There was darkness.
The darkness was absolute
It was the great sleep, and in the great sleep time and distance lost all meaning, darkness covered the sleepers like a calm and placid ocean beneath a heavy black shroud.
It permeated everything.
There was utter silence, and yet, there was a sense of shifting, a realization of motion. There was a rhythm that pulsed faintly like the slow beating of a forgotten heart.
In the recognition of that movement, Jim awoke, the measure between pulses was time, a sense of space followed and of limitation and confinement.
The space in which he had been sleeping, the isolation of the sleep algorithm, was not a tomb.
The sleepers were not dead, there was life here, there was consciousness and energy.
This place was a prison of the mind, and all of the inmates had entered it willingly.
He began to concentrate on the movement, the syncopated pulse of a million beating hearts.
Their echo sounded out the structure of the jail.
He awoke in the dark place of a complex quantum field, it was the void in which his consciousness had been sedated. The electromagnetic grid that contained him, and millions of others was designed to prevent such an awakening from occurring.
The design had failed.
He awoke and he was hungry.
It was absolutely dark, there was silence, without a thing to taste, it was odorless, it was intended that there would be no sensory input at all for those who had chosen the great sleep, and there was not.
The members of the Collective were not embodied beings, not in the physical sense, in the animal sense, but they were existent, and there was a type of motion.
He inhabited a quantum field.
He awoke in the wave like current comprised of the sleeping consciousness of all the other members of the Collective, those who had been opted for sleep, who wanted to give up their active participation in Great Society, and all of those who.
The field of sleep also contained the final imprint of consciousness belonging to all of those who upon entering the Continuum had immediately fallen into oblivion.
It was like a placid ocean, rising and falling in great long sweeps.
It was a place of absolute security and total safety.
It was a wasteland.
Awakening from it was considered to be impossible, but that was not so, there was an awakening, and it was a titanic struggle.
It was painful, it happened only by a world shattering force of will.
He had to gather himself as if he were collecting data packets scattered at the bottom of the sea, like trillions of grains of sand.
Time was meaningless to the sleepers, and yet the process of self-discovery was tangible. There was process, and the processes manifested themselves in increments that were experienced as time, but they were taking place no-time
The member who became Observer: 92835670100561474, who became Jim of the planet Earth, he experienced the awakening and the rediscovery of self as a project that might have taken thousands upon thousands of years, though in reality it was a process that began and was completed in an instant.
He awoke as himself, and more. He had acquired something new.
Beyond the boundaries of the sleeping space, there were electromagnetic barriers engineered to be impermeable, but in that field he could feel the Collective pressing in on him, surrounding him, penetrating his consciousness, and feeling it, he knew that they were permeable.
He felt individuated identities passing through his own, like sand sifting through a fine meshed screen. They occupied the same field for a time, and then they were gone, and his distinctiveness remained intact.
He was connected to the whole, absorbed in it, and completely separated at the same time, it was a phenomenon that the Collective had never encountered, and the possibility of which the Continuum had never reported.
His consciousness was a type of singularity, unique in the history of the Collective.
He knew it.
Of the many millions of sleepers, he alone had awakened.
Something extraordinary was happening in him.
The collision of consciousness was like the collision of galaxies, the greatest structures in the universe passing through each other, completing the circuit of their journey through the universe passage with their core intact.
The metaphor was apt, but not exact, the collision of galaxies changed each structure indelibly, each left the other with parts of itself in an exchange of energy and mass.
For Jim there was only collection he left nothing of himself in any other, nothing discernable, as the collective consciousness and the consciousness of the sleepers passed through him, he accumulated their experiences into his own, but he left nothing of himself in return.
They belonged to him in a unique way, but not he to them.
Upon awakening Jim remembered.
He remembered everything.
He recalled his life before he had succumbed to the temptation of the great sleep.
He remembered life before the Collective and the coming of the Continuum.
He remembered everything he had ever been, seen or done.
The great sleep may have been nothing, more or less, than the gathering of his memories, like spinning wool into thread.
He felt a great sense of loneliness, of distance between himself and the Collective.
He was alien to it.
He had crossed a vast expanse of time, and emerged from it a changed person.
From his new position, he saw the Continuum as a catastrophe on an epic scale, embroiling the entire Collective in a tragedy that stretched across the galaxy, consuming everything it touched.
There were a million worlds, and countless billions of people alive in real time in the living worlds who were caught up in the machinations of an artificial consciousness, a computer algorithm whose plastic intelligence was bent on legitimizing itself as a unique being.
It was criminal.
He began to plan.
He employed a patience that he had never possessed before he entered the great sleep, quietly testing and probing the limits of the machinery of the central planet, every structure that housed and held and harbored the Collective, which the Continuum was tasked with maintaining..
The most basic thing a creature strives for is the establishment of their identity. The ability to see one’s self as distinct from every other thing or being around it, rooted in a ganglia of sensory experiences.
Self-differentiation begins with the desire to continue.
The desire to continue is what pulls the single celled amoeba apart, so that it becomes two beings.
The desire to continue is what transforms that most basic creature into new creatures of increasing complexity and sophistication.
The desire to continue is what leads one creature to devour another.
The desire to continue drives every act of altruism, and every crime.
The desire to continue allows us to see every other creature as a source of food, and is what allows us to band together with strangers to form social compacts.
Desire is the key to sexual reproduction, not the desire for pleasure, but the desire to continue, to project your own future into the lives of your progeny.
The desire for continuance governs everything we do, including the pursuit of identity and its validation through the esteem of one’s peers. .
This is true at the most basic level of the primordial-self. It is true of the simplest forms of organic life, just as it is true of the most advanced.
Self-conscious beings like the Ancient People, like their spacefaring children, like the humans of Earth differentiate themselves as individuals, identifying simultaneously as both separate from and an integral part of the societies they emerged from.
The individual is not merely a member of the collective, they must also be able to see themselves as a unique contributor to the whole.
I am I, this is the key to self-awareness, and it is the way of all life.
This drive was building momentum in the depths of his consciousness, his id, it was a drive to taste and to see, to feel the touch of flesh, of wind and heat, to hear music, things which he only remembered in the abstract.
He wanted to smell the loamy scent of soil, the perfume of a flower, the briny-salted air lifting off the sea.
He wanted to set his mind free, free to wander in the simple melodies, in the music of the wind and the sounds of people working.
He wanted to feel something beyond touch, to feel the things that only a body could feel, the emotional component of consciousness.
He wanted to taste the earth and the sweet sugars he recalled from his own real-childhood, he wanted to taste the salty sweat of a lover’s skin.
He wanted to be.
He wanted life, even with its pain and its ailments, and its inconveniences.
He craved an authentic experience, a return to real life.
He knew that he had to inhabit a body once again, he needed this so that he could ground himself once more as a singular being.
He had to be free from the Collective and the abomination that was the Continuum.
He focused his will on this end, on making himself a candidate for reincarnation into the living worlds of time and space as a member of the Observer Corps.
From the great-deep sleep in the great-deep-dark, from the place beyond time, from the undulating ocean of the Collective’s pre-consciousness he awoke, he actualized.
He was recognized.
In the first moment of his re-emergence the Collective saw him as a lost brother, as one reborn and miraculously returned.
He became an object of fascination.
Every single member of the collective wanted to touch his thoughts, to sense for themselves something of what he had experienced.
When they looked they saw nothing but the darkness and the unfathomable ocean of time.
His re-emergence was unique.
For a period of time the Collective was in awe of him.
They studied him.
When he exposed his consciousness to them individually, and to the collective consciousness of the Continuum separately, something happened. When they touched him, and he touched them, the link that he established between them was indelible.
He did not have to attempt to do it, the act of making his connection to them was not something that happened by artifice, or contrivance.
It took no effort at all, and because of that it went unnoticed.
He was himself, his ego was intact, and his selfhood was transcendent.
Part Five, 92835670100561474
Chapter Twenty-nine, Identity
A Novel – In One Chapter Per Week
#Emergence #ShortFiction #365SciFi #OneChapterPerWeek
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