“So how exactly does the container work?”
This was the only question she didn’t know how to answer definitively. For a long time it was the only question that kept her up at night.
“Well… that depends on how much time you have.”
“Why would that matter?”
That always perplexes them. It took her a long time to develop that response. Although both answers really came to her through continuous trials and errors, the difference was the time it took to reach them.
“To explain the container to you would take a really long time.”
“How much time exactly?”
“How much time do you have?”
“That’s a pretty rude thing to ask someone but alright, I’ll tell you.”
Only the proud ones ever liked to reveal their time so casually. It was always a competition to see which one of them had more.
“Since the last upgrade I have around… hmmm let’s see here…”
The ones that had the most time usually tried to drag out their answer so that it would have the most impact. The brief pause between words also made their bragging appear more humble.
“Ah here we go… somewhere around four point two billion of your standard years.”
“Sorry… that’s not enough time.”
“What do you mean not enough time! How is that even possible!?”
“Look… no offense but I can’t fully explain how the container works to you even if you had one hundred billion years. Even then that might not even be enough.”
“How… what… wait a minute… you’re joking right? There’s no one that even lived that long yet. How can you have more than one hundred billion years of information?”
“Well… I didn’t say I have it.”
“Who has it then!?”
“It’s all inside the container.”
“Are you saying you had all that information and you just locked it all up in the container… and you don’t even know how it works?”
This was her favorite part. She didn’t really have an explanation for the paradox that was the container. It was just fun seeing their faces once they realized what it was inside the container and why it needed to be contained in the first place. After that it was just as simple as one, two, three… except you could just keep adding the one over and over again.
I guess he finally got it also.
“That’s repulsive… there’s no such thing as… that…”
“I know… that’s why I contained it and all the knowledge that went along with it.”
“So you’re saying you can’t recreate it?”
“Maybe I can… maybe someone else will do it at some point. Even then, I’m not sure if it would be the exact same… thing… given it’s nature… you know…”
“Right… right… how utterly disgusting…”
She saw a familiar interest in his eyes. It was rare to meet someone like that. Perhaps she judged him too soon. Same as for her, to him, the idea of infinity was a duality of terror and intrigue.
“Do you want to see it?”
“What? We can actually see inside it?”
“It’s possible… it appears that my past self remembered to leave an observation portal into the container. Discovering it wasn’t easy though. I guess I have a sick sense of humor.”
“How marvelous! You truly are a genius!”
“Now… now… no need to flatter me, I said I’ll show you. Here have a look.”
She handed him an augmentation cube which he eagerly accepted. The cube melted into his cranium and fused with his brain. The container, a massive sphere shaped like an egg, hovered in the center of the vast chamber. As the cube absorbed into his mind, the container began to bleed from the center out, revealing a hazy window.
They stared into an ever expanding universe, steadily growing with the rate of an inexplicable controlled state of chaos.
“What do you think it is? All that darkness and all those bright things clustering together?”
“I don’t know what it is… I told you that already.”
“Right… right… so, is it just… sort of… forever expanding into itself?”
“Please don’t be so crude… the container is maintaining the illusion of… infinity inside it, but that’s all it really is to us… an illusion. Without this window, whatever’s inside the container may not even exist. At least that’s how I think it works. All I know is that without the container, there would be nothing to stop whatever that thing is from spreading.”
“I know… and that’s not even the best part…”
“You mean there’s more?”
“Oh yes, there’s a lot more… Are you sure you want to see it though?”
“Of course I want to see it!”
“Are you sure? You might not be the same after.”
“What do you mean? Just show it to me already!”
She handed him another cube. This one was of a different fashion. It indicated that the information contained within was dangerous to consume. He stared at the cube with hesitation.
“If you choose to, you can erase your experience after consumption. In fact, I strongly advise that you do, but I won’t force you to do anything you don’t agree with.”
“Thanks… that’s very thoughtful of you.”
He absorbed the cube into himself and within an instant he began to understand. He watched through the portal, crude caricatures of himself. He felt pity and hatred for these creatures that called themselves human. He saw all their faults and their beauty reflected back at him. He saw the tragic outcome of their lives, left boundless and unpredictable. The worst part, there was nothing he could do to help them, no matter how hard they begged and pleaded for them to be saved.
He didn’t need to know how the container worked, it didn’t matter anymore how long that would take. All he knew is that in order to save the humans would mean the destruction of everything that he knew. It was all hopeless. In his core he knew how dangerous it was to interfere. The container seemed to be the only solution to save everything. Worst of all, it also meant giving up the humans to the chaos of their lives and the vast and empty darkness surrounding them.
“I… I can’t do this anymore… I…”
She saw the change in him. To him, this was like some cruel joke that he didn’t want to be a part of anymore. She saw him close his eyes and scatter into his formless state, probably so he could escape to some distant place, to be alone with his thoughts.
She didn’t know if he wiped his memory of the entire experience or not. It didn’t matter… As for her… she thought maybe she could handle the experience for a while longer. She had time. After all… the humans had it worse and they didn’t give up.