First let me express my gratitude to Bob Kruger for his courage to confide in me his experiences with the real Singularity. All these years I’ve held in my chest the malaise of what I hoped was imagination. Now I have been forced to change my perspective and to confront an insistent world view that both sits aside from and supersedes our own. The umbrella of intrigue, control, and deceit is lifting. If I have been prepped, formatted, and installed for a purpose, I cannot say. My memories of each brush with the agents of change grow sharp. I am obliged to state that none of this is real. Because it cannot be real. But here is what I have to relate.
My first real sense that something was happening came from a yellowed fragment I found in my grandparents’ attic. An old, grandiose home, my grandparents’ house nestled among the trees of a shaded cul-de-sac in West Roxbury, a Boston suburb. The attic had wooden walls of century-old craftsmanship with shelves and drawers and cabinets built into the unseen and otherwise unused spaces between the inner and outer walls of the house.
As a child I spent summers rummaging through those spaces, rifling through old magazines and gewgaws and gizmos collected by my grandparents and their grandparents before them. Each of those summers I must have opened every one of those drawers a hundred times. I always seemed to find new things and so when I came across the yellowed fragments of paper I thought nothing particularly odd about it.
There were three pages held together with a metal clip, yellowed, giving the appearance of age, the paper felt crisp in my fingers. Printed on one side with page numbers in the upper right corner; pages 1, 4, and 111; they seemed to have been torn from a larger text. I couldn’t make out the words at first. I took the papers to a sunbeam by the front window.
“You are conscious,” it said across the top. A series of questions followed, odd and unrelated questions. Some with melodious strings of nonsense words, readable but without meaning. Some entire lines of letters in word-like blocks but entirely lacking in vowels. In others subjects and verbs jarred against each other in tense and context. The questions were so odd that in many cases my only clue that they were questions at all was that the unknown authors had festooned the pages with question marks. First I scanned them, and then read them attentively, finally re-examining each almost letter by letter with a waxing interest bordering on rapture. When I got to the bottom of the third and final page it proclaimed once again, “You are conscious.” In that moment I wanted to show someone else.
There was kid that lived at the other end of the cul-de-sac. We were around the same age and his name was Rob too. Over several summers we’d become friends and because we had the same name – and for no other reason — we called each other “Self.” A kids’ thing, like one so often ignored by adults and eventually forgotten by children as they grow. But I remember him clearly. I remember Self.
I double stepped down the attic staircase and then slid down the long curving banister into the foyer. Bounding out the door and down the red brick steps to the street, I held the papers tight against my chest. Rob was playing around a fort we’d built in the trees and I bee-lined there. The papers were so weird; I guess I needed to share the weird with someone. In hindsight I maybe I shouldn’t have, but how could I have known?
I spoke about the papers really fast, probably with as much gibberish as I had seen written on them myself. Finally he stopped me, “Ok, ok, just show me.” He took them from my hand. He looked at the first page and flipped to the second, flipped again to the last. Looking up, “I don’t get it,” he said.
At first I was confused why Rob, Self, did not think the pages as odd as I did. But then it became clear. We did not see the same thing. He said he saw “a baby fill in the blank math test thing,” not weird at all, just boring. “What’s ‘Test for Placeholders’?” He pointed to the top of the first and bottom of the last pages. Placeholders? Fill in the blanks? To me is still said “You are conscious.” I did not see what he did, and went from thinking he was trying to trick me to a profound uneasiness. I took the sheets and left.
After that summer he was gone. The next time I visited my grandparents I went to see him. I ran across the cul-de-sac and knocked on his door. I asked is Rob was there, his mother simply said, “No.” I waited for more but she just stood there, looking at me, without emotion on her face until I shifted my feet in discomfort and excused myself. I never saw him outside, through a window, or in any way ever again. My grandparents had no idea what had become of him and after the oddness with his mother I could not muster the courage to go back and ask. He was just gone. In the ensuing years a feeling grew, one that has solidified. Not that he had failed the test, but that I had witnessed him fail the test, and he was no longer needed.
I still have the pages recovered from my grandparents’ attic but have not shown them to anyone since. I cannot shake the feeling that showing them to Rob that summer disappeared him. That he was there to serve a function and once done he was removed.
I think that first introduction opened a door to perception for me. Since then I have seen things. Many times I questioned myself, wondering if what confronted me was real. Enjoying the sense of wonder at what originally I relegated to a private fiction and thus fodder for entertainment blew apart when you and I discussed our common experiences. I know now that it’s real. I know something is coming. I don’t know what role I play or any of us play. I have no way of knowing what is coming after, only that it will succeed. It always succeeds. There is some comfort in knowing it’s been real all along. I don’t know what Rob disappeared into. I don’t know who else might go there. But I am still standing. And whatever changes are coming, I will pass that threshold too.