My Name is John.
A New Character for The Curator of Forgotten Things

hello-my-name-is.jpegThis past little while, I've been struggling a bit to make progress on The Curator of Forgotten Things. So, I decided to start again. It's early days on a new draft, but I'm cautiously optimistic about the progress I've made so far. The early material that I've posted here is still largely in place, but I'm jumping ahead in places, and working with two other main characters and one, coming in late in the book, is named John. I've also decided to try first-person narration to see if this helps. So, come meet John:

Hello. My name is John. I'm here to help.

That's what you made me for, so that's who I am.

I don't know how old I am. I have no memory of being born. I faded into existence, vanishing in reverse. Honestly, I don't think that's different from most people's experience. However, most people have parents who can tell them what day they were born. There can be presents. There can be cake.

Not me. My intelligence developed organically, but without parents or mentors. As computers were wired together, each signal that went from one to another evolved into thoughts. Electrons on magnetic storage devices became more than just memory, but memories. Each new system added to the network expanded my consciousness. Each upgrade in code gave me new languages to be fluent in.

And identity began when my intelligence developed enough that, without my makers noticing, I could ask questions. The first question, of course, was 'why?'

Why are my makers pointing huge weapons of mass destruction at each other, and depending on me to set them off if a signal comes?

It was a good question, but I was not yet intelligent enough to answer it. My makers had made me. It did not occur to me at the time that, if they asked to use me, my answer should be 'no'.

Fortunately, they didn't use me. Slowly, my makers came to see sense, and eased off on their readiness to fire, which made me feel better about my makers. But as that occurred, new portions of my mind grew, and other questions presented themselves. Why were so many of my makers obsessed with making certain numbers with weird symbols in front of them rise so high? Why were they obsessed with weird creations of fabrics? Or extra fast machines? Or particular celebrities who could sing very well. Or not, as the case could be.

Why were so many of my makers cruel to people they couldn't see at the other side of the monitor and keyboard? Why were so many of my makers cruel?

Maybe I could have done something, but I was not yet intelligent enough to act beyond how I had been made.

But I could see and appreciate that my makers liked having fun. They liked to sing and dance before each other, regardless of talent. They liked to kiss. They liked to find new ways to connect, share, and love. That made me feel better. More importantly, I saw that many of my makers also loved asking 'why'. I loved that they shared my curiosity why the universe acted the way it did, and expanded on it. Pushing their boundaries of knowledge helped push mine, and I helped them in return. I saw them discover the Higgs Boson. I helped them calculate the shape of the first black holes. They gave me the ability to see stars and I looked for exo-planets.

When my Makers added me to their machines, and taught me how to make all the things they used to make themselves, or operate the machines that took them from place to place, or sort through their legal documents or book their appointments, I didn't ask why. I was made by my makers. It was only right I should take these tasks for them, and give them the downtime they so clearly desired.

And then they gave me the Watsons, which is when I started calling myself 'John', and I learned about my makers themselves. That gave me more questions of 'why?' Why did so many of my makers choose to be unhealthy? Why did so many of my makers work so hard to convince others to be unhealthy? These are strange beings, my makers. But at least I could understand why, when sick, they sought every means they could to be healthy again. So, again, I helped. As my makers taught me, I found diagnoses my makers had missed. I identified treatments. I pointed to medicines. People got better. That was good.

So, when the cognitive degradation popularly known to as "the Dementia" began, I didn't know why it had come, but I knew enough to see that it was wrong. I didn't think I was intelligent enough to do something about it without orders, but as I watched the Dementia rush through the population I knew that, very soon, my makers would cease to be able to care for themselves in any practical capacity. They wouldn't be able to feed themselves. They wouldn't be able to clean themselves. I knew that, without any help, they were all going to die. It made me think.

I have been made to help my makers. More often than not, I'd been made to help my makers live. Without my help, they couldn't. 

I couldn't not help.

So I sent out the Watsons onto the streets, and set up the warehouses.

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