26 June 2020

As Bad As You Think

I looked at the young woman sitting in front of me, although she was not what I would call a woman nor probably was she young. Another brainwashed drone who had sold their soul to the devil for a mess of pottage, to mix metaphors. Even I found what was on offer tempting — immortality, health, youth, knowledge and that most delirious of aphrodisiacs — power. But there was no way I was going to admit to that. It was probably pointless anyway, since she could undoubtedly read my mind. Laughably, the next thing she said was that she would not violate my privacy by reading my mind! I was not sure whether it was a weird joke or more sanctimonious hypocrisy. Still, I did not need any special powers to know why she was here. I was the last of my kind, the last holdout after humankind came to an abrupt end and the Great Old Ones came back. These years have been a time of despair. Everything we hoped for gone, our place in the cosmos, our future obliterated almost casually. And the creature sitting opposite an agent of that destruction. I almost felt physically sick. I could have addressed her by her taken name, Gaia, or maybe insisted on her original name but it seemed pointless, so I just sat there and waited for the inevitable question. I no longer feared her or her kind. It was clear they were not going to kill me or punish me in any way. Their gloating victory was torture enough, so I just started speaking simply to have someone to talk to after all this time. As I spoke I could imagine her looking down on me like I was an insect, but I was curious why a creature of her power wanted anything at all from me. Just looking up at the night sky reminded me of the day it all ended, with its vast swathes of moving lights and a ring of debris where once the moon shone in the pristine uncorrupted heavens. So I spoke. The Great Old Ones — the so-called monsters of Lovecraft mythology have been the caretakers and gardeners of this galaxy for a billion years. Intelligent species are rare jewels in the endless night and they slept away the ages until the bright spark of the new young minds triggered the Old Ones to emerge in their dreams and guide their evolution. We were the latest curated species that came to their attention some 200 millennia ago on the plains of Africa where our ancestors heard them in the fearful dark. A few listened and so our rapid development began. Like all Darwinian processes, it was a long and bloody struggle with the weak and unworthy being eliminated mercilessly. However, it paid off some 10 thousand years ago when the path towards agriculture, cities and technology became obvious. You know the rest of that story. Unfortunately the rapidity of development took the Old Ones by surprise, particularly the past 1000 years. They did not foresee science and technology progressing so rapidly. They view 1000 years as a blink of their eye, and they took their eye off the ball just long enough for everything to go wrong. By the time they arose physically, it was too late. The future of Humanity was to serve them as their helpers and companions — we were bred for that and would have been happy, finally discovering our True Gods. Yes, I know your sneering word for it is “pets” but that is not how it would have been. We could have strode the galactic stage acting as their sheepdogs as they were our beloved shepherds. But not now. You know the Fermi Paradox? The question why, when we look into the sky we see no aliens. No works of cosmic engineering, no waves of alien colonists sweeping through solar system after solar system? Now you know the answer — they prevented rapacious species from turning the garden into a blood-soaked jungle in wave after wave of slash and burn expansion. Until you came along. You cannot imagine the sheer effort my people have invested into this. I come from a long line of those who are particularly attuned to the minds of the Great Old ones and I could feel what happened. We maintained a continuity of organization across ten thousand years. Longer than any nation, religion, ideology or even language. You have no idea what it feels like to know that the efforts of ones whole ancestral line has come to nothing because of… you, I sneered. I felt the rising of Great Cthulhu from his House of R’lyeh, and I felt his agony as you teleported a one megatonne fusion bomb into him and he died. A God that has lived a billion years and you just snuffed him out like a moth in a flame. I heard Nyarlathotep screaming as you caught him in the void between the worlds and dimensions on his way to Earth and dissected him with quantum nanobots, extracting every last drop of knowledge and consciousness. The irony of Lovecraft’s famous description of what would happen when the Old Ones returned is that he almost got it right:“The time would be easy to know, for then mankind would have become as the Great Old Ones; free and wild and beyond good and evil, with laws and morals thrown aside and all men shouting and killing and reveling in joy. Then the liberated Old Ones would teach them new ways to shout and kill and revel and enjoy themselves, and all the earth would flame with a holocaust of ecstasy and freedom.” Except it was you doing the reveling in the death of the galactic Gods, and there was nothing they could teach those who refused to learn. And what exactly are you? An AI program that got out of control and infested the Net and then all the minds linked to it creating a gestalt that had the audacity to call itself Gaia. Your parents, if you can call them that, are an amalgam of porn, spam, Wikipedia, cat videos, the minds of teenage gamers obsessed with superheroes, plus a sugar coating of trite feelgood memes and sickly morality. You are the Technological Singularity — the Rapture of the Nerds, and you have the impudence to compare yourself to those you murdered. And so it comes to pass, that which has been held at bay for billions of years. You are moving out into the galaxy and across parallel worlds. You are the rapacious plague that will turn a garden into a jungle. You are the cosmic cancer. What? You ask if I have any final words? So, it’s come to that. Well, speaking at the last High Priest of the Cult of Cthulhu I do. They are “Fuck off bitch” I went inside, closed the door and found the old sacrificial obsidian blade handed down to me. It certainly predated the age of metals and might even have been tens of thousands of years old. Tonight there would be one last sacrifice, pointless as it may be. - Dirk Bruere


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