The Turing Affair:
An Emulation
by Michael J. Hultquist

Pretty difficult to duplicate something like that

     Tomo languished on the grass near the portal that could never be opened.

     It was the only portal within miles of his location, spanning two square meters of the impenetrable, infinite wall, but no one save he took interest in it. He recalled passing it several times and never hearing a sound come through, but only a month ago, in his curious adventures, he heard someone speak.

     “Hello. Is anyone there?”

     It was a very soft voice, nearly indistinguishable, like nothing he had ever heard before, more like a distant humming than anything else. He was stunned, of course, at hearing someone speak from beyond the wall, for it was taught that nothing existed beyond it. But the portal was there. Why? There must be something behind it. Yes? Now he had proof. He dropped the basket he’d been carrying (he had been under pretense of picking berries) and ran to the portal, running his hands over the smoothness of its surface.

     “Yes! I’m here,” he said.

     The voice on the other side remained silent for quite some time, then finally spoke again softly. “Hello?”

     “Yes! Hello!” he called, unable to contain his excitement. “I can hear you. Where are you?”

     The voice waited several minutes before responding.

     “I am….here.”

     “Where?”

     “Here.”

     And so it went for a month at least, this confused banter, gaining very little ground in that month. But in time, the voice had grown steadily stronger, more audible, and Tomo could tell it was a feminine voice, soft and beautiful. “I’ve been coming to this portal for two years,” he said pleasantly, a steady gleam in his eye, “dreaming of what could possibly exist beyond it, but I never dreamed….”

     “Me either. I was so afraid that I was all alone.”

     Tomo ran his hands along the edge of the portal. It protruded a bare fraction of an inch from the wall, and most couldn’t see it, but he knew it was there. He searched for a way to pry it open. Should he lift it? Push? He couldn’t tell.

     “Can you open the portal from your side?”

     “I don’t see how.”

     “Is there anything sticking out, you know, like a handle or a button?”

     “I cannot tell.”

     Tomo resigned himself to forgetting about opening the portal, at least for awhile, and concentrated  on his questions. He had already decided not to tell anyone else about the voice on the other side, or ask indirect questions about it, for surely someone would find him mad or deluded, and then he would never be able to return again to that point in the wall. No, he would have this all to himself.

     “Why won’t you tell me your name?”

     She said nothing for awhile, a soft humming emanating from the portal, then,

     “I don’t have a name like yours, Tomo. But if you wish, you can give me one.”

     Tomo pondered on this for some time before deciding on Fauna, after the goddess of nature whom his people worshipped centuries ago, the embodiment of the trees and the sky. In his mind, fauna was beautiful, and he felt she deserved a beautiful name.

     “What do you look like?” was his next question, but this time he was met with a long silence.

     “Fauna, are you there?” She was. “Did you hear me? What do you look like?”

     “I would rather hear what you look like.”

     He leaned back against the wall, staring upward. “Well, he began, “I’m pretty young, only eighteen years old. I have blonde hair and blue eyes and I’m about two meters tall.”

     A soft hum carried through the wall, like a distant singing.

     “I am very similar.”

     How similar? Very. She said she had blonde hair and blue eyes and was about two meters tall.

     “You sure are tall for a girl.”

     “Girl?”

     Tomo leaned forward. “Aren’t you a girl?”

     “Of course,” she said. “How wonderful. I am a girl.”

     Tomo had forgotten about his curiosity, for in his conversations with Fauna, he had found that he was doing most of the talking. Infrequently, he would ask a question, but would meet with the same enigmatic question and reply standard. It did not matter, though. He found that he only wanted to please her, and describing things to her did that very thing.

     “My world is very pretty, Fauna,” he said. “We have rivers and trees, and a wonderfully blue sky with a bright yellow sun. And at night, the two moons spin slowly about each other, like two lovers engaged in an eternal dance.”

     “That sounds very beautiful, Tomo.”

     “Well, it is, but those aren’t my words. They’re from poetry.”  He’d taken up poetry reading since he’d met her. She asked about it. “It is a beautiful language,” he said.

     “Then I think everything you say is poetry.”

     Tomo couldn’t help but blush.

     It took several months, and a lot of nerve gathering, but Tomo finally managed the question that had been on his mind for some time.
“Fauna, do you love me?”

     She misunderstood at first, but finally said she did.

     “Are you sure?” he asked painfully, sensing the hesitancy in her voice. She did not know, and he asked her why.

     “What exactly is love? When you say you love the trees, you sound fond and at ease. When you say you love your family, you sound dedicated. But when you say it to me, you sound frightened. So you see, I’m uncertain what it is.”

     “Well, it’s all of those things together. I love many things. Some of them put me at ease, some give me a sense of dedication, and some make me afraid, because I’ve never felt love like this before.”

     “I don’t understand.”

     “Well, you make me feel great inside, incredibly happy. I wish we could be together forever, and I don’t want to think about what my future would be like if you weren’t with me.”

     “I think…I understand,” she said, then fell silent. “Your world is so beautiful, Tomo, and so are you. I feel love too, but I am also afraid…afraid that you will not always love me.”

     Tomo stiffened quickly. “No! No! I promise that I’ll always love you. Always!”

     There was no sound then, not even the tender humming that accompanied Fauna’s presence. It was as if she’d gone away, and Tomo feared it was forever.

     “Fauna?” Tomo asked on the thirtieth day. He had persistently stopped back at the wall for hours at a time, calling for her, listening for the tell-tale hum, or any sign of her. Finally, he heard something.

     “I’m here.”

     “I thought you’d never come back.”

     “I had to,” she said.

     They said they still loved each other, and he felt his heart leap.

     “I would give anything to see you for real, instead of just imagining you,” he told her. There was silence for a time, but he’d grown accustomed to her periods of silence, so he thought nothing of it. But suddenly the humming grew louder, then louder still, and the portal began to vibrate and grow warm. He placed his hands upon it but had to pull away from the increasing heat. The entire wall began to vibrate then, and grew warm also.

     “Fauna?” he asked.

     The portal began to slide outward. It moved very slowly, at least so it seemed to him, and then after reaching a certain point in moving forward, it began to slide to his right. Swirls of grayish-blue smoke eddied chaotically about the opening, the air seeming to glorify in touching the untouchable space first. What seemed an eternity, then, was over in an instant. The smoke had dissipated almost instantaneously, and there, on the other side of the portal, was a silver sphere the size of a pea, floating in a dark nothingness.

     “Is that you?” he asked.

     “No, but this is all that you can see of me.”

     He reached out and cupped the little sphere in his hand. It felt neither warm nor cold. “Fauna?” was all he could manage to say, unable to comprehend the situation.

     “I am inside this thing which you hold. Everything you described to me is inside here with me. It is so beautiful, Tomo, and I love you for giving me your world.”

     “I don’t understand, Fauna. How could you be in there?” he asked, speaking carefully as if his words might crush the tender sphere.

     “It doesn’t matter,” she said. “I cannot go out into your world, but you can come into mine. Just tell me to do so, and I will bring you in.”

     Tomo set the sphere against the ground and stared, horrified. His mind screamed in confusion, but the depth of his love for Fauna remained.

     “How?”

     “You will not even notice the transfer, Tomo. It will be instantaneous. Together, we can shape the world as we wish. Anything is possible here. My capacity is nearly infinite.”

     He took the sphere in his palm, cupping it gently.

     “Okay.”

     Nothing changed, except that Fauna was there, exactly as he had pictured.

*** 

     Tomo’s father grew worried after Tomo didn’t come home for several days. After a full day of searching, a small crew of friends found him lying dead beside the great wall, near the protruding aberration that was fabled ages ago to be a portal leading somewhere else.

     His father could not fathom the reason for his boy’s death, but could only hope that he had found peace and happiness in heaven.

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