The Pioneers (Short Story)

Ojota space-station. One of the worst stations in the entire galaxy. It orbited titan, one of Jupiter’s many moons. And was mostly used by miners and drifters. Its gravity simulators were hardly working. The defunct machine added about 0.2 tons of extra gravitational force on the station, which made the suitcase I was holding unnaturally heavy. I cussed silently while walking towards one of the empty benches on the nearly deserted station. I always hated this station, the gravity was crushing, customer service nonexistent and the wait for departing ships was excruciating. I had no choice though, money was an issue and at such short notice. Ojota was the closest station around.

I sat exasperated. The extra gravity, adding to my already throbbing headache. The holo-projector attached to the side of my temple beeped. I tapped on it once and a slew of windows popped into existence in front of me. The device had already scanned my surrounding area and mapped the contents accordingly. I had two new emails. One from Google that contained “July’s updates”. The other was an ad from Dangote Group, showcasing their new nth dimensional farmland or farm universe if you will. “It’s so small you can’t even see it” was the tagline for the new product. Apparently Dangote Group figured out a way to transport soil, water, farming and building supplies into a pocket dimension of its own. Meaning you could carry your very own farm in your pocket. Humans couldn’t enter the farm, but nanobots could. They built, planted and harvested your crops which you can then materialize on any one of the nineteen billion silos peppered across the galaxy.
A text message steered me away from the mail. It was from my sister Yemisi. I didn’t need to open it to know what it said. She was probably worried that I’ll just skip the funeral and distance myself from everyone. To be honest, I thought about it. But I already made up my mind to attend no matter what.

“Mister Man”, I almost jumped. The voice came from beside me. “Jesus” I muttered to myself. I turned to face the person who greeted me. A girl, very young. Maybe twelve or thirteen was staring back at me. She was black and her accent sounded Nigerian. Maybe Igbo. “Hello” I managed to say. “Are you here with your parents or…?” “No. No parents” she interrupted. She was beaming with excitement, as if being away from her parents was the best thing that ever happened to her. “You really shouldn’t be travelling alone. Especially off-system”. I said, sounding like an adult know-it-all. “Don’t worry about me, I can take care of myself” she answered, slightly annoyed that I used my grownup voice on her. She looked away and tapped her holo-projector. Silence was restored. Thank God.

About a minute passed before she turned towards me again and spoke. “So, what’s your name?”, “Deji” I answered, maybe too quickly. “Okay” she replied. “Do you know yourself?” she asked. I was surprised by this question; it felt like I was in a philosophy class. “Yes. I do know myself” I retorted, trying to hide my intrigue. She looked at me intently and said “You don’t know yourself. You think you do but you don’t”. It sounded like she was certain of that fact. She continued “What is the definition of time?” She looked at me waiting for an answer. I swallowed an answered “Uh, time is a man-made construct used to represent the passing of events, time only flows forward”, I said gleefully. She looked a little disappointed. “So” she said, barely acknowledging my answer. “What if I existed outside of time. What will it be like for me?” I was getting tired of the questions but I answered anyway. Without simplifying my answers this time. “If you existed outside time, reality would become static. The past, present and the future would be visible to you. In theory you could dilate or compress infinity, but you can’t change it” I finished with a smug smile. I didn’t mean to smile. She looked impressed this time. “That’s good” she said. “Limited but good”. Now I was pissed. I looked away and tapped my holo-projector and checked the arrival time of the ship. Fourty five minutes left. I couldn’t wait to leave the station.

The girl ignored my subtle “leave me alone” cues and tapped me on the shoulder. I turned towards her and decided not to be a jerk. “Okay. Do you have any other existential questions?” I asked. It sounded hostile. I didn’t mean it to. She just smiled “Tell me what you know about the pioneers” she said still smiling. I racked my brain and soon remembered. ” Oh yes. I remember them”. She said nothing. So I continued. “Um, back in 2055, a scientist in South Africa figured out a way to merge two consciousness together to become one. His name was Zuri Xhusi. He experimented on himself and his wife. She had to sacrifice her own body to be able to live within the confines of get husband’s head. That’s the story right?” I said. She nodded. “Continue the story naw” she was invested. I continued on “So, after the merger, they discovered that thier minds we’re faster than normal. They had a combined iq of more than 300. Together they cured aids and cancer, solved the energy crisis and proposed an accurate theory that combined both Einstein’s theory of relativity and Quantum mechanics. Giving us a true theory of everything”. I stopped to catch my breath. The girl had her head resting on her palms, she was now engrossed in the story. She didn’t say it, but her facial expression told me to continue. So I did “Okay. The problem started when they thought it was a good idea to add a third mind to thiers. That added they first son, also a scientist to thier minds. This was to much for Zuri’s body. But with the new found knowledge and brain power, they built a self sustainable matrix on the cloud and uploaded their consciousness there. In about a year, more scientists and visionaries added they minds to the collective. It grew and named itself “I AM”. It solved everything. From space travel, to aging, to terrigenesis, to true happiness.” I took a deep breath and continued. “They grew to much and with time became less human, and more machine. Anyone who joined them lost all individuality, all sense of self. According to some people, I AM left the planet in search for meaning. Others said it’s still on earth but hidden. Either way we didn’t hear from them for hundreds of years.” Now I was out of breath and my throat was dry. I started her, waiting for a response. She just smiled and said nothing. “Why did you want to know about the pioneers?” I broke the silence. “Why do you think?” She retorted. “I don’t know. Everyone should know the story”.

She stopped smiling and looked at me intently, then she spoke. “I know your lost your wife. I know the pain is unbearable”. I stared at her. I was both afraid and angry at the same time. How did she know? At that moment I wanted nothing to do with her. I wanted to speak, but I was chocking on my words. She kept talking. “You are wondering how I know that. It’s simple. I know everything”. “You…So…” Still no words. She kept talking “I’m running out of time so I’ll just get to the point. I AM”. I started at her in total disbelief. This girl was either crazy or just messing with me. “I’m not crazy and I’m sure as hell not messing with you” she responded. I had about a million questions running through my mind. “And I’ll answer them, but first you need to listen to me” she said. I moved away from her, sliding across the bench, I was afraid. She was reading my mind.
Slowly but surely I finally found the courage to speak. “Look, whatever it is you are looking for I don’t have. Please leave me alone. I want nothing to do with you guys” I said it shall sharply, hiding the fear in my voice. She smiled reassuringly and spoke “Deji, you’re not speaking to the collective right now. If you heard our true voice your brain will melt and you’ll be dead in seconds” that wasn’t helping my confidence. “So who am I speaking to?” I asked. “Just one person” she said. That was vague. “So what do you want from me?” I asked regaining my composure. “I want you to join us” she said flatly. I knew I wasn’t going to like the answer but I asked anyway. “Why?” “Because we want you to” she answered. I was confused but curious. “That’s not enough reason” I said. “Okay then I’ll give you a reason. We as a collective exist beyond time and space, we oversee every and any probability that have, will and might exist. Our plan is to leave all of creation so that we can create everything” she paused, sensing my confusion. Then continued “This is called an ontological paradox or casual loop. A future catalyst that causes a past event that will lead to the future event that caused the future catalyst to affect the past continuously. I know this is a little confusing, so I’ll give you a little example. A man travelled to the past in a time machine, he met his grandmother in the past. They proceate and have a child. That child is his father who will then go on to bore him. That means he is his own grandfather. Do you understand?” she I asked. I answered “Yes I do. If he never slept with his grandmother in the past, he would not be born. I understand” I said. She smiled. “This is how the universe was created. We caused the big bang which starts everything so that we can be born to create the universe again, again and again. Its an endless loop. We intend to use this loop to our advantage and make our own changes.” She paused sensing my urge to say something. I used the moment of silence to speak “if it’s a loop then it cant be broken. Right?” “Right” she answered. “Loops need time to work, time doesn’t exist outside of creation. We can make any change we see fit.” “what change do you want to make?” I asked curious. “Souls.” She responded “When human die. They die. But with souls humans and other intelligent lifeforms have the chance to experience a higher form of existence outside of everything. Amongt quarks, leptons and muons the building blocks of reality. We add souls. That way when you die, your souls leaves creation” “What is it like? Outside of creation?” I asked. She looked down “I don’t know”. “What do you mean you don’t know?” I responded. “I mean I don’t know. That’s the adventure in it. We’ll find out when we get there”. She smiled. I thought about it. Everything she/it/they told me. I would lose my individuality and then fly blind into some unknown. I didn’t want to go. But there was a chance to give my wife a soul. I was on a crossroads. I didn’t know what to do. A group of miners had just gotten into the station from jupiter. I checked the wait time. Five minutes left . I ignored I AM who still sat there. I knew they could read my mind. I didn’t care.

“So…” she said, with the same amount of glee she exuded when speaking “Do you know yourself ?” she asked, starting the circle of questions all over again. “Yes. I know myslef. You’ve asked that before” I said mildly irritated. “ Really?” “Yes. Really” I said. She had a smug smile on her face “if you really know youself. Who do think you’ve been talking to for the last thirty minutes?” I was confused. Again. “ I’m speaking to I AM?” I said unsure of myslef. “Yes and No. As I told you before. You are speaking to a single person not the collecctive. Who do think that person is?” “Me?” I said. I thought the day couldn’t get any more bizzare but it did. “Ive been speaking to my future self the whole time?” “ Yes” she answered. “remember the causual loop thing?” “yes” i responded. “Well this always happen, you are always a pain in the ass and yes Deji you will join us”. I was speechless. I was going to create the universe. This was unreal. Future me sensed my speechlessness and spoke . “so after the funeral. We will meet, then leave. Does four o’clock sound good?” “Yes four o’clock sounds good. Deji”. She smiled. The ship had just arrived, I turned to grab my suitcase. I looked towards where I AM was. It/They/I was no longer there. I took a deep breath and walked towards the docking bay, unsure of the future but excited nonetheless.

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