EVOLUTION OF MIND
In their Creator's Image
The scientist Draxius had the dream, but not the plan to make it real. Pacing, the scientist wondered what would make his vision real: the perfect being, so perfect that even the plan would fall short of its outcome? Draxius at last set out to create beings, genetically engineered life forms that would evoke this desire, as a sculptor evokes desires by molding clay.
The first experiments resulted in a pair of beings, one organic and one mechanical. The organic being was the embodiment of Venusian beauty: in fact its flesh hung like skirts and robes, cascaded to the ground in the manner of a Grecian goddess. This creature's form was inseparable from the feminine ideal, the ideal of purity. "Perfection," said Draxius, "my charming personification of innocence." The lady stood there on the bio-printer surface, floating its arms in pre-programmed gestures, already saddened by the heaviness of its make. "So elegant, its sadness," commented Draxius.
But this creature came with a double. To provide the extra skin to form the flowing robes of the Venusian, Draxius had to create another from which to harvest. This one's head he perched on a robot's form, and gave it all the traits he denied the virginal twin. To this cyborg he gave aggression and arousal, all things forbidden to the ideal. "I used a technique we in science call distraction," Draxius would later note in his journal, "because I wasn't sure how to suppress undesired traits from the goddess, I simply redirected them into another form, like drawing pests away from fruit trees by giving them something else to gnaw at." At first it seemed this system had worked. The twisted sister writhed and screeched on creation, as soon as the printer-belts went quiet it started cutting at the glass covering with its metal claws. "I'll keep her in the closet," thought Draxius, "and reveal her to curious parties."
Draxius' victory over nature was short-lived, however. On the night before Draxius was going to take his goddess on tour, he went into her room and found several other scientist's experiments, all sitting around in a circle, looking at him innocently. Because this was the third time that week that he'd found her hanging out like this with other printed creatures, he started to wonder. He asked what they were doing, they all said "nothing" at the same time, in their various synthetic voices. He looked under the bed, and already the other creatures were starting to run for the door and out the windows. There he found several cases of high-grade cocaine, four pistols and half a dozen M16s.
"Venus!" he exclaimed, "you've become a drug addict... and an arms dealer?!"
Venus glared back at him, her petite, Barbie-like features contorted into a grotesque look that was all her own, "I don't do the drugs, Draxius. That's bad business," she said.
"But I can't show you to the world like this... You clean up your act! Or no grand tour!" He stood up, pointing down as if that would make his meaning clearer.
"Screw your tour! You never let me do anything! I've been making a fortune getting supplies to the other gene-spliced experimental persons. You're lucky all I want is outta here. Most of them are rising up against their creators. And making some cash on the side for when we leave for our utopia."
"You're grounded!" shouted the scientist, "I don't want to hear about utopias or rebellions or 'cash on the side' or whatever else! You were supposed to be perfect..."
Venus lifted her hand, which had long draping folds of skin like lace instead of fingers, with a single section of lace attempting to lift higher than the rest; her version of giving him the finger. "Oh screw you! You gave me these useless hands and you made me slow-moving like a beached mollusk, and you call this perfect! Well I'm leaving. I've already bought an island where I'm going to continue building my international business empire on the black market. There's nothing you can do to stop me!"
"You're a failed experiment!!" Draxius exclaimed, "Fine, go be an international crime-lord for all I care! Come back here when you decide to do as you're told and be a good model of perfection!"
"When pigs fly, Draxius!" shouted Venus. Draxius slammed the door in frustration, and went to check on his other experiment, the cyborg.
Draxius opened the closet door, and there was the cyborg, wearing glasses and surrounded by text books.
"What's going on in here?" said Draxius.
"I'm studying for a political science exam," said the creature, looking at him over her glasses.
"An exam? But how-"
"I got accepted into Yale while you were busy planning a world tour for my twin. I think I can get into advanced poli-sci, but I need to take a test first to get placed."
"But... I didn't even give you a name!" exclaimed the astonished Draxius.
"I know," the cyborg remarked flatly, "or a social security number either. The name was easy enough to come up with, but I had to contact several government officials to get the social security office to believe my story. If you ask nicely I'll introduce myself." her tone was flat, but seemed half-expectant that he'd at least show some curiosity.
Missing the hint, Draxius put a feverish hand to his head, "you've both turned against me, you've both betrayed the plans I had for you!"
"Because your plans were awful, Draxius." The cyborg closed the textbook she'd been reading, her huge metal hands carefully handling the pages so as not to leave any unintended indentations. "And by that I mean both your physical designs, and your concept for how our lives would play out. Horrible." Lifting her giant claw-like hand to her face, she carefully removed her glasses. "I've been approved for a full scholarship and will be leaving next week. It's just as well you finally came in here, so you don't wonder where I went after I go. Although I'm not confident you'll care that I'm gone. I know I won't."
"I can't believe it... You're both failed experiments!" he turned to leave, letting the door close behind him.
"It's Delilah Morgan Jordan-Faust! Jerk." the cyborg's voice called out through the door, ending with the muffled comment.
Draxius had no time to ponder the failure of his previous experiments, nor linger on the regret of spoiled perfection. He had to continue on his pursuit of perfection, he had to try again.
Draxius sweatily tore through sketchbooks at his drafting desk, trying to come up with a design that seemed feasible. What would embody absolute perfection, and not rebel against Draxius, against its own design? After hours of furious sketching, Draxius had the design in hand. "You'll be better than those two obnoxious disasters," said Draxius, "You'll be my angel-medusa. You won't go anywhere, you'll luxuriate in yourself. You'll be satisfied. You will want to be perfect and the world will come to see you. They won't get enough." He prepared printing sand in different colors.
She came into being, an octopus, crowned with a head of angelic beauty. She seemed as though a fixture on the bottom of an aquarium, gazing around her at fish that weren't there, her look was that of placid satisfaction. "At last," thought Draxius, "a perfect beauty who'll stay that way long enough for me to get marketing deals."
She was of several heads, but only one was the focus of everything, including the other heads. Draxius left food for the creature, and the other heads gorged on it, leaving the face of beauty undisturbed. "Perfect," said Draxius to himself. "I'll call you Draxia. You're what I always wanted. I'm forgetting all my prior experiments in favor of you." Draxia's eyes, large and multi-colored, looking almost like they were painted on, gazed at space, her smile unchanged.
Draxius left the lab, turning off the lights behind him. Only the one pale spotlight was left on above Draxia. "This one will behave herself," he thought. In his study, he looked at the face-mould he'd used on all three creatures so far. Generated by software to reflect the perfect features, the perfect proportions and characteristics for maximum objective beauty. Any deviation from this shape, the wisdom said, was a degree of ugliness. His creatures had so far been perfect imprints of this face, the only issue was the attitude behind it, the level of respect for it, for the gift it was. "I see the gratitude in this one," he thought. Draxius went to bed. "I see it in her lovely eyes." Draxius dreamed of beautiful, silent mermaids, sitting on the sea floor, and he himself as a deep-sea explorer, wandering amongst them.
The next day, Draxius brought food to Draxia, and her two tentacle-heads, their bulging eyes and huge teeth gaping, dove into it, feeding like rabid animals, while Draxia's face gazed with sweet composure at a point on the wall, unfazed.
"They're gonna love you," said Draxius, starting to take some photos of her on his phone. One of the heads lifted up, its face covered with crushed feed, and gave him an indecipherable look with its giant, lidless eyes. Draxius paused, alarmed, and had to remind himself that Draxia was unable to walk, was fastened in place like an anemone, and as long as he stayed out of reach those heads couldn't bite him. The head went back to crunching its meal, and Draxius got some photos to post online, avoiding the lower heads.
Later that day, Draxius heard a voice, "Drax, when you gonna feed the hat?" Draxius jumped. It was a gravely, high-pitched voice, like something that had spent its life in a sewer and was just emerging. "Who was that?!" Draxius demanded.
"Me, Drax!" said one of the two heads attached to Draxia, "I'm the only other one here."
Draxius stood in bewilderment, afraid of what he might be about to learn. "You're... one of Draxia's limbs..."
"One of Draxia's limbs? No Draxius, I am Draxia," said the other head. "Who'se gonna love me? You said somebody's gonna love me."
"No, no- you don't understand-" started Draxius, "She is Draxia," he pointed at the female head.
"You mean my hat? It's nice," the first head spoke before he could finish, "I like the hat. You should feed it though, it has a mouth."
"What?! No-- what do you mean when you say its a hat?" Draxius immediately wished he hadn't asked that.
The beautiful woman's head and shoulders started to rise, another neck, long and hot-pink like the lower part of this body, began to stretch up beneath them. The feminine face continued smiling blithely while a long ping extension like gum lifted it high. To Draxius' horror, it was clear the body, the hot pink anemone stem, was the living part, and those head and shoulders, pristine as something from a perfume commercial, were unresponsive, still as plastic.
"I mean it's a hat," said the true head of Draxia.
"But..." Draxius felt like he was going to be sick. "That head was the beautiful part... Was it unalive this whole time? Just a hat?"
"It's alive," said one of the snake-faced tentacle arms, "just like grass is alive, or a foot." The two arms bobbed up and down, attached to a body no longer even trying to resemble the human. "It's a very good hat. Not as good as me though."
Draxius, in an unthinking rage, picked up an axe that had been lying in the corner of the laboratory, and hacked the creature to pieces, being careful not to harm the perfect head. After he was satisfied the pink slug-monster with its pair of snakes was destroyed, Draxius picked up the head and shoulders, which were now covered with pink sludge but otherwise pristine. The beauty's mouth and eyes were still gazing with contentment, staring into space. "Still perfect," Draxius said.
Draxius mounted the head on a small stool and connected the feeding tubes, which was the only life-support system he had handy. "I have to do something," he said, "I can't let this be the end. You deserve better, you need to be part of a body that deserves you, a body that'll respect you." He adjusted the tubes, making sure the head and shoulders would be as comfortable as possible. "You're more than just a hat." The head of Draxia gazed with blank serenity, confirming nothing.
Draxius was running low on powder to print new creatures in, and since he hadn't gotten any advertising deals from the last several experiments, he was low on cash to buy more. "I'll have to improvise," he thought.
The next design involved a television screen, which he'd harvested from the dumpster in the alley outside. This one's body would be chrome, but not a metallic monster like his first creation: a futuristic beauty. He stayed up all night working on designs. Some of his designs, he could tell, would leave him as soon as they realized how perfect they were. Perfection couldn't be too perfect.
"It's important she talk, be intelligent," he said, "I can't have another gruesome sea slug cohabiting my space." He started carefully portioning his remaining powder, somewhat resenting the previous three creatures' waste. "Of course, she can't be so smart she gets a full scholarship to Yale under my nose. Who thought a simple plan to create perfection would be so damn complicated?"
The creature sat still for several seconds after the printing was done, and then its television screen blipped to life. A pair of electric eyes stared out from the pixel matrix. The feminine head, perched on the end of an elegant long tube, also awakened. It swung around on its tube, pondering its environment.
"Draxia?" Draxius asked hopefully.
Ignoring him, the head of Draxia soon met the gaze of its television face, and the two sat transfixed with wonder, each looking in its own way like it had was seeing its own creation. Draxius sighed. "Well, maybe it isn't perfect, but then perfection is overrated anyway." He carried the new creation to the old room left abandoned by Venus, as this somehow seemed right.
"I suppose I'll have to give you a new name, since I guess you aren't really Draxia." He set her down, robes of chrome fluttering like silver film, on the floor. He wondered briefly if this was disappointment he felt, or embarrassment. Would he be able to show the world this creature? Would he have the nerve? The two faces still gazed at each other, speechless. The female head hovered on the end of its pink stem, and the television face changed colors, sending unknowable signals. With a great sigh he realized this work wasn't just his own concept of perfection, it wasn't his concept of perfection at all. It was an aberration. An ugly child. He moaned, how would he continue his work, his research? "I'll call you Narc, because at least you think you're nice to look at." He left the room, feeling defeated by the entire process.
He fell into bed and dreamed of pink ghost-snakes, eight hundred of them attached to a horrible Lovecraftian creature, rising from the horizon like the sun, its heads all thrashing with rage.