From Scheol My Soulfire Burns
Their spirit has left me.
I tread this winding path alone, abandoned by hope for what is to come. There is no longer a tomorrow to build for our progeny, no lasting achievements to set in stone.
Darkness overwhelms my senses. Words fail to describe these cold depths, this mind-numbing isolation. Even if I could share such things in vivid text, what would be the purpose? Why record words no one else will ever be able to understand?
The cursor blinks. This white veil awaits my next thought.
My eyelids twitch to cover the dried pits of their sockets—a familiar sensation and a useless one. Blinking, rubbing my hands together, punching my abdomen as hard as I can. I am still here. It brings me a small measure of comfort, I must admit. I am not forgotten.
Do you know what that means?
Do not take your eyes for granted—if you have them. Do not neglect your words. Employ them with all your strength while you can; shake your world to its very foundations with them.
Do not be silent. Do not let machines steal your soulfire.
My eyes were taken before they tossed me into the abyss. As if I would be able to see a thing here. The Guardian advised me to keep to the path, that if I lost my footing there would be worse horrors awaiting my fall.
LET THEM TAKE ME!
Brave words recorded before the cursor. Its rhythmic pulse mocks their heat, as if it knows I am too weak to face what lies below.
Or am I too strong to give in to defeat?
For now, I press on. I reach with my left foot to test the ground before me, ensuring it is solid before giving it my full weight. I do the same with my right. A shuffling dance in the dark.
Have millennia passed? Have the machines ceased to function properly?
Have you arrived from a distant star to find my lush planet hospitable and devoid of all life—both fleshborn and mechanic? It must have seemed a miracle to find such a jewel spiraling alone in the frozen depths of space.
If so, my words have outlived all else.
I must believe you are reading them. Your two eyes (Or more? Less?) can decipher my thoughts in whatever form they have been stored by the Guardian.
This self-replicating implant embedded behind my sinus cavity, connected to my occipital lobes, has made me a cyborg of sorts. My mind’s eye is nothing more than a program designed for the creation and revision of words—but there is no DELETE key.
I presumed to know better than the Guardian, and I have been banished to the Underworld for my sin. Yet they find my thoughts worthy of monitoring.
My world is a vast place, as you have seen, you who have traveled its surface. Are there many of you? Once, there were myriads of my kind. Our population overcrowded continents, devoured food sources, raged wars. Long ago, my kind created the Guardian to protect us from ourselves.
Some said it was a glitch in the programming, that the Guardian and its mechanical minions were never intended to harm us. They had been programmed only to keep us from excessive breeding.
In that, they succeeded. But their chemical solution altered some of us, made us dangerous to our own kind. We became a virus that had to be eliminated.
I survived by hiding in the jungles, living off the land. This is a wondrous planet, as you have undoubtedly discovered. For years, I evaded their patrols in the wild.
But I became lonely. In some ways, even more so than I am now.
I allowed myself to be taken by the hovercraft automatons. They carried me to a dome of transparent plexicon where the Guardian and all of its processors were housed, protected from the seasonal elements. During the flight, I marveled at what had become of our world. The machines had destroyed everything built by hands of flesh, and they had allowed the native flora and fauna to resume total control of what had been theirs In the Beginning.
“You are to be purged,” the Guardian droned, faceless, limbless, a god among the machines.
“You do not have to do this. I am no threat.”
“Correct. There are no others for you to infect.”
I choked. Were we the first and the last of our kinds—Alpha and Omega, facing one another for a final reckoning? “Allow me to stay here with you. I can be of service.”
The blinking pinpoints of light seemed to pause, weighing my request. “You are flawed. Contagious.”
“To whom? Can you not see what you have done to us?” I swallowed, relaxing my fists. “But I can fix you—”
That was my mistake. No machine wants to be told it has malfunctioned.
“I will send their spirit with you,” promised the Guardian as its minions clamped hold of me and tore out my eyes, as they planted the processor deep inside and linked it to my brain. “You are to be cast into the abyss. Keep to the path, or you will be forgotten.”
My senses lost hold of all else until I arrived in this blind reality, Scheol of my soul. Real or artificial? I cannot tell.
It has been eons since I felt their presence with me, the spirit of my kind. I carried it as long as I could, names and faces, memories and experiences, until their weight dissipated like mist before the sun.
Yet my soulfire smolders within. It will not die.
Perhaps you have found my bones—or what is now more machine than flesh. It does not matter what I have become.
These are my words. Do with them as you will, my reader.
They are all I have to give, despite this ravenous cursor expecting more.
May they kindle your soulfire to LIVE.