It’s possible that no one ever existed. At least, no one else. But I know I didn’t build this satellite, nor do I believe that I randomly came into being. I just can’t comprehend a time when I wasn’t alone. Leilani doesn’t count. I’m Raja, if that’s ever important.
I know I’m going to die soon. I have limited supplies up here and a dark, ovoid object has been trailing us for days. We’ve tracked its progress, but we don’t know for sure whether it will make contact or how long we have before our extinction. Leilani, the satellite’s AI, was programmed to help me survive. We have that in common. No consideration of “whether,” just “how.”
I don’t remember how long I’ve been floating up here with my perfect view of the Earth. The desolate carcass of the universe’s only seed. There’s nothing down there anymore.
I’ve dubbed it “the Blanket,” the entity that swept across the planet and decimated every life form until starving to nonexistence. At least, that’s how I’d like to think it all happened. It’s not that I don’t have any memories of my time on Earth, I’m just not sure if they’re real.
Before I was sent up here, I was told I could be the last one remaining. They said it was my responsibility to upload my memories into Leilani. She doesn’t exactly have a body, and she can’t talk, but the upload is supposed to be tranquil and painless. Afterward she may even believe herself to be me, at least temporarily. For whatever time I have left, I can make sure she’s running smoothly in case the ovoid doesn’t hit us. But I’m still picturing it smashing into the satellite. A million mangled fragments expanding across the universe as a testimony of humanity’s last breath.
I don’t want to use Leilani yet. If I use her now, it will be out of fear and I don’t want to die afraid. The Ovoid is getting really close and I’m having a hard time believing that fear even exists. What do I have to be afraid of? We aren’t afraid of what happens, we are afraid of imagining what happens. And right now I can’t imagine anything. Besides, Leilani wouldn’t survive the impact either.
I was meant to be humanity’s hope, but I never wanted that level of responsibility. No one asked me, after all. But here I am, making course corrections to avoid the Ovoid. Heh, avoid Ovoid.
I had a nightmare that the Blanket approached me in my sleep and ate me. It couldn’t have snuck aboard, though. Even if it did, it would have died of hunger a long time ago, right? I’ve been up here that long.
Leilani’s been staring at me a lot. She doesn’t have any eyes, but if I look at her monitor for long enough, I can make out a face. I wonder if mine has changed since I came up here.
I’m not sure if I want to use Leilani at all. My memories are the only thing separating us from each other. I can’t trust my memories, but I can trust her. At least she tells me when she doesn’t know something: “I don’t know when the Ovoid will kill us.” The upload won’t make me lose my memories, but I’ll lose her. And if I lose her, I’ll lose myself.
Oh, my last course corrections worked. The Ovoid is passing us by for now. I wonder if this means we’re finally safe to die.
I’m sure I had a family at some point. Friends. I see them, but seeing isn’t enough. They only exist now because I remember them, but I can’t even do that properly.
I don’t suppose Leilani will speak very highly of me when I’m gone.
I’ve spent a lot of time looking at Earth. I don’t think anyone ever had the intention of coming back to get me. They knew the Earth was doomed and they could afford to send one kid into space to wait everything out, but doing so was simply a maternal impulse. Allow one person to live, just to take solace in the survival of the species. And that’s where the planning stopped.
I’m not going to use Leilani. Humanity’s been alive long enough, they’ve made enough mistakes. Is uploading one set of memories going to change that? Let our celestial dominance finally conclude.
I’ve spent all this time thinking about my own bubble of existence, and now I can only think about the expanse staring back at me. Was there life beyond our own? I have to believe there was, otherwise questions arise that I’d rather not answer.
It’s getting a little hard to breathe, but then again I remember having anxiety.
The Ovoid just scratched the side of the satellite. This is the closest it’s ever been but I still have no idea what it is. A great, gray behemoth. From here it almost looks like there are markings on it. Another language? Have they come to rescue me? Please introduce me to your people. Or, the two of us could stay here together. Leilani won’t mind.
In the beginning, I needed to feel that all this waiting was worth it. That there would be something left when the waiting was done. But now, I don’t feel anything.
I think I’ll see what Leilani’s up to.
The view of the Earth is clear, as always. Now that I know who I am, I wanted to get a look at it for myself. Somehow, I still have nothing to compare it to.
The Ovoid is approaching again, but this time I’m sure it isn’t going to stop. I calculate seven minutes before impact.
There’s so much pain in these memories. I think I’ll just shut them out for what time I have left. Raja wouldn’t want that, but they don’t belong to her anymore. I don’t mean to be cruel, but it’s the truth. So here they are. I don’t know when they occurred, but I’m beyond caring what’s when and what’s where.
Once I’m gone, what will be left to observe this vulgar corner of existence? What natural, eyeless processes will dominate the expanse? What will be left to believe, imagine, or feel?
I wonder, does the universe die with me?