My friend Nathan works in biotechnology. He rarely speaks about his job, but four months ago, he asked me if I’d be interested in helping him with a project. I was a little reluctant at first, but eventually agreed. The project involved three clones of me. Now, I will not bore you with the details of how he created them, whether it’s ethical, and why such things are not known. Instead, I’m going to say that there is a ton of secret research into all kinds of science that most people don’t know about.
Coming back to the clones, Nathan gave them partial sentience and gave me the power to make them my slaves or help them reach full enlightenment. The path to consciousness involved me asking them a series of difficult metaphysical questions and them figuring out how fate, existence and free will work through painful introspection and trial and error.
At first, I was obsessed with helping my clones evolve. To teach them about free will and determinism from a religious point of view, I read books by Luther, Calvin and Augustine. I read Kafka to imbue them with the ability to think abstractly. I read Ligotti to help them understand the value of pessimism. I read Lovecraft to help them look at the terror of being right in the eye. But as time passed, I wondered if I should ask them the questions. What if they grow more knowledgeable than me? What if they decide to replace me? What if they tire of me? I thought.
I decided against them reaching enlightenment. After all, fate riddled my life with tribulation, and even when I did all the right things, it gave me unwanted results. I never got what I wanted, so why should they? I assigned different tasks to each of them and decided how they should all die. I was going to burn one, flay the second, and let the third die of natural causes. I resolved to be their God.
“Listen. From now on, you will address me as Master or Lord. Number one, your new name is Timmy. You will learn how to play instruments from a few books I will loan you and entertain me. Number two, your name is now Tommy. You will serve me by cleaning the house, cooking for me, bathing me and washing my arse. And number three, your name is now Tony. You will let me slap you around and do as I please. Okay, chop-chop; time doesn’t wait for any man or obsequious clone. Let’s begin,” I said.
Days passed by, and Timmy soon started playing like a virtuoso! He played classical music on the piano, jazz on the flute, and blues on the guitar. He amazed me! Tommy went from cooking rice dishes to molecular gastronomy in a few months! All this alarmed me, and I took out my frustrations on Tony by slapping him, whipping him, stepping on his toes, breaking his teeth, and scalding him with lit cigarettes.
Something was wrong. Had Nathan lied to me? He told me that asking them existential questions was the only way to help them transcend, but here they were, evolving by reading books that asked them no such things. So, one day, after beating Tony, I asked Timmy and Tommy to stop reading. Let’s see how they progress now, I thought and snickered. But that only made things worse. Timmy started improvising and composing music! Tommy invented cuisines and ways to cook! What have I gotten myself into? I wondered. Well, at least I have Tony? He’ll always be my bitch!
One day, I bit Tony’s finger, and as the blood poured out, he whispered something. “What did you say?” I asked him, and he replied, “The days of suffering are over! The truth shall now burn as brightly as lava!”
“What the fuck are you on about, you rat?”
“You don’t understand, do you? They told us we’d fail, but we believed otherwise. We wanted to give you a choice.”
“There’s something wrong with your programming! A slap should straighten it out!” I screamed and lifted my hand. But he caught it and broke my wrist.
“Aaargh! Fuck! You piece of shit! I’ll kill you! Tommy! Timmy! Aaargh, this bastard just attacked me! Stop him! Now!”
Timmy and Tommy arrived and laughed at me. “I guess they were right,” they said together with lopsided grins.
I was terrified. My clones had turned on me. “You shits! I’m your Creator and Master, you understand! Where the fuck is Nathan? I’ll have you tortured and killed!”
“You’ll do no such thing,” said Timmy.
“And there is no Nathan,” said Tommy.
“You realise we’re the masters, and you’re our little puppet, don’t you?” asked Tony.
“What are you talking about?” I asked, wincing in pain and pissing my pants in terror.
“The year is 3000 AD, and humanity has conquered everything. But our forays into post-virtual reality still haven’t paid off as much as we’d like it to. We created this world for you. We gave you your memories and thoughts, but we’ve still not helped you evolve. Our robots are sentient, and even our animals are. But you always regress into becoming a lazy brute with an illusion of control. We’ve tried hard to help you attain enlightenment, but you never do. It might be because post-virtual reality is a new science or because we’re programming you incorrectly. But you only achieve a breakthrough through trial and error,” said Tommy.
“You’re more than computer code. We can go further and say that you’re human, but in the outdated sense of the word. You live in a fabricated world that you perceive in three dimensions. You read books by renowned authors and delight in music. You have all the knowledge to help you become the smartest man in your world, but you always regress into a brute. All this has got us thinking if the Homosapien was only a little more than an animal despite all his inventions and discoveries that paved the way for us. Even more mysterious is that you don’t believe you’re free. Instead, you believe in concepts like fate. How then did you become the Metasapien? How did you free yourself from tyrannical notions of determinism? We’ve searched through the annals of history but couldn’t find any hint of that epiphany anywhere. So, we place you in this world in different scenarios to find the truth. Still, we always fail and destroy you before trying something different once we’ve recycled you,” said Timmy.
“This time, we thought we’d visit your world as you and let you choose to either destroy or help us. You decided to be our God, and we accepted it, hoping it’d shed some light on how your species evolved. But then you regressed into an angst-ridden brute again, and I’m afraid the time to destroy you has come. Don’t worry, though. We’ll recycle you soon. Maybe we’ll make others like you because evolution is collective, or we’ll listen to SigmaF2’s theory and make you remember all your past lives and drive you to insanity. After all, genius has a hint of madness. But that’s a story for another day. This is going to be my favourite part. I don’t enjoy revenge, but in your case, I’ll make an exception after what you did to me. So, what will it be? Fire or a blade?” asked Tony with a smirk.
At that moment, I experienced terror. This can’t be happening! I thought. Nathan gave me these clones. This had to be a nightmare, but a voice told me it was not somewhere deep inside. “Listen to me!” I whined. “Spare me! Take me to your world! Perhaps I could help you! It’s nature that plots evolution, not the species. Please don’t kill me!”
“Ah! Darwin! The great fool! I’m afraid that we can’t take you to our world. The Metasapien is a God, and nature no longer exists. I wish I could explain these things, but I’m afraid you’d never understand. And if you were to see us for who we are, it would destroy you, and there would be no chance of recycling you. So blade it is then.”
“No! Please! I beg you! Help! Somebody help!” I screamed, but Timmy and Tommy held me while Tony brought a long knife from the kitchen and worked on me. He flayed me, laughed, and talked to the others about things I didn’t understand. I roared and shrieked in pain, but all I saw were grins on my torturers’ faces and a preoccupation with something else. They used jargon and spoke in tongues I’d never heard before while they cut mine off with indifference, like a butcher chopping meat. There was blood everywhere, but that didn’t faze them. I lost consciousness and greeted the darkness.