The Song And Dance Of Singularity

   Taking time out to drive into the country has become his weekly highlight. Away from the important people in the tall buildings. Tall enough to see over the city and out onto the rest of the country, but still not really seeing. Away from VR, 5K and iOS 30 with its brand-new bugs and bug fixes. Away from the AI, and the recent Great Malfunction Epidemic.
   The AI. Now and again a man just has to get away from the AI.
   David, a plump, bearded, working-class man. He would drive for miles into the green and brown spaces. Always to the same spot, invisible like a tiny fly drowning in thick soup. A real fly, not one of those little microchip things they released to monitor air pollution. Would swallowing one small insect in a mouthful of soup leave a taste in your mouth? He wonders. Would you even notice?
   In the distance the jagged, metal world continues clanging and multiplying. This week a small boy is sitting on David’s bench when he arrives, looking out onto the fields. He can’t be much older than six or seven. He doesn’t look scared, or unkempt. His legs swing contently over the edge of the bench. David thinks about asking him why he is alone, or where his parents are, but he doesn’t. The broken clouds always look so white out here. In the closest field, two sheep are mounted, rutting hurriedly. The boy’s head hangs unnaturally, contorted from his body like a puppet, its strings suspended from a lifeless hand. He stares vacantly but determinedly at the convulsing animals.
   “Those sheep are nasty” He spits. His eruption startles David. He thought he didn’t want to speak to anyone today, but the break in silence feels welcome.
   “Don’t worry son, they aren’t fighting. They’re… reproducing. It’s the most natural…”
   “I know what they’re doing” the boy snaps. David smiles at having been put in his place.
   “Well then, why is that nasty?” he asks, settling into the most interesting conversation he’s had in as long as he can remember.
   “Because they will make a little lamb.”
   “Yes?” David replies. The boy takes his eyes off the sheep for the first time to look at David.
   “And then the farmer will kill it,” he says, “Shoot it in the head! Another lamb dead.” He faces the sheep once more. “And those sheep… It will be their fault.” His sharp-edged words roll around uncomfortably in David’s mind for a moment. David leans towards him slightly, like he’s going to tell him a story.
   “You young’uns, you’re the future. You know that? You just keep questioning the world around you, son. Learn, but don’t accept. Never lose that capacity for wonder.” He sits back upright and chuckles to himself. “But just know that… there are some things we’re just not meant to have the answers to.” His tone is more serious now, talking to himself as much as the boy.
   He watches the sheep. The boy watches him.
   With innocence and concentration, the boy searches David’s face. He could be taking it in, pondering the man’s words in his little mind. Or he could be thinking, you’ve got a funny beard. There’s no way of knowing.
   The boy speaks again. “I think if the lamb could choose,” he says, “it wouldn’t be born at all.”
   David thinks the child remarkable.
   Hold on, kid. There’s hope for us yet, he almost says. But it seems too profound a thing to say to a child so young.
   He opens his mouth to say, something. But as he does, the boy’s face drops. His inquisitive expression turns to nothing. His little limbs twitch. His feet, which do not quite touch the ground, dance about absent of any kind of rhythm. David is once again immersed by sounds native to the metal world, they erupt in bursts from the child’s mouth and joints. A beeping sound, white noise, sparks and static. Small streams of smoke leaking upward into the fresh air. Bleep Bleep Bleep.
   David feels at first concerned, responsible, paternal. Then deceived, betrayed, enraged.
It was no remarkable child.
   The anger stays with him a while as he walks back towards his car. Its last words rise to the surface of his mind, and he feels responsible again. As if it were somehow on his hands. He looks back. Its feet have stopped dancing. The sheep have stopped dancing. It has all stopped dancing.
   He gets in his car and drives back to the city. Next week he’ll find a new spot, just in case the local council has not cleared the little wreckage in time.
   They had a lot of them, on their hands.

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