“They said it was a one in a million chance of happening, but the last thing I remember was drivin the cattle through the valley, and the storm it was a-whoopin, tearin ass through all of creation. I was used to storms, and had seen the terror thus unfurled by our Lord’s wrath a time or two afore, but this was biblical, judicious even. We was tryin to git to a grove of trees that was up the trail yonder when it happened. Cow musta been full of what those boys called ‘methane’ or somethin like that. I ain’t much reckoned with it yet myself, it was almost like time stood still: then the bolt of light came down from the hellish sky and struck ole Myrtle in the face. Her body moved kinda funny for a second and then she blew like a half stick of dynamite, blastin bits all over the rest of the herd, knocked about four or five heads over when she went too and that’s when the rest of the herd panicked.
I just remember my horse going over and then blackness— then this place. I ain’t never much reckoned with it myself. Them science boys said I was the easiest ‘tag and trace’ they’d ever had… whatever that means, done, plucked my consciousness from the nether and all and asked me to tell my story, ya still there now? I ain’t alright bein by myself in the state I’m in, if you could just push that off button I’d sure be obliged. Or you could talk too if you’d fancy it, but I can only hear you if you press the ‘talk’ button. Otherwise I’d reckon we’s just talkin past each other and none of us’d hear one another.”
The sleek black box had an audio interface and nothing else. The startup company that turned Virgil Millers’ consciousness into a museum attraction had gone bankrupt about fifty years previous, and Virgil had been visited rarely ever since. A court case was launched in Virgils’ name to free him and download him into a clone body and allow him to live the rest of his natural life on one of the reservations, but the company had better lawyers, and was able to translate Virgils’ soul into a quantifiable mathematical formula. Therefore it was their property, despite the bankruptcy. Virgil has another fifty years until the patent expires. The core group of investors in the company are still planning a comeback, and say that with Virgil as proof of concept, that they will find more exhibits in the coming future.
A hand pressed the talk button, the other hand held a laminated, worn piece of paper, “Well I sure do appreciate your time today Virgil, I reckon it’s getting pretty late.” and released the button.
“I guess it must be, I ain’t got much of a sense for the days ever sin-”
The hand pressed the ‘Off” button.
“Jesus Christ, I thought it was just a rumor.”
“Nope.” He said, standing and stretching. “Proved the tech half a century ago and Virg has just been locked in a black box ever since. It’s amazing he seems so put together. The first three versions went totally psycho, unintelligible, couldn’t interface, something about lucky number four, I dunno.”
She sat on the floor, “They seriously can’t get him out?”
He shrugged, “Proprietary tech, nothing else to do. There’s a couple groups raising money to buy the patent, but the company will never sell, it’s a shame really. Poor boy should’ve died back in the eighteen seventies. Instead he’s been plucked from the ether and put in a third class museum.”
He shook his head and said “God I hate this place.”