From the Journals of a Test Subject

(An exercise in Fiction writing)

“Tell me when the zero becomes a 1”. That’s how the scientist begins the testing. That’s how I’m primed.

The scientist begins pressing the zero key rapidly and deliberately. She trains her eyes forward feeling robotish to my senses. Tick-tick-tick-tick-tick goes the key.

Without warning she clicks the 1 key then quickly back to ticking zero.

“Again” she says with no emotion; no acknowledgement.

I train my eyes on the screen. I watch zero after zero accumulate themselves before a 1 pops in to the line only to immediately disappear back into the zero wash.

>1

“Again”.

It is futile. How can you know when the scientist will make that shift…

>1

“Again”.

when all I see is a 00001000? There’s no way of predicting when.

I can react quickly to seeing a 1 appear. But I can’t predict it, let alone know when it will appear

>1

“Again”.

Wait.

I know I can’t predict when a 1 pops. But I can start to trace that change back to its origin if I change the rules of what I think I can do. Then, this unpredictability doesn’t have to happen. Instead of looking at that screen filling in with organized white pixels trance flashing all willy nilly, I will look at something else…

>1

“Again”.

So I change the game. I look to the scientist instead of the screen. Every movement I watch, and then rewatch in my head. OMG she gives me so much information. The repeating pattern on the screen is mirrored in her own movements. Except for one huge difference. Unlike the screen, the scientist has a tell. And I will find it. Every point I focus on, from her fingertips through her entire body, becomes a mechanical part. A piston connected to gear, connected to a motor, and so on. All those parts in a chain moving together, one driving another. Ones leading to the pressing of the key, ones to press the key, and others still leading away from it. When those mechanics are…

>1

“Again”.

matched to that zero-to-1 transition, they take a special place in time too. I know this because, when I focus on her pointed hand striking the 1 key, I can see the change of her body position in my peripheral. I also see the 1 appear on the screen there soon after. Every time I see that change in her arm I look for…

>1

“Again”.

patterns. My focus diffused across her entire being, watching everything leading up to that arm moving….now.

>1

“Again”.

Damn almost.

I can see it there, nestled between the mechanics of her movements. I can see her decision. More importantly, I can see the motion leading up to and away from it.

one

>1

“Again”.

More or less anyways. But I think I got this now. I can see her body preparing for the the pressing of the 1 before she even knows it.

One>1

“Good. Again”.