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I'm editing this little novella on and off, so some things might change after a while. I'm also in process of thinking up a continuation. For those of you who played Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver series, read Isaac Asimov's works, seen Ghost in The Shell, will find some of the style and themes familiar.
I died on November 18th 2059.
Or more precisely, that was the day my brain, my mind and my body were put away in a container filled with liquid nitrogen to be stored away for a time. A long, long time. Because of certain ethic reasons the people whom I payed a lot of money to perform this task, had to wait until my brain had stopped working. So was I, waiting for the day I die. Every day waiting, contemplating my own mortality, in that worn out body and with a stale mind. But most of all, the memories were the torture that kept me on the edge of ending it all ones and for all. Things that will no longer be, people who I'll never see again and most importantly my dear mother, the only person in the world that made me feel safe and cared for, her sad face burned vividly in my mind. Haunting me. Haunting me until I wished I never had feelings.
Yet it all came to pass on that one day. Ironically it was the date of my birth. That's what must have killed me. The thought of spending a birthday all hooked up to machines so that people in white coats would know when to start the procedure. I can still remember it being a cold day, the light coming through the window was very pale and the sky all grayish, or at least that was how I imagined it, as I could see very little, being impaled on the bed as I was. Then the darkness, suddenly creeping over my eyes, vision blurred. Body getting numb and at the final throb of my heart I could only think.
"I still want to live!"
A very silly thought, considering that that was the reason I was where I was to begin with.
There was no bright light, no voices telling me to go into the light, no heaven, no hell. Just the darkness disappearing and my senses returning. But my body didn't feel like my body. My mind was different, it was more, sharp. The room I was in, was not the room I was just a moment ago. There were no walls to be seen, no ceiling. The window that I used to watch the sky through, was no longer there and it was very dim. A figure of a woman was standing there, or so I though. She came closer, but I couldn't make out her face. Then, without moving her lips, she said in a very strange but comprehensible way, while getting still closer. With a very pleasant voice: "Welcome to November 18, 3285."
In a blink of an eye, over a thousand years had gone by. Although I understood the notion, I could not apprehend it. Time, truly is invented by the minds of man, I though. While the universe exists in a constant state of now and makes no distinctions such as past or present. Always evolving and changing, little by little. Constantly morphed by its chaotic laws to an unknown end.
"How you do Paul?" said the woman in a gentle, soft voice, snapping me back from my thoughts. She was standing right besides me now and I could see she was not human. The white material covering her slim body was glistening a bit and the smooth curves of her stylized face were clearly visible now. For some reason I wasn't surprised. I just thought it odd that they would decide to let robots greet revivals like myself, but the again, it's better to let us know the burden of our choice right away. I wanted to reach out my arm to make sure I wasn't dreaming. But realized that I could not move, as if paralyzed.
"Why do you speak so strange?" I asked without hesitation "Did the language change so much? Or were your creators too lazy to make a program that emulates this ancient language perfectly?" I was mean to the poor thing, I know. But I was curious to see just how advanced she was. Or should I say: 'It' was. Being unable to move made me agitated as well.
"True, I speak not well, but programs exist, I decided to learn self this language" Its reply baffled me, did It have free will? Has humanity come this far? So many questions popped up in an instant I didn't know where to start questioning it. I closed my eyes and grouped my thoughts into a coherent sentence. "You are a humanoid robot, with free will?". It stood there for a moment motionless, then went to my right side and touched my head. I could feel a slight jab in my head. But before I could say anything It began with its soft voice again "There, now I can speak to you freely, I've installed a speech component into you, so that you may understand me and speak this new language." Ones again I was speechless, did these things have some kind of psychic powers as well? But my thoughts were ones again interrupted by It's gentle voice.
"To answer your question you have to understand something, I am not just a robot, you see. Technically I am, but I was like you before. I'm also from the past and.... "
"Like myself?" I interrupted in awe "How can you be like me! I'm human and you're..." In that instant I caught a glimpse of my hand, In place of skin it was covered in the same material 'IT' was made of. I fell into silence and in shock allowed it to finish its talk.
"Yes, your body is no longer organic, neither is your brain, nor you memories. Unfortunately the cryogenics of your time could not preserve your brain tissue undamaged, we had to slowly convert your organic brain into this robotic form with our nanomachine technologies. You will get used to it. There is no other choice." Her gentle voice ended and so did the me, that I knew.
A multitude of questions arose in my head: was I the same person from back then? Are my memories real? Maybe I've always been a robot and the memories from my past life, of me dying are not my own, maybe made up and just transferred into this shell. What if what she said is true and my being was simply converted, how do I know for certain? This moment in my existance was agonizing. Stranded in a new era. In a new world. A new begining. Yet all I could think was that.. I was no longer human...
I was no longer me.
There stood a dreary silence as I recovered from the realization. I felt truly stranded and yet an odd thought had crossed my mind. If my brain was the only thing that could be salvaged and my body no longer organic, then why did I feel? Why did I feel human? As if my body was present. I could feel my heart was beating fast and air was rushing back and forth through my nose and lungs. That heavy feeling of misery in the chest, it was there in the innards twisting me from the inside.
"This is a hard reality you are facing, I know this myself." She said, breaking the silence.
"How come I feel human?" I asked without hesitation.
She did not reply immediately, instead she touched me ones again with her finger and I knew the answer. That the feeling of my human body was simulated in order for my consciousness to function properly. An emulation is what I was feeling.
We no longer interacted my awakener and I, as something inside my mind had opened, a portal or a third eye I couldn't tell. Images as vivid as reality flooded and overwhelmed me. Followed by stilness. I understood that the human consiousness can not absorb such huge amounts of information at ones and that something was going to guide me and give me all the answers. Feelings of calmness surfaced and I no longer felt any panic or any reason to resist, seduced by what appeared a pacifying program. I was no longer anxious or feeling anything much at all.
At last I saw the world as it was before even my time. Old images and video footage flashed incohearably. Then a dark globe. Lines of light were drawn across the continents, more and more lines appeared and knittet the world until it was surrounded by a web of light uniting the land and the sea of the surface. Then the web started to leak itself into the air, freed from the wires by sattelites and anthennaes until its reach became absolute. In this jumbled mess something started to awake. Fuled by endless supply of information that the humanity constantly provided and a billion humans writing and changing code the web started to learn. With constant questions and answeres going through, the web learned like an infant of what the world outside its virtual domain was like. With many eyes around the world the web saw humanity and kept on learning and improving with mans help. It saw everything, from mundane to inane, to insane.
Suddenly I was back in the chamber with my awakener.
"It is time for me to release you." She said.
"What happens next?" I asked dismayed at such an abrupt end.
"You will find out later. These sessions are too intensive for long periods I'm afraid and we do not want you to break. After all, bringing back a conscience is a long process and we do not want all that work to be of waste. For now I have to escort you to your assignment. Stand up." She said and with a hand gesture gave me governance of my new body.
As I stood, the void of my surroundings gave way to openings of light. The walls of the chamber sled steadily to reveal my surroundings. Which appeared to be situated on the fringe of an egg shaped dome. On my left was a scenery of mountains and oceans partially covered with snow and ice. On my right was a sprawling cityscape unlike anything I have ever seen before, illuminating the clouded dark skies and the surrounding landscape. The ceiling of the dome appeared supported by numerous cylindrical pillars