I am afraid of death.
That shouldn't come as a surprise, most everyone is. It's part of the biological coding in us to make us want to live and reproduce, fulfilling our DNA's purpose. But people also say that there's no need to fear death; they either believe in an afterlife, or they say 'You didn't fear the nothingness before you were born, why fear the nothingness after you die?'. I'll tell you why to fear death. I do not believe in an afterlife, however much I desperately want to, however comforting it would be, I can not. So I believe after death is nothingness, and that terrifies me. Because the void before birth has an end, the first memory. The void after death has no end, eternal nothingness, which is something so horrifying that I can not stand trying to imagine it. So I resolved to live as long as possible, freeze myself if I had to. Luckily, I didn't have to resort to that.
In the year 2075, I was running out of time. Eighty-five year old man, children, grandchildren, younger sister and deceased younger brother and deceased wife, I was dying, and the check to be frozen lived in my pocket. Fortunately, some genius had invented robots.
Or rather, not robots in the normal sense.
These were metallic bodies that looked and felt one-hundred percent human, but they were hollow shells, no consciousness. See, the scientists who invented them knew that robots could be unstable, so why not use them for something else? Something like immortality. They sold it for free, the government paying them everything they needed, and when I say everything, I mean everything. I was practically first in line. They hooked me up to a bunch of electrodes, scanned my brain dozens, hundreds, thousands of times. The body I was to inhabit was my eighteen-year old one, the dirty blonde hair uncombed, blue eyes hidden under synthetic eyelids, and a red T-shirt and sweatpants adorning it. It also wore electrodes. They flipped the switch, and it was nothing like in movies, where electricity surges through you, and you scream in pain and have an out-of-body experience, or anything of the like. I simply felt myself slipping rapidly, my heart shutting down as that portion of my brain was sucked away (Not that I'd need a beating heart in my new body), and soon enough I went under, like I had fallen asleep.
And just like that, my eyes opened. Everything felt so much clearer, I felt much more lithe, young. My old body slept next to me, dead. It didn't matter. I'm not one of those people who think that your identity is tied to your body, but rather that it's your thoughts that make you, not the body holding them. I flexed my hands (They move so easily, none of those failing nerves), and jumped up, using my returned strength that had been calibrated to normal levels (I'd forgotten what it feels like, it feels amazing). They took several tests to make sure I was fine, tested the oil I had for blood (Creepy, but I can get used to it), and gave me a book on how to maintain my body in case it should suffer damage. The book was 3 megabytes, but I had all the time in the world, now. I began reading.
Later that same year, the nutcases came up, the extremists who believed that immortality was not for man, that it was the devil whispering to us or whatever evil deity they held in contempt, and naturally, tried to kill anyone with a synthetic body. 'Synths'. Naturally, these people were few and far between, and almost everyone wanted to live forever (Forever! Can you imagine all that you can get done in an eternity?). EMPs to disable the electrical impulses in the circuit brain, tasers to fry us, all manner of things. The armed forces had to take charge against the 'terrorists' as they were called, and the fight lasted a while. Lots of Synths died, but I didn't. I was too careful. I hid, I masked the signature coding of electrical impulses. I'd read the book nonstop, committed every part of it to my now infallible memory. After all, who needs to sleep and eat and drink with a body that never tires? I no longer wasted a third of my life in sleep; my day increased in length by 50%.
My fear of death didn't abate, though. I lived in fear of the day a 'terrorist' would come barging through my little lake-house (Yellowstone is so scenic) and EMP me. So I took precautions. I read books on guns, how to kill, how to survive. I had lots of time, and I didn't need a job, not with 85% of the population immortal, and the other 14% wanting to be and well on their way. The economy vanished, no money. People didn't bother with murder anywhere near as much; who needs money with no economy? Who needs to kill for food when starvation is physically impossible? Who needs to kill that witness when you can easily survive your 80 year sentence? While I learned to defend myself, I fell out of touch with my family; terrorists got them at a family reunion I couldn't make it to in time.
After I was done grieving, and finished learning, the year was 2150, and the world was as close to a utopia as ever. The terrorists were nearly wiped out, and everyone not one was immortal. Science and technology advanced at unimaginable speeds. Ships off world became increasingly common. Terra-forming was almost never needed, since we breathed out of habit more than requirement. I left the Earth, polluted by bureaucrats, in the year 2232, at the age of 242, for Mars's moon Phobos. Boredom didn't set in; who could be bored with such a vast universe to explore and conquer? I had indefinite time to better my mind, and better it I did. Philosophy, gardening, politics, I took in every book I could get my hand on, devouring them. There were so many books, too. Millions, fiction and nonfiction, and I lots of time.
As I learned everything to know about weaving, faster-than-light travel had been invented. Year 2632; the Theory of Everything is perfected by scientists, the majority of which, now having explained how the universe works, set out to philosophy to explain why it works. The others turned to engineering to make it useful, and in 2879, with me at the age of 889, the first warp-engine was created. Minerals from Io and Triton and Titania and Mercury and a whole host of asteroid flowed into creating custom interstellar ships for anyone who wanted one, including myself.
The ship was a thing of beauty; sleek, a dull bronze color, and mine. It was only the size of a house, with the faster-than-light engine fitting into the 'garage'. With the Theory of Everything, technology was instantly in its completely refined, smallest, most efficient form. I took the ship, and set out for the stars, wandering too and fro as the Synths (Not humans anymore) set out to create their galactic empire, and then command the Local Group, and eventually more. I stayed in the Solar System, though. Once more promising stars had been found, Sol was practically abandoned. I lived on Phobos for a long, long time, reading and learning and training and perfecting myself, since I had nothing to do and was unwilling to accept the fact that I was bored.
The year 964,850,385. My age is kept in a clock by my shipboard computer, and it never loses a second, and never loses power thanks to the ambient-energy engine, which uses the latent energy of the universe's quantum void as a literally inexhaustible source of energy. The multiverse had not been explored at all, with the Theory of Everything saying it was impossible, but the Virgo Supercluster was completely ruled by Synths (Some species wiped out, not wanted, most turned into Synths, tantalized by the promise of immortality), and many more galaxies beyond.
And I had been there when it started, one of the first Synths.
I had long since read all non-fiction books, knew everything about everything, and even though new books came out I devoured them much faster than they came out; so much knowledge had been cataloged. And I never forgot anything, thanks to space-bending, which allowed me to create infinite space in a finite volume, and build in it, specifically, my brain, expanding its size to allow more information storage, with gravity-nullifies to keep it from weighing me down. The space-time in my head was twisted and folded in on itself, and sometimes I felt like I wasn't human anymore; and I wasn't. I was a Synth, and had stopped being human the moment I became immortal. But it was worth it; I never cured my fear of death, never wished to. I had the devices to do so at any time, of course. Technology reached its standing point 1 million years after the first Synth, and I had everything. The utopia had shattered and recollected multiple times, the center always changing but never coming back to Earth, where I now lived; on the exact same spot I had grown up.
The Earth is uninhabitable, a dry desert with almost no atmosphere as Sol had slowly grown in power. Oh, sure, I can fix that with my technology at any time, and my now multiple-mile ship is the only technology within 5 light years, besides me of course. I wonder how many of the Synths even remember where they came from, where their origins lay. I am lonely. I admit it, I have no companionship but myself (I know how the electronic brain works, I can keep myself sane, but was not willing to remove the loneliness). But my fear of death was enough to dissuade me from suicide, for all my life would be for nothing after. I was truly alone, no family, no company, and no will to change that. Despite being nearly a billion years old, time still passes for me at the same rate.
It's been a long, long time. And I remember every second of it.
Several times my body had a defect, but I had the ambient-energy engines use E=mc2 to create a new body out of energy (The exact same one every time, my eighteen year old body. Nostalgia) every time, and every time I transfered my consciousness into it, space-twisting and all, ejected the body towards Sol at half the speed of light, and moved on as if nothing happened. I keep reading fiction books, every single one created reaching me, as with the non-fiction ones. But the fiction ones are infinitely more numerous, numbering in the vigintillions, but who cares? I have lots of time.
The Synths died out; they made a fatal error, crossed a life-form they shouldn't have, and both were annihilated in the resulting war. I'm the last one left. I catch up on the books, slowly but surely, but even when Andromeda and the Milky Way combine and the Sun balloons and dies (Won't take Earth. I made sure of that), I still haven't scratched the surface of the 8.6 x 10^20 books. The sun's death was spectacular, even if it was slow (I can fast-forward it in my mind, being a robot. Those TV shows back in the 21st century don't hold a candle to the real thing.)
So I traveled, leaving Earth behind. I beheld the spectacular ruins of the once-vast Synth empire, and the remains of the aliens called Je'kaliths. But I moved at faster-than-light speeds, and even if both empires had been billions if not trillions of light years, I quickly made short work of them, having all the time in the world.
And by the age of roughly 6.2 x 10^19, I had read every single book in existence, and officially ran out of things to do, having also seen all wonders of the universe. I decided to turn my sights towards a terrifying concept.
I was going to die.
The age of the stars had long since gone, and Earth had crashed into the Sun's black dwarf before I could prevent it(Stupid stupid, your home has been destroyed. No, home is the spaceship). I knew full and well protons and neutrons had half-lives of 10^36 years, and that I had been avoiding the topic for years. Not to mention the tiny but always present chance that my atoms might, thanks to quantum mechanics, scatter at a moment's notice.
I began to tamper with technology. It had gone as far as the laws of physics would allow it, but fueled by the fear of death, I looked Physics right in the eye and spat in it. Finally, at the age of 10^30 years, I created a device to prevent my atoms from scattering, and using my ambient-energy engines to create new atoms would easily prevent me from decaying, and if it didn't, I created a device to prevent that as well. I had essentially broken the laws of physics; what else could I do? I knew that if I wished, I could recreate the universe, bring back Earth and the stars and the Synths and humans and my family and my wife, but I also couldn't. Entropy had nothing to do with it; the universe is not a closed system, being part of the multiverse, which is infinite. But I was emotionally incapable of recreating it all; that ship had long since sailed. All that was left to do was watch the universe end as my ship hung in the infinite, starless void.
10^40 years. Ten dodecellion years. The Degenerate era has ended, and all atoms, save for that of me and my ship, have decayed. The space of my brain is curved so much, and if it weren't for the gravity nullifiers, it would have collapsed into a black hole long ago. Speaking of black holes...
They are all that's left. They would all slowly evaporate, and in 1 google years, the universe will have truly ended. Then it all came crashing on me.
I have lived for ten fucking dodecillion years. I have not died. Everyone and everything else has. I am, for all intents and purposes, all that is left. I walked up to my ship's observation floor, a bubble of glass all around me, and screamed.
Everyone is dead.
But I'm still alive, and I've been alive for so long and I've seen so much that it hurts, it hurts, I want out, but I can't because death would be so, so much worse, nothingness even worse than this emptiness but it hurts, it hurts, not physically but emotionally, and I want it to stop but it won't stop because even if I recreate everything it won't be the same won't EVER be the same and I can't bring myself to manipulate my mind so that it would be the same to me and I want my mom and my dad and my children and my siblings and my wife and I want Earth and I want home and my college degree and I WANT IT BACK!
I collapsed, the artificial gravity letting me drop to my knees. There's NOTHING for me here in this universe. I've seen it all, and I don't want to see a black hole evaporate, because I've made miniature ones do that and all black holes become miniature before they evaporate so they'd all be the exact same. I looked at into the impenetrable darkness, and realized what I needed to do.
I'd already made the laws of Physics cry by preventing my decay or quantum dissolution. Why not break the laws again?
I work, and I work, and it took so long, by the time it was done I was 3 x 10^42 years old(I have an exact count in my space-ship. It's my birthday today). I use the inter-universe device, and go to wherever I wanted to go, but always kept a coordinate for my old universe, if I ever wanted to find my way back.
I flew across all different realities, belonging to every fiction and non fiction book and movie and daydream ever to exist, ever video game real, the different physics allowing magic and sorcery and all sorts of things not possible in my old, dead universe. I created different bodies to live in, lived among the universes countless times, as a dragon, an eel, elf, human, everything and everyone countless times, changing things as I saw fit, revealing and not revealing, changing things by the simple lack of a raised eyebrow and seeing what difference it made, and lived.
I played the bully, I played the victim, the murderer, the killed, the dealer, the cop, the mother, the father, the child, the uncle, the princess, the dragon and the knight. I played the antagonist and the protagonist, the hero and the heroine, the wizard and the witch, so many possibilities, and in an infinite multiverse the same universe would be repeated infinitely, so I had no problem if I messed up, and I had all the time in the multiverse. I played my childhood, I played my parents, my sister, my children, my bully, my teacher, seeing where I went wrong, how I could've made my life worse or better, how things would have been different if I had been blind, or mute, or a genius, or dumb as dirt, or a girl, or an alien, or another nationality, and I had forever to perfect my skills, and no matter how heavily my age weighed on me the fear of death was always, always worse.
But even so, with an eternity to play, I became bored eventually. After 9.85 x 10^75 years, I had seen everything, been everything and everyone, and was officially spent. I saw a black hole evaporate in my old universe, and it was nothing interesting. It glowed as bright as the long-gone sun (My eyes don't get burned by intense light, not since becoming a Synth), before escalating and exploding in moments.
At the age of 9.86 x 10^76 years old, I sat at the table for the 9.86 x 10^76th time, and blew out the candle, whispering quietly to myself, "Happy birthday to you. Happy birthday to you. Happy birthday dear Nicholas. Happy birthday to you. You're the birthday boy, you get the first slice."
I took the knife, and sliced it straight down (Just like always, perfect, like always, since practice makes perfect and no-one has had more practice than me) through the white-chocolate cake (I don't need food, but I can still eat it, still taste it). I looked at the green frosting on it the slice, mint flavored, and shoved it away, walking up to my ship's screen(It was a several mile walk, but I don't tire and what's a few more hours?). I wrote on it with my mind and mind-reading technology one word.
I smiled. I had seen it all. All loss, all gain, all sadness, all joy, every possible scenario. I could finally put it to rest. Finally solve it all. I swept the single word into a file, and began to write and calculate, factoring in everything I had ever seen, everything as a variable, the grief of a mother as her child was revealed stillborn as a multiplication sign, the glory of a commander when he won a battle as x to the nth power. I worked, and worked, and worked, not stopping, not resting, not like I had ever. I missed all my birthdays, but I didn't care, save for a slight twinge in my chest that only grew weaker and weaker as time passed. Finally, at one google and eighty five billion years old exactly, with all black holes evaporated and the universe completely and utterly dead, I finished the equation. I brought my ship back to my old universe, and brought out the single entry that started it. It stared back at me, and I stared back at it. One single word.
I nodded, and sent the command to shut down the quantum dissolution preventers, as well as the proton-neutron decay inhibitors. "Humanity." I wrote another word next to it, and solved everything, everything, everything.
I hit save with a blink.
I smiled. I knew, that now and forever, it was finally over. I walked over to another console, and gave the command to vaporize all my backup bodies. With that done, I walked to the firing range (I can hit a moving target at 1 light-year away as the easiest of warm-ups; I've had a lot of time to practice) and pulled out a single revolver, the only relic besides me from the time of the Synths. The weight of my nigh-on infinite age lifted off my shoulders, and for the first time in over a google years, not since I had truly been a child, not an old man in a child's body, I felt young. I placed in a modified bullet, EMP, pointed at my head. The fear of death came up, urging me to stop what your doing all this will have been for nothing your wasting it all your the only thing left it'll not just be you everything will be gone and it will all be your fault your fault all their memories gone because of you and -
I pulled the trigger, and everything vanished, a brief nothingness before white filled my vision as the space that had wound up in my brain unfurled, and I heard slow chimes, a harmonious melody echoing through the air.
Everything's all right now. Some universes don't have this, but I lucked out; mine does.
And this kind of eternity, you don't get bored of.
Review, let me know what you think.