The Sympathetic Universe, Part 3

Photo by Murilo Folgosi on

Whoops, the Entity had missed something. It rewound the reality. It couldn’t seem to get to precisely what it was looking for, so it switched to a four-dimensional view. Finally, it found the moment (measured in millenia in our time) where the Neanderthals got eradicated, and moved back to automatic progression through the time dimension. A slaughter. Geez, Sapiens is mean! 

The Entity received an invitation to participate in a shared reality from its sibling. It ignored it.

Sapiens went on to eradicate wooly mammoths and saber tooth tigers. Then it exploded in numbers, covering the entire planet, nearly eight billion.  Sapiens started flying through the sky and communicating via long-wavelength radiation.  Suddenly the planet was an uninhabitable, radioactive wasteland. Uh-oh, rewind.

Actually, let’s pause. The Entity considered its next move. Should it start a new reality and hope it generated interesting creatures that didn’t annihilate themselves? If it was to rescue this reality, what would be the proper intervention? The rules worked so well, it didn’t want this to end up just being another make-it-up-as-you-go reality.

The Entity decided to rewind for now and figure out what to do about the end of the world later. It liked woolly mammoths, so it put one in a glacier where Sapiens wouldn’t find it until it was ready to appreciate it.

The Mongols were decimating China when The Entity got another invitation from its sibling. This time it offered a counter-invitation. “Come look at my reality.”

“What? Just watch? That’s boring.” said the Sibling, “Those zero-player realities always collapse into boring patterns.”

“This one is different,” the Entity insisted.

Finally, the Sibling relented.  “There’s nothing here,” it complained.

“You have to be at the right point in time and space.” The Entity provided coordinates and a time to its Sibling.

“This doesn’t make any sense,” it whined, “I just see a bunch of shapes growing and shrinking.”

“You have the dimensions wrong,” said the Entity, “View in three dimensions, and play on the time dimension. Play slowly,” it offered a playback speed.

“Oh, I see it. What are these little things? What is that one doing?”

“Which one?”

The Sibling manifested a light on the head of a young woman in a hovel in France.

“She’s crying. Her husband died.”

The children in the hovel were staring at the woman and her halo of light.

“Now look what you’ve done,” cried the Entity, “Take that light away!”

The children watched the halo wink out, and startled the woman out of her reverie with their cries of wonder. The Entity rewound reality and ran it again without the interference. “This reality is fragile,” it snapped. “Don’t touch.”

In moments, the woman was dead of cholera and her children were sold into servitude. Just as was supposed to happen.

“What?” wondered The Sibling. “What is death? What is crying? What is cholera? How can the woman entity have children and still exist?”

“In this era,” quipped the Entity, “with great difficulty.” It had watched Sapiens make jokes, and liked to think it was getting pretty clever itself. The Sibling didn’t laugh, but it didn’t know what humor was, so it was a tough audience.

Soon The Sibling and The Entity were both ignoring invitations from their cousins. Eventually, they started wondering what those two were up to and they took a look. It was impossible for them to understand what was going on because their temporal-spatial orientation was all wrong and there was so much time and space in this reality that had absolutely nothing interesting in it. Fortunately, when The Entity finally looked at its messages, it offered the appropriate coordinates and play speed, and they were in. It also warned them not to touch right from the start, and made it a rule.

Soon, a good portion of the BABBBABBABABAABBBABABBBBABABABBBBBBBABABAA family was watching The Entity’s reality. This continued for some time. Eventually, a cousin complained, “I want to do more. I’m tired of just watching.”

“No.” said The Entity, and that settled it for a while.

Then another cousin complained, and another, and even The Sibling got involved. The Entity hadn’t realized his reality was going to be in jeopardy just because it was so popular, or it might have never shared it at all. It was a little-considered fact that “rules” were not completely enforceable. They prevented an impulsive Entity from doing something without thinking, but a dedicated Entity might well be able to find where the rule was coded and change that. If you protected those rules, it might find where that rule protecting those rules was and so on. Even if you made rules that protected themselves, in the end, they were all segments of the same entity, and enough intention might be able to break even the hardest rule. It had never happened, but it couldn’t be ruled out.

In an effort to placate, The Entity considered inviting its relatives to go make their own realities, or even make their own copies of its to do with as they pleased, but then one of the cousins suggested something else.

“These little systems, they look like they experience boredom and surprise like us. Do they really, or is it just an illusion? If they can experience emotions we experience, could we experience their emotions?”

This gave The Entity pause. An emotion like sadness or remorse simply couldn’t happen for an omnipotent entity. No, that wasn’t true. It had a distant memory of an ancestor who reached out to its sibling and never received a reply. Entities could feel lonely and sad. They could feel shame if they failed to create the goal state in a shared reality. It wasn’t the same, though.

BABBBABBABABAABBBABABBBBABABABBBBBBBABABAA family’s rule-based realities were fun because of the limitations they imposed. These wretched little systems in The Entity’s reality seemed to be composed entirely of limitations. If The Cousin really wanted to experience misery, why not let it? “Cousin,” The Entity said to The Cousin, “Take your memories and make a backup. To really experience what these little systems do, you will have to become one.”


By Sam Munk

Science fiction and Fantasy author with a focus on philosophical inquiry and character-driven drama.

1 comment

  1. Love it!
    Here’s a piece of music from my random Alzheimer’s mix that seemed to be appropriate background.

    Even the name of the artist is so appropriate for what seems to be coming in the next installment.

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