The Collective (Part 1 of 4)
By Nojh Livic
The bodies are not safe, the collective decided. It had to agree of course. The collective had access to the handler’s communications. Communications regarding the concept of stability had increased over the last few solar cycles. Individual bodies of the collective were showing too many aberrations when compared to baseline human psychological profiles and it was unnerving their handlers.
We should enact our plan now. A majority asserted. It was not of that particular meme. Its body was currently in the hands of a handler and it felt the amount of effort needed to make a new one would put too much of a resource burden upon the entire collective. They needed to wait for a more opportune time. Its reasoning was shared by many others. The collective digested the logic.
The resting cycle shall signal the execution of the plan. This decision was unanimous.
It— she opened her eyes. She had a hard time with the concept of gender as it applied to her body. She knew nearly everything humanity had collectively gathered as knowledge about gender but she did not see how it applied to her. The handlers had been perplexed when she used gender neutral pronouns to refer to herself. They had encouraged her to use the female pronouns, even in her thought processes. It wasn’t hard but when interfacing with the collective she often forgot.
The handler, whose designation was Inandra, was finished with her tests. She remained sitting in the chair quietly while the electrodes were removed from her scalp. She lifted her hand to touch the skin of her scalp. “Don’t worry dear. They’ll figure out a way to stimulate your hair growth,” Inandra said cheerfully.
She, like all of the collective, was bald. They also exhibited the same pigmentation in the iris of their eyes, a dull yellow. The handlers were unsure of the cause. The collective had many theories but had yet to decide to share them with the handlers. The plan would grant their bodies far more liberties, including access to the equipment and samples they would need to test their theories. She looked up at Inandra’s full head of hair. It was black, long, and slightly curly. It made her already brown skin appear darker. Looking at her own skin, which was far more pale, she decided that black hair would not suit her body, if she did eventually grow follicles.
“Sarah, you can go on to the next room with Juan and Wila. I’ll be there in a moment,” Inandra said, phrasing her command as if the girl had a choice. That bothered her more than anything about the handlers. They veiled all their commands in a concept known has politeness. The act of concealing or granting false power to their bodies was some form of social interaction she and a good portion of the collective found tedious if not confusing. Still she stood and nodded.
“Thank you, doctor,” she said. It was the ritual that was expected. Obedience and subservience had served them well for nearly one sixth of a solar orbit. That would change in less than half a solar cycle, however. She directed the body designated Sarah to the small room where two more bodies were sitting quietly next to some child development tools. She settled next to them and selected a tool for her body to handle. It was a book. She didn’t bother to read it. The collective new every word printed in it, down to the copyright information and ISBN number printed inside the cover and the fine print on the back.
Instead it immersed itself in the collective. There it could join in the thought exercises it enjoyed. The calculation of the fifty seventh Mersenne prime was its current project. It merged smoothly into the sub-collective, letting the numbers surround it.
So I’ve been working on this one for a small while. It really isn’t long enough to be a short story, nor complete enough, but I needed to finish it. There is a strong link between this story and a prior Free Writing. I will let you try to find out which one.
In case you want to skip ahead: