The synthetic avian being was hideous and featherless. Keri held it aloft on her arm, it’s claws more bird-like than it’s fleshy body, which was more reminiscent of some sort of subterranean lizard.
“Flappy envisions the world not just through the five senses, and neither do other types of vertebrates. There is also the part of the spinal cord that allows us to have an emotional experience of the world. This attaches emotions to every moment in time. Movements, sounds, and objects can become emotional experiences. Flappy can also read the emotions of others very accurately, by observing miniscule movements of their bodies as well as analyzing the variability of their heart’s beat. He has the impeccable hearing that many animals have. He may lack the higher functioning of a neocortex, but he has all the empathetic functioning that make animals so wonderful,” Keri said.
“I’m surprised that you would make something like that,” I said.
“Flappy says you’re lonely,” Keri said. The bird made a jarring squawking noise.
“Yeah. I’m a vampire, right? That’s how it is. Even humans are lonely,” I said.
“He says that your mind is screaming, and it’s gross,” Keri said. That caused my skin to prickle a little bit. I wondered if animals really could sense such things. Chirping melodically, the tune began to resemble the song that was playing loudly in my head. It was a fast-paced song that Alice listened to on repeat sometimes. It was catchy as fuck.
“There’s definitely some screaming in your head. You know, I think I can hear it too,” Keri said, dramatically leaning in towards me. I leaned back.
“My thoughts are pretty loud,” I said.
“Flappy says that you are just repeating what you are doing. Everything you did today. He says that’s what you always are saying. It’s repetitive as fuck. It’s like you won’t stop until someone hears it,” Keri said.
“Oh,” I said. That was right, actually. I sort of enjoyed doing that. I didn’t intend for anyone to listen in on my thoughts. I just liked to talk to my inner self. I was a self-narrator, and always had been.
“Well he says you do want someone to listen,” Keri said.
“Keri, I thought you couldn’t read my mind,” I said. Keri leaned in towards me again, with a childlike smile.
“Flappy,” she said. I sort of made me giggle. The featherless bird flapped it’s wings excitedly, looking as grotesque as a bat. It reminded me of my room back at my house. Painting the walls with my thoughts, ruminating over and over the same circles on the carpet. I wondered if it would have been different if I’d had someone to share my experiences with. I looked down at the ground I was standing on in that moment.
“Flappy also takes note of where your attention lies. That is sort of amazing, isn’t it? He can tell when your mind is paying attention. He can tell the direction. He can make inferences based on that,” Keri said.
“That sounds pretty advanced, Keri,” I said, begrudgingly impressed. She swished her skirt a bit, shyly.
“Actually, it’s quite primitive. I suspected that animals were capable of this much. They seem to know when you are thinking about them, don’t they? They know where your attention is directed. It’s from visual cues, yes. That’s obvious. But more beautiful subtlety lies in sound. We don’t realize what our bodies are screaming out into the world,” Keri said.
“How could he know specifically what I’m focusing on, though?” I asked.
“There are different emotional experiences tied to objects. Moments, even. Flappy can read them all, with the most primitive of minds. Honestly, the more advanced hardware in the human mind is all there to obfuscate such lovely machinery. It is the machine that creates fantasy and steals us away from the present moment. Flappy lacks that. He lives in the moment, and is a perfect observer of it,” Keri said.
“So, what am I focusing on now?” I asked.
“Flappy said: sad carpet. I don’t know what that means. Maybe you do,” Keri said.
“I do. Smart bird,” I said, admiring the ugly monster.
“He’s not much smarter than a normal bird. Let me remind you again. He does however know how to speak English, which makes him special,” Keri said.
“He does?” I asked. The bird stared at me.
“He doesn’t want to talk to you. He doesn’t like you,” Keri said. I felt dissapointed, and the bird squawked.
“Flappy is not really one for sympathy, Will. Guess that’s why you’re not appealing to him,” Keri said. I ignored her comment, and started to think about my own machinery.
“Do you think this is how vampires are able to read minds? Maybe we have similar machinery within us? Makes sense, since it is as simple as you say it is,” I said.
“I wouldn’t know. I seem to lack this ability, and so does Isa. I would need a very special test subject to uncover that great mystery,” she said, swishing her skirt again. Her attempts to seem girlish are lost on me, as I know how far removed she is from that fantasy.
“I don’t want to know that badly,” I said.
“You’re no scientist, Will. I’m dissapointed,” Keri said.
“We’re not all as reckless as you,” I said.
“We are all reckless for love, Will,” Keri said.