Some times I write stuff. Some times I paint stuff or draw stuff. Most of my more polished writing is on the Blog page , but here's a glimpse of some free writes and various other creative enterprises of mines. I find it difficult to write full stories (even short stories), so often I just write passages, and often it's an experiment. For example in "Amber" I had just read Fatima Ferheen Mirza's "A place for us" (for which you can find my review on my goodreads here), and wanted to try my hand at illiciting "afsos".
Anyways, I hope you enjoy. If you do, please don't hesitate to email me what you liked :)
You still peer out from behind those same eyes, and see the same hands you’ve seen your whole life. You eat, and you drink. You hear sounds, and you see sights. But the thing is- you’ve never actually heard the sounds of the world. You never saw the sights either. Never once have you felt the pressure wave of a vibrating guitar string. When you plucked the string, it pushed the air molecules around it, and those air molecules pushed other air molecules that smacked into your ear drum. But it wasn’t the ear drum’s vibrations that you heard either. Nor did you hear the shaking of your teensy tiny hammer bone, which frazzled your anvil, which ringed your stirrup, which caused great waves in the fluid in your cochlea. And surely, sound is more than just the motion of some fluid in the holes in the side of your head, right? That fluid tickled little hairs, and those little hairs sent electrical impulses down your vestibulocochlear nerve and into your brain. But even that is not what you actually heard. The electrical impulse from that auditory nerve sparked off a chain reaction of neural spike activity- one neuron passing its excitement to the next, and then the next and then the next. But surely the sound of sound is more than just some abstract synchronized dance in your brain, no matter how complex? Maybe we need to go down in scale? Maybe it’s the sodium and potassium ions crossing the membrane of an individual neuron? But how could this be the case? Sodium and potassium are just inorganic atoms on the scale of picometers, passing across voltage gradients. They are the stuff that makes up salt and bananas and as far as I understand it, bananas can’t hear beethoven. So if it wasn’t the music, and it wasn’t the waves, and it wasn’t the electricity- what was it that you were hearing all along? The truth is, there’s no physical substrate to any of the sounds you’ve ever heard. You never needed your ears to hear, or your eyes to see. You didn’t even need to be a brain in a jar- though of course, our first prototypes were humanoid bodies- placed in physical environments, and naturally we progressed on to isolating out the individual in a simulated environment, and then moved on to the “brain in the jar” modality. It saved a ton of space, and our energy demands were down 80% per individual upkeep from the last model. With each iteration we honed in more and more onto what it was that made you you. We finally were able to break it down. The physical substrate of reality was in an energy field that is undetectable to the human senses. Think of it like trying to explain electromagnetism to a caveman. They have no idea about maxwell’s equations, or induction, or how to detect the fields- but that doesn’t make the existence of these forces any less real. Finally we were able to build enough humans, and then enough simulacrums, and then enough brains, to finally isolate out the laws governing this metaphysical consciousness field, nestled not in the electrical activity of the human brain, but coupled closely to it- just like magnetism can be. We then set out to isolate the principles that govern it, and were able to separate the two out and create our own realities- indistinguishable from the real thing. We were ousted from our planet, but our research had to continue. Our government found messages from the arecibo array in the milky way solar system and banished us here, where we could continue our experiments. It’s all we ever really wanted anyways.
We’ve decided, at least for now, not to intervene in the lives of the earthly bodies, but rather to capture the data from a distance so we can build up our understanding of the sights and sounds of your planet, and create atlas’s of the lives and neural activities of certain earthlings- such as yourself. The reason we’re telling you all this is, you’re one of the first ones we’ve “resurrected” (and no, that Jesus fellow wasn’t our doing). We’ll be sending you back to your regular life again now. Technically, this is the 41st time you’ve lived some iteration of your life. But it’s the first time we’re telling you about our existence. We figured we would do a soft install of the data- by including it in a short story that you read. This one, to be exact. This way, you’re free to accept or reject the data. You can brush it off as just some creative enterprise, or you can take it seriously. It makes no difference to us- we are simply iterating on variables and seeing how the spirit of your being responds. In our previous re-runs of your life, we only edited the parts that you really lived on earth, before you were tragically killed by a drunk driver. We’ve tried our best to overwrite that memory, but you may still feel flashbacks of it, or phantom pains especially in your lower back where your spine shattered. Our initial simulations dealt mostly with making changes to your environment (introducing you to a new love interest at the most inopportune time, killing off important family and friends in your youth, and nudging you to different career paths). It helped us build a stronger atlas of your personality (our “training data set” as we call it) for us to run this forward simulation on. In most of those simulations, we were able to re-create those parts of you that are important to your personality without replicating the stored memory, but we still had a few glitches- sometimes you would remember past occurrences as a deja vu, or feel an uncanny connection to a certain person, place, or taste. There’ll still be some troubleshooting to do, which is part of why we’re giving you this warning. We don’t expect any of these things to happen, but we don’t want you to freak out if you accidentally get stuck in a time loop, or recognize people from your dreams appearing in real life, or experience certain temporary synesthesias.
So go on, and hallucinate the rest of this life we’ve created for you. And while there won’t be any guitars, or air molecules, or ear drums- while you wont have a hammer, or stirrup, or anvil, or a cochlear nerve or a brain or even a single neuron, you’ll still hear the sounds of the guitar. You’ll still see it too, and the musician playing it, though he doesnt really exist at all. Neither does any of your friends, your family, or you. Well, to be more precise, they still exist, but they’re on earth- where you died yesterday, 41 lifetimes ago.
“We can probably still catch the sunset at the cliffs if we skip dessert and ask for the bill right now,” Ivy said.
If it’s always “now”, how can time be moving at all. In fact things change so little moment to moment; it often seems that entropy is taking a break. When he looked back at that old album, it felt less like he was growing apart from photos frozen in time; and more like he was the stationary frame. Like his youth was running away from him, ashamed of who he’d become, and he was fossilized in amber, unable to give chase. So he stood still, ossified, and watched the best days of his life escape. He watched papa holding him in his lap on the old 1986 Honda rebel, revving the 450 cc engine for all it had. Papa, ready to ride that bike across town to see his “secretary” for a “work meeting”. And he saw mama tying up the tire swing for his 16th birthday. He always wondered if she tied the same knot when she hung herself on an adjacent branch of the giant oak in their backyard six weeks later. He never got to see; he had left the house earlier that morning in a fit of rage. By the time he got back, he found her etherized upon a table in the back of an ambulance. He wondered if she heard his “I’m sorry mama”s and “I love you”s through the white cloth that encapsulated her now, or if the last thing she ever heard from her son was “why are you so fucking controlling!? I completely get why papa could never stand you”. The truth is, he knew it was the latter. What stung Mama most was one word “papa could never stand you”. never. The word lingered in her head, the finality of it, resolute on seeping into any crevice of self-doubt in her mind. never. At the core of her being she knew it wasn’t true, but that didn’t stop this malevolent never from convincing her that it was. That her husband had feigned interest in her all that time. That, like her parents, he was just forcing himself to tolerate her. Amongst her last thoughts was if this was just another teenage outburst or something more sinister- a carefully aimed arrow, pulled from the quiver years ago, when her boys were off fishing and her husband took off the mask of diplomacy to tell his son he never really loved mama. Stretched back on the bow when he would visit after the divorce and whisper evils about her behind her back. Pointed to her heart when the boy decided, like his father, he had no use for this woman anymore. And now, finally, cocked on that bowstring like Gabriel poised at his trumpet, awaiting the masters command, released at a single, piercing word. never. He saw these pictures, and many others like them. Joy at first, for the moments they were, followed by the despair of the moments that followed. Unfortunately entropy returned from her lunch break and rudely awakened him to the fact the he was bound to those perilous “moments that followed”. Izzat was convinced the best days of his life were behind him.