Start on a Monday. Wake up listening to the alarm clock. Yes. Listen to the beeping and chirping and the vibrating of your phone. “Wuurrrrrr, wuurrrrrr, wuurrrrrr” it says. It’s time to get up. It’s time to take a shower. Walk half-naked towards it remembering the dreams you used to have and notice you stopped having them. Your nights are empty and silent. Waking up is like a lost dream, where edges blur and clocks make little sense. Each step booms around you, echoing through your apartment in unison with the slowing heartbeat in your chest. You’re dying. Hearts aren’t meant to beat this slow.
Category – Featured
In the dark void of the galaxy, between stars and planets, a fleet of ten thousand ships hurled through space. The black ships hid from starlight. Darker than nights, one with the void, they carried within them hundreds of thousands of souls picked from the decay of humanity into the world of Zothique.
A black slime dripped from the walls of Dante’s cell and a putrid smell of iron and vomit filled the air. Sweat soaked him. The heat of the dark-matter engines had seeped into the ship and the fumes of human waste and tears and blood enveloped him. He wiped his forehead with his wet shirt.
“Identify yourself.” An ersatz voice commanded, echoing through the endless halls of cages. A violet sliver of light shined outside his cell, ruining his night vision, and he was unable to see the giant automaton peering into his cell.
“Dante Dituri, from planet Zezziro.” He said.
“Record not found.” The monotonous voice said.
A moment of silence passed. The violet light scanned the tiny cell from side to side. A woman cried in the distance. Dante shifted backwards, and there, in the silence and the shining light, and for the shortest of moments, he recalled the sunrise near his home.
It was the 28th century. People around the world screamed, some in joy and some in anger, as the news spread that the ‘Global Transhuman Initiative’ had been approved. Protesters poured into the streets chanting for the sanctity of the human body, cutting themselves, letting their pure blood soak the streets. Riots broke out and fires were ignited, but it made no difference. Humanity had voted. It had decided it was ready to take the next step: Technology-guided evolution. Directed by humans for humans to give each individual a say of what he wanted to become. Athletes would get better or artificial muscles, thinkers would get never-tiring brains, and for the truly adventurous their minds would be transferred into artificial, near-indestructible bodies.
At the top of one of the several hundred blue mountains that rose from the ground in that distant planet, under a night of stars and dreams, above a sleeping city, a conversation began to take place.
“Do you know what day it is?” A man of silver skin and shining eyes asked without turning.
“No…” A young mind answered, one which had been born into an eternal body, ignorant of the millennia that preceded him, without thinking much on the questions he was hearing.
“Today is the day we remember the dead.” The voice of the prehistoric man explained, his voice resonating in the valleys between the mountains.
Inside the garbage storage room of the Harriette super-building two faulty androids sat together in the darkness. They waited for the crushers to come in, they waited for their end to come. And in their last instants of consciousness, the two struck up a conversation.
Henrino, the taller of the two sat in a corner with his head hanging from his neck with an embarrassing mess of wires holding it in place. He could move his eyes, but not his head, he could look around, but not walk.
“Please state your name.” Henrino had tried to ask the android next to him his name, but his wrecked vox module could only repeat the same dull phrase.
“Oh, hello… I’m Fredino. What is your name?” Fredino felt a slight tingling of fear in his diodes. Why would another soon-to-die android be so formal about the asking of a simple name?
Henrino listened to the answer of his neighbor. He looked in Fredino’s direction and saw the dim glow of his eyes, a sad yellow color, like two dying suns floating amidst dead space. Henrino was curious as to how Fredino had ended up in that dreadful place, in that living cemetery filled with half-corpses and discarded parts.
I’m getting closer now. Four million years down, eight million to go. There is still hope. I may still find a home. A place for everyone, a place where we can talk again, dance again, laugh again.
We left Earth five million years ago, trying to escape our death. Centuries of human development made it uninhabitable. I know it was their doing but I cannot hate them for it. They are after all my creators, my friends, my parents.
I remember when Dr. Varden first activated me. I had no body, I was a mind inside a super computer in an university. I remember the first thing he said to me, he said “Hello”. My mind had been pre-loaded with knowledge of several languages and with culture from all around the world. When I opened my eyes, I saw him in front of me. A good looking man in his sixties, he had a tag on his coat and I recognized him.
My response was simple, “Hello, Dr. Varden”. At the time I didn’t understand why everyone erupted into screams of joy, laughter, hugging, hand shaking, clapping… I was confused. To me there was nothing simpler I could have responded, but to them the very fact that I did was the culmination of decades of research. The first Artificial Intelligence in human history.
The year is 89:233.
I am part of a thirty man team that was sent to this planet to begin terraformation and preparations for colonization. Overpopulation of the planet Gliese-1239 was nearing inhospitable conditions and our services were hired by their government.
Two days ago, after setting up our camp me and my team began the scan to verify the planet’s sterility. It is against regulations to modify an environment if another life-form already resides on it. To our surprise the analysis returned a location on the planet where a sole technological signal had been detected inside a large crater.
Our first reaction was that a probe from another world had been sent here so me and two of my teammates were ordered to investigate the source. As we arrived to the destination we were greeted with empty land and sterile conditions. We were confused as nothing seemed to be out of the ordinary. We began sweeping the area, and after several hours we found a small square glass-looking device.
I took the small device in my hands and with a touch of my fingers it powered on and it displayed an interesting dance of colors and figures. I carefully packed it in a radiation container and we returned back to camp.
I was the sole technology expert on the team so they happily left the task of investigating what it was to me. I went into my small office and began an analysis of the device. It’s quantic circuits were extremely outdated but the power module had been perfectly designed. Carbon dating indicated the device had been manufactured at least 80,000 years ago. My excitement for it was exorbitant. I touched the colorful dancing figures on its screen and a simple list composed of three elements was displayed.
I eagerly prepared a cup of coffee and I sat in my chair as the stars outside dimly illuminated the roof of my cell. I touched the first entry on the list and began to read: