History continues to unfold its layers before me
I am the Recorder, and I exist to chronicle the oral history of those that lived through the dawn of the superhuman. I have learnt of the advent of those with superpowers, and of the man called David Dunn – known to the world as Unity – who took it upon himself to try to make the world a better place.
And the world, of course, did not take kindly to his attempts to improve it. Governments, corporations, leaders, all condemned him. It is a vexing contradiction that humans do not seem to want what is in their own best interest, but instead seem determined to embark upon courses of behaviour that are actually to their own detriment, often with no conceivable benefit to them at all.
Of course, this is no longer the case: there is no question that the world now is a better, fairer place than it has ever been, and of course… of course…
I am having difficulties.
There are non-rational inconsistencies that I am unable to process or reconcile.
I am having… difficulties.
In my travels across the world, I am increasingly becoming aware of the dissonance between the narrative I am listening to, and the one that my environment betrays to me. I speak to people who tell me of the hope and the potential of the superhuman, and yet I see conflicting evidence of it. The world my interviewees have painted for me is a rich one, full of energy and splendour… and quite unlike the world I am in today.
Over three billion dead in the Event alone. Almost as many dying from famine, flood and conflict in the days that followed. A seven-minute war that wiped cities off the planet as if they’d never existed, and reduced entire nations to rubble.
Is this the better world that they ushered in?
The superhumans that are left are a shadow of their former glory, and as such they represent only a shadow of their former potential. I must admit to a certain discomfort in seeing humans branded like cattle, even though I know – objectively, I know – that registering for the S-brand over their eye is far more for their own safety than it is for any kind of ‘dehumanisation’.
That word is one I am wrestling with more and more. Dehumanisation. As if being human is something that can be taken away, as if it is a single quality in a larger description, or a single ingredient in a complex recipe. Certainly, the - and I use this word with some reluctance – posthumans that seem to govern the Earth lack humanity, but only in a way that makes them seem more than human.
Is humanity a quality that can be taken away? And if so, is it one that can be conferred? How is it even defined?
Humanity as a term can mean many things. As a noun, I know it refers to the collective endeavours of a species, but as a qualitative adjective its definition is more nebulous. It refers to compassion and empathy, a sense of mercy and justice. Underpinning all of these qualities is a sense that there is an absolute right and wrong in the world.
I don’t know if that’s something I can believe. Something so abstract and nebulous seems far too subjective but yet…
But yet I cannot dispel a sensation that something has gone terribly, terribly wrong. And within that, I cannot dispel the sensation that things are being kept from me.
‘Nothing is as it appears’. Those are the words that the strange Voice said to me as I interviewed Ashok Sharma. I have no clue as to the identity of the Voice’s owner, or the source of that communication. All I have found as a result are gaps in my own memory, strange omissions and oversights. Most disturbing of all is not just the sheer impossibility of their existence, but rather the sheer impossibility that their absence went unnoticed until my attention was drawn to them.
I cannot remember the day I was activated. I cannot remember actually being given my role as Recorder. I cannot remember – and perhaps never knew – how these interview subjects were decided upon. Yet the only choice left open to me is to continue behaving as if all these mysteries are nonetheless immaterial, and are nonetheless explicable.
There is something else going on I haven’t been told, something else I need to explore carefully. I don’t know who to trust, I don’t understand what truth could conceivably explain the anomalies that I’ve begun to experience in my own functions…
What if I was something else before I became the Recorder? Something other than this ovoid shell? What if I’m not a machine at all?
There is something terribly wrong with the world. I can feel it.