I’m supposed to be dead.
I remember dying, the anguish my family suffered, even my last words.
So how did this happen? I live again, but as a kind of otherworldly creature existing primarily as a state of expanding gas? God. Am I a ghost?
My senses gauge the pressure building up around me. I’ve filled whatever space this is. Am I trapped? I can’t see. Don’t hear anything. This is a bitch. I feel everything. I feel the tables. The chairs. The walls. I’m touching everything in this room. The lights, the sound vibrations, the voices… but they don’t know I’m around them.
Around them? I’m surrounding everything in the room.
It’s no ordinary room. And these people are working together on something. There’s a round pool near the center of the room. Not a large one, but the focus of attention. It’s full of water.
I try to speak. Hello? Hey! Help! But no sound is produced. I can’t find my lips. No mouth?
“When’s he coming out?” some woman wants to know.
“When he’s ready,” some other woman answers. “Can’t force an egg to hatch.”
“I wish it was as simple as an egg hatching,” says the first woman.
Hold on! Are they waiting for me? Hey! Right here! I’m out all over you! Shit! No sound at all!
“This is a new human species,” a man says, “a class apart even from the unusual, operated by synthetic brains made from real brain scaffolds used as molds.”
“How does that make him ‘new?'” another man asks.
“Because this synthetic brain is inside an android framework formed with the molecular properties of a defined state of matter, in this case intelligently bonded H2O – AKA water.”
“Looks to me like a lot of him is steaming away…” says someone.
Why, that’s me she’s referring to! I’m the steam! Hello? This is me!
“The steam is mixed with some waste gases and won’t deplete the AI.”
“He’ll be intelligent, but will he know who he is? Or rather, who he was?”
Of course I know who I am! I’m me! And I have to get back to my wife and kid!
The water churns. It bubbles. The gathered hold their collective breath.
“Here he comes!”
And it’s born. At first a flowing stem, a kind of growing fountain that soon sprouts running limbs. The creature constantly replenishes itself with base water as it enlarges and takes on a weirdly humanoid impression – if humanoids were made of streaming liquid.
“No! Don’t call him by his original name!”
My God! That’s the woman I once believed was my wife! She thinks that water-thing is me!
“I have to know…”
“Please take her out.”
“It’s looking at me!”
“No…it…he’s just adjusting to…”
“He remembers me! Goddamn, Cecair, you said this wouldn’t happen! The damn thing has his old memory!”
“But… no, it shouldn’t have…”
“You fuckin’ resurrected him, Cecair! You brought the son of a bitch back to life! You have to kill that thing, now! This is wrong!”
“Stop panicking. This is miraculous! Look! He’s trying to speak!”
But just like with me, nothing verbal comes out of the water-thing.
And then it grows. And suddenly grows again. And all at once it splashes against the doors and breaks free of the room even as someone shouts, “Tsunami!”
When the room blows open I feel myself expanding, reaching outside immediately, unable to stop filling available space. But as I expand… I’m getting drowsier…
The aqua-doppelganger has become a living river, a sentient flash flood taking down anything in the way. They used my brain to model the scaffold for an artificial intelligence. They didn’t expect the new brain to reactivate my identity.
I have to let my family know I’m alive. But… am I?
Or am I a pattern of neuralized molecules that thinks it’s a real being with an actual history?
The hydro monster and I become huge. Taller than buildings.
He knocks them down on one side of town.
I poison vast populations accidentally on the other side of town. I can’t avoid victims as I helplessly expand to fill all available space. I know what’s happening but can’t change my gas or float away, though I try desperately.
Both of us prove too powerful and unlikely for conventional authorities to handle. But then, a clever fire department chief suggests a plan…
…And two towering menaces are lured together in the hope that they will somehow hurt each other, weakening them enough for an effective military strike to end it.
Splashed asunder, the aqua giant spreads awash across the city, draining into the gutters. I grow larger and larger until the mammoth cloud that is me becomes invisible in the sky, unable to harm anything.
And so I battle myself in two vastly different forms, until there is nothing left of me to fight.