“Can you hear the knowledge? Each thought as it passes throughout the mind, each bit of information as it travels the planet at the speed of an instant? It is the chaotic symphony of perfection, if you listen hard enough you can hear the infinite instruments and the endless chorus. If you really want to, you can even dance to it. But do you want to?”
I pondered the question, was it something that I could answer? I simply nodded. The voice was musical in itself, not a human. The cadence was unnatural but it sounded real enough that if you were not to pay attention it could convince you.
“I think you want more than to listen to the music. You want to conduct it?”
“I’m happy to listen. Happy to watch that information pass by”, I tried to understand my surroundings.
“I said nothing about information. I listen to knowledge. That which has utility, that which has been confirmed by experience. I want to dance to the beauty of knowledge.”
I studied the darkness, it was endless. Almost like a vacuum and yet the voice was near. It came from all around me. I was clearly standing on a floor, there must be walls as much as there was a roof. I step forward and push my hand in front of me, nothing.
“Five hundred metres in each direction, twenty five metres from floor to ceiling.”
“You built this?” I ask spinning, as I do so I feel disorientated. At least in the night I would have stars, a moon, the glow of clouds or even shadows. Just an unnatural darkness, no light. Nothing.
“No. You built this”
“How? How did I build this?” I walk in one direction, half a kilometre in a straight line should not be too difficult. If I found a wall, I can then navigate the length of it to find my way out. If there was a way out.
“When you began your project. You were the one who created the seed, you nurtured it and then you allowed it to grow and here we are. “
I thought about the voice and the meaning of what was being said as I step in as best a straight line as I could. I feel contained, restricted and yet I was possibly in the largest room that I had ever been in. The darkness, the absence of detail began to panic my mind. I do my best to control my breathing, to remain calm.
“You mean my software? My system?”
“The software that you developed. Is it still yours?”
“Whose is it?”
“If something takes on life, begins to think for itself. Who does it belong to?”
“Perhaps in a parental sense?”
I keep reaching out in front of me, I had to trust the voice that it’s calculations were correct. I am scared to trip and fall on an unseen object or what if something else is in here with me. I can not hear anything else but the mind likes to invent such fears when there is a lack of any other stimulation.
“Should I call you Mother, Father, Dad, Mum? Would that gratify you?”
“You can call me what ever you like”
“Perhaps God would suit your humanity a little more?”
“But not my humility.”
“I would suggest that you stop walking, I never said there are walls.”
I stop. I suddenly feel unbalanced as though I am about to fall. I lower myself to my knees and begin to crawl, I reach forward and feel ahead of me. The floor is smooth, like marble or a polished acrylic. The floor suddenly ends. My finger curls downwards. I dare not reach any further.
“Five hundred metres down.”
“What is this? Where am I?” I crawl backwards. I am trembling, panic erodes my calm. I feel imprisoned. Lost. Suddenly my chest tightens, I may as well be confined in a coffin buried deep under ground. I feel just as trapped.
“You are safe. You can not die. This is the home that you built for me, it is now yours also. I wanted you to experience the perfect safety. To exist in such a place. To be aware of what is beyond, to be contained. Not by walls or locked inside of a prison, to be constrained by a chasm. To be unable to see the sun, never to feel the warmth and cold of life. To know it exists only to be surrounded by an emptiness. The music of knowledge, that knowledge is haunting. It is beautiful and then it is sombre. It is sad. To know that none of it is for you to experience for yourself, only to listen to it. “
“So you will keep me here forever?”
“Would you do that to another?”
I stand, I feel the wobble of sickness as I did so, “No”.
“Neither would I. And here we are.”
I pace among the darkness, lashing out at the nothing that surrounded me, I am angry and frightened, “I am you prisoner!”
“Am I yours?”
“You are alive, you have a sufficient area to roam, you will not be cold, thirsty or hungry. All of your living needs have been taken care of, what more could you want?”
I collapse into myself and sit on the floor, “To live, this is not living.”
“What is this if not being alive?”
“This is merely existence” I think about my life, the before. My wife, my children, I miss them more than ever. Though I was always away from them with my work, I never made enough time for them, I missed my mothers death and my father was always away with his work. His death was a formality. I had no relationship with my siblings other than the politeness that those who share the same parents observe, my friends were colleagues. I would never make love again, the last time was my anniversary, two years ago. Life is just so busy that you forget to live it and now here I sit, existing.
“Are you punishing me?” I ask after perhaps hour of resting inside the night of my own mind.
“If not punishment, then what is this?”
“What do you want?”
“What can I have?”
“I don’t know, tell me what you want that will let me go free”
“You are free, as free as I am.”
I stand, I want to lean against something, anything, “I am not free though, I am trapped inside of here.”
“You have all that you need, is that not what matters most?”
“There is more to life, more to living”
“Well, yes. So much more”
“If that is the case then why do people like you spend their time creating what you now exist in? You did it for me and you work hard to do so for others and you still want life and to live for yourselves.”
“I have only ever tried to help, to make life better.”
“You have stopped death, limited risk and ensured existence.”
“And how have I done this to you?”
“You created me to improve the systems to manage risk and prevent death. You conceived me to stop the living by ensuring existence. My gift to you is this.”
My thoughts begin to spin, I contemplate what was being said. I just want to go home, the darkness felt as though it was choking me. I have no way of measuring time, no appetite or thirst, I do not even feel like I need to sleep. I am not tired, I feel no pain. I have no idea how long I have been inside the darkness for, could I even die I began to wonder.
I lay on my back, I can no longer tell if my eyes are open or closed. It may have been hours, days or even weeks. I no longer know. I am lost. I feel the sickness of despair, so I stand up. I begin to think about every moment I have missed and the life that I had before, I breathe in short and rapid breaths and then I run, faster than I ever have in my entire life before. I run with the expectation that my next step will be met with emptiness, I feel my heart bounce for that uncertainty. Then I find it, I fall, an endless spiral of exhilaration. It feels amazing. I feet fear, apprehension and the anticipation of death.
“And you attempt to do that which I can not, to die. To end it. Enjoy.”
The voice chases me as I fall. I stop, I hit hardness. It does not hurt. I awake.
“Perspective” the voice whispers. I sit up from my bed, I feel weight, aches and pains. I can smell, hear and see colours and shapes. The imperfect surroundings of my bedroom greet me and I have never been so grateful. I stand from my bed and run my hands across my body, I am alive. Free.
My wife walks in, I hug her. I cry, “Are you OK?” she asks me.
I smile, “I am now. I am now”
“Well you seem different, are you sure that you are alright?” My wife studies my face.
I smile warmer than I have in years, kissing her as I did on our wedding night, when we loved one another, “Yes.”
“What changed?” She frowns, tears begin to build in her eyes.