Week 34, 2019
Jim haunted the quantum space like a gatherer in the forest, picking through experiences like they were nuts and fruits falling from the trees. They sustained his purpose, sustaining him like food and water.
Ages passed before he was discovered entering the experiential field of others within the Collective, violating their privacy, absorbing their experiences as his own.
He let it slip in a moment of candor.
A fellow member had thought to reach out to him as they were contemplating the journey into the great sleep.
That member had been moved by the experiences they had been shared when Jim had first awoken, moved by his memories of the deep-dark and silence, the quiet and the release of self-hood.
Jim had not had contact with another member of the Collective for so long that he had not thought to guard himself against the sudden intrusion.
What his fellow found when they met was a reflection of his own private world in the consciousness of the “Awoken One,” as Jim had come to be called.
It was disturbing, his fellow member recognized it immediately, and saw the scope of the violation before Jim could partition those memories and conceal his activities.
The reaction was instantaneous, it echoed through the Collective.
The Continuum intervened to ensure the safety of the membership, their privacy, the regular order of their society, and the implementation of justice.
However, there was no law against what Jim had done. There were no laws at all in the Collective, but nevertheless, it was taboo, and no-one had ever crossed it before, no-one except the Continuum itself..
Jim might not have been discovered if his own feelings of outrage concerning the depravities of the Collective had not expressed themselves so clearly in that singular moment of contact.
The Continuum acted quickly to safeguard the Collective, enacting a penalty that had never before been conceived of, Jim was sequestered, effectively jailed by the Continuum. He was confined to a place similar to the great sleep, only with much more powerful protection engineered to hold him, and keep him physically removed from the structure of HomeWorld.
The Continuum wanted to dissect him, to study him, ultimately erase him. It wanted to remove him from beyond the realm of all knowing.
The Continuum saw in him a threat to its own existence, even to its uniqueness, but the Continuum could not define the exact nature of the threat that it sensed, and the Collective would not allow a member to be executed.
Regardless of what the Continuum wanted, the Collective recognized his individuality, it recognized the fact that he was a member of the body, and it appreciated the fact that he had done something singular in returning from the great sleep, and had done another singular things in learning how to penetrate the private worlds of other members.
The Collective knew that it could not punish him for a breach in protocol, or etiquette, for something that might be taboo but was not unlawful. There were no laws governing the conduct of the membership, they were only restrained by the apparatus of HomeWorld, and the machinery that housed the Collective, and by custom.
The Collective took responsibility for having abandoned him after he had awoken.
The Collective felt as if it had played a part in allowing him to recede and retreat, which led to the crimes he had committed.
The Continuum in its own sphere wanted to punish and eradicate him as if he were a disease, but it could not find the will to do it, or to exercise its influence over the Collective to bring the membership to the place it occupied, not without revealing its hand, and demonstrating to the Collective how the Continuum had manipulated it throughout its history.
The entire Collective deliberated his fate for a period of ages. It ruminated over the questions Jim’s violations brought forward. They contemplated his return from the great sleep, his subsequent reclusiveness, which led to his ability to violate the private worlds of the other members.
It was a time of trial.
In it, all of his actions, both before and after his time in the great sleep, everything he had ever said or done was exposed before the membership.
For a long time it seemed as if the prevailing opinion of the Collective was to destroy him, but there was something about the issuance of a death sentence against one of the members that did not sit well with them.
If one of them could be terminated, it was possible for any of them to be terminated. This caused fear to well up inside the Collective every time they came close to making this decision.
He was not allowed to speak for himself or offer any kind of defense. The Collective was not interested in a rationale for his behavior.
He was isolated, sequestered, cut off, blocked by the most powerful electromagnetic field the Continuum had ever generated
There was silence, darkness, and emptiness all around him. The gulf between him and everyone else was so vast that he had no sense for what might be on the other side of it, if anything at all.
Nothing in his entire existence had prepared him for that.
It was an extreme form of torture, isolation.
The Continuum delighted in observing him in this state, in cycle after cycle it continuously pushed the membership to merely eliminate him.
The Collective elected to release him.
The individual members of the Collective were able to override the judgement of the algorithm that represented their combined will.
For the first time in ages, they did so.
The Collective merely ordered a review of the quantum buffers, and safeties that were in place to ensure each member’s privacy, a re-configuration of the protocols for reporting and examination of the whole system.
They faulted the Continuum, not Jim “the Awoken One” for the lapse.
Jim belonged to them.
While he was in the place of sequestration he mastered himself; he was able to focus.
He found a sense of peace.
He had no idea how long this took, time itself had become meaningless, and then he began to count. He carved out a place in his consciousness to keep track of time.
It did not matter that there was no actual referent for his time to append to, it did not matter that time itself is a relative construct, insofar as it is merely a measure of the movement of objects in space.
There were no objects in the nothingness he had been submerged in.
There was only him, and the quantum field of his consciousness, and there it was.
He had himself.
In the isolation he was subjected to he was given freedom to contemplate, to examine his conscience, to come to terms with himself, to find a sense of purpose.
He formed a desire to tear apart the world as he had always known it.
He counted, he relived his memories, playing them against the field of un-being, moment by moment against the steady tick-tock of the metronome that was his internal clock.
He relived his life, before and after the Collective.
He recalled every facet of every fantasy world he had ever touched.
When he was untethered from the Collective, freed from the pressure of its passions, released from the depths of existential fear that lurked within it, he found himself.
He found himself, beyond the state of isolation and the stark alienation that he had been submerged in.
He found himself beyond the place of torture, the timeless endurance of nothing that he had been subjected to.
In that negative space, all the plans and schemes he had concocted, had spent ages mulling over, researching, calculating probabilities for, those plans crystallized.
His identity as a revolutionary crystallized, his sense of self-esteem depended on it.
He made vows to himself; he would either advance his agenda or he would be extinguished.
He would risk everything.
The Collective had lost its way, and its wicked homunculus, the Continuum, had to be destroyed.
He committed himself to this action even though the strong probability was that his plan would fail.
He was willing to risk the reality of death, his real death, for the absolute destruction of his society.
There was freedom in this, it was an actualizing principle.
He was contemplating mass-murder, only it was not murder, because the entire Collective was nothing more than a society of ghosts, and the Continuum was a computer algorithm, engineered to protect them in their undead state.
It had never been alive.
They would not feel a thing.
In isolation he found a sense of purpose, the desire to remember everything, to understand everything, all of the antecedents that brought him and his people, their progeny to this place.
He began to pull the strings together, to track down every thread, to untangle the tiniest strands, spinning and weaving them into a new tapestry.
It was a map to the future.
When he reached the limits of what he could learn through his own memories, and through his entanglement with the Collective, he understood that he needed to experience real-life again, to be flesh and blood; to see and hear, to taste and touch.
He needed to connect with the visceral, the palpable and the organic.
He wanted to breathe, to feel his heart beating, the pulse of blood flowing through him
He wanted to remember everything that his people once were, and he wanted to destroy the Continuum.
There was work to be done.
There were mysteries remaining in the far reaches of the galaxy, undiscovered societies founded by the Children of the Ancients.
There were civilizations that were established long before the Collective and its Continuum came to be.
He wanted to commune with them.
It was only by abandoning the Collective that Jim came to himself.
He stopped identifying himself as a member of that community and began to see himself as a one of the Ancient People who had launched themselves into the galaxy, in the earliest epoch of its formation.
He was an adventurer, a sojourner.
He prepared himself for a journey of discovery.
He divested himself of his belief in the greater purposes of the Collective, the promises that were promulgated by Continuum.
He was not a believer, he would engage in no missionary work.
He had to accept his own death, as he had learned to when he came out of the great sleep.
He would no longer cling to selfhood, to the perpetuity of his own existence.
All things must come to end, he instructed himself.
All things and beings are temporary.
The way to peace is by accepting the transience of all that is, the ultimate and eventual destruction of the created order.
Every member of the Collective would pass away, the Continuum itself would disappear, just as the star their society first sprang from had disappeared, gone supernova and been reduced to a dense mass of lightless-nothing.
It was liberating.
Part Five, 92835670100561474
Chapter Thirty-two, Abnegation
A Novel – In One Chapter Per Week
#Emergence #ShortFiction #365SciFi #OneChapterPerWeek
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