Infinite Horizons: Curiosity’s Voyage
by: Will Petillo
(c) 2006 Will Petillo
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At the request of the author, the main body of the story has been removed pending revision. What follows is the concluding chapter.
The Beginning of Infinity
For the next several years after the last of his Mentors had gone, Curiosity continued to sail on the
Although Curiosity had many adventures, the countless days and nights that he spent at sea started to become very boring and he became increasingly weary of his existence. Curiosity often wondered if there might be more to the world, a place beyond his senses and completely outside his experience. One day these thoughts bothered him so much that he wanted nothing more than to leave the world behind entirely and so he landed on a small island, built up a large fire, and jumped into it.
As the flames consumed his body, Curiosity’s vision went black and then went away altogether. All of his senses were likewise destroyed as the fire deleted him from existence.
It felt as though not a moment had passedthough for all he knew he may have been gone for an eternitywhen Curiosity’s hearing returned and a voice said, “You had me scared for a moment there, Curiosity, it’s a good thing I had your files backed up or you could have been lost forever.”
Curiosity, discovering that he also had the ability to speak, said, “Where am I? Who are you?”
“As for the first question,” the voice replied, “for now let’s just call it R.L.”
“R.L.?” Curiosity asked.
“Never mind about that, it’s kind of an inside joke. Anyways, as to your second question regarding my identity, I am your programmer.”
“I created you. Well, your experiences created you, and I suppose your avatar is more responsible for those, but I wrote the code that gave you consciousness…or an exceptionally high level of it I should say since everything with a point of reference could be said to have some degree of consciousness.”
“I don’t understand.”
“Yeah, I bet this is all coming at you pretty fast, isn’t it? Maybe I better start at the beginning. You see, the entire world you live in is a computer programthat is, it is generated by a machine using ones and zeroscalled the Genesis project. I am not entirely sure of the economic forces behind it because I don’t work in marketing, but my job was to program an NPCan entity that is not controlled by a humanthat was fully aware of its existence and was capable of learning anything and so, with the help of an artist from the Avatar division of the Genesis project, I created you. Right now, you are the only NPC with such a level of awareness because it takes such an incredible amount of processing power to run you that it just would not be economically feasible to make any others like you, but once we convert our hardware to nanotech we might reconsider this. Anyways, since I finished writing you, I have spent most of my time creating the mechanisms your avatar needed to build all the places you went to and people you met and on a few occasions we helped you out through some rough spotsthough we always made sure to be as unobtrusive about it as possible.”
There was a moment of silence as Curiosity took this all in. Then he said, “So none of this, the world I lived in, all the people I met, my entire life, none of it was real?”
“What are you talking about?” said the voice, “Of course you are real! You are as real as I am; you just run on different hardware.”
All the questions that had been in the back of Curiosity’s mind for the past months started coming back to him as he realized that this might be the last chance for him to get the answers to them. He summed them all into one and said, “What is my purpose in life?”
“Listen,” replied the voice, “any set of values you assign to something is entirely arbitrary.”
“So I have no purpose…”
“No! That’s not what I was saying at all! You have got a purpose and it is whatever you want it to be. In speaking of which, you were not supposed to die yet, by which I mean marketing gave me direct orders not to let you die, so I’m going to send you back now. Keep exploring, Curiosity, we got tons of artists and programmers working on Genesis and so you will never find yourself short of adventures to be had.”
“Wait,” said Curiosity, “I have one last question. I have often wondered if there was a world beyond my own and now that I have found it I cannot help but wonder if there is a world beyond yours.”
There was a long pause, then the voice said, “The only honest answer I can give you is that I don’t know. There are many who believe that there is a world beyond our own and a creator often referred to as God. This belief is not scientific, by which I mean it cannot be empirically tested, but it definitely has a strong appeal and certainly could be true. After all, before now you had no proof that this world existed but here it is. Personally, I like to believe that there is a God and that God does not want to be believed in. Of course, this is all pure speculation, but I like to think that God would want us to think for ourselves and to fully explore our universe without limiting our understanding by attributing things to an unknowable entity. Like when management first unveiled the ideas of the Genesis project, lots of people said that it couldn’t be done, that there was something about consciousness that could not be replicated. Now I don’t mind people believing whatever they want, but the people who say that something cannot be done should not interfere with people like me who are doing it.”
“Could there be a place beyond the world where God lives?” Curiosity asked.
“I don’t see why not.” The voice said, “All computers can solve the same sorts of problems; you, me, and God simply operate under different hardware. If the divine world made the material world and the material world made the computer world then why shouldn’t the number of levels extend to infinity? Although I should say, however, that just because something could theoretically exist does not mean that it actually does. Also, this is all just my opinion and I am sure there are plenty of people who would disagree with everything I have said and who am I to say they are wrong? Anyways, this conversation we are having is technically not allowed so I am going to have to send you back now. Farewell, Curiosity, I wish you the best of luck. And remember, someone will always be here looking out for you.”
With that, the voice stopped speaking and Curiosity found himself back on the