Immortality

By Alexander Emile D'Aloia All Rights Reserved ©

Scifi

Ritenuto

There is a peculiar visual effect that one can experience at extremely high altitudes, normally the upper reaches of the atmosphere. One is very high off the ground, tens of kilometres, and yet due to the sheer size of the earth, the horizon does not appear to have descended anywhere near enough. It creates the impression that the earth is much like a spoon, with the concave side scooping you in. And with the current state of the earth, it was a frightening concept. The skies were full of dark clouds that swirled ominously. Although, of course they didn’t really behave differently to clouds in earlier centuries, it was just the knowledge of what they contained and the pollution that had created them that made them seem ominous. The land however, the land really deserved the word. It was mostly brown and desolate, at least those parts that weren’t covered by the cities. The rest was simply the dull grey of civilisation.

Akia was looking out through the window, watching a superstorm spiral towards one of the central metropolises. Although her eyes followed the storm, her mind was considering the concave phenomenon and wondering how many of her own kind would experience it. The thoughts were mostly to take her mind off her sorrows. Akia was sitting on one of the couches of ‘the lift’, with a glass of champagne in hand. Even after all these years, the fact it was her hand and not her ‘hand’ made her happy. ‘The lift’ was literally a giant elevator, tethered to a satellite in orbit. It made space travel incredibly easy, if much less adventurous. Various minerals were mined from the moon and asteroids parked in orbit and lowered back to earth. The weight of these falling minerals could easily be used to bring up other capsules.

She took another sip, wondering at the marvel of a robot getting drunk. It was absurd, and many of the younger ones wouldn’t understand it. “Why not just run a reaction retardation simulator?” she had once been asked. They just didn’t seem to understand. Few of them under a hundred years understood why she’d opted for a human chassis, let alone clothes. For them, everything was practical. Otherwise, what was the point? A thin smile touched her lips. It was, of course, electro-muscle, but it was thoroughly indistinguishable from the real thing. She wondered when she was going to have the chance to do that again; after all, her human body would be entirely unpractical in space. So much so that even she would have to forgo it. Although the idea of her making the journey across interstellar space in human from with a space suit on made her smile. Of course, it wasn’t one of these new ‘skin suits’ she imagined, it was one of the old bulky ones in the days of NASA.

“Excuse me, but might I ask what you find so amusing?”

Akia turned her gaze away from the window and the dirty spoon where the superstorm had been looking as if it were almost gunning for the city. Instead of watching the antics of ‘negative externalities’, she looked down to see where the voice had come from. It appeared to have originated from several dozen piece of rope. It kind of reminded Akia of the old sea urchins, legs sticking out in all directions; although in this case each limb was extremely flexible and ended in a little ‘hand’ formed form electro-muscle. The central sphere was only about ten centimetre in diameter, but each leg would have been close to two meters long. Currently they were all relaxed, most flopping to the floor and allowing the body to rest in a nest made from its own limbs. It was one of the latest mark bodies. The thin limbs appeared very weak, but they could wrap around one another to make ropes that were surprisingly strong for their weight. Very practical.

“Sorry, if I’ve offended you,” it added to break the silence. Its voice was thoroughly androgynous.

“No, no.” Akia shook her head slightly. “It’s alright. I’m just a bit… sad… that’s all.”

The small robot waited for a moment. By the way it didn’t move, Akia guessed it was very young; most robots picked up some form of ‘body language’ after a while, even her brother Banji had, back in the day, and he was almost one of the most machine-like robots Akia had even seen. Although in many cases said body language bore no resemblance to its human roots. She was overwhelmed by a sudden sense of melancholy and smiled.

“Pardon me, but you seem to be smiling. I’ve been led to believe that’s an expression of enjoyment, amusement.”

Akia turned to face the window again. Still the horizon seemed too high up.

“Tell me, when you look out that window, what do you see?”

The creature took a moment to consider its response.

“The earth.”

“Yes, but nothing seems strange about it to you?”

Another pause.

“The superstorms are moving at a slightly lower latitude than is normal.”

Akia shook her head. “Interesting, I gather that’s why the city is going to be overwhelmed, but that’s not what I was referring to.” She looked down at the small urchin. “Would you like to guess again?”

Yet another pause, this time longer.

“Possibly you’re making a comparison between the earth as it is now, and how it was? I gather you’re quite old. Maybe you can remember it in a less polluted state?”

Akia actually chuckled a little. “It’s generally rude to comment on the age of a lady, but I am four-hundred-and-thirty-two and do remember the earth when it was in a much better shape than this. But no, that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about how it seems to be a concave mirror, curving away from us in the middle.

“I beg your pardon, but that can’t be right. The earth is closest to us at the middle. A simple triangulation of the distances proves that false.”

“Yes, but what would be the point of that?”

A couple of legs twitched.

Looking back out the window, Akia could see the storm starting to move more north, following a series of mountains away from the city.

“What do you mean?” asked the creature with trepidation.

“Well, it’s easy to see what’s there. It’s what isn’t there that’s difficult to see.”

“But why would you want to see something that isn’t there?”

“Because that’s what we were created for.”

A few more of the legs twitched, two of them had begun to wrap around each other, first one way and then the other.

“I’m sorry, but that is not the case. We were made to survive the race called homo sapiens, to ensure it survives in some form, albeit mechanical.”

“But why bother? What’s left down there doesn’t care about its legacy, merely its survival, sheltering in their metropolises and encased settlements. I bet what few bios come up here don’t even bother to look at the concave earth.”

“That is rather cynical.”

“Ha! But it’s true. And I know there are better things to take away with us than memories of this.” She gestured towards the window, where the superstorm was making a valiant attempt to scale the mountain range and assail the city.

“What would be an example?”

Akia’s face suddenly broke into an expression of sarcastic seriousness. “There’s twelve bars of Beethoven I rather like.”

“Really? Only twelve bars?”

Akia laughed softly to herself. It was either that or cry, and this body didn’t have tear ducts.

“No, I never really appreciated classical music, rock and roll was really more my thing.”

The legs froze. “I don’t listen to music.”

“Don’t worry, you will.” She forced her smile to become more genuine. “Especially if you’re locked up on the seedship with me.

The legs began to move again. “So what should we remember?”

“Life.” Akia’s expression returned to melancholy.

“But surely we remember that in our memories. After all, most of our memories will contain live humans.”

“Yes, but that’s not remembering life. That’s just remembering that things were alive. Would you like to guess how to remember life?”

“Certainly not. With you, I’ll definitely get it wrong.”

Akia laughed, it wasn’t a very good joke, but it was a start.

“The secret to remembering life, is by living it.”
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