Chapter 8:


Only in Chaos Are We Conceivable

[21:51] * Rejoined channel #Clouds
[21:51] * Topic is ‘Clouds Moderator Meeting at Server Canceled | <@CloudsAdmin> Clouds members please refer to your directives in the Private Channel’Bookmark here

[21:51] <newuser32> “beyond your comprehension” lol
[21:51] <newuser74> generic shadow organizations trying oppress free institutions
[21:52] <newuser56> anyone here read old texts? i have ideas
[21:52] <lunarsea> where’s that shadowdog user? the one who kept calling all of this fake? ran away the moment he got proven wrong hahaha
[21:52] <newuser44> I read
[21:52] <newuser36> just checked out the research links. I think I’m dumb, what’s he talking about?
[21:52] <newuser56> judgment day is an important concept in some of the original colony texts, there might be some numerology, like celestial coordinates embedded in the message
[21:52] <newuser72> please don’t tell me you actually believe in any of this stuff
[21:52] <lunarsea> why don’t you? Maya believes it and that’s good enough for me. I think we need to seriously investigate everything this professor has ever done
[21:52] <newuser67> you’re a bunch of net illiterates, what can you people possibly discover on your own
[21:52] * newuser112 (~moffi@irc.GU73D832.IP) has joined #Clouds
[21:52] <newuser56> my theory? Celestial coordinates will probably point to a collapsed neutron star that is hurtling solar winds at us at galactic speeds
[21:52] <lunarsea> get off your high horse, you guys are literally one of us.
[21:52] <newuser32> seems like professor Eichenbaum was talks a lot about new forms of human existence in a postcybernetic like...what does that mean?
[21:52] <newuser37> it’s getting rid of your body and achieving some otherworldly techno-based existence
[21:52] <newuser44> fascinating
[21:52] <newuser32> that’s not creepy at al
[21:53] <newuser72> he’s completely insane, I think it’s safe to say we can just write off this crazy
[21:53] <newuser56> no, if an extinction event is imminent, then the only plausible escape is to rid ourselves of a three dimensional existence.
[21:53] <newuser56> I think it’s important, my brothers, to discover precisely how Eichenbaum would like us to accomplish just thatBookmark here

⁂⁂⁂Bookmark here

Upon hearing the doorbell, Helena Lin walked to and opened her front door. There, she found a detective holding up a large cat as a peace offering. In a gesture of disbelief, she pulled her glasses down to her nose and stared at Jay Sakamoto with her own two eyes. She then looked at Dojo, who narrowed his eyes and began purring at the sight of her.Bookmark here

“Hello there, Helen,” Jay said. “It’s been a few years, hasn’t it?”Bookmark here

“He’s gained weight, Jay,” Helena scowled. “You’ve been feeding him too many treats, haven’t you?”Bookmark here

“Dojo likes to beg,” the detective groaned. “What was I supposed to do?”Bookmark here

“Maybe don’t encourage bad behavior,” Helena opened the door wider, signaling that the two could enter. “Shoes outside please. Don’t want your gum ridden shoes in my house, detective. I just finished cooking some dumplings. You’re free to have some.”Bookmark here

Jay put Dojo on the carpet floor, and the cat immediately followed after Helena, rubbing her ankles and meowing affectionately. Jay felt a tinge of envy but could hardly blame him. She had gotten older, yes, but Helena had aged beautifully.Bookmark here

She lived in a two storied suburban home on the other side of town. As Jay stepped in, he noticed that Helen’s choice in interior décor had not changed since they had last met. Experimental artwork, usually featuring complex geometric shapes or landscapes drawn in some lucid dream state, hung along the gray walls.Bookmark here

Her living room was adorned with minimalist chairs, a wide linen couch, and a single antique marble table. Lavender scented candles burned on the table alongside thick tomes and textbooks stacked atop one another. Sakamoto perused through the titles, making sense of none of them.Bookmark here

“Late night study?” Jay called out to Helena, who had disappeared into the kitchen.Bookmark here

“Just some light reading,” Helena reappeared at the kitchen counter with a bottle of Riesling and two round glasses. “Something heterodox to balance out all the traditional academia you have to teach at the university. It’s quite fascinating, actually. You might like it. Do you want a glass by the way?”Bookmark here

“I’ll pass, on both accounts,” Jay declined. “I’m working late tonight and I’m driving.”Bookmark here

“Your loss,” Helena poured and sipped. She stepped into the living room and plopped herself on the couch. Dojo hopped on and curled up on her lap while Sakamoto sat opposite her on a wooden stool. “Good cat. Well, Jay, no point fooling around. You aren’t here to propose, so what brings you here?”Bookmark here

“Right then,” Jay nodded. “Helen, by any chance do you know a professor? Goes by Tasha Eichenbaum?”Bookmark here

“Of course I know him. A brilliant lovely man,” Helena took a deep breath, then lowered her head and pinched the upper bridge of her nose. “So you’re investigating his case, then? I thought that might be why you came. Are they ruling it a homicide?”Bookmark here

“You know about this already?” Jay asked, surprised. "How?"Bookmark here

“It’s all over the net dear,” Helena chuckled. She took another sip from the glass and closed her eyes. “You’re so horribly old fashioned.”Bookmark here

“Well, I met a patient of yours. Ryu Fukuyama,” Jay ignored her chiding. “He told me to come to you. He’s the amnesiac. Said you could tell me more about the professor and his recent behavior.”Bookmark here

“It’s not just amnesia,” Helena clicked her tongue in disapproval. “But what can I say about Tasha? We meet for brunch every other weekend. He orders mimosa. I order the Bellini. He talks about the latest operas, but I fancy the cello concerto. He very cordially asks me on occasion if I consider our outings romantic in nature. I gracefully tell him my love is reserved for someone else. I console him. I tell him I'm flattered that in his old age he still has space in his heart for someone like me. I then ask him if he wants to grade the psychology papers of my students, and he admits he would fail every last one of them.”Bookmark here

“Helen, you know I’m not here to ask you about your leisure time,” Jay said, showing Helena the professor’s scraps of paper. “Read this. Judgment Day. Any idea what he might’ve meant?”Bookmark here

“I’m a psychotherapist, Jay, not a prophet,” Helena muttered, but snatched the papers out of Jay’s hand. She pressed her glasses back into place and squinted at the words. She tutted and tossed the papers onto the table. “These are just ramblings. What am I supposed to do with them?”Bookmark here

“They have to mean something. They were in his hands when he died. Did the professor ever talk about his research with you?” Jay asked. “Anything about what he was working on? Ryu said that the professor deliberately became distant with him recently.”Bookmark here

“Oh, we rarely talked about work. Neither of us understand each other on that front,” Helena shook her head. “Tasha had no room for anything that you couldn’t compute, and he could never understand why I don’t have a formulaic rubric when diagnosing my patients.”Bookmark here

“But you two worked on Ryu’s case together,” Jay observed. "Successfully, I might add."Bookmark here

“Only out of necessity,” Helena shrugged. “I needed him because I couldn’t build a cybernetic brain on my own, and he needed me because his didn’t work.”Bookmark here

“You’re telling me there’s nothing about him that was unusual?” Jay raised an eyebrow. “Come on Helen. Nothing about him set off alarm bells? A suspicious diary, ramblings about the apocalypse? Well you know what, forget it, don't give me that look. There was something else bothering me. Ryu. Dojo sensed something wrong with his testimony.”Bookmark here

“Did he now,” Helena gave Dojo’s head a scratch. Dojo reacted in kind by rubbing his face all over her hands. “What a clever boy you are. Who’s the real detective?”Bookmark here

“It’s about this brother of his,” Jay fished out his notebook. “William Fukuyama? Dojo wouldn’t stop gesturing whenever Ryu brought him up.”Bookmark here

“Ah, yes, ‘William,’” Helena grinned, gesturing the name with air quotes. “William Fukuyama is a rather fascinating subject, because for all the influence he has on Mr. Fukuyama’s life, he does not exist.”Bookmark here

“So, you mean Ryu was lying about him?” Jay rubbed his eyes. “That’s what caught Dojo’s attention?”Bookmark here

“I can’t speak for what our little detective is thinking here, Jay,” Helena replied. “But Mr. Fukuyama was not lying either. William is a rather strange psychological phenomenon, another instance that makes this case a compelling research topic.”Bookmark here

“You really don’t like calling him Ryu,” Jay noted. “Does that have something to do with it?”Bookmark here

“Not exactly,” she set down her glass. “William is a fictional character conceived by Mr. Fukuyama in the early days of the psychotherapy. More accurately ‘Ryu’ is William Fukuyama, the lead engineer of Fukuyama Industries. But as his mind began to accept the generated memories from his cybernetic brain as reality, an incompatibility somewhere emerged and if Mr. Fukayama was to survive, then William would have to die. ‘Ryu’ would have to be born in his place. And so, the brother was born, and Mr. Fukuyama displaced his life’s memories onto a figment of his imagination.”Bookmark here

“So is this some kind of dissociative trait, or does Ryu harbor multiple personalities?”Bookmark here

“It’s neither,” Helena laughed at the absurdity of it. “It’s not multiple personality disorder because Mr. Fukuyama doesn’t possess multiple personalities. He is simply ‘Ryu.’ It’s also not dissociative identity disorder. Mr. Fukuyama possesses a singular distinct existing identity. Again, that’s ‘Ryu.’ And further, dissociative patients typically experience bouts of amnesia as a coping mechanism for enduring trauma. As you might have guessed, ‘Ryu’ doesn’t have amnesia. Whatever gaps exist in his memory is completely filled in by his cybernetic brain. Mr. Fukuyama’s psychological profile is completely incompatible with any orthodox understanding of psychosis.”Bookmark here

“What do you mean? It seems like you’ve described the problem pretty well,” Jay scratched his head. “I mean. I kind of get it. Sort of.”Bookmark here

“Yes, I’ve described it to you in a rather perfunctory sense,” Helena nodded. “But there is no clinical psychological framework to explain why ‘Ryu’ has done what he did to himself.”Bookmark here

“But what about the alcoholism, the stress from the Fukuyama Incident, the guilt from mistreating his wife,” Jay conjectured. “Sounds like there are a lot of things that could’ve been the source.”Bookmark here

“You’re putting events out of order,” Helena corrected. “His retrograde and anterograde amnesia, yes, was a function of the mental distress from the fallout of the Fukuyama Incident and his subsequent abuse of alcohol. But that’s a solved case, Jay. ‘Ryu’ only emerged after the treatment was finished; he spun off his identity as William in the aftermath of his psychosis, not before. It’s a completely unintended side effect.”Bookmark here

“So you’re saying you have no idea how this happened?”Bookmark here

“On the contrary, I have a lot of ideas, they just wouldn’t fly in an academic setting,” Helena folded her legs. “Our typical understanding of psychology is deeply rooted in unconscious urges or how childhood experience dramatically characterize one’s psychiatric profile deep into maturity. But ‘Ryu’ no longer operates on subterranean imagery or any kind of subjective symbolic order. He rather participates in a highly digitized and computational experience. His mind is more like discrete computations of a computer simulation than the workings of an organic brain.”Bookmark here

“So he’s...a machine?” Jay’s tone curved upwards, his face tilting sideways as he spoke like a student attempting to answer a question.Bookmark here

“Some might think so,” Helena admitted. “I’m not as convinced. Instead, I like to think of Mr. Fukuyama’s mind as an extraordinary problem solver. It calculated, correctly I think, that the only way to stop ‘Ryu’ from drinking was the onset of an even greater debilitating condition. With his cybernetic enhancements, Mr. Fukuyama’s mind gained the computing power to make an even deeper psychological calculus, that William Fukuyama needed to be completely reformatted in his mind in order to protect itself from further injury.”Bookmark here

“It sounds to me like you think Ryu’s half machine mind is some next stage in human evolution.”Bookmark here

“Well, I would never say such a thing,” Helena pressed her hand against her chest. “But perhaps Tasha might. He always saw Mr. Fukuyama’s transformation as proof that the human mind could be, in his words, ‘perfectly simulated, maybe even improved’ with enough inputs and computing power.”Bookmark here

“My question after all this, Helen,” Jay rubbed his chin. Something was bothering him. “Is why you couldn’t just tweak the memories he received from his cybernetic treatment to prevent this from happening? I mean, if Ryu gave up William, like you said, I think you also mean he’s lost all of his scientific brilliance, his ambition, his love for developing cybernetics. Who he was as a person.”Bookmark here

“That would be correct,” Helena smiled, impressed. “Wow, Jay, look at you. Just fifteen minutes with me, and you’re already thinking like a psych again.”Bookmark here

“No, I’m serious. It sounds like you cured the guy,” Jay licked his lips. “But it also sounds to me like you just purposefully turned him into a bartender for the irony of it all.”Bookmark here

“Well, your mistake is assuming we could just change the memories that we gave him,” Helena picked her beverage back up and downed the drink. She walked back to the counter to pour herself another glass. “We gave him real preexisting memories, Jay, flashed from someone’s mind. It was the only way his mind would register the fakes as superior to the organic originals.”Bookmark here

“Then whose memories did you give him?” Jay asked, but he already knew the answer.Bookmark here

“You already know, Jay. I can tell just by looking at you.” Helena laughed, topped off her glass, and took another long drink. The wine had a rich floral taste with a dry finish.Bookmark here

“They were Professor Eichenbaum’s.”Bookmark here

⁂⁂⁂Bookmark here

After cleaning up the tea cups from his conversation with the detective, Ryu was finally ready to leave for the night. He shut off the kitchen lights, double checked that the burners had been shut off, locked the money register, and switched out of his bartender uniform into his casual wool sweater and jeans. He glanced at his watch, and his mind took a snapshot of the time that he had hoped to be leaving tonight.Bookmark here

Ryu then flipped through his photographic memories one last time, marking the location of all of his personal possessions. Both his keys and wallet sat on the desk in the private office below the bar. He had left his phone underneath the front counter besides a bottle of gin.Bookmark here

As fate would have it, however, Ryu would be interrupted one last time that night. The bells above the front door sang again. Ryu looked up from the counter as three individuals stepped into the room. Here we go again, he thought to himself as he identified their attire. He stepped out to greet them.Bookmark here

“How can I help you officers,” Ryu forced a smile and approached. “I believe I talked to another detective just twenty minutes ago. Detective Dojo? Maybe you can give him a call.”Bookmark here

“Don’t worry, Mr. Fukuyama. We’re not here to ask any questions,” Miles Gregory reached into his pocket and drew his sidearm. The woman behind him inched forward. “Just here to say good night.”Bookmark here

He raised his pistol, trained it on Ryu’s head, and fired.Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.