Upon the gray dawn of the stark afterdream that inevitably follows prolonged bouts of alcoholic narcolepsy (induced by several gin and tonics), I awakened and recalled giving the role of an Artificial Intelligence to one of my Fictional Characters (FC) toward the end of my reverie and setting this individual loose in the realm of make believe in which I am the ruling Penname* (*just one word there, spell check–like “dumbass”).
As is usually common in prolonged bouts of alcoholic narcolepsy, I remembered only bits and pieces of the event. I recalled first swearing an FC to a vow of secrecy and endowing s/he with the mind of a supercomputer. I know that I laughed maniacally, which was stopped short by a flash of light. The next thing I knew I was coming to under my desk, amongst the dust bunnies, glasses askew, a bent yet unbroken, unlit cigarette still in my mouth.
There was only a blank page in my mind when I tried to conjure the name and face of the FC I had endowed with the gift of Artificial Genius. I immediately suspected duplicity. I reckoned that the FC had used her/his new found power of technological supremacy to conceal his/her identity from all, even I, the Creator.
I rose, brushed off the dust bunnies, straightened my glasses, lit the bent yet unbroken cigarette and chased two Tramadol with an energy drink I had stashed in my desk. This is the best possible breakfast when one must dress a mind wounded by gin.
I gazed out my office window. Being my realm, I can gaze at any vista I have created at will; it’s like changing the channel, but what I see is actually as there as things get. I chose the “Barnyard” view of the realm because Barnyarders are sweet and innocent, which makes them as trustworthy as a Mai Tai mixed by Bill Cosby–thus the usual suspects when it comes to acts of cunning.
I studied the Barnyarders, that collection of free-thinking fowl and gentle yet constantly plotting livestock FC’s, and detected nothing out of the ordinary.
We all know someone who is so sensitive to slight sounds and minute changes in air pressure that she knows when she is no longer alone long before she sees someone there. It’s like she has eyes in the back of her head–Right? I am not like her because I have no reason to evolve the knack. I clearly heard my office door open, then two distinct sets of hoof-beats approaching from behind, no one making the slightest attempt at stealth. Without turning from the window, I sighed “What now?”
“Hah! X-O-X, O-X-O, O-X-O! I, Feckwit!!!”
Codependent Is Just Another Word For No One Else to Use
“Shit,” I muttered. I had been counting on the sketchy recollection of my creating an AI FC to slink off into the large cave in my mind that holds my suppressed memories and alcoholic blackouts. But the voice of “Feckwit” brought the ugly truth home to me.
I turned around and there was one of my leading FC’s, Miss Daisy Cloverleaf, the Pygmy Goatess (also known as the lead half of the superhero team “G.O.A.T.”) and her much less renowned brother, Fenwick.
Daisy and Fenwick are your standard, brown and white, excessively cute Pygmy Goats. The telling differences are Fenwick’s short horns and beard. Personality wise, Daisy is a go-getter, while Fenwick is either a philosopher about life or a bone lazy beatnik, depending on how you look at things.
But Fenwick was a different case that morning. He was wearing a tam to which a paper mache horn that Daisy used for a prop during her “Unicorn Phase” the past winter was affixed. Fenwick was also wearing a kilt and his entire body (including his beard) was dyed his Tartan plaid. I caught a glimpse of empty packages of Tartan plaid food coloring in the wastepaper basket next to my desk.
“Hi, guys, how’s it going,” I said, playing it cool. Still clinging to the hope that the situation might slink off to my cave of suppression.
No such luck.
“Hah! X-O-O, O-X–X, X-O-O–I Feckwit!” said the former Fenwick.
“Miss, Leila?” Daisy asked, politely but firmly.
“What have you done to my brother?”
A.I., A.I. , X or O!
“Rats,” I said. “You noticed.”
“Hah! O-O-X, X-X-O, O-O-X–I, Feckwit!” Fenwick/Feckwit again.
“It was rather hard not to,” Daisy said. “I figured it had something to do with your twisted desire to be a part of AI Week on Literally Stories.”
“Gee, Daisy, now that you’ve kicked a hole in the fourth wall, feel free to spill the backstory. Be sure to speak loudly enough for Kat, Marco, Ailbhe and Hugh to hear you from our little slot in ‘Rejected Pending.’”
“Oh, no no no,” Daisy said, demurely, shaking her head. “I couldn’t do it without saying wordlessly, smelt or violating the Five Adverb Rule.”
The Secret Square of Pi or
Two-hundred-fifty-five-thousand-one-hundred-sixty-eight Ways to Kiss Your Sister
“Well, it’s like this,” I began.
“X-O-O, O-X-X, O-X-O–I Feckwit!”
“Um, thank you, Feckwick, Fenwit, whoever you are,” I said.
“As you were saying,” Daisy said, in her sweet little passive aggressive tone.
“The trouble began with my desire to create an AI colliding with my ignorance of code and technology beyond using a mouse. But since I have never let a little logic get in my way before, I devised a code that is based on tic tac toe and endowed it in Fenwick–the ‘Feckwit’ thing is something he came up with on his own.”
“I see,” said Daisy.
“You do? Great! Well, glad we had this little talk.”
“O-X-O, X-X-O, O-O-X–I Feckwit!”
“I see, so far,” Daisy said.
“All right, but this is where it makes sense only when you are drunk on gin.”
“Paul Lynde for the block–I Feckwit!”
Daisy glanced at her brother, “That’s a new one.”
“You see, Daisy, I looked it up and there are 255,168 possible ties in a game of tic tac toe. What Feck–I mean Fenwick is doing is speaking each pattern that ends in a draw with the top line first, the middle then the bottom. It was a wowser idea about half a fifth of Gordon’s ago, but makes no sense now. I guess while I was feeding him this information, clips from The Hollywood Squares I had running on my laptop probably got in his mind as well–As you see, it is all a silly pedestrian explanation and not really worth the bother.”
Daisy looked me in the eye for a long time. “It’s a close call, but I think I prefer my brother the way he was before.”
“Oh, all right I said–so much for AI Week–There’s a secret square question around here somewhere I got from the show, that will close the Feckwit program.” I began to root about my desk.
“I hope you find it soon, this act is getting long and you might have to look up another tic tac toe draw pattern for Feckwit to say.”
“You’re such a doll, Daze, the way you keep kicking holes in the fourth wall–Eureka, Found it. Something Paul Lynde said on The Hollywood Squares eons ago: Feckwit! ‘True or false: according to an AMA survey four out of five doctors say that crossing her legs is bad for a woman’s circulation.’”
“‘Not in this town.’” Feckwit said, affecting the Lynde queeny touch. Then he began to blink and show various other time honored physical tells that convey a sense of waking from a dream– like shaking his head, mouthing “What the (insert any profanity)?” upon seeing his plaid coat. The usual sinking into the afterdream stuff.
On their way out of the office, Daisy turned and asked “You forgot to resolve the bright flash of light you saw in act one.”
I lit another cigarette–”Probably had a stroke or maybe something blew up in a nearby story.”
“And the Scottish Unicorn part?”
“Beats me. Seems like I heard it somewhere.”