Title: The Experiment
Author: Chris Pitts
Summary: A creation tale told by the creator Itself: the story of two gods who were one, and the world that followed after them.
Below me lay a sort of speckled circle of greens and blues. Seeming both tiny and enormous, small spots danced across the surface, back and forth, with no apparent rhyme or rhythm.
Wait. Never mind… it seemed that only the shades of green had dancing spots. Funny, that. And funnier still- if I concentrated, bits of fluff started to scamper across the surface of the ball, obscuring the colors beneath in an off-white blur.
Where did they come from?
And after they moved off of the surface of the circle, where did they go?
I thought: Maybe there is another place behind this disc! Without moving, but with a feeling of subtle change, I was looking at the same disc, yet… Gah, I thought, these fluff-swirls make it hard to tell anything!
With a quick thought, the fluff-swirls vanished- and yet somehow I was still aware of their presence. How odd: it appears that there are two speckled discs. Or, possibly…
Yes. It simply changed patterns. The greens and blues are just slightly different, yet the dancing spots still only appeared on the green bits. So now I know: speckled circles only have moving dots on the green bits.
At this point I smiled, and realized that I had no idea what I looked like, what I was, or what a smile was. So I opened my eyes (how do I know what those are?), and gasped.
Naiveté. Deduction through immediate observation. Low pre-existing knowledge. Innocence. Curiosity. The pretense of childhood. I wonder about that decision, sometimes.
Respiration: yes. Mobility: yes. I steeple my fingers beneath my chin. Actually, hold on…
My lungs fail to inflate, yet no adverse side effects are evident. It would seem respiration is not necessary. So: why does this body seem to feel that I need to breathe? And how do I actually know how to classify any of these stimuli?
I seem to have knowledge- defined through language -without memory. That is logically impossible- yet it is also true. So, what that means…
Ah, well. That explains it. Obvious, in retrospect.
Time to look around, then. Turning my attention outwards, and without opening my eyes, I caught glimpse of a planet. It’s rather small… but then I’m not actually sure what to compare it to; perhaps it could be very large. This spontaneous knowledge thing is odd. It’s also round, as my mind informs me is typically the case. How? Ah, right. That’s how.
With some focus, the clouds blanketing the planet in a blurr of motion slowed to a crawl, and I glanced at the planet’s inhabitants. Small, furry, and uninteresting. The water was similar, but with scales. With that glance, I allowed the planet to resume its natural speed. Or rather, I returned to my place above, and our speeds dropped out of synchronization. Interesting.
After cataloguing the initial deluge of stimuli, a small, annoying image became evident beyond the planet. A life form, similar to myself in physiology, was also observing the planet, but with what appeared to be undisguised surprise. An immediate sense of… irritation lodged in my mind.
Calculation. Introspection. Deduction through experience. A wide knowledge base. Mild cynicism. Boredom. Why were these my first choice?
Oh, my! This disc is much more impressive when seen through these eyes. Though… IS it a disc? The fluffy swirls look just a bit wrong, around the edges. I thought about circling the disk to check for flat parts, and I was suddenly aware of two things: first, that the disc was actually a giant ball, and second, that there was another person around.
Another person who made me want to stay away from them.
I couldn’t say why, but the person’s facade (similar to my own, actually), made my stomach feel a bit off. I found that turning my attention away from the person eased my stomach, so I looked long and hard at the ball, wondering what it was, exactly. What did it do? At that thought, I found myself skimming the surface with my mind, glancing about at small, fluffy creatures running about in areas covered in… “trees”. Odd. Another word I don’t remember ever hearing before.
As that thought encroached on my mind, so too did an odd desire. I felt the urge to… Well, to choose one of these fluffy animals. To choose it and to make sure it succeeded in whatever it decided to spend energy on. And so, I looked to the first creature I noticed upon arrival on the surface: a small, quick thing with short fur, large back legs, and rather long ears. The lopsided legs forced it to move in an odd fashion; more of a jump than a… a…
Running. That’s the word. Running.
Snapping back into focus, I took off after the long-ear, only to find that a very intimidating animal with tufty hair and very sharp teeth had caught it. Water pooled in my eyes as I looked on, and an incredibly strange feeling formed in my chest. I was not smiling anymore.
And so I returned to my perch in the sky, allowing the planet to speed up again, wondering how to both fulfill that urge, and to avoid this crushing feeling.
The final feeling of this bit was difficult to place. It can motivate anyone, but I believe it is primarily used in this type of scenario.
Avoiding the irritation with every sense I had was a mere matter of thought. Very simple, actually: I just imagined the area devoid of irritants, and so the thing became mundane. If my deductions proved true, then I should not act. Not yet. And so I waited, and watched. I saw the Other Thing stare in awe at the planet. I saw it descend and inspect a tiny element of the surface. Upon returning from this miniscule inspection, I saw something interesting: sadness. Or loss; they are so very similar. Either way, this could prove… useful.
Exploitation. That was the core.
I looked down at the ball under me, and was a little confused. This was obviously the same ball, but… Were the patterns a tad different, maybe? Like the greens were a little closer together. Oh, well. Wiping the tears from my eyes, my thoughts turned towards the urge I had felt. The urge to care for and guide the small creature. I wandered about the vast patches of grass and trees, seeking something I could care for, something I could watch grow… And then I suddenly had an idea. These creatures led such quick lives. I had watched many come and go, but I was still here. I could care for myself!
Or… No, that wouldn’t work, I was already doing that. So… Weaker versions of me, maybe? I mean, I didn’t need protecting, and I couldn’t protect something stronger, so… That’s it. I’ll do it!
I often wonder if I made this distinction too ambiguous. Nurture is, with no context, wonderful. However, one could easily nurture a malevolent force, I suppose… This is, I suppose, the naiveté of youth.
The world below was uninteresting. Nothing on the surface or under it stimulated my mind. It lacked… Something. Something important. I ignored it, intent on observing the other lifeform about the planet. It seemed to also be deep in thought, which piqued my curiosity somewhat. After observing for a bit longer, the thing’s demeanor seemed to change drastically. I could see elation and determination written in its thoughts. With a jolt, I realized what thought had just crossed my mind. The strong emotion of the Other… I could feel it, in a very basic way. Not exactly mind-reading, but I could tell, just for a second, what the other was feeling.
I pondered the meaning of this revelation, ignoring the other entirely. Until, later in my musings, I was distracted by a surge of power coming from the other. Focusing my attention on the other, I sensed the strangest change. The other seemed to grow lesser, somehow, and yet, descending from him, that loss was flowing, taking shape as it approached the planet. As I watched, the planet’s surface, before containing only greenery and the swift back-and-forth of sub-sentient creatures, became populated by a new creature. Focusing on the planet, I saw, in small groups, everywhere, copies of the other being, standing aimlessly and in awe of their surroundings, much as the other had when it first came to be.
I returned to my place above the planet and watched these creatures attempt to live. They drowned and fell from cliffs with an almost whimsical attitude, completely ignorant of the danger. The more I watched, the more I became disgusted with these parodies, so similar in form to myself, yet so utterly inferior. And, from the other, I could feel a sense of absolute success and joy.
So analytical. So intelligent, and yet so quick to anger and judgment. The first two are tools, and the second two, methods.
Joy! My entire existence, in the moment of creation, became joy. It filled my head, my body, my mind. Everything that was me, was joy. And with that joy, a sense of accomplishment washed through me, as though I’d fulfilled some inner desire. Like I had a purpose. After the feelings of elation wore off, I could think enough to glance down at my creations.
What I saw destroyed every bit of joy I had just experienced.
I saw the little copies of me falling, drowning, dying. The feeling after the death of the long-ear would have been pleasant. Through my tears of near-agony, I had an idea. I smiled, and gave the creatures below a purpose: To live, and continue to live! I wanted them all to feel the joy I had felt in creating them. As I watched, my creations learned about danger. In what seemed like no time at all, they were avoiding cliffs and oceans entirely, and multiplying (I was not certain how). Happiness returned like a wave, and I watched the world contentedly.
Simple, volatile emotions. The foundation, I think, for everything that came after.