An Opening Story

My Source Is Known

Anxiety grows within my abdomen—itís as if a nervous pool of energy is alive and growing within me, and it doesnít care about my need for more sleep. I imagine turning my head towards the ceiling to see if the laser clock reads close to 6:00 PM—the time Iím supposed to get up. Five hours of sleep is all I need this afternoon in order to reduce the risks of radiation that Iíll receive later this evening. R-e-l-a-x, I tell myself, the alarm is set—stop thinking... Without moving my body, I try to go back to sleep.

My stomach growls gently and I feel my whole body beginning to fill with energy. Itís no use. Turning my head slowly towards the ceiling, I see that itís 5:47 PM. Okay, thatís it—Iím getting up.

The tension within me begins to fade as I take noticeably deeper breaths. I imagine for a moment, that tonightís experiment is a complete success. A tingling sensation forms along the top of my scalp and spreads quickly down my neck like a living wave through my arms and into my legs, until it reaches the tops of my feet. Two more waves flow through my body, this time beginning in my legs and then flowing upward into my shoulders. The feeling is so strong that I curl up in bed instinctively in a manner of self defense. In a weird way, the energy feels good to me. As the third wave fades, my thoughts shift to the experiment planned for this evening and self control begins to return to my body.

Bringing my hands slowly up to the center of my chest, I prepare to pray. Itís November, 22nd, 2314, Iím 141 years old and this is one of the most important days of my entire life. For the past 67 years, Iíve been working on an ultra-secret project, and tonight Iíll know whether Iíve been successful or not. Iím scared in a way; what if something crazy happens to me during the next nine hours and I donít live long enough to see the final results of my lifeís work? ďOh come onĒ, I tell myself, ďthatís just the kind of inappropriate thinking you do all the time, and it never produces any value. Get a grip and get real; youíre going to be alive in nine hours.Ē

With a resolved voice, I pray loudly in my mind: ďDear God, please help me to maintain an appropriate balance of control between myself and all other systems on this day. Iím doing my best to support the ascent of life, and to support you. God, please be with me. Amen.Ē

I feel a brief fullness in my chest as my heart skips a beat. Tears well up in my eyes and I continue trying to relax—I canít relax; I was holding my breath during the entire prayer. I wonder if Iíll be able to copeÖ

Stop thinking—reduce the forces youíre exerting.

ÖÖ..Ö.., okay, ÖÖÖ. thatís betterÖ

Iím more relaxed nowÖ

Stay relaxed.

I sense the gentle exhalations from my lungs without restriction, and once again return to believing that everything is somehow going to be okay.

Getting up, I issue a command in my mind to demerge my bed. Next, I execute several other home departure commands, and the house systems respond promptly to help me get ready to leave for work. Within twenty minutes, Iím in the garage closing the door on my dark blue ATEX transporter. Accelerating away from the house, I feel excitement rippling throughout my entire body; Iím truly glad to be alive, and this is going to be one crazy evening.

Speeding through the airway, I think about how lucky Iíve been during my life for the big-picture path Iíve taken. I wonder how much of my destiny has been the result of my own free will, and how much has been caused by all of the other emergent forces around me. The question makes my nose itch; I sniffle and move around in my seat trying to relax and regain comfort in my mind.

My speed increases automatically to 240 mph, as I merge onto Main-05 airway. The 26 minute ride to work from the densely populated suburb through the open desert is always pleasant for me. I enjoy seeing the shapes of the mountains and clouds as I pass by them at high speed. The patterns created in my open mind are like gifts from God.

Exit 98.8 is only 5 miles away and my vehicleís autorouter chimes gently, reminding me to retake manual control of the vehicle in one minute. I move my feet onto the illuminated floor panels and insert my hands into the dimly glowing spheres floating in front of me. The autofit pads form gently around my hands and feet. While looking to the left at the jagged skyline of mountains silhouetted against the clouds of the amber sunset, beauty fills my entire mind. Speeding by my favorite hiking hill, I remember how many of my best ideas were conceived on that hill while exercise walking after work.

ďNNNNNNNGGGGGG!!Ē sounds the autorouter—I must achieve eyesync in the next 15 seconds or an autostop will execute. Quickly, I turn my head to the right and look forward into the heads-up display projected on the windshield. The gentle blue seekers move onto my retinas and complete the eyesync procedure. An instant later, the seekers quickly fade to darkness, and the autofit controls firm up on my hands and feet. I immediately begin feeling the minor g-forces from small movements of the vehicle as it responds precisely to the live controls. Iíve already exited from the Main-05 airway and Iím rapidly decelerating to 120 mph. Fondly, I remember the days when private citizens were permitted to manually control their transporters on Main-05, but that was 18 years ago, and itís no longer permitted. Unfortunately, there are only three places left on Earth where high-speed manual control on main airways is permitted. Knowing my desire for high-speed driving, my wife Glenda purchased tickets for us to travel to Univert last August for my birthday; one of the three remaining substates on Earth that still allows people to manually control their transporters on main airways. We had a truly wonderful experience together on that trip: loud music, hands-on control while driving at 290 mph 100 feet above the ground, and beautiful scenery all around us. Those were moments of sincere pleasure, and weíll be doing that again in the future.

The windshield begins glowing dimly red, reminding me that I need to slow down and reduce my altitude to 10 feet, as required by law. The barely audible whine of my 1,400 horsepower converter goes completely silent as I slow down and begin traveling on 100% capacitor power. Itís only a 6 minute drive to work from here, and as I bank northward, I can see the nuclear power plant on the horizon. Two minutes pass by and I cross over a tag reader into the first level of security. While slowing down to approach a large brightly illuminated control field, I feel my stomach growling. The pattern on the face of the field begins changing as it senses my arrival. Upon clearance by security, the red and yellow field becomes transparent and I pass through the checkpoint. The autofit pads on my hands and feet retract automatically as control is shifted to the power plantís internal traffic system. I take a deep breath, knowing that Iíll be arriving at the underground lab soon.

The transporter accelerates gently back to 50 mph as I begin traveling around the power plantís main access loop. Turning westward off the loop and heading directly away from the power plant, my thoughts turn to my wife Glenda. I say a prayer that sheís having a safe vacation in space right now. Sheís been dreaming about visiting Jupiterís moons for the past three years, and after careful consideration, I recently submitted the exorbitant cost to my employer for reimbursement. Sheís traveling with four other people that she met through her environmental protection organization, and theyíre going to explore four of Jupiterís largest moons together. Tomorrow morning after the experiment is completed, Iíll give her a big hug through the Spacex virtual reality interface in the lab. Iím really hoping to have good things to tell her when weíre face to face. Sheís my sweetheart, and I miss her dearly right now. I donít think I could live happily without the high-quality virtual reality interfaces that are available these days. It doesnít matter how late I work at the lab, I can always give her a hug and kiss before she goes to sleep at night.

As I approach the second security level zone, another illuminated control field blocks my path. My transporter slows down to a complete stop to perform the required genetic ID test. After placing my right hand into the DNA reader located on my transporterís dashcon, I feel an immediate approval transmitted back to my vehicle from central security. The control field opens, my transporter accelerates back to 50 mph and then banks sharply to the right. While looking out the window, I see that the transporter is now in autocloak, a special security mode installed on all of the vehicles traveling back and forth to the ultra-secret underground lab. The transporter dips suddenly downward, and passes quickly through a camouflaged control field into a hidden underground tunnel leading to the lab. Outside, I see rings of bright yellow light flash by periodically as I travel deeper beneath the surface into the darkness. After a minute of travel, my transporter rapidly decelerates and comes to a complete stop in a brightly lit terminal; ďPPSSSHHĒ the driver side door opens, my seat moves up and outward, and I stand up effortlessly onto the polished concrete interface deck. Carrying my thin leather briefcase, I walk over to a series of small transport pods. Inside the pod, a microflash body X-ray and second genetic ID test are performed, the pod gently welcomes me, closes its door, and accelerates taking me to my final destination.

Upon arriving at the lab entrance, the pod decelerates and comes to a complete stop. As the door opens, my heart begins pounding, for standing in front of me are 16 of my closest friends in the whole world—the leadership team that Iíve been working closely with for the past 67 years developing this ultra-secret project. Cheers go up as I step out of the pod into the large foyer of the main entrance to the lab. Everyone is talking loudly and their voices reverberate off the hard floor and high ceiling. Itís difficult to understand anyone, except for the people standing right beside me. Incredible energy fills the air around the whole team, and I can barely stand the excitement that I feel.

Sixty-seven years ago, I was authorized by the United Internet Authority (UIA) to perform the most ambitious and secretive project ever untaken in the history of mankind. My task was to lead a team of the brightest and most creative individuals in the world, to develop a high-tech machine capable of taking a snapshot of any material placed within the space of a 10 foot diameter sphere, then to reproduce that material in another identical sphere. In other words, my objective was to create a matter cloning system. I can still remember 69 years ago when I was working at NASA as the director for nanotech engineeringÖ One evening after work, Richard Russell, director of the Department of The Ascent of Life, personally stopped by my home unannounced and asked me to join him for dinner. At first, I was shocked by his unplanned presence, but it was an honor to meet him personally and I was delighted to accept his invitation. After being seated at the four-star restaurant, Rich set us up inside a portable ultra-secure 6-level quiet cell, so we could talk privately about the ideas he had in mind.

Using one concise statement, Rich told me what he needed me to do. Initially, my response was a choking chuckle, but when Rich stopped chewing and didnít smile back at me, I realized that he was sincere and I needed to take his request seriously. He went on to explain that the cost of the program would never be an issue, and the UIA had authorized up to 2% of the total GDP produced by the group of 12 substates to provide all of the resources needed for this project—I was floored. Rich continued by explaining that the UIA had recently concluded that Earth desperately needs this machine, and itís considered a critical stepping stone for mankindís continued ascent of life. After finishing his explanation of the top-level concepts, I began wondering how any team of people in the whole world would ever accomplish a task of this magnitude. We concluded our dinner conversation with agreement to continue thinking about the feasibility, and weíd discuss this again in two weeks. For the next year and a half, Rich and I met several times each month, and we slowly developed a complex top-down plan for launching the project. Although most of the milestones within our plan contained no underlying details, we simply assumed that weíd solve the difficult engineering challenges as we faced them. There were no absolute deadlines to meet; the team would simply work on this task until it was completed.

On May 2, 2247, I received my S100 security clearance from the UIA; on that same day, I tendered my resignation at NASA. The rest of the story is pretty much history; itís simply been the most exciting period of my entire life. Although the project has occasionally interfered with my family relationships, I know that Iíve done the right thing by taking on this project—itís satisfied a primary purpose in my life—to give back to the system that has supported me from the day I was born. Throughout working on this task, Iíve known in my heart that I would stick with it no matter what the challenges were, no matter how long it took—failure simply wasnít an option for me.

Each of the 16 team leads on my staff and I were awarded unlimited compensation from the UIA, and that information was considered top secret. I had never heard of unlimited compensation before from any employer, and I had no idea what it really meant. After Rich explained it to me, I began to understand its purpose, and how it would allow me to maximize my focus on the project. In other words, the compensation package given to each of us by the UIA reduced the energy that we spent achieving any other goals in our lives, and we were able to place all of our thinking energy into creating the cloning system. None of us ever took inappropriate advantage of the generous compensation package offered by the UIA, and my wifeís recent trip to Jupiter was by far the most exorbitant expense Iíve ever submitted for reimbursement.

While facing the 16 team members before me, I hold my arms up and yell: ďWEíRE GOING TO MAKE HISTORY TONIGHT. COME ON, LETíS DO IT!!Ē Another roaring cheer comes from the team, and we turn and walk briskly together towards the lab's main entrance.

Eight hours later, itís 2:45 AM, and all of the preparations are completed. The cloning system has been operational for the past four years, and weíve successfully copied and studied eight different test subjects. The first article that we ever copied was a simple carbon atom. The atom was suspended inside the center of the transmit chamber using a series of high-power rolling antigravity fields combined with a vacuum cell. The copied atom that appeared in the receive chamber was captured using the same support technique. After perfecting the process for copying a carbon atom, we began copying larger articles requiring substantially more electrical power during the read and write snapshots. Our confidence level increased after mastering the process for copying large-mass non-living systems, and we decided next to copy a small living organism—an amoeba. That proved to be a very challenging task and many hardware and software revisions were required before the system was able to produce exact duplicates of the subject. Finally, after verifying that the read and write processes were no longer damaging the subjects, we graduated to reproducing a living breathing mouse.

Itís been sixteen months now since our first totally successful mouse copy, and after performing a wide range of tests on the sources and copies of the mice, weíve proven that the cloning system is ready to create a particle-by-particle copy of a much larger living mass—a human being. This evening, weíre going to perform that experiment, and Iím going to serve as the source subject.

During the last two years when producing copies of mice, the cloning system has required extremely high levels of electrical power, and weíve needed to perform the experiments late at night in order for the nuclear power plant to have the capacity required to power both the city of Albuquerque and the pulse X-ray lasers needed for the read and write snapshots. Due to the much larger mass that weíre attempting to copy tonight, the cloning system will require even higher levels of electricity than ever before. Therefore, weíve coordinated in advance with the UIA to take the nuclear power plant completely off the grid for three full minutes in order to completely charge the large 512 ea. underground capacitors for use with the pulse X-ray lasers. The UIA will report the power failure to the public as being caused by a computer virus. We all chuckled when we heard that, since itís obvious the UIA is using the power failure to bolster wavering public support for its tough anti-hacker policies being enforced lately.

These days, if a hacker is convicted of intentionally creating and releasing a damaging virus on the Internet, heís required by law to receive an extensive series of nanotech roamers that search for and reprogram any related desires found within the hackerís brain. From what Iíve heard about the unfortunate souls who have undergone the involuntary procedure, theyíve emerged as totally different people upon completion. Most of their memories have remained intact, but their personalities are markedly different. Our team has always known weíd need incredibly high levels of electrical power to perform these experiments, and thatís why we decided to build our R&D facility one mile away from a large nuclear power plant.

I hear a gentle knock on my dressing room door. Itís Margaret Ellison informing me that the system is ready. All of the pretests have been passed, and I need to enter the transmit chamber as soon as possible. As she finishes speaking, my whole body begins to tingle, and I try to respond; I canít speak. I swallow hard and clear my throat: ďIíll be right out, Margaret.Ē

Bowing my head, I press my hands firmly together in front of my face. ďDear God, please be with me. Please provide the forces needed to ensure success for the events to come. God, I believe with all my heart, that our teamís efforts will provide support for the continued ascent of life. Thank you dear God; Amen.Ē

As I finish my prayer, my mouth and tongue feel uncomfortable, and I realize that thereís a wave of fear emerging within me. I steel my face and mind and tense my jaw muscles. With my tongue pressed against the roof of my mouth, I open the dressing room door and walk briskly towards the transmit chamber. Iím wearing only a thin pair of mylar underwear, but no one cares, including myself. My attire is the furthest thing from anyoneís mind right now. Instead, everyone on the team is thinking about the most important experiment in the history of mankind, and weíre going to perform it right now. After walking 80 feet to the transmit chamber, I kick off my foam slippers and step barefoot from the cold steel floor carefully onto the warm transparent antigravity floor located inside the circular lower half of the transmit chamber.

The top half of the 28 foot diameter sphere towers above me. Raised 11 feet above the lower section of the chamber, it will be lowered and locked into place as soon as Iím positioned inside. As I step onto the antigravity floor inside the chamber, it feels interesting on my feet. I always get a kick out of it, and this time is no different. Itís unlike any other surface in the whole world; the best way to describe it, is that itís like a million tiny rounded posts underneath my feet, all pressing evenly with the same force. Itís comfortable and easy to balance upon, and there are no areas on my feet where higher pressure is felt. Cracking a little smile, I imagine what it would be like to have a pair of shoes like that. Slowly, I walk across the invisible circular floor to its center, and I position myself over the illuminated marker located below me in the bottom half of the chamber.

Okay, Iím thereÖ Iím at the center. Standing almost naked under the bright lights of the chamber, I feel a cold shiver run throughout my upper body; my shoulders jerk once unintentionally. I look over at Margaret as she stands beside the main control console, and I nod to her with as much intention as I can muster. A smile appears on her face and she gives me two thumbs up; somehow I believe for a moment that everything is going to be okay. As she inserts her key into the front panel of the control console and rotates it a quarter turn, Iím slowly lowered 2.9 feet into the bottom section of the chamber. At the same time as Iím being lowered, the top half of the spherical chamber is also lowered to mate with the stationary half of the chamber built into the floor below me. I look up and around me as the top shell moves closer and closer to its mating position, and I begin to fully grasp that Iím really standing in the center of the transmit sphere that our team has developed during the past 67 years. Yes, I really am going to serve as the source material that will be read by 256 ea. terawatt pulse X-ray lasers that are currently pointed at me from all angles within the transmit chamber.

A reverberating ďCLUNKĒ followed by a momentary whirring sound confirms that the sphere halves are now fully mated and locked into position. Itís 2:52 AM, and the final sequence to run the copy process is initiated. As I look around inside the brightly lit 28 foot diameter transmit chamber, I see the 256 ea. 12-inch diameter lenses located 360 degrees all around me. Each lens has a faint pink glow at its center, and I know exactly what those lenses are for. Theyíre the output points of the ultra high-power pulse X-ray lasers that will read the position of all the matter and energy located within my body at one instant of time. My left leg begins to shake. In the receive chamber, thereís an identical setup that performs exactly the opposite process at the same moment of time, except that matter and energy are infused into the high-power X-ray electromagnetic waves thereby creating the clone. In other words, the cloning system will produce an exact particle-by-particle duplicate copy of me in the receive chamber located 77 feet from where Iím now standing, at the same instant of time that the particles within my body are read. I try to convince myself that based upon the many years of our successful research, the powerful X-rays wonít alter the matter and energy that Iím currently comprised of, and Iíll be able to walk out of the transmit chamber in my present condition after the read is completed.

As I try to build confidence in the idea, my right leg begins to shake as well as my left leg. With both legs now trembling, I begin hearing a deep whirring sound followed by a low and constant rumble. I know whatí happening—of course I do, Iím the lead engineer that designed this whole system, and I know that right now, the whole city of Albuquerque is currently without electrical power, and the 64 acres of large underground capacitors circling the lab are now being charged at the maximum transfer rate possible through three-inch diameter superconducting silver transmission lines connected directly to the main outputs of the nuclear power plant. In less than three minutes, this will all be over.

As I stand there, tears begin welling up in my eyes. I can hardly keep my mouth from shaking, along with both of my legs. Itís coming; I know itís, itís coming; there is no stopping it now. The 256 lenses flicker simultaneously during pre-fire, and the inside of the chamber goes completely dark. The main X-ray pulse is only four seconds away. 3, 2, 1Ö MY EYES ARE CLOSEDÖ

WHITE LIGHT fills my mindÖ

I didnít expect to see anything. According to all of our analysis, I shouldnít have seen any light; that was weird. I wasnít supposed to hear anything either, but I could swear that I heard a short click or something.

OkayÖ OkayÖ none of that matters right now, itís over; itís, itís finally over.

I stand there without a thought for several seconds, then the bright lights inside the chamber come back on.

Tears are streaming down both of my wet cheeks, and I slowly bring my hands up to my face to see if Iíve been obviously damaged during the read process. My hands look okay, and I feel okay; then I look up at the ceiling for a moment and wonder if my copy was produced okay, and if heís alive; real excitement begins to fill my body, and the weakness in my legs turns back into strength. I bow my head and clasp my hands firmly together; Thank you, God. THANK YOU, GOD!!!

After standing there in the middle of the transmit chamber for about 30 seconds, I faintly hear the team cheering outside, and I wonder why they havenít raised the top of the transmit chamber yet. It should have been opened by now; is there a problem? Why are they cheering while Iím still insideÖ My fears are subdued once I hear the whirring sound of the locks unwinding followed by a heavy clunking sound as the top shell begins lifting upward. At the same time, the antigravity floor that Iím standing on begins to rise, which will allow me to step straight across upon exiting the chamber onto the steel deck outside. As the top is raised, I begin seeing the legs of my teammates standing around the outside of the chamber. Several people bend down and peer inside with big smiles and wide eyes. I smile back at them and yell at the top of my lungs: ďCOME ON, GET ME OUT OF THIS THING!Ē

As the top half of the chamber clears the heads of everyone, Iím both surprised and confused to see that theyíve already removed the copy of me from the receive chamber. It looks like the experiment has worked, but why would they have done that without me? My copy is now standing next to everyone else on the team, and he has a big grin on his face as well. Even though Iím confused about the sequence of events, the excitement is too much for me, and I donít care about the lapse of procedure at this point. I quickly walk across the transparent floor, and as soon as I step out onto the steel deck, the entire team lets out a howling cheer that rocks the entire facility. They continue cheering at the top of their lungs as I slowly walk up to the copy of myself; I smile at him and he smiles back at me. I hold out my hand in an offer to shake his, and at the same instant that I move my right hand forward, he moves his right hand forward to shake mine. While firmly shaking hands, I feel a strong desire to pull him towards me and give him a big hug. Somehow, it just seems appropriate to welcome this new entity to reality.

Apparently, he has the same idea, and itís interesting that as I draw him towards me, he also draws me towards him in the same manner. In order not to hit my head against his, I pull him to my left, and as Iím pulling him leftward, he also pulls me towards his left. That causes us to both spin around almost like a short dance routine, and we both end up losing our balance, falling to the floor. While weíre both laughing hysterically, I notice that everyone else on the team has stopped cheering—theyíve all become totally silent; concern fills the air, and I donít understand what the issue is. Margaret quickly reaches into her lab coat, withdraws a large marker, bends down to the duplicate copy of me as if thereís some kind of emergency, and draws an ďOĒ on his arm. Suddenly, a dark and discomforting thought comes to my mind. As quickly as I can, I turn my head around and look back at the top of the transmit chamber that I just stepped out of. The sign above it reads ďRECEIVERĒ. At that moment, weakness and sadness begins forming inside me like an instant high-pressure poison injected into my body by a distant and unknown sorcerer.

IÖ IímÖ notÖ the original Dr. MattsonÖ IÖ Iím the copy.

While lying on the floor next to the original James C. Mattson, I begin to think about what has just happened. My face begins to feel funny and my mouth uncomfortable. I look three feet away at the original version of me, and I see that he also has a sad look in his eyes. Tears begin to stream down both of our faces. I think about how Iíll be staying permanently here at the lab, and eventually, Iíll need to be demerged back into the fundamental elements that I was constructed from today. I ponder my own existence, and for the first time, I truly understand that I didnít preexist in some other space in reality before I was born on Earth. In other words, I didnít exist somewhere else ahead of time and then get assigned to a body that was created for me. No; instead, ďIĒ emerge from my body. This experiment has confirmed that conclusion beyond any doubt; people emerge from their bodies, they arenít assigned to them. In other words, we exist due to the arrangement of the subsystems that weíre comprised of, and Iím now living proof of that. I know that because my heart is beating; Iím breathing, Iím thinking; Iím feeling.

I know that I am alive.

I wonder if the real Dr. Mattson understands this concept as well as I do right now. As I look at all of the people standing around me, I try to smile, but I sense sadness in their eyes. A strange emotion comes over me; itís the fear of distant death. I suddenly realize that it doesnít matter if Iím a copy; I donít want to die when this experiment is over—Iím real now. I think for a moment about my wife and daughter, but then I quickly realize that they arenít really mine; I donít have a wife or a daughter; my chest convulses as I lower my weak body to rest completely flat on the cold steel floor. Iím sobbing uncontrollably as total loneliness fills every cell of my mind and body. Nothing is real to me anymore; I donít even know any of these people. I donít even know myself.

GodÖ please help me to understand.