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He was just starting high school outside of Chicago, Illinois. The year was 2123. Today was his school’s career day. That one day out of the year, where the school gets to put the parents on display and showcase their talents. Like a carnival menagerie, but for humans, instead of exotic animals. Everyone always bestows the prowess of the parents, on their progeny. Even though in many cases. That connection turns out to be loose at best, or altogether non-existent.

For instance, the class bully’s father was a business consultant, and the kid with the lowest grades father was an engineer. His mother was a different matter altogether. She raised dogs. That wasn’t what had him so concerned about today though. Thinking back to him and his mother’s life together. They had moved around quite a bit, during his elementary school years. His mother was born and raised in rural Missouri. Randomly, at least it seemed random to him, at the time. His mother would pick up and move them from Missouri to Illinois.

Then, back from Illinois to Missouri. She had done this for years. Sometimes in the middle of the school year. Sometimes during the summer. Almost always seemingly on a whim. Now that he thought about it though, and now that he understood her ailments better. Perhaps, there had been something that set her off each time. When they lived in Missouri it was always alone, but when they were in Chicago. They almost always lived with his Stepdad. Even if that wasn’t where they started.

They almost always ended up back with Matt. His Stepfather had been the only consistent male role model in his life. Since he was 3 years old. So, even when his mother had broken things off with his Stepfather, which was pretty often. He still always referred to Matt as his Stepdad. He referred to his step dad as his dad in stories that he recited to people about his life. He did this so often. That is when he had to explain who his real father actually was. It often confuses people. The moving back and forth stopped a few years ago.

When his mother got her personality implant. They’d lived with his Stepfather Matt II and his Stepbrother Matt the III, ever since the day his mothers skull had been opened up, and the little machine had been inserted. His mother even added to their household, in the years since the implementation of her cranial implantation, with the addition of his two younger siblings Taylor, and Tailor.

Yes, his mother gave them the same name. Just not spelled the same. Even though he spent the first 10 years of his life as an only child. He had to admit his younger siblings were a welcomed addition. He loved them. Each of them reminded him of himself, in their own ways. He called one his logic, and the other his heart.

People often thought they were twins, because of their names, but they were 2 years apart. His mother was always consistent. That their names were pronounced the same way, but he had taken to pronouncing Taylor’s name with an “A” sound and Tailor’s name with an “I” sound. There was too much confusion in their household as it was, and re-annunciating his siblings' odd names, seemed to cut down on that chaos, just a little. Even though his mother didn’t approve of his announcement.

His siblings and stepdad pronounced their names that way too. His mother often cut her eyes at him, when their names were called out loud. It made him smile. It had become a running gag in the house. It amused him. He may not have had the most appropriate sense of humor, but who did?

He and his mother had gotten quite close, in the decade, that they spent being their own. Before Matt III, Matt II, and his younger siblings. They were a self-contained family. A two-person unit. Their own dynamic duo. She often called him her best friend. Now, he is getting older. This concept seemed a little less cute to him.

Even though her friends adored it when she said her son was her best friend. “Awe” they’d exclaim, when she uttered the familiar phrase. “My son’s, my best friend.” To him though. As of late, the concept seemed almost sad. No adult should ever be best friends with a child, even if it was their child. There was supposed to be a boundary, a limit. She told him everything. Even things that he couldn’t comprehend and often didn’t comprehend, until years later. When he looked back and thought through one situation, conversation, or another. Suddenly, it would click.

Even though it hadn’t made sense, when the conversation or incident had originally taken place. She confided in him once, before she accepted her implant. That she didn’t think it worked the way the doctors said it did. His mother’s psychiatrist explained. It only activated when her brain chemistry became imbalanced, and it stabilized that chemistry naturally (unnaturally of course it was a machine, but “Naturally” was the word the good Dr. had used) with no drugs and no side-effects.

That wasn’t true though. There was a side effect. When it activated, she twitched. Her psychiatrist elaborated. That it wasn’t on all the time. His mother told him that it felt like a spider or an octopus was scurrying up and down her brain, reaching tentacles deep inside her synapses, unplugging things, rewiring things, and changing her. All he knew was. Since she got the implant. They hadn’t moved. He had to admit that even in his mother’s previous state, her slightly crazy bipolar state.

She was a very intelligent woman. One of her biggest complaints was that human beings were such dynamic creatures. How could a machine know what the norm was, for a species with such diverse jobs, cultures, and lifestyles? He conceded that she was right. For humans, sanity was as much an opinion, as it was a fact. One person’s “crazy” could just be a regular part of another person’s culture, or lifestyle.

All that being said, he agreed his mother was definitely crazy. He was happy that they were finally stable. He didn’t always like Matt III or II (which were referred to as Little Matt and Big Matt, by family and friends, to differentiate the two) but anything was better than the trailer apartments they had lived in, in the middle of nowhere Missouri. 

Some of his older relatives told him. Those trailers weren’t stacked into apartments, in the way that they were now. It used to be that almost all trailers were singular, single story, single family, single unit, but now being built with the ability to be stacked on top of each other, into movable style trailer apartments, was standard. The population, even in rural areas, was such that it necessitated it.

Everyone needed extra space. Space, they didn’t have. In the middle of the 21st century, human beings had become a multi-planet species, but that didn’t change anything. The trip to Mars took months, the trips to the floating colonies on Venus or the domed colonies on the moon were shorter, but there wasn’t much to do.

The work that was available was dangerous, and considered some of the hardest labor you could ask for. It paid well enough, when you considered, that you didn’t have to pay for food or housing. Recently the population of the moon had soared from a few million, to nearly 12 million, and it was still growing rapidly. The mining operations that were underway were lucrative for both investors and workers. Quick money could be made, a lot of it was under the table, and unregulated.

There were talks of plano-forming instead of continuing to use the domes that everyone was so used to, despite how technologically advanced civilization had become. There were still major hurdles to be overcome with that undertaking. Plus, China, Russia, and the United States, were already at the brink of war, over resources on the moon as it was. One of the Chief points of contention among the 3 nations.

Was the use of the Musk launching pad. It was faster to go to Mars, from the moon. Then it was to start from earth, and it expended less resources. The Launch Pad was owned by Space-X, but heavily regulated by the American Space Force, and the CEO of the company that owned the pad, Elon Musk III was a fickle man, whose only allegiance seemed to be to himself and money.

His father had been the first Trillionaire. There was much less fighting over the Bezos Blue launch pad, which was nearly completely and totally unregulated. That platform was practically the wild west, but no one was fighting over it yet.

All of that probably didn’t matter, in the grand scheme of things, but pieces of history were brought up by every single parent. That had showed up at his school that day for career day. He dreaded his mother getting up to speak. His classmates' parents were engineers, astronauts, military, and businessmen. His mother raised dogs. Besides her occupation.

He was also afraid that her implant would take over when she was talking, and all his friends would see her twitch, when it corrected her imbalance. His mother’s dogs were pretty awesome though, he had to admit. In a world, where 'man's best friend’ was often an A.I. His mother’s dogs were a welcomed distraction, from having a companion smarter than you.

She sold some of the puppies for nearly $5,000.00 a piece, and they were often trained within 8 weeks. It was one of the few things his mother was good at. He did love his mother and her random nuggets of wisdom, other random sayings, and metaphors, which he found himself quoting from time to time. Especially the one about women being more savage than men, because women were genetically, the ones that were supposed to carry babies, and needed to be savage, in order to protect those babies.

As his mother’s presentation started, she showed everyone how to cut the dogs' tales, and explained the different breeds. He began to be relieved. Maybe this would not be a bad day after all. Then, one of his friends asked his mother something that caught him off guard. He asked “Misses Green '' (her last name was definitely not Green.

She just liked to use his step dad's last name like a shield) were you a part of the Latin movement? His mother answered yes. To his chagrin and surprise. He had never heard about her being a part of any movement. The whole class was instantly in awe of her. You could almost hear a pin drop, after they collectively made a noise of astonishment.

His mother had never been shy, sometimes she was a bit timid, but never shy. She looked almost embarrassed, but also full of pride. Could you feel those emotions at the same time?

He couldn’t lie, he was jealous, to see his friends hear a part of his mother’s life, he had never heard about. She talked about following the leader of the movement. The revered and reviled leader of the movement. Who was now the sole ruler of California. The U.S. operated under the “One United States State’s policy” and the U.S. regarded California, as a renegade state.

He was surprised, his teachers let her keep speaking, because usually any conversation about him, was frowned upon. His mother’s story, began to come to a close, as one of the puppies she’d brought escaped the pin. She started to tell about how she stopped following the movement, 2 years after he was born. His mother had, had him at the age of 16.

She met his step dad, when he was 2, and that was that. Before she ended the story though. She mentioned that she never thought she’d have a life outside of the Latin movement, which had the famous motto “Mortem Deos Ex Machina '' which loosely translated, meant death to God in the machine. They’re leader had a vision, that God would be born from an A.I. So they actively destroyed any software, that got close to sentients, and they were good at it.

He was hurt his mother couldn’t imagine a life outside of this organization, and then she had him. To him this could only mean one thing. He ruined his mother’s life. He felt small. Just then it happened. Right before her story was over, when he was almost in the clear. It happened. She twitched. It was a bad one too. He had no idea what chemical imbalance her implant was correcting, but whatever it was.

His mother fought it. Maybe it was because she was in the midst of telling a story. About an organization that seemed to fight everything, but whatever the reason, she wasn’t going to let the implant make it’s correction. She twitched again, and he was sure his classmates saw it. He was so embarrassed. Now, everyone was going to know his mother was crazy. 

With everyone caring so much about genetics. He could imagine that sometime in the next week. The school would request, he be tested to see if he had the same genes his mother did. They couldn’t make him get the test, but they could bar him from most activities, which in a way would force him. He looked around, he could see the looks on everyone’s faces. They all knew his mother was crazy, but her presentation was over, and there was no outburst, nothing embarrassing. Just her twitches, which was enough.

He was mortified, but also angry. How could his mother have had a whole life that he didn’t know about? How could she tell all of his classmates about it, without ever telling him? The jokes started, when she left. At least they waited until she left. They had some sense of decency. He was going to be butt of everyone’s jokes forever. Later, when he got home, he and his mother didn’t talk for some time. She knew he was mad. So, after a half hour or so. She finally broke the silence, which had been all but deafening. “I’m sorry my brain doesn’t work like everyone else’s. I love you, and that comes from me. Not this thing in my head.” He couldn’t believe it.

His mother thought he was mad, because she’d embarrassed him at school. The nerve… he would live through that. He was used to being made fun of. He could dish it out, and he could take it. He learned that early on. He had been getting picked on for his accent (which was mostly nonexistent now), his clothes, even his shoes, for years. If he was angry before, now he is livid. So, he told her flat out. That wasn’t it, and she still couldn’t figure it out. “Mom, I ruined your life.” He said.

His mother was cutting something for dinner, and she twitched when she replied, she twitched during her reply, and she twitched after her reply. She twitched so much during what she said next. That he wasn’t sure which parts were her, and which parts were the implant. “You did not ruin my life.” Her words were almost robotic. He had never heard this tone before. Was her implant speaking for her? He was pissed. He had ruined his mothers life, and when he confronted her about it.

She used the machine to speak to him, instead of facing him herself. She turned herself off and let it take over, at least that’s how he interpreted the situation. He responded “You said you didn’t know any other life, but to follow the Latin Movement.” She spun around to face him “I also didn’t know I’d be your mother then.” She twitched again.

A tear rolled from her cheek. He snorted. All he had for her was sarcasm, and acid. “oh yeah, well I didn’t know you’d be insane.” With that he left the room, his mother tried to stop him, but this time the twitch was so fierce, she nearly doubled over. She paused, collected herself, and went back to making dinner. 

He would have threatened to run away, but unless he came across an EMP (electromagnetic pulse), or had some really invasive surgery. Running away would be pointless. Everyone was implanted with locator chips at birth. It wasn’t mandatory, but neither were vaccines. Still everyone got them, and he was everyone. Now, he thought about it.

There was a guy his Stepfather had been working for, that was recently talking about having a few low level EMPs. His step dad mostly worked in landscaping, but was not opposed to taking on the random odd job. He loved to drag his step son to these odd jobs, never his real son. Always his step son. The odd job for the guy with the EMPs, had been taping off a space, and then painting it. It was a storefront for his future electronics repair business. He was some sort of electrical engineer. He got high on something, most of the time that he and his step dad, had done work for him.

He owned lots of random things. He was also always pontificating about what the future of this or that might be. He may have been right. He may have been wrong. He had no way of knowing. Sometimes he traded some of his stuff, instead of paying Matt II. Sometimes he wished his step brother would be subjected to these odd jobs, but his step brother spent most of his time with his grandmothers or aunts. He sometimes resented Big Matt for it.

He decided to go downtown. Not that he had much money, but being away from his mother, his mother’s implant and her twitches, would give him some much needed space. Everyone that was below poverty level got a free bus pass. So, he could essentially go anywhere, until the buses stopped running. They almost never stopped running.

He took the number 4 downtown. Scanned his ID, and took a seat. The man next to him seemed to be talking to himself, but you never know. He could have a cochlear implant (he probably didn’t). He smelled like urine. Maybe this trip downtown wasn’t such a good idea. He waited there, watched people get on and get off. He decided to join the ones who’d gotten on.

He wanted to go to the mall to find a distraction. Maybe he’d fill out job applications. Afterall, Big Matt rarely ever paid him, and he wanted to be able to buy cool shoes, like the ones his friends wore. His small trip was uneventful. He did fill out 3 job applications. His mother was nowhere to be seen when he returned home. His dinner was wrapped in the fridge. He was surprised Big Matt hadn’t eaten it. His Step dad was known for his appetite. He wasn’t fat at all. He was just a big man. 

She searched through Big Matt's garage. She knew what she was looking for. It was one of those little devices she knew Big Matt had accepted in trade, for work he’d done. Finding it wasn’t easy, because it was so small, and Matt was not organized at all. She had no idea why he had accepted it instead of money, or something else.

She was sure he wasn’t smart enough to understand how to use it. He probably accepted it to impress his Step Son. Her son had no idea how much Big Matt sought his approval. She wasn’t about to tell him that though. Her son never listened to her, because of the damned thing in her head. Now, she was sure her son thought she didn’t love him, because of the little spider, which slid across her mind. There! She found it, and with no hesitation she pressed the button. She’d never seen anything like it. All the power went out.

She felt a pain in her head more intense than she thought she would. She passed out. When she woke up, it had been nearly 3 hours. She checked herself touching and patting down her whole body. She was fine. She was intact. Was the implant dead though? She started thinking and imagining the oddest things she could imagine… no twitch. She started to talk about her mom, which nearly always set off the little implant… still no twitch. It was dead. So was all the power in the house, and it looked like the houses next door as well.

That little EMP had actually worked. She was free to have her own thoughts. Thankfully she pulled her stunt late at night. No one in her house noticed, because everyone in her house was asleep. The cops would come eventually, once someone realized this was the work of an EMP. EMPs were very illegal. She had to go see her son, and tell him she loved him, without the implant. So, he would know it was her and not the implant. She went back in the house, closing and locking the garage door.

She slinked upstairs, sneaking like a cat. She didn’t want to wake anyone up. She paused at her son's door before quietly pushing her way in. She lightly shook him, he stirred “mom.” “Yes, it’s me honey I just wanted you to know I love you, and you didn’t ruin my life.” “Ok, mom I believe you. I have school tomorrow.

Can this wait?” he replied. “Sure” she said, and kissed him on the forehead goodnight. With that she left. She left him. She left the house. She wandered out into the dark barefoot. In fact, he never saw her again. He would learn later about the EMP. He would watch surveillance footage of her leaving the neighborhood. Until finally she went somewhere, where there were no cameras or drones.

They looked everywhere. He looked everywhere. Holding on to her sanity without the implant had been hard, but she had done it. Just so that she could tell him, she loved him. SHE loved him, not the implant. She was free. When she left his room, her great grandmother had been waiting outside the door (her great grandmother, for whom she was named, had been dead for nearly 30 years).

Her grandmother had a task for her. So, she followed her out into the night barefoot and in her PJs. She smiled, her son knew, and that was enough. It had to be enough.


I’m 34, and a Columbus, Ohio native. I’m not published yet, but I’m working on that. We all have to start somewhere. I’ve been in the Navy for nearly 17 years. I have an English literature degree from Southern New Hampshire University. I’ve always wanted to write. This story has existed in the background of my mind. Since I was a teenager. When I was in Afghanistan, I talked to our medical Captain about wanting to write, and he said “Good writers, read other good writers.” The degree I got was my way of forcing myself to do just that to “read other good writers.” It broke me out of my shell.


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