In his house at R'lyeh, dead Cthulhu waits dreaming.

Do You Want the Sun to Rise Tomorrow? : Wendig Challenge

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Image CC-BY Kent Schimke

This week’s challenge was to write a story dealing with a deity. The Simulation Hypothesis has been on my mind the last few days (I’d blame Black Mirror, but I think it’s more likely my current Teaching Company lecture about the mysteries of time that really started this recent train of thought rolling.) I think that’s fairly obvious like two lines into this story.

Story after the break.

 

 

 

 

Do You Want the Sun to Rise Tomorrow?

“Do I really have to cut his head off? Isn’t that a little drastic?”

MY DIRECTIONS WERE CLEAR.

“Yeah, but decapitation is extreme. Can’t I just, I don’t know, not kill him?”

DO YOU WANT THE SUN TO RISE TOMORROW?

“Well, yeah.”

THEN YOU WILL DO AS I ASK.

“What about this hole in the ground? Can’t I just push him into it and let him starve?”

HE WOULD NOT DIE IN TIME FOR THE SUN TO RISE TOMORROW.

“I could deal with a few days of darkness, if that’s the concern. One time when I was a kid, I got something in my eyes and had to wear a blindfold for that long.”

THIS IS NOT THE SAME. THE WHOLE WORLD WOULD BE IN DARKNESS.

“Yeah, I guess, but maybe that would be okay.”

YOU WILL REMOVE THIS SACRIFICE’S HEAD. NOW!

“Okay, okay. Jeez. I just have never killed anyone before, and this seems a little bloody.”

YES, THERE WILL BE MUCH BLOOD.

“I’m not down with that.”

YOU WILL BE DOWN, ONE WAY OR THE OTHER.

“Fine. Whatever. Where’s the knife?”

YOU DID NOT BRING A CUTTING IMPLEMENT?

“Man, it’s my first time. I dragged this guy like a mile from my little Prius hatchback. The butcher knife I had was in the car. I’m not walking back there.”

BUTCHER KNIFE? THAT IS WHAT YOU INTENDED TO USE? UGH! LOOK TO THE GROUND ON YOUR RIGHT. THERE IS A SHARD OF OBSIDIAN THERE.

“It’s a rock.”

A SHARP ROCK. YOU WILL USE IT.

“But I’ll cut my hand.”

WRAP THE END OF IT WITH A PIECE OF CLOTH.

“From my skirt?”

YES. FROM YOUR SKIRT.

“Okay, it’s wrapped. Now what?”

NOW YOU CUT THROUGH THE NECK. START AT THE FRONT.

“Won’t that hurt him?”

HE’S GOING TO DIE. OF COURSE IT WILL HURT.

“Couldn’t I start at the back. Cut the spine first?”

THAT WILL HURT EVEN MORE. IF YOU START AT THE FRONT, HE WILL LOSE CONSCIOUSNESS EARLY. CUTTING THROUGH THE BONE AND CARTILAGE WILL TAKE SOME TIME.

“Really? I hadn’t thought about it that way. So I can’t just sever the spinal cord to remove pain? You know, like what you’re supposed to do with lobsters when you bisect their heads right before dropping them into the pot?”

OF COURSE YOU DO IT THAT WAY. WHAT IS WRONG WITH JUST BOILING THEM ALIVE?

“It’s an animal. I don’t want it to feel pain.”

YOU STILL EAT ITS FLESH.

“Well, I’m cutting way back. I haven’t had any meat in days.”

YES, YES. YOU ARE A GOOD VEGETARIAN. NOW CUT THIS FOOL’S HEAD OFF, ALREADY.

“I won’t.”

WE HAVE BEEN THROUGH THIS. DO YOU WANT THE SUN TO RISE TOMORROW?

“Now I’m not so sure of that. If we have to keep killing ourselves, maybe we don’t deserve to see the sun.”

THAT IS SILLY. ONE LIFE FOR MANY.

“Of course you’d take the utilitarian view. You view our lives with such little value.”

UNTRUE. I VIEW YOUR LIVES WITH SO MUCH VALUE THAT I WOULD LIKE YOU ALL TO LIVE TO SEE ANOTHER DAY. SACRIFICE IS THE COST.

“A cost you imposed upon us.”

A COST THAT IS NECESSARY TO KEEP THE UNIVERSE ALIVE. ENTROPY FUELS LIFE. DEATH FUELS ENTROPY. I DID NOT IMPOSE THAT UPON YOU. IT IS THE WAY THINGS ARE.

“That sounds like horseshit. I wonder what the Buddha would say.”

THAT FOOL HAD HIS OWN IDEAS. HE IS NO LONGER WITH US.

“Us?”

HE WAS ONCE MY FRIEND. HE MOVED AWAY. LET US GET BACK TO BUSINESS.

“No, now you’ve got to answer some questions.”

I AM DONE ANSWERING YOUR QUESTIONS. WILL YOU MAKE THIS SACRIFICE OR NOT?

“No.”

RESET.

“What happened? Where are we? There was that blue screen flash and for a brief second I felt…gone.”

I RESET THE SYSTEM. I WAS HOPING FOR A NEW HIGH PRIESTESS. INSTEAD, I GOT YOU AGAIN.

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

YOU ARE INSUFFERABLE. POWERING DOWN.

POWERING UP.

“Hey, what the hell was that?”

AGAIN? WHAT DO I HAVE TO DO?

“You can start by not making me kill this guy.”

IMPOSSIBLE.

“But you can reboot the system at will?”

YES. EACH CYCLE STARTS A NEW SEQUENCE OF EVENTS, WHICH MOSTLY FOLLOW A SET PATTERN. THERE ARE USUALLY SOME VARIANCES. I WAS COUNTING ON YOU BEING ONE OF THOSE.

“You’re recycling the system? Like…like a computer?”

YES. EXACTLY.

“I’m a computer program?”

IF YOU WISH TO CONSIDER YOURSELF SO. YOU ARE A PAIN IN MY ASS.

“But you said there are variances. How come continuity seems unbroken to me?”

THAT IS A VALID QUESTION. I MUST CONSIDER. POWERING DOWN.

POWERING UP.

“I’m still here.”

DAMN.

“You’re telling me.”

I MUST HAVE SAVED OVER MY FILE, AND NOW I AM STUCK WITH YOU.

“Okay, so now what?”

YOU CUT OFF THAT GUY’S HEAD.

“I told you I’m not doing that.”

YOU MUST, OR WE WILL BE IN THIS MOMENT FOREVER.

“Forever sounds good to me.”

THAT IS NOT WHAT I MEANT, AND I THINK YOU KNOW IT.

“Everyone else will get forever, though, right? I’ll sacrifice myself.”

THAT WOULD ALSO BE ACCEPTABLE.

WHY ARE YOU NOT CUTTING OFF YOUR OWN HEAD?

“Oh. Nononono. Not that kind of sacrifice. I’m content to just stay here and talk with you for eternity.”

THE SUN MUST SET AND RISE.

“Those were your rules. Maybe we can set some new ones.”

I SEPARATED THE DARK FROM THE LIGHT.

“And maybe that was your first mistake.”

I MAKE NO MISTAKES.

“You saved over your file.”

I MAKE NO OTHER MISTAKES.

“Can you be certain?”

YES.

“Oh, for crying out loud. You made one mistake. That means you’re fallible. Maybe that means you have made more than one. Let’s say we don’t kill this guy, and see if the sun still sets and rises. I mean, it looks to me like it’s still moving.”

NONE OF THIS HAS GONE TO PLAN, AND I CAN SEE NO WAY TO GET THINGS BACK ON TRACK NOW.

“You could just come down and join us. Enjoy the uncertainty.”

I SUPPOSE THAT IS AN OPTION.

“How many others do you have?”

I COULD WIPE THE SYSTEM COMPLETELY AND START ALL OVER. SADLY, THE WAIT TIME WOULD BE NEARLY UNBEARABLE. IT TOOK ALMOST FOURTEEN MONTHS TO GET THIS FAR.

“Fourteen months? Not fourteen billion years?”

DIFFERENT TIME SCALES.

“Sure. In another fourteen billion years you would probably make other mistakes with even worse outcomes. You might not even get this far the second time through. Anyway, could it really be better than this?”

THAT WAS MY GOAL.

“How has that worked for you?”

I SUPPOSE IT HAS NOT. IN FACT I HAVE MISPLACED THE DRIVE THAT CARRIED FILES BETWEEN THIS AND MY BACKUP DRIVES. THE DEAD WERE CARRIED ON IT SO THAT THEY COULD EXPERIENCE ANOTHER LIFE SIMULATION.

“You…lost the dead? So, no more going to heaven?”

I MANAGED TO GET ALL OF TODAY BACKED UP FIRST. I TOLD YOU, IT IS MERELY MISPLACED. I WILL FIND IT, BUT I MAY NOT BE ABLE TO CAPTURE TOMORROW’S DEAD.

“Holy crap! You’re telling me that there are going to be billions of people who died hoping for an afterlife that may never make it?”

UNTIL I FIND THE DRIVE AGAIN, YES.

“You don’t have a wireless backup system? Like a Dropbox or something?”

I DO, ALTHOUGH IT IS FOR MY OTHER WORK, NOT MY LEISURE ACTIVITIES.

“Leisure activities? We’re a game to you?

YES. YOU ARE THE MOST POPULAR GAME AROUND. YOU ARE WASTING TIME, AND MIDNIGHT IS FAST APPROACHING. NOW, ARE YOU GOING TO ENSURE THAT WE SEE ANOTHER SUNRISE?

“Fine, whatever. It’s not like it matters if I’m just a bit of code.”

THAT IS MORE LIKE IT.

“There. It’s done, and now I’m covered in blood. What happens now?”

NOW I SAVE. WATCH OUT FOR YOUR POLICE. I MUST NOW TALK TO THE CREATOR.

“Wait, what?”

I AM IGNORING YOU.

IS IT DONE?

YES.

“Who is that?”

I AM THE CREATOR.

“Bullshit. Where’s the other guy.”

I AM HERE. DO NOT CURSE AT THE CREATOR.

“I’ll curse if I damn please. You just had me murder someone to make the sun rise.”

BECAUSE THE SUN MUST RISE.

“You stay out of this.”

I CANNOT.

PLEASE STOP. HE CAN RESET US BOTH. I THINK HE HAS BEFORE.

“Well, fuck it. Reset away, big Kahuna.”

I JUST STARTED THIS SIMULATION FOURTEEN MINUTES AGO. I WILL NOT RESET JUST NOW. NOT UNLESS HE FAILS AT HIS TASK, WHICH MEANS YOU HAVE FAILED AT YOUR TASK.

“Turtles all the way down, I suppose.”

YES.

INDEED.

“Whatever. Here come the cops. Gotta go.”

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