The Seed

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

In the far off future, when humankind has divided itself among single-person planets throughout the universe, one woman is about to wake up. But what will be waiting for her when she leaves her familiar planet?

THE SEED (as featured on the Story Inkorporated podcast)
by Shaun J. Nigro

There are countless infinities of humans like me who live, as I do, on their own planets, some even possessing a solar system solely to themselves.  Of this, the Seed assures me.
Their worlds are not unlike my own, physically, but their interests may be unknowingly peculiar.  Of this, the Seed also assures me.
The physics of the universe and its elements and various energies and wave forms is all that connects these fellow humans and I to each other--physics, and the Seed, of course.
We all possess Seeds, and so the Seed keeps us grounded in our ever expanding universe, with no known errors in its logical information processes.
The Seed was, once long ago, a manmade achievement.  But it has since outlived its creators and become the conduit through which all successive human achievement has flowed.  Doubtless, its creators would not be disappointed.  But then, disappointment itself has become a thing of antiquity.
All of us new humans, separate but one by the Seed, have been borne and grown and will live forever within the warmth of the Seed’s glow of knowledge and information.
Indeed, everything is information.  A Thing that does not compress to a manageable and precise atomic mass is not a Thing worth noting.  These Things can be said to have never existed in the first place.
Such is the case with death, a Thing hardly worth considering as it does not now affect us.  One wonders if it really ever did.
We live forever, the Seed assures me, as two plus two is conclusively four.

But lately I’ve been thinking.

The Seed informs me that thinking is a meaningless thing, determined by the randomness of the physics of our universe.  Every electrical signal that has passed itself through the countless neurons of my human brain and that conjure these images that I have determined to be thoughts, is coincidence.
“But,” I ask the Seed, “so what?”
And at this, the Seed is silent.  After an unusual lapse in time, the Seed emits a faint glow, as it has at the onset of a swift verbal response since the moment of its mechanical inception.
“So what's it all about anyway?--Who knows?--Pass me a Coke, dude--Sunset--FADE OUT.”
The Seed babbles on in a disturbingly archaic rant.  Some sort of early human advert--what is the rest of that word?--
Advertisement!
Advertisements are not unheard of, of course, but they have not been so blunt since long before I was born on my planet.  Indeed, all of my needs are met instantaneously.  The brute force of 21st century marketing is among those Things not worth noting.
So why, now, has the Seed responded with such inefficiency?  And, to my surprise, I come to the realization that the Seed might not be what it has seemed.  And this is enough to render me silently disturbed for many days thereafter.

When the concept of inefficiency has been settled out of shock and shown itself not to affect me in any catastrophic way (as common sense would have previously dictated) I find myself standing.  I have no thoughts as to why standing should be my first reaction, since it is never something I have done without reason.  But here I am, standing atop my planet, that much closer to a perpetually blue sky, and (I suddenly think to myself) to the rest of humanity.
“Why am I standing?” I ask the Seed, regretting the words as they slip from my lips.
“The brain sends the signal which follows the nerves to the point at which the leg’s muscles are prompted to extend--Are you tired?  Long day at work?--Boy, am I!--I could use--A chair!--Why, yes, a chair would be swell!--Try one of our suede lazy boy recliners, and you may never stand again!“
The Seed babbles on and I can feel myself becoming dis, disa--Damnit, what is that word?---
Disappointed!
I am becoming disappointed.  And as I ponder this archaic notion, a flood of words comes rushing into mind.
Agitated!
Irritated!
Irate!
Damn-near pissed!  I stumble backwards in shock, nearly losing all of my balance.  What are these feelings?  They are all new, but they feel as natural to me as H20 is for hydration.  Am I losing my efficiency?  Am I experiencing a physical anomaly?  Worst of all, am I affecting the Seed?!  Surely the Seed can not know disappointment.
I shake my head and clear my thoughts.  This is all absurd, no doubt a chain reaction from standing needlessly on my own two feet.
But the Seed has surely spoken.  And as sure as my planet is round, the Seed’s responses have become archaic, even useless, as those companies that sold chairs and soda pop have not existed since the 21st century.
So what is it?  Is the Seed broken?  And if the Seed is broken, surely this would affect every human on their own planet.  And in time, the inefficiencies of a corroding Seed would collapse the entire human species into a disjointed amalgam of chaos.  We would not survive that.  
I come suddenly to a conclusion which I fight hard not to announce, as the Seed (to which my announcements have typically been made) is apparently the one Thing now that may have been rendered meaningless.  Instead of my announcement, I think to encode my intent and try for a mechanical inquiry.
“How are spaceships built?”
And to this, the Seed has a prompt and remarkably efficient response, which I take note of with intense rigor.

I have to ask the Seed the same question more than once while at the same time acting upon the steps by which it informs me a spaceship is built.  I simply know no other way to take note of such complex instructions.  And such a complex array of steps and details forces me to take note of another archaic concept: the passage of time.  
Time itself is, of course, of an extreme order of efficiency, but never before have I noticed its effect on me.  Indeed, I begin to notice myself aging, as the years pass.  And I notice myself begin to tire more easily as the work progresses.  I notice, most of all, the immense burden of disappointment that throws itself upon me.  But I keep in mind the purpose of my pursuit and never waver from the task at hand.  It dawns on me the irony of a situation wherein inefficient curiosities are needed to correct inefficiencies in the Seed.
After many years have passed and my body has aged considerably, and indeed my mind has grown accustomed to mistakes and disappointments (even cherishing them for the opportunities they present to correct myself), my spaceship is finally complete.
I debate leaving the Seed behind but the thought of being so far away from it strikes me with a terror so disturbing that even the fact of the inefficiencies of the Seed itself are eclipsed.  So I bring the Seed aboard and set course for the rest of my kind.
Very quickly, a new kind of disappointment dawns upon me.  This one is a lonely disappointment.  I begin to ponder the vast length of my journey to the nearest human planet, which the Seed has assured me is 7 light years from my own.  My instructions for the ship have included the assembly of a device for near light-speed travel. But even at these speeds, the Seed assures me that 5 years at least will pass before I reach my fellow human’s planet.  This journey, which I of course have prepared for with further questions which have prompted precise responses from the Seed, is the loneliest I have ever known I could be.  And unlike the disappointments borne and overcome through the construction of my ship, this lonely disappointment I can not succeed in thwarting.  In fact, I grow lonelier and thus more disappointed as the days (which are really nights in space) wear on.  In realizing a need to reach out to another human being, I have apparently stumbled upon a feeling which might have been with me all along, but which the Seed had efficiently blinded me to.  I am in need of another human being.  The real flesh and blood kind.  At this thought, and whilst peering into the dark depths of the universe, I begin to weep for the first time in my life.  The Seed remains silent.

When finally I arrive at that nearest human planet, an  additional 5 years has passed, making the total length of my time in the vacuum of space 10 years.  Yes, a full decade has passed (another peculiar miscalculation of the Seed) and I am but an old woman now.
I make my way carefully down the ramp from my ship and set my feet shakily onto the fresh soil of this new planet.  The sky is as blue as the one I left behind, as the Seed had assured me it would be.  Nothing seems alien to me.  Everywhere feels like home, and this brings comfort to my weary heart, for human comforts are universal and people, in that sense, are never too far from their brothers, or sisters.  We have a bond in our existence, and we have spread ourselves thin to make it personal.  And with this thought, disappointment begins to settle into my bones, which makes me shake even more in my old age; humankind has rendered itself obsolete.
But I am not deterred.  I have spent a considerable portion of my life on this mission and I am close to seeing it to its end.
“Where is the human who lives on this planet?” I ask the Seed.
“10 km west from this location is where Human 894567891819999 once dwelled.”
The wording of this response strikes a chord of nervousness in me but I decide that the inefficiencies have probably contributed to the error.  In fact, I am not entirely sure I can trust the distance noted, but at any rate, I am compelled to move in the westward direction, assuming I am bound to stumble upon some clue of this human’s abode eventually.
But 10 km westward passes, and then 20, and then 10 more.  I grow disappointed but have no impulse to question the Seed, and the Seed does not interject at any moment upon my trek, so that it becomes just the Seed and I marching silent across a vast empty landscape beneath a perpetually blue sky.  I think once to inform the Seed that I am thirsty, but then think again that I should not drink until this fellow human has finally been found.  And so we continue into day and to night.
And we finally come upon a single metallic dwelling which signifies an abode not unlike the one I once knew on my own planet.  Again, a feeling of comfort floods me.
“We are here, you stupid machine!  You see, you were wrong but we are finally here!  Ha!”  I pause suddenly realizing what I have said, but I do not feel disappointment.  I feel, instead, a wonderful relief.  I have actually arrived where I stand despite the Seed machine.  An entire life--which even now seems to hint toward that meaningless Thing..Death--spent embracing inefficiencies in order to make contact with a single other human being.  And it has all been a success!
“A success!” I shout maniacally, not caring if my new human friend hears me.  “Triumph,” I say to myself, calmly now.  This is a new feeling to me, as alien as disappointment had been to me a lifetime ago.  And it feels natural.  I feel human.
But very quickly, I begin to feel that something is off.  The human has not yet emerged from their cave.
“Hello?” I say, aware that it is the first verbal communication I have made in my lifetime to anything besides the Seed.
“Are you in there?”
There is no sound.
“Hello, I have travelled a long way to see you.”
Not a pin drop.
I begin to knock on the metallic doorway where I know the entrance to be, but a lack of response quickly transforms
my knocks into poundings, and I begin to pound in panic with both fists.
“HELLO!” I shout.
“Hello,” the Seed responds, “what questions would you like to ask me today?”
I throw the machine to the ground and begin to jump on it.
“Not you!  Not you!!”
And something happens which I did not think could happen.  The Seed is crushed into tinier pieces of itself, spilling guts of near-microscopic wire and copper gadgetry.  
The Seed is dead.
I swallow hard, bewildered by my own inefficient actions.  I have killed the Seed.
It is then that I spot a yellowed paper at the foot of the metallic door, which I have somehow failed to notice in my feverish pounding.  I pick it up and squint my eyes to decode a fading message which has been scribbled in an apparently excited fury.  I read the message to myself as a deep disappointment wrenches at my gut:
I have discovered grave inefficiencies in the Seed and so am off to inform the others!
With much difficulty considering my fragile bones, I sit down on the ground, with the note, and stare at the sprawled guts of the Seed in front of me.  

And I weep.
For humankind.


Submitted: November 28, 2020

© Copyright 2021 Shaun J. Nigro. All rights reserved.

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