The Simulation

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

A short story set 300 trillion years in the future when mankind teeters on the edge of extinction due to a dying universe.

They say you cannot truly appreciate life without death. When you live for a few million years, only then will you truly appreciate the full implications of that statement. As we grow old we tend to lose that sense of wonder and amazement that comes with experiencing something for the first time. Before long we find it hard to enjoy life because as our life experience increases, the novelty begins to wear off. Even things like games start to become less entertaining as we mature and take on other responsibilities, on top of that we often believe that adults shouldn't be partaking in such infantile activities.

That is why we created The Simulation. Our species has existed for over 300 trillion years. We are at the end of the line now. All the stars have fizzled out and we are surrounded by blackness. Even before all the stars were burnt up, expansion of the universe pushed everything so far away from us that all other galaxies were outside of our visible universe. If we didn't have records of the observations made by people long ago, we wouldn't of had a way to prove that other galaxies besides our own actually existed. Then one by one the stars in our own galaxy began to die out and we were shrouded in complete darkness.

Great effort was put into prolonging the existence of our species for as long as possible after new stars stopped forming. Due to the age of our species we obviously had some experience living in artificially created structures that could be powered and heated without relying on the energy of a star. The use of highly efficient nuclear energy solved a lot of problems, after discovering a method to harness anti-matter reactions we could turn almost any type of matter into thermal energy with minimal conversion losses. The only thing left after all the stars were gone was black holes which were sucking up all the remaining matter.

Once that matter fell into a black hole it was gone forever, so the prolonging of our species relied on harvesting as much matter as we could and use it to power our artificial space habitations. If we ever ran out of energy then we would eventually be sucked into a black hole due to the gravitational pull, with time it will happen regardless of how far away from any black holes we are, and that will be the end of the line for us. That is the dark and lonely destiny of any species that can survive until the end of time in an infinitely expanding universe. It's not a reality you want to live in for thousands or millions of years.

The Year is now 327,195,735,694,581 and almost everything has been sucked into black holes the size of which the human mind is incapable of comprehending. We only have a few thousand years left before our energy reserves are depleted and we succumb to the heat death of the universe just like everything else. For some that may sound like a long time but for a species as old as ours it's insignificant. About 50 million years ago we decided that our entire species would be converted into digital life forms living in a simulated reality. Only a small fraction were left in the real world to overlook and maintain The Simulation.

The primary reason why we chose this path is simple, we needed to conserve energy for as long as possible, and a simulated biological organism uses less energy than the real thing. For example a simulated organism doesn't need to eat, it doesn't need energy to keep warm, and it doesn't need a large house to live in. Of course it can have all these things in the simulated world but in the real world we only need to power the simulation to produce their reality. Another central reason for The Simulation was to escape the real world where we didn't know the feeling of real sunlight on our skin and all resources were carefully rationed.

Of course we had these simulations before we decided to go fully digital, and what we learned was that given enough time living inside a simulation it gets boring just like real life. Perhaps even more surprising is that we get bored faster when given more freedom in a simulation. The best analogy for this is when you have all the cheat codes to a game and you instantly unlock all the best stuff in the game, it seems to drain the fun from the game because there is no challenge. The most profitable and successful simulations were those which emphasized realism and provided a novel experience to individuals who had lived many life times.

"So you've been keeping this simulation online for 240 years but you have no idea how it works?"

"I'm only trained to deal with hardware issues, I don't really know much about the software side of things."

"Well I've been in a few times, you enter The Simulation as a baby with no memory of your past and experience life on one of several possible planets until you die, then you start again. It's supposed to be more exciting that way or something."

"What if I don't want to lose my memory?"

"In between lives you can spend time in a so called "heaven" which is basically a simulated reality where you have access to anything you want and all your memories. There's no limit to how much time you can spend in Heaven but eventually everyone gets bored of it and starts a new life because that gives them that hit of unbounded joy and wonder that only a child can feel. They even come to appreciate the negative aspects of existence like pain and sadness, that's why it's so realistic."

"Sounds fun. Well that's the end of my shift so I guess it's time to start my new life. You numbskull's better keep it running without me."

"Says the guy who doesn't even know how it works haha. Ok here's the avatar creator, assign your stats and you're ready to go."

"Why can't I raise my intelligence points any more, it looks like I still have points to assign?"

"You maxed out happiness and appearance, you cannot have all 3 at once. If you're really smart then you have to sacrifice some looks or happiness, if you're smart and good looking you cannot max out happiness, etc."

"Ah fine, here these stats should work for my first life."

"Ok let me just assign you a new world slot... neural connections look stable, closing pod door... I wont be far behind you brother, my shift ends in a few decades."

Atomizing subjects physical makeup, please wait... Initiating New Life sequence. Suppressing previous life memories. Randomly selected planet Earth as new starting point. Connecting to Dawn of Time server, currently in the 2000's era. Now synchronizing with The Simulation, we hope you enjoy your New Life provided by MicroCore Labs.

Submitted: November 28, 2020

© Copyright 2021 J.D.. All rights reserved.

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Serge Wlodarski

Well thought out. Good story.

Sat, November 28th, 2020 4:47pm

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