Evolution – Chapter 26
As Luke woke up a cold breeze moved the drops of sweat on his forehead. It’s been winter for quite some time and the kids must have left one of the windows opened. Since it was 3 a.m. and his wife was trembling in her sleep, he simply decided to go shut the window and read something on his computer. As he walked towards the window, he noticed that his computer notification light was blinking. He shut the window, and turned the hit a couple of degrees, then checked on the kids. Both sound asleep, although not so much kids anymore. They were already teenagers. A small sigh came to him as he realized the passage of time.
Passing by his computer he noticed the blinking notification light again. As the cold woke him, not just the breeze but the one he felt next to the opened window as he closed it, he decided to go check his notifications rather than go back to sleep. His life was quite the same as it was since he became a teacher. Surely, the funds raised by participating in Angel’s project have provided him with a considerable fortune, but besides changing his car he donated everything he earned to charity. He often remembered the smirk on Angel’s face when he announced what he was going to do with his winnings. They often had the same ideas, even if they went about them the wrong way. He was also determined to make the world a better place.
His computer was the standard issue for those years. Automatically adjustable screen, to adapt to the eyes and environment of the viewer. The holographic image appeared dimmed, as to not force his eyes and also to not light the entire room with no purpose. As Luke use to wear glasses in his young days, his screen had learned and adapted to show a projection his eyes can clearly see without any augmentation from glasses. The AI within provided many functionalities like this one, which is why the computers where now issued per person so that it can learn and adapt to each individual. Watching the same screen still required a universal projection, for those who did not want to watch movies with the SmartEye glasses. The SmartEye concept was simple. Using a wireless connection, it permitted the synchronized run of a movie to all pairs connected and also, if needed, provided see-trough capabilities for social action during the movie.
The AI in the SmartEye was very small and limited to only showing the configured information. Since it had to do with human eyes, it was imperative that the system is not buggy in order to not display some level of light that may damage the user’s eyes. The company which set the bases for the SmartEye AI was Mykrra Corp. It was actually one of their most successful creations. They were not able to ship it for free though – since they lacked the resourced to put together the actual hardware needed. Such partnerships kept quite a few projects that they had initially intended free within the boundaries of the shareware world. Still, the revenue these projects provided kept them going and working on new products to put out there for free. Luke’s department was especially handling the “free stuff” which had become essentially the core in the new Mykrra Corp., ever since Angel retired from active leadership for medical reasons.
The blinking notification that Luke saw was run by the AI with the help of a sensory mechanism. It recognized that someone was nearby and that that someone was Luke and only then displayed the blinking notification. As he sat down in front of his computer the image starting displaying his desktop without any action from him. It was a little unnerving at first, but now most people were used to having the AI run the things they want for them, keeping track of what they use most and what they read more often. It was the simplest way to handle things, and everybody accepted that.
Luke’s projection displayed the weather, school schedule for his children, the upcoming regular visits to the doctor and the new he was most interested in. One of the reports caught his eye. It was about Neo Mars, which he had been following closely for some time now. As he read the report, he sent an email to his old colleagues at the faculty to reconvene the next day and discuss the phenomenon. It was something that everyone missed, and there was nothing like a scientific puzzle for him and his old friends. He also invited Angel and Alex to the debate, but he was sure that they won’t participate, since they haven’t been socially active in quite some time. He knew that Angel has his mental problems, but Alex seemed to have just vanished. Well, if anything, he could not sleep at all. He was so anxious to get to the next day to talk about the new report.
Josephine was marked by Angel’s statement. But, if anything, it did not seem to budge her one bit; only made her stronger on her position.
“Yes.” – She said. “I know. That was a mistake on both parts. The people that brought me here and the people that destroyed the life in The Melt are no longer among us.”
“You see, there’s been a lot of bureaucracy going into this project. When we were first riled up, no one could understand us. We were believed to be, at the very least, a threat. The capacity to read and influence minds was not well-received.”
“So what happened? To you? To them?”
“Ken came here. Although I’m sure «came» is the correct term. It’s more like, he manifested in our world. With him the veil that clouded their judgment and fed our fear was gone. When you get to experience the realities and things he showed us, it’s hard to maintain the importance of life and death as steady as we use to. I’m beginning to think there is no such thing as death.”
Angel’s eyes starting tearing. The hot tears almost hurt his cheek.
“You’re crying in the real world also. That’s the sensation you’re feeling. Since this happens in but a moment your body doesn’t have time to respond to your shock. You’re thinking about your brothers aren’t you?”
It was a rhetorical question. She could read him like an open book, perceive both this world and the real one simultaneously. He was in pain, that much was obvious to anyone.
“There is no comfort I can give you I’m afraid. If you want we can stop now and continue with this later.”
“No. I have too many questions and I feel that my loses have been too great to lose you as well. I need to be sure that this is exactly what you want. I need some sort of sign that you are ok. Please.” – He reached out and hugged her. This was more than just a friend’s hug. At first she thought he felt about her as he did about his late sister. But it was more. Even though he was married now and she had Danny, she could feel the intensity of his thoughts towards her and it moved her. The room went dark and all the other girls disappeared, leaving them both engulfed in darkness. Soon, a blinding light came and enveloped them both as she spoke in his ear: “I know. Me too.”
The moment ended and the door simply shut itself with no warning. Alex and Ken were looking at each other.
“What happened?” – Alex asked.
“Can’t you tell?” – Angel replied puzzled. “Surely Ken can show you exactly how it happened!”
“My communication with Alex is limited at best.” – Ken said. “His mind has grown so beyond what I had predicted that telepathy is more and more difficult for us. It appears he only needed the right environment to reveal his true potential. I only wish I had found him sooner.”
“This is getting bizarre really really fast.” – Angel responded. “I’m beginning to think that no one in my life has any «normality» left. What are you going to tell me next? That Gabrielle is some sort of alien as well? I’m still not even sure that this entire thing is real! As for your question Alex, I’m a bit more at ease, I think. Jo has told me some things that I’m trying to sort out. It’s just too much.”
“You have been staring at them for only a split-second. How much could she have told you?” – Alex replied.
“She told me this is how it would seem to you. Actually we spent quite a lot of time there. My mind must have been rushing, as she was worried of keeping me watching for too long to damage me. It’s so unnerving to feel so helpless. I feel like I don’t understand anything anymore.”
“When I first started watching your planet,” – Ken intervened. “I was looking for something specific. Something that I call a convergence. For me, it was a clash of dimensions that produced a series of events landing you in situations with these extraordinary people. At first I thought it was a coincidence, but as you progressed I began to see that you are indispensable and we need you more and more each day. I’m almost ready to bow down and admit the possibility that your existence was also provided by a set of events even I could not see. It is so fortunate that you are here though. We need you now, more than ever.”
“I’m just lost. This thing, whatever it is, is transporting people to Mars. I’ve seen Jo naked in what appeared to be a torture room just to have her convince me that it’s all good and she is conducting an experiment of transporting people to Mars. Danny is overseeing a massive colonization operation and you tell me that I, of all people, I am most needed here?”
“This started when our project enveloped the world.” – Alex said. “The people of this planet, all of us, are going through a stage of awakening now. Soon, more and more countries would have renounced their governments and trivial thoughts. More and more resources will be diverted into technology advancements. Thought fields will be studied freely at the direction of civilians. We may begin to prepare.”
“Prepare for what?”
“Well, Ken said that you would know. That you have been thinking about it for quite some time. That it defined you.”
“You can’t mean…”
“But he does.” – Ken interrupted. “You were right all along. Using the planet’s greatest minds for trivial concerns was always a mistake. Not just for the sake of your race and evolution, but for the sake of you celestial status as well. There are other sentient species out there, not all of them friendly. And if your planet continues to focus resources into meaningless things, the moment they’ll come – and they will come, you’ll be like ants to them.”
“So you’re here to help us?” – Angel asked.
“Help is something I may not be able to do. My abilities are restricted to thought and direction. I cannot act in this reality as you see it. I cannot help you or them. I can only guide you, show you things that I’ve seen happening, all around this galaxy. I want you to live and your convergence to continue. Unfortunately, I can only advice, not act. I’m just not powerful enough.”
Angel’s restlessness slowly faded away and calm took its place. He was beginning to look more comfortable and seemed to reasonably grasp the situation. Ken’s pledge for help and the idea that even he had limitations made him feel better.
“See?” – Ken said. “I told you you’re perfect for the job. Most people would have fainted so far or simply gone insane. You look as if you belong here. This is what we need: your adaptability. It’s simply amazing!”
Danny barged into the room.
“Neo Mars has realized the problem. They’ve even made it public, just like the other equally interesting discoveries they’ve found. Many people are already meeting to discuss it. I hope this won’t turn into a fiasco.”
The door to the girls opened and Jo stepped outside. It was her first time coming outside in weeks. Although they did not need nourishment, she looked significantly thinner than she had before. However, her presence was so powerful that everyone in the room looked down. There was a palpable tension with each of her steps. The garment she was wearing was simple – she was dressing in a stylish black skirt and t-shirt. As her appearance had nothing special, one couldn’t have guessed what happened to all the others.
“This is how she looked when she went it.” – Alex said to Angel as she passed by him.
She went on and embraced Angel, going afterwards towards Danny and grabbing his hand. They shared a quick kiss and then the other girls came out. The silence was devastating, but there was only silence in the flash, as the mental conversations were going through the roof. Everyone was affected and heard part of what they were talking. The girls were very excited and thought about their experienced intensively. The only ones not affected were Alex and, obviously, Ken.
“Why did you come out?” – Ken asked. “There is still work to be done – I trust you left everything in order.”
“Yes, everything is fine.” – She replied. “The construction is postponed for now. We need him. We need him to understand and trust us. He had to see we are ok and willing.”
Angel looked relieved. “So… what do you need me for?”