Contracting Iris

Her eyes stare back from the bathroom mirror. Her pupils seem just the slightest bit cloudy. Or maybe it’s her imagination; maybe all these insights and wild guesses have primed her to see things that aren’t there. She reaches for the wall, never taking her eyes from her reflection. Flips off the light switch.

Two points of pale blue light stare back from the darkness. Iris thinks of the red-eye you used to see in old photos, back before cameras got smart: light reflecting off blood-soaked retinas.

This isn’t blood. It’s no mere reflection, either: this is, what’s the word…

Bioluminescence.

You were just a speck in my eye, not so long ago. Proteins and acids and chemotaxis. What was it like, getting here from there? Was it gradual? Did you just segue from reflex to instinct, from to feeling to thought? Was it like flipping a switch? Are you scared, are you hungry? Are you even awake, or just some kind of mindless LAN?

She whispers: “What do you want from me?”

Mosaics flicker across her visual field, complex, mathematically precise. They dissolve in an instant, degrade down to amorphous floaters swarming her retinas. Out past it all, the points in the mirror shine like tiny will-o’the-wisps.

“Iris? That you?”

Phosphene kaleidoscopes, there and gone.

Was that an answer? Is this a dialog?

It’s in me, she reminds herself. It—interfaces, somehow. Maybe I don’t even have to talk out loud.

HELLO IRIS I’M IRIS CAN YOU HEAR ME

There might be something there but maybe it’s just afterimages. Imagination.

HELLO? IRIS?

“Fuck it,” she mutters, and reaches for the light switch.

Something tingles in her arm. Just above her elbow, something stiffens and resists.

“Okay, then.” She forces herself to relax. “What do you want to do?”



This entry was posted on Thursday, June 17th, 2021 at 9:22 am and is filed under fiblet. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

16 Responses to “Contracting Iris”

  1. Mike Bowen

    Your dreams are waaayyyy weirder than mine. Must be the herbal tea you obsessively drink.

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  2. Liza A Greenberg

    Can’t wait to read more. Something is tingling in my brain.

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  3. Oliver

    This seems like a promising opening to a new novel
    One can hope

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  4. David

    ‘Contracting’? Not ‘contacting’?

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  5. popefucker

    I contracted Iris once. Nasty stuff, I had to take antibiotics for two months.

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  6. Peter Watts

    David:
    ‘Contracting’? Not ‘contacting’?

    Contracting. It’s what irises do.

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  7. Cassandra

    Man, I love your writing! I stumbled across Blindsight and Echopraxia recently, and devoured them in about 2 days. It gave me a headache, but like, an enjoyable one? Can’t wait for Omniscience!

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  8. Nestor

    Eye like where this is going…

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  9. Josh

    SPOILER for Echopraxia

    Is this an excerpt from Omniscience? It sure sounds like the thing inside of her could be whatever Valerie put inside Bruks.

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  10. SomeHistoryGuy

    Is she being hijacked by an AI? Or perhaps this is some kind of Zeros-esque “Evil Twin”, which would explain the switch imagery . Either way, very interested in seeing where this is going. The bioluminescence reminds me of Rifters, too.

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  11. Oge

    Maybe this is from a new world. It puts me in mind of Stephenie Meyer’s The Host.

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  12. Divided_Loyalty

    Josh:
    SPOILER for Echopraxia

    Is this an excerpt from Omniscience? It sure sounds like the thing inside of her could be whatever Valerie put inside Bruks.

    It kind of does, doesn’t it?

    Also it’s

    TOO

    DAMN

    SHORT

    *growling noises*

    (can’t wait)

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  13. Anonymous

    “What was it like, getting here from there? Was it gradual? Did you just segue from reflex to instinct, from to feeling to thought? Was it like flipping a switch? Are you scared, are you hungry? Are you even awake, or just some kind of mindless LAN?”

    Love this. The emergence of consciousness. Have you ever seen the original Ghost in the Shell, Peter? For sure at least check this scene out if you haven’t: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EJkxQkGxAsE

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  14. Peter Watts

    Nestor:
    Eye like where this is going…

    If I was inclined to ban people, you would be the first.

    Josh: Is this an excerpt from Omniscience?

    You know, it’s not, but you’re right. It kind of could be. I hadn’t noticed that.

    Oge: It puts me in mind of Stephenie Meyer’s The Host.

    And you would be the second. Actually, no: you would be the first.

    I have seen all the GitS iterations except the last one or two (the Bubblegummy reboot didn’t so so much for me, and I’ve steered clear of the recent Netflix series because the reviews have been so distressingly abysmal.)

    The early stuff, though? The movies up to maybe Solid State Society and the series up to 2nd Gig? Loved ’em.

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  15. gb

    …but what happens when the contract expires?…

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  16. listedproxyname

    If there was something I would like to tell myself it would be “please get more night time sleep”.

    This is that problem of integrity of mind that, at times, when it’s 1 PM, I want to strangle yourself for being so stupid last night while 12 hours prior I am absolutely calm, comfortable and forgetful like nothing at all even though it has been happening for years.

    Peter Watts: I have seen all the GitS iterations except the last one or two (the Bubblegummy reboot didn’t so so much for me, and I’ve steered clear of the recent Netflix series because the reviews have been so distressingly abysmal.)

    IMHO Arise didn’t impress me at all, mostly being hollow and pointless theatrics, with main idea scantily trying to scratch the bottom of the well by bringing up the origin story. It had ideas, it had ambitions, but it lacks the greater scope. Which again turns me back to the shores of The Movie incident which is the dead end better left out forgotten. I recognize it mostly as a reflexion of attempts to bring franchise up to the times (and shake the market for some profit), and oh does it show up in some sequences and dialogues.

    In that light, 2045 series acts as gust of a fresh air (I also watched the first episode of it while browsing through Virtual Market 5, i.e. in VR). Of course, reviewers couldn’t ignore some of the more controversial decisions – the animation or art, the plot device, the sequences… I. Do not. Care that much. What is important that it has a soul of a challenge. It is once again trying to move the universe somewhere, find new problems to set and solve. It has caught up to times, and can now do something more productive than buzzword copying. The only real problem that I see is that the series is rather short and implies an existence of next season that would close the main plotline properly, and of course I pray it would not screw up that task.

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