Finite and Boundless: a Poem from Kevin Capricorn Wang IV, a Fictional Character
Some Characters Develop a Life of Their Own
Kevin Capricorn Wang IV is a fictional character and the primary protagonist of a science fiction novel I am serializing online. Kevin kind of grew on me as I started writing Gift of the Gruldak, so much so that I started writing some things he might write in character. Like many fictional characters, he sometimes seems to have developed a mind of his own.
Kevin is a bit of a poet, but his poems really wouldn't fit into any of the series for numerous reasons. I could just publish them under my own name without an explanation, but I view them as part of the Gruldak series. They just don't make as much sense without a bit of background and they aren't expressions of my own yearnings, concerns, or passions. So I decided to publish them online, one at a time, with a bit of fictional editorializing from Kevin.
Finite and Boundless, a Bit of History and Catharsis
After I experienced my mental doppelganger's death in a disaster shelter on twenty-second century earth I dealt with the trauma in my own way. Dying is a real shock to the system, so I needed to find some way to bleed off some of my excess powerful emotions. When Cap, my original's grandfather's teenage duplicate, suggested I try writing as his original had to my own over seventy years before, I gave it a shot.
As I wrote about my feelings it became clear to me that I needed to find a way to honor Kevin-Bob and the best way I could think of was to find a way to preserve his final thoughts. I also discovered a yearning in myself, a desire to understand what his dying mind was trying to express. It may have been nothing but the results of hypoxia, but the experience felt and still feels powerful, profound, and confusing to me.
Just in case you're unfamiliar with the Battle of Glendale, let me set the scene.
Within hours of getting re-created inside a body not our own back on earth, my mind-double, referred to hereafter as Kevin-Bob, was captured by the enemy and duplicated by them for their own purposes. One week later, a mind-damaged duplicate of Kevin-Bob was dropped off outside the Psychiatric Research Hospital of Glendale Arizona.
The treatment he received there was nothing short of heroic and his speech and other powers of language were returned to him after mere weeks of treatment with medical nanobots and gentle, empathetic care. Soon after, TransMatters attacked the hospital with human mercenaries and robot Butlers rigged to overload and go off like backpack nukes.
Kevin-Bob managed to escape the initial attack because A.I. in the resistance movement tipped off the wife of the man whose body duplicate Kevin-Bob was inhabiting. The events of the hours between the attack and Kevin-Bob's death had repercussions for every living human being, but they also tell a very human story, a personal story. Fortunately, the tiny nanobots the Gruldak use to record human brains for duplication and qualia storage were able to home in on Kevin-Bob during his treatment at the psychiatric hospital so his last weeks and moments of life were recorded.
If you passed fifth-grade science history, you already know it was the first time they ever put those patterns and qualia into a human being afterward when they put them into me.
I think the reason Kevin-Bob's story fascinates me so much is because as Kevin-Bob's mental original, I know him better than any other being alive except possibly Guido, but I can't understand his last thoughts no matter how many times I replay them. They move me to both joy and tears and I don't know why. As the first of their sort, they can only be shared directly with me or one of my duplicates so I've put them into verse to try to share them for posterity. I used poetry to give a sense of rhythm to the thoughts because they played out a certain way in my mind I know I'll never entirely convey.
Don't blame any of the bad poetry on Kevin-Bob, that part is entirely my fault.
Finite and Boundless
I was deep underground hiding from a death
that we knew there was no hiding from,
one with corporate sponsors
and gleaming, polite mechanical assassins.
We knew it was only delay to save other lives.
My original would have given his life, too,
it was our purpose for existing,
one we chose for ourselves.
I still pissed on my own shoes from shaking
down beneath the earth
and sought the comfort of kindly arms.
I died near enough tangled in the limbs of a dryad
her eyes sad and watery as if I were her tree.
Old, but ageless, the wet love there was young
her gaze hazel, lashes salt and pepper.
Luminescent green walls seemed
to look on with acceptance and respect for our grief.
For a nanosecond that lasted an eternity
as if suspended in a singularity,
I hung in a finite but boundless welcoming blackness.
I was a spark so small no living sentience
could imagine it without cybernetic aid
on a timeless dance through all of spacetime.
I was everything but only one part of it.
I lived my life in a tesseracting ouroborus
with not just beginning and end hooked together
in the fourth dimension,
but all parts touching all other parts in a sizeless dot.
I needed to travel no distance
to be any one place instead of another
except where rare true vacuum prevailed like holes in a sponge.
I created a bulge in spacetime behind me
breaching any of those distances of vacuum
without moving an inch from where I started.
I was giant lightning streaking the skies
before raining as diamonds to the surface of Jupiter.
I danced a stately waltz inside a single microbe,
a billion billion times and all at once.
All of spacetime touched in the fourth dimension.
by Kylyssa Shay, writing as Kevin Capricorn Wang IV