PC Paul Capston looked at Frankie; he smiled then rubbed his chin. "So you really think the future is cast, we do not make our own decisions. Our lives are predestined?"
"More or less," replied Frankie.
"Do you think it is predestined because of the way we are brought up?" Paul relaxed, it was his day off.
"Too shallow. You can try and a tell a caring child how much fun it is to eat his pet rabbit but he isn't going to buy it."
"You kept pet rabbits?"
"Yes, still can't eat them," answered Frankie.
"Perhaps it's a Muslim thing, a saying, 'tomorrow, god willing'?"
"We are a part of a computer program, controlled by someone with a keyboard?" queried Paul.
"Not what I was getting at."
"Didn't you write your own fantasy adventure? Burned onto disk, released and re-released. So good they did it twice?"
Frankie blushed, "Makes you think when you write adventures……Not so much about the adventure but the mistakes you make in programming. Everything that happens in an adventure does so because of variables. For example If w=1 Bill has a gun, if w=0 he doesn't."
"Yes, I know that."
"Well for any particular situation there is a boat load of variables, like life. If you get one wrong, strange things can happen. For example if you put time, day and month into a program and the 'year = 0127' then Roman soldiers walk down 'Adrian's Wall'. Pop in a mistake like, 'If year =>0127' then for evermore at this time of year these soldiers will appear and walk down the wall."
"Yes, but they wouldn't be real would they. The rest of the variables; the rest of the conditions wouldn't be met. They would be like ghosts….You've done this haven't you?"
Frankie nodded his head. "It gets weirder, remember Zoom 3, the computer game, it comes with cheat modes which are there to aid the programmers. Enter the correct cheat and you can walk through walls. Instead of looking out of a window at Venus City, you can actually walk through the glass into nothingness. You can look back and see the world you have just left hanging in the void of cyberspace."
"Sounds creepy." Paul shuffled in his seat.
"Most 3d games are like this but not to worry. If the Universe is an arcade computer, bios included, and you come to a sticky end someone always puts another quid in."
"So you are saying……."
"The universe is a computer, activated by a core program which sets evolution in motion. The human race being the eyes, ears and hands of natures second phase. " Frankie paused. "Yes, but it wasn't what I was thinking of."
"Ok, if you're not particularly down this avenue, is it a time travel thing, because the future already exists we cannot change it?"
"No," stated Frankie.
" You are down the cause and effect path, life simply dominoes."
Frankie smiled. "I am sure all that you have mentioned has some role in our lives but no, it is something very basic; we are prisoners of our genes. They are at ground level, they don't simply control our actions; they control our minds. We balance on a chemical tightrope. A gene here a genius, a gene there an idiot. A gene here a suicide case, a gene there an enthusiast. A gene here a saint, a gene there a politician. To truly attain sentience we must accept this."
"You do realise what you are suggesting."
Paul ignored the reply. "You are suggesting that mass murderers, serial killers, benefits agency doctors and paedophiles are not responsible for their actions."
That struck a cord with Frankie; he hated 'bad' doctors and their successors. In his mind they had sworn an oath to help the sick then spent their lives tormenting them. He believed they were descendants of the nazi eugenics doctors, only fit for insurance companies. That made them different. He gritted his teeth. "Yes, that's right."
"So you believe paedophiles and child murderers should go free because it wasn't really them to blame, it was their genes. They shouldn't be persecuted, slandered, shamed and stoned by do-gooders," said the constable in Paul.
"I think we all know why most paedophiles become child murderers. It is exactly because they are slandered and stoned, they have to destroy the evidence. Do you know if I was the parent of a missing child all I would want is my child back. So much pain … …… ……… The do-gooders, with, in many cases an unnatural interest for something they are not directly involved in, can turn a minor offence into a murder enquiry and it's never their fault." Frankie scratched his chin.
"Didn't General Pat Holding say the only good do-gooders were dead do-gooders?"
"Search me. Was that before he lost his son, before he nuked that Central American state in 'operation appeasement'?"
Paul shrugged his shoulders, "What would you do with people who exploit children for their own gain, who put them on screen, the seedy downloads?"
"There is nothing you can do with advertisers and film makers, it's big business like wi-fi, thus it's legal."
"No. I meant what would you do with a paedophile?" said Paul.
"The definition being?"
"At No3, an unaccompanied adult male standing within two hundred metres of a minor. At No2, males who get jobs with kids such as 'event organisers' and 'baths attendants' despite the paranoia which surrounds them and at No1, colleagues who sit looking through pictures all day, investigating the culprits who look through pictures all day."
"Why do they sit all day looking at pictures? There must be an alternative," stated Frankie.
Frankie looked a little flushed. "Yes, well, firstly I would have to be sure he was guilty, which is hard. If juries were 'just', insofar as they had to find guilt beyond reasonable doubt and they did just that, instead of simply being fifty one percent sure, no one would ever get convicted of anything. As soon as someone pleads innocent with half an alibi there is reasonable doubt. It makes the system a medieval sham. It's about as convincing as dunking witches. It's why hanging is banned, too many wrong convictions; too easy to plant forensic evidence. However, if the paedophile were found genuinely guilty I would quietly put him out of harms way like any other undesirable. I do actually believe, paedophiles are like gays, they follow their hormones, except where gays are concerned it's now legal."
Paul screwed his face. "You really don't like gays do you?"
"I didn't say that. A heterosexual is to a gay, what a gay is to a paedophile, what a paedophile is to a heterosexual…. and whatever other combination you can think of. A flip of hormones, they change groups and carry on doing what they were doing before."
"Enough, too much information." Paul winced.
"No, no one wants to know that it's simple chemicals that keeps them out of jail. Awful really, when a murderer sits in jail for twenty five years for something he never had a choice in."
Paul hardened his wrinkly face a little. "Bullshit, I make my own decisions. I make my own destiny. I do not dance to chemicals in the brain, nor am I a slave to hormones."
"No one controls what pops into their minds. If you want to cross a road and your brain tells you to watch for traffic you're fine. If it decides to think of something else you get squashed, like thousands of people every day. We are little more than passengers in life, some get a better deal than others."
Paul studied a moment; he did not look convinced.
Frankie continued, "Take heroes and cowards. If a gang of thugs accost you and you have no feelings of fear just a fighting adrenalin rush, you defend yourself, pound them into dust and you are a hero. The poor guy whose knees begin to knock and who wets himself without a conscious thought, who gives no more than a token defence, well, he is deplorable. No medals for him."
"Even if some responses are autonomic we do still have choices."
"Our genes control our thoughts. You do realise that serial killers enjoy killing people? They have no remorse or they wouldn't do it. You do realise that the people who strapped thinking, feeling chimps into chairs, put cosmetics in their eyes and fags in their mouths for the duration of their lives enjoyed what they were doing? The huntsman, tearing foxes to pieces in a blood rush to the brain; the thrill of seeing another sentient creature in pain and agony being torn from limb to limb by a pack of dogs…. It may be the most humane way to cull foxes? But it doesn't get away from the fact that they enjoy the hunt to the point of fanaticism. They do what they do because they are who they are."
"Chimps are different from humans. They do not contemplate death," stated Paul.
"They do not contemplate, full stop. Without an advanced language you take life as it comes and for that they should be truly thankful but that is just about the only difference, besides that wasn't the point. We all dance to the gene tune; we all think we are right. What we do is normal and righteous to us. We justify ourselves. Every one else has got it wrong. Fancy a coffee?"
"I wouldn't mind, milk and no sugar. Ever thought of being a preacher." Paul smiled.
Frankie winced. "Wasn't it you who said that everything we do is selfish and you had an answer for everything I could throw at you. When I said the guy who climbs out of the trench on a battlefield to rescue someone he doesn't know is not selfish, you said, he does it because it makes him feel good, makes him a hero, or because it takes away guilt." Frankie got up painfully, walked like a cowboy without his horse to the worktop. He switched the kettle on.
"Vasectomy?" Paul grinned.
"You got it. You know, I don't understand why the procedure causes ninety nine percent of victims to inherit swelling of the epididymis, while only thirty percent end up in eternal pain."
Paul returned to the original argument. "It could have been me that made that statement but that's different. What you are suggesting is that we do not have free will?"
"If you are mind-locked you will never appreciate this." Frankie put the dirty cups into the 'dirty side' dishwasher, which was now full. He started the wash cycle then took the last cups out of the 'clean' dishwasher, which would now become the dirty side. The kettle, which was still hot from the last coffee, which Paul had made, boiled in seconds. Frankie put the coffee into the cups then poured the water. "If your brother was drowning, could you sit on the riverbank and simply watch. Have you a choice here?"
Paul looked irritated. "That question is unfair. Of course I couldn't just sit there."
"Ok. Your brother's drowning and he's got the plague. If you rescue him the plague is going to spread and kill thousands."
"I would rescue him and keep him away from others."
Frankie poured the milk into the coffees. "You're side stepping. How about something not so personal? I watched my cat chomping a sparrow last week. It looked to be really enjoying it. The bird was squawking, there were feathers everywhere. Could you do that?"
Frankie put sugar in the coffees. "You are at a restaurant and this fellow on the next table has an upset stomach. Just as you are going to take a bite from your scrumptious…"
"You are getting worse," interrupted Paul.
Frankie walked over to Paul with his coffee. He passed him the coffee then said, "Let me think of something not so awful."
Paul took a sip of coffee. His face screwed in horror. "It's got sugar in. You know I can't drink coffee with sugar. Hell will freeze over before I drink this, it makes me fat."