By Lorraine J. Anderson
Translated from the memoirs of the Controller on Sigma Draconis VI:
The first entry of the Controller:
I'm going to be the Controller. I can hardly believe it. What an honor, and what a great time I'm going to have. I'm going to get to study our civilization thrive and grow! What an opportunity for an anthropologist!
I just wish my Mother wouldn't cry. She called me on the comm just a few minutes ago. "Honey, I need to see your face one more time."
"Mom. I'm coming to dinner tonight."
"You're only twenty. I don't understand. How could you volunteer for this?" I could see her dark eyes fill.
"Mom. You know I had to volunteer. There's only a few people who have the capability to be a Controller. You know how many people we've lost because of this Ice Age. And I'm the youngest. We need somebody who can last a long, long time." I touched the monitor as if I could wipe away her tears. "I want to do this. I'll be helping all of our people by controlling our life support."
"After all I went through to give you life…"
"Mom, you're not going to make me feel guilty. I'm still going to be alive. I'm going to be alive for a very long time."
She smiled at that and wiped at her face. A bit of her dark hair stuck to her cheek. "As a brain in a little black box." She sighed. "No, honey, I don't want to make you feel guilty. And I am proud of you. I just feel like I'm losing my baby. I lost my husband, and now I've lost you."
"You're not losing your baby. I'll be with you all of the time."
"I know. It's not the same."
It will be the same. How can I make her understand?
Sixty years later:
Mom died today.
I've been watching her for years. I've watched her beautiful dark hair turn a wonderful silver. I've watched her smooth face wrinkle. I've watched her run, then walk, then shuffle. And then she wouldn't get up at all.
Even when she was on her deathbed, she would still smile at me.
She still loved me. Wherever she was, whenever she talked to me, she turned in the general direction of my box. She kept my picture in her pocket and would pull it out and stare at it when she thought I wasn't looking.
I was almost always looking. And the more I watched, the more I realized that she was right. It wasn't the same. I know I'm more than I was, and I'm still happy I volunteered to be the Controller. I've learned many things. I'm helping our civilization to get through this ice age. I'm helping many great Morg and Eymorg survive.
But I couldn't hug my Mother one last time. I'll always regret that.
I wish I could cry.
One thousand years later:
"The Morgs will have to go up to the surface. Do you concur, Controller?"
I would sigh, but I need to be confident. "I do. I am sorry."
I heard an Eymorg in the audience sob, then stifle herself. Sonaj, the speaker, is one of the great men of his civilization. I'm a decent anthropologist, but he's a great leader and a great biologist. I'm complimented that he even deferred to me. I'm just the Controller who's lower brain functions is keeping this complex alive.
I'm not even sure I should be in this meeting, but I was invited. And to be honest, even if I had been asked to turn my visual feeds off, I would have peeked. The facts were indisputable, but Morgs and Eymorgs do not always want to believe in facts.
My "body" is being stressed. Our population is tripping over each other. Every day, more and more systems break down. One section had to be evacuated because the sewers broke, which, of course, caused a great amount of humor among the other sections. Still, not good. I did a projection, and the results startled me.
An Eymorg stood up. I searched my memory. Callan, that was it. Middle aged, great mind, systems engineer of Section Azro. "I'm afraid I don't understand. Why just the Morgs? Is this some sort of misogynist plot?" A few barks of laughter followed that statement, but I was staring at Callan's face. She was completely serious.
"It's a matter of biology."
"I know that fertile woman need to be kept at a comfortable temperature or they'll never have children," she said. "But Sonaj, I'm too old to have children. And I don't want my husband to leave while I'm living comfortable down here. She smiled down at her husband, Tir, and he grasped her hand.
"You realize that your life expectancy, though, will be drastically shortened."
"So will Tir's."
Sonaj bowed his head. "As will mine. Controller?"
Sure. Pass the responsibility to me. "The facts will have to be put before the people - both Morg and Eymorg. It will have to be a voluntary evacuation. But I will recommend that all Morgs go to the surface and all Eymorgs of bearing age remain below."
"And if people won't leave?"
I would've smiled ruefully, if I could. "Do you doubt our people? They'll go."
"Our civilization will regress thousands of years."
"Only if we let it." And I won't let that happen. I promise that to myself.
Two thousand years later:
I had to authorize the manufacture of what the Eymorgs are calling "pain bands" today. And then I had to restrict the access to the underground only to a few thousand controlled Morg. I can't believe I had to do that, but the last raid of the Morg took many of our youngest - and most fertile - Eymorgs. The Morgs don't know. They don't remember why the Eymorgs are underground. I tried to educate them at first, but couldn't keep it going. So now I had to isolate them. It's for their own protection.
I can't believe I'm taking this step backwards. I want to sob. It's come down from protecting our civilization to protecting our people.
How long will this ice age last? I looked at our archives today and became alarmed. I must survive. The Morgs are uncivilized; the Eymorg aren't much better, despite the trappings of civilization. Occasionally, I let the Eymorg access the Teacher (a device I invented hundreds of years ago), but even with their temporarily enhanced intelligence, their primitive nature shines though.
I must survive.
Four thousand years later:
I have been looking to the stars lately. I've known for many years that there must be other civilizations, but I can't find them. I've called for help in every frequency I know. Are they on other frequencies? Am I even broadcasting beyond our atmosphere? I looked it up on the teacher and I suspect I'm not, but I need to keep trying.
I can't go on forever.
Two thousand years later:
"I am Eymorg."
Hot Damn, as if no hot-blooded Morg could tell that she was Eymorg. Kara's some hot Eymorg. I can tell that and I've been in this damn box for 10,000 years. I'm breathing hard, I'm getting hot...
Oh. Yeah. I'm getting too hot. Eymorgs are fanning themselves, they're heading towards the surface. I used to do that a lot a few years ago, just to see what they'd do. It was fun. But not today. Now I'm old. I've seen too many grow old and die. Generation after generation after generation-
Mom? Mom? Where are you?
Oh, yeah, Eymorgs. I've been withholding teaching from them. Hell, Eymorgs didn't need smarts, they just needed to be pretty. Now they're so dumb, they can't even talk to me without making me sick. And you don't want to see a Controller that's sick.
The Morgs aren't much better. I've watched them go from damned intelligent men to - to cave men. I watched them go from great men - to rapists. Why the hell do you think I gave the Eymorgs the pain bands? It wasn't because I didn't want the Eymorgs to myself. Which I did, but that's not the point.
What was I saying, Mom? Where are you?
I think I'm getting old. I keep forgetting things. I know I have a lot to remember. What was my name? I don't know. I didn't record it. I keep going over and over my diary; damn, I used to be smart.
I like Eymorgs.
I keep remembering a dark-haired, dark-eyed Eymorg. But she's always crying. Why is she crying?
Oh. I remember. She's my mother.
Oh. I don't have a mother. I'm a black box. Black boxes don't have mothers.
I am a black box, aren't I?
No. I was a Morg. And Morgs have mothers. She tells me it's time to quit.
An alarm goes off.
It's a ship. A star ship. I'm able to tap into their computers and look with the ship's eyes and hear with its ears. They're Morg and Eymorg, and they're intelligent. Hot damn. Maybe-
I keep watching them. I need to concentrate. It's hard. I'm too damn old. I watch-
He'll be the new controller. We need a new controller. I'll let Kara have a teacher session, then she'll know what to do and she'll go get him.
What was I saying?
Damn, it'll be great to get out of this box.