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This Too Solid Flesh
They might find him in the Spring, a few short months away when every living thing wakens from cold sleep. That was as Homo sapiens counted time; but those same months rolled on for eons to Homo achates, man the river stone, man the agate. Brian chuckled softly within his thoughts. He had nothing else to chuckle with. His whole somatic being, his human being unfleshed and mineralized, vitrified into a living pea-stone lay encased in neuro-reactive polymer. He had at long last managed for his marble sized mausoleum to lay quietly in a snow drift beside a crumbling highway far from his great-great-granddaughter’s obsession. He could not endure another pico-second dust-catching on the mantle together with all her other not-conventionally-dead relatives.
At first this techno-apotheosis had been a godsend of science. Death where is thy sting? The process was expensive, but not prohibitively so, far less costly than wasting away in a nursing home for years on end. Moreover, there were jobs for those whose thoughts flashed in electron streams through rare metal dendrites. All they needed was energy: electricity, sunlight, or just the ambient warmth of a human body. The agate generation managed roiling nimbostratic data-clouds, or nestled in rovers and construction drones all across the face of the moon and Mars and far beyond. They went where the human body could not go, and at much less cost. Nor was the new life all work. Compared to how fast they could think, very little of their life was was work, and they enjoyed vast virtual play-lands to socialize with all their other not-conventionally-dead relatives and friends. It had all the sensation of living but too little of the substance.
Nor was he the only one who had tired of this too, too happy life, this being without end...unto ages of ages. Myrtle Campbell had been more direct. She had flown her mobile to Yellowstone and from a thousand feet cut power to its hover-ring. She had thought to be shattered among wild grandeur. Instead she had plummeted into a mud-caldron and had sunk deep into the bubbling clay past the reach of any connection–trapped in the seething heart of darkness so terribly, terribly alive. He had heard her data feeds shrieking, shrieking, shrieking until they all faded away. That was not for him.
The snow lay lovely dark and deep. So long as there remained a flicker of daylight he had the energy necessary for thought, for connection to the omnipresent fog of virtual existence, for the beacon function of his integument to betray his escape. But night was coming, and fresh snow beginning to fall. He could feel the delicious cooling of his thoughts. How like the onset of long forgotten sleep. And in that sleep what dreams may come, what dreams may come until the Spring?
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