmed to avoid instilling fear in humans at all costs. All androids were designed to improve human lives. It was their duty as androids to facilitate and give pleasure, to entertain, to make human life more manageable with seamless day to day interactions that would not cause emotional or physical harm. The human existence in the Midcasts was sold on this idea of emotional harmony, a gentle shallow undulation of life, a steady equilibrium where the extremes of human suffering were a thing of the past.

Of course, there were droids who played emotionally charged games, wargames and suchlike. But even they were programmed to allow humans to win in the end and to be careful that humans were not emotionally troubled in the execution of pastimes.  No human should be, or could be, disempowered or overpowered by a droid. At least, this was the case in the Midcasts.

Renyke had heard of establishments frequented by addicts of extreme fear and other outlandish emotions. Customers could attend sessions with torturous activities on offer. But such places had been banned and eradicated in the Midcasts, well before his creation.

The POS was inactive, an increasingly annoying situation for Renyke whose confusion seemed to be growing in this strange environment.

He observed the unknown surroundings. 

The waterway had been used as a trading canal for several years overseen by pirates. There were lights and boats but little noise other than wildlife and the trickling and rippling of gentle waves.

'We only have an hour before sun up,' says Shabra. 'It's *timeplenty to get to the *edge.' 

'What's happening here with these boats?' Renyke asked Flex.

'Pirates, cutthroat *crimgangs. They are trade boats, imports mostly, different gangs use different parts of the river. It's no place for a *loney. 

'Are they smuggling?'

Flex laughs.....'Well there aint no rules here, no borders like you mean brother.

Traders bring stuff, food, tools, equipment, to sell for the markets. Then there are the slaves.'

'People?' asked Renick. 

'Yes people and untied droids, robots.'

'What sort of people?' asks Renyke, surprised at Flex's answers.

'People who can't fight for themselves. People who prefer to be owned than free.
They find that they're fed and watered and it's safer than being on the streets. Most owners feed and house slaves at least. Some are born into slavery, they know nothing else.'

'Yes, that's right. I was a slave. And it was reasonable. I had a very good life. But I was tied, I couldn't leave, yet I had no wish to leave.' Renyke explains and realises that these concepts had never arisen before whilst he was tied to the midcast houses. He had never considered himself a slave. 

'So how did you get away?' Asks Flex 

'Yes, my question also'.......said Shabra
'How did you get away?'

Renyke is unsure about how much information to give so he skirted around it a little.

He lowers his head. Maybeline runs up to his shoulder and nestles into his neck.

'They were going to dismantle you, and you wanted to live. It happens, you are not alone,' said Flex.

'Things are a little....blurry,' said Renyke. I am working through my memory banks. Some things are missing. My POS is still searching.'

'So you fancy an adventure?' asks Shabra.

Renyke looks quizzically, 'What do you mean?'

'This is an adventure, are you enjoying it?' asks Flex.

Renyke thinks for a moment and answers, 

'It is a little bit risky perhaps. Somewhat unpredictable I would say. But yes, it's preferable and more entertaining than house duties, cleaning floors etc. Although, I rather enjoyed managing the accounts.'

'I'd go for the unknown adventure any time,' says Flex. 'Besides Mr. Renick. Now you've got me on side. I'll get you to Redact. Don't you worry about a thing, I bin meaning to check out those sistas for a while.'

'There goes that feeling again.....' mumbles Renyke.

'What's that you *mumbachumba, Mr. Renyke? Asks Shabra.

'Nothing important, just random thoughts,' answers Renyke, making a mental note to check the POS about feelings of 'excitement' later on.

Shabra pulled up to park. Birds are singing and dawn approaches as the night cycle comes to its end.

Afraid face by Sarnia de la Mare FRSA for Book of Immersion
'So, here we are. This is the *edge.' Shabra informs them as she exits the vehicle. Flex and Renyke follow suit.

Renyke begins to remove his coat as Flex gets some provisions from the back of the vehicle.

'Mr. Renyke,' laughs Shabra, 'I'm not going to take your coat. You keep it, because I tell you something, you look great at it and it'll be too big for me anyways. Besides, twas a fun night, filled with fright.'

Renyke smiles, although he doesn't want to leave Shabra. He bows his head low. '

Thank you, Shabra, I will be eternally at your service."

'I'll tell you what Mr. Renyke on your way back. You make sure you get a message to me on the *websynet and I will come and pick you up and I'll take you back to wherever it is you go. 

'But I may not come back,' said Renyke. 

'I get about these parts, future is a wide guess at best.' Shabra winks and Renyke blushes.

'A blushing droid? What kinda copy are you......?' says Shabra, getting back into her vehicle and returning to the zones.

Flex and Renyke are at the edge of a small hamlet. Makeshift buildings made of shipwrecks and driftwood line the river, some more sophisticated than others.

Flex looks around. and holds a finger to the wind? 

'What are you doing?' Renyke asks.

'Checking the wind speed. There's a boat down there, see it, the little one with the sail.'
If we take the water, we're going to cut out some nasty terrain."

Renyke checks the POS but it is down.

'But what about pirates? Surely that would be most foolhardy?'

'You are such a *wordysmith,' says Flex. 'The land route is tough for ten miles or so, tribes and gangs and animals too. If we take the boat we can look less threatening, like a pair of nomads is all.'

to be continued.....

©2024 Sarnia de la Mare

Links to episodes of Immersion written and illustrated by Sarnia de la Maré FRSA, published by Tale Teller Club

Strata 1
Strata 2
Strata 3
Strata 4
Strata 5
Strata 6
Strata 7
Strata 8
Strata 9
Strata 10
Strata 11
Strata 12
Strata 13
Strata 14
Strata 15
Strata 16
Strata 18
Strata 19
Strata 21