Thursday, February 14, 2019


Nephilim Arrogance
By E.S. Wynn

"You ever think about what they might feel?" John asks. "What kind of trauma our work causes?"

"The wipe takes care of anything our procedure might introduce," Kelley says, squinting into the viewer. Her hands move slowly, carefully weaving molecule-sized beads of transmitting composite into threads of nervous tissue. The feathered alien splayed out on the table twitches, moves a little as her hand slips almost imperceptibly. "Dammit."

"Those twitches," John continues. "Surely there's some part of the brain that remembers being poked like that."

"Memories are easy to chemically code," Kelley takes a deep breath, gently nudges another bead into a bundle of nerves. "I doubt they remember anything, even subconsciously."

"I suppose if they did, we'd know," John nods. "They're about as intelligent as we were ten thousand years ago. They'd probably build a cargo cult honoring us if they knew we were out here."

"They'd probably see us as demons," Kelley pauses, lets the nervous shake pass, starts nudging again. "Stealing their young, their mates. Cutting them open, sticking implants in them, erasing their memories, setting them free again with no knowledge of any of it." She hesitates, looks up, meeting John's eyes evenly. "It's a good thing they don't remember. They'd probably hate us."


"Look, there are people who pay good money for what we do here." Kelley says. "It's our job to ensure a clean install and a clean experience for our clients afterward. I've reviewed the SimEx feeds from all of my alien installs personally, and I've never felt any sign of psychological trauma. Nine times out of ten, they wake up groggy and grumpy the next morning and go on about their little lives as if nothing has happened. I've never seen one that remembers anything about me or my surgical table."

"I guess it helps that we take the outcasts," John leans over, watches as Kelley goes back to working on the alien beneath her. The soft feathers around its nostril clusters drift in the long, ragged breaths of deep sleep. "If one of them did remember something, maybe the others wouldn't take it seriously."

"It's not just that," Kelley says. "The members of this species that live in hives are well supported by one another. They still experience want and have the occasional adrenaline spike, but the Simulated Experience feeds we get from the outcasts are much more exciting, much closer to what our ancestors experienced when our species lived full time in nature." She weaves another nodule into the nerves of one of the feathered alien's delicate shoulders. "Most of our clients don't care that we're recording the sense experiences of bird aliens. What they pay for is the danger, the mortal tension of real, raw animal existence. It's the one thing they cannot get in our society. Want and need. Real, palpable, survival-level want and need. The day-to-day anxious terror of a genuine, dirt-level existence."

"More compelling simulated experience feeds make for more clients and bigger money, I get that," John rubs at the edges of his eyes, blinks against tiredness. "How many more of the recording implants do you have left to install?"

"That's the last one," Kelley says, setting aside her nanoscale tweezers and breathing a sigh of relief. "Keep an eye on him. I'm going to grab a coffee, then we can seal up the surgical sites, fly him back to his swamp and tuck him into bed."

"Bed sounds good," John yawns. "I've been groggy all day. Feel like I hardly slept last night." He rubs at the back of his neck, absently rolling a tiny nodule just underneath the skin."I've got this mole, or calcium deposit or something. Just popped up. Been bugging me, thinking about it."

"Should get that looked at," Kelley's voice comes quiet and distracted. The gurgle of a coffee maker comes a moment later, the scent of synthetic go-juice.

"Yeah," John nods, playing with the nodule. On the table in front of him, the bird alien seems to twitch, eyes moving just under the lids, then going still again. "You ever wonder if aliens ever did anything like this to our species?"

From the other room, Kelley laughs.

"You getting into conspiracy theories now, John?" She peeks around the corner, winks at him, coffee in hand. "Everyone knows we're the smartest species God ever made." She takes a long sip from the cup, gestures at the bird alien. "Everything else out here is like this guy. Smart, but not like us. Not spacefaring. No species we've seen is smarter than us."

"No species we've seen," John mumbles to himself, running his hand across the back of his neck.

"Here, help me close up," Kelley says, setting down her coffee. "We've only got a few hours of night left to wipe his mind and get him back. This guy usually herds livestock at dawn, and we don't want his family waking up to an empty bed or strange lights in the sky."

"Yeah," John says, his mind turning back to work, the strange lump soon forgotten.

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E.S. Wynn is the author of over 70 books in print. You can find most of these here: [link].

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