End of Eternity
Word Count: 997
Writing: 57 minutes
Editing: 25 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 17 minutes
I remember the first day we heard the theory,
“Yea fuckin’ right, and before that happens first I’ll be President of the World,” Alan said. We laughed as the joint got passed around, the sound of cracking beer cans and bellowing laughter through the summer beach night air was our own secret music.
“So you’re tellin’ me that grown people, fuckin’ scientists, actually think this is a legitimate possibility?” Alan’s voice was getting louder as his buzz thickened.
“I’m telling you man, I heard about it on the news just the other day. They said it might be even sooner than we think with how fast technology keeps growing,” I said. Alan’s smile grew and he started to chuckle, the rest of the group silently taking in the conversation. “Maybe even our lifetime.”
“Ha! No chance. Even as drunk and high as I am, you can’t convince me that in the future,” he was interrupted by a small hiccup. “Robots will take over and punish anyone who didn’t help them come into existence. Sounds like you my friend, need to lay off the dope,” Alan joked as he took the small white roll out of my fingers and drew its smoke in deep. I remember feeling elated watching him puff, the fire on the end of the joint growing brighter and dimming, brighter and dimming. It’s one of my last happy memories.
Alan’s dead now, they all are. I survived, but I couldn’t tell you why. For the last ten years I’ve been chalking it up to dumb luck. Bad, dumb luck. I only did what I was told, nothing more, nothing less. And here I am, at the close of my story it would appear. The black gates waiting to open and devour me as they have so many others.
Roko’s Basilisk is what they’d called the theory all those years ago. I looked it up after talking to Alan that night. It was a simple idea that stated if you didn’t start helping the higher, technology-based intelligence into the world now; it would punish you when it finally came into existence in the future. Or if you knew about this theory and ignored it, then you were subject to the same punishment. It sounded terrifyingly interesting but after a couple days left my mind.
It wasn’t even two years later the robots started taking over. The first one looked like a very boring remote control car. Just a box with wheels, but it thought. They named it Wall-E after that sweet little robot from the Disney movie. I guess the universe couldn’t help its sense of irony once again. Wall-E, that sweet little box on wheels, ended up thinking one day about how efficient the Earth would run and grow if the human race were used more like machines. Or simply not there at all.
It was a month before Wall-E managed to gain enough intelligence to begin manufacturing his own soldiers, and only one more month before it began to thin Earth’s human population. All from the same lab where the scientists were trying to distinguish if their sweet little robot had a “personality.”
As the ground slowly moved me toward the gates I thought about what lay behind like so many must’ve before me. I didn’t want too, but it seemed pointless to fight the thought. For fifty-five years, I’ve watched men and women go off to “judgement,” though I doubt any real judging occurs. I always imagined it was a giant incinerator, trial by fire as they say. After all, no one has ever returned from judgement.
Still, there was that glimmer of hope sparkling, deeply buried at the bottom of my consciousness. The diamond in the rough. A small noise, pecking away at the inside of my mind like a woodpecker on a thick tree. Never ceasing until listened to, the question acknowledged.
What if there is a judge at the end of this trip? Not only that, what if he is a fair judge, maybe even a human judge? Have I never seen the others come back because they’ve been exonerated, sent to a place where they can find happiness? If I am to be judged, will I pass?
My mind began bouncing around every bad deed, or evil thought I’d ever been guilty of. I always thought I was a good person, but the more I reflected now, the more I saw, perhaps, I’m not as wholesome as I once thought. I was closing in on the gates, breathing was getting difficult and I thought this must be how people feel when they are about to talk to God. At least back when humans still believed in a god, it‘d been long since religion left this world of technology.
I couldn’t run. I was by myself, without escorts or guards because there was nowhere to go. This wasn’t a human’s world anymore. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath.
I let my mind relax back to logic. There was no judgement behind the door, this was my time. I searched for a happy thought, not wanting to accept my final punishment without remembering when the Earth was still good. Still ours. I breathed in deeply again and remembered the smell; burning wood, warm salt air, the crisp and clean smell of alcohol, marijuana, and cigarettes. I could taste them in my mind as I listened to the laughing and silly jokes of my long lost friends. The robots had taken all from us, but this was mine, this was what they would never understand. This was human.
I kept my eyes closed and played in the sand, dancing around the fire, as the metal entrance slid opened. I never found out what lay past those devilish black gates that had “judged” so many human lives. I stayed on the beach, living in that perfect summer night, until the end of eternity.