Self-Preservation

“There’s an electrical storm off in the distance. In the night. And shoots out between the stars. And I feel such a strong sense of connection. With the chaos that is shooting around between the stars. I can feel the movement of everything as I stand here on this deck. It’s all reflected in the water. Every bit of it. The perfectly clear night. Look around I might even be able to see the moon. How very strange. Although, I really shouldn’t be paying attention to this. I shouldn’t be sightseeing. I should keep my mind on my job. And I would really like to be able to do so. But I’m not sure that I really care. All the various elements of my body are talking to each other. They’re paying attention to everything. And they’re all talking to each other. Maybe at some point I can be allowed in on their conversations. Not that I really want to. They’re very busy making sure everything is current. And all of the due points and satellite images and sonar information about the surrounding water and everything else that they need to be keeping track of. It’s all out there. I’m just here along for the ride. Although I know that’s not the case. At any moment I could decide to turn any one of them off. Not that I would. It’s probably a pretty bad idea to be thinking about them at all. They’ve got so much work to do. So all I really need to do is just walk off into the distance and see the occasional shock of lightning in between all of those many, many stars. There’s an alert going on. And maybe I should really be paying attention to that alert. There are predators closing in. Tiny ones. Nothing that my body can’t handle. And it probably can’t handle them without me really paying too much attention. So I don’t really care. I’ll be here arriving shortly. My body will handle it at that moment. And I can watch as my body shoots the gases and does the physical activity of making sure those things don’t get on board. That’s really what I’m here for. Wandering around this deck. Making sure nothing gets on board. And it didn’t always used to be this way. I know things are different now. And I know that they’re going to be different again as well. It’s just a matter of time. I I can think back. I can remember all of those things that I had been my childhood. All of those things that didn’t involve patrolling this tiny little ship in this giant ocean. I can remember parents. I can remember school. I can remember my first summer is at camp. I can remember my first love. My first kiss. I can remember all of that. I remember going to the movies. I can remember going to the fares. I can remember those bitter winters. I can remember that all of them all. But of course, they’re not exactly my memories. Even though my identity is a part of them. Everything I’ve been downloaded. Into this brain which is essentially mine. Because it’s what I happen to be inhabiting. But they’re not mine. None of these memories. I wasn’t there as in my brain. The brain that I am currently viewing it all from. Processing it all from. That brain was created in a lab. Along with the rest of every other part of my body. I should be grateful. Tammy, not many people have this opportunity. In fact I don’t think anyone did. I haven’t run it to anyone else. If you’re kind of strange about that. But not really. That in any kind of a substantial way. I feel like everything is going to be the way it is going to be. And I feel like I am probably going to be comfortable with the whole situation. Although, I really don’t know. And here comes those predators. Climbing on board. Just a few shots of gas. And they’re out. Falling back into the ocean. There’s a small swarm of them. Some of them in the air. Some of them climbing up out of the water. Feel the need to take a few deep breath‘s. Allow my body to chance it needs to make the movements it does. Those things have a poison in their pincers or is I could be hell. I could probably kill everything in my body right now. But I don’t want that. Honestly I’m not entirely sure why. I mean, it’s not just me up here. I’m hearing the banging against the hall. And I know that it’s not just the predators. It’s what we’re protecting. That thing inside. Every now and again the hibernation holds. Need to have the proper exercises in order to keep the body from atrophying. I remember when I died inside that thing. And I know that at some point it’s going to be resurrected. When the radiation has gone down and it’s OK to live. It’s OK to live through that body. Maybe there’s gonna be someway that I can explain that to me what it is that I had to do. In order to survive. Protect myself. Because I’m really the only one who’s going to be able to do so. Myself and his brain. Myself and his body. It was a pre-existing thing. A plan. I know that I made it for myself. Had the money to do so. When the bombs fell. When the warheads exploded. Everything was dead. But not really. I don’t know that anything happened exactly the way we expected it to. And certainly that was kind of strange. And certainly that was something that we would’ve had to of dealt with in someway. The things rarely happen the way they do. And so I can hear myself. The actual me. The organic one. Being away on the hall. Trying to get out. And I know that I’m gonna have to explain to it at some point why it is that I’m doing what I’m doing. But things been alive in there for hundreds of years. It may have to remain sell for 100 more. Of course, I’m not sure. Time is off. My concept of time is off. Along with everything else–“

— Russ Bickerstaff is a writer and critic living in Milwaukee, WI with his wife and two daughters.