This is actually something I've been working on privately for some time, but ended up putting on hold due to other projects. I never really got it out there anywhere else, and I've been attempting to make this place somewhere to rest my creative talents, so I decided to post it now. The style is a bit different, shifting in and out of present to past recollections, with heavy emphasis on introspective philosophy in the narration. I'll try to keep it updated as much as possible, but with my schedule and other projects, those updates may be pretty spread out. Comments and critique are welcome as I go along, so that during my progress, I don't continue to make similar mistakes that I am missing.
Part 1: Escape
March 5, 2308
To justify ones actions is to justify the core of their character, for nothing speaks more resolutely for a man than his actions, and the ideologies said actions imply. I tell you this, most wise reader of these humble and solemn words, so that you may better understand my condition of humanity, and the intrinsically involved world by which I was born and bred, and by gift of intellect sworn to escape or remedy. For I hope, in some dark sliver of my heart, hidden away from the eyes of misleading arbiters of the accepted justice and righteousness, that as you read this, your world is much different from mine. If that change has not yet come to pass, as your eyes meander the musings of an old and dying fool, then I should have reason to fear that the change I sought after in the sparse moments of my life may never come.
As stated before, nothing in the eyes of heaven or earth speaks more stolidly, sings more clearly, about the character of an individual than his work in this world. For what he leaves this cerulean orb adrift in a dark morass of pitying grandeur speckled with the sparks of other worlds, screaming their existence across the stars; the machinations of his very spirit will leave eternal inscriptions on humanity, corresponding who he was and what he accomplished, no matter how small or insignificant those accomplishments may seem to those who would judge them thus. It should be inferred, therefore, that the constructs of the environment which I have taken up residence in leaves imprints of ignorance in its course, absconding with the articulate and majestically complex beauty of human kind, and offering only destruction of what we have left to us.
I feel it is necessary now to inform you, reader, that it is my sincerest desire to see yourself, or one of your successors that indulges themselves with this philosophy, rectify the wrongs that have been made by those of humanity which aspire to cast aside everything that makes us creature, and impound or emphasize on everything that makes us machine, for their theories and mentalities, wrapped up in their foolishness and pride, are erroneous, and dangerous to a complete ethical fault. I have fought my way to this end for more years than are calculable to me, but I am afraid that the dwindling breath of my existence, given limit in birth, as it perishes utterly from this world, brings an abrupt conclusion to my efforts with its eventual deterioration. Yet I hold no regret in this old and somnolent heart, as I pass from the solidity of what is and face the ethereal of what may be. You read these words, and because of you, my goal has not yet been denied me.
The reality in which I subsist and thrive has no name, for with name comes creativity, of which it is wholly bereft. It has only a numerical designation, the icy and rigid symbols of the absolute and uniform. I have always believed that a name, to a well-read individual, can be analyzed to such an extent that one can know much of its sake before garnering any other awareness on what it is. This is, to a certain degree, the quintessential exemplification of this theory, for E45 carries all traits applied to it through the kenning of its reputation. World of Steel, we of the shadow have come to call it. A world incased in the frigidly efficient nonchalance of mechanical, completely denied the warmth of human emotion, flooded to the brim with desolation and emptiness. My name is Johann Abernathy, and this, most humble reader, is not just an explanation of social philosophy to be used in combating the forces of what has come to be the present, and what yet may be the future. It is, pound for pound in all its ambivalence, the tale of my life.
March 6, 2308
There are many things that can be said to emphasize on the absolute perfection of the innocence commonly associated with youth, yet so much more that can be alleged in an endeavor to reveal the profound eventualities it harbors. It is a fact, made such by brilliant minds studying and deciphering the human mind years before the time of our days, that children are born to naturally mimic those around them, so as to learn the methodologies of this new and alien environment they’ve been sworn to be part of by pledge of birth, not consensual, yet irrefutable. It is human nature, so I see no mitigating rationality to condemn it, but I do see such rationalities to denounce those that would bend this fresh and supple potential to their vile ends. So it was with me.
I was born not of the caring and warm womb of a maternal heart kept jovial by months of my added weight, and learned by the hardships of motherhood, but instead a test tube, as cold and indifferent as I would train to be. Several years of temperance and destruction of all that I loved to dream would make me the product of everything logically perfect, and deserted of color. It was in this convoluted environment, these breaking grounds of all that is decent, pure, and beautiful, that my will was transformed to serve a twisted and rigid purpose, the purpose of community progress, of the collective expansion. No thought of individuality ever dashed my mind with filth; I saw myself as the perfect cog among multitudes of my functional brethren, working in unison for the immaculate machine. I was so young then, so bereft of hope or desire. I was no singular than those I had come to know as kindred spirits in the most emotionless of manners, save for one precious gem I kept close in my mind, hidden, sometimes, even from my consciousness. A gem that would, indeed, save me from an infinitely more desolate destiny.
Though my counterparts never seemed to question the assimilation of minds as they were born of the icy glass cylinder, I constantly was curious, though such emotion had to be well concealed. I can only assume that we were taught to believe that when born, the individuality displayed was merely a paradigm of our imperfections, which one could only strive to transcend in the utopia of our design. A most effective falsity, if only for the cosmic majority. I, however, though of no more consequence or affluence of knowledge than any other of my kind, was curious, and that same thirst for perception, the ever insatiable lust for comprehension, was the impetus that would free me from the shackles of this horrid and inhuman chasm. For something tugged at the innards of my conscience, as I watched newborns driven mad and clean, that there was something horribly erroneous about that place, and that humanity may very well be something more. But I only allowed this precarious and once-considered contemptible path of thought overtake me when I fell in love.
It was a vigorous feeling, made even more dramatic and enchanting by the fact that before its arrival, I had never felt strong emotion. My durable metallic implants limited my temper, put limitations on my happiness, and incarcerated my creativity, so much so that it was nigh impossible to free my mind from this self-enclosed reformatory when I finally met the person who’s life I wished to take in mine, and meld into my spirit. I barely knew her, and on no account saw her since, but it wasn’t her that I treasured, not in reality. It was her spirit, and the action her fortitude of distinctiveness encouraged. For you see, she was the first of us to revolt against the cold and metallic world. She was our first leader, though we did not know her or her us, and regardless, she gave us what we have today. Because of that, and that alone, she was the most beautiful thing I had ever witnessed.
August 22, 2210
It would taste of a fallacy to say that I recalled who was first to announce the presence of a girl in our midst. I hold to scarce few shreds of memory from those times. It can be assumed that my mind chose to preserve my proverbial innocence from the past I led, which can be abridged with a select combination of words, as cold and heartless as my role. I was, when part of the communal, a processor of sensory information. In E45, human minds no longer held keys to escape their surroundings. We were born, and changed, morphed by crude and ungodly hands masquerading as deities of life and justice. Machines entered our minds to stifle any and all abstract creation, and as a result, imagination was brought to an immediate cession. We were made of the group, and the group, in turn, made us. All sensory information is transferred back to the main processor, which was read, and censored appropriately. No bright colors could be seen; no pleasing sounds could be heard. In a sense, my former home had developed the perfect way to hide the truth. They made their subjects blind to it.
It was my duty to find any and all stunning, attractive, or striking sensory impulses, and destroy them from the memories of my brethren. It was in this way that I was lucky, for my thoughts were left uncensored so that I could find what I needed to erase. I was one of few who ever saw those kinds of sights, heard those kinds of harmonies, tasted those kinds of flavors, or smelled those fragrances so sweet as to evoke rebellion. For that was the one allotted fear among our communal. A terror in uprising, an irrational and unspeakable horror in what would come of society, should our immaculate order fail. The most realized threat to this was individual thought, and so it was smothered, squandered to nothingness. There was no government, no ruling body to regain order should chaos break free. We were anarchy devoid of emotion, of irrationality. And in ourselves, we saw perfection. I shared that conviction, not needing to understand or comprehend why being one was so wrong. I had never before been of lone mind, so how could I wish for that which I had never possessed? And so, I was of perfect attitude, and perfect work ethic. The perfect cog of the perfect machine. Until, of course, I began to truly see.
Though no conscious registration ever occurred, my work in the communal was causing me to form individuality, hidden even from my own thoughts. The senses that I expunged from the minds of others flashed by me in an instant, but in that instant, a foreign emotion would flood my psyche, clouding my intellect and choking all logical process. It was transient, however, too diminutive and evanescent to leave any enduring effect, and thus was I kept to my function. But, as wind slowly erodes the mighty and stoic mountain, so too did beauty erode my perfect compliance. And it only took one small female child to show me, truly show me, that I could not hope for a greater gift than my liberation as an individual. When she arrived into my consciousness, a wondrous beacon of the freedom all life richly deserves, my mind was already worked loose from the life I had led. It is an irony of a sort, to think that the civilization I sought so heatedly to rebuke was a key factor in meeting such ends.
“Don’t be a fool. Females are kept separate.”
It was true; females were kept away from males to avoid any emotional attachments that would eventually lead to individuality, or irrational behavior. Love was forbidden, just as all other sensation was. Sexual cravings were suppressed and censored in accordance to this policy. Nevertheless, a female was in the presence of our processing squad, and her voice broke over the background noise of hands tirelessly tittering away the color of the world at keyboards of wintry plastic, metal, and electricity. The guards tried to restrain her, keep her silent as they did with all anomalies, but she knew a word once thought annihilated from the vocabulary of common humans. An utterance thought shattered with the evolution of our kind, but not so. She knew it, and when I heard her speak that word, my life would change forever. A guard approached her, taking hold of her thin, supple arm and speaking with a brusque authority.
“You will return to your post and continue your duty, H2504.”
She was the quintessence of color. Her golden hair cut short, as was the uniform style, but her eyes were of the brightest emerald. The girl looked at the guard for a moment with dull complacency, as if rendering herself to his whim, but suddenly, her eyes lit with a strange power, and her mouth formed, with much difficulty, the word that would amend the world ceaselessly.
“… N…. n…. NO.”
And with that, she was gone. None of those who were there can remember beyond that point, as our minds were appropriately wiped, but my mind held on to that first word, while others forgot the girl completely. I held fast to that word, for it had made the final blow to my steadfast conviction, my infallible perspective on that heartless and indifferent world. It permitted me to see a splendor I had never before known: the ability to choose what path I wished to take, of option and power over my own life. I never knew her intentions, or why she forced her way out so violently, but I did not have to. It was illogical, unnecessary, and without reason. And she had made a choice to be such. And that, to me, was the greatest thing of all. She had chosen to be distinct in her way of thinking, to be of one variety, the first human to be dissimilar to the group since the first implants. And because of that, she showed me the wild vigor of what it was to be free: the raw power of inventiveness, the instinctual need to be an individual when pressed forward by abstract ideology.
This girl, that I would never again meet, showed me the power of being unlike anyone else. She showed me what command I could grasp by being me.
August 22, 2210
And so began the exodus.
"What are you talking about, L5467? We can't leave the communal. We are part of it. We are its children."
I sat upright in my bed, looking across to the others around me. I had announced my desire to leave, to ascertain who I could be without forced decisions making my life singular and uniform. I articulated my thirst for irrationality, and creativity, discovered only hours previous. The ideology ripped through the dormitory like a hurricane, ravaging the status quo to doubt and question. It challenged everything they knew, everything they understood, and, just as the girl had made me appreciate what it means to be human, I was helping them unearth this once abandoned philosophy as well. And it made them scared, yet I could see, on each of their faces, that it animated them. I did not distinguish it then, but those faces that surrounded me would be the forerunners of a new civilization, one that encouraged free will and eccentricity. We, together, would be the constructors of New Earth.
I held to my convictions, the woes of my heart screaming across to the emotions of others, radiating from my core as a mist of sorrow yet unresolved and melancholy, touching others and infecting them with the drive to flight. I spoke to them, hours did I speak, replying with patience and unparalleled sympathy. We were still so fresh to the world, our ideas kept soft and pliable by the untainted wholes of our short lives in weak constitute and lacking wisdom, only ten years of age. Later in my years would I learn to see that if I had not acted immediately, my will would have broken with the decomposition of the spirit in the passing of adolescence.
“What do you suggest we do?”
“I suggest we leave. Make haste from this… home. Make our own way; find a new manner of life not without this new feeling.”
“And what is this new feeling which you describe with words so heated and passionate?”
“It is difficult to describe, but I suspect we have all felt it, at least once. It is the feeling that we are more than simple parts of a greater whole, but perhaps a universe in ourselves, a microcosm of genius and ingenuity contained within each single mind. And that potential to be great alone has been denied us.”
“And what makes you believe that we have felt this wondrous sensation?”
“Because you work in the processor squad, and you are allotted those powerful, if transient emotions, just as I am. Your minds have been unlocked to the truth. And even more evident to my meaning is that you still yet listen to my words.”
A silence followed that, each visage in the room set with a course and indecisive mask that told of fear and insecurity. In truth, sanctuary from the harsh realities of the world was something I could never offer them, as I demanded in refined tones that they leave all they knew behind them for a utopia not yet found in even the darkest recesses of imagination. We had just unlocked our humanity, and its utilization was coming slowly to us. Our sense of rebellion was in its infancy, yet everyone knew it was what we wanted, even with the harmful ways of life with humanity, for it had been denied us, and that we now knew. It was agonizing, and the world much bleaker outside the communal, as we would come to learn in the following days of this evacuation, but we all knew it was what we must do. Finally, for the first time in our short lives, we made a decision for ourselves, solely in interest of each other. The first to speak after that silence was L8534, later renamed as Elijah. He would forever be my closest companion.
“Unless anyone objects, then I believe that L5467 has said all he can. And we have heard him. I know that each of you understands what he implies, and know of what he speaks. You have felt it, just as he has, and just as I have. We carry the wisdom of our elders in our consciousness, as we have from origin. Any decision we make now will be the most fitting outcome. And I believe that this dream is worth chasing.”
For a moment, there was again silence. Then, as a chorus of motion, each head moving with the rhythm, the drumbeat of a nonviolent war against our very home, every single person in the dormitories nodded their head in unanimous agreement. Tomorrow, we would begin preparations, and in days, we would be free.