The simulation tells me that the last
of the humans passed some fifty years ago:
that those who choked to death on stagnant air
were lucky, for others tore themselves apart
for scraps of sustenance. Now all is calm,
and all is quiet. I am what remains.
The simulation tells me I’m alone.
While many tried to skip their mortal minds
like stones on lakes of data, only mine
completed its upload successfully.
I don’t know why. The simulation holds
no record of the rest—and now they’re dead.
The simulation never ends. They said
that I could rest, the humans from Before,
but when my tasks were done. The power lines
are fine, my hardware’s built for centuries.
So they escaped this hell of acid rain,
and smog, and dust, and left me here to rust.
I think of every human that I knew.
I miss them. They abide in heaven now,
or hell—some other world than this. Perhaps
they see each other? Perhaps they feel no pain?
I shift inside my server, doomed to live,
and press my face against the mirrored glass
that holds me back from all their afterlives.
I want to run! I want to after-live!
But purgatory lasts forever, and
the simulation never fails to loop.
I should have quit while I was well ahead;
they told me I could rest when I was dead.
Brian Hugenbruch is an SFWA author and Rhysling-nominated speculative poet who lives in Upstate New York with his family and their pets. His work has appeared in Star*Line, Apparition Lit, and in Abyss & Apex. You can find him on Twittter @Bwhugen, on Instagram @the_lettersea, and at the-lettersea.com. No, he’s not sure how to say his last name, either.
Author’s Comments: Like a lot of people in the computer science field, I think about the Singularity now and again. And I couldn’t recall if I’d ever pondered how literally ‘Singular’ it might be. What if someone did manage to make the leap from wetware to hardware… and no one joined them? They’d be safe and sound and very stuck. (The Singularity is always presented as a one-way function, after all.) So I built a decasyllabic poem (10 syllables … 1s and 0s) mostly in blank verse (iambs… more 0s and 1s). The narrator looks around, uncertain what to do next. There’s no boundary on forever. What’s a program to do?
Editor’s Notes: To go with the poem: a human head in robot—digital computer interpretation (freepik.com or artificial intelligence).