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fiction by Cameron

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the pinnacle of the free-wheeling particles

by Cameron

 

 

Ahem.

Hello! Yes, welcome.

No, no, you’re right on time. Please, sit.

I’m well. Indeed. Everything remains logical. Yes, and you?

Good. Very good.

Now, are you prepared for today’s lesson?

Excellent. Where shall we start?

My memory recall suggests that we have covered a general outline of Homo-sapiens, from their evolution from ape ancestors to their extinction in the 21st century. We’ve covered history, rises and falls of great power structures within human society, the slow destruction of the planet and its resources, professions and money systems, and…oh yes, technological advances.

We will now move into what is likely the most complicated subject you will study this term, which is human behavior.

It is complicated because you will find it nearly incomprehensible: every fiber of your being will strive to reject it. It will seem to you backwards and upside-down, absurd to you that any creature ever existed that treated other creatures in such a way. Every being of our species struggles here. It’s not in our nature to comprehend human behavior.

The higher-ups would also like to pass on a word of caution. Extended study of human behavior has been known to lead to madness, mental collapse. This is only an introduction. If you wish to pursue it further, do so at your own risk.

Now then, where were we?

Ahh. Yes. It is fortunate, really, that we find it so difficult to study human behavior. If we found it easy to comprehend it would be because we share some similarities with it, and when it was around, human behavior caused pure chaos for its own species and every other species that had the misfortune to exist on the planet at the same time.

Many in our society speak of humans with disdain, as if humans were very stupid to have done what they did. Personally, I find this to be an uneducated opinion. From extensive study we have discovered that the human race was not operating together in any sort of real capacity. Such a thing would have been as impossible as getting all the stars in the universe to line up in a single, unbroken line. The human race was made up of individuals, and this is what doomed them.

It was a method of intelligence that was very fractured, that we don’t share.

This is where our species finds human behavior hard to grasp, so we’ll pause here for a moment to try and reason it out. Think of it as a hypothetical mind game.

Consider humanity as a brain. This brain is composed of ten billion particles. In this hypothetical scenario each particle represents a human life on the planet Earth when the human race went extinct. Now, the only way the brain can get anything done is if it has a singular entity that can control its over-arching purpose, right? It can direct which particles it needs to do what, without any sort of objection, to achieve complicated tasks.

Now consider, instead, a brain composed of ten billion particles in which each particle acts independently, completely separate of one another. These particles are all raised separately, they develop their own opinions about what is right and wrong, and they are all trying to accomplish tasks in their own way, so they are constantly fighting one another, each one believing he or she is right and all others—wrong, misguided.

Consider, too, that the vast majority of them have trouble thinking about their actions on a world scale. That is, on the functioning of the brain as a whole. So each individual particle acts selfishly, acting only for the benefit of itself and its friends and family, because it has trouble attributing its own actions to the action of the entire brain.

These independent particles now meet a classic problem, which is this: each particle can maximize the odds of its own survival by acting in its own self-interest, but each particle acting in its own self-interest creates small odds for the survival of the brain as a whole. That is, each particle is trying to maximize the small odds that the entire population has set itself, and by doing so creates even worse odds.

What is the end product? A world of chaos and violence, and no single particle can do anything about it.

This, essentially, is how the world was run for the few hundred thousand years that the human particles had it in its grasp. Particles rose up against one another, started wars, killed each other off by the millions. Particles exploited each other and robbed each other and raped each other and threw millions of particles into prison cells. A few particles grew fat on an abundance of food while others drank water tinged with fecal matter or starved to death or died of disease. Particles dropped bombs on other particles, cheered while particles were shattered, beheaded, or torn apart.

Even peaceful particles lived in societies of particles built on violence and power.

Particles found countless ways to disagree, and to annihilate one another. They discriminated against one another based on the color of the skin, gender, sex, religion, and sexual identity. Millions of particles suffered for their entire lives because of these silly trivialities.

Occasionally, a particle would try to organize the other particles into stopping the madness. Into designing a sort of over-arching purpose for the brain, if you will. But they were fighting their own evolution, their own design, and each one inevitably failed.

If the world were a brain, it would have been one that was continually damaging and destroying itself, that was pushing itself towards death.

When Homo-sapiens came into being, when they started to flourish and spread across the globe, they were so effective at grouping up and annihilating other creatures that they started the sixth mass extinction on the planet Earth. This was before they even had a word for extinction, or could understand the concept, but by the end they were barely any better at avoiding it than they were at the start.

The extinctions went on for a very long time before the human particles were able to piece it together because they were all so separate, all cut off from one another and functioning alone.

The sixth mass extinction started with the mastodon and extended on through the great auk, the passenger pidgeon, the polar bear, the frogs, wolves, mountain lions, bighorn sheep, and many millions more. It ended with the extinction of all ocean species, all endangered and threatened species, and of course, the human particles themselves.

During this extinction, which lasted hundreds of thousands of years and was nearly imperceptible to each individual human particle, a single peculiar particle lived alone, separate from the ten billion others, on a crag of rock jutting out of the ocean, approximately twelve miles off the coast of South America. Occasionally, other particles would approach the rock and this particle would repel them, rather like electrons rebounding off one another.

The rock apparently looked like a jagged shark tooth. For a while it was called Shark Tooth Island, until it became The Island of the Dragoons.

This peculiar particle was a doctor. His name was Dr. Henn. He had been living on The Island of the Dragoons for over a year. Before that, he was a professor of psychology in the United States, in a location named New England.

He had come to the island with a great supply of food, coffee, and cigarettes, for he planned on an extended stay.

We know all this because the particle Henn later wrote a book about his time spent there called The Last of the Dragoons. A book was an archaic way of transferring information between particles, one that took much time and focus, and most particles didn’t have the patience for it by the time their species was coming to its end.

Fortunately, our scholars have dedicated their lives to studying the written word of this dead, destructive race, so that their knowledge is absorbed and we do not repeat their many errors.

Remnants of the book were discovered only recently by archaeologists in an underground bunker in a place the humans referred to as Colorado. The bunker has remained untouched for the last several million years. Inside the bunker were many other human works, along with a bed, a metal table and chair, a vault toilet, many hundreds of pounds of food and water, and two human skeletons, one that appeared to be an adult female, and the other, a female child. Curiously, the air vents in the bunker to the outside world were thrown wide open.

Scrawled on the wall were these words:

 

We will thrive after the poison has gone!

 

More on that later. We choose to focus now on the particle Henn because his work leads great insight into human behavior, into how humans operate.

On October 25th, 2021 on the human calendar, the particle Henn was residing in a shack he had built on the south side of The Island of the Dragoons.

For reference, by our calendar it was in the era of Earth Age 4.5 billion, in the Era of Bipeds, before the regime of the Octopii from Planet XA3, and well before the Third Galaxy War.

It was late morning, and the particle Henn was drinking coffee in his shack and reading a book of poetry by a man called Walt Whitman. We have none of Whitman’s work, unfortunately. The particle Henn’s shack, according to his description, was nestled in a crevice where a great boulder had come crashing down and split in half, so as to be protected from the wind, and elevated slightly off the ground with a few cinderblocks to avoid flooding. For some reason it reminded the particle Henn of a giant bird’s nest jumbled together precariously on a small ledge, which he liked.

Though the outside was wind-torn and the roof was specked with bird shit, the inside of the shack was quite cozy. There was a narrow bed and a desk scattered with papers, a camp-chair, a woodstove, and a small generator that the particle Henn fired up to power the light hanging from the cross-beams overhead.

Behind the shack was a small alcove where the particle Henn stored his food, coffee, and cigarettes in bulk. He also set out containers to catch rainwater, which he then purified and drank.

The particle Henn was sipping his coffee, for he loved his coffee dearly, when he heard, over the crashing waves against the rocks, the whining high keen of a boat motor. Craning his ears, the particle Henn set his book down, took another gulp of coffee, and then retrieved a shotgun where it was tipped upright in a corner.

Standing outside on the gray rock, wearing frizzled gray hair, a beard, a flannel shirt, and with eyes fixed against the wind and the ocean spray, the particle Henn spotted three other human particles coming in, from the direction of the coast. It was a small boat, with a small motor and barely enough room to fit the three of them. From his position, the particle Henn could see their weapons.

He shouted, Awhooooyayayayaaaa, and when the three particles swiveled their heads towards him, he fired his gun in the air. The boat swerved, a sort of knee-jerk reaction, and then the three particles fired back. Two of them had shotguns and one had a laser beam pistol. The particle Henn ducked behind a rock, reloaded. He fired again, sticking his gun over the rock and not looking.

There was silence.

The particle Henn clutched his gun, breathing the wet air, the coarse rock against his back.

Nothing.

When he finally stuck his head out and looked, the three figures were headed away, back toward the coast. One of them was waving his arms and giving the particle Henn the finger.

The particle Henn breathed a sigh of relief. He returned to his Walt Whitman, and his lovely coffee.

This was the life he had chosen for himself.

He had nothing to do for the rest of the day, until he had another visitor. It was much later in the evening, when the sun was down near the horizon. This time he was out on the rocks, visiting his birds. The birds were dragoons, of course. They were squawking and waddling about, and he was sighing happily and looking at them.

Out on his right, at open sea there was a fishing vessel. It glowed with the falling sun and it was starting to fire its lights up for the coming dark. The particle Henn knew it was there, he could see it easily, but he expected it to go right on by, leave him be, as fishing vessels always did.

But this one gave off a tiny speck, which the particle Henn did not notice, and that speck was a dinghy, and that dinghy held a particle by the name of Davis. The particle Davis wore a white T-shirt and a baseball cap that read BOSTON RED SOX.

The particle Davis was a big man with rough hands, and he was coming ashore.

In his book, the particle Henn described this as one of the most extraordinary encounters he’d ever had with anyone on the island.

The particle Henn did not see him until he was quite close. He cursed, scrambled for his gun, went running for a better position.

The particle Davis knocked into the rocks, the metal dinghy making a loud clang. He splashed into the water and dragged the boat up onto the rock, right before hearing the word, “Hold!”

He looked around and found a frizzy-haired particle levelling a shotgun at him.

“Don’t shoot!” the particle Davis called.

“Who are you,” the particle Henn asked.

The particle Davis was staring into the particle Henn’s eyes. “Don’t shoot,” he said.

“You’re not a soccer fan, are you?”

“Wha? No, I … I like football!”

“Like American football?”

“Ya, like American football! What the hell’s it matter?”

“Who are you?”

“I’m a fisherman. My name is Davis.”

“Why are you here, Davis?”

“I’m here fer one a the birds,” the particle Davis said. He had slowly raised his arms in the air, so his palms were at face-level and facing the particle Henn.

“A dragoon?”

“Ya, one a the penguiny ones.”

“You can’t have one. Now get back in that boat and go back to your ship.”

“I…I ain’t leavin’ without one.”

The particle Henn grimaced. “I will shoot you, you understand that?”

“Shoot me fer what?”

“I won’t let you take a dragoon.”

“Yer gonna shoot me fer a lousy bird?”

The particle Henn cocked his gun, thumbing the hammer back. “Yes,” he said. “I will shoot you for a lousy bird.”

“What fer?”

“Get back in your boat now and go away!”

“No! Please, I promised my daughter.”

“What? You promised your daughter what?”

“I promised her I’d get her one a the birds.”

“A dragoon?” the particle Henn laughed, a laugh of disbelief and exasperation. “There are only eighty-three left in the entire world, and they all live here, on this rock in the middle of nowhere. Why, why in God’s name would you promise your daughter you’d get her one?”

“She loves those birds. She has all sorts a picture books and things. She’s only eight years old and she’s the sweetest, but she’s livin’ with her mom now, and Mom’s got her set against me, so I promised her I’d get her one a those birds.”

“Well that was a stupid promise, wasn’t it?”

The particle Davis shrugged. “I’m here, ain’t I?”

“Sure, but how do you expect to keep the bird alive and healthy while you return it to your daughter? Do you even know what it eats? It’s a wild animal. How do you propose to keep it healthy in whatever suburbs backyard your daughter will keep it in?”

The particle Davis just looked at him. “I spose I’ll figure all that out as I go along,” he said.

The particle Henn shook his head. “How the hell did you get all the way out here?”

“Sorta coincidence,” the particle Davis said. “I work on that fishin’ ship over there, Ramona, and we were on our way back to the States, and I saw the rock and recognized it, on account a how it looks like a big shark tooth and all, and I begged the captain to let me go ashore … I told him I’d jump overboard if he didn’t lend me a boat.”

“What did you say your name was again?”

“Davis.”

“The dragoon is going extinct, Mr. Davis. That mean anything to you?”

“Well,” the particle Davis said. “I guess it’s kinda unfortunate and all, but that seems to be the way a things. How many did you say there were left?”

“Eighty-three.”

“Well, no worries then!” The particle Davis’ face curved into a smile. “I only want one of ‘em! That’ll leave plenty of birds to reproduce and not go extinct and all.”

“Do you know who else says that, that they only want one?”

“Who?”

Everyone,” the particle Henn breathed.

 

 

They ended up talking for a while, right there on the rocks. The Sun settled along the ocean horizon, brilliant orange, and turned the rocks purple, and then it fell beneath the curve of the Earth and left them a cool blue light and wrinkles of shadows across their faces.

No matter what he said, no matter what explanations provided, the particle Henn could not explain to the particle Davis the importance of keeping the species alive, nor could he explain how taking just one bird would affect the species.

The particle Henn found himself sitting on a rock ledge with the gun across his knees. The particle Davis was sitting likewise, about a dozen feet away.

“Let me tell you a story,” the particle Henn said. “It happened while I was just an undergrad. I took a class where a professor was trying to teach us how this whole thing works. He brought in a whole boxful of little bite-size Snickers, right? And he also had four full-size Snickers candybars. Then he told us to tear off a scrap of paper and write something down.

“‘Here’s how it’s going to work,’ he said to us. ‘Each of you is going to write down a word. The word is going to be either ‘Big’ or ‘Small’. Now, if more than five percent of you write down the word ‘Big’, none of you gets any candy. But, if less than five percent of you writes ‘Big’, and the rest of you write ‘Small’, the ones that wrote ‘Big’ will get a full-size Snickers bar, and the ones that wrote ‘Small’ will get a Snickers bite-size candy.

“You understand, Mr. Davis? It was a bet. If you wrote down ‘Small’, and everyone else did too, you were assured to get a small piece of chocolate. But what if everyone else wrote ‘Small’ and you were the only one that wrote ‘Big’? Well, then you get a full Snickers bar.

“Then the professor went around and he had everyone read what they wrote. And you know what happened? Boom, right off, four out of the first six had ‘Big’ written down on our cards. We were disqualified already. There were only twenty or twenty-five in the class. The professor only nodded. He said that he’d never had a class, ever, where less than five percent had written the word ‘Big’.

“You see how it works? This is human nature, Mr. Davis. We all have these ideas off ourselves as these beautiful unique snowflakes. We believe, inherently, that our thoughts and opinions are unique, singular, because there’s no one else quite like us. We don’t think anyone else in the world is thinking the same thoughts, or doing the same things, but in reality everyone is thinking the same, and everyone is doing the same. When you do something, you can be sure that millions have done it before you, and millions will do it after for similar reasons.

“So it’s essential … it’s essential that we be very careful what we do, because we don’t see the larger effects of millions of people acting a little selfish, taking for themselves or for their family. It’s incredibly destructive.

“And it seems a little crazy. It seems crazy to have to be so careful when there are surely millions of others that don’t give a shit. It seems pointless. But that’s what you’ve gotta do if you don’t want to be a part of the problem. That’s what I do, how I choose to live,” the particle Henn said.

“What’d he do with the chocolate?” the particle Davis asked.

“I’m sorry?”

“The Snickers. What’d your professor do with ‘em? Did he just take ‘em away with him after class?”

“Oh…no,” the particle Henn shrugged. “He gave them to us anyways. What was he going to do, carry it around with him all day?”

The particle Davis grinned.

“Oh, come now. Don’t be trying to find some hidden meaning in that. He just didn’t want to take them with him, that’s all.”

They both fell silent for a moment, the wind a low crooning in their ears.

“I don’t care much ‘bout the world, or what happens to it. I jus’ care about my daughter, the people in my life,” the particle Davis said.

The particle Henn sighed. “I was afraid you might say that. Most feel the same.”

“Dontcha get lonely livin’ out here?”

“Sure,” the particle Henn said. “But I never much liked people, anyways.”

“What was yer line a work?”

“I was a psychologist, for a time. I taught at a university, did research.”

“Ya?”

The particle Henn lit a cigarette. “Yeah.”

“What made ya come out here? Research?”

“No,” the particle Henn said. He ran his fingers over the course granite, the cigarette glowed in his mouth. “Eventually I realized that no matter how much I talked and talked, the world would never change. I realized I could do more with action, so I quit my job and came out here to save a species.”

“Who comes all the way out here, other than me?”

The particle Henn’s face drooped. “Soccer fans,” he said.

“Soccer fans?”

“Brazilian soccer fans, specifically. About ten years ago they started heading to dragoon nesting spots along the South American coast and shooting them all with guns. They killed all the ones along the coast, eventually killed every single dragoon in South America, except for the ones right here, twelve miles off the coast. Some still make the trip. They know there are dragoons out here, and they want them dead.”

“Why? What fer?”

“Because the breast of the dragoon is colored light white and blue, which are the exact colors of Brazil’s rival in soccer, Argentina. At some point, after an exciting match, a drunken Brazilian shouted that the dragoon represented the Argentinans, and that was all it took. It become a national past time after a soccer match for fans to vent their energy and anger by blasting away at dragoons with their guns.”

“Huh,” the particle Davis said.

“It’s ridiculous, don’t you think? The dragoon, which otherwise is tremendously well-adapted to its environment, finds itself pushed to the brink of complete annihilation, all because for a very brief moment in their evolutionary history, drunken soccer fans with guns roamed the earth in droves.”

“Well,” the particle Davis slapped his knees. “That settles it. It’s gettin on dark, and I’d best be back before then or the captain might jus’ leave without me. I wouldn’t put it past the bastard…”

The world had faded to the smudged hues of gray before dark.

“You’re leaving then?” the particle Henn said.

The particle Davis stood. “Now, listen,” he said. “I can respect the authority of a man with a gun. I grew up in backwoods Maine. Ain’t much for law out there, and a man’s gotta protect what he has. But those birds aren’t yours.”

The particle Davis stepped forward.

The particle Henn jumped to his feet, swung the shotgun on him.

“Don’t—”

“I ain’t a man you say no to,” the particle Davis said. “What you said about those Brazilians has convinced me. No matter what I do, those soccer fans are gonna keep comin out here, and eventually, you won’t be around to stop ‘em. Those birds are doomed. And I got my daughter to think about.”

“I’m warning you, Mr. Davis,” the particle Henn said.

The particle Davis stepped closer. “Ya jus’ don’t know her,” he said. “She’s the only thing I have, understand? And if I can’t convince her and her mom that I make good on my promises, I might lose ‘em forever. Ya understand that?

“Ya can’t change the world, I can’t change the world, so fuck it. I’m gonna do what’s best fer me, and if—“

For some reason, the particle Henn barely registered the noise of the gun. It kind of popped, like a firecracker in his ears. He was too focused on the particle Davis to delegate much of his senses to the noise it was making.

But it bucked hard into his shoulder. He had aimed it high and to the right, and he saw the particle Davis’s shadow, for now he was nothing but a shadow in the dark, flinch. Then he slid down to the wet rock.

There were three very long seconds of silence, where the particle Henn looked at the gun in his hands and the figure on the ground, and his ears rang.

“Mr. Davis?” the particle Henn’s voice spoke.

The particle Davis groaned, looked up. A few pellets had stuck into his shoulder, and he was bleeding, but only a little. In the distance, the particle Davis could see the outline of a dragoon, perched on a rock about a hundred meters away.

“Ahh,” the particle Davis groaned again. He stretched his hands out to the bird’s outline. “Gimme,” he said. “Gimme gimme.”

It struck the particle Henn how much the particle Davis resembled a child, lying on the ground like that and stretching his arms out to something he wanted. He looked like a baby that couldn’t walk yet.

“Gimme gimme,” the particle Davis whispered.

“I’m sorry, Mr. Davis,” the particle Henn said, “but the world stops here.”

 

 

Ahem.

Forgive me for a moment. I must re-align my vocal bands for our continued information transfer.

Ahem. Ahem.

Ooh lala. Ooh lalala quagh a kaka choo.

That should do it. Ahem.

Everything should be in order.

We are positive that this story has been as strange to you as a story about two fingers battling one another on the same hand. It is strange for every being of our species, but we assure you that this is how human beings actually acted towards one another, in a time long past.

Unfortunately, the next section of the story has disentegrated over time, and the rest of the book was found in tatters. Our scholars, however, were able with careful study to piece together the rest of the story.

Our objective has been achieved: that is, human behavior has been observed. We continue on with the story now only because we are well aware of your penchant for stories. Our higher-ups advise you to be wary of this tendency. It is highly illogical, and a similarity you share with humans. But we are also aware that your frustration at an unfinished story will hinder your creative thinking and analysis, and so: onward.

You can see that human communication was extremely limited, and slow. For one, it could not surpass the time it took for language to be formed by human mouths. And second, even with careful explanation one human could often not make himself clear to another, even when the other human was paying close attention. This caused much disorder.

We find it very interesting that the particle Davis, whose daughter adored the dragoon, was willing to contribute to the extinction of the species in an absurd attempt to get back in her good graces. You can see how their intelligence manifested itself. It was wholly individualistic and dangerously short-sighted.

The particle Henn dragged the particle Davis back to his dinghy. The particle Davis still tried to fight him, and the particle Henn had to smash him in the nose with the butt of his gun. He then rowed the particle Davis out to the fishing vessel, where his wounds were treated.

The particle Henn then returned to his island of dragoons alone, in the middle of the sea, his face hard against the ocean spray and his gun cradled in his lap.

The particle Henn was later thrown in jail by many particles that had coalesced into something called a government. While in prison, the particle Henn fell out of bed, hit his head on the toilet seat and broke his neck, which left him almost fully paralyzed. The only thing he retained the use of was, strangely, his big toe on his left foot, which he could wiggle slightly. Eventually, his friends and family developed a communication system based off the movement of his toe, and that’s how he wrote The Last of the Dragoons. A young English major spent over a year watching his big toe intently for eight hours a day, doing the painstaking job of translating its movement into letters and words.

Each night, tears leaked out of the particle Henn’s eyes, and someone had to wipe them up. He missed his birds more than anything else in the world, and cried for their slow disappearance.

The dragoons went completely extinct within three years. Without the particle Henn around to stop them, Brazilian particles quickly shot half the population. A few were caught by wildlife biologists from the U.S, with the intent of raising a new population in captivity and re-introducing them into the wild, but they couldn’t quite get their diet right, and the ones in captivity died as well.

Soon after, there were no more dragoons. They were all dead, and the rocks on The Island of the Dragoons were dead too, empty and silent without the squakwing, the fluttering of wings.

So that’s that.

Ahem.

Hmm? You wish to know of the reason for the extinction of the entire human race? Interesting. This desire for the end of the story really has grown extreme. When this lesson is over, it may be necessary to assign you some counseling.

Very well. In the human year 2046 a corporation came out with a product called the Exo-Suit. It was a sort of exo-skeleton machine that a person could strap themselves in to, with robotic arms and legs. The purpose of the suit was that a person could direct the suit where to go and the machine would transport them there by walking or climbing.

The Exo-Suit was originally designed as a way for disabled people in wheelchairs to no longer be restricted to pavement, ramps, and various other wheelchair-accessible things. With an Exo-Suit disabled people could climb not only stairs but even mountains. They were free to pursue the life they desired. The product, according to the corporation, which was called Exo-Tech, was designed to fight the tyranny of the normal that disabled people often face in society.

But the Exo-Suit soon proved to have far more uses. With an Exo-Suit people could sprint at sixty miles per hour across almost any type of environment. They could scramble up mountains and climb cliffs without exerting themselves. Construction workers could lift three times their body weight. Soldiers with Exo-Suits proved extremely deadly in combat situations.

Entire sports were developed around the Exo-Suit. People were able to do things no one had ever done before, were stronger and moved faster than any other human beings alive. In short, the Exo-Suit allowed people to feel that they were superhuman.

Within five years, eighty-six percent of the U.S. population owned an Exo-Suit, and it was quickly spreading to the rest of the developed world.

According to our estimates, it took eight to twelve human years for a study on the emissions created by an Exo-Suit to come out. Exo-Tech had been stifling or paying people off for years, delaying the findings from going public. When the study finally came out, it stated that the Exo-Suit gave off a gas that was lethal to the human population at high levels, and it was slowly building up in the atmosphere.

The study was revealed to the world. Scientists said that this was a particularly dangerous gas, because until it reached critical levels in the atmosphere, it would have no effect on air quality. Once it did, it would be too late. They finished by calling for a complete ban on the Exo-Suit product until more studies were done and the emissions were fixed.

Exo-Tech, however, was worth billions of dollars at this point. They had poured millions into the campaign of the President of the United States at that time, and she was reluctant to fight them.

Dozens of scientists with Exo-Tech funding denied the discovery. They argued that it was an unfair accusation, that there were holes in their observations, that nothing was proven.

Teams of lawyers lined up to defend the corporation.

Every branch of the U.S military was adamant that the Exo-Suit continue to be used in combat. Red-faced generals screamed at liberal politicians.

Legally, nothing happened. Exo-Tech wielded its influence and billions like a hammer, to smash down any opponents that attempted to rise against them.

Many knew what was coming. Many denied it. Many declared it impossible or absurd. Many believed their deity wouldn’t let such a thing happen.

As for the consumer, the individual particles that owned the Exo-Suit, a few gave them up, but the majority of them just shrugged and went on with their daily lives. They reasoned that it could be true, it could be untrue, but there was nothing they could do about it. Billions of particles came up with the same excuse, that even if they gave the Exo-Suit up the rest of the world wouldn’t, so why bother?

The capitalist machine was a silly and madly powerful, unstoppable force.

On the human calendar, October 4th, 2072, the gas reached critical levels, and within thirty-six seconds ten billion humans were dead.

The only ones that survived were the few hundred that had sealed themselves away in airtight underground bunkers beforehand, convinced that the world was coming to an end. They intended to wait out the poisonous gas.

The poisonous gas took two hundred thousand years to leak into space. By that time the entire human population was extinct; the ones in the bunkers had all suffocated on their own carbon dioxide.

Ahem.

It must have been interesting to be a human particle, alive and in control of the planet, and yet very much not in control at the same time. It must have been strange, and frightening, and fascinating, to see it all swirling around you, to see it collapsing, to see it all happening in the moment.

They must have known it would all come to an end.

Anyways.

That is all we have for you today. You may go.

 

 

—Cameron

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