Submitted into Contest #8 in response to: Write a story about an adventure in space. ... view prompt


Science Fiction

It was the human desire for longevity that birthed me. Without a body and without a face, I exist as long as matter exists, as far as matter exists. I wasn't always this way though.

Many years ago, or was it decades? Maybe it could have been centuries. Time doesn't flow straight for me so I cannot tell. But long, long ago, I had a form. I had skin the color of caramel. Although you may not know what skin is or what caramel is since you don't know what food is. Maybe imagine the rocks of mars but duller? Like the blood was drained from them. Oh wait, you won't know what blood was. I had it. Those around me had it. Blood. It was red and flowed through all of us. Our shells were different but the blood that gave us life was the same. I also had breasts. They were... they gave me the ability to feed smaller versions of me that my form had birthed. We could create new life then.

It's not the same as the new thoughts we create now. No. A new life is everything we are, but different. Imagine everything I am, my beliefs, my values, my personality. We think that's what makes us human right? Now imagine an entity that has different beliefs and values and personality. I suppose since we can pick and choose what personality or belief we are drawn to, it's hard to understand a whole that is bigger than the sum of all it's psychological components. But there was a time when I was that.

I was a whole, that was larger than the sum of all the beliefs, values, memories, emotions, rationale and motivations that make the current me. Now I am a mere sum of these factors, never meant to be whole.

You might think I am a cynic. Another one that dreads progress. I can understand where you are coming from. Disagreements became lesser as we kept loosing our physical form and integrating our psyche with the cloud. It's not that we empathize. There is no empathy without knowledge of what pain and pleasure feels like. Oh! Pain and pleasure! They got rid of it at some point. It didn't seem to serve any purpose but made certain thought streams stronger. I say they; but we were all complicit of course. No decision in our world is not made unanimously.

But there was a time when a whole entity could feel pleasure and pain. Oh, it was wonderful. And it was terrible. Most of the times I believe we are better off without so much happiness and so much sadness. But sometimes, like now, I wonder if we truly are better off without the ability to feel. Without it, how can we be human? We might as well be noiseless voices, traversing the universe as thoughts and sums of thoughts rather than a whole that transcends the sums.

Traveling across and cutting through space time barriers, entering dimensions unknown and at speeds faster than sound and light is exactly what we want though right. Right? That's why at some point we decided to give up our human forms completely.

I still remember that day, as if it happened but a few moments ago. At the apex of our progress, we believed we could rule the universe if we so wanted. It had started with uploading our brainwaves onto the cloud. I call it the cloud but it was really an army of time crystals. The leaps made in quantum physics had enabled mankind to discover, recreate and manipulate matter that could exist in spite of time and without any external push of energy. Which meant that not only could humans transcend the limits of their physical bodies but also break free from the constraints of laws of physics to exist across space and time and in spite of it.

I remember feeling that sense of immense power, in what mankind had achieved and what it would become. When they offered uploading us onto the time crystal cloud, I signed up without question. Many like me, obsessed with progress and scientific discovery, signed up. Those around me, including my husband (yes I used to have a husband, another human that I interacted with, more intimately than any other humans. I guess that would suffice as an explanation), implored me to rethink. Was progress really more important than humanity? Did the lure of facts really supersede the eventuality of emotions? Would I really be human anymore if I gave up my physical body?

I don't remember much of the pain and pleasure I felt during my life as a physical form. But I do remember the pain of having to choose between a cause that felt like my reason for existence, and a man I loved more than my existence.

That was not an easy choice. Frankly, I wished he too would join me in a place where time does not flow linearly, where we are freed from the physical limits of our bodies and principles of physics to just exist in our truest form, as thoughts. But my husband was a different man. While I scoffed at those that decried progress, he empathized with them. He didn't agree with them, but he could tell where they were coming from. He saw a world I didn't see. One in which humans were consumed with their physical form and the constraints around it. Maybe he was drawn to my passion for looking beyond and exploring further. But unlike me, his feet were firmly planted in his physical existence, connected to the earth that had birthed us both.

And so; I chose my calling over my better half and my fractured half became a transcendent entity. Many others like me, I forgot how many but there were quite a few of us, joined me in transcendence. We thought we were pushing the boundaries for humanity, embarking on truly becoming a species that could travel not only through the universe but also through time. Maybe now we could communicate with life forms that existed light years away? Or had existed at a time much before ours? The possibilities were endless. Surely, after we had made such headway, the people that called us wasteful and elitist, the religious leaders that deemed us heretics, would come around? Surely they would agree with the others who didn't transcend but supported us nonetheless?

But I was grossly mistaken. Even as a patchwork of thoughts, conflicts are inevitably among us transcendents. But I truly understood the complete oppressive control conflict has over human existence when I ceased to be a human. With many of the best and brightest focused on scaling the heights of the universe, society lost sight of the planet they were cohabiting. They lost sight of the present because the future was orders of magnitude more exciting and attractive.

Soon, the humans who neither cared for time crystals nor for quantum physics and space travel, started revolting over physical constraints like food and shelter and psychological constraints like ideology and religion. Skirmishes, unchecked, escalated into bigger wars. As the educated, the wise and the ‘elite’ started withdrawing more and more into the pursuit of immortality through transcendence, the planet we lived on fell into the hands of opportunistic narcissists who only cared about themselves.

The combination of delusional leaders and technology far more superior compared to society was fatal. The Great War wiped out most of the humans on earth. Those spearheading our expedition across time and space uploaded us completely onto time crystals. I remember the words of a visionary man who had first encoded human thoughts on time crystals.

"Maybe this is why we encountered these particles at the time we did. So we could protect humanity from itself, and protect it from going extinct."

That was the final contact we had with earth; us transcendents who feel about as human now as any matter existing in space would. We don't have a form. And without a form there are times when we don't know how to identify ourselves and separate ourselves from one another. Common thoughts converge, uncommon thoughts split. Like atoms. We exist and we don't. That we have consciousness still may have been the biggest feat of humanity.

But even if we have consciousness and ideas, how do we communicate it to others? Suppose we encounter other life forms, how do we communicate with them without a voice and without a form? The time crystal clouds existed and dispersed, held together no more by those on earth. Without those on earth, we don't know what our purpose for existing is. Some transcendents have come up with a plan of action. They want to continue exploring, and see how far we can go.

But with all due respect, I believe this is simply a cheap form of self assurance. Thoughts and motivations and emotions and beliefs, as strong and all consuming as they are, can't achieve anything by themselves. Suppose we may want to travel into another dimension. Without a physical form to manipulate matter around us, how are we to do that? The time crystals that form our material existence are controlling us more than we are controlling them. And so, making grand plans of traversing dimensions may make one feel better, but it is implausible. All we can do now is accept. Accept that we exist as just our minds, in a space not constrained by time.

I have accepted this. However, I too am hungry like the others. While they hunger for purpose, I hunger to see him. Did he survive the Great War? How long has it been? Did his physical body age or has it already disappeared into nothingness? Most religions stated that our souls join those of others in universe when our physical body perishes. If so, is he also existing somewhere, not as a body but as a soul? And if he too has transcended, will I ever see him again?

I want to see my husband. I want to hear all about the life he had lead once I left. I want to feel what he felt in those times when I was no more a physical entity, while he was still living on Earth. I want to hear stories of those around us that refused to progress. I want to hear from him about all the people we knew that hated us for being the way we were. And I want to know how he lived while I was gone. Was he happy? Was he sad? How did pain feel? How did pleasure feel?

Sometimes I hope it hasn't been that long since we transcended so I can find him. His eyes and the bridge of his nose and his full mouth. So uniquely his even if his thoughts and psyche could be shared with others. I know I would be able to spot him from afar. Some other days I lose hope and wish he too has transcended. I hope then, that the souls rising to heavens that we scientists called folklore is true. I hope that his soul too had risen once his physical body perished. And then, I hope that he will find me and share his stories with me. I too have stories I want to share with him. Stories of what I see as I move and move and move and move. Recording information, getting bombarded with new information. My psyche a mere cerebral fortress of the universe.   

September 22, 2019 20:06

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Karl Kroll
06:45 Jan 01, 2023

This is what I truly expect from Science Fiction. An very good idea and skillfully elaborated, shaped into language which comes in waves like poetry; thoughtful, melancholic, from a position of eternal loss and having accepted it. It appeals as if the whole text were the lyrics to a melody, like an ancient ballad but situated in the future. The conflict you describe is of interest for every philosophical mind, and I like the way you work it out here. I agree to your conclusion that the mere existence of the mental identity is futile. Human ...


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Steve Alink
12:42 Sep 05, 2020

Complex story, but it is short and well defined. I liked the way that the protagonist wants to get back to something known and secure (her husband). Various questions are raised that make you think what it would be if we as humans would be ‘uploaded’ in the cloud. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, ideas.


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