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.
I was on my way back home. I had had a long day mining the asteroids. It wasn’t an easy day. The autopilot on my ship was taking me away when the violet planet caught my eye. We had been warned. They said it was off-limits for our safety. I had heard rumors of the surface, stories from a friend of a friend who had ventured down into the cloudy world.
One of the stories I remember most was one of a man who had landed there many years before I was born. He had been lured into that purple atmosphere by its beauty. Mesmerized by it, the man ignored the warnings. No one knew for sure what it was he experienced, but the story goes that when he came back, he came back smiling. The man never went mining again, and the people who knew him said he never spoke another word. Not one. But he always wore a smile. When I was younger it never seemed to me to be a warning story. Why be afraid of a place that would make your world a happy one? The typical reaction was that he went mad. He stopped working and he begged in the city streets, struggling to survive. But to me he was complete. Whatever it was he saw that day fulfilled him.
At first there was a ship crossing the sea. Its captain pointed to a dot in the horizon and its crew were quick to move that way. Around the world they went, time and again. Sometimes sailing, sometimes drifting, but always in command of their own destination.
Whether their decisions brought good or not did not matter to them. In their ship their lives were encapsulated. In it, they drank, they ate, they made friends and enemies and at the end of the long days under the sun, they slept. In their quarters they lay awake some nights, thinking of the reason their lives had ended up the way they had. Some other nights they sat silent on a stool or on a bench, and, along with the rocking of their imperfect vessel, they made sense of the events they had experienced that day; But when sun came up in the morning, and the screams of the captain echoed in the halls, they knew their freedom was intact. They scurried together around the hull, and together the crew set sail again for their next adventure.
Esto pasó hace muchos años. No era ninguna fecha especial. Bueno, en aquel entonces no me pareció nada fuera de lo normal, pero, en retrospectiva, supongo que sí lo fue.
Había salido de mi casa para visitar a mi hermano. Él vivía a unas dos horas, allá donde según las cosas eran mejores… según. Ya había ido yo muchas veces, pues lo visitaba almenos una vez al mes. El camino ya me lo sabía y hasta mi camioneta yo creo se lo había aprendido. Cada piedra del camino me era familiar, y cada que cambiaba algo yo me daba cuenta. Por ejemplo, una vez que iba por el camino noté como que la tierra estaba revuelta de una manera en que no debía estar revuelta. Así como a veces la comida en la panza de uno se revuelve mal y a uno le da un noséqué, pues así fue. Me dio un noséqué, pero no le presté mucha atención. Pues me creerás que al otro día en las noticias salió que un carro se había volcado ahí, en ese mismito lugar. Así de bien me sabía el camino.
Humans have not always lived here, near the bright center of the milky way, where the light of our stars keep the darkness away, where the light reaches all the corners of our life.
Have you seen total darkness? No, you have only seen shadows. You cannot imagine it, you cannot perceive it, and we work hard to maintain it. There are stories from our distant past, from our long gone parents, of the things out there that lurk in the voids between the stars, in the places that light has never touched.
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.