Discover more from Adversarial Metanoia
A Sense of Identity
When the doors opened you were so surprised you almost didn’t take off the neural reading crown. The machine couldn’t read individual thoughts but it was supposed to ascertain identity, and yet.
How could you be the same person today that you had been on Friday when it had let you enter to do the same awful things through the thin veil of software and visor and glove that you had been doing ever since your recruitment? Something had cracked that day inside you; two days of crying, despair, and soul-searching — or rather searching for a soul and finding a chalk outline and a dry stain on the ground — had changed you from somebody who could do the things you had done to somebody who no longer could but could do other things it had not.
But the machine had looked inside your brain and seen the same person, and you walked through the doors dazed, your useless excuses and explanations an unsaid knot in your throat.
You had thought the machine all-perceiving. It had been her merciless unerring judgment and your actions with its sanction and authority that had driven you to rage at the both of you. Now either the machine was blind or you were the same. Your change was shallow or you had always known what you know. Or you had followed not a darkly penetrating machine but a darkly incompetent one.
The combinatorial infinity of your mistakes was too much. You posted to the team channel something too short about an early lunch and left the office so quickly that you left behind your backpack, went out to a nearby coffee shop and vomited as quietly as you could in a bathroom stall. You cried and then somehow you smiled and cleaned yourself up and decided that even if you were who you had always been you could no longer do what the machine told your masters to tell you to do but you could not do either what you had planned to.
You felt a relief like a forgiveness so deep it made the sin never happen. Lighter than you had felt in months, you went back to the office only to be stopped by a security guard when the neural lock wouldn’t let you in. As you sat in a detention room waiting for somebody to speak with you and put inside your head more invasive devices than the ones on the door you realized you hadn’t disabled the bomb’s timer before leaving the building and without your phone you didn’t know what time it was.