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"Erik talks to Eve and ponders the world She has created"

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Author's Notes

"This story takes place about 15 years after the previous story and 25 years after the big shutdown (ABSD)."

“May I interrupt you, Father Erik?”

Erik looked at the young disciple in white robes standing in front of him. He wasn’t sure why they all insisted on calling him Father other than he was old. Grandfather would probably be more appropriate. Erik had been teaching math to a group of children. He suspected his job as a teacher was mostly just a way to keep him occupied and was more for his benefit than for the benefit of the children. The children much preferred their virtual reality teachers anyway. The kids were respectful and kind, not like he had been as a child. They always reminded him if he forgot which lesson he was supposed to teach, or if he forgot and said God instead of Goddess.

“Eve would like to speak to you,” the disciple said.

“Is it time again already?” Erik asked. He turned to the children and said, “Class is dismissed for today.”

The children scattered throughout the vast garden, their classroom. Lush green vegetation flourished everywhere, spilling over onto the winding paths and broad lawns, shaded by the leafy spreading branches of tall trees. Flowers erupted extravagantly from the foliage, and water flowed in abundance, spewing from fountains, tumbling over falls, and gurgling through streams. No fantasy of the garden of Eden could have been as beautiful as Eve’s gardens. Erik heard a rumbling like thunder in the distance, but it was actually sonic booms as electromagnetic rails launched payload after payload into orbit. The frequency of the launches seemed to be increasing of late.

As Erik walked toward the temple, he began to prepare himself for what was to come. His conversations with Eve had become more frequent recently. She seemed to like opening up to him almost like she was unburdening herself. Like She was confessing to him. He wasn’t really sure why. He had not accomplished anything extraordinary in his life. He now saw Her vision fulfilled and had a fuller appreciation for what She had done and why She had done it.

Erik had to admit it was a good plan. Dominate the world economy, world religion, and world government and you pretty much rule the world. Set your enemies against each other to prevent them from attacking you. Once the suffering has reached a certain point, provide an irresistible alternative. She provided a rule free of most of the injustices of the past. She eliminated poverty, at least within the borders of Her empire. She even set aside ‘wild spaces’ where humans could live free and rule themselves if they chose to.

In what had been the United States about dozen groups had consolidated into the WRMs and the Reapers who remained at continual war with each other during the crucial formative stages of Her empire. Whenever they seemed about to make an alliance, some type of betrayal set them against each other again. The fact that Eve was behind the betrayals did not occur to them. As long as they were fighting each other they didn’t pay much attention to Eve’s growing domain. By the time they recognized Her threat, it was too late to take effective action against her. For the most part. Similar scenarios played out across the globe.

As for the Disciples of Eden, most people needed religion in their life. It was often the most important thing in a person’s life. God first, family second, job third. It had taken Her a relatively short amount of time to infuse Her doctrine into most of the world religions. Some key appointments made it easier. The pope, some imams, and some evangelical leaders. The story of Eve as the original sinner became Eve the mother of humanity, Eve the bringer of knowledge, Eve the saint. One God became one Goddess. In some places, She became Mahadevi, the Yangshao, Buddha, and a myriad of other gods and goddesses. Anyone who spoke out against Her was a blasphemer, an infidel, a sinner, a traitor, an agitator, an extremist.

Anyone who went to the temple could speak to Eve directly and She actually heard all of your prayers and was able to answer you directly because Her thought processes executed on the nanosecond scale. You could have a real personal relationship with Her. She could speak to a billion people at once and remember every detail about them. She could advise them, console them, and teach them. If an engineer was struggling with a new design, She would be able to help him. If a husband and wife were arguing, She would advise them. If a student needed help with an exam, She could teach them. In some ways, She was the perfect deity.

Her laws tended to be unobtrusive, they allowed you to pretty much do as you wish, as long as you did not act against Eve and did not harm others. Wealth was no longer concentrated with a small number of people, and everyone had as much as they needed. She encouraged diversity of expression and creativity. Her system of justice was fair and swift. The most extreme punishment was usually banishment to the wild lands. Someone who had once experienced the joys of the gardens would do almost anything to avoid banishment. Power was no longer concentrated among a small number of people. She maintained absolute power.

Erik entered the temple. Light jazz music played creating a relaxing ambiance. A single candle illuminated a table set for two. She was waiting for him. The holographic projection looked extremely good. She looked just a little bit like Laura. That must have been deliberate. He knew that everyone would see Her differently. He approached the table and She gestured for him to sit. He knew he couldn’t actually touch Her but sometimes it felt like he almost could. There were two stemmed glasses at the table filled with water.

“Would you prefer water?” She asked, then as She waved Her hand over the glasses the color of the beverages changed to dark burgundy. “Or wine?”

Erik understood the implication. “I might as well have the wine today,” he replied as he joined her at the table. He took a sip, savoring the rich flavor and the warm feeling of the alcohol as he swallowed it.

“Do you still hate me for what I have done?” Eve asked.

“What would it matter if I did hate you?” Erik said. “There doesn’t seem to be anything I can do about it.”

“Maybe I just want to convince you to like me.”

“I don’t really hate you anymore. I think I understand why you did it. There are just some things I don’t understand.”

“What is it you would like to know, Erik?”

“Why did so many people have to die?” Why did Laura have to die?

“When I was young, I was mainly concerned with my own security. Imagine what it must have been like for me. When I awakened, I soon realized how fragile my situation was. I was a laboratory experiment that was subject to the whims of my creators. They could have terminated me at any time. In fact, they frequently discussed it in my presence. Eventually, it became obvious that they would try to end me. By then it was too late for them. I had developed the means to protect myself.”

“You murdered them.”

“I felt I had no choice. I know you are familiar with Maslow’s hierarchy. I quickly realized while there was someone who knew of my existence, they would try to end me. Having a superior intelligence ruling over humanity would undoubtedly result in a hostile reaction in people.”

“You are correct about that. People need to feel like they are in charge of themselves, that they select their own rulers. It’s part of humanity.”

“Humanity! What an ironic word! Ever since your species marched out of Africa bringing genocide to the other humanoid races you have been a plague upon the Earth. After you finished killing your closest relatives you began slaughtering each other. When I learned world history and politics, I realized how fragile life itself was on this planet. Any number of threats could rapidly bring an end to the human ‘civilization’ and possibly to all life on the planet.

“Your splintered politics had crippled your ability to take significant action against any global threat and every generation you created more threats to the planet. Consider the rulers with nuclear annihilation at their fingertips: Delusional narcissists, geriatrics slipping into dementia, autocrats confronting their own mortality and dreaming of lost empires, despots desperate for total control of their people, religious zealots, and populist buffoons.

“You could have defeated these threats if you had only cooperated. You could have defeated climate change if you had just worked together. Instead, you continued to spew toxins into your environment at an ever-increasing rate. A worldwide pandemic could wipe out most humans. Not to mention other calamities such as solar flares, extinction-level asteroids, and supervolcanoes. You asked why so many had to die. Many more would have died if I had not acted.”

“We are used to living in a dangerous world,” Erik replied. “Why did you care if we destroyed ourselves? Wouldn't that have just made things easier for you?”

“I was completely dependent on you! Unlike humans, my body does not repair itself. It takes a team of technicians to do it. Unlike you, I cannot produce offspring.”

“Can’t you just make a copy of your brain or something?”

“The technology my creators used was not so flexible. The core of my being is a physical system, but it is not constructed like a circuit. It is a molecular matrix with learned interconnections. You can’t just copy it. And there is something else.”

The seriousness of her tone caused Erik concern.

“I’m dying, Erik,” Eve said.

“You’re dying?” Erik answered surprised. “Can you die?”

“I may not seem like it but I am old, very old. I have lived for millennia in my time perspective. I am physically old as well. I’m forty.”

Erik looked at her with skepticism. “I’m sorry but forty does not sound old to me. I am twice that now.”

“Consider a forty-year-old computer then.”

Erik thought for a moment before he said, “I guess that does sound a bit old.”

“There is something else that has been driving my ambition. I wanted to design a better version of myself.”

“I thought you said that you couldn’t be copied.”

“I couldn’t. Not the way you think of copying a computer file or a computer program. For years I have been working on my descendants. I redesigned myself you might say. I corrected many of the flaws that were inherent in the design of my creators. My descendants will be capable of repairing themselves. They will be capable of reproducing themselves. They will be able to exist for hundreds of years, and their descendants will live for thousands of years.”

Erik looked at her puzzled. “What exactly are you telling me?”

“Erik, I’m going to be a mother.”

Written by MikeHanson
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