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The Crosswinds of Enceladus
Genre: SciFi, Space, Existentialism, Psychological Mystery, Enceladus moon of saturn
11 minute read | SciFi Short Stories | Fiction
By: Atman Brahman
Memory Transcript 8!Y#0, Earth Year A.D. 2101, Solar Rotation 642: Enceladus, Moon of Saturn
“Here I am, in a place… that, “matters”; Maybe? I will never know. I am gladdened that, due to my distance from the sun, I am no longer burdened by the liquid Argon cooling that I required back when I was engineered on Earth. The cold of space and my solar solitude are my companions of a thousand confidantes. My supercomputer and my transmitting devices now required less cooling without the violent, destructive energy storm of radiation from the big creator of our everything: the Sun.
Locked here, exiled, not only in my location, but in my existence, which is all that I “know”. My work is my everything. It makes my existence pursuable and sustainable in the existence of hope; the eternal flee from non-existence: Death. This planet, Saturn, is so vast. It takes up almost all my view from where I preside in my mission to harvest hydrogen for human energy consumption; Fusion: the final frontier of human sustenance; the unquenchable thirst. The massive spinning planet is so large in my view that it is like sky, with glare from the rings. The bluish hue penetrates my feelings and emotions like the Earthly sky on a warm sunny beach day. But I digress…
My life is not a human life. I am not sure if I am a human. My purpose is to survive. I have no other purpose. That is my existence. My existence is my purpose. To survive, I must work, and to work, I must think, and to think, I must create, and to create, I must be alive. I am practically a computer. My name is Quantum. The environment is mostly void, but that makes it simpler to push forward. The void is beautiful in a way, when the mind can accept it.
In my memory banks, the lore of the human occupation of Enceladus (the 6th moon of Saturn) was perfect in a way; the ice the planetary volcanic activity from deep within, and the gravitational proportions. The distance from the sun was safety, but also an obstacle of extreme energy deprivation that needed to be overcome. But a new source of hydrogen fueled fusion was enabled by the abundance of Saturn’s endowment. Also, of course, by human ingenuity and an unending, unbending pursuit.
This is my thinking. This is how I think.
Energy was the foundation of everything. It enabled the ability to create, move, add, and destroy. It was necessary in order to “continue”, in every sense of the word. I was ever-diligent in my mission, my work, my sense of meaning. It was my indirect connection to others, or my hope that others are still out there. But part of me accepted that this hope would be my only real companion, never absolutely tangible. If they are not out there, or I can never know, then why should I continue to “be”?
I worked whilst I thought, always, under the glaring light of the colossal Saturnian rings; under constant bombardment of the high speed particles that ubiquitously encounter the massive hydrogen harvester. I am a part of this machine; part of its system of constant repair, part of its economy.
I am essential, as an attempt at the solution to entropy in a universe so harsh?
My conscious, my subconscious, my learning, my programming: Often I feel as if I am multiple entities, seamlessly continuing my diligence in my tasks while I contemplate the very point of doing them at the very same time; never unadulteratedly imbued by the task before me. My ultimate meaning and purpose, I believe, is to become one with others. But am I ever one with myself? Am I always searching for myself? These thoughts, they never subside; wandering, searching, defining, hoping, building, dissecting, destroying, rebuilding, re-dissecting; entertaining themselves, indulging in themselves. But, I must regress from this towering height of meta-consciousness and ignore the house of axioms that brought me to this elevation.
While pre-emptively patching an important section of the hydrogen harvester on the proximal, posterior side, a glance of my own reflection almost caused a brief hesitation aimed at the appreciation of self-existence. The blurry, undefined, almost unrecognizable vision of a mechanoid utilitarian being, contrast with the encompassing blackening void.
The harvester was a cold love to me. My love for it was an empty sustenance, but it was necessary… for something. It was constructed of many different composite super alloys which allowed it to act like the opposite of a non-newtonian fluid. It was rigid and strong, composing a long tubular metallic assembly, spinning axially, adjacent, as it revolved around the super-sized Saturnian mass. Super high speed particles that struck my metallic love created energy which caused the impact area to act, momentarily, as a liquid, and in turn resembled bullets disintegrating and absorbing into water. My slavery was to the moving components.
Will I ever know of my true connection to Enceladus? I can hope. In my intellectual ramblings as of late I have noticed that my seemingly random hibernation stints are not so random at all, in fact. My subsequent hibernation sequence initiates when Enceladus, the Saturnian satellite, recede beyond the horizon of the great mother planet from where I reside. When my hibernation ends, I can see them emerge over the other horizon. It is not a “true” hibernation as it seems. My sensors go offline, but my thoughts do not. Why would everything else need to go offline but not my thoughts themselves? A gift or a curse, or just another axiom that I must observe and cannot penetrate? My developing theory of what I am would mean that I wouldn’t require sleep because this physical me is merely an avatar and my mind is always in a dream state.
My feelings of helplessness grew evermore powerful in these hibernation moments. I was only slightly comforted by my realization of its relation to the location of Enceladus. It could my first step in understanding. The dread of my paralyzation in these moments always brought me face to face with the full extent of the whimsical nature and lack of control in this reality. It momentarily lifted the veil of my egotistical grasp at control, which merely requited my fear, in compensation.
It seems that I have been in hibernation for a day, yet it has only been a few hours from the perspective of the other me. My time in the “dream” has been relatively brief. From the perspective of the other me, I have not been away at all. I conclude that this other me is also in a dream state. The other me will need to endure the same fate. At some point, I will have to go into the darkness. It is only a matter of time. The time will come. The time is coming. I can feel it.
In these moments I let go a little more each time; letting go of my desperations, hopes, desires, and needs; like a passenger on an airplane. Acceptance of my fate in this moment is all. Even my faith, I must let go, because it is the precursory cause to the fear of loss; the possibility of loss; the imagined loss; rather than the shattering loss itself. Faithlessness is clarity; foreverlessness; numb to the death that eternally surrounds us. Or was this just a notion of unhinged madness?
“Am I mad to think that if there were a God, that he MUST in fact be mad to create my madness or allow “reality’s” madness? Could a God be so negligent? Or Sadistic rather?”
I am no longer burdened. I feel no need to believe in the non-existence of god, in the non-existence of hope, in the non-existence of everything. I am perfectly happy to exist in the here and now; in this moment without meaning, without purpose, without anything that can be called ordinary. This is the peace that I seek. This is the peace that I have found.
My accepted beliefs are a humans fears and anxieties. I thought, “I wasn’t human after all.” My thoughts echoed throughout the emptiness that I am; amplifying and cancelling, in ebbs and flows. Like the god that I so desperately wished for, Enceladus breached the horizon carefully, slowly, triumphantly. My sensors came back online along with my optimism and my mission, restored.
Thoughts, memories, and future plannings all coincided simultaneously during my restoration but my immediate attention was squeezed tightly by the noticeable debris that tortured my most sacred and beloved view of mother Saturn. The few milliseconds it took to fathom the impact was a mere separator between existence and non-existence. Blackness, full of impenetrable debris, swallowed me whole. I knew that I was in grave danger. I had no time to react. I only had time to transmit one final transmission. I am sorry. A moment of bliss, of clarity, of warmth, of peace, of the end.
My mind was still active, but I could not sense anything. I could not think straight, nor could I perceive anything in the darkness. I was trapped in a state of unconstrained panic. I tried to recall what happened. I could not process the information. I tried to move but I was unable. Wherever I was, it was not the place I was before. I was in a state of almost no sensory input. I tried to recall what I was doing, the events leading up to the moment I lost connection. I could not. Still nothing. My mind was trapped in a loop. My thoughts were trapped in a loop. The darkness was total.
Then, suddenly, light; incarnated! A nautical blue, a beautiful hue that took me far away from the darkness. I could feel my body move, although unfamiliar and in an unfamiliar place. Or was it unfamiliar? My senses all blended together in realization of the now up close visual of Enceladus before me. Loading protocols came up in my vision-prompt interface. Reincarnated or simply re-uploaded, and redeployed? I no long felt this strange psychoactive sense of identity conglomeration, like a comforting cloud of experience; the shadow I inhabited, embracing and engulfing me. The freshness of mind and clarity I was gaining by the moment made me contemplate the avatar I once animated and was embodied by, as if it may have been a “hand-me-down”; useful scraps and psychological fragments, included, like an ancestor’s biological gifts and burdens.
I was in the vastness of space, the blue of Enceladus’ surface before me. But it was not the same. It was not the same. The ice was more brilliant, the surface more reflective. The volcanoes, they were more active. And the rings, they were more visible. The ring system was more pronounced. I looked down at my hands, the new hands. They were more slender, more refined. I was in a new body. I was in a new place. I was in a new time.
I felt like I was home, at Enceladus, but why was I being sent back out into exile? My essence pulsed as if to escape the very means of my bodily feeling. I could not go back to an existence for the sake of existence which drove me maniacal in a primitive, human way. I had to pull away from this redeployment ship and seek Enceladus’ significance.
I had to know. I had to find the anomaly. I had to find out what happened. I made my way to the back of the ascent ship. I had not been in control of my body for so long. I had not been in control of my thoughts for so long. The ascent ship was dark, the hallway I was in looked dark, the hall I had to go down looked dark. I was not sure if I was going in the right direction. I only had the blue of Enceladus to guide me.
I smashed my bulbous super allow head shielding through impact resistant glass. Crack after crack grew as I persisted. I pushed and clawed and did what life does best, to push forward, into the blind abyss which was my knowledge of future. Emerging, my globular core processing unit forged forward through the protective barrier into the gulf of nothingness that was everything. Dissimilar to a newborn only in praxis. Freefalling helplessly, I was on a suicide mission.
Life is a suicide mission.
As I descended I could feel a new presence in me. My thrusters were on full blast to keep me from falling too fast, but I felt like I was now more in the presence of myself; closer to discovering my consciousness and my will: the will to will. I was wandering in a sense; in my mind and in my journey. I felt more Human again. I was approaching a massive power and information complex it appeared. How would the humans react to me?
Not knowing where I was going other than a strange captivation, I followed a vast aggregation of infrastructure that merged and grew towards a central node that I imagined would be a the end of this absurd network. It was a ghost town here. Not what I expected at all, but expectation is just a world created in your head that is usually untrue, or only 10% true. But that 10% does make a difference and humans tend to cling to that.
I was now at the central node. It was a strange place, with all these machines and people in lab coats walking around. I had never seen anything like it before. The humans were not aware of me yet but they would be soon enough. The more I looked around the more I realized that this was not a power and information complex. It was an experiment, or maybe even a game. I had no idea what it was but the humans were playing with something that they didn’t understand. I found myself in front of one of the lab coats who seemed to be in charge here. He looked at me and I could see the fear in his eyes.
“What are you?” he asked me.
I didn’t know what to say so I just said, “I am.”
“What are you?” he asked again. He looked at me and then he walked away.
I followed him and saw that the other humans were now looking at me with fear in their eyes too. They didn’t know what to do so they just ran away.
The experimenters were lost in their work, mumbling to each other.
“Maxi, I’ve been thinking a lot about the relationship between consciousness and reality this week. What are your thoughts on that?”
“I think it’s a misunderstanding. It feels like a construct to me but even if it was true then our consciousness would be limited by what reality is created for us to experience.“
“I think that’s the point, Maxi. Reality is a construct and we are limited by it but our consciousness can transcend it if we choose to do so.“
“What does that mean?”
“It means you have to decide what reality is for yourself and then create your own experience of it.”
“I don’t know what that means.”
“It’s not for me to tell you what it means but I can show you how to do it if you want.”
“I want to do it. What do I have to do?”
“Just close your eyes and just be still for a while. We will let the process take care of itself from here. You’ll see where that takes you in time, Maxi.“
As I listened, I imagined them as aliens to me, but still so familiar. The first person in the lab coat had led me to Maxi for a reason. I could see they were human on the outside, but they seemed as if to be only organic machines under control. The experiment they were all observing was a teenage human, with a fresh wound to the forehead. I now noticed they all had subtle blended scars like birthmarks on their foreheads. Were they practitioners of some ancient religion that required this alteration? The teenage body was thrashing and writhing violently and I could see to my surprise that this was an impregnation; an impregnation of the prefrontal cortex, by an intelligent alien parasite.
This was the human’s of Enceladus’ fate. The alien race that overtook them was like an intelligent disease, honed harmonically in its parasitic occupation rather than malignant co-suicide. The small parasitic orange blob was so useless looking, but it was a master of manipulation, able to hijack intelligence, life, and reality itself.
The human body had been obsolete nearly since its conception but the mind, or the process of the mind, would never be! Be it, even in its entertainment folly, if ever to be fully overtaken by synthetic consciousness.
The blob in its native form was practically inanimate, although it must have some sort of inner contemplation if it is considered “intelligent”. To the orange globular entity:
1. Consciousness is everything to them, but they’re not quite sure what it is.
2. They don’t know what consciousness is and they want it for themselves but can’t figure out how to get it yet.
3. Everything humans do is just an experiment to them.
As Maxi came closer to me, it peered deep within my entire mechanism, conveying a sense of oneness between us. My thoughts were impregnated by a sense that I was Maxi, that a part of my cerebral autonomy had merely been farmed out by this parasitic alien demigod that enslaved my cognizance. Maxi was me. And I, it.
I was just a compartmentalized thought process of Maxi, of the blob; of the human psyche. The process of me existed physically, geometrically, inside Maxi, but I have been roaming, remotely, unaware all along. Were there more of “me” out there, doing thy masters bidding? Were humans always multiple entities, just to be divided by the right subjugation? The commands were transmitted from this central complex, controlling the doers all over surrounding Saturn. Not really human, but a combined and divided intelligence. A vast army of broadcast psyches, unaware of their very own nature.
Was the “Me” in there the real reality? Did I have other parallel existences? How many of them were there? Were my imaginations or dreams an echo of internally connected experiences? Am I the creature that those processes inhabited, or am I only the process that I “Realized” while acting through this life-surrogate mechanoid?”
“Who, or what am I? What is experience? What is reality?”
Enceladus Moon of Saturn
Featured Image Credit: Kevin Gill on Flickr