When things went purple last week, Ben was shocked. His sophisticated software had encountered something new. This week we will find out what it was. We will also find out how the “head hopping” point of view during Rachel’s dream was possible. (I had some comments about that…it was on purpose.)
This story is a fun one with twists and turns I haven’t thought of yet. Remember, these serial installments are mostly stream of consciousness with very little potting or checks for continuity ahead of time. It’s a way for me to keep my writing muscle going, share my process with you, and create some fun stories along the way.
With that said, please enjoy this week’s installment of Memories of Rachel.
Memories of Rachel – Part 4
Ben looked at the computer monitor and went over his theory about the origin of the deep purple that was filling the steep mountains of data on the graph in the BERTA software. He waited as patiently as he could for Rachel to wake from her deep sleep. While she slept, he watched her facial expressions. They went from a childlike wonder to a contented satisfaction. Suddenly, they went to a smile with a slow flow of tears emerging from the corners of her closed eyes. That’s when the purple spikes, like a range digital Rocky Mountains appeared on the computer screen.
Finally, Rachel began to stir and awoke.
“Good morning, beautiful,” Ben said as he crouched near her side of the bed.
She appeared remarkably focused for someone who had just surfaced from a deep sleep. Although this was not uncommon for Rachel, the neural stimulation from the BERTA electrodes also assisted with this. It was a necessary part of the technology so that the subjects would wake up ready to relay details of their dreams. Ben’s team found that those who wake up gradually tend to lose clarity of what adventures they undertook while they were asleep. The more quickly the waking process completed, the more vivid the memories.
“Hey, Ben. What time is it?”
“It’s a little after 9.”
“Wow. I’m sorry I slept so late. I know you wanted to get started earlier.”
“No problem. We actually did get started earlier.”
“What do you mean?” Rachel asked with a confused look.
“I’ll explain it to in a bit, but first, tell me as much as you can about your dream.”
“Well, that should be easy. It wasn’t so much a dream, but a re-living of reality. It was weird, though.”
“How was it weird?”
Rachel sat up in bed and told Ben the story of being lost in the store and being reunited with her mother.
“The part that was strange was that I was living not only my part of what happened as a little girl, but I was observing and feeling everything that my mother felt.”
She told Ben about the frantic search for her younger self and the sense of relief when she was found.
“Did your mom tell the story a lot?” Ben asked.
“She did. Every time something similar came up in conversation she would tell the story. It really made a lasting impression on her and, now that I’ve experienced what she felt, I can totally understand why it would be so deeply embedded in her mind.”
“Well, that explains it.”
“When we designed BERTA, we put in the intelligence to influence dreams in our subjects.”
“Okay. That sounds a bit creepy. What do you mean by influencing dreams?”
“Maybe influence isn’t the correct term, but we try to suggest possible scenarios once a dream is underway. We stimulate your memory of the event and it causes your brain to do a type of search.”
“What does it search for?”
“It searches for similar memories. For instance, when your brain stimulated the dream recollecting you getting lost in the store, the search stimulated your memories of your mom telling the story of how she felt at the time and it stimulated those emotions and memories in you as your own.”
“Ben, that’s amazing. My husband is a genius.”
“Hey, I have a team. Plus, the readings from your dream are something new.”
“What do you mean?”
Ben explained the colors within BERTA and how this new color emerged.
“You’ve never seen the purple before?”
“No. Not in thousands of tests.”
“Is it a malfunction in the software?” Rachel asked delicately.
Ben broke into a grin. “No. It’s quite the opposite. BERTA is learning.”
“The AI programmed in BERTA has apparently synthesized a new color based on a combination of emotions. The purple is a mixture between the quick release of stress and intense love. It coincides with what you felt in your dream as your mother found you in the playhouse.”
“What do you think the combination is?”
“It’s something truly unique that is only experienced by a segment of a certain demographic.”
“Simplify it for me, Ben,” Rachel said rolling her eyes.
“It’s motherly love. The bond between a mother and child is truly unique among several species. It is a mixture of love, a fierce sense of protection and a constant fear that something bad will happen to their child.”
“What does it mean for what we’re doing for the baby?”
“Well, for you to be capable of that kind of feeling, the bonding process between you and the baby must be forming already, even this early in the pregnancy. Your body is likely preparing itself to display this ability once the baby is born,” Ben said. His excitement was building with each word. “What it means, in short, is that we are going to be wildly successful. This virtual being that will house your memories is going to possess your motherly instincts that can be expressed to our baby when…” he trailed off.
“When I’m gone,” Rachel finished. “Go ahead and say it, Ben. I’ve accepted it. You need to. It will make things easier for both of us.”
Ben’s eyes welled up. “Don’t you see? I’m getting to know you on a whole new, much deeper level. It makes the thought of losing you, not just for me, but for out child, that much more painful.”
Ben led Rachel through other memory exercises. After six weeks, it was almost time to run the first beta testing on the Rachel-like consciousness that was being created by BERTA. He was nervous about this step. Even though he felt that they had collected a sufficient amount of data, this was highly personal in a way that none of his other work had never been, even the work he did when his brother was alive. The success of this exercise would affect his unborn child in a positive way and would help preserve the life of his beloved wife. If he failed, he felt like it would be letting both of them down. He didn’t realize that this was how most who dealt with this kind of tragedy ended up.
He kicked of the program that compiled the data and ran the BERTA algorithms. The output would be a crude, but surprisingly sophisticated AI simulation of the essence of Rachel that had been collected thus far. Even with the use of the Kongo remote servers, this would take about six hours to run. He planned on running it while he and Rachel slept. He would continue to collect data from her on his laptop while the algorithms ran at Kongo. He would be notified when it was finished. He expected it to be some time in the early to late morning.
This night, he would spend in bed with Rachel holding her as they both tried to sleep. Her pain was becoming very intense at this point and this was made worse by her reluctance to take anything strong to combat the agony so that she wouldn’t harm the baby. Any intimacy between them had lessened when she received her diagnosis. At this point, however, it had all but disappeared as Ben felt a mixture of concern that he might create more pain for his wife and guilt that he would be the only one deriving any pleasure. This made the celibacy between them easier, but no less sad.
He put on the ‘Smooth Jazz’ channel on the Kongo Music app and they wrapped their limbs around each other as they drifted off to a sleep that was tentative at first, but intensified as their bodies succumbed to the exhaustion they felt.
As the sun began to show its initial appearance, Ben heard Rachel’s voice gently calling him.
“Ben, are you awake? Ben? Ben are you still asleep? Ben sweetie, wake up.”
As he opened his eyes, he was confused. He looked over to the right side of the bed and Rachel was still curled up in a ball in deep sleep. He was about to close his eyes and drift back to sleep when he heard it again. The voice was coming from his left, not his right.
He swung his legs out of bed and walked over to the makeshift desk he had set up in the room. It was his laptop. On the screen, he saw an avatar that was an approximation of Rachel’s face. It smiled as he approached.
“There you are, sleepy head,” the Rachel avatar said. “Good news, the beta compilation is done.”
Ben was shocked. The beta compilation never finished at this advanced stage. This avatar had apparently been generated by Berta. The voice was Rachel’s. This was truly exciting. He plugged headphones into the computer and put the AI compilation through some preliminary exercises. He discovered that things had progressed much faster than he thought. At this rate, they would have a highly sophisticated approximation of Rachel’s consciousness before she…he couldn’t finish the thought. It was too painful.”