Una stood on a bridge above one of the city’s many neon blue canals, and watched the glowing water run into the distance, straight as a ruler, narrower and narrower until it vanished. She held in front of her a few sheets of stapled paper that also glowed, each line a faint light lavender. All around her was the City of Immense, which was made of swirling blocks and blocks, buildings upon buildings, each building glowed with a neon color along edges. In the distance, she saw the Thousand Spirals – these one thousand enormous towers that were shaped like tubes in the shape of vertical spirals. They rotated slowly and also glowed neon colors. Though the city was lit up, there were vast dark spaces among the lights, dark alleys, faces of buildings not lit. Above the city was an aura of light.
A magma colored sun was setting, and the sky was golden and pink, and the low faint gray clouds faintly echoed those lights. Hopefully, Una whispered, as she looked at her arm, which had a sleek, smooth, black sleeve on it, the sleeve had a delicate speaker, and a flexible, holograph producing screen upon it. Hopefully, she whispered again.
“Omnia,” she said, Omnia was the name of the system, and it awoke. A holographic head was produced by the sleeve. The head was of a comely woman with Asiatic features.
“Yes, lovely Una,” said the system in a lovely, smooth voice.
Una held her arm up to the glowing lavender paper to the hologram, “Omnia,” Una said, “Is this begotten?”
The holograph began to scan the words that Una had written, the system’s eyes in a bit of a saccade. And after being presented each page, Omnia took a few seconds to process the information and then declared in her lovely, smooth voice: “1:9. Begotten. Precisely 1,133,517 years ago, this existed in the BeenDones. It was also found in a Parallel and in an Echo.”
Una dropped her head. “Thank you,” she said to Omnia, and Omnia bowed and evaporated. Una dropped her arm.
Una then ripped up the story and threw it in the neon blue canal.
“Even the way the torn glowing pieces flow down the river is known, has happened before,” she said and began to walk home through the City of Immense, the glowing blocks of buildings reflecting off her face.
She took the elevator, which was transparent and rode along the outside of her building, twisting around the building as it rose. She stared at the birds in the night sky against the gray clouds – they flew in circles and had glowing red eyes.
She entered her flat and saw her younger brother, who was thirteen years old,and was named Nole. The boy sat on the floor watching a holographic show from nearly 1,400,000 years ago. Every so often he’d say “Ha.” She fell into the sofa, and gazed at the walls of the room, which were screens like most everything else on the interior of buildings, and constantly shifted images and shapes. Right now, they had various abstract, tessellated patterns glowing on them, and then an occasional dog would appear and bark silently, Una became lost in the design and the Golden Retriever’s face.
“How many times have you watched that show?” said Una, not looking at her brother, still staring at the walls. “Even I know the words to it.”
“What’s it matter to you?” said Nole, who was lying belly first on the floor with his head on his hands. The floor had thin glowing lines in various grid-like formations, and the lights seemed to chase each other.
She shook her head. “Does it not get tiresome, Nole?”
“It’s fun to me,” said Nole and reached for a piece of candy that was glowing bright yellow.
She looked at him; she had never seen her brother truly laugh. He simply stared blankly at the holograms all day long and would just go “Ha, ha” in a cackling way.
“Did you try to write another story?” he asked, without taking his eyes off the hologram which showed some ancient apartment in some ancient city, the show was called Seinfeld.
“I thought I had a new idea, so yes I tried. So what?”
“When will you give up Una? You are wasting your life. Even this moment, right now, has happened before in a mapped Parallel or an Echo. Everything is 1:9. It’s over. Stop being a Sifter. God, it’s so tedious of you. It drives Mom mad, and Dad would be rolling in his grave. Just accept the OmniKnow.”
“You don’t understand,” said Una, “And I don’t believe that all has been found. I will not believe that. There is more, something. I know it.”
“When was the last time something new was created, huh? Found? Invented? Discovered? What?” Her brother took his eyes off the hologram and rolled over and stared at her. His face was scowling and ugly, though he was skinny, he had a fat double chin.
Una folded her arms, put her head down and looked at her black pants which had a faint peach glow at the seams.
“I’ll tell you,” said her brother adjusting his Omnia, “it was three hundred years ago or so. And then about ten meaningless things sixty years ago or so. There is nothing we can do that is new, that hasn’t been thought of. Everything has happened in a Parallel, or an Echo, or a BeenDone, that is, reality. Every single thing. Grow up.”
“There is always hope,” Una said under her breath.
“No, Una, there isn’t. Why not just enjoy this life. There is too much to ever go through anyway. So what if there is no more to find. Stop being a weirdo. There is no more science, no more art, no poems, no more music, no more math, no new movies, we have it all already. They even sort it for us and are uncanny in finding what we will like. Besides, it feels new to me when I find it. Finding something already discovered is the new meaning of discovery.”
“Stop!” said Una standing up.
“That’s your problem Una, you rebel against reality! Go and try to find something in the Spiral catalogs people haven’t given attention to you.”
“No!” Una shot back, “that’s like going to a museum, finding a fossil or some device and then claiming that you discovered it. It’s a lie, it’s not creation, invention, or discovery.”
Nole shook his head. “Una, all we can do in this world is find what has been done, the Parallels and the Echoes found and made everything. Even before the communication with all Parallels were discovered, and before the Echo models, the real historical record had already found most of the meaningful things. I learned in school that science supposedly was almost completed 500 years after the scientific method was invented! Humans from half a million years ago had nearly discovered anything anyway. Painting was nearly dead a thousand years after it was discovered. Once the Echo and insight into communications with the Parallels were invented, all was known. The Thousand Spirals hold it all as do our Omnias.”
Una had tears in her eyes.
“Play with the noise then,” said her brother, not in a compassionate way but in a way so as to end the conversation, “if there is a any chance there is a chance there.”
“The noise is false creation, no one cares about the noise really.”
Her brother shrugged his shoulders. “You’re going to waste your life,” said her brother.
“Shut up Nole!”
From another room her mother yelled, “ Stop fighting! It’s the same thing every day! And to think, this fight exists somewhere already.”
Una walked out of the living room, and went to the bathroom. She slammed the door, and the lights glowed in a faint turquoise. She undressed and turned on the shower. The glowing blue hot water came out and splashed on the glowing floor. Steam started to rise. She watched the water fall and the steam start to fill the room, and knew the water had fallen that way before, that steam had fallen that way before – in this reality or in a Parallel or in an Echo.
Before entering into the shower, she stood before a mirror and stared at her face. She reached into the drawer below the sink and took out a pair of scissors. She looked at them. She then started chopping chunks of her hair off, in haphazard patterns. After she was done, surrounded by hair on the floor, she raised her arm and asked Omnia, “Omnia, what about this presentation? Is this face and head begotten?”
Omnia scanned the image of her in the mirror and even the surrounding room: “1:9. Begotten,” said Omnia in her lovely, smooth voice. “477,345 years ago in an Echo an image was found with your exact face, head shape, with this exact cut, in this exact room, at the time of day, at….”
“Cease,” said Una. “Cease.”
Her first day at University began the following morning. University was a place in which people learned about how the Spirals worked, how the Echoes and the Parallels functioned and were discovered. Typically, students would pick a field and go about rediscovering things that people had never seen before, but had already been created. They called it mighband. For example, the best producers found shows or music from the real past, or in a Parallel, or an Echo and would bring it to society, and sometimes society liked it and the show or song or book or piece of art became popular. Omnia also provided suggestions. The highest paid producers of movies and music had a knack for finding that from the past which would be popular today. Most people did not work and merely played and talked and watched holograms all day. They were simply known as the Nothingers, and they made up 97% of society.
People who were skilled in mighband, could best discern what the population would enjoy, they had an eye and ear for it. They had the ability to spot a work from long ago that would garner attention. The word mighband was created a few hundred years ago: it described the feeling of finding a piece of work that few knew about, before the piece became popular. According to Omnia, people would often respond that this was “my band” before some band became well known. The words of my band became one word and the spelling changed: mighband. Everyone wanted to be a great Mighbander: architects, musicians, designers, everyone. It’s why most people went to school, to learn from the best Mighbanders.
Una took her seat in a large auditorium as her professor spoke about the beauty of 1:9, the Parallels, Echoes, mighbanding, and more. He wore a light blue suit which wrapped around his body from head to toe, and faint red lights looped around his limbs and torso much like a candy cane.
“In 1:9, everything is Echoed, or Paralleled, or BeenDone. Everything is ditto. Been noted, been seen, by human eyes or by Spiral eyes. What we have is what we have and we have all. There is no pressure to invent, to make, to create. We have solved. All has been completed, we merely have a university to rediscover what is already known, to teach you the best ways to search, and to show you what we think, of everything that is in the OmniKnow, that which therein merits special attention. Our Omnias are our guides to rediscover. If we don’t know it, it’s new to us anyway.”
A student, who was rather plump, raised his hand.
“Professor, last year the Sifting departments here and in the government was abolished, correct?”
“Yes, they were. I’ll prove as to why it was: Raise your hand if you have asked if something was Begotten in the last three years?”
Everyone laughed, no one raised their hand.
“You see, Omnias are for kids,” said the professor. “Then it wears off after the same answer for anything.”
Una had wished to stay quiet, but then something in her made her raise her hand.
The entire class stared at her, all of them in clothes that had lines of color glowing on them.
“Yes,” said the professor.
“I try,” she said meekly.
“Ah,” said the professor making a pseudo-surprised face, “so we have a fabled Sifter in our midst, not many of you left, lovely.”
The class laughed again and Una felt her face blush.
“Don’t be shy, it is quite alright. What was the last thing you Tried? If you don’t mind telling us.”
Una shook her head.
But a boy behind her reached and grabbed her hat off her head, and the class, when they saw her hair, laughed. “We have a Chopper!” said the boy who had grabbed her hat.
Una was nearly in tears. The Professor said, “Quiet everyone. Sit down and stop. Give her her hat back.”
Una snatched her hat and put it back on.
“Now lovely,” said the professor, “why did you do that? How often do you sift to see if something is begotten?”
The class leaned in to listen.
“Everyday,” said Una, “several times a day.”
The class chortled, the professor shot a look at them.
“Surely, you used Noise to try to find something and the hair was just a whim?”
Una shook her head in the negative. “What do you do when you Sift?”
“I write stories.”
The entire class started to laugh again and couldn’t control it. The professor silenced them once more.
He came closer to Una’s face. He had a large nose and big eyes, the lights from his suit glowed on Una’s face.
“You know, lovely, we have help for that, to fix you, to assist Choppers. We have a therapy department.”
“I don’t want help!”
“But lovely,” said the professor, “you need it. You clearly need it, lovely.”
“It’s not fair, it isn’t fair,” said Una. “There has to be something else.”
The professor backed away from Una and returned to the front of the class. “Let me tell you a story,” said the professor. “At this university, in fact, the last piece of new sound was made. The very last. Sixty six years ago.”
One student raised his hand. “Weren’t you involved in that?”
“I played a very small role,” said the professor.
Una sat up. She had no idea her professor had been one of the Final Begetters.
“I went through, personally, over four million sounds. Making sounds with every material I could find, in every pattern I could think of. Everything was 1:9. I was losing my mind. I too, one day,chopped. I would chop and play my sounds at the same time, and ask if that was Begotten. I even,” he held up his hand and showed a tip of his finger missing, “chopped the body.” The class squirmed.
“So, lovely,” he said and looked at Una, “I understand you very much. But back then there was hope as the Echoes had not yet finished their run.”
He then went and sat on the front of his desk and continued: “As I said, everything I tried was 1:9. But then, one day, I happened to find a piece of sound. I played it for a Omnia, Omnia found nothing and then sent it to The Thousand Spiral Towers. Then I waited for a few hours. And suddenly, Omnia arose from my sleeve, and said, I’ll never forget it: ‘1:9. Unbegotten. This sound is not begotten. It is not found in the Echoes nor the Parallels nor the BeenDones’ – she said in her sweet voice. Now, I nearly passed out dear students when I heard this.”
“What did it sound like?” asked a student.
“Would you like me to play it for you?”
The entire class nodded eagerly. It was extremely exciting – not because of the piece of music so much, but because they were near one of the rare beings who had Begot!
“Omnia,” said the professor to his sleeve, “play Sound #161831466263242211134543454353452999999999999990008776545.”
There was a pause, and then from the speakers around the room came this ripping, scratchy, hissing, clunking, clattering screechy cacophony of noise, pure noise really.
“Ow!” said several students as they covered their ears, Una did not. The professor had stood peacefully at the front as if listening to one of the true symphonies, and seemed to make the noises as they came, singing along, as it were. The sound went on for eight or nine seconds, then stopped.
Una gazed at him envious in a way she had not known she could feel. She felt tiny, small, insignificant, impotent. It was just noise, but he had created it. He had made it.
“That’s it!” said the professor. “Won the last prizes for that, I did.”
“Professor,” asked Una raising her hand, “Is there anything else to Beget? Is it at all possible? Even slightly? And what did it feel like to Beget?”
The professor stared at her very peculiarly as she asked this, and the class giggled.
“No, lovely, there is nothing left, it’s all been tried, all stored. The Parallels have been jogged thoroughly, all combinations of all things for all time, every atom in every possible configuration. Information from other Parallels that we have found show that in many worlds all that could happen has happened, and Echoes have echoed all those possible simulations. There is an event stored in the Thousand Spirals where this same conversation has taken place but one hair of my head is in a slightly different orientation, and all of yours. It seems impossible, but it is the truth. We are in the OmniKnow. Plus we have over 1,000,000 years of the BeenDones, records of all of that, and that almost squelched out all originals by itself! When I was a student the Parallels were still running and the Echoes as well, so we were essentially trying to beat them before they completed their tasks. Today it is not possible. But to your other question, I can tell you, young lady, the feeling of creation, of making, of finding – it was orgasmic, it was…” He paused and his eyes watered a little. “It was… sublime.”
Una shrank into her seat.
The professor finished by saying that the Parallel and the Echoes then coupled that noise with every other possible scenario in the world and in the future, so that nothing could have happened with or without that sound in reality or in one of the Parallels or Echoes.
The next morning Una awoke. And she did not write anything. Every other day since she was a young girl, she had written a poem or a short story or even a combination of sentences or words, sometimes even adding a drawing or a painting. She even tried making up a language and putting in weird images and numbers, but nothing worked. After her pseudo-creation, everyday, she’d walk down the sidewalk past the trees with glowing red lines between the pieces of brown and white bark, under the glowing shapes inlaid upon the leaves, alongside the buildings with their lines of neon running about various edges. She pass the people in their glowing clothes, the cats with glowing tails, the floating transports with their neon light exhaust. She’d walk to her favorite bridge which ran over one of the bright blue canals, and would present what she had made to Omnia. And each day Omnia said, with her smooth, sweet voice: “1:9. Begotten” And each day, Una would rip up her work and throw it into the neon blue river and watch it float away.
But not today. She did not write or draw.
“Why do we live?” She asked as she lay in bed and looked at the light patterns on the ceiling.
Still, she finally rose and decided to walk. She put on music, a song called, “The Best is Yet to Come” from nearly 1.5 million years ago.
She walked and came to the spot on the bridge at which she normally would tear up her story and drop it in. Today, she merely stood and stared at the water, thinking of the words her professor had told her. She watched transparent fish with neon gold lines under their bodies. As she stood, she had not noticed that a young man was behind her until he laughed a little.
She turned and looked at him.
“It doesn’t work,” he said pointing to her hoodie which had a glowing red frame around the rim of the hood, he could see her hair partially chopped off under it.
Una turned away back to the water.
“So you are one of us? One of the Triers.” The boy said as he came up beside her and rested on the bridge railing.
Una said nothing.
“I see you come here every day,” he said.
Una bit her lip with shame. “Listen,” she said, “I’ve heard enough about being a Trier. I don’t want to hear it any more.”
“I watch you from that window over there.” He pointed up to a small black window in a tall building, at the very top. But Una did not turn to look.
“What are you throwing away each day?”
“Why do you care?” she snapped. “I know I’m an idiot.”
“Octopus,” he said.
Una looked at him confused. “What the hell does that mean?”
“I just do that sometimes, it delights me to know in some reality or some Parallel or an Echo, this has been done before. This conversation where I say Octopus, randomly.”
She shook her head. “Is that supposed to be funny?”
“A little,” he said.
He then got a bit more serious and added, “I look at the water everyday too. Often after you leave. And I watch all the eddies, and swirls, and the fish, and I ask Omnia, has the river ever flowed this way before, I let her watch it. Everyday I ask. I know what she’ll say: it’s happened in the Parallels, and the Echoes have found it.”
She turned and stared at him. He had deep-set eyes that were brown. He was wearing a mishmash of clothes, and only his jacket had alternating colors of neon lights racing around the seams.
“What do you do?” Una asked. “A student? A Nothinger?”
“I am not a Nothinger,” he replied, as if the word offended him. “I am an inventor,” he next said cockily.
“You are funny,” said Una, “an inventor.”
“There has to be something,” he said, “I don’t believe they have found it all.”
“All possible actions that could be taken with your genetic code, and all possible thoughts you could have have been mapped. It is all known,” said Una, sounding like the people she hated. “It is a waste of time to sift.”
“Huh,” said the boy turning so that his back was against the rail of the bridge, “I guess you are right. It is pointless. But I thought you were like me, a bit delusional. Aren’t you like me? I never meet anyone like me. I thought you might be a real Trier, not a fake. Not some kid in a phase.”
“You know, last month,” said Una, looking at him, “You know what I tried to write last month? My own life story, in the smallest of details, everything up to this point in time, even my private thoughts, my secret thoughts. 1:9. My own life story, my own private thoughts. I thought about killing myself in a myriad of ways, but knew it had already been done.”
“Why do you keep laughing?” asked Una.
The young man looked up into the sky for several moments.
“Because it all makes sense now.”
“What makes sense.”
“All of this. It is how I know what to do and say.”
“What are you talking about?” asked Una.
“I want to show you something. Will you follow me?”
“No, of course not,”
“I knew you’d say that, and I also know you are going to follow me.”
Una did follow him, into his building, up an elevator, and then up a few flights up stairs. They made their way into an attic at the top of an old building. They entered through a black door with the numbers 2P310 on it. They came into a room with papers everywhere. The walls were covered with various sketches and paragraphs. The walls were written on with squiggles and sketches, haphazard lines and dashes of paint. His screens were covered and broken in places. The room glowed in fractured light. Like her stories, the young man had seemed to find the same fate: each of his would-be designs had a 1:9 scribbled angrily on to it.
In the middle of the floor, there was a space cleared out, and what looked to be a large scroll of sorts. It glowed with a faint white light. On the glowing parchment there seemed to be something like a blueprint at the top, and under it, were reams of paragraphs. She walked to it and bent down over it. There were lots of details, and charts, and circles and lines connecting different parts of the sheet to the others.
Una was squinting at it. And then said: “Wait.”
She scanned the rest of the room, and then the scroll once more. “There is no 1-9 on this.”
“No, there isn’t.”
“Well run it then,” said Una, “do you want to show me that you do the same nonsense everyday as I do. To prove you are a real Sifter?”
“Yes,” said the boy, “I want to show you we are the same.”
“I’m leaving,” said Una standing up.
“Why?” she said.
“Go ahead and scan it.”
“I don’t want to waste my time, it has been a long week.”
He stood in front of the door.
“Are you one of those people who thinks their Omnia is broken?” asked Una, “And that is why you borught me here? To make sure your stories really are 1:9?”
He said nothing.
“Fine, fine,” Una said shaking her head and walked back to the scroll, “Omnia.”
“Is this begotten?” she said exasperated.
Omnia scanned the sheet for nearly thirty minutes. It was a long screed and Una had to keep pulling the paper along for Omnia to read.
After the scanning was done, Omnia then digested the information for several minutes after the scan. Una looked at the boy who was sitting in a corner and staring at the floor. He looked like he was praying.
“God, why did I do this?” Una said.
The boy did not look up.
After aboute 10 more minutes, Omnia’s head appeared. Una looked at her tired. Omnia then said in her soft, smooth voice. “Unbegotten. This does not exist in the Parallels, the Echoes, or the BeenDones. Please bring this to the Spirals to be uploaded. Thank you.”
Una did not move. “Omnia, repeat what you said? Was what you just scanned Unbegotten?”
Omnia said, “Yes, unbegotten.”
Una looked at the boy. “What?” She felt tears in her eyes, and a hollowness in her stomach. “What?” she said again.
The boy looked up at her and said nothing, but only slightly nodded.
“Oh my god. Oh my god!” she said. “You found something! How do you feel? You have to go tell someone. You will be famous! The most famous! Why did you tell me and not the authorities? What is wrong with you? How could the Parallels and the Echoes miss this! You must have thought your Omnia was broken – well it’s not!”
“Look more closely at the diagram and read the paragraphs,” he said. “Look at it! You just scanned and you didn’t read anything.”
Una stared at him and squinted.
“Who cares what it is? It is begotten by you!”
“Just look at it,” said Novo.
“Hold on,” Una said, “you mean to say it isn’t just mostly gibberish? It means something too? I thought I was just scanning random words.”
He stared at her.
Una went back to the floor and bent once more over the scrool, and as she looked at it, her eyes widened. She spent seven hours reading. Over and over again, she could only say, “My God, my God.”
And then finally, after completing it, she sat down and laid on her back, “What a story? And it’s never happened before. This is unbelievable.”
“It is not just a story,” he said.
“What’s that mean?”
“It is life, it is real, it is what must be. If I write it as fiction, it fails. If I put ‘a novel’ on it, it fails.”
“No,” said Una laughing, “No it is not. It is fiction. You manipulated my Omnia somehow.” She looked at her arm to see if somehow he had tampered with her sleeve, maybe he was a magician.
“What I wrote is real, there is nothing like it. It is a prophecy, and if we don’t do it, it is 1:9. Not carrying it out makes it a 1:9. But to think of it as real, that makes it unBegotten.”
She sat down on a gray couch and put a green pillow over her stomach.
“So what does that mean?”
“Exactly what it says.”
Una shook her head. “It’s impossible.”
“It may be,” he said, “but I wish to try. And you’ll be with me.”
Una laughed. “No, no, no. I won’t do it if that’s what you are thinking.”
She paused, and then added, “Could just two people do it anyway? I am the girl by the water then?”
“Yes, clearly, you are her, and only two people can do it, only the two of us,” he said. “If I change anything, it’s Begotten. It must be real. That is what is to be done.”
Una started shaking. The boy came over and sat beside her.
“At the end,” she whispered, “will I be able to…”
He nodded and said, “you will.”
“I’m still not sure,” she said and broke away from him and left.
Una went home that night. She looked at her brother who was watching that same hologram show he always watched. She looked at her mother who was, as usual, gazing out the window over the glowing city with a dead look on her face.
It would mean my brother and my mother, thought Una, everyone.
She stared at them and felt nothing. Several moments later she thought, if it must come to this, it must come to this.
She stopped at his door the next morning, and read the number on it: 2P310:
She nearly turned away, but then stopped herself. She knocked.
Everything I do from this moment on, seems to be a Begotten act, mostly new.
She was nervous and excited at the thought that every emotion too was likely begotten as well.
The door opened.
“I’ll do it,” Una said. “But first, tell me your name?”
“I am Novo.”
“I am Una.”
They quickly got to work. “You have been preparing for a while now? When did you discover this?” asked Una.
“I knew I was near as Omnia was taking longer and longer to process my inputs, I was close. But it wasn’t until I saw you, and added you to the process that it became real, and when it became real, that is when it passed Omnia’s test.”
“Are you scared?” Una asked.
“No,” Novo said.
“Is it wrong to do this?”
Novo stopped and looked at her as he gently placed these large cylinders in a bag. “It is destiny,” he said, “And when it comes to destiny, there is no morality. Acts must be fulfilled.”
Una stared at him in awe and fear. “I agree,” she finally mumbled and handed him another cylinder.
“Is there enough here to do it?” she asked.
“Far more than enough.”
“Shall we wait for night?” inquired Una.
“We must, we must wait for the night. For many reasons.”
As night came, they set out. Una carried her three rucksacks with great strain. Novo was wobbling a bit as he walked as well from the bulky load, he was carrying six.
As they crossed a bridge over the neon blue canals and under the glow of the buildings, in a tree was an owl with glowing purple eyes, and Una spotted a family of rats with glowing pink and white polk-a-dot tails nibbling on some glowing trash.
Una then said to Novo, “Do you know where 1:9 comes from?”
“Why do you ask?” he replied.
“I am curious about many things. There are many things I haven’t searched yet – I didn’t want to know everything I asked. But now, well, now I’m thinking once this happens, I will not be able to know.”
“Isn’t it glorious?” said Novo, who then added, “1:9 is from those called the Entanglers. The first to see that, in the end, there was to be nothing left, all could be seen. Millions of years ago. They gathered everything together and then found all the Parallels and the Echoes. They are our omniscient devilish fathers.”
“What of the 1:9? What’s it mean?” asked Una as they walked under a large yellow neon sign that read: “OmniKnow.”
“It is a code,” said Novo. “But I’m scared to learn more than that, and there are some things that Omnia will not tell us if we ask, but she has the answer.”
They walked on until they came to the outer rim of a great spread of the Thousand Spirals. Each of them rose over eight thousand feet in the air, and turned slowly in revolutions. They were shaped just like a skyscraper made of a spiral tube. And the buildings, if you were to fly high above them, were laid out in a spiral pattern, there was one at the center and the loops radiated out from there. There were one thousand of them. They glowed a dark red and pulsed it seemed. Every time she was near them, Una gaspsed.
The sky was billowing with gray clouds and the tops of the Spirals disappeared into them. The Spirals were built relatively near to each other, like a thick forest.”
“How many people are in the Spirals?” asked Una.
“People?” said Novo, “I don’t know, three million or so, three thousand a tower, or more. It matters not. It matters not. They are just the first.”
They cut across a wide dark field, and then snuck through a chain fence cutting a hole in it. They crept by armed guards and hid in the shadows. Novo had his scroll and followed his blueprint.
They wended through the Thousand Spirals, as one would through a forest of giant trees laid in such a pattern. They came to the center tower after thirty minutes of walking and hiding. Una looked up at the Spirals as they turned slowly – some clockwise, some counterclockwise. She watched as Novo looked at his diagram again.
“Come,” he whispered, “place everything here, on this side of the Spiral’s based”
Una was trembling. She knelt beside him, her hands nearly convulsing.
“Careful with those,” whispered Novo with a smile, and took the explosives from her.
“Listen,” he said, “this is liberation, this is what is meant to be. You saw it sure as I.”
She nodded and next all was set. The timer read 40 minutes. And they quickly snuck out back through the Spirals, through the fence, and ran through the field, and into the night’s shadow. A guard spotted them, and shined a large spotlight on them! They heard dogs bark, and ran faster.
As they ran, Una suddenly heard a boom behind her, and then felt a rush of heat, and then a windy blast came and knocked her over. As she feel, she turned and looked and saw beyond all the other Spirals, in the center, a large explosion, a great fireball! The dogs, at the noise, ahd scampered away. She and Novo watched as the center Spiral fell and then tumbled into the next Spiral which caused a domino effect, destroying all of the OmniKnow over the next five minutes. Those Spiral held everything that the Parallels and Echoes had found.
Una gazed upon the destruction and smiled. She looked at Novo – did not smile, but appeared angry, as some do after they knock out their opponent in a boxing match. Una no longer felt anxiety or fear, but pure exhilaration.
The Thousand Spirals were gone.
Society was in chaos. The government said they could still restore most of the Happends, and they could reboot the Parallels and Echoes. Una and Novo watched the chaos on the Hologram.
The next night they went to a large basin of water on the outskirts of town.
“But isn’t what we have done enough?” asked Una. “The Spirals are all destroyed.”
“But the people know,” said Novo, “we cannot have that. They will tell their children, and so on. They will rebuild all the machines and it will repeat. It will not be new, they will know that what they made is not original. This step is more important than the Spirals.”
Una nodded at him, “Okay, I understand.”
“This water basin leads to every house in the city. And once the people are infected, it will spread around the world just by breathing and talking,” Novo said as he held a packet of vials. “It shall be a year before the virus dies out, but we will be safe in the attic. The virus lays dormant for nine months, but then death comes quickly. The virus will have spread the world over before anyone shows any symptoms, and most will die all at once. You and I cannot come out for anything at all during that time. Two years to be safe. We must seal all the windows and live in the attic. We have enough food and water to last us, but only us. The virus has no impact on animals, fish or insects or water. So we’ll have food and drink when we come out.”
“Let me do it,” said Una, sticking out her hand.
Novo handed her the glowing orange vials. She looked into the water.
“1:9 is over. Man may beget again,” Novo said.
Una uncorked the vials and dumped their contents into the water one by one.
They watched the orange viral fluids flow away and into the glowing City of Immense in the distance.
For two years, they lived in the attic. At nine months, they heard the moans of the dying, the wails of children. They peeked out and saw the mounds of bodies grow each day. But they did not venture out once, and soon the world became very quiet.
One morning, Novo woke Una. “Today is the day.”
Una rose and dressed.
The two of them went outside. The sun was shining beautifully. A soft breeze blew. A bird with glowing blue wings soared against the blue sky. The air had an awful stench to it, but it still smelled wonderful to Una. It was the World, and she was in it.
“So that is it?” We are all that’s left.”
“Yes,” said Novo gazing to the sun, “no one would survive. The virus is dead now, and the bodies won’t hold it.”
Una rubbed her belly and felt a few gentle kicks, the child was due any day now.
“What shall we name him or her?”
“Genesis, of course.”
“Do you think I can begin writing now?”
“Yes,” said Novo. “Yes, you can.”
“What are you going to do?” asked Una.
“What I must do for now is I must go and destroy all the Omnias – they have local databases on them that are very, very thorough. And that is all I know, it is where my original work ends. Everything beside that should be unbegotten, and new. This path of history has never been known. I have a pulse gun that should scramble thousands at a time within a certain radius, but it means I have to travel around and make sure each is compromised. I must make sure I do so for the entire nation, and then all nations of the world. And our children must do so, and their children throughout the world. This will be our sacred task for many generations – to erase all memory of the OmniKnow. You and I will be the only ones who know of this world and what it came to. Our progeny shall not know exactly why they must destroy the black sleeves, but they will know it is their duty to do so.”
Novo thus went about every day searching and destroying all the Omnias on the dead bodies. He’d also hunt and fish and bring back food.
Hunting for Omnias was not always easy. It meant digging through the hastitly dug mass graves for them, as the pulse gun he had did not work perfectly on those underground. He would then set fire to the bodies as well.
It would not be safe to leave even a single Omnia around, though science was back to the beginning, eventually, he knew someone may figure out how to access its contents, and potentially someone could reconstruct the all-knowing past. He wondered what people would think of all the buildings and such that still existed. They were entering a world that was not virgin nature, but almost an abandoned civilization. “Let new myths arise from this,” he said. “At least there are now Parallels or Echoes here.” And he reckoned, if man returned to the state of the Parallels and Echoes, at least it would be a few million years from now. But he didn’t think that would happen, as the discovery of the way to communicate with the Parallels was a mere accident. Without the Parallels and the Echoes, man would have had a billion years more of discovery. The Parallels and Echoes stole from man – art, science, technology, hope.
For the next year Una wrote each morning as she used to do when the Thousand Spirals stood. She decided to write the story of her life again, and of what her and Novo had done. She did not tell Novo this, she wished to surprise him. She wrote of everything up until this very moment as they now were rebuilding a new humanity and spending days destroying all the Omnias.
She had wrote of how they met, of how they had killed, and Novo’s idea that perhaps the Parallels and Echoes had not considered their own demise. That’s what started him down a path to write a story that was Unbegotten. But the story had to be written as if it were a prophecy, something that would happen. That was the key, the Parallels and the Echoes had not processed the possibility that somehow, someone would destroy them. She laughed. At least, that was her guess, even those machines had a hard time imagining their own death. And now, she was adding what was not a part of his unBegotten. This world. She wrote of how they lived in a sort of paradise, the two of them. The words she was writing, her actions now had never been written before in the history of all Parallels. Her skin tingled.
“This will be the first book of the new world. If I leave it for them, the people of the future will think it is fiction. I shall not reveal too much to the future about the past. They will not know that this all happened in reality, they will not believe it.”
One day, two years after she had begun the book, she had finished it. She took a pen and decided to title it 1:9. She still was not even sure what it meant, but she liked the sound of it.
Genesis cried in his crib, just over a year old now, and he was also kicking his feet. Una was pregnant again as well.
As Genesis had been rocking himself back and forth, his crib tapped on a bookshelf and a box atop the bookshelf fell. Una went to pick up the box. When she went to pick it up, she noticed that something was sticking out of the box. Something black and shiny.
She went to it, and moved a few papers away. She laughed. It was her old black sleeve, her Omnia.
She reached for it, smiling. And she put it on.
“Funny, we never thought to destroy this one. We forgot about it.”
She laughed as she looked at it on her arm. She then had an idea.
She walked over to her story on the table.
“Omnia,” she said, feeling excitement.
“Yes, Una,” said Omnia as her holographic head appeared.
This will be the first creation of the new world, Una again thought. Omnia’s local memory was nearly as extensive as the Thousand Spirals.
“Is this begotten?”
Omnia’s eyes darted back and forth as she scanned the story for a few hours and as Una turned the story page by page. Una was smiling broader and broader, waiting to hear those words she had never heard.
Omnia stopped scanning and was processing the story. Una excitedly waited.
There was a pause as Omnia’s hologram’s eyes stopped saccading, and said, in a smooth, pleasant voice: “1:9. Begotten.”