Insensitive Demands


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Scene Title Insensitive Demands
Synopsis Can't live with them. Can't escape them. A ghost from her past pays Hana a visit, and receives a less than spectacular welcome.
Date May 15, 2009

The Hangar

Fifteen million bytes of data.

A street light outside of a building in Greenwich Village flickers and fades out. One by one, street lights begin to go dark around a single building surrounded by the gradual urban decay of this borough. Inside the structure affectionately dubbed the Hangar by its residents, the lights flicker but come back on as the backup generator activates. It's impossible to hear the genrator running through the soundproofing of the basement, but to one woman in the building knowing the generator turned on is less about hearing, and more about feeling.

It is the rough analogue of how much information it would take to encode each nucleotide of human DNA into a digital format; A mere fifteen megabytes.

In that same moment of the generator flicking on, a laptop in the living room — one situated on the coffee table across from where Alistair McKeon has fallen asleep on the sofa — powers on. The sensation of its wireless ports opening is like feeling the change of air pressure during an altitude climb to Hana Gitelman. The knowing, the feeling, that something around the street, around the house, is being directly tampered with by an outside source is almost immediate.

Associating nucleotides to a single alphabetic letter and transforming those letters into binary, it is possible to try and grasp the barest concepts of what it might take to represent even a fraction of human essence in a digital format.

On the screen of the laptop, it is not Alistair's desktop that ends up showing, but rather a single monochromatic black and white terminal interface running off of the laptop's OS shell. A single blinking cursor flashes in a slow, steady rhythm, as the words Are you there? begin to print themselves across the screen.

But what of the human soul? What of the mind, of thought and consciousness? Are these two things one in the same? Are we merely the sum of our experiences?

The lights outside wink back on, one by one alternating in their powering on and off; morse. Are you there, K.Apila?

Or is there more to the identity of human life than recollection and cognizance?

The lights cease their flickering, and the computer screen goes blank as more letters begin to spell themselves out. I would like to speak with you.

Can ghosts dwell in the machine?

There are a few ways to elicit hair-trigger violence from Hana. Not quite as many as people tend to assume — but it's beneficial for her, most of the time, that they do. Interfering with her people is one — the absolute most effective — way to do it.

Jolted from a sound sleep to abrupt wakefulness, the woman's mind snaps out towards the intruder, towards the infiltrated devices. Close down. Bar them all entry. Her response territorial, in the manner of a cat, a hawk, a dragon: you're encroaching on my turf and I won't stand for it.

The name used, a designation known to very, very few, registers only after.

You fucking well know better.

What do you want?

The voice becomes something far less remote, something far less digital. It's more like a whisper just in the periphery of Hana's senses, like a decoded cell phone transmission broadcast on the air. She can pinpoint it coming from a telecommunications satellite currently over New York, but the signal isn't being bounced to the satellite, it's originating at it.

I want to talk. Reminisce. Discuss. There's no designation, no digital input, just the sound and the signal. It's not entirely unlike her communications with Mallory in the digital world when Reed shunted her out of her body. But this presence feels different, sounds different, in a way only Hana can truly feel the texture of.

I wanted to talk to you about Zahava, that name shouldn't be something just tossed around in casual conversation, something that anyone on the street should be able to fire off to her. Or perhaps about Robin Hood?

There doesn't need to be one — an identifier. The list of people it could be, already short nearly to the point of nonexistence, gets smaller with every word. Hana sits on the bed, drawing her knees up to her chest; she knows he can't see her. Not in this room, this house; she knows every nook and cranny, every technical device, both inside and those about. The dark-haired woman closes her eyes.

There's nothing to say about him. Digital, the transmission, but not unadorned data; this one has the extra size and weight of auditory information, the hiss of felidesque ire. Knowing, from approach and subject choice, from phrasing and the flavor of the data stream, just who is on the other end of this conversation — Hana allows herself to continue speaking. You know what he did. To Mallory.

As for the other? Replying to it would be encouraging the subject. And this one — if he insists on talking about her mother, then it won't much matter what Hana does or doesn't do.

I do. It's remarkable. Always the pragmatic one, You'll have to forgive my detachment from the seemingly familial connection you have with that young girl, but this one's ability is astounding. When my student and I first noticed his activities, we followed him for a few days, to observe. The notion that he, of all people, would take on a student is the first unexpected statement filtered through his transmission to Hana. Everything else is relatively par-for-course, at least in as much as their conversations have gone in the past.

R.Ajas was reluctant about my contacting you, but we both feel that with time and the proper nurturing, Robin Hood could be turned around. The tone of his voice hasn't changed in all these years, and it's out of either vanity or comfort that he chooses to keep the natural tone of his voice, or at least what Hana would imagine it was. But… it has been a while, and it's good to see you're well… at least, physically. It seems time has not diluted that seed of hatred you've been nursing?

She might comment on his student, but Hana can't ignore the sinking feeling that's starting to coalesce. Oh, no. There is always something he wants… and the more Monk says, the more dreadfully certain Hana becomes.


Don't. Don't you fucking dare.

Unseen, the woman presses a hand against her forehead, over her eyes. Don't ask this.

I hope I haven't become that transparent in my old age. ;) Yes, in perhaps the most light-hearted moment that this digital entity has ever exposed Hana to, he's topped off an audio transmission with nothing more than an emoticon. There's a sense of laughter crackling over those digital lines, followed by the point he's been getting to in a round-about fashion.

There's going to be an intrusion into Stillwater Security's mainframe, whenever he's ready to learn, and by learn, it's obvious the Monk means something else, ready to learn humility. All the smirking tone of his voice fades at the serious topic. I couldn't really fathom anyone other than you teaching that lesson. I told him to seek out K.Apila. Think of it this way, and think of it with rational thought. If we aren't the ones to mold the clay that he is, someone else will. Do you trust another with the power that child has? And can you — even in your own bitterness — truly condemn a child for crimes of youth and inexperience?

Morality aside, Monk's tone softens some. You're the only one I can trust, in truth. I would ask no other.

He may be laughing; she most definitely is not. Hana slides back down into the bed, burying her face against the pillow. She is — silent. There is no response, no signal, no twitch of bitstrings sent out whatsoever. Learn, experience, suffer through — she knows what Monk means, and it's nothing the woman wants to be a part of.

She's silent because she knows that doesn't make any meaningful difference.

The anniversary is coming up. Her silence is answer enough, so the Monk changes his topic to the other matter of discussion he had wanted to bring up. Will you be returning home for its observance? I intend on making some form of presence, as much as I am capable of in any fashion. There's a moment of awkward, prolonged silence. It would be good of us to do something together, it will be twenty years… after all.

He always did have a way of putting everything into perspective.

The anniversary. July 6th, Hana states automatically; she knows the date like she knows how to breathe. Dry-eyed, the catharsis of tears somewhere beyond her reach, the woman turns her face to look towards the room's curtained window. There's nothing to be seen through the drapes, but it's not for seeing that she looks at it anyway.

I always do.

It takes a moment for Monk to get back into communication, his transmission silent for three whole minutes, which to him is a considerably longer span of perceived time. I'll look forward to seeing you there, then. he sounds distracted by something, tone far more mechanical than before, more synthesized; all his attention isn't going to his performance art any longer.

I look forward to seeing your results, there's no ambiguity as to what he's addressing there, but I need to go. It… was good to hear your voice again, Hana, it's been too long. It's been a very long time since he's called her that.

Her results. The anniversary. He waltzes in, pulls every heartstring she has, and then vanishes back into the ether with not a care in the world. No one would believe it of her — but no one else is here to see. Just Hana, her memories, her passions, and her despair.

She pulls the pillow over her head in vain attempt to block him out.

Go away, Monk.

Insensitive, the mandate — but then he of all people knows the depth of tangled emotions which inspire it.

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