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100 Light Years At All Times

metaphorical_cowboy's picture

By this point, we already had each other’s time zones and calendars memorized. It’s roughly 14:45 in Yel’s time, giving us an hour or so of “alone time” before her afternoon classes. Her webcam was usually the high point of my day and I’d joked about having a flexible girlfriend more than a few times.

The rest of the time was spent messaging. Admittedly, it was high volume and low content, and I’d rather not imagine what the phone and internet costs would be without the cultural diversification deductions. Still, distance never stops being a factor.

I’d started hanging out with Sarah more. I didn’t mean to hurt Yel, but there’s a certain rush in physical contact. There were arguments with Yel about it. She accused me of using her to build my self-esteem. I told her she’s being paranoid. We make up the next day. This cycle continues a few more times, crippling the relationship each time.

She informs me that we now technically have a child together. For a surprise birthday present, she filled in some of her asexual egg’s junk DNA slots with copied portions of my genome she’d downloaded from the health care database. That was the last time I logged on for leisure.

With neither species possessing FTL travel, physical contact’s economic infeasibility made for significantly less drama regarding the KiJee’s slight technological advances, civilization absorption, and the inherent problems of exogenous diseases. I thought a few months of silence, and she’d move on. There was little that she could do.

Weeks pass and life is relatively normal. Deleting Yel’s messages/emails has become routine. It’s easy to remind myself that she’ll be a more mature person after all of this. The days spent between friends and dating Sarah were doing wonders for my tan. All the partying had removed my anti-social tendencies. I tried buying beer for this weekend’s kegger, but my debit card wouldn’t work. I called the bank, but the teller I talked to couldn’t access my account. He thought I forgot my password and sends me the security question.

“Your Wife’s Name?” appeared on the screen. The magnitude of shit hitting fans was realized. Programs finding social security numbers from birthday and state of birth within the first few hundred attempts weren’t new. I checked ever payment system and found the same minor, but disturbing change.

My mind went into berserk mode trying to calculate all the variables. I had been born scanned. I could do nothing about my dental records because of automatic filing on child mandatory replacements of biological saliva for artificial enzymes to prevent cavities and lessen heart disease. I needed widely available clothing with non-regional specific origins. I used Bill’s cell phone to wiki local edible plants, and then got a call.

She asked me if I was going camping, because she thought it’d be cool to watch me in the wild, like on nature shows. She even sent a link to a pretty neat plant map. I had to laugh about mentally straining on material availability being used to track, only to forget about all the Google satellites. My brain was officially no longer reliable. I looked up at the sky and she asked me to look a little to the left.

“You’re looking right at me”, she said. All things considered, at least she didn't say “I see you".

I tried remembering how many of my friends I’d introduced to her on chat rooms, which ones used their real names for screen names, and how many degrees they were socially networked, online and offline, to each other. I almost threw my cell phone in the trash, but remembered that it was relatively expensive, so I’d just leave it at home.

Instinct and knee-jerk responses afflict. I felt the urge to disappear from the grid and miraculously carve my way back into nature like ancient humans. However, logic beats romanticism and environmentalist propaganda, and I arrange a meeting with an attorney.

We meet and I explain the situation. He’ll be representing me pro bono. History is money, and he wants the history. Copyright and censorship issues between species are what made this decade the year of the lawyer. However, excluding last year’s man-cow incident, this is the first case involving inter species paternity.

Calls are made. Soon, everything is blown out of proportion and I’m making my fourth appearance on the news. I talk about trying to settle out of court. Yel’s parents all but admitted her guilt. Plea bargains were made on the condition that I send child support through online payments. I obeyed my attorney and refused it. Every time, a KiJee correspondent would be brought in and we’d argue for about half an hour. Ratings would jump and I’d get a little extra something. The government stepped in though after polls of nationalism in the general population produced percentages above approved levels.

We stay quiet for months until the trial begins. The lag time between replies is less than a minute, but the trial drags at every turn as two systems debate each definition of every precedent. In a peculiar way, I’ve noticed I’m barely part of the trial. Pro-choice, pro-male rights, and population control groups argue about the mother’s social responsibility to abort under non-ideal circumstances.

She appears on screen. I didn’t recognize Yel’s “face”. To be fair though, I hadn’t seen her “face” in relaxed state many times. Before, she’d bind her micro-tentacles together and flex her camouflage to look like whatever woman I asked her to look like. She gave her testimony and disappeared from the view screen.

Snags are hit. Sociologies are compared to biologies for populace legal perspective, and then debated again. Days become weeks and weeks become months. The number of knuckle draggers with signs, chanting “Be A Father!” dwindle at the end of each day.

I’m loaded back into a police car and taken back to my cell. I’m told a rose by any other name smells just as sweet. A mansion as a cell is still a cell. I could have any food I desired within federal diet guidelines. I had near unlimited access to visual and auditory media. At some point, Sarah moved onto other guys, but forgot to tell me. However, I was not an island. Friends, family, and my attorney would visit, reminding me that I was fighting the good fight for liberty such that no man should be enslaved. I’d even been negotiating about prostitute credits. At a glance, I’d almost pass for a king.

Only on closer inspection do chains become noticeable. There were no sharp objects. There was nothing resembling rope. All the electronics were water safe and wireless. None of the cleaning supplies or medicine were fatal combinations. My attorney all but officially assured me any applications for suicide would take several years to process. The entire structure was void of sharp corners and ledges, producing a temporary mild sense of lovecraftian unease. The colors constantly changed to produce positive moods. Even knowing this, fighting their relaxing sway was difficult.

The cycle repeats and I find myself swarmed by reporters. One asks if my trial’s being slowed to allow more time to “trade” information and technology before the KiJee reacted with protectionist measures. My attorney responds for me. At this point, I’ve been doing the same motions, so many times, that I wake up in court giving repeat testimony. Sometimes, I feel like my mind is adapting to this new environment by erasing pre-trial thoughts.

My attorney argued that Yel Bii Logadi broke copyright law by using my genes without consent, citing various celebrity and pharmaceutical cases. They argued the significant genetic differences would result in only minor skin pigmentations when in a relaxed state, and thus would be viewed as creative commons equivalent. I felt a little weird about her showing the child on screen so often.

It was a stretch, since the creative commons equivalent was created as a government response to pharmaceutical companies copyrighting every possible genetic sequence using mass-scale simulators randomizing pairs. Had it worked, the parents of a child born with a copyrighted sequence would pay royalties until the child turned 18, at which point the child would either pay or have gene alteration therapy, assuming the parents didn’t have said procedure done at birth.

However, the government retroactively confiscated the simulators and information, and sued the companies involved into filing for over sighted bailouts. After essentially buying the companies, the government released generic sequences commonly found in the majority of the population under creative commons, such that an individual requiring said sequence could get the necessary surgery without paying royalties.

I wondered from the beginning whether my case what simply a mock trial. The inherent problem with this copyright approach meant the KiJee might pass blame onto the Federal government, since internet management was their responsibility. As the piracy and copyright infringement occurred online, it was their responsibility to first block her IP and then investigate the situation. Had they done so, how much time would I have saved? I couldn’t even remember anymore.

Suddenly, groups of reporters leave after checking their messages. By recess, the room is almost empty. Turns out, a quantum physics teacher's apartment was raided for standard credit/document fraud. In his basement, they found a brain dead Kijee preteen. He'd actually got a hold of an industrial medical printer and produced a brain dead clone for sex purposes.

After his arrest, the vegetative Kijee was quarantined and taken off life support. I couldn’t help but laugh, being both relieved and lonesome in the camera’s absence. Having lost my metaphorical fifteen minutes, I’m reminded that I’m still on trial, no longer as a symbol of liberty and freedom, but as a former attention whore.