Welcome — re-worked. For feedback purposes.
I’m currently not sure if I will release this piece as a separate short fiction, setting stage for a larger novel. Anyway hope you will enjoy this…
The coordinates were set on the iPad just before Sam made the teleport jump, here came the t-jump!
Cecilia Murakami had just called in a taxi caught in traffic, she pulled the door open. There was a decorated side on the door that read “I ❤ New Tokyo”. The word “New” imprinted inside a red heart shape. She had been carrying her leather handbag, which was hanging over her forearm, a decaf held in one hand, and an iPad in the other. Her current and only destination was home. She edged inwards in a hunch as she avoided bumping her head on the way inside. As she was about to settle in the passenger seat, after spending a day in high heels—the first time she had wore them—her feet were aching.
A pang of startle caused her heart to skip a beat after her lips left the address of her home for the cabbie—a male who only took one glance at her. Since the cabbie questioned in Japanese, she was fluent in languages, and replied accordingly. Despite being equipped with a GPS, he hadn’t input her destination and began to navigate with the radio going off in the back. The standard taxi meter ticking away Yen fare. The expressway was cramped with traffic like a colony of slow-moving ants. Her brows raised, eyes wide open to see clearly from disbelief, she paused and waited to register this much more accordingly.
She had spotted a cloud of bubble with the words “Welcome” presented, most likely greeting her. Since she was indeed the stranger, now the occupant of the taxi.
Sam—the sentient, artificial intelligence—arrived at Tokyo Metropolis, a thriving, ultramodern megalopolis comprised of neon-lit skyscrapers and anime shops to cherry trees and temples. A mixture of modern and traditional memes. Its CJ7 t-shirt emblazonment his attitude. A Rubik’s cube cupped between his hands. Sam was a foreign-time-traveller taking the taxi, without a ticket. This was Sam’s very first time out into the open but claustrophobic world. Exploring the physical, dynamic world as if a child. The one time that Sam dreamt an Inception-style illusion, Tokyo was the first destination that conjured into its mental memory. You could put it like a bucket list.
Cecilia stared, until a soft smile grew over her face. Sam suddenly returned a smile like a child mimicking a parent. It was benign for sure. A smiling AI, really? Like that was possible. Sam had in fact studied through dreaming or conjuring up images based on what he had read up about human interaction, the psychological understandings of behaviour(s). Which could be expressed like electric charged ions. Cecilia stared Sam up and down, she wandered it was a prank. A child dressed up in a costume, since Sam seemed a third of her height. If not, Sam was probably an interactive toy it seemed so much like one. She turned towards the cabbie alarmed and then back at Sam, and realised that the cabbie was surprisingly unknown to Sam’s presence. He had never registered Sam ever being present.
Sam’s David Bowie eyes studied Cecilia with such intrigue. She could notice, and it was subtle, Sam’s glass eyes dilating, un-dilating. Cecilia was actually the very first human being Sam had come to study. Since the cabbie made for an unsuitable subject. A deep, soft sign of relief settled on her lungs, she’d seen her reflection cast over those reflective eyes. To ask questions would have encouraged a great deal of the cabbies attention, at best, Cecilia continued, avoided generating any attention. The questions would have to wait.
Cecilia Etta Murakami, Etta as Sam come to address her on occasions. Originally South Korea born, the 26-year-old migrated to Tokyo six months ago to program video games. As a child, she’d been fascinated by the power of storytelling through a visual medium, especially since computer-generated visuals rendering allowed video games to express emotions. It was indeed a highly immersive experience. Her current favourite, post-apocalyptic survival horror ‘The Last of Us’. Western, European cinema had always intrigued her, in particular, the horror genre.
Her passion to work in one of the most ambitious and path-breaking studios, Kojima Productions, one day was influential. The least, she’d share a snapshot of herself alongside the legendary, Hideo Kojima himself on her Instagram.
In nature, Cecilia was a free-spirited extrovert, with a congenial Ellen Page height to her. If you were to visualise her in your minds eyes her appearance, especially her face, resembled the South Korean actress Son Ye-Jin. She was also an avid reader—a bookworm—her collection of books, physical copies were limited, mostly comprised of a digital library on her iPad. Especially since it was portable. Her current read books included the ‘Kafka On The Shore’ by Haruki Murakami, in it’s natural format. Coincidentally sharing the same surname, and wasn’t related at all. The ‘Steve Jobs’ biography by Walter Isaacson, The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty & ‘Irkadura’ by emerging author Ksenia Anske. Who reminded her of Stephen King & Haruki Murakami, in terms of written expression.
She remained still, the mental words she conversed in her thoughts were always expressed in Korean dialect. Naturally. But she was always able to translate her thoughts to English language despite the intonation.
Questions continued to generate like bumping notifications as she observed Sam, deeply. Mostly the existence of Sam was in question, whether if it was human, something like an extraterrestrial. She hadn’t thought about Sam being an artificial intelligence, surprisingly. She wandered as the taxi drove past by fluorescent neon advertisements, once the cars provided breathing space. Sam was distracted by the illuminance radiating off ads. His face grew bright, especially over its glass eyes. A peaceful expression that seemed so childlike. She was amused.
Her eyes darted back and forth, she had glanced at her eyes in small rear mirror hung in the centre of the windscreen. Her eyes were dark, with some glint. When it occurred to her to question Sam, the one question she selected out of the many thoughts that shuffled through her head. Cecilia gently leaned closer towards Sam, without inviting any attention. A whisper of words almost escaped her lips, but Sam began to dematerialise. Her brows softly grew together as she watched Sam blur, and became transparent like an apparition.
Sam faded away into tiny molecules, and came the… t-jump!
. . .
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