He picks up his mobile, touches Kim’s number and listens to it ring, while he silently rehearses the words “Hey Kim, it’s Jaymi. I’m calling to offer you the chance to be further refined, to become an even more functional Beast than you already are. It won’t hurt, I promise. How about it?”
But perhaps Kim is screening his calls, because his greetings message kicks in, “Hi it’s Kim. Leave a message.”
Jaymi rings off, muttering and a little stung. Then he puts his mobile down again in mild exasperation: what does he need it for, when surely he can think his way into his own Beast? So he closes his eyes, swings his attention down into Kim, finds him sitting alone on a rocky canyon slope near the bottom of Hercules Drive, and proceeds to contemplate him with a creatorly eye, assessing him for potential refinement needs and infusing the scent of a question: “So Kim, how are you holding up, after the café scene? You know, in the wake of all that good stuff about breakage and misery and fuck-up and pain?”
“Hi Jaymi,” Kim replies, looking straight up at him. “Yes, all those vicious design flaws. They’re all still true, it seems. And they’re all quite the nosebleed on the toast, as I suspect you understand very well yourself… And yet. And yet.”
Jaymi nods in assent, and Kim returns his gaze to the canyon ahead and below, saying nothing more.
Looking into his Beast, Jaymi perceives how an occasional feeling of deja vu tends to remind Kim that there were times before he’d managed to work out something important, which suggests to Kim in turn that other remaining concerns of his will also be worked out in due course (then doubtless to give rise to future feelings of deja vu and resultant reassurance likewise)—a solace unsought, which causes both Beast and creator to smile.
Jaymi perceives how Kim sometimes estranges himself from the everyday world for a moment, whereupon ordinary objects and events appear new and unfamiliar, revealing their nature and giving him a clearer consciousness of things in general. At which point Kim tends to guess that this is what it must be like for all other Beasts too … but then Kim realises he can’t be sure of this, because his three fellow Beasts all seem strangely incurious regarding such abstract matters (even his beloved Shigem). How odd, that Jaymi has thus obliged Kim to keep such interesting reflections to himself without being able to share them with another.
In any case, even when Kim is contemplating inanimate objects only, this tendency to effect deliberate temporary self-estrangements still leaves him feeling he cannot quite judge anything he doesn't have affection for.
And thinking of affection leads Kim’s thoughts back upwards, to the level of humans such as Jaymi. It seems to Kim that perhaps the only thing he himself can take credit for is his own overwhelming realisation (which Jaymi coded him to attain somewhere between the notional ages of six and nine) that every one of the crushing number of other humans around Jaymi also has a real human consciousness just as complex as Jaymi’s. And just as important, Kim then proceeded to set this young realisation up as the backbone on which he built himself throughout his notional teens. It also generated his kindness and compassion, which clothe what he’d otherwise be inclined to call a greater innate potential selfishness than Shigem’s, as it happens.
Jaymi sees one more thing about Kim, which is something this Beast will do in future—a more flesh-and-blood thing than the rest of what Jaymi has seen inside him. Into the apartment he shares with Shigem, Kim will introduce Clytemnestra, the velvety-nosed rabbit, who will live with them both. When Clytemnestra sits in comfort, her legs hidden from sight underneath her, she will look a bit like a wide furry oval, with ears that sometimes turn in different directions to hear different things. She will also be wont to stand up on her hind-legs, and periscope…
Jaymi breathes out, opens his eyes, thinks for a moment, then speaks aloud to his Beast on the canyon slope: “You don’t need refining at all, do you? At least not by me.”
Kim gives a faint smile, unspeaking, then returns his attention to the rocky canyon slope.
For more about "The Beasts of Electra Drive" by Rohan Quine, see
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