I Will Reply

I Will Reply
#1
I Will Reply
After the Burst,

then the dozen years of silence, of emptiness, of loneliness,

and in the vastness of the world, populated by Several Billion, but spread so thinly (and so small) that no one person knows more than a handful nearby,

the average Insect, no matter shape or size, might be desperate for accompaniment.

The notion that they could send out a message, a shout into the darkness--

--and feel a reply.

Cent Wrote:To: All Who This May Concern
I realized my purpose in the world gradually, and even then I don't know for sure. But after some test runs, I want to give this a go.

If you send me an email, I will reply.

I'll dedicate as long as it takes to give a sufficient, meaningful reply. I'm alright completely opening up and dedicating myself to each and every bug who puts something forward. I have no special interest or price. It doesn't matter to me if you already have a friend, or several friends, because I know sometimes that isn't enough.

I know the world is vast. I know my story, and the stories of the people who live close to me, but it doesn't make sense for a cockroach to travel the planet crawling underneath each and every City hoping to find people to comfort. I don't know what the world is to you. I don't know what your story is.

But I'm willing to hear it.

Cent sat back weakly in the chair as she clicked with one upper leg to send the rather vaguely-worded message out, out, out. Her home, cramped in the endless apartment complex carved into the brick-and-mortar of an apartment complex, was coated in a brownish gray tint, ugliness and emptiness. She felt some solace in the paper cup of coffee sat within her lap, within four legs which held it tight. A cockroach could manage alright without thumbs, like her ancestors before her, but she supposed they had never been caffeinated. Needed to drink and revitalize. Needed to drink and live. Legally, medically, socially, she wouldn't need a sip for another couple of hours, but with the email sent and her body desperate for comfort, she crooned her insectoid head down, prodded the lip of the cup with two mandibles, and began to drink.

Mocha, in this case, was the shadow standing over Cent, who had limbs which jittered just like her caffeinated self. It sunk down her mouth and spread throughout her body like a sickness, like a band of musicians all banging out their own rhythm-- hitting her body and limbs each individually until her whole self was back alive again, back to full. This was prevention from the Long Sleep, the one which had come for trillions before her, and which she now supposed she would never have to face head on, not like they did.

To be caffeinated meant to live as long as she could survive. To have a world full of insects living so long meant that the crawling, chittering overpopulated world, dead of Human and all else, could not exist. One day it ceased, it Burst, and now Cent was left in the remnants.

She had always wondered what else there was in the world, beyond the dispensed coffee, tea, and occasional acquaintance. The old mini-computer monitor was blaring forth a window into all else, all that she had not seen, all that she could not bear to see. She wasn't ready. But the miracle and curse in her body which was now running rampant forced her body into ready stiffness, ready action.

Here it was, Cent supposed.

Here it was.

The messages would come in, and perhaps, if she didn't give up like the hundred times she'd given up before, she would reply.


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#2
RE: I Will Reply
Hello? Hello? Who is this?? Are you a member of the Carapace Clique? I don't want no trouble ya hear.
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#3
RE: I Will Reply
Subject: Hello th�re
Is this coming thr����right? I tend to have problems wit���around here.
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#4
RE: I Will Reply
Cent Wrote:To: Not A Member Of The Carapace Clique
Hello! Hi! Greetings. My name is Cent. I live in a complex in Bends, Brooklyn; nowadays the place only has about a dozen residents, including a millipede and centipede who have been transforming all the empty rooms into various sorts of insane mazes and recreation rooms. I'm a cockroach.

I've known a few cliques to run through this tiny, tiny part of town, but they've been of such varying quality and purpose that there's really no pattern in it. Sometimes it's just a group of nomads, and I've seen a couple cases where a dung beetle was leading the charge- of course- but other times it's people searching for territory. Not that there's any lack of that, haha.

What carapace clique are you worried about? What's their deal, exactly?

Oh, and I figure this is a little more friendly and low-stakes to ask... what's your choice of caffeine?

Cent Wrote:To: Hello There
Oh, if your Internet is failing, that's the worst! Strictly speaking, there are things to do around here, around me, but I only make it through the days by connecting to the outside world. God forbid you're trying to deal with living underground with whatever spotty reception that brings, or just staying in one of those towns where the residue pollution makes it impossible to broadcast...

I'm Cent, by the way, a cockroach. I live in Bends, Brooklyn, where population density is (I guess) fairly average. Still lonely, and still spread apart. Sometimes I'll take a break from the computer and walk out to one of the many, many balcony rooms, and just stare down at everything from above.

It's weird, you know? They built these skyscrapers to seem tall, but even the second floor feels infinite for you or I.

Are you living somewhere like that?
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#5
RE: I Will Reply
Hi.
Kinda unsure what to write here, but that's no problem, I'm sure I'll get the hang of it.
What do you spend your time doing? Have any hobbies?
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#6
RE: I Will Reply
I would love to share my story with someone, but I'm concerned about my safety if I do. You're not going to show my emails to someone else, are you?
Watch in awe as I end every comment I've ever written and ever will write with the greatest and most anticlimactic signature in the universe!!!!!!!!!

poopy
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#7
RE: I Will Reply
Cent Wrote:To: Kinda Unsure
Hey, that's no problem. I sort of coast through conversations in real life, and it can feel even more difficult to open up an email window to compose a message. It helps to think about it like you're... talking to an old friend, trying to let things off your chest. Though I know I'm a stranger, I want to try and be the kind of person who replies.

I don't have too many hobbies. I've spent some years just drifting through the world not paying too much attention. I'm a cockroach living in Bends, Brooklyn, so caffeine comes free from Gov, but that's only enough to let your physical body continue. I'm sure you get what it's like, being sustained but not... living. Right?

Lately this centipede and millipede (envy) couple living near me have been inviting me to social things. They're kind of kooky, up to all sorts of projects like they're taking twice the dosage. Who knows? Maybe I should spring on it and try to get to know these weirdos better, but some part of me wanted to just stay alone. I guess until now.

How's life for you, wherever you might be? More exciting than the smog-aired cities?

Cent Wrote:To: Concerned
No, I don't think so! I think these emails all should be confidential. Something might be buggering things so that you can see who else is sending emails to me, since this system isn't exactly designed well...

Anyhow. If that little thing isn't too much of a qualm, or even if it is... regardless, I'm Cent. I'm a cockroach living in Bends, Brooklyn, one of those places that used to hold trillions of us back in the day. It's kind of bizarre to think about. I've gotten so used to... well, Human Equivalent. That's what I heard a friend call it, once. We're a thousand times smaller, but the same number of us live in New York City as once lived here.

Bends, Brooklyn used to be just this one building, a place with its own swirling microcosm millions strong. Now, first floor to seventieth, I don't think there are many more than a hundred. And the last trek I took to the top took weeks.

How's life been for you since all that changed? Was it as big a change as it was here?

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#8
RE: I Will Reply
Honestly, nothing much has changed around here. This place is about as weird as it's ever been. I don't expect you to believe this, but just outside is a patch of growing plants shaped like human fingers... The similarity is uncanny. Trust me, I know human fingers when I see them, which is not that often these days admittedly, but these are the real deal. Or at least they look like the real deal. From what I understand, humans don't just grow out of the ground. They snatched up my buddy last week when he got too close. Squeezed the life out of him, they did. Ever since I've been warning travellers to stay away from them, but they never listen. I guess it's just too curious a sight to ignore.

How about you? Got some interesting plantlife where you live?
Watch in awe as I end every comment I've ever written and ever will write with the greatest and most anticlimactic signature in the universe!!!!!!!!!

poopy
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#9
RE: I Will Reply
To: Realized Their Purpose

Hullo! Kinda bored so I went skimming my emails and I found this! I don't get many emails anymore, what with being a drab, brown moth like myself. Here I'm just sitting in this old hollow log, enjoying some caffeinated hot cocoa mixed with orange juice, the usual for myself. How about you?
Noot noot doot doot.

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#10
RE: I Will Reply
Subject: Cl�ser to ���th
I live pretty low to the ground, myself. Fear of he�ghts and all that. I really envy those who can just up an��y whenever they want; I'm sure they have instincts tha�� them from that kind of thing.

My internet loads pretty fast but there are just always thes����rrors, both with sending and receiving. I have a cons�racy theorist neighbor who insists the government is censoring our ���, but I think what it hits is way too random and generally easy to gue����at to be the case. I mean, unless it's a "mass annoyance attack" or something I don't see how this could be helpful to anyone. Besides, if someone wanted to h���information why do it so blatantly? You could just replace ���with other words that look like they plausibly fit.
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#11
RE: I Will Reply
Cent Wrote:To: Concerned
That sounds terrifying!

On one hand, I'm inclined to get all kinds of nutty ideas about what that might mean, but I think it's more likely just some kind of freak occurrence which happens to mirror our planet's past. If they're snatching up bugs, maybe it's some flytrap variant, though I can't imagine that there's much grub to go around these days. Let's hope that's a dying breed...

Around here, plant life is nearly gone. It doesn't help that most of the pollinators are overworked to all hell, and NYC isn't really their favorite spot, what with the smog. I met a wasp who came by Bends for a few weeks looking for work, but she started heading up north instead in pretty short order. Some part of me wants to say that with all the dead greenery and pollution, cities aren't really made for us. But we were here in ancient times, too. We've been here a long time. I think we're coded to want to hang around these grand concrete constructions like we built it all, even when we're not feeding off of it anymore.

Self-pollinating plants are the new 'thing', you know. Only reason countrysides still exist. So long as the sun doesn't burn out, I don't think we'll starve to death anytime soon. And, well... so long as the caffeine keeps flowing.

It sounds like you're at a crossroads, of sorts. Stonehenge, maybe? Haunted house of some sort? Never really developed a sense for the weird and paranormal.

Cent Wrote:To: Hollow Log
There's nothing wrong with having someplace a bit solitary to live! I remember dreaming when I was younger of living in the wilderness somewhere, in a little hovel or log, like you're doing now. I was born after the Burst, so I never experienced a world where there wasn't enough room for me. One of my friends went off and lived inside of a dead antelope-- I think he's still there, come to think of it. Very little competition!

I'm Cent, a cockroach. You're the first person who's actually told me what kind of bug you are, and I appreciate the honesty and openness! Right now I'm living in Bends, Brooklyn, NYC, so I happen to get my coffee through dispensers. Mocha is my main choice, though there's some decent tea, too. Anything that packs enough of a punch that I don't have to go outside often. (Maybe that's not for the better, though...) I can imagine hot cocoa would be perfect this time of year, though the orange juice throws me. I'll have to try that sometime, if I ever come across a good coffee place that isn't a week's journey from Bends.

What's it like living in a log? Do you have many neighbors? Friend or two to help bring you caffeinated cocoa, I'd hope?

Cent Wrote:To: Closer To Earth (Previously: Hello There)
Sounds pretty irritating. Well, emails are about free, so don't be afraid to ask me to repeat myself if something important gets obfuscated!

I can relate pretty heavily to that conspiracy theorist thing. I have a couple neighbors, a millipede and centipede, who just go crazy for those kinds of things. When I'm not isolate, they'll pull me into conversations about space travel, human resurrection, social pacts, gliders... whatever thing happens to be on their mind in that moment. They're very project-oriented, if that makes sense. I really do think they're double-dosing on caffeine, or maybe I happen to be under-dosing to the point of sanity.

The government (around here, at least) hasn't been so bad. They've even sent an envoy every month or two, which is a hell of a lot better than in some places. The one who comes by Bends uses a little glider machine with an electric engine, and she says she can hit a couple of buildings, top to bottom, in about a day. Mostly it's just refilling dispensers and taking any arrests from our building's Leo, but sometimes she stays and chats.

God, sometimes connection can be so fleeting. Even when I know somebody online, there's always the existential worry that they won't reply, you know?

Anyhow. It seems like your internet qualms might be fixed if you moved somewhere else. Something holding you down, maybe? Or is it not really a big enough deal?

Cent sat back after sending the third email. There was a little more of an influx than she expected so soon, but it wasn't a bad thing. Her legs had gotten tired from typing, and her head tired from thinking, but a sense of satisfaction rolled over her. At least for these few brief moments, she had prolonged the inevitability of loneliness.

Still, she wasn't ready to rest. These words on the screen, although far away, still gave her blossoming ideas of what these people on the other side might be. The cockroach retrieved a small makeshift notebook from somewhere amidst the piles of notebooks, flipped it open, and cautiously placed a charcoal implement between two legs. There were several souls vying for her reply, and she gave them nicknames, via their vaguely-worded replies--

Not A Member Of The Carapace Clique

Closer To Earth

Kinda Unsure

Concerned

Hollow Log


And her own little nickname, cutesy enough, written at the bottom:

Realized Their Purpose

That made her chuckle a little bit, mandibles clattering. Though there weren't yet faces to these names, and though she felt a little strange cataloging them like this, it was already helping her collect the many thoughts which surrounded them. From so far away, Cent was beginning to feel closer to the world and its far-away inhabitants.
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#12
RE: I Will Reply
hey ratrace roach howd you get this address????? This is meant to be a private network so?? Who gave you an in and it better not of been Cutter cuz ive already been down to the mulch this moon and i aint going back just to tell that fungusbrained ant about proper cybersecurity
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#13
RE: I Will Reply
I'm confused what you mean by "crossroads" here. As far as I know, there aren't any roads around Stonehenge. Anyway, I suppose one might say this place is a "shoddy gas station at the edge of town", just without the gas. Or the station. Or the town.

The plantlife here doesn't strike me as paranormal, there's no ghosts or whatever, it's just weird plants. I think my favorite one is a lone flower growing on a hill nearby. It produces a unique scent that sort of makes you a better person, I guess? Well, a nicer person, I should say. People who approach the flower feel compelled to say nice things to everyone around them. Prolonged exposure can amplify the effect to the point where you feel compelled to give hugs and kisses to even inanimate objects. I saw someone hug one of the finger plants and strangely didn't get attacked by it.

I feel like this one is harmless enough, so I don't warn people about it usually. I find it interesting to watch a relatively grumpy fellow take one whiff and instantly become such a pleasant friend. I've named it The Devil. Not sure why, the name just came to me and it felt right. There's nothing sinister about the flower, as far as I can tell, but for some reason I can't think of a better name for it. Maybe that's one of the side effects of it. I dunno, what would you call a plant like that?
Watch in awe as I end every comment I've ever written and ever will write with the greatest and most anticlimactic signature in the universe!!!!!!!!!

poopy
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#14
RE: I Will Reply
Subject: RE: Cl��r t��th
To be clear, the e-mail server I'm loading from is fine. If I'm not sure what���says I can always just reload it. But I've found I enjo����how much of the gaps I can fill in for myself as a bit of mental exercise. It's inflicting tha�� other people unwillingly that I'm not so fond of. So perhaps I could start sending in triplicate if things start getting incom�ensible for you.

I know the pain of nobody replying all too���, and in person at that! I'm a bit tied to where I am by my job, teac��ng the so-called 'next generation'. Nothing worse than standing before a dead silent class��ing for a response to a basic question! (Well, I'm sure you meant it more exi��entially, so I hope you'll pardon the lighter us��the phrase.) I could move elsewhere and find similar employment perha��ut I feel like I'm needed here, and I've mos�ly adapted to the���aside from needing to apologize to other people on account of it.

I tend to insist on getting my own caff��, usually on the way to and from work. But then I'm sure someone delivers it to��I get it from so it's���ess the same thing. Ah, for an electric glider and the��ge to use it.
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#15
RE: I Will Reply
Oh gosh sorry, this slipped my mind. I want to be the kind of person who replies too. I dislike leaving messages and waiting, wondering if the other person forgot, or simply doesnt want to talk to me anymore. I dont want to inflict that on anyone else.

Anyway, I live in a pretty rural area, no highrises for me. I have an interest in history, well, i dont actually know much history, but i like to imagine whats happened in the past. Like just the other day, i saw this metallic circular thing, smooth and shiny, just lying on the ground. I had all these thoughts about it, how it was made, how it came to be there. I like wondering about those things.
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