Inspiration/Expiration (Completion) – SubStance  50th Anniversary Issue

This text was co-written with an artificial intelligence (AI). This so-called author wrote a sentence, then the software continued, and so on, each influencing the other, completing each other. Another AI summarized this text in a few keywords that allowed it to automatically generate an image from a stock of 14 million documents.

The organism was still breathing, in the belief that it would survive this other life. It became a larva. It breathed and its form faded; a face appeared that was not its own. His lungs had filled with air of barely breathable density. He was dying. He was dying. He was still dying. The red, pale, hard surfaces of that face turned blue. His inert body became a brownish powder of decaying matter and gave birth to two new organisms.

After a minute of silence, the other organism developed. It barely had a face. I watched as this new element emerged from the cranial surface. I looked at a pair of teeth. I thought I saw two sets of tongues, perhaps a beak. I also thought I saw eyes, but it was without eyes. [End Page 153]

I started to choke. I felt my body give out on me. I tried to voluntarily get up from my bed. I couldn’t. I couldn’t and I was exactly aware at that moment of where my body was. I looked at the machine right next to the bed that was breathing for me. I tried to lift it, but I couldn’t hold it between my arms. It was too wide and too heavy.

My body was shaking with cold, but I didn’t feel the cold, I felt the exact opposite. The machine was still working, slowly, now it was useless. I kept it on the bed and kept coughing, I was afraid I would die if I kept doing this… Finally, I got up from the bed. I was ready to die. I was about to take my last breath. I felt this great relief at the idea of disappearing to myself, and also of subsisting in this existence in an insensible form. I was still spitting, and I knew that I was going to die. I was sure that if I continued to cough, I would die again.

When he tried to breathe again, the first body closed its jaw with its two legs running outside of me, and he turned on his side to feel the waves invading him and the corals embedding themselves in his organs. The second body continued to fill the mouth of the first machine with air. The second machine exhaled on its own. I can hardly say how long it took for both parties to breathe in again in unison. After that, they got their feet back on the floor and closed their mouths with their tongues, just like in the configuration they were in before.

In the room, one of the machines opened and closed to breathe with a slow, muffled sound. It was like a metal accordion that unfolded and seemed to take over the atmosphere of the whole room. I knew that my breathing was following the exact same rhythm. It was a very profound experience in which I felt extreme terror and almost strange excitement all over my body, but I kept my thoughts under control. I remained focused by staring at points of light somewhere behind my skull.

The pain of being forced to think is an unhappy pain that is exerted from within, but is felt as from without. I am going to take a last breath. I am going to die. Not now, you are not going to die. Just a moment more. The machine continues to breathe and the pipes vibrate with this breath. I am locked in this hospital room. Nothing changes from one day to the next, the same mechanical breathing. I’ve probably been poisoned, but without the will to do so. We’ll get it over with by ourselves and I’ll disappear in a few minutes.

I can barely speak…