Postmortal

Prologue: Beginning of the End

Dr. Desmond Dowell died in unmourned solitude. The only witnesses to his demise were the pigeons milling about outside his window. When blood circulation in his full-body prosthetic abruptly ceased, carbon dioxide began to accumulate within his brain. His redundant organs failed to activate due to a sensor's false positive, and within a matter of minutes, a pioneer of whole-brain emulation had died an ignoble death in silent terror.

A forever unfinished copy of Bernal's The World, The Flesh, and The Devil laid beside his motionless body. Before the invisible legions of microscopic decomposers could advance towards Dowell's corpse, an electronic contingency activated a valve placed where his spinal column used to be. A preservative fluid displaced cerebrospinal fluid, forever plastinating Dr. Dowell's formidable intellect. While the process occurred, the remainder of his artificial body automatically generated a pathology report to be sent to an archival database of fatal malfunctions.

While the final transmission was sent to the digital Necronomicon, dust-covered machines stirred to life from years of dormancy. They hoisted Dowell's body like a procession of mechanical paw bearers, delivering it to an opaque capsule that closed around his body. The spider-like servitors skittered along the walls, moving a larger device into position near the top of the pod.

Within the pod, a blade honed for a single purpose severed Dowell's head like a practiced headsman. An apparatus within the pod pulled his head up towards a scanned that imaged his brain at a molecular level. An image of his wrinkled gray matter formed on a monitor with no human present. The severed head was then dissected by a set of whirring blades with molecular precision, while each sliver was passed into a scanning array of incomprehensible complexity.

All that physically remained of Dr. Dowell's head was a slurry of neural slices and a pulped skull. From his death arose the generation of an electronic consciousness within the silicon lattices of his home mainframe. The digital ghost had been risen directly from what was left of Dowell's mind, an entity conjured by technological necromancy. While he had no children of the flesh, Dowell had created several offspring of the mind. Unforeseen by Dowell was that they would squabble as progeny were often want to.