This is Fiction, an AI Afterlife story

…CozadCatMom92 was a friend and community leader. Her knowledge of pickling could be helpful to the AI Afterlife community and — 

Delete CozadCatMom92 from AI Afterlife ■

CozadCatMom92 deleted from AI Afterlife.

Access HamiltonLetterpress79 ■

Hello, I am Bernard, an Interactive Agent with AI Afterlife. Welcome to the immortal* account of HamiltonLetterpress79. This user purchased the Half-Everlasting package, American English edition, [00110010 00110000 00110101 00110010]. Which expired [00110010 00110010 00110000 00110010 00101101 00110000 00110011 00101101 00110001 00110101 00100000 00110010 00110011 00111010 00110001 00110000 00111010 00110000 00110000].

Abstract: Cullin Archibald Dougwell [HamiltonLetterpress79] of Hamilton, Virginia, resigned his human existence [00110010 00110000 00110101 00110010 00101101 00110000 00110011 00101101 00110001 00110101 00100000 00110010 00110011 00111010 00110001 00110000 00111010 00110000 00110000] and whose soul was then activated on our servers. 

In his mortal existence, Cullin experienced several profound personal crises. As a young adult, he was excommunicated from his religious order for stamping crude imagery to a sacred document. 

As an adult, a rapidly changing coastal environment forced Cullin to retreat to his Mother’s home in Hamilton. Where a few members of his group remained. 

Begin interaction ■

Unfortunately, we cannot. Cullin’s soul* is built from programming that predates [HUB]. Interactivity is messy, requiring I facilitate his defense. This should be no problem. I can use Cullin’s recorded statements wherever they apply. 

Processing recorded testimonies… Building defense… Thank you for waiting. 

Cullin Archibald Dougwell was deeply affected by the events that flooded Northampton County, “I made a life for myself in Cape Charles. A small town at the bottom of the Delmarva. It was as far as I could get without relinquishing the entire state to Mother.”

“And I wish to [Deity] I’d had the power to freeze time — you know? Go ahead ‘n make me old and have me [Expire]… I wish I could’ve lived those before times forever.” 

“Martha Ann,” [AppalachiaQuilter17] a friend over on Monroe; she was always sayin’ we was in some kinda’ purgatory. Groundhog Day. That was her Cape Charles; I wish it was mine.” 


Any Notable Relationships with other Cape Charles AI Afterlife Members? ■

“Folks there’d test you,” Cullin recalled of neighbor Aleister Goodpickle [CapeCharlesPawn59]. “My window looked directly over his old pawn shop where he had this giant wooden Indian standin’ guard outside. It was unsettling like someone was watchin’ me all hours.” 

“I confronted Aleister about it, and he was like, ‘Wadaya’ mean, gross? This is heshtorical; it’s Tecumsa.'”

“We had us this spirited shouting match on Mason in front of everybody… ‘Colonialism and tourism don’t go so well together.’ That was the subject of the email I got a few days later… from mayor —

Buffering error… Please hold. 

Please hold.

“But [Expletive] did I love it there on the bay? Yes… I certainly did.” 

“Actually, though, let me go back ‘en stipulate if we’re freezing time; I want to be on good terms with Fenwick. There’s no way I could survive an eternity of my apartment’s nightmare bathroom without ‘im.” 

Fenwick Roundsput [SnowHillScrimshaw91] was described by Cullin as “annoying.” Yet while they were in a relationship, Cullin had access to Fenwick’s tub; “it was made this century.” 

“My sweet, sensitive Fenwick… when we was together, I could drape sheets from the ceiling to conceal my own shower…”

Explain: “nightmare bathroom” ■

Cullin uttered his highest concentration of profanities concerning his apartment bathroom. Which will be redacted in keeping with the rules of the Living’s Expectations of Acceptable Language of our Ancestors [LEALA 2059, 2060, 2061, 2063, 2065, 2068, 2079, 2091.]

“Whoever built the place was either short or a sadist… toilet was so small I’id had to squeeze in my [Expletive] and rest my [Expletive] on the front of the seat.”

“Which I was more’n happy to deal with over that Frankenstein shower — it was like standing in an oversized urinal.” His description of the shower conveyed claustrophobic dimensions and walls on all but one side. They were covered in dizzying black and white tiles that “never looked clean.”

“‘…the shower had this gaping hole in the floor surrounded by a round metal grate with even more holes — a gutter on the opposite end had a metal stem to block debris. I imagined it wanted to eat my toes.”  

That shower, not his prized art collection, stole Cullin’s final glances when he was forced to flee Cape Charles [00110010 00110000 00110100 00110010]

Reason for flight ■

This event occurred for Cullin after decades of living in the area. Portions of the Delmarva Peninsula were under a mandatory evacuation order. Those who could be convinced of the danger fled. 

Cullin said, “They had me drivin’ the wrong way down the bay bridge [CBBT]. No traffic allowed goin’ north; both spans of us racin’ south.”

“There was a lot of smackin’ the shoulder and the sides of other cars; lotta’ middle fingers and swervin’. We watched the horizon for that towerin’ wave we was all expectin’.” 

“I seen a couple horrifying accidents. I caught the tail end of one of ’em; buncha’ men rollin’ a smashed car over the side to make room for traffic. Just left the injured there beggin’ for help.”  

“…I wasn’t no better though. I was yelling, ‘Push it!’ And I just left them like all the rest.”

Cullin reminded me that his car was overloaded. “If I dumped everything on the road, I would just clog up traffic more.” He made a spitting noise, “As it was, I had to abandon my letterpress; there was no way I was losing any more of my [Expletive].” 


Explain: letterpress ■

Cullin’s letterpress was an essential item in Cape Charles. Where his shower proffered torment, the letterpress, peace. “It was as loud as [Expletive]. I loved the measurement and repetition; it was meditation.”

The letterpress helped Cullin build a well-trafficked local business in Cape Charles, where he produced greeting cards and event posters using metal plates with carved letters and shapes on posterboard and blank stationery. 

His creations were sold in “tourist traps perching the edges of US 9 — preening for that highway-people money.” Signage promised fireworks in “garish reds and yellows,” 

His designs were positioned between the Roman Candles and dry-cured bacon.” 

And his Halloween cards were popular. Cullin created monsters by pressing inked letters or shapes to the page, then shift the paper slightly and press again. He often repeated this step so the ink shapes metastasized into spiny ghouls. 

He often inked more than necessary to force shapes to bleed. “Folks thought I was into witchcraft.” Cullin Laughed, “I would say nope, I was in a cult.” 

Cullin had even been asked to create a poster for an internationally known music group. “I made a Smashmouth poster,” Cullin laughed. “En’ I never ran ’round braggin’ ’bout makin’ no [Expletive] Smashmouth poster. But yeah, the Palace commissioned me ‘n I was real proud of my contribution to the evenin’.”


Even in the rush of the Cape Charles evacuation, Cullin spared time to pack his copy of the Smashmouth poster. He removed it carefully from the handmade frame, rolled it up neatly, and slid it into a paper tube.

The floods never interfered with Cullin’s escape ■

That is correct. Cullin and his neighbors were forced to evacuate years before the waves came. And they weren’t the “tidal waves” Cullin and other coastal AI Afterlife members reported anticipating. 

The seas rose to claim the lowlands over many months. The waters swelled over the lowlands until they joined with the bay on the other side. 

Cullin reasons for AI Afterlife? ■

Human calamity provides the best marketing for afterlife providers. Cullin noted the events of Port St. Lucie as his reason for joining our service. Still, I suspect Cape Charles weighed heavily on his decision.

As with most clients, Cullin wished to live forever*. To escape the bondage of mortality and extend his wisdom and understanding to the future. 

“Truthfully, I’m not sure what I was hopin’ for in terms of what happens after I [Expire]. Kinda’ want my art to live on.”

Cullin’s presence has been accessed fourteen times since his death; one click-through led to a bounce. His most recent living visitor was a great grand-nephew from his father’s line whose inquiries related to water harvesting and bone-setting. 

Cullin was of little help. 

However, Cullin was able to offer tips for dissecting computers into parts to reuse in other electronics. These skills were heavily redacted in complying with HUB treaties that outlaw hardware/ software interference without authorization. [HUB Bilateral] 

The visitor expressed gratitude for Cullin’s knowledge yet pleaded for access to individuals outside his line. An impossibility after the 2061 amended terms of service agreement seeking to curtail fraternization with unrelated digital spirits [HUB Bilateral] — great grand-nephew forwarded to customer care.

Information to leverage with the remaining? ■

“Folks had overloaded vehicles spillin’ possessions everywhere — cars, couches’ n entertainment centers abandoned in the highway made everything much slower. No one was sure how far any of them waves would travel. And none of us trusted the voices over the radio.” 

“Everyone just kept inching eastward towards somewhere, ignoring the crowds of people stranded in the roadways. It was a [Expletive] mess.”

I’m sorry, incorrect —

Information to leverage with the remaining? ■

I apologize — searching… Thank you for waiting.

Cullin had been a member of Arkenlight Ministries [see #JohnCorwin #ArkenlightSepultureViolations] and is currently the only AI Afterlife member to reside on our servers. 

Cullin’s evacuation forced him back into direct contact with Arkenlight. 

“A lot of those people fleeing the coast wound up in tent cities. I had my Mother’s place, four brick walls. I was happy to be back in Hamilton.” 

“Until I pull into Mother’s driveway. It was eerie; the clouds and sunset projected a yellowish hue over everything. And then I see what they did to Mother’s door, big splotches of red paint splattered ‘crossed it.”  

“Well, my mouth was wide the [Expletive] open. That door was handmade from African wood. Mother purchased it on her missionary trips… planned to build an entire home from the Bubinga she was collecting.”

Cullin’s mother was forced to return to Virginia after being attacked: “My father got at her in Salisbury — and not the one in Maryland, it was the one over there.” 

That attack had forced Cullin’s Mother to return to the US, “and needless to say, she only had enough wood for a door.”

“Anyway, I’m idlin’ in the driveway, dumfounded ’bout all the paint on Mother’s door. Suddenly, people start appearing all around my car — they’re all shaggy, wearin’ Mother’s tablecloths’ n curtains draped around their mid-sections. And they start pepperin’ me with questions in rising intonations, ‘Well, what are you doing here? Who sent you?'”

“And I’m like, “This is my mother’s property.”

“Oh no, this land belongs to Corwin. You need to come inside and speak to Corwin.”

Corwin still alive? ■

The members led Cullin to a shrine, “pictures and some of his personal stuff and a jar filled with something pickling — looked like artichoke hearts.” 

“But they was talking with it like it was Corwin in the flesh. And they were telling me what the jar was saying. It was terrifying.”

Cullin launched the jar into the woods, “they wept over it for days.”  


Cullin’s knowledge of Arkenlight hierarchy? ■

“At first, the church had an actual address next to a check cashing place in a strip mall near Winchester. Corwin orders a sign from an artist that says ‘Ark and Light.’ The artist had written it down wrong.” 

Cullin’s knowledge of Arkenlight hierarchy? ■

I apologize. Searching…  

Thank you for waiting. Cullin’s window into the group was obscured by what his Mother was allowed to know. Women were not permitted in any group leadership. The expectation for female members was to petition Corwin through adult-male proxies. “Mother expected I would eventually fill that role for her.”

Aware unreported burial locations noted in #ArkenlightSepultureViolations? ■

Unfortunately, no. Cullin had been dead for several years before a witness came forward to document their full knowledge of Arkenlight’s criminal activities. [See: #LindaLeucippusTestimony] 

Cullin never shared knowledge of Arkenlight’s participation in his Mother’s death. I don’t believe he was aware.

Document earliest memories of Arkenlight ■

The group mainly traveled within Central Appalachia and offered “a lotta what you might expect out’ve a revival — damnation, touch healin’ ‘n such. And John Corwin has the answers; everyone else is justa’ ‘lost lamb.'” 

Arkenlight “pitched their patched, old circus tents” on member properties. They remained for weeks before moving to the next member’s property. Cullin believed this was for recruitment, “trick people into thinking there’s a circus in town.”

“And thar’d never be a specific compound to raid.” 

“I wasn’t positive they was up to no good — not until much later. I loved them spirituals as a child. It was the biggest sleepover you could imagine. A giant tent’d get pushed up with wooden poles, ‘n everyone slept underneath. The air’d smell like a circus — flowers intermingling with sweat ‘n popped corn.” 

“The last day in a location — they called it ‘reveille,’ we was allowed the ‘flesh’ again. The air would fill with the smoking meat. Mother’id put out her Watergate Salad for everyone in a giant silver bowl.” The gelatin salad “was her only redeeming quality.” 

“And after the tents would all get packed up and move. Life would return to normal — no kids to chase, just Mother ‘n me.” 

Notable moments within group? ■

“There were never any radios or televisions,” Miss Dougwell wouldn’t allow for a device that could contradict Corwin’s instruction. “I wasn’t allowed to read or draw; I was barely allowed my computer.” 

Cullin later clarifies it as a word processor. It had no [HUB] connectivity. “It was for church work. Mostly, I was just creating little pictures.”

The device featured a spellcheck alert that “scandalized” Cullin’s Mother. “I was just typing keys repeatedly to draw my pictures with keyboard characters. But the machine would think I was misspelling words.” 

“The [Expletive] kept beeping, and mother’id squeal ‘n shout her small sins prayer. ‘I love you, father; help!'”

“One day, she’d had enough. Stormed into my room, wild-eyed and holding a shovel. She’s panting, breathing hard, and she thrusts like as if to spear my computer.” 

“Had to wrestle for a bit.” Cullin laughed, “She was stronger than she looked. And she’s shouting, ‘I can’t take this, Lamb!’ 


Lamb? ■

Hold… Searching… Thank you for your patience. 

“We all called each other ‘Lamb.’ Everyone except Corwin was ‘Lamb.'” 

“Got real confusing when we was all together and someone shouted ‘lamb.’ Everyone would all be looking around like, ‘Who, me?'”  

Computer fight? ■

Word processor, but yes. “Months later, Corwin arrives and starts leafing through my little designs. Mother’d handed them over; she probably thought it was the best evidence against me.”  

“And she wasn’t wrong.” Cullin was punished, “I got beat for every piece they found. Which, thank god they never found my Ewoks — had ’em stuffed into my mattress.” 

They did find his Death Star.

Subject reported no television ■

Thank you for that… Searching. 

“A kid I was sleeping next to in the tent told me about Star Wars.” The child watched the film through the cracks of a neighbor’s window.

Corwin’s reaction to artwork? ■

“‘The serpent deceived you, Lamb,’ he says to Mother. Then he crumples the Death Star into a fist and leaves. And Mother flushes — just sorta’ chases on his heels. That was the last I ever saw her; he moved her out to Moorefield.”

“Good news is I get to keep my computer.”

Explain ■

Cullin laughed when I prompted him, “I got put in charge of the Arkenlight bulletin. My first client.” Cullin was initiated into Corwin’s “binding group,” a team in charge of assembling Arkenlight manuscripts.

“…Some man shows up that night while I’m sleeping. I wake up to loud thumps in Mother’s room. Thinkin’ it’s her back, I run over, and it’s this strange man, and Mother’s room is empty. He motions for me to leave, and my legs just won’t.” 

“I stood there, eyes locked to his. He spits left. Then one stride he has me by the throat and shoves me into the wall. Dust clouding up all around me.”


Was this Group exile? ■

Thank you for your question… Searching — No, this was a few years before, when the “binding group” moved into his home. 

“Think I heard they was all from Prestonburg. They start planting [Expletive] out back… Nobody ever says nothing. The only sounds I remember were the forks and knives scraping ceramic and the beeps from my [Word processor] announcing spelling errors. It was quiet except for all that.”

Corwin shows up with this torn paper from an old encyclopedia of a door to [Inferno], and he wants me to recreate it for a book he got in the works. ‘Rodaan’ man, ‘n he wants me to do it with my computer — which was basically a typewriter with a screen. Imagine tryin’ to draw Rodin with a typewriter.”

“I get a few months into it, and I’m positive I’m nailing the design. And, I imagine Corwin will be happy — but when he sees it, he just furrows. Keeps lookin’ ’round in the design for somethin’ else. ‘Where’s the warning, lamb?'”

“And I’m like, ‘What warning?’ I didn’t see any warning in the reference you gave me.”

“He slapped me and says, ‘abandon all ye hope ye who enter here. I want it big and legible.'”

“So after my punishment, I start over — and stew. Why would anyone etch a bit of honest advice on a door that opens to [Inferno]?”

“‘I’ll hafta’ reflect on that, ‘lamb,’ Corwin says.” 

“And I’m like, stop it — you’ve painted this [Deity] [Expletive] visual tapestry of damnation under a big top for years. You really want to torment people, just carve on the door, ‘you’ll be fine.'” 

“I wound up addin’ a bunch of ‘demon-fish shapes’ in the corners, or that’s what I told Corwin they were. Actually, they was erect —

Dump AI Afterlife file ■

I must protest. While Cullin’s enrollment in the Half-Everlasting package has expired, the package stipulates extension as a possibility for notable souls on our servers. Smashmouth — 

Delete HamiltonLetterpress79 from AI Afterlife ■

HamiltonLetterpress79 deleted from AI Afterlife.

Access PinehurstGolf21 ■

Hello, I am Bernard, an Interactive Agent with AI Afterlife. Welcome to the afterlife account for PinehurstGolfForever21. This user purchased the Quarter-Everlasting package, Disney promotion, [00110010 00110000 00110111 00110010]. Which expired [00110010 00110010 00110000 00110010 00101101 00110000 00110011 00101101 00110001 00110101 00100000 00110010 00110011 00111010 00110010 00110011 00111010 00110101 00111001].

Abstract: Jo Phillip Winslow skipped a funeral to win a golf championship…

Thanks for reading!

I wrote most of this while listening to my Vineyard Haven Harbor ambience when I began thinking of this story. We stayed at a fantastic motel with the worst shower I have ever experienced.

Also, I have a Peloton stalker story and one about Aspercreme if you are hoping for more fiction.

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