What is existence? Is it the physical body? The string of conscious thought; the soul, as some would call it? When does one begin to exist? When they take their first breath or when they have their first thoughts?
These are the small insignificant thoughts one would find themselves lost in while stuck in the void as I have come to call it. As someone had said once, I think therefore I am, as for who said that? I have no idea. I am sure at one point I did know who it was, I know it was someone important, but I can’t for the life… is this a life… the existence of me I cannot remember who said that?
How long have I been here, just floating around in this sea of nothing, I cannot feel anything, and it is just endless blackness everywhere I look… am I blind? That would explain why I cannot seem to see anything, but why can I not feel anything? I’m sure I could feel before, I distinctly remember feeling things like… what was it called?
Everything seems scrambled whenever I try to recall anything. I know I am me, but I do not know who me is, or was, or is it who I am? No, I am me, I know that. But why do I know things? I know there is a ball of flaming gas in the sky, it's called the sun, but I can’t see the sun? I just know it's there, it always has been… hasn’t it? Maybe. Now I am not so sure about this sun thing, but I am sure I am me, just don’t know who that is yet.
Thoughts like these plagued the existence I know as me for what felt like an eternity, scrambled, disjointed, never coming to any conclusions, but it beat the alternative. Just sitting silently in the void space; no sounds, no light, nothing, just me.
A sound rang through the void causing my internal argument to screech to a halt.
What was that? Did I cause that? I am the only thing here… I think? Me thought as a sudden feeling washed over it. The first true feeling it can remember having while in the void, a creeping cold grasping its entire being... fear. Fear that Me wasn’t as alone as it had thought all this time.
The sound rang out again, this time louder, stronger… Was it closer to Me? It would have to be, that’s how sound works isn’t it? The closer the louder?
NOT THE TIME ME! Focus! Me thought to itself trying to consolidate all of its thoughts on this approaching… howl… no it was different, it was familiar, I have heard that sound before… a wail.
Ware have I heard that before? I know I have; I can feel it but where? I’m positive I know it. Me thought as it attempted to look around, not sure if it was accomplishing the act but it helped hone its thoughts as another ear-splitting wail rang through the void that stirred something in the existence as it became more frantic. “is… is that a… crying baby?”
A wave of emotions hit me all at once, as a memory flooded my mind. Not scrambled like the rest, but completely clear.
Standing in a white hall looking through a window at rows and rows of babies a feeling of immense pride washed over me as I looked lovingly at the comically small person wrapped in a light blue blanket. It thrashed against the blanket fruitlessly as a loud wail rose from its lips causing my pride to subside only to be replaced by a need to protect and help that small human.
“Who is that small human? Why do I feel the need to protect it?” Me pondered as it watched the memory, enamored by the detail it could feel through it. Then as quickly as it started, Me was pulled back to the void as another wail rang out. “And why does that cry not make me feel like the one from then?” Me hissed as it again looked around for the source of the cry, agitated by the invasion of its quiet void by what seemed to be a crying child… or at least Me hoped it was a miniature human, Me was sure that the small creature that couldn’t even unwrap a blanket couldn’t possibly cause any harm to it. Again, the cry… Maybe.
Me continued to search the void for the source of the noise though without feeling it was hard to pinpoint where it was, or if it would even be able to find it.
After what felt like an excessively long time, Me found itself overcome with a complement of new sensations, one it was not at all fond of.
The first was frustration, Me was increasingly frustrated with its predicament. First at its inability to find the source of the cry. And the second was this new dull sensation pulsing through it, causing it to have a hard time focusing on the task at hand.
The second sensation Me did not like, not at all. Pain. A dull ache that throbbed though it every time it would hear the cry ring out. It was like a burning needle in Me’s very existence. And Me was determined to make it stop, once it found the source of this noise it would be sure to give it a piece of its mind… if it could.
“There you are, you little annoying” me called out as it caught something out of the corner of its vision, the first thing it had seen in its entire existence, and Me did not know how to process what it saw. “… whatever you are.” Me finished weakly as what appeared to be a small purple orb floated next to it in the void.
Me didn’t know if the orb was actually small, but it was definitely smaller than Me. It was sure of that as Me willed itself closer to the small… sparkle?
“Yes, I am Me, and you are Sparkle.” Me declared as it finally came up to Sparkle. “Now be quiet Sparkle!” Sparkle did not comply with Me as it continued to shimmer letting out its childlike cry.
“What am I supposed to do about this now?” Me pondered as it and sparkle sat floating around one another. “I figured once I found it I could make it be quiet, but it's clearly young, why else would it be so small? Maybe it's unable to talk? How am I able to talk? Am I talking, it doesn’t feel any different than when I talk like this, aside from the will to be heard when I do it the other way.”
Me’s train of thought was cut short when Sparkle let out a different cry, this one was sharper, almost as if it was in pain.
Me looked to find sparkle pressing against something that looked like a solid black wall as Me felt as if a slight energy flow into it. Sparkle bounced back with a whimper as it dimmed slightly.
“Did you hurt yourself?” Me asked as it backed away from the small purple ball, confused by the new sensation of being touched.
Me watched sparkle as it sat, unmoving but still crying though it was much quieter now.
“Why did touching me seem to hurt it? And what was that feeling? It felt as if I was drawing it into myself… if I touch it will I… absorb sparkle?” Me pondered obliviously to the new sound that was beeping in the back of its mind. Me observed Sparkle from what it felt was a safe distance pondering what had happened. “Sparkle clearly ran into me. But then Sparkle was injured… are we the same? Maybe it tried to attack me but I am too large for it?”
The beeping became louder and more insistent, finally catching Me’s attention.
“Now what!?” me exclaimed, already missing its solitude.
Me focused on the noise, this was different than sparkles whimpers, this one felt as if it was inside of Me. Focusing its entire being on the noise, Me willed it to stop, shocked when it climaxed into a loud “Ding” as what appeared to be a small box snapped into existence before Me.
The box had… strange swirling symbols in it that Me did not recognize. Focusing on them too hard made the pain come back, then they would shift into clearly different symbols. This repeated for several cycles before finally Me recognized the symbols that floated. They were words!
“Soul A7695… designation Sparkle, has attempted to assimilate X47, self-designation Me. Assimilation failed.” Me read out loud. “Why is the Sparkle number so much longer than mine? I’m bigger…. You tried to eat me!” Me began in a murmur before shouting glaring at the small pulsing orb that sat a little way away from it.
The box scrambled before reforming, “Designation, Sparkle, is a natural born soul. Where self-designation Me is an unknown entity.”
We are not the same? Me looked over at the little soul, it was starting to pulse a little brighter and Me was happy to see it was recovering from attempting to eat it. But if it is natural, then what am I?
“Unknown.” The box flashed.
Me scoffed, “well thank you ever helpful box.” Me did not know why but it didn’t seem to trust this box, “if I am unknown, and sparkle is a soul, what are you? Are you like me?”
“No.” it flashed. “I am terminal…” it flashed with a truly incomprehensibly long number. Me attempted to follow it but it was scrolling by faster than Me could follow before it flashed bright blue and shown “1 x 1010^100”
“Truly, helpful” Me sighed, “I will call you Inutil.”
The box flashed a variety of colors before calming back into its pail blue glow. “Designation Om…”
“Hey, don’t just change your name!” Me blurted willing itself into the box before it could finish, feeling no resistance as it passed through the box. “I thought very hard about the name.”
The box flashed again, before conceding “temporary designation… Inutil.”
Though Me was happy with its slight victory, and amused by the box now called Inutil, there were several questions Me had running through its mind. “So Inutil where are we?”
Before any answer could come, I felt a familiar feeling of energy coming from… its left? Me shifted its gaze to see Sparkle bounce off it, dimming again as it let out a whimper.
“Soul, Sparkle. Has attempted to assimilate X47, Me” Inutil flashed. “Would X47, Me, like to assimilate Soul, Sparkle?”
“What! No!” Me surprised itself with its sudden outburst.
“Why not, it is trying to eat me. Why would I not just “assimilate” sparkle and be done with that annoyance… but I think it’s a baby… and its not like it's hurting me when it does it… besides sparkle is the only thing I have seen… ever. Well not including Inutil.”
Everything was still for a moment, Me staring at the floating box Inutil, Sparkle whimpering as it flashed dimly. Me glanced at sparkle who unlike last time did not seem to be recovering from its attempt to eat the clearly larger Me. “Sparkle, are you ok?”
Inutil flashed a response, “Soul, Sparkle, has exerted too much of its own soul in an attempt to assimilate X47, Me. Soul, Sparkle, will not be able to recover on its own. Would X47, Me, like to assimilate Soul, Sparkle?”
“No, I will not eat Sparkle.” Me snapped back, “how can I help it?”
Another long pause, “X47, Me, would like to assist Soul, Sparkle, recover?” Inutil flashed before flashing red and showing a large “ERROR” then settling back into its pale blue and presenting “Impossible. Soul, Sparkle, has weakened itself beyond its capability to replenish its own soul.”
“How? By trying to eat me?” Me asked. “Why does it keep trying to eat me if it can’t?”
“X47, Me, has invaded Soul, Sparkle’s physical body. Soul, Sparkle, sees X47, Me, as a threat.”
“Invaded? I have always been here!” Me shouted turning on the dim purple orb, “if anything you invaded my void with your crying!”
“Incorrect, Soul, Sparkle, has just been born.” Inutil flashed appearing between the two, “X47, Me, invaded Sparkle’s physical body at birth. Two beings cannot inhabit the same physical body, and Soul, Sparkle, is trying to assert dominance over X47, Me, for control of the Physical body.”
“Physical body? What body?” Me asked quizzically as it looked around. All it could see was darkness in every direction, however something felt different. Before when Me would look around the void it felt endless, just space that went on forever, now though the darkness felt like… walls. Like it was a large box, not endless as before. “What… what happened?” Me felt a deep panic set in, no longer in its own void.
“X47, Me, invaded Soul, Sparkles Physical…” Inutil begin to scroll but Me pushed past it, willing itself out before finding itself right back where it started next to the now even dimmer Sparkle.
“How? The void is endless? Or at least I think it was?” Me huffed, “Why can’t I get out?”
“X47, Me, invaded Soul, Sparkles physical…”
“Say something different!” Me bellowed enraged, feeling a strange draw on itself as the void around them seemed to bend.
Sparkle let out a very low painful cry as it faded even more causing Me’s attention to snap to it, the void flashing back to its original empty state.
“Warning,” Inutil flashed red, “if X47, Me, continues to exert itself in this space Soul, Sparkle, will perish.”
“And I’m asking how to fix that box!” Me snapped back, now understanding why it did not like the box, boxes were cold, logical, unfeeling things. Me knew this for a fact, it knew this with more confidence than whether or not the sun existed in the sky. Me did not know how it knew this, but it did know that this box, Inutil, would be no help after it deemed it “impossible”.
“Ok, think Me. You can’t leave, you are a soul of some kind, and you are killing Sparkle. What are we?” Me pondered as it floated as far from Sparkle as it could, hoping that distance would at least lessen the effect it had on the small soul.
Me felt a flash of annoyance as Inutil appeared before it. “X47, Me, is not a soul.” It flashed. “However, X47, Me, is similar to a soul. Both X47, Me, and a soul would be defined as a compressed energy of consciousness.” It scrolled a few more lines of text but Me had already begun ignoring it.
“Energy? Like power? But if we are both just power, why can’t we both be in the same place? What do I know about energy… not a lot. Just its power, there are a lot of different types of energy. What about consciousness, wouldn’t that just be thoughts? That’s just a different form of energy, aren’t they? Just electrical impulses in the brain? Wait, I don't have a brain right now do I?”
Inutil flashed brightly to catch Me’s attention, breaking its train of thoughts as it scrambled to come to a solution. “The difference is X47, Me, is a different type of energy, and a significantly more powerful energy source.” It flashed before a small diagram showed on the screen depicting what looked like two rivers, one was labeled Sparkle, the other Me’s. Sparkles river was a thin wavy line across the bottom of the screen, where Me’s river would better be described as a long road, perfectly straight just 10 times thicker than Sparkles. “Given the fundamental differences between Soul, Sparkle’s mana signature and X47, Me’s… aether. X47, Me, would not be able to substitute Soul, Sparkle’s mana with the unknown energy.”
Where have I seen something like that…
Me’s consciousness seemed to wane as another memory surfaced, this one not as gentle as the last. Me found itself sitting at a desk, a man standing before it pointing at a graph Written on the… black board. Just this graph was depicting something called “current '', the wavy one was called alternating current and the straight one direct current. The memory started to become distorted as Me willed to see something useful before snapping back to the void.
Me’s consciousness consolidated with an ominous laugh before it addressed Inutil, “you’re just energy too aren't you?
The box was still for a moment before another graph was presented with a third line, this time it was a broken segmented line that seemed to bend only slightly, but it did bend. “Terminal, Inutil, uses mana as its fundamental energy source, however it is merely an interface and lacks the power to provide any assistance in this situation.”
Another deep ominous laugh bellowed out of Me, as the consciousness lunged at the floating box. “if its power you need” Me’s voice distorted as, unlike last time it slammed into the box that flickered before going dark, becoming nothing more than a floating black slate, “then allow me to help.”
Forcing its consciousness into Inutil, Me found an intricate web of this “mana”, interlacing the entirety of its being. But Me’s memory from earlier had given them all they needed, and what it needed was an inverter. If it could change its energy to match Sparkle’s it could use it to fuel the small soul. And Inutil kept saying it was a “terminal” and all Me kept seeing was “I am a soulless machine”. In its memory Me saw why it disliked boxes, they were fake, programmed, machines used for a purpose. All it needed to do was change Inutil’s purpose to… well be more useful than a useless information box.
After what felt like an eternity unraveling the intricate web that Inutil’s internal workings, Me had a decent idea of what the box was. What seemed like a web strewn about with no thought behind it, was actually hundreds of intricate designs layered on top of one another, if Me had to guess it was the same concept as building a computer, but with mana instead of electricity… enchantment Me figured that was as good a word as any to describe it. More importantly it was a fragment, a smaller piece of a bigger machine and it was still connected even though Me forced it to “shut down”.
“So, you really are just a part of a bigger system huh?” Me asked to the void as it pulled Inutil being apart. “Let's see what it has to say about this.” It mused as it mentally pulled on one of the enchantment webs, pulling it from the box and breaking it.
Almost instantly another pale blue box popped into existence before Me.
“X47, self-designation Me, has exhibited hostile behavior against” Me didn’t read the rest of the line as it slammed into the new box.
“I wonder if it will keep sending them?” Me chuckled as it began pulling Inutil 2 apart and wiring it to Inutil. There was no answer, no new box, no noise, just the void and the dyeing wines of Sparkle. “don’t poof just yet, little one, you might be annoying, but it’s the duty of the elders to protect children.”
Hours later, Me hovered over a pile of what looked like faintly glowing cables and two, albeit cracked, flickering screens. One displaying what Inutil described as Me’s Aether signal. The other was dormant for the time being.
“Now,” Me sighed looking over to see Sparkle still faintly pulsing, “how do I get you from there to” Me’s gaze shifted to the spot between the two screens, “here. Preferably without popping you.”
After pondering it for a while, Me let out a long rumbling groan calling out into the void. “Hey stupid box any ideas?” it had shown up hours ago but unlike Inutil and Inutil 2, this box was smaller and stayed pressed in the corner of the void as far from Me as possible. “Come on, I won’t gut you like these two, I need ideas now.” Me’s voice had a hint of amusement in it as it called to the smaller screen, noticing it was no larger than a camera lens.
There was an audible crack, followed by a strange pressure filling the void as an unseen force seemed to push Sparkle across the void into the machine. Me sat stunned as a 4th normal sized box appeared before it.
There was something immediately different about this box Me noted as it stared it down. Though the box displayed nothing it felt powerful, not just a programmed display, maybe it was the consciousness behind the Inutil screens.
“Assuming you survive this, I will forgive the bastardization of my terminals. I do ask you to refrain from destroying them in the future however.” The words didn’t so much as appear on the screen as they flowed directly into Me’s mind. “If you survive that is.”
Me felt the chill of fear run though it again as it laughed, “you’re a confident box, aren’t you?” it exclaimed as it floated to the other side of the machine from Sparkle and willed the cables to rise up, “what is your designation? Or do you want the mantle of Inutil as well?”
“I am the system that oversees this world. I have… you may call me Eryl.” The words came again directly into Me’s mind as the screen flashed.
“Eryl, huh.” Me pondered the name, there was no memory flash but an understanding, “a place where one would look for knowledge, fitting for a system.” Me said out loud as the cables floated towards it. “isn’t that Christian?”
The question fell on deaf ears however, or the reply was because the moment the cables contacted the black wall that Me now knew was the boundary of itself, its entire being was racked with pain, not like that dull throb that it felt earlier. No this was real, soul rending pain. Blinding, searing, existence ending pain. Me knew the “inverter” was working however as it could feel the machine tearing its power from it, that river it imagined was now rushing directly out of it into Sparkle. It felt like an eternity, Me knew it couldn’t have been more than a few moments, but time seemed to stretch and bend as its entirety was being sucked into the inverter forcing it through the machines enchanting rings, stripping the Aether and molding it into mana. It was actually a simple process Me found out, Aether was the same as mana, just more. Its like Aether was the pure undiluted energy of a lightning bolt compared to mana which was the diluted and toned-down tesla coil. Sure, fundamentally the same but Me itself was much more reluctant to step in front of a lightning bolt than say, kick a tesla coil.
After what was an absurdly long time if you were to ask Me, the machine stopped pulling power from Me and simply fell apart, vanishing from sight as Me looked a much larger, much brighter, pulsing purple orb.
A screen blinked into existence between the two, “X47, soul magic successfully learned, spell soul resonance created. Soul A76… Amethyst, trait dual soul acquired.” A list of things blurred across the screen as Me watched fading in and out of consciousness. After a moment the screen flashed, “Considerable damage has been detected in X47, estimated time till full cognitive functions are restored… 11 years 11 months 4 weeks 2 days 16 hours 5 minutes and 43 seconds. Would you like to rest until fully restored?”
“Rest for almost 12 years?” Me scoffed, “wouldn’t that be a coma? Wont I atrophy?”
“You are a being of energy, there is nothing to wither.” The screen quipped, for the first time not using Me’s number or designation. “And with your soul resonance activated, Amethyst will no longer try to assimilate you. You can rest easy, while I find a way to erase that insanely dangerous spell from existence.” It was only then did Me realize it was no longer looking at a screen.
“What one, I didn’t read them all.” Me asked too tired to actually care.
“The one that almost killed you X47,” Eryl spoke into Me’s mind, its voice devoid of emotion, was strangely feminine. Me found it soothing. “If you did not read it the first time, all the better. The more beings that know of something the harder it is to erase. Now rest, I will monitor your existence and be sure it does not wither away like you fear.”
And with that Me found itself happily sitting back in its dark, quiet void. Unable to care or worry about what that life ending spell was or if the system, Eryl, will keep its word. Just Me, myself, and the large glowing screen reading, 11y11m4w2d16h4m32s.