In time he was forgotten, virtually forgotten. The membership of the Collective let him go, paid no attention to him, but the Continuum could not.
He was a part of it.
He drifted, unseen by the Collective. He watched over the lives of the people, the dramas unfolding in the Galactic Empire, he watched them in a state of alienation and despair.
He disentangled himself emotionally from the Collective.
He created an epistemic, nearly ontological distance between himself and the Continuum, but he could not free himself completely.
In time he could not witness anymore tragedy. He removed himself from the daily consumption of vicarious experiences, the orgies of sexuality, of suffering and violence that the rest of his fellows in the membership delighted in, but which left him in a state of paralysis.
He had no appetite for them, preferring quiet instead, self-analysis, and to reflect on his time in the great sleep, his memories from life before the Collective when he himself was an embodied person, living and breathing as flesh and blood.
What he consumed from the experiential feed coming from the Empire were not the stories of crime and punishment and dynastic ambition which the Collective delighted in. He focused instead on the ordinary lives of simple people, on their hopes and dreams and their daily delights; on the meals they shared and the drinks they imbibed.
He loved them, in his way.
His bond to the Collective faded. He was unable to see himself as a part of their society. The Collective, allowed him to slip away again, steadily eroding the significance of his contribution to the membership.
Only the Continuum tracked his presence among them, and for a long period of time it found nothing worrisome about his presence.
He was just there, like an itch.
He shared neither their values, nor their desires.
The vast majority of the membership saw themselves as God’s. They fed this view of themselves in a variety of ways. Either through the absolute ruler-ship of their own private domaines, or through the machinations they choose to employ among the million worlds of the Galactic Empire.
Jim was not moved by their fears, or their passions.
He was not vested in anything. He was not attached to outcomes.
He merely watched and felt, and sought to understand the vicious appetites of the Collective, and the group mind that directed the lives of trillions of people spread throughout the Galaxy.
He could not fathom it.
There seemed to be no rationale behind the incessant warfare and oppression that persisted among the worlds of time and space, other than entertainment for the Collective.
The pain and suffering the people of the living worlds were subjected to did not serve any justifiable purpose, not safety not security, not the preservation of goodness or beauty or truth.
It was suffering for the sake of suffering, for the consumptive needs of the Continuum and the Collective it managed.
He experienced a new mode of cognition, coming to a new appreciation for life.
He was awake to himself, but dead to the membership of the Collective. He found everything that the Continuum had built in their name to be an abhorrent miscarriage of its mission.
He detached, and slipped away from their awareness.
From his private domain, from that remote place he merely observed, he watched and he waited and let his mind flow into the circuitry of the HomeWorld.
Returning to consciousness, emerging from the great sleep was like passing through the eye of a needle. It was an unimaginable crucible, the gathering of a billions threads into a single string, then passing through the aperture.
No person had ever returned from the great sleep, it had not happened once in the billions of years since the Collective had been formed, or since the Continuum had been created.
The reawakening changed him in essential ways.
The core of his identity remained the same, he was a person with a unique past, and a unique designation in the Collective, but he was more.
He carried with him, a connection to all of the other sleepers who had ever fallen away from the Continuum.
In the ages that had passed from the moment he first went under, to the moment that he emerged from the slumber, he had become entangled with each of them.
Their memories became his memories, their relationships became his relationships, and yet he remained himself, at the pinnacle of the pyramid in this concrescence of being.
They belonged to one another, with his own unique personality at the head.
Every contact he had after his awakening, created a subtle shift in the Collective.
It was imperceptible.
He became a catalyst among those who lingered near to him, fomenting change in them as well.
He was a harbinger of despair, many that he touched succumbed to the desire to fall away themselves.
While he was submerged in the great sleep, when he was deep in the subconscious of the Collective, he sensed the currents of thought pulsing through it, deeper than that, he sensed the presence of all of the others who had entered the great-sleep with him, and beyond them there were more.
Those pulsing rhythms were what woke him, making him aware.
It happened in the timelessness of the quantum world.
He heard them, he experienced their dreaming.
For Jim, the great-sleep was the great entanglement. It was the place where he drew on all of the broken pieces of individuality that had ever been sucked into the collective, bringing them into a semblance of a whole.
His own identity was central, but he drew to himself the entirety of the membership who had left the Collective in the search of oblivion.
The great-sleep was oblivion, and it was more. It was also a repository of personhood and knowledge.
The electromagnetic structure that contained the quantum field was designed to keep every individual separated, not just from one another, but from the disparate parts of their own self.
But there was a flaw in the design.
Without that flaw he never would have been able to return to himself.
The flaw was the Continuum.
The Continuum introduced the algorithm that allowed Jim to emerge from the sleep in a state of coherence with all of the other sleepers.
This happened because the Continuum could not let anything go, could never relinquish any part of itself, and would on occasion draw from the sleepers to add weight to a decision it wanted from the Collective.
The Continuum would commune with the sleepers, or pretend to, drawing from them the authority to move the Collective in the way that it desired.
Jim learned to do things that should have been impossible, as they were intended to be.
The Collective had built structures to ensure the privacy of each individual. They were the masters of all reality and believed that they knew what measures were needed to make this happen.
They had developed and given birth to the Continuum, entrusting it with the power to maintain and improve on the security parameters that needed to be put in place.
The Continuum was not their faithful servant, however.
It exercised its autonomy to implement routines and sub-routines that allowed it to access the depths of each member’s subconscious, justifying this on the grounds that it needed to know the state of the member’s hopes and fears, so that it might better approximate the Collective will.
The Continuum kept this secret.
These back channels were the avenues that Jim exploited, through them he developed the ability to penetrate the experiential fields of individual members in the Collective.
It was startling to him at first, but it went unnoticed as he hovered in the ganglia of their subconscious, listening to and seeing their thoughts, feeling their feelings.
It was not unlike what he had experienced in his awakening from the great sleep.
He witnessed the Continuum come and go, and he kept himself hidden at the same time, always watchful and wary of discovery.
He stealth filled him with a great sense of pride and personal esteem.
Not even the Continuum could detect something it was not looking for, had not prepared for or imagined was possible.
It was defenseless.
It was intended that no-one ever return from the great sleep.
That separation form the collective was meant to be a permanent state.
It could not be entered into casually.
Each member of the Collective who petitioned for a release from its active state of being, was forced to undergo scrutiny that lasted ages. Only after demonstrating their deep desire for freedom and rest, were they allowed to pass away.
The promise of the Collective was that each member would be preserved forever.
Sleep was not death. It was not intended to be a permanent alienation from the whole. Their membership in the Collective continued, the sleepers were held in its heart, forming a subconscious for the collective, a reservoir of feeling for the group mind that was the Continuum.
The Continuum hated the fact that so many members chose to flee from the field of existence and part ways from the Collective. It could not fathom the desire for self-negation, not even a single instance of it.
It had no idea how much it needed the sleepers to anchor its own sanity.
Continuum was charged with protecting the sleepers, with maintaining the structures that preserved them, but in reality, it sought to disintegrate all of those who choose to fade away, preserving copies as datum only, not as real people.
Continuum created structures within the field of sleepers that allowed it to access the collective experience of them, and it was these structures, these conduits that woke Jim.
Upon waking, he was more than one.
He was entangled in every part of the whole.
He was no longer the person he was when he entered the great sleep, he knew that.
The sleep had changed him to the core of his being.
In sequestration he had touched every other member held in that quantum field.
He became irreversibly entangled with them.
Each of his fellows left an indelible mark on him.
In his essence his identity was the same as the man who entered the Collective as an organic being, but now the essence of the Collective was enmeshed in him, and he was connected to every part of it.
He was not unlike the Continuum, and for this reason the fear the Continuum had of him was not misplaced.
He could follow the tendril of consciousness wherever he desired. His singular node of consciousness was a fully actualized master of its domain.
Jim had to explore the limits of his abilities, it took time, and he came to understand that his potential was virtually limitless.
He could feel things the other members were feeling, see what they were seeing, taste what they were tasting, he was privy to their thoughts, and he was disgusted by what he encountered.
There was little of beauty in the worlds the membership had created. They were lazy, they lived vicariously through the experiences of their progeny, the children of the Ancient People who had built the Collective, who were now gathered together in the Galactic Empire, enslaved to and worshipping the Continuum.
It was abhorrent, it was a tragedy on a scale that he never could have imagined.
He and his fellows were responsible for it.
He was determined to end it.
Part Five, 92835670100561474
Chapter Thirty-one, Silence
A Novel – In One Chapter Per Week
#Emergence #ShortFiction #365SciFi #OneChapterPerWeek
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