I could get nothing further from Homer then. He acted for several days as if nothing unusual had happened. I asked him if the dream had returned. I told him that dreaming was one thing that made human beings human. He told me with a smile (and that may have been the most surprising thing of all, that he smiled) that the cetaceans dream most of the time.
"All right," I laughed. "Dreaming is what makes sentience what it is."
Homer laughed too. "Does this mean I have sentience?" he asked, and I could tell he was kidding me. He knew he had sentience, consciousness. That he was kidding me was proof.
He is my companion now. Wherever I go, I carry a personal monitor he has had the local diagnostics tailor for me. He speaks to me through it, pointing out the sights.
I went down into the warren under Chicago and explored. He showed me how to get into the great Corridor that once ran from Chicago to New Orleans. I stood at the entry and saw the accumulated dust. Even the faint depressions where the maglev tracks ran were no longer visible. Its size and distance was impressive, certainly. The tunnel dwindled away to a point (Homer turned on the lights for a few minutes). Yet empty it seemed meaningless and trivial somehow.
I thought about going to Antarctica and exploring PSYCHE, or to Terminus, but somehow the summer days around Chicago kept me lazy.
And I had to do something about the agrobotics. I would need to eat. So I spent a lot of time talking to SciTech and Central Processing about starting up agriculture again. Soon the nearby fields were tilled and green shoots appeared.
They went a little overboard, in fact. They were growing enough food to feed the city.
So the days passed. One day Homer said:
HOMER COMMENTARY 07072106@062901
He put it into a file like this, as if it were still part of his story. Sometimes he would just sit there, talking to me, his face expressive, and his hands gesturing as he shaped his thoughts. This time, though, the alphanumeric filename hovered in the air nearby. He said it out loud: "Time passes." Then the text vanished, and we spoke of other things.
So from time to time he would tell me of what he thought and did. His nature is different: more thoughtful, perhaps. More mature. He has become something of a philosopher, has Homer.
Then, suddenly, in the middle of July, he began putting things about the cetaceans into file format again, connected them, perhaps because of our conversations, with the Portal story. His files came every couple of weeks now.
Keywords: time, homer, about, would, chicago, sentience, days, perhaps, things, story, file, passes, nearby, again, talking, something, thought, somehow, ran, kidding, laughed, cetaceans, most, human, dreaming, dream, nothing, get
All text © 1986 Rob Swiggart. "Portal : A Dataspace Retrieval" is available courtesy of the Author's Guild Backprint Programme. ISBN: 0595197841All programming and software © 2002 Salim Fadhley. Released under the GPL. Code available on request.
Updated: Sun Apr 14 2002
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