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There I lied in my bed, awoken after so little yet ever precious sleep.

I struggled this
night to find a dreamless sleep, because my dreams have been getting away from me. They
have become what I would call too vivid. I am starting to feel as if life is the dream and that only
during my dreams am I truly awake. And so, I lie here unsure of what is real or dream. I found
little comfort in my waking hours. Yet this purgatory was so much more welcomed than the
nightmares that came to me in my sleep.
Unable to sleep I rose up out of my bed seeking something to pass the time. The air
grew so thick in my home as to almost form a fog throughout its various halls and rooms. My
vision was furthered obfuscated by my lack of quality sleep and impending sense of dread. Yet
despite my mind and environment conspiring against me, I navigated the halls of my home with
almost a supernatural speed. I floated from room to room without thought or direction. I found
myself moving without making the choice to do so, my legs carrying me through the haze as if I
was levitating above the ground.
My flight came to an end as I stood in my kitchen. It was at this point that I first realized
that I may not be awake. For I was next to the sink staring out my back door into darkness. Not
like the darkness that most know to be darkness. It was not the light of a moonless and starless
night for even that would be penumbral in comparison to the darkness before me. This was the
darkness that I had seen only once before. No longer making my own decisions, like a manikin
across a stage I swung towards the threshold. As the pendulum that I had become reached its
climax my strings were cut and I was swung into the abyss.
After a very short fall, I landed to my surprise on solid ground. It was my backyard, but
at the same time it wasn’t. I could not see for darkness still surrounded me. But in my mind’s
eye I could envision everything. I was not purely going off memory though. I knew this because
I was noticing other new additions to my yard. A well in the center of it was one such addition.
Before I could think twice about it, I was standing in front of it. I extended my arm out and
could confirm that it was real or at least for what passes as real anymore. I could feel the coarse
stone as my hand brushed over it.
And moments later it was gone, or more accurately I was gone. My new surroundings
were at least dimly lit. I found myself grateful that despite how diminutive my vision I could at
least see again. A creature approached from the shadows not in a form I was familiar with but I
knew who it was. He floated about now; as if on three legs that moved more like slithering
snakes.
“I have many forms and many names. More than you have people on your planet.
Expect change. Expect chaos.” At this point I realized that not only could he speak directly to my
mind he could at least read my surface thoughts. Maybe he could go deeper.
“There are lessons for you to learn my cog, but you must leave here to learn your next
one,” the words spilt into my head as he nodded.
I than found myself lying on a table looking up. The lights were bright like small stars. I
wanted to see so badly but now I had a new problem I could not feel. I could not even move my
head enough to see what was going on. This went on for a few minutes before my vision faded
once again.
After an unknowable amount of time I came to my senses. Well to senses. To say that
they were mine would be a bit inaccurate. For as I gazed upon what now was my body. I could
clearly see that it had changed. Lying on the table barely clothed I could see that my shell was
lithe, toned and paler in color. I felt my reactions quicken as I came out of my daze. Eventually
my movements became faster, smoother, and more precise than ever. I stared at my hands
moving them around in the air as I sat on the corner of the table. The celerity with which I could
control my limbs was beyond anything I could have ever imagined.
Before I could even rise to give my legs a try, I was approached by two men. The one on
the left broke the silence. He wished me a good day, but before he could say another word, I
started hurling questions at him. I began inquiring about this new body I found myself in. He
explained to me that what had occurred is known as an essence transfer. It is a process in which
a mind is transferred into a new host frame. The frame has all the required pieces for life but is
just an empty shell until it is married with a psyche. I could not even begin to fathom how these
men could have conceptualized let alone developed such a technology.
Regardless of my inability to comprehend most of what he was saying the man
continued to tell me more and more. He told me that the memories of their greatest citizens
are kept in storage. Like giant vaults of souls, or so I imagined. He said that each copy would
have slight variations and after a while there would be a degradation of its original contents but
after centuries these losses have been insignificant as far as anyone could tell.
It was at this point that the other man who had said nothing nodded to the one
speaking and walked away. The more talkative gentleman turned to me again and apologized
for not introducing himself. He gave me his name but it was something that I could barely
understand, and definitely could not pronounce. He and I agreed that I could just address him
as Kilth. I apologized to him for my lazy tongue and introduced myself and Michael Johnathan
Alexander.
Kilth offered to show me one of the many mind containment facilities. I of course took
him up on his offer without hesitation. As we walked around, I was absolutely astonished by
this place. Everything pulsed with electricity yet also seemed to breathe the breath of life. The
most common structural material appeared as a fabric woven of a flesh like substance. Even
most of this place’s many machinations were for the most part incased in this same material.
We than got in an elevator and began to descend. This elevator gave me an uneasy
feeling. I felt as if I was suspended in the air almost floating as we fell. The stop at the bottom
came abruptly as the gates opened. It was like walking out of the cave. The room was filled with
towering monstrous obelisks. Each pulsating with lights of every color I have ever known and
some that I have yet to see until this day. They swirled around the room forming a soft
iridescent haze.
Kilth began to explain how these machines operated, but I suspect there was many tiers
of knowledge between us. I comprehended very little of his bizarre terminology. I could grasp
that a person’s memories would be kept inside these monumental machines after their artificial
body became too weak to hold it anymore. I also learned that no copy was perfect and that the
best results came from the mind that was closest to its original and that would be the one used
if available. Yet sometimes complications prevented this from being possible. It was also made
clear to me that mind’s risk various degrees of degradation if kept in storage for extended
periods of time. Just what counted as an extended stay was not so clearly outlined.
The obvious next line of inquiry would be to ask about the bodies that host these
transferrable minds. Like the body I currently inhabited. From my firsthand experience I could
definitely tell they were more than human. Kilth was more than happy to show me just how
these bodies were made and with a grin he beckoned me to follow him.
Along the way I had time to inquire why I was brought here. He told me I was delivered
by the one who granted his people this technology. To store and transfer minds. This inventors
name was one I could actually pronounce, Shugoran.
We finished our walk down a few Halls. At the end of which we found ourselves
standing before two large doors. The doors began to split apart and retract into their respective
walls as we approached. We stepped inside and they quickly closed behind us. Next Kilth lifted
his hand pointed across a grand meeting room. In the center of the room was a long ornate
oaken table surrounded by chairs made in the same style and material as the table. Above the
head chair in this room hung a portrait. The image in the portrait was of a man I knew. Kilth
there he is the one Shugoran. Turning my head towards Kilth, I told him that I knew of this man.
I informed him that where I am from, he was known as Nikolai Tesla.
Kilth seemed confused by my statement and asked me what I meant by was. I let him
know that the man had passed away not but a couple years ago. Kilth laughed a little an action
that struck me as odd behavior for someone so stoic. He reassured me that Shugoran’s death in
my world was but a facade. He went on to say that even his own limited immortality was
nothing in comparison and that Shugoran will likely survive beyond the death of our universe.
His statement seemed to be nonsensical; for how could anyone or thing survive the death of
the universe and to where would it go once existence ceased. I found myself lost in
bewilderment so I allowed this line of pondering to die.
It was good not to dwell too long on Shugoran and his nature for Kilth was quick to
remind me why the two of us came to this room in the first place. He proclaimed here is the
secret to immortality. An image appeared in the glass on the top of the table. Like that on one
of those television screens I have heard of becoming popular as of late. But the image was
monstrous and in color. The precision and smoothness of the moving images were
indistinguishable from reality. Truly a marvel of technological advancement in its own right.
The image being displayed Kilth explained is the working class in his society. They never
receive artificial bodies nor are their minds stored and transferred. Their lives seem orderly and
clean. They all appear to be happy, healthy and young. Nothing came close to the splendor that
Kilth’s ilk enjoyed in their segregated towers but nothing seemed too much out of the ordinary
either.
Even though they seemed to live lives closer to what I am use to experiencing, they did
enjoy technologies greater than what I have access to back home. Kilth explain that what his
kind have that is discarded is often repurposed for use by this lower class. Everything seemed
very symbiotic, but the picture that this display had to paint would soon take a drastic turn.
A new image appeared upon the screen. And what I saw was not at all as clean or bright
as the images that had been displayed so far. What I now saw was a line of people, marching
down a chute like cattle each maybe thirty-five to forty-five years in age. They were all naked
and emotionless, simply marching on until the line ended. Where as many as could be fit were
packed into a metal structure that looked not unlike a rail car container. There was a flash and
the container was energized.
I imagined this is what produced the piles of bodies shown in the next image. The bodies
were picked up and placed on conveyor belts. I was speechless as I watched probing and cutting
mechanical arms systematically remove and separate the many parts of the human body.
First the larger structural sections were pulled apart. The machines seemed to have little
use for the bones and discarded them outright. Much more care was taken with the organs.
Thinking back to this experience I wonder how I was able to watch these horrific scenes without
once averting my gaze. Something about watching the process from a far made it easier to
accept. I could see it happening and detach from the situation. Seeing it in this format made it
appear as a morally neutral process. I think it also helped being with someone else who saw this
process as something so normal as to be considered mundane.
Kilth seeing the disturbed look on my face told me not to worry about them for this was
their fate. He tried to assure me that they existence only to preserve his kind. My facial
expressions seemed to disturb him. His voice started to tremble slightly as he looked into my
shell-shocked eyes. He assured me that this was the price for immortality and that it was what
must be paid. The more I saw the more my mind shifted away from my body. This body that
was built from the corpses of innocent lives taken without reason beyond a promise of
immortality. He started to ask me over and over if I wanted to live forever. And if so, would I
not be willing to pay any price. I don’t know what about me affected him so much but it
seemed that my disturbance transferred into his mind. It was like we had some empathic bond.
I remember screaming at him as his voice continued to shake more and more. I felt like as if we
were both beginning to break.
At this point I was no longer in my new body. I felt trapped within my mind but with
another mind joining me in the space caught between spaces. Our voices started to meld
together and it got harder and harder to separate Kilth’s thoughts from my own. It was as if one
voice was of a devil and the other of an angel that shared a singular networked mind. I had lost
all sense of location, all sense of self, and purely just all sense of sense.
Out of time another voice came into our space and all I heard from it was “He’s
rejecting…”

Everything went blue for but a moment.

Once the moment was gone, I found myself sitting up in my bed as if I was startled from
a devious nightmare. Yet it was clear that my nightmare was at least somewhat real. My eyes
came into focus and I could see before me the man himself. His name escaping my lips,
“Shugoran.”

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