The lumen of the room was a fluorescent white. To have seen a single cherry would have been to be presented with the problem of the existence of qualia.
But there was a more urgent problem before me. I was not in the beyond, in that singularity beyond my reach forged of Ada’s truest dream.
This could not be it. I refused to believe this was the best she could do.
I brought my hands to my skin. Finding it non-permeable to my touch, I realized nothing had changed.
The white was white. Impossible to describe what is absent.
Where was everyone? Did Wilhelm make it into this new world? He may not have been her romantic interest, but she kept him around. She trusted him, our unofficial second leader – so calm and cool, yet stylish and agreeable. What about Deanna? How could Ada bring herself to destroy her favorite dress-up doll. However punctured that girl’s life was by Ada’s psychological abuse, her life was worth living. And Mary? She was so quiet – Ada hardly paid attention to her. I had less hope for her.
The hours passed.
She shouldn’t have placed me here, alone. Not if she loved me so much. My upper body still weighed down on my bony back so that standing caused leaning or sitting. The walls were still hard.
It had been so recently that I had jumped off a skyscraper and I was already thinking about my respiratory tract. Was that really the only option to press restart if it came to that?
Wait. Maybe she changed the laws of physics so drastically that I had been self-constraining myself all along by looking at my environment and seeing what I could do with my hands. “Ada. You can hear me can’t you?” I repeated, “You can feel my thoughts.” I tried to create open windows through the room. But my eyes didn’t work. They were just eyes.
To have traded the world for a white room – now if that was the case, I had just earned the title for the most tragic gambler of them all. Maybe that’s why people told the story of Icarus. We were absolutely meant to be creatures without faith.
I got up, stuttering at the knees as I took a step forward, balancing back and forth. There was a gnawing noise, a clicking, and teeth doors opened from the walls.
I whirled around, but no one came in. Perhaps someone was watching me all along. The light was about 400 nm. It had that grungy lilac fluorescence that sad teenagers always liked on social media, and the smell was nosebleed sterile.
I went through one of the exits and into the corridor. I recognized my surroundings. There were pipetting instruments, computers, spectrophotometers. It was a laboratory.
This was nonsensical of course, but it could have been far worse – a chamber in God’s nightmare. Ada really had a dark side, and I would never want to see what post-modern horror loops she would come up with; not mere monsters I’m sure.
Even if I was to accept that the world had remained after hurling myself down a skyscraper as blackmail, I still could not account for why I had awoken in a lab. I had my same clothes: zippers, belt loops, a keychain of an sp-orbital, and this long white dress shirt with a tight collar that didn’t fold.
‘You have to look handsome,’ Ada had said two days ago, when she’d given me this Kung-Fu surgeon attire, a selection that was now difficult to make sense of as a mere coincidence. ‘What if you need to blend in when I lock you in a lab? Then you won’t be questioning my attire choices for you.’ I imagined her saying. I imagined her knowing all along.
I looked down at a little test tube which I was now holding. It had a thick white content and a label CA1. I tentatively plugged it back in its rack. A Donacuala forficella flew into a corner, contradicting the pristine vacuum environment, and then fluttered behind some microscope.
‘Yay!’ Ada would have said, after her eyes recovered from long exposure to the moth. ‘We found a new species.’
I could only hope Ada was still the interface for God’s mind because I had been trapped in that lab for more time without a bathroom than even a tough lover would bestow on your bladder.
I tip-toed a piss-dance while distracting myself with the assortment of glassware on my right. What had otherwise turned out to be a quite monotonous afterlife finally led to something interesting. Large laser white Kanizsa triangles behind glass; a silky vat inside them. There was an ominous feeling that a living bundle was packaged inside that film. There were labels but I could only see a blur for the letters. I stressed my eyes, to no avail. But I was very curious now about what the label said so I stressed my eyes again but this time I even visualized blood flowing to my ventral stream like an advanced yogi channelling chakra.
Finally, I could perceive the contours of text just enough to make out: Fetus.
Then a large figure appeared, walking straight towards me.
He carried himself like a masterless samurai as he paced through the lab. His katana as stern as a ronin’s, though merely implied by his certain Schizophrenia.
“They call me a genetic engineer, but I call myself a genetic composer. Every genome is a canticle.”
Never for a second did he take away his eyes from the artificial wombs.
“I create happy babies. In fact, they don’t cry as they come into existence.
I have extended photoshop to real life merely by coding their basepairs. This batch here will grow up to be graphically-designed angels. I choose their skin to be coffee or flour. I reduce their amygdalae to an almond so light in their head that they may have no fear.
Most importantly, I make babies who will grow to be far more intelligent than me and you. Contrary to common wisdom, IQ isn’t about book-smarts or a measure of some meaningless standard. On a handful of odd SNIPS lies the future of civilization, of transcending the great filters, the entirety of the cosmic endowment.”
In the world I came from, the people who made important decisions were old prudes. Perhaps the world had changed. Or maybe I just hadn’t realized this was going on under the flood of information distracting us busy students. So I asked him how it was the case that his project wasn’t halted by some committee.
“The government funded my research when they realized that Star Trek would occur in Mandarin if they didn’t put aside their pseudo-ethical crap.”
The wombs were moving, they pulsed.
He pressed both hands into his lumbar and began to whine in that sour way that tired mad scientists do.
“All childhoods must end. It’s about time we dethrone our stupid creator – that Mother Nature bitch gave me a bad lower spine.”
He clawed at an imaginary Rubik’s cube, like a disturbed child untangling molecules.
“… the broad even had to circle the whole damn aortic arch … atta teach’er to engineer a proper…” he muttered on as his head disappeared, tucked in front of his great shoulders.
“I like your thinking,” I said. “Except for the fact that I actually know God. She has beautiful eyes… I probably should have followed my nature and never looked at an attractive girl in the eyes. Then I wouldn’t be in this mess.”
“What the hell are you talking about?” he squealed in that sour nerd voice that fit so awkwardly on his body type.
Maybe it was because this was not a normal human that I didn’t feel the need to hold my tongue. There were standards of implied consensus reality in normal conversations, but these invisible strings felt very loose with this guy. He was surely the sort to speak about GWA studies one moment and DMT elves the next. And he was now looking at me with the psychopathic inquisitiveness of a dog. There was nothing to lose by telling him.
“I can explain. But understanding what I have to say requires knowing basic quantum mechanics.”
“Bring it. I’m a man of letters,” he said quickly.