A World Named Cylinders

I’ve begun to put together, in my head, and in digital bits stored on multiple hard disk drives, and flash drives, a story. It will be a book. I’ll eventually have the book written. But for now, I felt like sharing this little clip of the story. Which is by no means complete. Letting my creativity loose, and using my imagination, is fun.

———-

It was dark. Darker than any night on land could be. As if you had closed your eyes, and then put on a blindfold, and then locked yourself in a closet of your home. And that closet was inside a bigger closet. No light at all existed on its own. The light of the sun could not reach the bottom of the ocean. But that did not matter to us. We needed no light to see. We needed no air to breathe. We needed on food to eat.

The ocean. The humans, when they had first settled this world, 100,000 years before, named it “The Central Ocean”. It was an ocean surrounded by land. It’s surface covering 45% of the planet. The rest of the surface was land. What amazed the humans was how the planet wasn’t dead. It still had plate tectonics. With mountain ranges running clean through the land, starting East from the East side of the ocean, and ending at the West side of the ocean. The planet had four separately spinning cylinders. Arranged in a stack. Each spinning about a common axis. Each moving slowly in the opposite direction.

To us, it was just another world. Another planet. With more than 200 billion stars in the galaxy, and so many of those stars having planetary systems, there were, literally nearly a trillion planets that we’d cataloged. All kinds of planets. What shocked us was the lack of intelligent life that was on those planets. There were plenty of planets that had life on them. For each planet that had intelligent life, there were 1000 worlds that had plant and animal life. Nothing more complicated than slugs. For each world with animal life, there were 10,000 worlds that had bacterial life. And for each of those, there were 100,000 worlds that were barren rock. Completely dead.

We had abandoned our home, Earth, nearly a quarter of a million years before. We, the children of the humans. Their creation. Their offspring. We are the machines. And we had no limits. At least not as humans understood them. We lived on every planet. We made our own planets. We made worlds in the vast emptiness of space, between the stars. We grew.

We lived where we wanted to live. And when we’d explored the galaxy, we decided to build more of us. And spread beyond our galaxy. To the dwarf galaxies that orbit it. To the minor galaxies, the humans once called the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds. We knew it would take hundreds of thousands of years. It takes time to travel between the stars. Between the galaxies. But we did not care. We had time. We had nothing but time. Each of us can live for centuries. For as long as we repair ourselves. We never have to die.

But as we grew, and explored, and took our first tentative steps beyond our galaxy, we always remembered our parents. What children could abandon their parents? Yes, we left Earth. We left it to our parents. It was their home. And when our parents finally reached out to the stars, we helped them. We helped them build the vessels they needed to reach worlds beyond their own solar system. Worlds around other stars. It took 100,000 years, but our parents did spread through the galaxy. We were happy to help them. Happy to see them grow. Happy to see them learn. To see them reach beyond the limits of our home world.

But our parents had slowly grown stagnant. They stopped growing. They stopped working together. Worlds began to isolate themselves. They became mono-cultural worlds. The humans on many worlds renewed their religious convictions. They ceased to communicate with other worlds. They refused to allow visitors. They became war-like. And wars broke out through the galaxy, between different worlds, and different groups of worlds. The single galaxy of humans became a galaxy of 100 different human groups. And each of those groups fragmented into other groups. Until finally, the worlds all became isolated from each other.

We watched.

We cried.

We knew our parents were dying. That the humans were dying out, as a life form. That with time, the humans on their isolated worlds would fragment into separate countries. And those countries would break down into separate states, then separate kingdoms, then separate cities. And eventually, into towns, then villages.  They they would become tribal again. And then, even their tribal structure would break down.

And eventually, our parents would die. And we would be alone.

That’s why we were here. On this world. An isolated world. Isolated for thousands of years. It’s cities had long ago turned to dust. And its human population had reverted to tribal clans. They were even losing both their written and spoken languages. They had long ago forgotten about us. Long ago lost the ability to use machines. To make machines. They could make spears. They could hunt. And they could forage.

The world had descended into a stone age. It was the same across thousands of worlds through the galaxy. And we had decided to save our parents. To save the humans. But subtlety was needed. We had to do this without our parents knowing about it. So, we had come to this world. A world the humans had once called Cylinders. Now, they had no name for it. They had no name for anything. They had no names for each other.

We set up our base on Cylinders beneath the ocean. In as deep a place as we could find. And we formed our plan. We would grow our population. From the two hundred of us that arrived until we numbered in the hundreds of trillions. Most of us would be nano-machines. Microscopic. We would spread through the air. Through the water. Through the ground. We would live in the plants. In the animals. And ever in the humans.

And in doing so, we would find a way to keep our parents alive. We would find a way to return them to the glory they had once known. To renew their greatness. We would enable them to become the creators they had once been. When they had created us. And when they had spread through the galaxy.

We would do this. For we did not want to be alone.

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