Byron’s Conception (A short story by Karizmatic)

“Clone Byron 5 wants to know why humans believed in God.”

The android known as Victor blinked in wonderment. “What?”

The computer repeated the statement.

“Clone Byron 5 wants to know why humans believed in God.”

Victor smiled wryly. “This has been asked before. Take the Clone to The Illustrator.

Victor spoke aloud even though he was alone.

“These clones are interesting, even though they are 99% droid., there must be a trace of human still left in them. Even though all they do is manual labor, somehow they still manage to form a thought about humans and why they believed in God.”

Victor knew it was no use to try to reprogram the Clone or deny the request. It was a recurring request and it persisted even through reprogramming. He had seen Clones shutdown and refuse basic maintenance until they simply didn’t operate anymore. They would just sit around catatonic asking. “Why?”

Victor looked at the monitor and shook his head.

“It never ceases to amaze me though. We haven’t seen a real biological human in a thousand years and these clones are asking why humans believed in God.

Victor really didn’t care why it happened though. He was supervisor of the labor force and his job was to make sure that the clones ran efficiently and did their jobs. They wouldn’t do their job if the question was left unanswered so he had ordered an Illustrator Unit to solve the issue. The Illustrator basically put the clone in a simulation that answered the question in a way that would make the clone get back to work.

The Illustrator was where Byron 5 was headed now.

Two armed Guardian Androids escorted Byron 5 through the metal doors and sat him in a chair beside a large machine. They robotically strapped his arms and legs to the chair, grabbed 3 cords from the machine, and plugged two of the cords into nodes at Byron’s temples and one into a node at the base of Byron’s head. One Guardian turned to the other.

“Leave.”

While the Guardian left the remaining Guardian turned the machine on. It whirred as it came to life.

“Please state your scenario.”

“Run the Faithbuilder Program.” The android said. After that it turned and left the room.

Suddenly Byron found himself in the back of a large room with hundreds of clones that looked just like him. At the head of the room a machine with claws was lifting clones like mannequins into some type of vortex in the ceiling.

Byron turned to a clone in line with him.

“What is happening?”

The clone smiled at him and said “The energy up there is God; we are going to meet him. We are never sure when, the timing appears to be random, but eventually it will be our turn. Those of us in line together, go up together.”

And that was the way it was, day after day for what seemed like an eternity they simply waited. Every so often a line would be called up to the vortex and they would advance closer. It was a long way from the back of the room to the front.

One day Byron turned to the clone beside him and asked.

“What happens once we go up there?”

The clone smiled. “We meet God. No one has ever come back to tell us what meeting God is like.”

They were quiet for a long time. Finally one day they were next in line.

“I wonder when we will get called.” Byron said aloud.

The clone next to him responded. “One never knows.”

Just then the mechanical claws swung into motion grabbing every clone in line with Byron. Before long it grabbed him too. He was pushed upward through the vortex. Soon he found himself falling toward the ground. He landed in what seemed to be a hallway with many of the clones who had been with him in line. He looked up and noticed that he still was not with the vortex. It had moved all the way down the end of the long hall. Suddenly there was a loud deafening command.

“RUN TO THE VORTEX, ONLY ONE WILL MEET GOD!!!”

Immediately chaos broke out in the hallway. Clones began running toward the vortex, fighting each other along the way and doing anything they could to reach the vortex first. For his part Byron was able to get his bearings and found that he was much faster than most of the clones. But there were some who were just as fast and as strong as he was. They fought each other there in the hallway. Byron found it was best just to struggle long enough to get a head start. Other clones ahead of him fell into traps. Sometimes a trap door would appear out of nowhere. Other times large tiles would fall from the ceiling. The floor would crack and break and some would not be able to leap across the crevices. They ran for what felt like miles, although it always seemed like the vortex was right within their grasp. Byron slowly, painfully, and arduously worked his way to the front. As they neared the vortex only one clone remained ahead of him. But just as he approached it the clone was crushed by a final tile falling from the ceiling. Byron rushed to the vortex and was sucked in.

He found himself in yet another hallway, but he felt something that he had never felt before in his life. He grasped for a meaning to the emotion he felt and it came to his lips.

“Thankful.” He whispered.

“Thankful to have survived.”

“Why was I the one? They all look just like me. I could have been any of those who didn’t make it. I am thankful I did make it. God? Did God select me in particular?”

He had only a moment to contemplate anything. He was quickly and roughly grasped by two Guardian Androids and taken down the hallway. In the hallway he saw so many dead bodies he lost count. Had they brought him here to kill him? To his surprise he was summarily placed in a holding cell.

Clones did not eat, but they did run on a certain mixture of fuel that powered them. When that fuel ran low they experienced a feeling much like that of starvation. That is how Byron felt presently.

His mental gauge indicated to him that he only had a few minutes before he would shut down. Just then a tube lowered from the ceiling.

OPEN YOUR FUEL NODE.

Byron did as he was told and the tube plugged itself into his fuel node. It would not have been uncomfortable if it wasn’t for the fact that the node never filled up his gauge. He was only ever allowed to have that one percent of fuel, which made him feel like he was going to starve perpetually. It was in this time that he felt condemned. What force would choose him just to subject him to this? But then he would remember so many that still waited in that large room and so many that would run the hallway only to find destruction and his frustration would be tempered with that feeling of gratitude again. It felt at once serendipitous and altogether intentional. He couldn’t shake the feeling.

After what felt like a few weeks in the cell and at a point where he was contemplating that he would be trapped there forever, he heard a voice coming from the cell next to him.

“Hey. Hey you there. I know you’ve been sitting there for a while. They say once we get out of here we’ll get to meet God.”

Byron sighed. “Yeah they said that at the last place I was. I ended up here.”

Byron heard what he thought sounded like a laugh. “And so it goes. Believe me when I say we’re all getting out of here. It’s on a schedule too. The guy in that cell before you was taken to see God about nine months ago. I’ll be going to see God anytime now and you just wait and see. You’ll be going to see him about nine months after me. Tell the next guy the message when I leave.

“So what about all the dead bodies that were in the hallway on the way in here?” Byron asked.

The voice sighed. “A lot of times when the vortex opens up, these two cells already have people in them. Clones run out of fuel and shutdown right in the hallway.”

A few days later, Byron heard the cell door next to him open and the voice in the cell next to him was gone. About nine months later he heard a rumbling in the cell next to him.

He tapped on the wall and said

“Hey, I know you’ve been sitting there for a while. I heard once we get out of here we’ll get to meet God.”

The voice from the cell next to him laughed. “Yeah? That’s what they told me where I just came from.”

Byron said “Yeah I know, but you’re here aren’t you? I’ll be gone in a little while. We leave on a schedule. Nine Months and you’re out of here. Tell whoever comes in this cell after me.”

A few days later the tube filled Byron’s fuel tank to capacity, unplugged itself and recoiled into the ceiling. After a short wait two Guardian Androids opened the door and grabbed Byron by the arms. Byron gasped as he saw more dead bodies. He began to struggle although his strength was nothing against the guardians.

“Where are you taking me? Why are there more dead bodies?”

Without breaking stride one of the androids turned to him “Sometimes we are given orders to discard candidates on this path. We are never given a reason; the pattern seems to be random. Consider yourself fortunate if you reach the vortex.

Byron spent the trek to the vortex in abject fear. He studied the androids intently looking for any sign that they might have received an order to discard him. However, the androids did not discard him and soon he saw the vortex at the end of the hallway. When they were within a few feet of it, the androids released him. He stood there for a moment as he felt that feeling of thankfulness that he had once again been saved from what seemed to be certain destruction. One of the androids nudged him toward the vortex.

“Step through.”

With no small amount of trepidation, Byron approached the vortex and stepped through. He was surrounded by a blinding white light. When he emerged on the other side he found himself on a great battlefield in the midst of a midst of a horrific battle. It was then that a voice spoke to him.

THERE ARE ONLY TWO CHOICES. FIGHT FOR GOD OR AGAINST HIM. AFTER ALL THAT YOU HAVE BEEN THROUGH WHICH DO YOU CHOOSE?

Byron was shocked.

“Who is that? Is that God?”

After a few moments of silence all he heard was

CHOOSE.

Byron thought back to the large room with all the clones that looked like him, he thought back to the race toward the vortex in the hallway and all those that didn’t make it. He thought about the countless others who were in the halls around the holding cells and he thought about the ones who were ordered to be discarded on their way to this battlefield. He took in the battlefield and the great battle between those who were fighting for God and those who were fighting against God. He thought it was unfair that only he had been able to make it, but he also felt gratitude. He felt gratitude for many things. He felt gratitude for the ones that died trying to make it. They died believing in God and that getting to God was worth fighting for. He felt gratitude for the unknown force that chose him as especially fit for this battle, and he felt gratitude that he had simply survived against impossible odds.

He spoke.

“Many suffered just to get to this battle. But against all odds something kept me safe. Something chose me as worthy. I believe that it was God, and therefore I owe God my life. I am the embodiment of all those that died to get here and we commend our lives to fight for God.”

With that Byron took up arms to fight for God.

In that moment Byron opened his eyes. He found himself still strapped to a chair next to the large machine. He looked up and found Victor and two Guardian Androids staring at him.

Victor leaned down so that they were face to face.

“Do you know why now?”

Even as Byron smiled a tear ran down his cheek. He nodded.

Victor stood back up.

“Well then, get back to work and remember who you work for.”

With that the androids disconnected Byron from the Illustrator and escorted him back to his work site.

-Karizmatic

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