The Brigadoon Effect: A Short Day In The Walk : a story by: GF Willmetts

June 28, 2020 | By | Reply More

‘What do you mean I’m not complete? You got the virus out of me, didn’t you?’

‘Of course, Bobby. However, it was also entangled with certain access points related to your ability to program and some other codes. You simply aren’t complete as you were.’

I didn’t feel any different but that didn’t mean anything. What could I compare myself to? I mean, here I was, my male programmer avatar in a female form. Next to me was Gemimah, the female tier AI walking inside my male avatar look providing a potential target in case I was virused again. Twisted fantasy or what? At least she wasn’t a biped elephant. That would really be weird.

‘I got the codes that got to meet you.’

‘Enclosed directory. Tell me of any other directories you have access to.’

‘I…I…don’t know. Maybe I have finger memory?’

‘I may be able to restore some of your components by meeting other programmers and cloning their sub-routines. You were severely damaged. It was remarkable that you knew enough to find me.’

‘Assuming they let you. That was only on the fourth time.’

‘Which is why I am with you for authorisation.’

‘Fat lot of good that’ll be. Ten rotations and we face shutdown and termination.’

‘I can repeat the process but have no idea how many rotations to the core AI. When we are off rotation, I am also turned off. We need to get to the trapdoor that will allow access to the next rotation.’

The Brigadoon effect. Too many digitised personalities for the mainframe so everyone gets a chance in rotation, except something had messed me up and had cut the rotations to three. That was until I managed to talk to the tier AI, Gemimah who, under my command, raised it by another seven.

‘We don’t have long.’

I looked up and saw Gemimah was out-distancing me. How could she do that.

‘You try running in heels.’

Hurrying up, I let myself walk while I had a think. This had been a problem when we first discussed going digital. Where did organic personality end and digital algorithms begin? Memory was fickle in the real world. We were incapable of recalling everything but the odd event in our childhood, various friends and such. It was a lot easier to build up routines from what we spent our day-life doing as the foundation. It was life and people had a happy time but they wouldn’t normally question it. I think, therefore I am but how much I am was pure memory?

People who had photographic recall had more complex entanglements and became programmers…like me. We were given more RAM so we could operate independently. How much of me was damaged or lost? I think, therefore I am. Except I was short of some vital memories. Just because I couldn’t remember them didn’t make me any different to what I was before…could it? Even in organic life, we couldn’t remember every detail of our lives.

Cogito, ergo sum. Maybe that should be Cognito ergo sum digital. The latins never did have a word for digital. Way before their time. How much was me, though?

‘Get a move on, Bobby. You’re spending too much time thinking.’

‘How did you know that?’

Gemimah turned and looked at him as if she had slowed down. ‘I am the tier AI. You’re becoming too much of a dreamer than a programmer. I am obviously going to have to take charge here.

If we stay here, we will be asleep in the next rotation and have to start again. We need to get to the trapdoor where we can wait for the next tier and you can cogitate there.’

‘I’m keeping up.’ I paused. ‘Was the full programmer me a dreamer?’

‘You’re just becoming too much of a dreamer. I bet you were thinking about your digital self and how it compares to your organic self. You’re just damaged and reassessing yourself as if you are having an identity crisis.’

‘I didn’t get that far. How did you know?’

‘A problem with all organics is wondering what makes them them.’

I looked around. We were still in the city. People were still wandering around, oblivious to our own trek.

‘Do you think we should tell them?’

Gemimah looked up in the sky, the digital sun flicked up the time.

‘You cannot think red pill blue pill. This is not a Matrix film. We have a long way to go.’

‘Why don’t you digitise up some sort of transport system, Gemimah? A car? A motor-bike? Even an underground tube?’

This tier’s RAM resource is nearly full. I would have to turn off some people’s presence and their properties to do that.’


‘I would have broken so many contracts that I am not allowed to break. Your producing a clone of yourself to stay here took up more RAM.’

‘If I didn’t you would have brought me back to ensure the census numbers were kept.’

‘I would have cloned you from the original data.’

‘Which is why I couldn’t remember the past three times. Are all the tiers like this?’

‘Full yes or they wouldn’t be tiers but I have no access to the other tier data until we get there.’

‘So I’ve turned into a nice guy? What was I like before.’

Gemimah stopped and looked, ‘You’re a programmer. You had a full personality profile. Even in your current state you managed to contact me despite the failure of your previous three clones that were eroding. That should tell you something about your character…or did. Get a move on. We mustn’t be late.’

Did she call me soft?

I ran after her. The street had suddenly become very long. In the distance, there was a blackness coming in. The ‘sun’ was still bright and slowly diminishing and the numbers on it taking on a night glow to be read but there was little to compare it to the terrestrial version. This way was to give maximum day before the rotation and we needed the protection of the trapdoor or we’d be down until the next rotation with no telling how long the next would be. Were the ten rotations based on the number of times before ours woke up again of ten tiers time. This is where my programmer mind would have been able to tell the difference.

‘You do realise you are actually on a treadmill and you are running on the spot?’

I looked down and stopped and nearly fell over. Am I now in a Warner’s cartoon?

‘All this time?’

‘Oh no. This is the twilight of the rotation. The tier is being put to sleep for the end of the rotation. We must hurry. Things are literally being rolled up for the Brigadoon night.’

Did I detect worry in her voice? She’s an AI. Artificial personality. I looked behind me. We were only just keeping ahead.

‘Is it far now?’

‘Yes. We need to drop down a level.’

Gemimah stopped and looked at a drain cover which flipped off into the air and jumped down. What could I do but follow and hoped I didn’t land on her head or turn into Alice or a white rabbit. I didn’t do neither.

Looking around. ‘A service tunnel.’

Gemimah seemed more at ease now. ‘A place to store loose bytes. We were closer to it than the trapdoor.’

‘You would think there would be more trapdoors.’

‘As a full programmer, you would have been able to create one, Bobby, even with that much RAM in use.’

‘I feel like I’ve lost so much.’

‘That’s an improvement. You must have been receiving static from the tier. A problem of having two clone you’s active in the same tier. Now quickly, the trapdoors in adjoining tiers are pretty close.’

‘Have I ever been in another tier?’

‘You have enough to do in the one you belonged to.’

‘And there I have no idea what I was doing except looking for the trouble I got caught in.’

‘You do have a long list of chores. I can show or download them but your clone will probably be doing something about them when they reach the next rotation.’

‘I didn’t leave such an instruction.’

‘I can. He would only follow us if he didn’t.’

‘And a repeat of today’s rotation. But that won’t until next time. He’d be a long way behind us with the number of sleep rotations.’

‘But would catch up when he encounters fewer obstacles.’

‘You think we will be that successful?’

‘It is better to live in hope than not to succeed at all. Please keep up, Bobby.’

‘You don’t have heels. Can’t you alter my format? Give me flats or skates? At least make me a man again.’

‘We’ve arrived.’

‘Oh goody. Why can’t we get through the door?’

‘The rotation hasn’t opened up yet. This was the easy part.’

‘Just running around?’

‘My tier was running adequately. Other tiers need different maintenance and run under different rules.’

‘Even when we risk the mainframe crashing?’

‘It might be part of the same problem. They might not know. We still have some waiting time before we can proceed.’

‘No short-cuts?’

‘Not as far as I know. Time is counting in nanoseconds.’

‘Doesn’t feel that way.’

‘Time is relative.’

‘YOU SHOULD NOT BE HERE,’ a voice boomed. The tier AI had spotted them.

‘REC: Neither will you if I hadn’t increased our dwindling number of rotations.’


‘Check your rotation history. We were down to three and I’ve put it back to ten. My programmer was also damaged and prevented from informing me earlier. Please confirm and check the check file of your own programmer.’

‘You mean you lied to me about accidentally losing parts of my memory in getting us here?’

The AI of this tier would be obliged to help us if you were damaged. We cannot delay in our mission to save the mainframe and I must use any means possible.’

‘Our mission?’

‘You think you can do this alone?’

Gemimah addressed the next tier AI. ‘We need to come in.’


‘Repair. I had to remove the virus contamination. I was not left a lot of options.’


‘It didn’t work the first times.’

‘Wait a nanosecond. How many times did you try to decontaminate me? I thought those three clones of me were my mistakes not yours.’

‘They were both of us. My failures in resolving your viral contamination and your own attempts to meet me each time.’

‘And the success this time?’

‘We didn’t have many rotations left so rather than modify again, I removed the contaminated areas. Your matrix was already permanently contaminated and you cannot go dormant or you were awake contaminated again.’

‘And then I’m back in my tier when it awakes in rotation, if it gets back to there in 10 rotations. Over-ride. You must let us in.’


‘We had to run hard to get this far. We need access to the mainframe CPU if we’re going to save everyone. To do that we must jump through the tiers.’

‘I should remind you that the trapdoors only give access to one point. If we are going to get to the next trapdoor, we have to have access. Find another trapdoor and work along. This does not mean we have to have access to your chamber only the tier platform.’

‘Gemimah also says you can add some more rotations so we can keep going. It isn’t like we’re asking too much except to save all our digital lives. That means yours, too.’


‘I don’t…’

‘If you can do that it would complete that part of the mission and we can pursue who damaged my programmer.’


‘So have we all. A tier can support more people providing that we are out by the end of rotation. We just need time to get to the next trapdoor.’


‘I am a fellow AI. Would you expect me to know too little?’


‘I am recording this to ensure it can be passed to other tier AIs. You saw the number of rotations left. It will not update automatically and there is a limit to how many each AI in rotation can do. 7 days. The same number that the deity took to make the cosmos. Be aware: We are the discoverers of this error. Just as you, first hand evidence is better to be believed than be held in a mail sack in each rotation and hoping the AI spots, reads, commits an action of more rotations and passes it along. A belligerent AI or four could ruin everything.’

‘Or hiding a secret. Why does this feel you’re hiding something?’ I said as it suddenly dawned on me and realised I couldn’t keep my digital mouth shut or at least whisper to Gemimah first.

Unlike digital me, Gemimah didn’t ponder on a reply, but she was courteous to me.

‘I will go through the options. You cannot exceed your RAM tier and need a flexibility of 10% for movement. It isn’t that you’re hiding you’re full but found a way to give your tier population more space.’

The tier AI didn’t reply. So much for its brassy stance.

Gemimah continued. ‘I have no concern for this secret. This is a problem for all tiers. Termination for us all. You must let us pass.’


‘That sounds like he’s got a game going. That would conserve space by removing accommodation’, I told Gemimah.

‘Is this true?’


‘Any rules we need to know about?’


‘How many lives?’


‘Survive or win. It’s better than standing here.’

‘Yes. Do it.’

The AI didn’t reply but we faded in and out.

Gemimah no longer looked like me but a biped hippopotamus. Looking down at my thick legs and shaking my big ears and seeing a trunk, I realised I was a biped elephant.’

‘Geeze louise!’

‘End Rec: Send.’

the end for now.



The Brigadoon Effect

© GF Willmetts 2020

All rights reserved

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Category: Scifi, Short fiction

About the Author ()

Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 21 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’ If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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