Sorry I missed yesterday’s Sunday Comic. Grad school has a way of consuming all of your time…
Instead of a comic, check out this drawing. It kind of goes with the fiction story posted last week.
Sorry I missed yesterday’s Sunday Comic. Grad school has a way of consuming all of your time…
Below is a bit of writing. It’s something different than what you usually find on this site. I hope you enjoy and check back soon for more comics!
The Transcendental Man
By G.J. Sieck
Jon stands alone in a large and empty corridor lit only by the dim red and green pulsating indicator lights glowing from intermittently spaced control panels along the walls. Before him, a glass bubble reaches from the floor to the ceiling three times his height, through which he watches the cosmos drift by ever so slowly. His reflection stares back at him. His ghostly image shrouds the vastness of space beyond—an endlessly mysterious milieu. Darkened eyes and pale skin are common traits among his people, as are prominent cheek bones and thin faces. Faint illuminations of distant star clusters dance across the concave curvature of the thick cold glass. He runs his hand through his thin white hair. His mind drifts light years from this artificial and inescapable sanctuary floating across a black ocean of time.
One thousand standard years ago the people of Earth determined to colonize other worlds throughout the cosmos. Outposts, and eventually colonies, were established on both Mars and on Earth’s moon. Eventually, a space station was constructed orbiting Jupiter’s moon, Europa. From there humanity launched its most ambitious project to date. The Arc, a massive space station the likes of which have never before been attempted, would carry a colony of five hundred men women and children six hundred light years away to an Earth like planet known as Kepler 62f. None who first boarded this ship would ever see its final destination. Generations lived and died, knowing only The Arc, having never set foot on the planet Earth.
Volunteering as a colonist was a seemingly noble action for the time. It was seen as courageous, adventurous, self sacrificing and for the greater good. Volunteers insured the survival of the species. Many colonists of the current generation pine for a world they have never known. The artificial environment in which they exist is all they’ve ever experienced. Bound for their lifetimes by the consequences of their ancestors’ choices, there is a craving within them for something more.
Over the generations traveling through space, society aboard The Arc had settled into an easy, rather monotonous rhythm. Each had their responsibility: that which they were trained in from childhood and continue into old age. All aboard The Arc shared the genetically engineered resources equally and all were equal. As centuries passed so did many of the traits of the ancestors from which they came. Physically, they became lighter than their forbearers. Their bones had become less dense due to the lower than Earth gravity produced by The Arc’s artificial gravity generator. Their skin had become pale due to the lack of any significant natural light. They tend to be thin with wispy hair, likely due to their diet of entirely synthetically generated food.
The colonists have taken to more intellectual pursuits during their free time. Many, continuously study throughout their lifetimes achieving levels of knowledge equitable to multiple doctorates in multiple disciplines. This small society existing in this finite system has lived for generations without knowing the hardships human beings had to endure during their tenure on Earth. The facts, the written histories of the world from which their ancestors came, are freely available and known to the colonists aboard The Arc. The realities of war, of famine, of true deadly and brutal hardship are alien to them. In this lonely oasis drifting through the cosmos, this small branch of humanity may be the first to have ever found true and continuous peace.
Jon sits in deep contemplation, trying to envision beyond the ship in which his people have resided for generations. To conceptualize what exists beyond the hull of The Arc is simple for Jon, the facts are well known to him, to visualize what anything is truly like outside of The Arc is entirely different. How does one imagine what the ground feels like beneath their feet if they never before touched or even seen, “the ground”? How does one ever dream of breathing in the air of the new world they long for if fresh air has never filled their lungs? For hours he commits himself to his thought experiments. Sensing something within him, something intrinsic, but strangely inaccessible. He scours his psyche for the answers to a question he’s not sure if he even knows. Among his companions, Jon, is the most introverted. He spends more time with his own thoughts than any other aboard The Arc. In recent months he has spent virtually all of his free time alone. He became lost in his thought experiments, trying to conceptualize the universe, trying to uncover that sleeping instinct that seems to call out ever so faintly from the darkness within.
Again, Jon stands in the rarely travelled bowels of The Arc; gazing into the celestial abyss. Thoughts of his companions, his duties, all that create his living reality, are far from his mind. Instead he only searches for that creeping thing that beckons from within. In a flash of luminance and deafening silence he holds frozen for what could have been a second or an eternity. Time seems to move differently. Beginning to gain control of his faculties, Jon steadies himself and looks slightly down to his hands as he raises his palms upward to his eyes.
What has happened? He thinks to himself. What he witnesses before his eyes at this very moment defies all belief, all logic. Focusing on his upward raised palms he finds his hands glowing–seemingly translucent. Without conscious thought he focuses closer on his palms and to his astonishment looks into the microscopic universe within. Focusing again he sees in his very mind the atomic universe that exists within the microscopic. How is this possible? The question floods his consciousness as he struggles to grasp this unexpected and improbable transmogrification.
Immediately the answers come to him. He has manifested a mutation. Over centuries of isolation his people have been evolving; he is only the first to demonstrate this new post-human trait. His brain has made new connections through rigorous exercise and evolutionary conditioning. Through this transformation he has become cognizant of his atomic self. Jon not only perceives the atomic universe, but exists in a dimension previously imperceptible to all who have spawned from the human family tree. His body: incorporeal, his consciousness: transcendental. Existing outside of his familiar three dimensions he comprehends the nature of quantum reality. It is as if he can touch the very fabric of space and time.
Exuberant, his spectral form rises from the floor. Further and further he rises until passing through the ceiling of the corridor in which he stood. As he lifts even further he watches some of his fellow colonists walking the long main level corridor on their way to their duties. As he lifts further he passes through even more levels of the ship until finally passing through the hull all together and finding himself looking down on the massive gray exterior of The Arc. At this moment he is not sure if this is reality or possibly the most lucid dream anyone has ever had. He floats above The Arc—his intangible form, unaffected by the vacuum of space.
Feeling there is more to learn he again looks inward. He looks inward and at once finds himself fully incorporated into a new dimension. This new plane in which he now exists seems to sit above the one from which he came. It is strange and ethereal. Time does not operate in this dimension and therefore has no effect on space. The third dimension can be seen from this new vantage point, but this realm sits outside of perception from the third. Jon does not exist in this dimension as he does in his native one. He has no form, no apparent mass. This realm of intangibility is foreign, terrifying, and enthralling.
Jon sees into the beyond. Through what seem like windows beneath him, Jon sees into the dimension below. Each window shows a different time and place. There are millions of them. He can feel the faintest sensations, the tiniest ripples along this astral plane he now navigates. Intrinsically, he knows that he is the first to have ever been to this strange new realm. This place is not meant for beings of a physical nature. Even so, he can feel something alive and present all around him. Some other sentience also travels the extra-dimensional highway.
Jon tries to make some communication with the other being he senses. “What are you?” Jon asks. He receives no reply in any way he can fathom, only an overwhelming sense of a surrounding presence. He asks, “Are you what the ancestors called God?”, and again he receives no discernible answer. Through some more experimentation he concludes that this essence is not his ancestors’ god. It is an astral being, far removed from any previously known form of life. Spending time with the being brings much peace to Jon. To forever drift in this higher dimension, free from the constraints of the physical plane, would be infinite serenity.
Enlightened, his attention shifts. Instantly, he transmits his transcendent self ahead of the ship toward its final destination. He would have been lucky to see this world to which his ancestors embarked by the end of his life. With his new found ability he will witness it now. Approaching the world, he is overcome, as he has never seen anything like it truly before him. He lands to the ground and again becomes his full physical self. He now knows this has not been a dream. He not only has the power to see further with his mind, he has the ability to transport his body through a previously unknown astral dimension; he controls every atom consciously. For the very first time Jon feels the ground crunch beneath his feet. The small pebbles in the sand feel rough through the thin sole of his boot. The sun feels extraordinarily warm as it blankets his pale skin with its bright and powerful rays. His body feels heavy under the weight of this world’s gravity. Never before has he felt anything like this. To him, the majesty of this natural world far surpasses the ethereal bliss of the astral plane. Even though this world is already hard on his fragile body, to him, every sensation is in itself a miracle.
A real world, a real destination for the colonists! Finally, the voyage holds true meaning. Jon stretches out his arms and breathes in all that he can of the world. He suddenly senses the presence of others nearby. He begins walking as if drawn to their location. Jon enjoys all of the wonders of this planet as he passes them by. Trees, rocks, streams, clouds, bird—all things of which he has read but never believed he would see. The similarity between the flora and fauna he sees here and what he has learned of Earth’s amazes him. It is as if the planets were twins.
Coming up a path through a thick patch of trees, Jon finds himself in a clearing. Here are the others he sensed earlier. They barely notice him as he approaches from the distance. They are all hard at work moving giant metallic and plastic containers from what appear to be hovering vehicles into a large building made of a material that he has never seen before. As he gets closer he recognizes the beings as human. They are not like any other humans he has ever known though. They look like the ancestors, the humans from Earth that he’s learned about in his studies. One notices Jon and begins to communicate, but Jon cannot understand him.
“I am from The Arc.” Jon says. “How long have you been here?” he asks. The man does not understand Jon and begins coming toward him at a faster pace. Others begin to come toward Jon. All of the strange men are talking and shouting at once in their unintelligible jabber. Jon takes a step back and for a moment glances into the sky where he sees something that shakes him to his core. A machine almost the size of The Arc itself hovers high above. This machine seems to be generating a portal through which all of the vehicles and supplies come. He watches giant containers levitate down to the surface from hovering airships where workers transport them with smaller vehicles. The airships then circle around and vanish through the other side of the portal. Hundreds of these machines work to a single purpose. Jon can see through the buzz of activity an immense building under construction in the distance. Seeing this technology at work, seeing these humans so unlike him, Jon understands.
On Earth, humanity continued the exponential advancement of its technology. In time, mankind had developed the ability to colonize the galaxy well before The Arc would ever reach Kepler 62f. He realizes that his people were forgotten. As time went on, the people of Earth eventually lost track of The Arc and its inhabitants. They left them to drift through space living and dying for generations—all for nothing. “You’ve forgotten us!” Jon yells at the men who come toward him ever faster. They are all shouting sounds that he cannot understand. Feeling true danger for the first time Jon calls on the greatest thing to come from the ill-conceived experiment of The Arc—his transcendence. He is something greater than any technology humankind has managed to devise. What they can do with their machines he can do with his very mind. He holds his palms facing the sky as he begins to dematerialize into the astral dimension, into safety.
It is too late. One of the workers swings a heavy tool cracking Jon’s frail skull. He crumples to the ground, stunned back into this physical horror, never again to leave. The wild incomprehensible shouting quiets into a soft roar as darkness falls around him. A warm liquid curtain drops. His eyes open but he no longer sees.