After my exit, in the subsequent years amongst the chaos, artificial intelligence was repurposed from fighting disease to confronting viruses sweeping through and leveling populations and devastating socioeconomic conditions. Human virus nanotechnology trials started small then grew in numbers—some with unpredictable and deadly consequences, and modest successes. As with any testing and solution, the science took time and patience. Decades of biomedical research and thousands of scientists and researchers contributed to the unparalleled progress as artificial intelligence was among the first to detect these deadly viruses, oftentimes curtailing the outbreaks before they spread. Not always though. Many times the willfully obtuse and the greedy opportunists positioned themselves above the fray veiled as a sort of fabricated fight for liberty. It was bizarre and delivered deadly consequences to many.
The loss of life staggered me. The human faces and stories behind each death painful to an uncomfortable degree—almost tortuous. I take the occasional mental health break to walk off the misery of it all and sit and stare into the ether as Saturn passes by. I breath in an endless universe in hopes of inviting and planting a seed of relief and hope of something bigger and promising—something good and reassuring. Like progress.
This history was not exclusively one of words and facts but constructed of stories—human stories, and as with any calamitous event in time, the most marginalized and vulnerable suffer more than any other. The disregard cruel and often purposeful. The anguish pointed.
I often found myself being pulled into a cynical undertow and swept along towards a nihilistic form of hopelessness in humanity. In many ways, I was reliving the last years in my time concurrently by studying what happened in the subsequent years of my departure.
It is excruciating.
History hurt. Unmerciful for those that rejected its loud booming baritones of familiarity, history, like nature, was indifferent to the hubris presented in such broad sweeping forms with often dangerous assumptions leaving untold numbers lost in consequence.
“You’re in pain,” Wynne says sitting down next to me.
I wipe away tears and choose to deflect. “Yeah. I just watched the last season of Game of Thrones. I waited fifteen hundred years to see that garbage. Dani and Drogon should’ve befriended Sansa and Arya then the three of them, along with Rhaegal and Viserion, should’ve rode in and ate the whole fucking lot of them as appetizers starting with Jon Snow,” and the tears fall anew. “Imagine creating a character like that—a woman character—then having a man stab her in the end. Like in the history of creative work, that blatant misogynistic trope had never been deployed before. It was so…trite. So cliché. What creative brilliance and ingenuity that was.” I glance at her. “That last was sarcasm in case you missed it.”
“I gathered as much.”
“Sometimes I’m just so fucking sick of it all. You know? The history of humanity usually leads back to a mediocre dick with no imagination and little compassion dressed as salvation. It’s infuriating.”
“I rarely delve into ancient history. It’s so bleak.”
My grunt of laughter reeks of disdain. “Are you serious with that?”
She looks directly at me. “Yes.”
I think about how to approach this subject with some delicacy then proceed to do the opposite because I’m tired and pissed at it all. “That’s some massive privilege you’re hauling there.”
“How so?” She asks.
“Privilege is such an apathetic and passive tool. It must be nice to sit back amongst your crew here behind these rings of technological bliss and ignore the suffering.” I take a breath and pause to reflect with whom I talk and the history of why and how they got here. “Then again”—I look back out towards that endless universe—”sometimes I don’t blame you. And perhaps that’s the crux of it. Or not.” I shrug. “I got no clue. I got no answers for ya. Just more questions.”
“You realize that kind of suffering never really goes away, right? The bleakness of ancient history is here in the present right down the road. There was a news bulletin this morning about Belters being enslaved and exploited for labor to harness natural resources to feed the rich and powerful.”
“You read the modern news bulletins?”
“Absolutely. Of course.”
This seems to please her.
“I’ve been thinking more about being an emissary and I don’t think—I know it’s not me because the first hint of oppression I come across and confront, I will not go lightly on the oppressors. I was never one to just sit back and allow shit to happen to other people.”
“Shit?” I sense a dark humor dancing in the depths of those eyes. Ironically, it relaxes me.
My intense emotions heighten her awareness. I catch her brief looks of triumph and wonder what shapes it. Am I radicalizing her or is she radicalizing me? Is she subverting a larger plan? Or is she constructing something deeper and darker? Maybe both.
“Is it a rabbit or duck? Or both?” I say to no one.
I’m pulled between many arguments and outcomes because of extreme ideologies forced into and converged into past, present, and future given the state of my disarray and injustice in general.
How far do you go and where do you draw the line?
My leap into paths not taken is a hamster’s wheel I will forever more spin in the face of unfairness.
Shouldn’t it be for all of us? Those in power specifically?
“Your culture is not involved in local politics,” I pluck from my newfound cradle of modern knowledge and lob at her.
When I first came to this realization, I was struck dumb. I didn’t know how to react. I still don’t. Given that local meant the entire freaking galaxy, the consequences of not being involved suggested an overall disregard for the rest of society and civilizations. A collective who gives a fuck about them. This in direct opposition to the Saturnian cultural philosophy of lifting or supporting their collective.
‘We give a fuck about ourselves just not about you’ philosophy.
Having recently reviewed the bleak ancient historical data of the same sorta ilk, I felt queasy.
“Do you have any of that psilocybin? For…recreational purposes and not for plugging into the merge? And skipping and hopping through time? Not that right now, please? Can we just sit back and be a vegetable and giggle for a minute or two, please?” My voice shakes with an emotional dreariness.
Wynne does the oddest thing. She looks at me. And smiles.
I laugh. “Oh, this should be fun.”
© 2020 Pamela Gay Mullins