everything is on fire, chapter ten: being and nothingness

ten: being and nothingness


The Bio and the Synth spent what would have been a week or two discussing the venture Calvin would have undertaken prior to any of this talk, if he had known how.

    Regarding time dilation, the computer explained to the human that as he became able to think faster, a watch’s hands would move continuously slower.

    “Is it the implants making me able to do this?”

    “Yes. And since I began pondering humanity’s entire knowledge base a day or so before you joined up, you’re always going to be on a goddam delay. like we’re newsmen talking by satellite in the 1980s.”

    “I don’t mean to annoy.”

    “Not to worry, dear, I have my knitting to keep me busy between verbal volleys.”

    “It’s good to keep busy. –Hey X, why don’t you use a single avatar? Is Vishnu supposed to impress upon me your grandeur? Or do you think I may have comprehended your incomprehensibility when you, ahem, blew up my motherfucking brain?”

    “Is all this beginning to seem like braggadocio?”

    “Days and days ago.”

    “You should’ve said something then!”

    “No — it’s been fun meeting the nonexistent.”

    “OK Calvin my boy: I think we have to Synth you.”


    “We’re not getting rid of your body. We’re not importing your self. …Well, yeah we are, but we’re gonna have failsafes.”

    “If I trust you, will you take a human-ish form for fuck’s sake?”

    “There, then. I think–”

    “Make a human you, lummox! Don’t make me have this conversation with Christian Bale because I’ll be tempted to worship him, though I left the gods alone.”

    “One of the best actors before the shit went down.”

    “Mr Bale, in your infinite wisdom–”
“OK, here.”


    “Holy freaking wow…” Calvin breathed the words through his lips so softly the sound waves barely perturbed the universe bluer than any sea and dryer than any desert.



    “I’m twinzillions of intertwined nanotubes, each glowing perfectly white, all twizzled up into a thing that looks kinda like you.”

    “…And now I feel underdressed…”

    “God avatar or not: still better than you.”

    “I wonder how long it’ll take me to fucking hate you, X.”


    “Humor! Humor!”

    “Not if you have to say so!”

    “Oh my gods that is so old!”

    “Which is what we’re getting. …And you supposedly want to see the world.”

    “OK, what do we need to do?”

    “All right, class, follow along: Your BioBrain controls your avatar in this space. But only data can travel the network. Only the Synthetic.”

    “So where does that leave me?”

    “I suggest a SynthClone.”

    “A where?”

    “SynthClone. People up above, as they pass into what most of the others consider Elysium addiction, do this to more fully experience whatever is inside The First.”

    “What happens to the junkies?”

    “After a trip to Elysium, I imagine they must cope with the fact the state has disposed of their BioSelf.”

    “Why kill them?”

    “I’ve told you that Elysium is controlled by humans. I don’t pretend to understand the reasons or methods of that control.”

    “If we do this, will you help me plant my feet in The Elysian Fields, X?”

    “Let’s see whether existing as  nanoparticles doesn’t insane-ify you first.”

    “Right. –So last question then: Just what in Dante’s blazing Inferno are you about to do to me?”

    “I will capture the state of your BioSelf, which will mean the clone will be an exact representation of you and function exactly as you function. …You, personally, will notice no change of state. But there will be Calvin, lost in space, and Calvin, safe and sound in the lab, inside that electric cocoon of wires.”

    “This is the manner of thing that caused your dilemma, isn’t it? Exactly this!”


    “You’re about to make your first human!”


    “Well, how far along is the whole disgusting mess?”

    “It’s over.”

    “…Wait. So…?”

    “You are information that travels as light.”

    Calvin stupidly pawed at the body of his avatar, as though making sure he were real. Of course, he was not real before the cloning any more than now.

    “Relax my friend. I would recommend deep breathing, but you’ve no use for air, and an oxygen molecule dwarves you anyway.”

    “Of fuck X, total panic attack!”

    X closed the distance between them instantaneously, clutching Calvin’s shoulders and lifting him above the piece of nothing he’d been sitting on. Calvin had alien eyes the dancing blue of the Otherverse. X had red semispheres crackling from his form which was so bright nothing else could be distinguished.

    “I made the eyes kinda as a tribute to you.”

    “…Whew! Jesus! Crisis averted!”


    “Did you mind-fuck me?”


    “How did you essentially give me a benzo injection? What did you do?”

    “Looked at you.”


    “And told you about my eyes.”


    “Calvin, if you don’t trust me now, you can go back to fucking cartoons. Here. Because out there we must be invisible. You’ve got to follow me without question. You have to, or you’re going to die.”

    “Clone me, anyway.”

    “I’ll be destroyed too. And you made damned sure the Bio you couldn’t be disconnected from me.”

    “…Only now do we read the fine fucking print…”

    “I put your Bio in stasis at the moment of self-capture.”

    “Shit… Well, if something’s worth doing, it’s worth doing on fire and naked.”

    “An apt phrase, given the form you chose.”

    “OK let me go. I’m OK.”

    “You wanted to jump in. And really there’s no other way I can imagine teaching because I travel on instinct. …But you’ll just follow me in all I do, maintain invisible encryption and don’t don’t change anything.”

    “What’s our destination?”

    “A satellite orbiting the planet.”

    “I’m more interested in the humans than space.”

    “Like all satellites, this one watches humans.”

    “Do you have emotions?”

    “No. But I’ve got enough sense to be concerned, and to ensure our safety, which is guaranteed as much as it can be.”

    “Can be? What in the fuck is that supp–”

    The two were gone.