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Unconscious Tendencies


What Came Before:

--- Quote from: Madness ---This was the beginnings of a short-story I was writing as retort to kalbear at Westeros in some breakdown we were having about Neuroscience & Bakker... Might continue it one day...

--- Quote from: Madness ---Unconscious Tendencies

It changed a man to stare down his prey. Once, before the Unmooring, there might even have been a mutual sensation, a moment of shared tension as opposing conceptions wrestled through two individual, yet, similar human fonts. Recognition. The mark would look across a crowded room at Duiker and Duiker at the mark and they would just know. The hunt was on. Across any boundless environments, Duiker would give chase. Back in the day, the mark would look at him, and share Duiker’s knowledge in this, that Duiker was their end.

Duiker seemed to recall reading something about mirror neurons on one his many trips to the Archives, the ways in which recognition, empathy, or sympathy depended on different neuronal structures performing complex imitations from one person’s mind to another. He grinned, a little out of place for the moment, but then might all the moves of his mind seem out of place. He was one of the few people who actually read anymore, the antiquated way.

Recognition, that subtle understanding across the different chasms of circumstance.

Not like looking into the eyes of that rich kid Godtweaker or the pedo from Jersey who used neuroinductors on little blond girls.

It changed a man to stare down his prey. You looked across a divide of mind, a line cast in the conceptual sand, across whole gulfs of perception, and knew despite your differences in understanding, you were irrevocably tied to one another – and in Duiker’s line of work it was usually until one of you was dead. It came down to recognition. Mutual understandings.
Before the Unmooring.

The music in the club thrummed around him, vibrating the seat cushion beneath him, and Duiker drew his attention from the mob of dancing patrons to the kid lazing before him, bronze girl draped across his blue tracksuit. Duiker looked for the kid’s eyes, sheathed in blinks by heavy lids. Looked. And Duiker saw nothing of what he thought he remembered, nothing of that mutual reflection.

Not even a suspicion.

That Duiker was a predator.

“I can get you designer nootropics, synestheste nanostimulators, neurotainment,” the kid said to Duiker, toying with his sunglasses as he spoke. “Did you grab a pill on the way in? My DJ has a sick crescendo planned,” the kid grinned at Duiker and he wondered that he could be this boy’s father, that, maybe, someone somewhere was actually worried about him. Silly kid.

Tweaks can really divide the fam jam.

It reminded Duiker of the young girl he’d tracked down south in the first years after the Unmooring. Standing in the doorway returning the biohusk of a girl to her parents. He felt obliged to explain in the early days, as if he would somehow offer an explanation that could wipe them of their pain. Sometimes with a change in neurophysiological structure, the chemical demands on the body by the brain could never be satisfied, a brain might just eventually fry. With the drastic advances in neurosurgery, humans could architect entire brain maps to their desires, and, usually, completely destroyed or sufficiently changed the nature of existing any cortical structures, which might have prompted a rebalanced equilibrium of organization and even the structures that had prompted those desires in the first place.

One never seemed to understand the ways in which the next tweak might affect the very person you were when you imagined the differences. Sometimes the changed magnified underlying personality issues. Sometimes it created whole knew ones in the wake of the old.

Few people appreciated the semantic vista anymore. Duiker, anyone else like him, and the remaining Normies. And there was no one quite like Duiker.

Though many individuals had become islands like himself.

After the Unmooring.

“I’m not here for your drugs-“ Duiker started.

“Drugs,” the kid’s grin grew so fully half his face was dominated by teeth and he whistled. “You are an oldy. I got some of them too – my clientele includes some risk-takers like yourself.” The kid, pushed the girl off his chest, began rooting through the purse at her feet.

“Hey!” She said, sitting up indignantly.

“Bitch, shut-“ the kid started.

“Look,” Duiker held up a hand, “I’m not here for your drugs, no matter what era they’re from.” He reached into his inner breast pocket, grabbed at a gloss to flash to the kid. “You know this guy?” Duiker asked, holding it up.

He really needed to tech-up his toolkit.

Kids these days probably can’t even see a 2D flat gloss.

“Oh shit! That’s… J.C. Merz,” the kid said.

“Yeah,” Duiker said, deterred. The kid acted like any other fan boy ogling a superstar. Everyone knew who J.C. Merz was. “Do you know him personally?”

The kid sat back, motioning for the girl to lean back on him as if he’d never thrown her off in the first place. Duiker wondered at their relationship then stopped himself. You had to look out for you and your own in the world, now more than ever. And Duiker’s tribal allegiances depended solely on who was paying his credits.

The kid considered Duiker for a second. At least, that’s all that passed for Duiker. It was one of the few tweaks Duiker had deigned to experience, knowing that it was to his monetary advantage to observe the passage of time at the smallest of intervals. Most of the time, he’d let time pass as it had throughout much of his life. But other times, this one for instance, he could, on reflex, consider microseconds like whole tableaus of reality moving through molasses. He’d been told by the Neurosurgeon that cortical map might enable him quicker reaction time, definitely allow extensive planning in even the smallest timeframes, but that he wouldn’t be able to move much faster than a Derelict and that quicker reflexes themselves and wholesale increased synaptic firing were much more expensive.

“Yeah, I know him. He did some work for me…” the kid choked for a second, adjusted his clothes and seemed reconsidered.
“Who are you, man?"

Rather than respond, Duiker just pulled out another gloss, this one with his name, offices, and digits.

“Keep it,” he said passing it to the kid. He watched the kid look it over.

“Who’re working for?” the kid asked. Duiker considered the kid, decided he probably was watching his own ass. At least here, in the heart of the American wasteland, there was a bastion of humanity, a society following the Unmooring, which actually allowed for humans to interact in some semblance of order. Something resembling the way things were, before the Unmooring. And no one wanted to break the Neurolaws here.

“His wife, what’s it to you?  If I cared about your tweaks or your drugs, there’d be Needles in here already. Merz has disappeared and she fears for her husband’s life. Who doesn’t bear some kind of grudge, some kind of envy for the man? Who wouldn’t kidnap or kill J.C. Merz, right, kid?” Duiker said. No one cooperated wholeheartedly anymore. Not like before.
“Sure, sure,” the kid said. He looked back across the dance floor, probably seeing, and feeling, the play of emotion and sound as the DJ vamped up the volume, changed the beat, in time to the swell of experience within the audience. Duiker hadn’t taken the pills at the door.

It looked pretty much like a bunch of people on the same drugs despite the propagated cleanliness and cultural acceptability at the door.

He smiled and the kid grinned too.

No one, but no one, pushes drugs like the Establishment.

“When was the last time you saw him? Merz? Kid? Kid?!” Duiker said, impatiently snapping his fingers. He found his foot tapping excitedly, was reminded of the subtle side effects of some tweaks. The kid waited for a certain gyrating pace to kick out, violently sounding the speakers before the drop into heavy bass beats, and looked back to Duiker.

“So intense. Eh? Did you feel like shit?!” The kid grinned ear to ear and Duiker saw beads of sweat on his forehead and that of the girl’s.

“Kid, I didn’t take the pills at the door. When was the last time you saw Merz? Where?” Duiker must have said this with a dull look on his face because the kid returned his look like Duiker had killed his last buzz. “Just give me a lead and I’ll be out your way too, just like the guy who sent me your way.” Duiker tried to give his best grin, making to stand.

“Yeah, who was that, by the way,” the kid asked, perhaps looking to revisit some of his displeasure on their mutual acquaintance.

“They didn’t say. You know, neuroinductors, kid. A fucking talking duck might have given me that info and all I saw was an amorphous blob of all the people I’ve known in my life. Though I saw her, I guarantee you my grandma didn’t pass me along, kid, I’ll tell you that much.” Duiker said. “You got anything for me?”

“Whatever, Private Dick. All I know is I met Merz down in the Old Southtown. He erased my memories after then to protect him. You know?” The kid shot Duiker his winning little grin. The conversation was no doubt over. A small entourage had been milling around the kid’s table and from it emerged two nondescript looking partygoers.

The doormen, no doubt.

Thinking to push his luck, Duiker began to turn, then stopped and looked at the kid again.

“A name, kid? Save me some time.”

In a world where one could no longer depend on the dividends of outright physicality, a man had to make his way off wit, or whatever inhuman remain of it Duiker still could access. It was one of the few portions of his human self he’d sought, been able really, to preserve and cultivate following his own tweaks. The doormen closed around him, separating Duiker from the kid.

“Some diner called Neuros. Old Southtown,” the kid yelled, seeming to no one as he looked around and above him at experiential art, as the DJ spun chemicals in the bodies around him to the music he dragged and pushed under the digital needles.
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