Chapter 17: Global Empathy

The life of Simon Dice was quite the joke. He was trapped in the persona of an outcast that was built through years and years of rejection and bullying; he gained the gift of knowing what was going beyond his own mind, and was able to glimpse at the inner sanctuary of the others’ minds. This unlikely mix leaded Simon to the boarders of sanity. The gift by itself was overwhelming, and controlling it was never something Simon could completely achieve. What the gift did to him was to drag him through several stages through which his behavior evolved according to these new parameters. After going through denial, anger and bargaining, Simon entered the fourth stage of Depression.

The transition wasn’t really caused by one specific event, but was rather due to an accumulation of failures in trying to pursue a noble cause. Simon quickly understood that the gift he received was more important than his pathetic life and was going beyond his own pride and self-esteem. He tried to be impermeable to rudeness, insults, and physical pain as well in order to become the voice of reason, to give people an objective perspective on what was going on in their mind. But of course, he was reminded all and every time that he wasn’t fit to judge if people needed to be help or not.

Simon was trying to resist the urge to stop doing what he was doing for quite a while before effectively retiring from the public sphere. The boy was sick and tired by the flow that he continuously received for almost a year, and for a whole month, he locked himself in a remote place in the surroundings of L.A. The first days were the hardest as Simon was continuously tortured by his flow of thought leaving him awake for days and days. He couldn’t just let go of all those events that have transfigured his life. He tried to remember the exact moment everything started to go wrong, but he couldn’t blame the light by the end. He could only blame himself for not being worthy of this incredible gift. One face in particular was haunting his memories, Sarah’s face. He was able to actually put up with everything else after a moment, to even calm those thoughts and the guilt for some time, but her face was always there; in all her beauty. He couldn’t really picture her in details, but the lines of her face weren’t scrambled in his mind, rather radiating in light. He could see the deep blue of her eyes, like an ocean drowning him and sucking him toward the deep black pit in the middle. Simon cried and cried in pain until the tears stopped coming down. He thought about killing himself, to end all this madness, and he tried, but each time he failed miserably. He hated himself more at that moment, he wasn’t even able to control that part of his life, to put an end to it. Everything didn’t make sense…

Simon was devastated, but by the end of the month, patterns started to appear. After linking everything up, he finally reached a conclusion, his fifth stage: Acceptance. Simon accepted the fact that his gift would never work with him. He was an unworthy host for such a power, and decided that he would just ignore the input. To send his attention somewhere else during those emotional aggression.  Simon left his retrenchment and went back to his regular life. He stopped trying to affect anyone, and didn’t give the empathy any second thought, suppressing his involvement with the messages. Weirdly enough, the emotional feedback got better as a result of his new attitude, even though certain people’s thought stayed as bizarre and disturbing as they used to be. Simon stayed the same outcast that he used to be, nothing in the people’s attitude really changed that much; however, he felt so much lighter by not concerning himself about others’ problems. Everything seemed to be back to normal, but life is never that simple.

The 20th July 1969 started as a strange day for Simon. He was still separating his judgement from his empathy, but he noticed a sort of pattern in people’s minds. Everybody was thinking about the moon landing. Apollo XI was orbiting around the moon, and it was scheduled to land on the moon some time during that exact night. And Simon felt that people were actually getting out of there little personal bubbles and feeling more open about the other. Simon started laughing, and he laughed and laughed for so long. What he tried to accomplish with his gift, this openness toward the others, this care, that was exactly what he wanted to make people see, and they were doing that in a small degree, but still. Then he got it, Simon finally got it! He knew exactly what he had to do.

Simon went back to the forest he had fled to from the bullies who have attacked him on that faithful day his life shifted. This time however, he wasn’t afraid or escaping; he knew exactly what he had to do. He followed the trail of his memory and after some searching, he finally found the pit he felt in. As soon as he approached from it, it started to glow. Taking a moment, he focused his thoughts toward what he wished to accomplish, about the way he wanted his gift to change. Taking a deep breath, he jumped into the Light with a last thought: ‘Happy Birthday to me…’

After the intense light, Simon fell in darkness, loosing every link with reality. Minutes later that seemed like centuries, Simon woke up in his college room just like the other time. He felt the difference, he felt this extension in his abilities. He knew that he could actually use the gift to achieve something, but he also knew that doing so would come at a cost. What he intended to do was at the limit of this new ability he received; deciding to use it at full potential could be risky. The worst was that he didn’t know what would happen to him, only that he might never be the same afterward.

Simon glimpsed at the cat shaped clock that his roommate was keeping for some obscure reason; of course, Simon knew that it was a gift from his lover, but he preferred to stay away from that. the time was 7:51 P.M. He remembered that the moon landing was scheduled around that time. He rushed to the old TV him and his roommate had and turned it on. The channel was broadcasting satellite images of the shuttle approaching the moon. Simon couldn’t focus on the commentary that was describing the approach of the shuttle in such a powerful way. He needed to do it, he had no other choice, and that was the perfect moment.

7:52. Simon closed his eyes, and started feeling the people around him one by one.

7:53. All those little lights started to link. Apollo XI touched the lunar ground.

7:54. A first wave of feelings started to run in the network on a very slow paste. The door of the shuttle opened.

7:55. Simon started to feel the flow of emotions and thought in a very strong and chaotic way, surrounding his mind in a see of foreign thoughts. Armstrong want down the ladder of the shuttle.

7:56. Everyone felt what everyone else felt, a general euphoria where everybody made one. Where every human on earth wasn’t alone in her or his mind anymore, but they all shared this the general consciousness through this moment of bliss. Armstrong sat foot on the lunar ground saying those words that would stay in history: “It’s a small step for a man and a giant leap for the mankind.”

Ironically enough, Armstrong who was at thousands of miles away from the reach of the global empathy of Simon was the one to best describe his act. but for Simon, this extensive use of his gift to broadcast the general consciousness was his last step. Everybody felt the experience in a positive way, and everybody was touched by it, not even knowing where it came from. Most of them ended up linking it to the euphoria of the moon landing, ignoring the only person that made it possible and lost everything in the process: Simon. Simon felt all the global consciousness in its raw form, 3.6 billion people radiating him with their thoughts and feelings. As a result the mind of Simon literally shattered. He was still alive for some reason, probably as a side effect of his contact with the light, but his mind was in a very deep catatonic stage.

8:07. Two women in long cloaks and hoods entered the college room of Simon. One of them told the other:

“So this is the source of the disturbance. This grotesque male boy; are we really obliged to carry him all the way to the head quarter?”

“He is the key to our victory sister! He is the error that has been foretold; the one will use the tunnel of light to access the Symphony after the world has been reborn. He will be the final element to the rise of the falcons! to the rise of the hidden faith of the moon. Our daughters shall suffer no more the cruelty of men after that point. The sun will fall as certainly as it has risen; and at that time, the holly crescent will prevail!”

The two women didn’t speak anymore. They took a brain damaged Simon, transporting him to some unknown location.

Chapter 16: Diving in the Abyss

It is truly marvelous to witness the change that can occur in a person when something radically changes in their lives. So was the case for Simon Dice as well as being able to feel and hear the emotions and thoughts of others changed his very core. Before that event, Simon was so focused on his own misery that he eventually created a barrier; separating himself from the others. After all, it’s not like the others were eager to have him in his life, the only exception was Sarah Grey, or so did he think for a moment. But once he received the gift, all of this changed completely. The impact of the gift on Simon was complex and evolving; Simon went through six different stages in his relation with the gift.

The first stage started as soon as he received it. It was a strong and unpleasant part of his experience with empathy as he wasn’t able to control the flow of new input he was receiving from the people around him. The first experience of empathy he had was with his roommate as he saw a new facet of him that he would have never guessed. Simon had to leave to an empty space in order to stop the pain of the first links. He was saturated with way too much new information, and as soon as he got back his calm, the first thing that he could think about was that the whole phenomenon was just the product of his mind going insane; however, he ended up linking those happenings to his fall in the cavern, and the visions of light he had.

It took Simon quite a while to adapt to this new ability, but it was all the way worth it. He was able to stop the input to only one at the time, but he was still unable to silence it completely. The first instinct of Simon was to deny the obvious. After denying the very existence of the gift by simply linking it to his mind going crazy, Simon also denied the need for him to have such a gift. The only thing he wanted to do was to get rid of it. He tried as hard as he could, but he could never stop it completely. He tried to research similar cases, but the only leads he had were scams, and people searching for attention or scam opportunities, even the gift that he was trying to get rid of was pointing to that.

Simon entered the second phase of his empathy cycle as a result of a very specific event. He was still not really convinced that his gift was real, but everything became clear to him again when he experienced empathy with Sarah Grey.  A few days after the cavern incident, he run into her at school. Beautiful Sarah Grey with her long blond hair shining like the sun, and her deep blue eyes in which he felt he could drawn. Simon new that the gift will take effect as soon as she would be close, he saw her coming toward him, and try to avoid any eye contact, praying to get away before it starts again. He wanted to keep the image of beauty that he had of this girl, and through his recent experiences with the gift, he noticed that it tended to give him very contradictory insight with what was displayed. He walked a few meters before she distinctly called him:

“Simon! Wait for me!” She screamed from across the corridor.

In a blink of an eye, she was already next to him. The first thing that Simon felt was happiness, but a very light happiness, almost forced. Then came a hint of Shame, she was ashamed to be seen with him! Another feeling was there as well; confidence, confidence that she could do with the shame as soon as she could get to her goal, thinking about that made a new emotion rise; satisfaction. She new that everything was going her way. As she was looking at him, he felt a peek of disgust reeking. ‘ My God Sarah! What are you doing?! Is passing American literature that important for you! What will everybody think seeing me hanging around with this freak? They will think there is something going on between us I guess. Bunch of snakes and bitches! As if I could get that low! No fucking way! Just Smile Sarah, Smile and play nice, and he will totally be your dog.’

Simon was chocked. He sure had no big hopes for what she thought of him, but judging how she talked to him the last time, he wanted to believe that for once, he had met someone different; someone that saw beyond his grotesque appearance and his very low status among his equals.

“Simon! You are so pale! Is something wrong?” She said showing genuine concern on her face; however, what Simon was receiving was quite different.

Simon felt more disgust, and a beginning of impatience, then a fast pasted wondering before a sort of epiphany. ‘Shit, his pulling a broken thing one with me; Fuck! What should I do? He might be suspecting something. But how could he? Nobody knows about this. I should lead him on for now I guess. Motivate him to get down to business; should be a piece of cake.

“You know I’m worried sick about you!” She said while frowning in a cute and somehow suggestive way.” What about walking a little! Some air will do you good, and I hope my company would as well.” She concluded smiling at him.

“Do you think anything of what you just said?” Simon asked looking her directly in the eyes. “Any word at all?”

He felt fear rising, as well as confusion and anger. ‘How could this fucker doubt my words?! Isn’t he fucking happy I’m even talking to him?! What is wrong with this guy?!”

“What do you mean? Of course I mean all of what I just said.” She said in an innocent voice giving him a ‘I am not guilty’ frowning face.

She got closer to him and held his right hand while looking at him and smiling.

“I am not your enemy, you know? I just want to be your friend.” She said turning her eyes away and blushing a little bit.

He felt a rise in confidence and satisfaction. ‘No way he is not falling for this!’

Simon looked her in the eyes, trying to push himself to believe that what he was thinking was wrong. He kept starring at her for a moment, then in the moment of a heartbeat, he reached for her, and kissed her. For a moment he felt no empathy input, just that moment frozen in time. But before he realized, the moment was over, the empathy stroke back stronger than ever; a strong mixture of feelings and words that he couldn’t really decipher.  He felt a strong force pushing him away. The face of Sarah Grey was no more cute or attractive, it was pure rage. Her pale beautiful face was red and torn in anger. Her pupils were so dilated that the blue of her eyes were only two tiny rings circling two big black discs.

“GET AWAY FROM ME YOU FREAK! WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?! WHY COULDN’T YOU JUST BE LIKE THE OTHERS AND PLAY THE FUCKING GAME. HOW COULD YOU EVEN THINK THAT I WOULD DO ANYTHING WITH YOU, YOU SICK WEIRDO!”

The rent flood on and on, and everything Simon felt and heard raised to the surface making his doubt disappear. He run away leaving Sarah grey still screaming.

“RUN AWAY YOU FUCKING COWARD. MAY YOU FUCKING DIE AND ROT YOU UGLY SHIT!”

Simon continued running until he was all by himself. He found himself in a waste land with humongous amounts of garbage of all kind. All he could feel at that moment was anger. Anger towards everything, starting by himself, then the others, then this stupid gift or bloody curse he got. He was angry because now he knew for sure how low everybody thought of him. He knew that he was not really liked, but being confronted to it in such a way was pushing him to his limits. He went on a rampage until it was too dark for him to see anything. Smashing everything he could smash around him. He felt no satisfaction in his destructive action, but kept on doing it until he couldn’t breath normally anymore. He was torn up and feeling like shit, and he knew that he couldn’t do anything about it. Worst of all, his first kiss was a complete disaster…

It took Simon many weeks to calm down his anger and move to the next stage. After cutting himself from the contact of the others and living in seclusion for a while, he meditated about all those event. He got to the conclusion that people didn’t like him anyway, but now that he knows what they really think and feel, he could actually help them. He started bargaining with himself, thinking of ways to positively use his gift to bring good to the world, to help others! He could help people be better by helping them reflecting about their thoughts. He decided to test this new vision on people around him, but all he got was negativity back.

“Are you calling me queer? I’ll fucking kill you!” was the response of his roommate.

“Get the fuck away from me you sick fuck! I’ll make your life hell if you ever approach me!” Sarah Grey said when he tried to apologize and explain himself.

He tried to expand his reach to people who didn’t knew him, thinking that they will be more open to his help, but they all took him for some crazy person while he tried to explain to them that he knew what was bothering them and saying he could help. It took many and many failure for Simon to fall into his fourth Stage, a stage of deep depression. In that stage, Simon got back to his solitary seclusion believing more and more that he was the wrong person for such a gift, with such power. He would have helped so many people if only he wasn’t who he was, a sore to the sight, and a walking disaster in the eyes of everyone, a reject doubled by a crazy maniac speaking nonsense about knowing what was mingling in the other’s minds and hearts.

Chapter 15: The Gift

Most people tend to think that the world we live in is dull, and lacks true power. We are conditioned to think that we are limited as humans in the things we can achieve. It was not always the case; time is a complicated structure, and in a way, what we see of it is only a fragment of its true potential. Our Earth was not always as it is now; there have been a time when Earth was much different, when people could do wonders and even go through the stream of time itself! But that world is no more. That world died with the return of the silence, and so much have been undone to give earth a chance to keep existing. Our world is the product of that undoing; a desperate attempt to conceal the upcoming doom, and the sealing of the symphony of time avoiding any mingling with the flow of things.

It is wrong to think that our world never knew anything out of the ordinary. Incredible things happen everywhere, in the less expected places and to the less expected people. One of those incredible events happened through the person of Simon Dice, a small and skinny little man born in a poor neighborhood of the suburbs of Los Angeles the 20th July 1950. Simon was not really the type of person that could shine anywhere. His physic has always been scarce, and he always gave the impression that he was about to fall from starvation. He was from Spanish lineage, but the only thing he got from that was a tanned skin and black eyes. As soon as he reached the age of 13, he started loosing his hair and decided to shave what was remaining of his brownish tangled hair. Simon had a respiratory condition that made any big effort a source of great pain and shortness of breath. He was also subject to epilepsy and had very strong convulsions if he forgot to take his pills on time. In a way, Simon was roughly treated by life. Most people avoided him, and the ones that acknowledged him never failed to remember him of how pitiful his condition was, and not in a sympathetic way. He was picked on all the time, and was the default scapegoat and punchbag of everybody. In a weird way, he tolerated harassment way more than disgust or complete ignorance as he felt that in some sort of way he belonged somewhere.

Simon’s life changed forever the 6th may 1968. It started as every Monday, a basic class day in the community college that he recently got enrolled in. For once, he didn’t really got that much made fun of. Something pleasant even happened. Sarah Grey, another freshman that was with him in the American Literature class came to talk to him. She was really pretty, way too pretty for him. For first, she was taller than him. She was blonde with very long hair, and deep blue eyes, the very image of the perfect women in the collective unconsciousness built up by years and years of stereotyping. She was the woman for whom any guy would have fall, and Simon was no exception.

” You are Simon, right? I am Sarah, Sarah Grey. We are both in American Literature with Mr. Hardy! I noticed that you are always on your own, but there is no reason for that! You should hang out with us sometime, we can discuss literature then and many other thing, what do you think?”

Simon was chocked, nobody before have ever talked like that to him. More than that, she wanted to see him more, was it possible that they could be friend, or dare he think, even more? He tried to reply:

“I… I would… love to…. But, why me?… And why now…?” He struggled to say.

“Well, life is short, and I tend to think that people can be way more interesting than they let think. So, I’ll see you tomorrow evening, 3.30 pm, let’s meet at the campus store, then we’ll see where to go from there!” She said with a beautiful smile.

Before Simon could say anything, she was already away. For the first time in his life, he had a date! He was ecstatic, it took him a little moment to process this new information. For once, Simon was truly happy.

As he was thinking that everything was great, Simon was pushed back to reality. Simon was on his way back when he passed a bunch of skinheads gathered around a poor Mexican boy and  hitting him while swearing racist slogans. Simon walked the other way, and tried to avoid eye contact with them. He thought he passed them without them noticing, but as soon as he walked few steps away, one of them screamed to the others:

“Hey! Another shit head from mexico! Get him!”

Simon started running, but he knew that he couldn’t hold much longer so he decided to go for the forest, thinking that they will lost his trail pretty quick. Simon was so carried away buy running, that he failed to see a whole in the ground cover with leafs and branches. As he walked on it, he felt in a deep cavern. He thought that the fall will never end. Like falling in a dream, everything was so slow, and for a very brief moment, light like he had never saw, then nothing, a total fade to black.

Simon woke up flooded with sweat, and his heart beating like crazy, he quickly reached for his inhaler to regain his breath. He felt a huge headache as he was getting back his calm. the last thing he could remember was him falling in that cavern, and he was suddenly there. He looked at the time, 6.30 pm, those things happened an hour ago. He couldn’t recall how he managed to get back to his dorm room and fall asleep. One thing was still bright in his memory, the vision of light. His roommate entered at that moment, as soon as he entered the room, Simon felt something strange, like an emotion that felt directly from the sky. A sort of deep sorrow accompanied by a huge shame. Simon also heard words. ‘ It was not a good idea to do that, I might love him, but I shouldn’t do those things. I will rot in hell for that. My god, why did I fall in love with Brad Garrison? What is wrong with me?’

“Hey dude, how was your day? Mine was amazing, I landed a major babe downtown. An amazing day I tell you.”

“What was that?”

“What was what? I just told you about my amazing day and that’s all you gotta say Simon! I shouldn’t have hoped for more from you you half witted imp!”

“What’s going on with Brad Garrison?” Simon asked to see if what he heard made any sense.

“Who is that Brad Garrison?”

Simon felt a new emotion, fear and panic. ‘Oh my god, he knows! what should I do? I should just keep on denying any knowledge about brad! Even if he knows anything, who is going to believe Simon, nobody cares about fucking Simon. He is just a worthless piece of shit and everybody knows that, even him.’

“Sorry, I need to take some air.” Simon said without waiting for an answer from his roommate.

Simon was in shock, he didn’t really understood what just happened. It was like his mind was invaded by the feelings and thoughts of his roommate. And how unexpected were those thoughts and feelings; he always saw his roommate as a basic bully, a senseless womanizer. How unexpected and how out of character were those thoughts. Simon didn’t really had anything against such things, he believed that everybody should be free to love whoever they want, but it never occurred to him that under that coat of roughness his roommate could be involved in such a relationship. Simon was still confused if those thoughts was even real, or just his mind going insane. Simon left the room, happy to see that the corridor was empty. He felt good to only hear his internal voice in his mind and his own emotions. Simon thought that he was over that weird happening, but as he was regaining his calm, he felt a similar emotional aggression way stronger this time; it was a mix of contradictory feelings, joy and sorrow, excitement and boredom, envy and hate. so much at once. Simon saw a group of people walking next to him, they were seven; three boys and four girls. as they approached, he started hearing voices.’…What should I do tomorrow…I wish he likes me, I don’t care if he’s engaged…I must throw the gun away as soon as possible…nobody should know about the money…’

Simon felt intense pain as they were approaching, everything was blurring in his mind, the emotions and voices didn’t make any sense anymore. It needed to stop, and it needed to stop quick. Simon pushed himself to ignore the pain, and started running, as he was fleeing from that group, he stumbled upon more people which lead to more blurry mind input. Finally he reached the outside where he managed to find a quite place where nobody would bother him. He took a moment to enjoy the silence in his mind before thinking about all that. He couldn’t deny the obvious anymore, not after all this pain, and all those words and feelings. He was able to feel others’ emotions and in a way read their mind, a sort of literal empathy. But what was the cause of that, he couldn’t really see what would have triggered such an ability. It took him a moment to link this new gift with his fall in the cavern, and the light he saw. Maybe that light changed something deep inside him, and made the minds and feelings of others accessible to him.

Chapter 14: Deus Ex Machina

In the Year 4000 A.D, In Earth Gamma Minus, the run of the Living God known as the light was over. The humans who have been his puppets for so many years ended up causing his doom. They united their forces, and fought fire with fire. After a raging war, the Light was dissolved into the program, with no consciousness remaining, just as a data ghost in the network. With the fall of the Light came the fall of the game itself. Humans were finally over that very long conditioning that lasted for 2000 years. It was like the human race has been reborn from ashes, free will was back, and everybody was made normal again. No more casts, no more major physical deformations in the name of societal need. All humans were equal again as the program Life 2.0 was finally over.

Humans were still equipped with the Interface ID Ship technology though, and many of them started to disagree about whether to keep the technology or not? At this very first stage, the human race was still feeling a sort of general empathy, and none of them wanted to relive the atrocity that was Life 2.0. They decided to be fair and permit those who wished to keep the technology to do so; they also designed a protocol that had for main purpose to get rid of the Interface ID Ship. Through high electromagnetic fields, the robotic parts are rendered obsolete and become regular human tissue. Through this process the people that have chosen to be free from the technology of the light are able to have pre-Makarov human lives; their offspring was completely technology free, this category called itself the naturals, and decided to start back at the most basic levels of human societies. They centered their new life style on agriculture and hurdling, and decided to get rid of any new age technology. In a way, they were similar to the Amish of the 20th century. The rest who chose to keep the technology had it reprogrammed and fixed to not alter free will and brain functions. Immortality was made High Taboo and forbidden, the only remaining body functions of the nano-bots were medical, and weren’t altering the aging process. The equipped people moved to the city where they kept on using technology, but mostly as a tool going back to the fashion of the 20th and 21st century. They kept the mental functions as an interface which capacities are no more powerful than a hardware computer; the network and wireless communication through the interface were kept. They were also passing on the technology to their offspring as it was stored in their genetic material. Those people called themselves the Synthetics.

Peace didn’t last long between the Naturals and the Synthetics. They had interdependencies to survive, but they still believed two opposite visions of the world, and soon enough, tensions started to rise among them. They were judgmental toward each other and fights were becoming more and more recurrent in gatherings involving both groups. One incident pushed things toward a very dramatic development. Two cross stars lovers from the two groups wanted to live together regardless of the strict regulations against it. The result was the murder of the boy who was a Natural by Synthetics, and the direct response through the killing of the girl who was Synthetic by Naturals. This alone broke the wall of silence, and angry voices started to rise. In the 7th of August 4013 the thousand years’ war started between the Naturals and the Synthetics.

The war raged for centuries and centuries between the two sides. Each time some sort of conclusion seemed to appear, the other side was getting back in the game, more motivated than before. The Naturals moved to what was formerly known as The American continent, and controlled the Islands of the Pacific, Including Australia. The Synthetics on the other side settled in Europe and Africa. Most of the war was raging in what used to be Asia. The naturals developed sharp technologies that were always controlled by men without any kind of cerebral link, Giant Robots and piloted by top notch trained militaries. On the other side, the Synthetics decided to boost certain capacities of the interface technology, but without breaking the three major taboos: Immortality, Mind, and Human shape.

The End of the war was different than anything both side thought about during a thousand years. All humans lost the war and all their faiths were sealed by the end of it. It all happened because of one foolish man, a man that didn’t want to abide by the rules, and broke the synthetics main taboo, Immortality. He was a young and ambitious general on the synthetic side name Sin. He never lost a battle during 20 years of service, and strongly believed that he could end the war, He had an important battle to lead and went to it like every time, with a strong believe that he was going to win. However, things happened differently that time. His men were getting killed like game and he ended up cornered facing enemy troops. He really thought that his time on earth was over. He was seeing death coming his way, and he was completely unable to do anything about it. It was at that time that he heard it; a whisper, a voice that was echoing in his mind. He followed the voice’s instruction, and doing so, he broke the first Taboo: shape. He overrode the program of his interface, and made his body dissolved into nano-dust. He was then able to flee the battlefield, and once out of danger, was able to regain his human shape. The voice started to sound clearer in his mind. It was telling him about all the possibilities that he could achieve if he really used his interface at its maximum potential. He started to develop a sort of Messiah complex and started to think that he could end the war all by himself. He broke the second taboo, and started to mind control important synthetic personas and used them to lead the war the way he thought would be best. He ended up being found out, and was murdered. However, his program was developed enough at that point to enable him to break the third and final Taboo: Immortality. Sin rose from the death, but him breaking the final Taboo triggered what was feared for ages; the old Life 2.0 program was rebooted, but updated to a 3.0 version. During a thousand years, the program have survived as a ghost in the network and rebuilt itself better than ever. It was so complex in fact, that it was sentient. The program as soon as triggered, took control of the whole synthetic population.

The new 3.0 program took over the world like a swarm; everything infected was becoming nano-dust and joining the great cloud that was infecting, assimilating, and absorbing everything on its way, no matter if it was living or not, organic or not. This huge nano-dust was called by the naturals as it was invading them the Deus Ex Machina; The God issued from the machine.

In the 7th of August 5013, the human race as well as everything else on Earth was no more, only remained the Deus Ex Machina; an entire bio-robotic sentient planet. The Deus Ex Machina discovered a new meaning to its existence, through its takeover of Earth Gamma Minus; it felt achievement through absorbing data, any kind of data. The Deus Ex Machina set itself in motion leaving its orbit, and becoming a World Eater, a Predator Planet absorbing and assimilating everything on its path.

Chapter 13: A God Among Us

Julio Makarov became in the space of a few years the most important human being on Earth. The establishment of the “Another Life” franchise, especially its latest hardware and software products: The Interface ID Ship and the Life 2.0 game program monitoring the rest of humanity’s existences created a new paradigm for the human race, the end of an era and the beginning of a new age. In this whole new world, Makarov was on top of everything and everyone else. He was the one and only Omega, the game master who had complete control over the parameters of the game. It was Makarov himself who designed the cast system and all the basic game mechanics of Life 2.0. He was also the first person to be equipped with the Interface ID Ship, and wasn’t subject to any kind of restriction using the technology fully and extensively.

Makarov Knew that his creation was going to change the face of the world. He saw the immense potential that it had and all the possible applications that it had to offer, but he also saw how much dangerous and destructive the Interface could be if misused. What was certain for him was that people with the technology would have a huge gap with the ones not equipped. So the first action of Makarov was to push for a global dissemination of the technology. By 2050, almost all the human race was equipped; on the first of January 2051, The first phase of the Game started: Life 2.0 was fully functional and the unstoppable machine started. The very meaning of being human changed with the game. With the cast system, society was fully functional. Everything that was slowing down human societies disappeared, death itself was vanquished. Humans were having the ability to virtually do anything they could imagine and more.

The lower casts were carefully chosen and modified to fill the very basic needs of this new humanity. They were counted and their population was kept alive for an indefinite period of time. No need for them to breed, they can stay in their positions forever, and they wouldn’t complain about it. The game was there to fix that. with the mechanics of the game, motivation was fully stimulated through a process of rewards in forms of direct brain signals to the pleasure center with achievements related to the task the people of the casts were required to do. The game was quite different on the higher casts level; first they were able to breed and were also given the choice to renounce immortality as well as a more proper free will. Makarov didn’t want everybody mindlessly doing what he asked them to do; he wanted to make the game more interesting. For him, the game was the ultimate form of his art, and the very materialization of his vision of a perfect world. Of course, arguments can be made against his perspective, but with the power that he had over the game, he wasn’t caring at all if his actions were considered honorable by everybody. He was a visionary, and he strongly believed that the world would never be much interesting if not given a notch of control.

He empowered the higher casts, and made their lives more exciting, stimulating and rewarding. the Betas were given the chance to live parenthood once, according to Makarov, he wanted to preserve a part of the social structure that is family, but more suited to the logic of the game. The Betas were also given the choice to terminate their game after a run of 150 years. Makarov noticed that each and every one of them chose to terminate as soon as the run ends. It made him understand that completely taking death away from the equation will spoil the entertainment value of the game. He also believed that free people should choose to live or die. Living forever can become pretty unbearable if you have a free enough will. Which get us to the next concept that Makarov wanted to let in the game, higher free choice level. A game that is fully controlled is never really “fun”, Makarov thought that by letting free will, the outcome will be more unpredictable, although he still has full control to stop any severe alteration to the Game. He was very interested in the entertainment value of the game as he thought of it as a main catalyst and a strong motivation for the player to keep playing the game. He made the Alphas the stars of his show. The Alphas were kind of his children, in a Greek mythological context, they would be considered as Semi-Gods. The Alphas had no tasks to fulfill, they were as much free as one can be in the game, and their programs were the more advanced and the more complex among the casts. They were given powers that are above the capacities of any normal human being, entering the realm of super powers all possible through the polymorphic capacities of the Nano-Robots. The Alphas were also able to achieve reproduction as any regular human being, a love letter in a way that Makarov is making about life before the game. during reproduction periods, the super capacities of the Alphas program are blocked so they live the experience the old human fashion way. And to add spice to his prime show in the game, he Gave the Alphas randomly designed organs that if triggered can lead to an instant death of the player. That way, Makarov was limiting the Alpha population, as well as creating a thrill leading to epic events surrounding that specific concept. Some Alpha players are taunted by the thrill and high rewards of cheating death. Special events and achievements were made in the game to push the Alphas in a constant dare devil routine.

Concerning Makarov himself as the Omega, he was fully in control of his mind, and was able to do practically anything in the Game. He was also the ultimate player, and was able to control anyone equipped with the technology and use them as avatars in the game. He was able to constantly keep record of everything happening in the game, and for 900 years, he entertained himself by playing the game through every possible perspective. He lived more lives in those 900 years than any human being could have lived even if they were reincarnated on earth since the down of the human race. After 900 years, Makarov’s knowledge of the human race became so complex that he came to take a decision which would change his life forever. Julio Makarov, man born in Italy in a modest family decided to rise above the human race and become a living God. In 2951, Julio Makarov showcased his rise in the minds of the whole human race, making them know of his change of status, and demanding their faith and complete submission to his Omega will. Julio Makarov was no more that day, only “The Light” remained.

The Light disappeared into the game following his mental broadcast in the minds of the human race. For 123 years, nobody heard about him. The game continued as it was, the conditioning was too good for it to be completely altered by the apparition of the Light as God of the game, and thus self proclaimed God of the human race. What this did was the creation of a cult to the light, people kept on their programs, but added the concept of faith to it, which provided more interest toward the game itself. Rumors started to appear in the higher casts concerning the implication of the Light becoming a god. Theories started to appear among them concerning the new nature of death, and what would death mean at that point if The light was living through the entire game.

The 5th September 3074 was a historical day in the new world that Julio Makarov built, this day was known as the day of the return of the Light. during that day, The Light reappeared in the game in a physical form. His new body was glowing light so intensely that no one was able to directly look at him, pretty much like how the biblical god is described to appear to Moses when asked to show its true form. Looking at the Light was like looking at the sun, but for those who were brave enough to keep looking for a little moment, the were able to discern a human shape at the center of all that light, some even say that the Light had the shape of his former body as a human, some say that the light has a female body, no one can really tell for sure. The light spoke to all the people of Earth at once.

” Children of the game, People of Earth, I have been long gone and unheard of. It wasn’t without purpose that I concealed my presence, I wanted to see the value of my children. I wanted to see what you will do on your own, and I am satisfied. Most of you chose to accept me as their lord, and many of you have achieved faith. I came back to reward your efforts and show you the path… to The Light!”

Following that came 926 years of peace and prosperity under the Light. He shaped his religion as a major part of the game, and gave back mortality to the human kind. However, he also announced that their faith after death will be on his hands, so he made his status as the one true God more powerful. The ultimate goal in the game became to reach the Light, and join it at death.

During the last years of What was known as the Era of Light, certain groups of people started to oppose the light, and wanted to get back control of their lives. They felt that the game had gone way too far. Those fluctuations in the game ended up leading to the events of the Fall of the Light in the year 4000. But even after that, Julio Makarov stayed in the minds of the human race as a God among man, and the oldest man to live. Julio Makarov had a run of 2020 years on Earth, and changed everything conceivable about life, but also triggered the beginning of the end.

To be concluded.

Chapter 12: Hooked on Life 2.0

Earth is often told to have one history that defined the evolution of its every aspects. This is far from the truth; Earth never had one single history. The fact is that an infinite number of versions of earth simultaneously exist in multiple layers of realities. Everything is happening all the time, but what is happening in one reality might be quite close or very different from what is happening in another. At the center of this web of layers is the Symphony of time, the very essence of time on earth in its multiple versions. In some of those realities, an organization called the Time Watch exists to monitor the major temporal events and lead humanity on a way that would avoid the upcoming end of time that was ought to happen in a certain number of those realities. However, in certain realities,  The time watch never existed, and in some extreme case, extreme scenarios came to become a legitimate reality.

Let’s take one specific version of earth where the absence of the Time Watch had lead in to some rather bizarre social phenomenon to happen. We will call this reality Earth Gamma Minus. In Earth GM, the evolution of the social interactions between people of the human race got the attention of certain scientific communities as well as media geniuses that built empires around the industrial artificial creation of social virtual spaces and the manipulation of social trends and principles. One of the first giants to appear on the Global Wired Network or the G.W.N was Another Life. a Network Site created in 2000 A.D that provided the users with a very basic interface that was able to emulate to certain extends certain social needs, such as communicating. The site was sound based and wasn’t demanding any kind of skills. It also created the concept of gaming social interaction, with the establishment of points, rewards and other game mechanics, the site was not only emulating social interactions, but making them rewarding and challenging and keeping the interest at a sharp level.

The creator of Another Life, Julio Makarov switched lives from a day to another from Economic Engineer to CEO of a giant company that landed in the first spot of richest multinational in the fall of 2004. The rise of Another Life was so fast that no one could react to their massive multiplication of activities in different sectors. It was so quick in fact that by the time the first researches about the behavior of the company came out, it was already too late. During the years from 2005 to 2025, Another Life incorporated many industrial giants to itself such as GE, Microsoft, Apple, AT&T, Shell, Walmart, McKesson, and many others. Another Life was taking control of all the major companies in sectors going from Telecommunication to Pharmaceutics. From 2025 to 2034, Another Life took control of the most prestigious universities in the world, and created special scholarship for certain fields such as psychology, bio-engineering , sociology, robotics, etc… Julio Makarov was ranked richest man in the world by 2027, by 2034, his fortune was much more important than the US GDP. Another Life inc introduced it’s most important product in the summer of 2034: The Interface ID Ship. Makarov personally convinced every nation of the compulsory the integration of the Interface ID Ship to each and every individual to, as he mentioned, “create equal chances in the new paradigm that the Interface ID Ship will create for every human being on earth.” End of quote. By 2050, 99.8% of the human population was equipped with the Interface ID Ship technology.

Julio Makarov did not lie when he Said the the Interface ID Ship will create a new paradigm. The introduction of the technology changed everything about the meaning of humanity. The Interface ID Ship was not really a ship, it was in fact a true miracle of Nano-robotics and Bio-robotics. The interface was in fact millions of nano-robots that were engineered in a synthetic stem cell like organism. The robots had two major advantages, they were perfectly programmable and had the ability to replace various original cells, multiplying in a fast past and building organs and other complex tissues as they were naturally formed by the body. The robots dormant are capsuled in a pill that is taken orally by the person who wants to be equipped. once in the digestive system, the opening of the capsule starts the nano robots who then manage to integrate every important organs and tissues of the host body. the robots acquire then the genetic code of the host to upgrade his living tissues. This lead to the creation of perfectly functional bodies that can be modified at will through the Interface Program. This basically gave Makarov tremendous powers over the rest of the human race as he rose as Game Master. The quasi total use of the Interface ID Ship by the human population as well as the immense political and economic power of Makarov made it possible for him to change the whole social structure of the world. The social contract of Rousseau was modified for a new life apparatus. A life 2.0 Game as he was described by Makarov; in this game, multiple programs were designed under a cast classification.

The casts were: Gamma, Delta, Zeta, Beta, Alpha and Omega. The Gamma were the low level workers that didn’t really need any kind of skills in the activities they were given. They were modified to be half wits, and live forever. There physical aspect was flawless, but lacked any kind of beauty. They were given limited achievements in the game, and the neural stimulus that was given them as a reward was very low powered. Then came the Deltas that were pretty much like the Gammas but were given enhanced physical force to carry more demanding tasks. They were given access to middle rate stimulus and a little bit wider ray of possible achievements. The final lower class were the Zeta, they were the bureaucratic classes and were specifically engineered to carry on management functions and official functions, their cognitive abilities were highly increased but only for their specific field needs. they were given a respectable number of challenges and pretty mild and complex stimulus as rewards. All the lower classes were stopped from breathing through their program. an optimal number has been chosen for them, and they were meant to keep the same occupations forever, carrying over their shoulders the new paradigm.

The highest classes were first different because they were actually able to perform reproduction. The Betas form the political and economical elites, they are the first basis of the upper game. However, they are limited to one offspring per couple, and they are only allowed to breed among themselves. The Betas were also given the choice to terminate their game if they wish to do so after a quota of 150 years. They then are divided into nano dust that is then regrouped for study purposes. It can seem intense, but many terminate their games as soon as they reached the 150 year quota. Then comes the Alphas, or the Star players. The Alphas have no obligations, no jobs, they can do anything that is possible in the game, their experience is way more exciting than any other cast, and their experiences are broadcast through interface to the rest of humanity as main entertainment.  The Alphas are also given a random Achilles Heel weak point, that automatically lead to their withdraw from the game and switching to nano dust condition. The Alphas are also able to breed freely as much as they can, and can use the maximum potential of the Game. There is one Omega in the whole human race, the Omega is no one else than Julio Makarov, who dubbed himself game master.

The game Master designed the rules, but he wasn’t doing only that, he also had the ultimate player abilities. He could use any human on earth as an avatar, and no one can ever know that it happened, alternative memories are created to fill the gap. He also had a power of life and death over the players, and was the one rewarding or scolding them. The Game master was literally hooked to the game. And for more than 900 years, Earth was his playground, until his mental condition switched to an extreme: The God Complex.

To be continued…

Chapter 11: Paradoxal Canon

Time has always been a mystery for the human race. It has always been this omnipotent rhythm that haunted the species since it’s inception. Humans have the ability to feel the passage of time, they are conscious on how this flow affect their lives, but what they are unable to accomplish is to control the effects it has on them. All humans are weak against the tremendous influence of time, even the ones who were granted access to its source. In some of the multiple timelines that Earth have gone through, nine individuals were able to reach the very source of time: The symphony. Their lives changed forever after this unique contact as it seemed that their aging was frozen. They lived more than any people who roamed this planet and were cursed by the knowledge of a terrible happening coming in an unknown time. They had complicated lives, some of them more than others.

Those extraordinary people called themselves the time watch. Each member was granted a number according to the order they joined the group. They were aware that the end of Time was close and that they needed to stop it. So they decided to take different paths. almost all of them went their own way, started their own new lives. Almost; two members decided to stick together instead of going apart. Those two were Number 6 and Number 7. They used various names, but the ones that stacked with them the most were Katara for Number 7 and Liviano for Number 6. The two of them were very close as they joined the organization at very close periods. They lived together freely for a few centuries, not really caring about the upcoming apocalypse. They knew that they would resolve that problem in due time and they had faith in the unpredictable nature of time as they truly believed that nothing was set for good and that time could be rewritten as a last resort. They traveled the world living many different lives across the globe, always together, and for them, every moment was as good as the first time they met. They never finished the first talk they started on that day, they never run out of thinks to tell each other. They were feeling pure happiness at every moment of their very long life.

But time always complicate everything, time is always there to make things fall apart. around the first years of the 17th century, the two partners got in touch with the others for a major reunion. The gathering had for goal to asset what was discovered during the huge amount of time that they spent on their own. Nothing really concluding was discussed that day, but things were never the same again. Liviano happened to stumble upon some strange things concerning Number 9. The last member was always kind of strange and never felt like being part of the group. He experimented with dangerous things in the past such as the void in an attempt to stop the crisis according to him. But what Liviano discovered was more disturbing, 9 was studying the silence, the very absence of time, as if he was up to something. Liviano went through 9’s notes and saw with horror what he was planning. 9 wanted to destroy the symphony making time collapse and bringing back the silence. He also discovered that to access the realm of the symphony again, he had to retrieve 6 specific hourglasses that were spread around the world in different timelines. Liviano couldn’t talk with the others about his discovery as he was aware that 9 was way more powerful than all of them united, and that risking him to discover that his plan were brought to light would only lead to a bloodshed. Liviano though about Katara, he felt fear for the first time in his long life. He couldn’t afford to lose her, and he couldn’t afford to risk her life. He understood that he had to do something he wouldn’t be proud of, something that would damage his relationship with his beloved forever; he had to fade away and retrieve the hourglasses before 9, and he had to do it alone. Liviano couldn’t say good bye to Katara, he waited until she was asleep to sit by her bed side. He gently stroke her hair, and sat there in silence admiring how peaceful she seemed to be while sleeping. He was glad that she was speared the knowledge he recently acquired.  He was ready to make things right before she even notice, and that night, putting a last kiss on her forehead, he left never to be seen again.

Katara was teared apart by the loss of her life long partner, of her closest friend. She drove apart, roaming aimlessly for years. But never once did the memory of Liviano left her. She searched for him for so long that she wasn’t sure he ever existed for a moment, thinking that he was the product of her imagination. She became more and more knowledgeable about time, and developed many skills that eventually led her to temps the last resort. She knew that Liviano was alive somewhere. But maybe the probleme wasn’t the where, but the when. Losing all patience, Katara started a very long journey through the many possible timelines and the many possible time periods. for thousands of years, she visited countless versions of Earth in countless places and periods, but never found anything. Until that one time.

Katara found herself in one of the timelines during what was there the 21st century. And for once, she found something. It was only a rumor, but people were spreading an urban legend there in The Neo Empire of Japan.  They called him Hakurai, which is Japanese for white thunder. The legend said that this Hakurai was a white haired man that was haunting Neo Tokyo for centuries, he was said to have many powers and wielding a silver sword. The legend also says that when he wasn’t fighting against the order of the last hour, he was haunting the Silver tower, which was a monument in the center of Tokyo dating from the 15th century. Katara felt that this man they were talking about might be Liviano, so she went to the tower at night, investigating it. That night, Katara met the Hakurai, and her world fell apart. The man that appeared in the tower was exactly similar to Liviano, but for a reason, as soon as she saw him, she knew that it wasn’t him.

“You are not the person I seek, I am sorry if I wasted your time.” She said when he clearly showed that he wasn’t Liviano.

She was about to leave when the Hakurai finally spoke. Even his voice was uncannily similar to Liviano’s.

“I can understand that I am not this Liviano you were looking for, but I can’t stop this feeling that we were maid to meet at this very moment. I might not be him, but I can clearly see that you are the same as I am, you have been to the symphony as well and in a way, we are all linked, just coming from different versions of the same world.”

She stopped as he was saying those worlds and turned around. She looked straight into his eyes for a moment trying to understand why she felt that what this man said was completely true. She briefly saw Liviano in him, but not the one she knew, it was as if he was a different version of the same person. How could it be?

” I am sorry, I have to go… I need to find him.”

“He seems to mean a lot to you. And you seemed to have searched for him for so long. You two were lucky to have each other, I never had anyone like that. I lived more than most people ever lived on this planet and I still never met someone for whom I’d do anything.”

Katara turned toward the exit, tears started flowing on her face as she was waking away.

” You are not obliged to leave… You know, you have searched long enough, and maybe you should start to live again.”

” How could I live without him? What am I supposed to do? Completely erase him from my memories?”

“You couldn’t, he will always be a part of your history, and he will always be around in your mind, but having to spend eternity searching doesn’t seem to be the best thing you can do with your life.”

“What should I do then?”

“Live! and do what you were meant to do. create the opportunity for others to live as well. Time is heading toward its end, and we are too few who can actually do something to remain inactive.”

“I see that the same problems are present everywhere. So what is this then an invitation?”

“Yes. I would like you to help us… to help me.”

“I can’t stay here forever you know…”

“I know, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t make the best of every second you are around. Time is a blessing Katara, especially the time shared with people who can make a difference. Let’s live this time you are around as best as we can, and even though the end will come, every moment before it would be the best one ever.”