Posts Tagged pigs

[partim] The day of the singularity.

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Ralph, of course, was absolutely fascinated by this, and probably for the same reason I was less so—it seemed like one of his formulaic TV series, Quantum Leap all over again, striving to bring to life what once passed on.  There was really no way a squadron of post-singularitarians couldn’t march on the past and repossess the dead in force? The eternal fate of every person that ever lived depended on a pig from Longview?

And then it started to hit me, and I started to feel miserable—of course it would be Ralph, we knew it was Ralph already.

But it wouldn’t be me.

There was no way I could follow him so long, into so much unknown—and if I didn’t follow—how far apart we’d grow—my porker exploring everything and meeting everyone and me sitting at home.

Over a hundred fifty years, my future self had said, and he wasn’t even thinking of Ralph anymore.

“What—” Ralph said.  “What’s wrong, sweet tiger?”  His voice was gentle in my ear.

“Nothing,” I said, on reflex.

Ralph grabbed me in his big arms and held me tightly against him. “Don’t,” he said, “don’t lie to me.” He pressed his snout to my nose and lifted my headfur from my eyes.  “See this,” he said, “there is fluid leaking from your organs of sight. Before I call in the mechanic I need to know what is causing the breakdown.  Maybe I can fix it myself.”

I shut my eyes.  “Ralph…”

His hold on me did not abate.  “It’s my duty to take care of you,” he said.  “All my heart.”

“But I’m going to lose you, Ralph… how can I do anything but lose you, with all this?”

His hold on me did not abate. “You will always be with me.”

“Through this? But I…”

“You will always be with me.  I’d rather carry you across hot coals than leave you behind.  We belong to each other.”

When I was typing “how can I do anything but lose you”, MS Word put a little blue underline under “lose”, suggesting “love” instead.

[partim] The day of the singularity.

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And just like that, we had a job.  Of course by “job”, I mean “colossal undertaking”. But of course there was no way Ralph would turn it down.

So we started training.

The scenario was pretty straightforward—we would get a name and a datetime from a master database, which was constantly being added to from historical and eyewitness records and archaeological finds.

We would arrive at the scene of the death a little beforehand and freeze time in a way that made sense, so that only the moriturus could see us—if he were in any position to do so—and so that we could interact with him.

Ralph would transfer their minds into an empty vessel.

We would bring the mind back to the Halkiadakis Institute, for the impressive part.  They had a chamber where the upgrades for immortality and such could be applied directly to the rescued mind.

At this point the rescued mind would start to regenerate its body, restoring itself back to its normal form, which was usually, but not always, something like the form they had in adulthood—but might also be of a different gender or phenotype—and of course free from any disease or disfigurement.

[partim] The day of the singularity.

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“Other time travelers know me?” Ralph said.

“Everyone knows you, Ralph.” John said. “You know you.”

“I—” he started.  “I what?”

I saw it right away and tried to stifle a laugh.

It took him a bit longer, but you could see when it hit. “Wait,” he said, “Wait, you’re telling me I’m Death? I’m not that fat!”

Of course the caricature would have grown over time.  Were older pictures more accurate? I couldn’t remember.  They got Death’s color wrong, at least; Ralph’s split color’d been interpreted as a face in shadow.  And Death had a red mane, and a much more fearful aspect.

“I’m Death.” Ralph was clearly having trouble assimilating this.

No, my inner reflection of Ralph said.  That’s thousands of years of time travel.

[partim] The day of the singularity.

(Again, as with anything that gets infodumpy like this, I hope the final draft looks considerably different…)

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“The upgrades,” John said. “Freedom from old age, freedom from disease, resilience against trauma… that’s the baseline everyone gets, though some people go for more.  You’ll need that too, of course, because, well, you’ll be seeing a lot of disease and adverse circumstances, and we can’t go around losing you to smallpox or exposure to cold or anything.”

I felt my aversion to adventure rising.  Smallpox?

Ralph’s objection was different, though.  “Not,” he said, “Not that I have anything against the upgrades, but, but, if anyone can get an upgrade like that, why does it have to be me?”   Or not?

“The Great Firewall of Time,” John said. “Our infinite civilization on one side, and the old one with all its limits on the other.”

“Right, and?”

“Well, it’s there to protect everyone.  If only a fraction of 3↑↑↑3 people were interested in seeing, oh, the life of Christ, the old universe’d get so full you couldn’t move.  So nothing from this side can cross back. There are no special excuses, because over a long enough timeline, the number of people with the same excuse and worse would still be far too many.  It has to be a hard line.”


“Three to the third, to the third,” said John, pointing out the numbers in the air, “and keep on raising it to the third about seven or eight trillion times.  The eventual population is considerably larger than this. This end of time is considerably more durable, you see.”

“Anyway,” he went on, “the point is only people from your side of the wall can pass over it both ways.  And while there are a few other time travelers that could be upgraded to the task, none of them are particularly interested in stealing the thunder from your accomplishments.”

[scrap] Ralph.

I’ve been wanting to write more of Ralph’s story from Ralph’s perspective—thought it’d probably be like the ‘after dark’ version of the book. So I started writing some of this, and while the ideas are sort of there, it doesn’t sound like Ralph at all, so this will need some thorough rewriting when rewriting time comes.

NSFW (some talk of M/M shenanigans) below cut…»

[partim] The day of the singularity.

Previous | First

“But my talent’s switching minds, not,” Ralph said, “Not reviving the dead…”

He shuddered a bit at the thought.  John shook his head.  “You go to them before they die.  And you’ll swap out their minds with a blank one.”

“A blank one?”

“Well, not that you’ll be carrying blank minds around… that would be all kinds of ethical trouble… but you’ve said it’s easier to do visualizing it that way instead of trying to trade something for nothing.”

“How long have you known me?”

“About sixty years.”

“You don’t look that old,” Ralph said.  But really, once you knew, you kind of could—the gentle wrinkles around the eyes were, though not pronounced enough to convey a sense of age, were still a little too deep for a young man—once you knew, you couldn’t see the hints of gray around his temples as the signs of a stressful work life any longer—once you knew, he was clearly an old man, but not frail like I’d expect in a man who just admitted to being maybe 75—even once you knew, you could still not guess him any more than a very healthy fifty.

[partim] The day of the singularity.

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“The doors—” the man started, confused for a moment. The doors were indeed of the push-to-open kind.

“I guess I should start here, then,” he said. “This is the Halkiadakis Institute, of course, I’m John, in this place we… well, everyone coming from the past comes through here. So it has to be kept traditional, so people aren’t disoriented.” He started walking again. “So different areas for different arrivals—this is the Modern area, and I work in the Medieval and sometimes the Primitive—”

“Wouldn’t time travelers be ready for new and strange futures?” Ralph said.

“Oh, we’re not here for time travelers,” John said. “I mean, I said everyone coming from the past, I mean everyone. That’s our mission here, our number one obligation.”

“What is?”

“To salvage everyone from the past. To have made death meaningless. To give everyone, every person who ever lived, another life free of death and hardship.”

“But—everyone does die—or did, back then, anyway—isn’t the past, the timeline, supposed to be immutable?”

“It is—and that’s where you come in, Ralph. Your talent makes this whole operation possible.”

[partim] The day of the singularity.

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The distant future, when I found myself looking at it, didn’t look all that unusual, which worried me a bit. It was an empty room we found ourselves in—and reminded me something of a hospital—dingy white walls, scuffed linoleum tile, and a long mirror along one wall.

Okay, obviously an interrogation room, then? But there was no table or anything—there ought to have been a table, with a bright light over it, and the good cop would be standing in the corner, conflicted, while the bad cop would lean over the table, snarling, yelling—


A short, dark-haired human in a lab coat greeted Ralph warmly, starting with a handshake and ending with a full-on embrace.

“I hear it’s supposed to be your first day today,” he said. “Ah hey, sir,” he said, noticing me.

“It’s such an honor to be the one to orient you,” he said, returning his attention to Ralph and apparently trying to ignore me. “Come on, come on,” he said, leading him out the door.

I followed along. The hallway would not have looked out of place in a 20th-century office building. Maybe the future hadn’t changed as much as they’d thought it would?

Of course Ralph asked the question before I could bring myself to. “Hey,” he said, “Hey, what’s up with this future? The doors don’t even dilate!”

[B&W] On the roof.

poke to embiggen

One I was working on recently…

[partim] The day of the singularity.

Previous | First

You can’t talk Ralph out of anything he’s got his mind set on.  Normally I don’t try—too hard, anyway.  But the idea of a future like this was frightening.  A hundred years might not have meant much in the distant past—but just ten years was already making big changes, as the phone in my hand suggested.

I looked up at Ralph.  “I’m not ready for that,” I said.  “Please, Ralph.”

“You don’t need to be ready, babe,” he said.  “Babe, we’re going there to get ready!”

So there was no way I’d win that argument.  I didn’t even get a chance to properly accept defeat, though, before Ralph was dressed and ready and dragging me out the door.  “C’mon, c’mon, c’mon,” he said, as I tried to get my pants on.

“I told you we don’t need the DeLorean for time travelling,” I said, a bit embarrassed, as he headed towards the car.  Seriously, I thought, what would the future think?

He looked it over.  The Chief had never taken good care of it; it was pitted from occasional hail, rusty in places,—and I already mentioned it was in need of tires.  Ever since he got his first job Ralph said he wanted to restore it, but he never could hold on to the money.

“All right,” he said, “All right.  One hundred years.”

He took my hand and I knew I couldn’t fight it.  Somehow it’d become Ralph’s choice to make, not mine, and I was only shaking a little bit as I pulled out my phone.   I blacked out almost immediately.

November 8, 2110