Or, The iDictaBrain Field Guide, Part I
by Meridian Gosp, Tech Support
Ah, the mighty iDictaBrain! From the moment it is embedded prenatally in our still-developing skulls, to the moment it is switched on at the ceremony marking our entrance into adulthood at 16, to the moment it is archived at our deaths, it never leaves us.
Most of us do not willingly switch Off once we are On. Most of us, therefore, are never alone. Everyone we love, everyone we know, is but a thought away. Even the dead aren’t entirely lost to us.
That is why the silence of The Past is so starkly terrifying to new Agents. You step through that door, and it is like the world you have carried with you in your skull for so many years has suddenly died. People you meet aren’t Auto-Associated with their Public Profiles, and a stranger on the street may stay a stranger.
And that is in the Pre-Digital Era. The Digital Era is worse. In the Digital Era, there is no silence, only the perpetual, meaningless whine and flicker of uncalibrated data. Like the wind howling through the bones of a dead leviathan. That last sentence is not a poetic flight of fancy on my part. Most Agents describe it in exactly those words.
In most cases, we need you to keep switched On in the field. You will adjust to the silence (though you might find yourself adopting adolescent behavior patterns to match the adolescent silence in your head). You probably won’t quite adjust to the noise of the Digital Era, but only a few Agents have ever been driven actually mad by it. To the brink of madness, possibly. Actually mad, probably not.
Note that I said “in most cases.” Yes, we want you to record, and yes, we want you to be receptive to the signals of other Agents, both living and (perhaps more vitally) dead. But there are a few cases where switching Off is vital.
Case #1: Natural Telepaths
They are rare, but they do exist. Some humans can read the minds of others. In fact, all humans have a tiny amount of telepathic ability. Your iDictaBrain relies on (very) short-range telepathy to interface with the neurons of your brain. For most of us, however, our telepathic ability does not have a range greater than the interior of our skulls. Therefore, before the iDictaBrain, this ability was utterly useless to 99.999999% of the population.
But there’s that other .000001% (or about 1,000 per billion persons) of the population. These people have an effective telepathic range, and thus can actually access the minds of others. They also broadcast their presence. Without an iDictaBrain, this translates into a sense of mild discomfort and heightened paranoia whenever one is in range of the telepath’s ability. With an iDictaBrain, telepathy has its own signature signal. Here is a sample:
Note the radial design, the geometric components. These are characteristic, and ought to be strongly present. You should be able to detect them even through Digital Age noise.
Whenever you get such a signal, as soon as you get the faintest trace of it, do as follows:
- Switch Off
- Move to the center of a crowd, preferably a crowd of strangers (a busy railway station, a bustling city street)
- Switch On
- If you still get the signal, switch Off again and repeat steps 2 and 3. If you do not get the signal, remain switched On until and unless you get the signal again.
- If, after several attempts, you find that you cannot shake the signal, you may be being tracked. We don’t know quite what it is that natural telepaths see in us, but it seems it isn’t good. More than one Agent has been killed by a suddenly-homicidal natural telepath. If you are on a Monitor mission, return to The Lighthouse and report. If your mission is Hugo-rated, you must assess whether or not you have a good chance of completing your mission Off. If you do, switch Off and do your best. If not, if your briefing allows, report back to The Lighthouse. On your way to your Door, do check to make sure you aren’t being followed.
Case #2: Outer Entities
Many Outer Entities have telepathic abilities. There is no consistent pattern in these (as the appearance of the signal is different for different Entities), but they tend to look extremely strange. Here is a sample of the telepathic signature of an Outer Entity (“The Pigman”):
In the case of “The Pigman,” you will also hear his terrible voice, screaming orders and insults in your skull. When you switch Off, you will still hear his voice. Also? Run. Far and fast. Approach no cloaked figures. Avoid all pigs, from the single piglet trotting down the road ahead of you to the herd on its way to market on the road behind you. Get back to the Door– if you can. Do not obey the instructions pouring into your mind.
But enough of particulars! I understand that Outer Entities will get their own section later in this book. Generally: if you see a signal like no signal you’ve seen before, follow this protocol (unless countermanded by your Briefing):
- Switch Off
- Prepare to meet thy God
- Try to get to your Door before it is Too Late. This will probably be futile, but you may make it.