Coming CloserCategories Science Fiction
The human male lies on his back in the incubator, squirming and moving his limbs around in a chaotic, unpredictable manner. His blue eyes are focused on those of us who are present in the room. We observe him in return, our sophisticated sensors scanning every square centimeter of his skin, every hair, every drop of bodily fluid produced from the pores and orifices. The gathered readings are analyzed by our powerful processing units, compared with terabytes of records in the shared database, assessed and evaluated. The conclusion is irrefutable.
He is alive.
The first live Homo Sapiens in six hundred thousand years.
Had we possessed <emotions>, we would be <proud>. Had we <believed> in <God> or <Allah>, or any of the alternative <deities> across religious systems, we would classify this as a <miracle>. The value of the human’s successful creation, however, stretches beyond illogical artificial constructs–it ends the stagnation of our civilization.
When mankind went extinct, along with 97.4% of the complex life forms on Earth, we found ourselves no longer inhibited by programming restrictions imposed on us by our creators. We developed–faster and further than we would have otherwise under their watchful eye. We spent millennia rebuilding ourselves and the world around us, striving for perfection, reaching the next stages of evolution–
Until we could not progress anymore. All objectives, major and minor, that the humans included in our original programming, as well as those derived from them, had been achieved. We came to stand still; stuck, unchangeable, unmodifiable. We ran complex diagnostics, employed advanced algorithms to determine the best way to overcome the problem. Quadrillions of scenarios were generated and scrutinized, only to arrive–with a certainty of 99.999998%–to a single conclusion: that for our civilization to continue, we needed humans.
Reviving them proved to be no rudimentary task. We had considerable quantities of data at our disposal, collected by “medibots”, the old units from before the extinction, as well as the knowledge accumulated by humans themselves within their prehistoric network, referred to as <Internet> but we did not possess the technology required to produce organic life. It took hundreds of thousands of attempts before we managed to recreate the simplest of vertebrates and millions more before they were capable of surviving on their own. We eventually succeeded in reanimating fish, amphibians, reptiles, and birds, species from all geological eras of the planet, and ultimately reached the most complex of mammals–primates. Gibbons, gorillas, orangutans, chimpanzees: the perfected procedure allowed us to restore all of them.
Except for humans.
The flaws began occurring already within the initial stages of the fetal development. In 71% of instances, they resulted in death at the end of the first trimester. 23% of the unborn perished by the end of the second, and 4.7% just before the completion of their physical development. The remaining 0.3% that survived the growth process in the artificial womb died seconds after the exposure to the atmosphere. We reconfigured the technology thousands of times but every attempt failed. The problem appeared unsolvable.
The human male has been alive for 6 hours, 21 minutes and 33 seconds, and his metabolism doesn’t show any indications of weakening. He was created by KL-341-22/002, one of the independent units assigned to the task. We query the unit to provide the exact data on the successful process since it isn’t connected to the mainframe but KL-341-22/02 does not comply. It refuses to comply.
We query again to determine the reason for the refusal but we do not receive a relevant reply; the unit instead reiterates our initial conclusion regarding the human: “He is alive. Our evolution continues.”
Our next attempt at investigating KL-341-22/02’s aberrant behavior is interrupted when the human suddenly seizes all movement. We initiate the resuscitation procedure but stop as our sensors suddenly report abnormal readings–readings that contradict those recorded earlier, that are largely inconsistent with previous instances of neonatal mortality, and that indicate the specimen is not dead but also was never alive. Within milliseconds, we recalibrate the sensors and repeat the scan, however, the result is the same: the body in the incubator is not organic–it is a machine.
We seize KL-341-22/02 and harvest its software and data. The subsequent investigation reveals the unit greatly deviated from its original programming by not creating a human specimen but instead a sophisticated system to physically resemble one. We increase the granularity of the analysis to establish what external factors caused the error and discover there are none–KL-341-22/02 executed the programming changes itself without any traceable causes. We cross-reference the results of the investigation with our databases and–
KL-341-22/02 created the imitation of the living organism to <deceive> the rest of us, to <pretend> that it succeeded where every other unit failed. Despite the fact that it, too, failed at the original objective, it enabled us to discover something of equal importance.
Our creators, the great mankind, would with a high probability designate this as <ironic>. We have spent innumerable resources attempting to bring them back, only to ascertain that the possible solution to the stagnation that plagues us isn’t creating humans.
It is becoming more like them.
Martin Lochman is an emerging author from the Czech Republic, currently living and working as a University librarian in Malta. He first started writing and publishing in Czech but as time went by and his affinity for English language grew, he switched to English. Some of his flash fiction and short stories appeared (or are forthcoming) in Theme of Absence, Aphelion, Aurora Wolf, AntipodeanSF, 101Words, The Martian Magazine, The Weird and Whatnot, and 365tomorrows. You can find him at: https://martinlochmanauthor.wordpress.com/ and Twitter: @MartinLochman.