Posts Tagged Turia

[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] Shine.

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The contest was declared a draw by forfeit, and they haven’t asked me to repeat my performance. But I think I did well enough; I’ve always been welcome there and they’ve never asked me for a dime.

[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] Shine.

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Of course at this point returning to the eating contest was out of the question. The authorities were arriving and the patrons were leaving when they could, and none of the staff seemed keen on returning to the kitchen.

This was a shame, as my overstuffed gut had been burning through its intake and was rumbling hungrily again.

Well, it was Chinese food, after all.

[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] Shine.

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“Someone came and took him,” she said.

“He was killed?” I said, samewhat alarmed.  People turned to stare.  I definitely hadn’t seen that.  How could I have missed it?

No,” she said, “Death came for him.”

“Death,” I said.  “Actually Death? The fat hog in the gray robes and everything?”

“Yeah,” she said. “He said—” she rattled off something in Chinese.  The folks listening in got more emotional.  “Um, it means, ‘They haven’t forgotten you.  It’s time to come home.’”

“Sounds like murder to me,” I said.

“It was very sweet,” she said firmly.

[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.”

“3↑↑↑3?”

“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.”

[partim] Shine.

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—there didn’t seem to be anything in that direction, though.  The girl was still staring, horrified, at something invisible.  I got up—slowly—and waddled over, though by the time I got there, several of the restaurant workers and patrons were already around her.

“What happened?” they were saying. I was, anyway; the rest was in Chinese.

She pushed through the crowd of people and went to a corner where an old man sitting alone had slumped forward in his seat.

She didn’t touch him, but she didn’t have to; I could see from here the poor man had passed away.

And someone who spoke English called 911, and the girl came up to me.  “Did you see?”

I shook my head.

[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.

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“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.