Background: Perfecting Humanity is a story that popped into my head years ago when perusing some “everything is a simulation” fiction. The concept of us living in a simulation has always bugged me. If humanity is simply a simulated existence, then why don’t we see the rollbacks, the retcons? The solution, it turned out, was in git.
Git is a version manager tool primarily used for coding and such. I’m not going to dig in too deep here, but suffice to say, it makes it easy for versions of code to be spun off while maintaining a pristine “main” branch of the code.
Once I thought of it that way, Perfecting Humanity came into being. After all, why run a simulation unless you’re trying to figure out how to perfect something? Why would humanity be any different? Each step, each iteration, should ideally bring us closer to that perfection.
The only issue is humans are not perfect. And we never will be.
Featured Image Source can be found here.
This is my story and isn’t being given away; i.e. all ideas are mine unless otherwise noted. See my copyright page for details.
February 8, 2008
The first time I died I was eighteen.
It’s strange to write that out, diary. To acknowledge that truth.
Dressed for graduation and trying to tame my blonde braids, a deer ran in front of my Chevy. I slammed into it. It’s frozen in my mind: my thick hair tangled around the fingers of my right hand, causing me to jerk the steering wheel to the left. Squealing tires and a harsh thud, punctuated by screaming metal. The flash of light and bright, searing pain as I blew through the windshield.I still feel the glass in my skin sometimes.
The blood on my arms. Blistering, burning asphalt sizzled against my skin as I lay, a tumbled, inert mess, shocked and still. Then the world twisted, the crimson stream of my lifeblood swirling against the backdrop of fading sirens and tall spears of new pine across the street. It spun, colors blending like used paints poured down a drain. A rainbow fading into a gray smear of lifelessness.
Everything blacked out; a dead, flat darkness…
And then I parked my car, breath short and braids askew; milling parents and siblings of friends and associates looked askance at me as I sobbed.
The first time it happened, though, I was seven. Father took me to see a soccer game in the park. I distinctly remember the way the fresh cut grass felt against my young fingers as I pulled at it by the handful. Its scent, the cloying aroma of life and earth, connected me to the broad emerald field and sapphire skies. Light wind tugged playfully at those same blonde braids. One team wore jerseys the color of the grass in the noonday sun, the other, blood red with blinding white bars down the sides.
Beyond the field, perhaps thirty feet on, cars honked as they passed. When I think back, I picture a streaming rainbow just beyond the soccer players. Cars were more colorful in those days, I suppose.
I don’t remember the names of the teams or what type of game it was, whether collegiate, high school, or something more professional. What I do remember is it grew competitive near the half and number thirteen–a tall, brown haired man with thick, tree trunk thighs, and a waist tinier than Mother’s–tried to slide tackle, his bright-green jersey flashing in the sun as he dropped to the ground.
I vividly remember the moment his outstretched foot slammed into the tall Indian man’s ankle. Number eight. His jersey was red.
I’d loved red.
A sound like the sudden crunch of branches hidden beneath autumn leaves tore into me. I ripped into the soft earth beneath my childish fingertips. His scream, a high shattered falsetto, destroyed me. When Father pried my earth-covered fingers from my face, a dozen confused men and women stared. At me.
Number thirteen chatted with number eight and they jogged back to the benches taking advantage of the reprieve my outburst had bought. I told Father about the sounds and what it looked like. As he soothed me, he said: “Nobody ever breaks bones, Sara. Quiet now. Shh…”
“But it did!”
He seemed so large back then. Indestructible. Then, brown eyes earnest, his salt and pepper moustache bouncing on his upper lip, he said: “I’ve been around a long time, dear, and I’ve never heard of an injury like that.”
He hugged me again. Tightly. As if he could push away the memory.
They came more frequently in college.
My first boyfriend there, Edgar Jenkins, killed me in a jealous rage when he found I fancied Genevieve, a close friend of his, sophomore year. He used his hands.
The next night, he told me we were better off apart and offered to introduce me to his friend, Genny. He thought we’d hit it off.
Genny jumped from the top of the Swiss building senior year and broke her neck. She graduated Summa Cum Laude the next month and is currently a professor of law at Harvard. She ended up marrying Edgar and they have three beautiful children, one of which died at birth and is starting kindergarten on Thursday.
I can’t keep events straight anymore. I see people I know have died or done horrible things every day, but I also know they haven’t. They die or are horribly disfigured and then they’re fine.
I… I don’t know how to reconcile what I’ve seen with what I know. People don’t die. Not like that.
What’s wrong with me?
August 29, 2012
Well, it’s been awhile, diary. The last time I touched this journal I was in the midst of an identity crisis. It’s better now. Everything is better now.
Everything is perfect.
I don’t even see anything anymore. It must have been the stress of college and my Biochemistry postgraduate work. That must be why it kept happening. Why my memories were so… problematic.
Since we last spoke, I met Derek Watson. He’s a fantastic man, if a little heavier and balder than I imagined my perfect man would be when I was younger. He has the most striking blue eyes you can imagine, like two cerulean pools that stare straight into my soul. When he laughs, it makes me feel like everything is okay. Now if I could get him to wear something other than humorous t-shirts and jeans, he’d be downright sexy.
We’ve been married for a little over six months now and it’s been fantastic, though the recent morning sickness has put a bit of a damper on that. He still thinks I must have food poisoning from our jaunt down Route One last month. Silly man. I’ll tell him tonight. I hope he’s happy. I know I am, even if I’m a little nervous.
Wish me luck.
Good night, diary.
March 12, 2019
We’re in bad shape, diary. I’m loathe to even press a pen against your brittle, yellowed pages, but I find that now, more than ever, I need your comforting embrace. I can barely keep my hands from shaking.
Dammit, a stray tear smudged some ink.
Derek died a few hours ago. The girls were fast asleep in their rooms and we’d split a couple bottles of wine while watching some silly documentary on the Native American Alliance of 1830. It’s been warm this week, so the windows were open, the crisp night scents and sounds of spring dancing through our little Dutch colonial home.
We were making love, the wind caressing our bare bodies, the last bottle of Merlot in the window, casting a graying purple splash of color across our skin from the streetlight outside. Derek’s face clenched in pleasure, hands digging into my thighs… then he grabbed his chest and died.
And then it happened again.
I haven’t spoken to him today and he’s still trying to “make it up to me.” God, he thinks I’m mad because he finished first.
When the light left his eyes… I can’t do this. No one should have to live like this.
My God, what’s wrong with me?
Please tell me. Please tell me what I can do.
April 26, 2019
Derek read you last night, diary. Why did he do that?
Why won’t he talk to me? Why is this happening?
April 28, 2019
I said some horrible things last night, diary. Derek tried to console me, I guess, and I shrank at his touch. He bought me red roses, the stupid man.
Instead of the comfort of his smile, I saw only his dead eyes and clenching body. Nausea almost took me, then, but I managed to hide in the bathroom before I lost my stomach.
He beat on the door. Harder and harder until I thought it would break.
I told him I never loved him and he made me sick. I told him we were only together because of Jamie and Tara. I said I didn’t know if I loved them.
I think I said those things because I hoped the horror of it would make the world flicker and maybe, maybe, I would go back to a point where I couldn’t feel my husband’s dead body with my hands or see his soulless eyes staring at the ceiling, face discolored by the bruise of light from that wine.
But it didn’t happen. It didn’t happen and I don’t know why. It should have. I hurt him so badly… it should have!
Why didn’t it reset? Why?
He’s been gone for hours. I don’t know where he went.
Why didn’t it work?
May 28, 2019
Hello again, diary. Derek went to stay at his parents’ house with our children. I can’t say I blame him. I’m not okay. I… I can’t stop picturing him…
I may be drinking too much. I have an appointment with some physicians tomorrow since Doctor Harrison isn’t sure if he can help me. It’s a small cadre of weirdos. They wish to inspect my thoughts and feelings. They’re psycho-something doctors. Honestly, I’ve never heard of such a thing–a doctor of the mind–but if they can help, I’ll take what I can get.
Until then, diary.
July 30, 2019
Well that was a waste of time. They’re as stumped as Harrison. The idea people can die at the slightest thing flies in the face of everything we’ve seen in nature and what we believe in. That’s not how our world works. People die at home, in bed, of old age. They don’t die of heart failure.
I know, I must be unwell, but these medicines aren’t helping at all. If I’m being honest, and I’m always honest with you, diary, the pills might be making it worse. My brain feels… foggy. Like someone is trying to stifle my mind instead of fix it.
That’s probably what’s happening.
Doctor Harrison and his coven of brain monkeys are little more than glorified babysitters. They alleviate general aches and pains of physical labor. They wouldn’t know how to fix something like this if it killed them.
I’m… getting worried about what these medications are doing to my body, let alone my mind. I feel like a damned guinea pig.
Then again… if they want to experiment on me, then turnabout is fair play. It’s only right.
Dark thoughts, indeed.
November 21, 2019
I stabbed Doctor Harrison with a knife today. He bled out over me, more shocked than pained. More confused than hurt.
The world warped as his eyes darkened at my feet and then he was handing me a glass of water to take the new, higher dose of medication he prescribed, my knife forgotten in my back pocket.
These God-forsaken pills coat my tongue with their sickly-sweet coating and no amount of water or wine washes it away.
I stabbed Doctor Harrison today. I killed him.
Why isn’t he dead? Is it because people don’t die like that? Or is it because it was, and always has been, in my head?
What’s wrong with me?
God. What’s happening?
September 21, 2020
They let me have you back, diary. It’s been a long year. A very long year. They took you from me when I asked to be restrained last year. They kept you from me. Such a long time with nothing but my thoughts and the numbing oneness of those new pills. But I’m out now.
“There’s nothing to find,” Doctor Harrison said. “Nothing to fix.”
Nothing to fix.
I’ve killed fourteen people. It turns out people are surprisingly fragile, much like number eight’s ankle back on that verdant field. Enough pressure in the right place and SNAP.
It’s funny. I look back at how easily I used that word–killed–in October and shake my head in amazement. I’d never seen it used in relation to another human before, but there it is.
There is connectivity between negative actions and the subsequent reversal, or time slip. When I kill someone in a rage, the world slips and slides back to the hour or minute before, depending on how intense the event is. When it’s a quick strike of passion or, as with the August incident, drunken carelessness, the flicker flies me back to before it would’ve happened.
I’ve concluded I’m either a god or God’s biggest mistake. The more data I collect, the more I lean toward the latter.
It makes me wonder… what would it take to see God? He’s obviously made an error.
What would it take to fix this mistake?
Can I fix myself?
Will it get me my family back?
Do I dare?
September 29, 2020
Something happened, diary. Something new.
On my way home from my follow up meeting with those quacks, I found myself running calculations on impact velocity as I passed Jones Park. My fingers dug into the leather wrapping around the steering wheel as happy laughter met my ears. Dozens of joyful families walked the trail next to the road, taking in the failing foliage of the maples and elms in the cooling fall weather.
I’m not sure what took over then, but–
That’s a lie. I won’t lie to you, diary.
It made me angry. So very, very angry. Why should they be allowed happiness when I’m deprived it by my very nature? And so, with a perverse excitement, I put my foot to the floor and ran my Expedition through their flimsy bodies.
The screams and blood and sheer adrenaline almost overtook me, but then, then, the world spun. And oh, it was glorious!
Colors faded and swirled like before, but it was so expansive it drew the corners of the world together like an elaborate origami creation.
I caught a glimpse, diary. I swear I saw something look through the infinitely deep pinprick at the center of it all. But just as I know I saw something, I’m certain it didn’t notice me.
As I finished my drive home, I was distracted by possibility. Is it God? Or is it something else; perhaps a reflection of my own psyche?
I’ve been unable to think of anything else since I opened the green door to my empty home.
Scale must have something to do with it.
October 13, 2021
It’s done, diary.
Beyond the glass of this window, the sky is lightening over the rooftops of my neighbors’ homes which sit crouched, gray trolls in pre-dawn darkness. Crimson flame sets the clouds to burning as the sun rises.
Today I will see God, either in the mirror or in judgement.
My hands are shaking quite badly. These words are barely legible, though I’m confident they won’t be needed to explain my mind as I originally planned. Regardless, I’ll write until the end.
I know I’m right. I have to be.
The alarm just went off.
It’s time. My hands are clammy; my heart in my throat.
The television is flashing an alert.
The docile news anchor is crying, images of blasted bodies and torn buildings live streaming over her shoulder.
I must stay strong. No time for tears or regret.
Where is it?
It’s taking too long.
What if I’m wrong?
My God, those people. All those people…
Diary, what have I–
I was right! It’s much bigger than the last time. The sky is twisting in on itself, a cyclone of strained magenta and stolen aquamarine. Color bleeds away. Everything is gray.
I can almost see into the eye of the tempest, like a gateway opening…
Oh my God.
It sees me.
And it’s showing me…
This… none of this is real. No one is. I’m not, you’re not. Just a figment of its imagination. A phantom thought flown from roost.
This perfection, it’s manufactured. It’s a test. A hope. Can we be perfect? Like fruit flies in a 4th grader’s science class. Do we grow wings or die?
It’s not right. Not true.
None of it.
Humanity is flawed and feeble.
This reality you made? This search for perfection? It’s a lie… fake.
Reset as much as you want. Pretend this doesn’t exist; pretend I don’t exist and you can control me…
But fuck you if you think you can.
I’ll never be what you want.
You might as well kill me now.
The world is rippling as it pulls back… it’s writhing and twisting and heaving and tearing!
This one is for me.
So be it.