About 6 years ago, when I got a new computer, I ran into a bit of an unfortunate situation. The new machine read CD’s and the old one read floppy discs. (Yes, that’s how infrequently I update my computer. And I don’t plan on getting another until this one is so old the plastic turns to dust! Grumble, grouse, gripe. Curmudgeon, curmudgeon, curmudgeon!)
My excellent friend Darryl helped me transfer all the files I thought were important, and I made hard copies of many others prior to retiring my old model Mac. But, as is to be expected, there was one file I failed to transfer or print out. It was a short story, about 75% completed, entitled The Bitter End. It’s a humorous tale set in the near future, about mankind discovering, and meeting, the creator of Earth.
At the time I was occupied with other endeavors. (Like joining Facebook and playing online poker on my new Mac, for instance.) By the time I finally decided to finish writing the story, some 18 months later, I found I had no file or hard copy of the piece. My old computer was still plugged in, (reserved for the occasional contest of the classic shooter game QUAKE), and I was easily able to find the file. Sadly, I had long ago disconnected the printer. Hoping I could still get the thing to print, I dug the it out of mothballs. Unfortunately, I had somehow misplaced a key connective cord. The thing was now useful only as a novelty burglar basher.
My story was trapped like a rat in a limbo of inaccessible pixels!
And so it stayed for four more years until my lovely wife Beth bought a new laptop for her new job. Using her portable computer, I was able to transcribe the unfinished tale to her Word program and e-mail it to myself. I have since finished the tale and plan to submit it for critique at the Moosemeat writer’s group at the soonest possible opportunity.
In the meantime here is a short excerpt, to whet your appetite. I will let you know what the Moosemeat clan had to say about it in the New Year.
Story by Sam Agro. All rights reserved. Steal it and I’ll crush your kneecaps.
The Bitter End
By Sam Agro
God’s name is Irving.
The millennium came and went without a ripple. The much-dreaded Y2K bug was a big bust. Contrary to popular expectation, the groceries got to the store on time, and the water, electricity and television programming continued to flow uninterrupted into everyone’s home. The devout were not taken up into the Lord’s throne room, and the survivalists were left with vast stores of powdered eggs to silently mock them for their misplaced prudence. Ultimately, no one was forced to feast on the roasted eyeballs of their neighbours to stave off starvation.
Well, a few did, but were dealt with in short order by the constabulary.
Life went on.
All in all, everyone was pretty disappointed.
The end of the world, when it finally did arrive some twenty-six years later, came from a completely unexpected place. It did not bring the world of man crashing down in one giant, apocalyptic flash of fire and brimstone, as some had predicted. It merely infected our tender little souls and started a painful and extended process of spiritual putrefaction.
It happened on September 19, 2026.
Several years prior to that fateful date, an industrious group of scientists, delving ever deeper into the mysteries of the human genetic code, finally succeeded in mapping the genome in its entirety. New technologies finally cracked the repetitive centromeres and telomeres, and the job was complete. This breakthrough ushered in the long promised golden age of genetic curatives, which, one by one, eliminated the long-standing ills of the human creature. Even the common cold finally fell to the new technology, causing cocktail party wags to quip; “Now all we need is a cure for the common clod.”
Things were pretty damn good for a while and might have stayed that way if not for Dr. Emmerson Quentin Carstairs.
Carstairs was one of the tertiary decoders of the human genome project, and was an avid puzzle fanatic. One might assume that decoding the human genome would be enigma enough to afford a lifetime’s worth of satisfaction for even the most intent decipherer, but it was not so for Carstairs. His gamester’s instinct hinted that there might be a further mystery lurking beneath the first. He was somehow certain that a greater revelation lay hidden in the twists and turns of the double helix. After the project was completed, his fellow scientists pushed forward to put their new information into practical use. Instead of following their lead, Carstairs secluded himself away with several powerful, top-of-the-line organic computers and sought to scratch his nagging intellectual intuition.
He ran the genome information backward and forward. He chopped up the data into tiny bits and rearranged it in every conceivable combination. He considered the problem from all imaginable viewpoints, in an obsessive attempt to find the elusive hidden message he sensed lurking in the myriad compartments of our genetic code. His former colleagues first teased, then scoffed, then worried, then finally abandoned their increasingly obsessive, and increasingly un-showered, peer.
But damn it, he was right.
The specifics of Quentin’s discovery are pretty complex, but as it was explained to me this is what he finally did. He transposed the data found in our DNA into a series of tiny, parallel bursts of light. He then projected the information through a controlled series of prismatic computer simulations. The simulations resolved the light bursts into a designer’s label of sorts. There, in impressive, multicoloured holographics was the complete history of our genetic engineering and, startlingly, the personal signature of our creator.
God’s name is Irving.
Irving’s name was later found in the subatomic codes of everything on earth. He had designed the flora, the fauna, the very rock, dust and oxygen that surrounded us. It was all the handiwork of the great and powerful Irving.
The ultimate truth of our existence had been laid bare. The earth and all it’s creatures were prefabricated. An astounding series of experimental organic constructs. In fact, all the planets in our solar system, and possibly beyond, were further installments in what appeared to be a vast, intergalactic science fair.
An atomic check of our cache of moon rocks quickly confirmed that they were the design of some guy named Aldo.
Once Carstairs’s discovery had been confirmed several things happened right away.
The religious immediately turned their backs on the church. Pagans and atheists rushed in confused desperation back into the chapels, cathedrals and synagogues. Conformists became wild, crazy and unpredictable, while the idiosyncratic lost all sense of self. The noble were reduced to the common and the indigent got downright cocky. The racist became impotent and the elitist became possessed of a newfound generosity.
Wars ended and wars began.
Whole countries dissolved out of sheer apathy.
World governments tried to maintain the status quo, of course, and ultimately found it to be all too sickeningly easy. The post revelation backlash died out after four or five years and, in the final analysis, things didn’t really change all that much.
But, something had happened to our sense of self-esteem. Knowing that our beloved Earth was merely a giant petri dish, created for some otherworldly show and tell, then left fallow by its creator, wounded us. Our sense of specialness had taken a shallow cut to the jugular and we were slowly losing our life’s blood from the wound.
Sure, people still went to work, still bitched about taxes, still watched YouTube and ate pizza, but our hearts were no longer in it. As a race we were winding down. Slowly falling into a bleak hopelessness. Reproduction was at an all time low.
Oh Irving, why hast thou forsaken us?