Sunday, 9 April 2017


Raymond stepped out onto the stage. Rehearsed words flowed and he embraced his role. One of the lesser Capulets came to life in his hands, and he weaved himself into a well-known story. This was where he thrived, performing in front of a sold-out crowd. His colleagues similarly danced, and the story soon ran its course. Afterwards, backstage the alcohol flowed and they celebrated another performance, heartily congratulating each other.

Raymond had worked with the troupe for years, yet was still considered the rookie. It not a term of denigration, but rather affection. He was the youngest of the sizable group, and felt that he had acquired a significant number of older brothers and sisters. He had proven himself repeatedly, though it still rankled him that he was the first they turned to when performing roles such as Oliver Twist or Pinocchio. Nonetheless, he was happy and lived only for the next curtain call.

They traveled from city to city, living in caravans and on the road. At first the thought of no fixed abode had terrified him, but now the thought of tying himself down brought equal dread. He loved each new venue, with all its quirks and crowds. This wasn't even addressing the wealth of literature that had been opened to him. He sought out obscure plays and brought them to the light. Presenting them proudly to the others, often there would be excuses of expense or ability, but occasionally he would find one that resonated in all of them. To give them all a story to tell that hadn't been heard by the audience before.

After their most recent performance in Manchester, they were travelling through the night. The motion of the trailer coming to a halt woke Raymond. He blearily sat up in bed. A quick investigation yielded an overcast night, with a storm coming in the distance. He spied the head of the acting troupe, Bill, get out of his car, and approach shadowed figure at the roadside. Their conversation was short, but they both nodded, and the two shook hands. Bill got back in his car and the convoy continued it's journey. Raymond paid it no mind, and went back to sleep. He wasn't certain how long he slept, but was woken by Bill telling him they had arrived.

He stepped out of the trailer, and was immediately thrown by the fact it was still night. He looked questioningly at Bill, he assured him he had slept throughout the day. He was quickly pressed into the hard labour of moving their equipment into the venue. It was a tall dark building surrounded by scrub-land and open soil, little flora or fauna to speak of. The horizon yielded no clues. The building itself was basic, unvarnished wood, crooked panels and seemingly rushed. Within it was a different story, with a fully functional stage, orchestral pit, a vast auditorium and boxes looking down on all.
The lead up to performance was a blur. The script for the evening was one of his discoveries. A story of a young woman, of temptation and disaster. He had read the script aloud to them, and Bill's eyes had lit up. If Raymond hadn't known better he would have sworn that he recognized it. He had immediately declared that he knew exactly where to perform such a masterpiece.

As he waited backstage, he snatched a glance between the curtains. What he saw demanded a follow-up inspection. The audience was wrong. Some were just if light could not escape them. Others had exaggerated limbs or far too many heads. There was not a single normal individual among them. He turned away from the curtain his mouth open to shout warnings to his compatriots when he came face to face with Bill.

"Never you mind Boy, Everyone else already knows. We are here to tell a story and that’s exactly what we are going to do."

Conflicting emotions danced across his face, until he eventually bolted them down. The night accelerated again.

They plunged into the performance, and Raymond found his main objective in not focusing on the audience. The story soon drew to a climax in the third act, and Raymond was shaken by the realization that the audience were supporting the antagonist of the play, a role held by Bill. He watched fascinated as the morality was redesigned in front of him. Eventually Bill finished the scene with a speech that roused the audience into ovation
At this point, one entity broke away from the audience and approached the stage. As it neared, Bill stepped forward and crouched at the edge of the stage. Dark tendrils extruded from a darker mass, and started to encompass Bill. Bill relaxed in their grasp, and was pulled close to the creature. All the actors on the stage froze, an stared intently. The only exception, Raymond, looked around wildly. Why was no-one panicking?

From the entwined couple, there came a deep whispering. It cut through the air but was indecipherable. With a jolt, Bill was released and collapsed back onto the stage. Next came a low basing throb that increased to ear-splitting levels. Just before it became unbearable, there was a thunderclap and the audience vanished.

The actors rushed forward to help Bill, and were relieved to find him breathing. They had packed up and went on the way. Raymond found that none of the group would address to him what had just happened. They did not seem concerned or confused, but merely went about the same routine of stowing the equipment. Eventually Raymond approached Bill, who was recovering with a glass of wine backstage.

"Thanks for the performance kid. "

"Bill, what happened on the stage there?"

"That was just a from the audience. Helps you to hone your skills."

"They are the audience. That is all that matters."

At this point Bill was called away, and Raymond was left with his thoughts. His anxiety did not subside over the coming weeks as he noticed a marked improvement in Bill's ability and range.  There seemed to be a trade-off, however. The more lively and animated he was on the stage, the more withdrawn and emotionless he became off it. The head of the troop soon lived just to be called from his dressing-room as his compatriots found his company too uncomfortable.

Raymond had watched closely and considered the deal. It was all conjecture as they were unlikely to find another script like that. That was until he stumbled across one a month later. It turned out that the first play had merely been the start of a series, and this continuation chronicled the antagonist raising a protégé. The happenstance of the story was not lost on Raymond, and he had hid the script deep within his belongings. That was 2 days ago. He has been sat considering the deal for hours, thinking of what impact he could make.

He wants to be baptized in flashlights.

Raymond smiles. At his next performance he is going to get to meet his audience.


The invention of teleportation heralded a new age of civilization. Within an unassuming British government think-tank, a young intern placed the metaphorical 2 and 2 together and revealed what was felt to be rather obvious afterwards. A process that allowed for the transportation of matter. At least that was how it was billed initially. It revolutionised the world. Commerce and Transportation were rendered obsolete when it was possible to travel anywhere on the planet in seconds.

For several years the world enjoyed the freedom of exploring places that were previously inaccessible. A restaurant was built at the peak of Everest. Space travel exploded once gravity was no longer an enemy. Multiculturalism reached an all-time high, and the concepts of borders had to be redefined. The world entered a Golden Age, and rejoiced that for once it had created a technology that could not be turned on it's fellow man.

Eventually, researchers made a shocking discovery. Attempts were made by the government to suppress the information, but once it was released, the bell could not be unrung. The device was not transporting people. It was using manipulation of quantum probability to create a duplicate. Pat of the process was that the same analysis of the subject resulted in it's destruction, and the duplicate continued on, oblivious to the fact that it had only just been created. It retained all memories, and for all intents and purposes was the same person. At least this is what the advertising screamed as the P.R. departments went into crisis control.

The world did not take this well.

The realisation swept across the globe that more or less everyone was a duplicate, which led to a period of cynicism and depression. There were reports of society breaking down in remote parts and vandalising their teleportation pads. Some secluded themselves, others had full-on existential psychotic breaks in public. It was through the efforts of teams across the world that a solution was formed. Anew form of energy conduction was discovered. Drawing on the previously thought lost documents of Nikolai Tesla. Fresh advances were made in the wireless energy transfer. Eventually the Mark 2.0 was announced. The process was similar with one key difference. The neural energy of the brain was conducted and broadcast to the duplicate, overriding the duplicated personality.

The general consensus was that this was as good as the same person, and the world resumed the Golden Age. It may be noted that there was an air of desperation in how quickly the populace seized this development. Expansion continued, and soon pads were being remotely landed on any surface scientists could find in the solar system. A wealth of knowledge was revealed across the spheres and science responded in kind with leaps and bounds.

Soon a new form of scanner was developed that could analyse the subject down to a molecular level, but did not need to destroy it. This gave rise to a new form of cloning that provided instantaneous results. The energy was distributed evenly between the two individual, and allowed both to retain full memories. A new culture arose as the numbers of duplicates increased.

At first it was a rocky affair with several years spent redefining society once again as the concept of identity was shaken. Numerous cases of identity fraud were reported, of crimes that were impossible to solve to reasonable doubt, of suspicion and doubt. Eventually society learned that if it was to continue its expansion, it needed to accept this new aspect of the population. Once embraced, they thrived.

Sexuality required new labels, and individuals referring to themselves as Narcisexuals arose. Beings who only held a sexual attraction to copies of themselves. The morality of this was held in question for a long time and eventually abandoned as trying to apply the morals of old was becoming increasingly difficult. The last fragments of several religions around the world still sparked and railed against the device, citing it an instrument of destruction, and seductress of the innocent. They boycotted the device, claiming superiority of being 'original' humans.

With the rapid expansion that came with duplication, the government quickly saw the issues that could arise, whilst resources could be duplicated using the same process, energy was trickier. The realms that were being dabbled in still were not fully understood. Energies obtained from this process were unpredictable and difficult to contain. And the process required significant energy in the first place. To this end, the government slipped a small patch into the teleportation subroutines that would slowly render the population sterile. This was revealed some years later, and surprisingly did not cause the controversy expected. In actual fact, the majority of population whilst annoyed at the way that it was implemented understood the reasoning behind it.

Eventually memory storage increase to the point where templates could be saved and utilised. This allowed individuals to scan themselves, and retain the body for later use should anything non-fatal happen to them. A 'save point', if you will. Manipulation of the data allowed the age of the created duplicate to be controlled. Soon the population was raising clones of themselves.

It was at this point that new revelation was announced. Experimentation with subjects had led to the discovery that the duplication process could work both ways. Two subjects could be merged to become one. The amalgamated being was a balance between the two subjects, retaining both sets of memories and significantly improved health and lifespan. In this, the government found the answer to the resource crisis. At first new social cultures were implemented. It became normal that once a couple had lived for a set time together, they would be expected to merge and become a single entity, taking their relationship to the next level. This caused trepidation at first, but was eventually explored out of curiosity. At this point, the individuals of the human race were for all intents and purposes immortal due to the device. It allowed the body to be reset to the beginning of the day, and had removed the need for concepts such as sleeping or eating. Food was still enjoyed for pleasure, but any time someone felt hungry, they would transmit themselves to an earlier version when they weren't.

At first the unions of people were referred to as Amalgams, but as the numbers of people combining themselves grew, a new term was coined. Gestalts. These were beings that were naturally long-lived. Wise far beyond their years, drawing upon the collective insights of dozens, if not hundreds of people. Their natural ability allowed for them to rise to the top of society and governments were replaced with a ruling class that had no concept of self, merely all. Corruption and Bureaucracy was eliminated overnight as society was streamlined. The population started to decrease rapidly as the allure of being one of the gestalt grew stronger.

That was when the catastrophe occurred. A huge solar flare exploded out from the surface of the Sun, and a tsunami of radiation washed across the heliosphere. There was time to prepare, but the only workable solution that could be posited was to merge as much of the remaining population together as possible. This was due to the difficulty in shielding against the radiation. The bunkers were comprised of unstable particles that would not allow any form of matter or energy to pass through, but could not be duplicated. This left limited space in the bunker that was built, and the population rapidly dwindled and unified so that all would fit in.

Surprisingly few stayed behind, as the thought of death was far more terrifying in a world of technologically-supported immortality. Deep within the bunker use of the machines was limited and rations started to dwindle. Eventually the decision was made to continue merging the remaining gestalts so as to extend the resources, and after much soul-searching, only one single being was left. The complete amalgamation of the human race. It knew more or less everything, was infiitely patient and had a lifespan that could be measured in ice-ages. It unfortunately could not do anything as it still remained trapped within the bunker. All possible locations within the solar system were equally deadly, and all that could be done was to sit and think.

It was close to despair, with many decades spent considering all possible options when one was handed to it. Haley's Comet came screaming into the solar system as a part of it's orbital cycle. The being ran the calculations, and discovered a responding signal coming from an archaic base that had been set up of the comet. A still active teleportation pad with a basic survival habitat. After confirming the timing needed, the being managed to teleport to the comet just as it left the toxic grip of the radiation cloud.

Prior to teleportation, the being had passed as much of the remaining resources onto the comet. It now found itself plunging in to the black of deep space. Apply solar sails to the comet, he started to steer it away from its well-beaten path to a new destination. Studies had revealed a planet that could support life, and allow them to flourish. It was working on a new subroutine for the device that would allow for a vast splitting of its personality, for many of the individuals within its mind to be reasserted.

It would start afresh, and repopulate the human race on a new world. It drifted into the darkness with hope in its heart.


The being was a scientist. That was the role allocated to him when he coalesced, as his need for understanding was felt by the collective. Theirs was an abstract plane, where thought was reality and nothing was constant. The Being had no name, as their perception of the universe allowed knowledge of all and formalities were pointless. Any communication was asserted through pure thought. Through manipulation of higher dimensional planes, they could move through the lower dimensions and study the wonders stored there.

New studies from the the Being had revealed the existence of Duration. This intrigued the collective, as they had always been. In their plane all things happened at the same time, instantly and yet eternal. This caused some paradoxical moments as the collective considered that it had always known this fact, yet had only just learned it. The collective judgement was that Time was an annoying aspect of the lower dimensions that refused to behave or stand still.

The Being sought further and eventually uncovered spatial dimensions beneath that, inexplicably tied to duration yet different in their nature. It descended into the lower levels and started to explore. The Being initially compressed itself to the initial 3 dimensions, and manifested within Space-time. Within moments, the being realised that it had made a mistake. His corporeal body was billions of miles in radius and enveloped a star that instantly destabilised and collapsed. The Being leapt back up to the 5th dimension, realising that its studies of the ratios of microcosm and macrocosm were incorrect, and this had been magnified the further down it  went. It adjusted his standing in the fifth, before descending again.

It reasserted in deep space as a metre wide sphere, translucent and shining. A brief inspection beheld a forming galaxy several thousand light years away. A brief hop to a higher dimension allowed them to traverse the distant without antagonising Einstein. It  drifted taking in the sights and experiencing concepts of length, width and breadth. The being found the reality constrictive and empty at the same time.

Eventually they witnessed dust clouds condensing and forming into celestial bodies. It had found that he could accelerate the passage of time, and watched the birth of a solar system. After some objectively significant time had passed, it noted that some of the planets were becoming active, and descended to one. He floated across the landscape, studying the strange mechanics of reality, discovering the laws of physics, and the composition of chemistry within seconds. Eventually he came across a puddle of assorted elements, bubbling with heat. Here the Being lingered. Reality hummed here, a point of potential with radically different possibilities. It swept back the reality veil momentarily and regarded the waveform potentials that deviated from this point.

Most showed the formation of a concept that he was not familiar. Beings that came into existence for an exceptionally brief time, procreated and passed on genetic material. The being considered whether it's own state of existing could be comparable, but found an unfamiliar fear set in when he considered the concept of its own non-existence. The being plucked a harmonic string that extended off to literal infinity, and then gave the tableau space.

A bolt of lightning hammered into the pool, and the being witnessed Terra's first tenants. After several minutes, the being came to the conclusion that things may be a little more interesting further along this species timeline. It jack-rabbited forwards through time, taking glimpses of events mediocre, epic and profound. It especially appreciated concepts of art and culture, and looked forward to introducing these ideals to the collective. Eventually the creatures started to evolve further, and a rapid onset of technology witnessed them abandoning a dying planet in search of newer pastures. The being watched the tenacious creatures as they sought out, and for a moment felt a brief sense of loss.

Perturbed and annoyed, the creature decided to descend further. It found a two dimensional plane lodged at the based of space-time. A reality of pure information, it realised that the third dimension projected out of this plane. The third dimension was a side effect of the second dimension. It experimented, manipulating the flow of information in the second to create physics defying events in the third.  This did not keep its attention for long. It sought further and found the first dimension. A plane of only length that edged along the second dimension. The reality was minimal with little information gleaned. Nothing existed there, and the being found itself bored again. It looked further down the scale and glimpsed something, right at the edge. A reality of no dimensions. A point. A singularity.

Desperate for something new, it plunged in. When it became aware in the new reality, it instantly realised that it encompassed everything. The was no concept of size or shape, simply that It Was. Initially thrown off balance, the being started to collate what little date it could find, and when satisfied prepared to leap back up to more familiar realities. It found itself restrained. It could not move as it was everything, and eventually it stopped struggling.

After some consideration and no small amount of panic, the being eventually resigned itself to the fact that it was trapped. It considered all it options and found that it's current state of being was ill-equipped to address the problems in front of it. It considered the creatures of Terra, and the possibilities of the multiple over the singular.

The being separated itself into two beings, attributing specific aspects of it's being to each so as to created two different beings. The experiment was a success and the beings set to work on their problem. They once again ran into a metaphorical wall. Eventually, after may separations a new collective existed. All looked up seeking a way back to a home they no longer had a concept of, but just a feeling or instinct. One day a being coalesced whose curiosity and thirst for knowledge resonated in the collective. It was allocated to be a scientist. It started to look further down.......