The Death of the Mightiest Slave

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

A man escapes his assured death, and struggles over his motivations why.

I readied my posture, arching my back in the metal chair to fight slouching. Stretching my mind, I tallied my mental checklist as my eyes drifted uneasily from object to object around me, my stomach lurching and rolling inside my gut. Everything was in place, everything was where it ought to be. Inside of the bus– the hulking machine mounted with retractable solar panels and a biofuel engine and laden with additional tanks of nearly priceless gasoline. The seats had been removed, replaced with wooden and metal crates stacked like a horrendously mutated children’s building block castle. And within them, more structures of canned foods and bottled water and dehydrated milk and toilet paper and enough consumables to last a year on stringent rations. And then, bags laded with seeds for crops. Potting soil, trowels and water purifiers and indoor sun-lamps. Another box, filled with tools of every kind, electrical and simple–and crates of screws and nails and bolts and miscellaneous spare parts. Three solar batteries connected to generators, stacked and secured by metal wires that latched them to the side of the bus. Two mattresses, stacked against the wall, and yet another box of spare parts, these more obscure and exotic and technical–some I had invented myself. In the back, a metal crate filled with two automatic rifles and servicing kits, and three handguns and two crates of ammunition. I told myself it was only for hunting, for supplementing a diet if the crops did not grow, if the supplies ran out early. In my mind, reserved in the section built by God himself and perfected by a million years of biological evolution, I wanted to survive. I satiated my concerns of my own humanity–turning in flight from the world I was born to–with a pretentious cover-story of curiosity. I told myself I was a scientist, an American, and a human being and that it was my destiny to push the frontier, and that my existence needn’t be cut short when it can be avoided, for the sake of seeing, of exploring. I told myself I was an explorer, a voyager into a world no one had yet seen and that couldn’t be imagined by any reasonable mind. That’s what I presumed to have, a reasonable mind, and that is why I told myself I went.

That is not why I went. I can now, in the last minutes of Earth as I know it confide in the seclusion of an empty bus in an empty garage in a city teeming to the brim and beyond with the life that should cause the ending of all. I confide, with God as my only witness, and the firm belief that God may well be about to die, that I am scared. I am scared. I am scared, and that is why I flee. That is why I flee my world, my time. I flee this dying Earth, and the metal beasts thirsty for gasoline–and the human beasts hungry for blood, never satisfied. I flee the prostitutes and the politicians and the scientists and the mothers and the daughters and the sons and the mechanics and the soldiers and the astronauts. I flee, for my life, and for that reason alone.

My eyes opened, I was ill-aware that I had ever closed them, and I directed them toward a monitor which had been secured to the dashboard. A small, six inch computer screen connected to the satellites and stations that orbited the earth, no more frantic than they had been for decades, as the last minutes of earth swam below them. My screen was of the Earth, centered on the United States, which was drawn in vector green. Europe, to the right, was drawn in vector blue, and the Eurasian continent to the west was drawn in vector red. To the south, South America in vector yellow and then Africa in vector orange, and Australia in vector purple.

Dotted lines crossed the map, and in the last twenty minutes had almost completely obscured the visual with lines. Each line grew longer as the hollow shapes spearheading them arched in ballistic paths, across the oceans and the arctic, rapidly approaching the ground. A vector line disappeared somewhere in Eastern Asia, and there was a flash on the screen. A spearhead slammed into Russia, and another flash. Mexico. Canada. Brazil. India. England. France. They began to light up almost simultaneously, much faster now. Soon, I thought, soon I shall leave. There was a flash in Alaska, then another and another in quick succession. And then flashes in North Dakota and South Dakota and Colorado and California and Florida and New York. Even more dotted lines streaked over the vector-map now, and I removed myself from the drivers seat.

I turned, among the boxes and crates,to my device. It was engaged, resembling vaguely a bicycle seat upon which I could sit, with an elaborate network of metal appendages connected to small rods the size of carrots that rimmed around the seat. It was ready, I sat upon the seat, still seeing the computer on the dashboard, which was rapidly lighting up more and more, resembling a single flat plain of white. I glanced out the window, through the window in my garage door. Was the horizon lightening? No, no I must have imagined it. I cannot falter now, I cannot tarry, but I mustn’t begin too early, I mustn’t allow eagerness to destroy everything I had worked for, everything I had built.

My life was on the line, of course, same as everybody else’s. Why should mine be important? I asked myself. Why is the preservation of my own life superseding the deaths of millions around me, of billions? It is because I can. I told myself. How quintessential American! I deserve to survive because I have the means, because I developed the ends and allowed my own self determination to dictate my existence. Is that reason enough? Is that reason enough to keep living?

No, still too early. I watched the flashing over the United States as the monitor automatically zoomed to a smaller map, showing 100 miles in every direction of me. The outline of Denver, barely touching the edge of the map. I must wait.

Energy. That was the key, the key to everything is energy. We fought about energy, our disputes weren’t ideological or superstitious or squabbles of high-horsed morality, we fought over fear. We fought over the fear for the same reason I now flee, we fought of fear that there would not be enough, that the sustainability of resources would strain, and our still-climbing population would need to fall.

It was no accident, the bombs. No miscalculation of response or mistake in technicalities or formalities of the war. We saw where we had been, we saw where we were, with the exhausted gasoline supplies and the warming planet and the famine and starvation, and we made the calculated decision for almost complete self-extermination. We chose to destroy ourselves, we chose the path we are now thrust down. It wasn’t a risk, starting the war. It wasn’t a gamble where one could emerge victorious, it was a conscious decision for self-termination of the entire planet.

Energy. It was all energy, everything was energy. Matter is energy, a great hero born long before my time taught me that. All things seen and unseen are slaves to the masterful, universal Ka which is energy manifest in many forms. Time, even, bows to energy. Slowing and speeding himself like a great Oxen plowing the fields of the universe before the farmer Energy. Gravity, light, every thought voiced and silent upon every sentient creature in creation bound to the passive, impartial master of Energy.

I awaited the right time, now. Time which was still slave to energy. If I fired my device before the right window of time, it would falter, sputter out, and need restarting. If I fired it too late, then I might be reduced to a slightly radioactive ash, else be destroyed by falling debris or a sudden depressurization that will catapult my lungs from my mouth and the soft, watery tissue of my brain from my eyes and ears. The timing was pivotal; it was my only friend and my sole enemy. I intended to beat it, I intended to defeat time, which had held humanity as its slaves since the earliest days of civilization.

The harvest, celebrations, sleep time and wake time and work time and play time. We frittered about the edges of time, adjusting our schedules in masterful choreography as we toiled our trivial, menial lives as scientists and prostitutes and politicians and mothers and daughters and sons and mechanics and soldiers and astronauts. Each contributing, in a small way, to the nightmarish miraculous crapshoot we call society. Society– as a patchwork coalition of pimps and prostitutes and dope fiends and warmongerers. Society– as pompous liberals, intellectuals, bleeding-hearts. Society– as zealous conservatives, fringing on the superstitions that kept cavemen in bands. Society as Christians and Muslims and patriots and terrorists and nationalists and federalists. Society is a joke, a cruel joke. And I am nearing its punch line.

Time was my enemy, and the passive, unbiased Energy was temporarily my ally against it. We were preparing to fight, the last agonizing moments growing in my stomach, threatening to spill out my throat and my bladder in a primitive response to fear. The same hero who taught me that matter is energy also defeated time in his own way, the first man ever to do so and the most artistically. He defeated time by showing it naked to the world, by stripping it of its mystery and superstition and showing the frail humans on earth the bony, old, white man it really was. Time, he said, was relative– and the relativity of its motion was it’s own endless servitude to its master of Energy. He showed the world that time itself was a slave, that it held no more constant power over the universe than a single termite to an entire human dwelling. His–my hero’s–defeat of time was so masterful, so beautifully artistic that the proof of his victory over time and mass and his draw against Energy itself is, I daresay, the most magnificently glorious and simple thing I have ever seen, and it looked like this:

E=MC²

And here, I sat, with years under my belt of work on my hero’s findings. A practical application which makes all other scientific achievements of the world pale in comparison. Where my hero had indirectly defeated and shamed time passively, I now threatened to actively strike out against it. To spar with the master of humanity and mingle in the kingdom of the Gods which is the antecedent of all creation–Energy itself. It was foolishly simple, a transmutable process which could manipulate time beyond even the dilation achieved at stationary rest and speed-of-light travel. I threatened to overcome the universal physical law which had bound creation together– the intergalactic speed limit which was the basis of even my hero’s work. And all it took was energy. A massive amount of energy, a massive amount of energy which was far beyond my capability as a private citizen of the United States to obtain. The kind of energy necessary would take a massive, planetary collapse in matter. The kind of energy that could only be produced by a hundred million tons of simultaneous fission, scattering radioactive electrons across the universe…across the surface of the earth.

Denver disappeared from the vector map on my dashboard, I saw it happen, and allowed my kneejerk reflexes to trigger the machine. The horizon was noticeably lighter now, the blue from deep to cerulean, and then to white. A detonation close enough to act as a catalyst for my device to capture pure photoelectric and thermal energy from the entire world over, before it escapes into space. The cylinders of my machine began to rattle. The shielding of my bus protected my frail body from the potentially dangerous effects of radiation which would be settling upon my from all directions within ten minutes, but the receivers I had placed around the roof of my bus were not, and began to violently shake as the energy was passed through inch-thick coated wires into my machine. Soon, it would be enough. These were the last throws of time, a wall of destruction thrown at me with only a small window, a small hidden escape built into it. I had made it into the window, I had jumped headlong into the unknown and allowed the life’s work of myself and my hero to carry me the rest. The horizon was rapidly becoming pure white in more than one place, and it looked as if many suns were rising simultaneously. I shielded my eyes, looking away at first, but the light grew to bright even for them. The shielding on my windows self-activated, and it grew very dark inside the bus.

The entire frame began to rattle, it shook me to my very core and I had to concentrate on keeping my eyes closed. This is it, I thought. The brave new world and the final frontier for myself and the coughing, dying old man of civilization around me. I saw an old man, sickly, pale, and naked in my mind. I approach him, hold him closely in my arms. His skin is cold, and I can see the start of blisters forming all around it, his eyes are shut, but his mouth twitches before me. I try to speak, but cannot think of what to say. He tries to speak, but only coughs. After another moment, his weak, bony arms grab at my shoulders, pulling me near his pallid face.

“Why did it all happen?”
And I cannot think of an answer to give. He dies, and I lay him on the ground. The shaking around me settles, and I am filled with a sudden and overwhelmingly dark silence. I realize now. The dead man is me.


Submitted: April 10, 2009

© Copyright 2020 Mashimoto. All rights reserved.

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Comments

savio

Nicely written,

I liked the end
'I realize now. The dead man is me.'

Absolutely cool!!
man creating his own destruction,
Energy being the main friend and the enemy,

Loved the way you have written..

Tue, February 22nd, 2011 7:26am

Author
Reply

Haha, thanks for reading and commenting and liking it! =]

Tue, February 22nd, 2011 12:09pm

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