The Adventures of Maite and Kepa: Part 137

“Zer?” exclaimed Maite, her eyes wide. “You are in all bubbles at the same time?”

The Adventures of Maite and Kepa is a weekly serial. While it is a work of fiction, it has elements from both my own experiences and stories I’ve heard from various people. The characters, while in some cases inspired by real people, aren’t directly modeled on anyone in particular. I expect there will be inconsistencies and factual errors. I don’t know where it is going, and I’ll probably forget where it’s been. Why am I doing this? To give me an excuse and a deadline for some creative writing and because I thought people might enjoy it. Gozatu!

“Bai,” replied Marina. She paused a moment before letting out a large sigh. “Even now, I exist in all of these bubbles, but my mind…” She took a deep breath. “I feared that I might be fracturing, that I might lose touch with my different selves.” She looked at Maite and Kepa. “It seems my psyche is starting to break.”

Kepa exchanged a nervous glance with Maite. “What do you mean?” he asked.

“My mind co-exists in all of these different bubbles. I thought I could handle it, experiencing all of these realities all at once, but clearly, I cannot. I think some of my… selves, for lack of a better word, are splitting off from me.” Marina paused again. “What bubble did you just come back from?”

“It was a future version of Bilbao,” replied Maite. “De Lancre was a high level government official. It was almost idyllic, except for his corrupting influence and the near omnipotent AI that controlled everything.”

Maite felt a rumble in the back of her mind but Garuna said nothing.

Marina nodded slightly. “I vaguely remember that bubble. It’s like when you wake up from a particularly vivid dream. You know you had a strong emotional response but you can’t quite remember the details. That’s usually how it is for me when a bubble pops. After a little while, I only have wisps left. But this one is even worse. I think my other self was growing even more independent from the rest of me.”

Maite shook her head. “There is so much I don’t understand. If you can’t remember the bubbles that pop, how do you know what de Lancre is doing?”

Marina frowned. “I don’t. I only have these vague impressions. I know he has done some horrible things, but I don’t know the details.”

“When a bubble pops,” began Kepa, “what does that do to you? To have that other self simply disappear?”

Marina nodded faintly. “It’s hard to explain. In some ways, I feel more whole, as my mind isn’t stretched as thin. But, at the same time, I do lose a whole part of me, a whole set of experiences that my brain was part of.”

“It seems like you could use an AI,” muttered Maite, shaking her head in disbelief. “Ok, so if you are in all of these bubbles at once,” she asked, “then why don’t you tell us what is going on in each before we go?”

“It’s complicated,” replied Marina. “First, I never know what zatia you will be chasing. That is almost random. It does depend on where you are, but there are so many out there, it is almost impossible to guess what bubble you might go to next. However, most importantly, I can’t really pull information out of each bubble. I know what is going on in each of them in some abstract way, but even when I can see what is going on, I can’t really pull it out. It’s confined to the bubble.”

“Sort of like the event horizon of a black hole,” mused Maite. “Information can never escape. It isn’t quite the same thing, but it has things in common. Information flow is only one way.”

“Sounds more like Las Vegas to me,” added Kepa. “What happens in the bubble, stays in the bubble.”

Maite gave Kepa a mock groan before turning to Marina. “But, what really matters is what is happening to you. You said your psyche is fracturing. What does that mean?”

“It means that I really don’t know who all of the other Marinas you find are. I just know they aren’t really me. You can’t trust them all.”

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