By Tom Foster
Did you ever get the feeling that it’s all been done before? I don’t mean those words in any allegorical, almost nostalgic way, but really, truthfully, with a heaping sense realism tossed in for more than just taste and color. Follow me on this thought now, if you can, and I hope you will, that the world as we know it is not a blank slate, not really, but more like a blank notepad. Have you ever noticed how when you write on a notepad, applying either a lot of force or just enough to get the pen to write, how an impression is made on the other side?
Now mind it’s not a perfect match or anything, not even really legible at times, but it’s there nonetheless. What if our world is like that? Note I said “is” not “was”. This is a belief that isn’t new at the core of the matter, but is a different spin on things as we know it regardless. But likely it’s not all that popular, as I’ve already found out.
Ah me, where are my manners?
My name is Jonah Silvers, and I’m an author/scientist/family man. I’ve been at this sort of thing for so many years now it seems like I’ve done nothing else in my life, other than my three wonderful kids and my adoring wife. Without them I wouldn’t be much of anything, but without them I’d also be a dead man I think.
Anyway back to the world theory, right? I’ve been working so long on the assumption that mankind has been through many different incarnations, some which are lasting and some that, like that barely pressured piece of note paper, don’t take at all. It depends on how many people are left, what belief system is set into place, and how strong the idea is after those who follow it are no more. There are a large number of technical terms and mumbo-jumbo that I could and have tried to bury this study in to get it both published and away from those who might take offense, but still I’m hounded occasionally by those who don’t think my work has any merit.
Consider this if you will, from the creationist standpoint. The act of creating a world is an epic masterstroke by the universe or some unseen force such as God. That force is able to generate an entire world, a universe in truth, and can create life on any planet it wishes. So then why not roll the dice and create life on other worlds? Why stop at earth? Why bother to only create life on a single planet instead of utilizing the other bits and pieces that were left over from the cataclysmic reaction that created a solar system?
Everyone from astronomists to mathematicians have threatened me with bodily harm for even bothering to bring such theories to the table, and I’ve noted black suburbans and sedans rolling around my neighborhood on several occasions since I decided to pursue this issue, but I’ve persisted. Science is all about discovery and risk, and my family supports me as much as they can. Their safety is important to me, and several times I’ve decided to send them away for a while so that I can keep them removed from the madness that my research seems to elicit. Plus, if fed or anyone else ever do come to the door I don’t want my kids to be here.
What if Adam and Eve weren’t the first human beings on this world? What if apes weren’t just the next step in evolution? What if human beings had been here for far longer than anyone ever realized? The evidence I know exists has been debunked more times than I can recall by so-called experts and professionals that know little more than what they’ve been taught and are forced to parrot back in their high-priced college courses and peer-infested groups. My own experience has taught me to question everything, and sometimes don’t let statistics and facts bog you down. Needless to say I’m one of the few scientists that stretches the boundaries of science in order to get the answers I want, not just the ones that can be read out of a textbook.
Of course that hasn’t always proven to be the safest option available. Believe it or not some people take their theories and the realities they accept rather seriously. I know, duh, right? But I’m not simply talking about opinionated arguments and heated discussions. I’m talking full-on bricks through windows, car tires slashed, death threats in the mail, and even a stern talking to by those I’m not supposed to be mentioning. Anyone else might have thrown in the towel by now, particularly when an agent of their own government stated that I’m getting “too close for comfort” with the goals of my research.
This used to the stuff I believed was all born out of paranoia, the black helicopter kind of crap and cloak and dagger scheme that frightens the average public so badly. But the essence of it is real, Big Brother is indeed watching and listening it would seem. It’s aptly named I suppose since if you’ve ever had a big brother you’d know very well what it means to tell that individual that they’re wrong and you’re right. In most cases it would mean the continual escalation to an ass-kicking followed by years of resentment and then, perhaps in the right situation, a royal ass-kicking later on by the abused. A large part of me is waiting for the latter, but I get the feeling I might not be around to see it.
You see, I found something.
It’s not much, and the thought of taking it before any fellow scholars to announce its presence is all too horrifying as I’m certain they’ll debunk it before the idea that goes with it can gain any traction. I’ve been checking the item out with every single person I can think of and in every pertinent discipline, but so far to date it is genuine, no matter that it seems impossible. For such a simple object the item is still important as it’s a cornerstone of so many different cultures at this point, a mainstay from one country to another that has gained ground upon every competitor in its field since arriving on the scene nearly two decades before.
You see, I found a USB drive.
I can see you rolling your eyes at me now, believing that I’ve been jobbed and now so have you. Well if there’s no belief in me a least believe in the reality of this: my dig site, mine alone and no one else’s, was supposedly barren and therefore left alone after the last dig visited the north part of Montana near Choteau. As a scientist, with a minor interest in paleontology, I still have some clout in many areas I visit, though many people who know my work, or me, roll their eyes when they see me coming. This is why I don’t get many interns.
My last one, Emile, a transfer student from the south of France, didn’t last more than a few weeks before insulting me and heading onto work with Thomas Vacan, a noted scientist and expert paleontologist that had once attempted to have me thrown off a dig site. The guy’s an asshat in my opinion, but professionally he’s quite astute. As far as Emile was concerned I was, and still am, a kook. But despite all that I think the lot of them are going to be eating their words when I begin to extrapolate what I can from my little find.
Flash drives were invented back in 1999, making them less than twenty years old. The find that I managed to dig up without breaking it was dated as being old as 2 to3 million years old. My friend that did the carbon-dating laughed as thought I’d just told a funny joke when we figured this out, but when he authenticated it he immediately thought to ask me if I was going to go public with it. I’ve really thought about the matter since then, as well as the implications, but I haven’t done anything to date. In truth I’m scared to even try and plug it into a computer to see what might happen. Would it fry the system? Would it destroy the drive? There’s no doubt of what it is, but what it might do is both exhilarating and terrifying all the same time.
I might tell you that I was sorely tempted but didn’t dare. But again, I am a scientist, and needed to know.
Keep in mind that these events I’m relaying to you have already happened, and are still happening in fact. I started something that no one can seem to reverse, and in all honesty I’m not certain if I would want them to. My family is far removed from me now after all that has happened, and no matter what becomes of them they are better off.
It all started with me buying another computer to test out the flash drive I’d found. It still feels so strange to state that I found the damned thing, and more than this, that it works. I bought a cheapo computer at a local pawn shop, a refurbished hunk of junk that would run and probably function well enough to be a glorified typewriter and calculator, but little else. The memory on it was minimal and its functions took nearly five minutes apiece just to get running. But it had power and the capability I needed, so I took it.
My wife and kids were out doing something else that day so they had no basis for what happened, and it needs to stay that way. What they know already is enough to get them locked away for good, and what I know could possibly get me killed if the wrong people show up on what’s left of my doorstep before…..
I’m getting ahead of myself here.
I bought the computer and took it home, plugged it in, got it all set up, and in the moment of truth I plugged the flash drive into the required slot. For a few seconds nothing happened, and I almost felt kind of stupid to think that something buried so long in the dirt might actually stand a chance in hell of operating to peak performance. But then the cursor on the blank screen disappeared and a single message scrolled across the dark, convex surface. I told you the PC was refurbished, I suppose I should have said it was old too.
Anyway, the message read: Do you wish to reset? Y/N
It was a simple prompt, one that I didn’t think much of at first, but upon thinking about it I took the most un-scientific step I’ve ever done in my life. I just hit the Y and let whatever happened, happen. I guess it wasn’t too un-scientific as the best science as I’ve found is always in the doing and not in the theorizing. But if I’d had even an inkling of what was about to happen I think that second thought would have been my first instead, a precautionary measure I would have been grateful for. It might have saved us all a lot of trouble.
As soon as I hit the Y the PC began to shudder and shake all over, as though it was a finely tuned engine that someone had just thrown a wrench into. I backed away quickly from the monitor most of all, as it was one of those old models that could break and send chunks of glass rocketing towards anyone foolish enough to be in its path. But as I backed away I watched in stupefied amazement, not horror mind you, as the entire PC began to fold in on itself, breaking and buckling in a way I’d never imagined, as though some giant fist were crushing it slowly, methodically, and so completely that it took me a moment to recall that I had left the flash drive in the port.
I dove for the drive, one hand in front of my face as the screen continued to fracture and crack apart. Not a single piece shot out however, every last shard of glass, plastic, metal, and silicon remained glued together as though held by some type of magnetic force. I had to yank on it a bit but the drive came free with a small hiss and sizzle of sparks that had me retreating again, the drive still in hand and the effect still ongoing as after only another minute or so the entire PC was gone, replaced, or reduced I’ll say, to its core components, which I know sounds crazy but is one hundred percent what happened. I tested the materials myself and found each and every bit and piece to be the basis for many if not all of the components that had until just a few minutes before been a functioning, integrated system.
A lot of other people might have been mystified, horrified, even stupefied by this, but being the scientist that I am I just dove right in. After all, nothing had been damaged but the computer, and even that hadn’t so much been damaged as it had been, well…
Yep, I said it. The entire thing had been reset to the point of being set back to its initial components and then broken down and reduced to its core components, before anyone had ever looked at a pile of rock and wondered that they could get out of it. You would’ve never thought the pile of inorganic material on my desk had been a functional computer just a short time before the event, though if you’d seen it you would understand a little better the implications of the device I held in my hand.
Being curious I couldn’t help but keep going from there, and I think that was my problem. I just couldn’t stop. If a small little device such as this had the capacity to reconstitute a computer all the way back to its original components, what could it do to other feats of creation?
Of course the initial thought that crossed my mind was that a flash drive was quite useless away from any type of port that could make use of its data, but I had to try, didn’t I? I had to ask all the question I could think of, make all the moral decisions that I knew were necessary, and in the end it didn’t really matter.
I’ll get to that.
After the computer I had to try it on something else. When the kids and my wife asked where the new computer was I told them the truth when I said that it had been a refurbished system and likely to break down, what I didn’t tell them was what had really happened. So I was truthful for part of it at least. They didn’t need to know the rest, and probably wouldn’t have believed me anyway. They believe me now though no doubt, though I wonder if I’ll ever get the chance to show them anything again.
Anyway, after the computer I went on to other objects and attempts. Now recall that I’ve already said that I had to wonder if the drive would work on anything other than the port and systems it was designed for? Well scratch that noise, it works on anything. The subject that it’s used upon doesn’t even need a port, just a point of contact.
After the computer I decided to try something just a little sturdier, like a solid brick wall. I know what you’re thinking and no, I did not use a wall in my home. That would have been hard to explain to my family at the time, and would have seriously compromised the integrity of our home. Instead I tried it out on the brick wall of a derelict building, though in retrospect I suppose I should have checked to make sure it was abandoned. Those screams….
Moving along. I used the drive next on a brick wall as I’ve said, somewhere out in the old industrial sector where I knew that buildings were so old they collapsed every so often anyway and wouldn’t be investigated. Despite the lack of security and surveillance cameras out that way there was still the inescapable fear that someone would come along and see, and then rumors would begin. While the rumors might have started, they likely would have come from a very shaky and unreliable source, the type that drank their breakfast and puffed away on used cigarette butts to feed a pointless nicotine addiction.
Still, I couldn’t help being nervous as I found a big enough wall that was out of sight from the main street to attempt my experiment. With nerves jangling and my stomach tightening I placed the drive against a flat section of brick, and was almost thrown back from the force of the contact.
My back still hurts from the memory of landing so hard that my teeth shook. I held onto the drive thankfully, but as my eyes opened wider I saw what was happening and couldn’t help but scramble backwards, scraping both hands and my knuckles in the process. I didn’t even notice I was bleeding until I’d returned home.
The wall imploded, or rather, it folded in upon itself again and again, but even that isn’t the truth. Instead all I can really say to make you understand is that the wall, rippled somehow. It kept rippling as though it was liquid surface that I’d dropped a stone into, those ripples effecting a startling change that my mind was unable to fully process as the effect kept going, taking in everything touched as the first screams reached my ears. I didn’t want to look, but again, being a scientist, I couldn’t help it.
I’ve told you that the effect of the drive broke the computer down into its roughest, most raw parts. Well now keep in mind that human beings are essentially walking conglomerations of elements as well, and try to accept this as I tell you what happened.
I only saw it happen to one of the many transients that were sleeping in the building thankfully, but one was enough. The effect started on the wall had rippled and gone on to affect the floors, the ceilings, and everything touching them at that given moment. This meant those who had taken up residence within the building as well. One of those unfortunate people was bunked up against one of the inner walls that I had the dubious chance to witness as it was reduced to its core components, just as the individual behind the wall was.
In my life I have heard a number of things scream in their death throes, but a human being eking out the last breath they’ll ever take is one of the eeriest damn things I have ever heard. I’m certain the sound of the transient’s bloodcurdling scream will haunt me to the day of my death, but I still couldn’t look away at first.
As I said, humans are a conglomeration of elements, oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, sulfur, sodium, chlorine, and magnesium. Every one of those elements is essential for a human being to survive, and every one of those elements was released and brought back to their core form, or so I’m assuming after what I saw. Despite the very reality of their existence, those transients within that old warehouse, and the warehouse itself, just ceased to exist after I used the drive.
Maybe I should have checked to see if the warehouse was inhabited, maybe I should have used a smaller structure that I knew was unpopulated, but the choice I made stuck. I became a murderer on that day, and I’ve become a mass murderer as a result. My decisions didn’t drive me to become another Bundy, Gacey, or Manson, but all the same I’ve managed to cause more deaths in one lifetime than even Hitler, Mao, or Stalin could have boasted. But I’ll get to that in a bit.
In theory I had my answer for the groundbreaking hypothesis that I’d been working on for so long. Something had come before, and this drive was the proof. The validation of that proof was the pile of shale and clay, as well as other select elements, that were all that remained of a once condemned warehouse. But was I able to tell anyone? Nope.
Even had I wanted to, which I did with all my heart, the very reality of it drew too much attention in the interim. I wanted to go to friends, colleagues, people I’d known for years, and just demonstrate the ability of the flash drive, to tell them where I’d found it, and how long it had been there. But the laughter and then the derision to come would have been far too real, and worse than that, if I’d bothered to show them the attention it would have received would not have
been the sheer revelation that I wanted, but instead suspicion and perhaps outright terror that I’d
devised some brand new weapon of mass destruction that didn’t come with the downfall of nuclear winter and massive radiation. I knew that as soon as any government official got hold of the device that I’d either be eliminated or turned into a lab rat as I’m the only one that’s been in contact with it. Given that I’m a mid-level scientist I’m quite certain the former scenario would have been more likely.
For a short time, a few days in truth, I didn’t do anything with the flash drive. I still had to process what had happened back at the warehouse. I had to drown out the screams, and I had to figure out just what I would think of next. I mean, the power to unmake something? How do you think about something like that without slipping into the abuse column?
So to keep it simple, I waited.
* * *
It’s getting worse around here, and the pressure is even worse now. The world has begun a continual state of renewal that I didn’t figure on, not even after what happened when I first found this damned thing. Looking at it now I probably wouldn’t have taken a different course, as I needed to know what it could do, and just how it could be applied. But it’s definitely one of those moments that if I’d known then what I know now…..well, you know.
After the warehouse and the days that followed I did a lot of thinking, and in truth couldn’t come up with any other ideas. So I think you can guess what I did.
It didn’t start big, but I had to find another venue that wouldn’t be as noticeable or as catastrophic. So I picked a spot out along an old hiking trail that wouldn’t be noticed by anyone that might show any interest in what I was doing. The heat from the government and local authorities had never come down on me thankfully, and the interest in my theories had waned as those in charge had finally deemed me to be non-threatening. In short I was still on their radar, but was considered a loon and not a mad scientist bent on mass destruction.
I had to be careful, and mostly because the warehouse incident had made the news. Not just local, but statewide and national as well. If it went further than that I didn’t find out because I refused to keep watching. My wife thought it was a hoax of some sort and my kids weren’t even interested as it wasn’t about blood, guts and gore. As for me, I’d seen it firsthand, up close and personal, and didn’t need the reminder. One would have thought I’d learned my lesson, right? That’s a lesson that hardcore scientists don’t really consider at times.
I looked at that warehouse and figured that next time I’d just have to watch myself and be more careful. Honestly, that was my first thought.
So like I said, I went off to a nature trail not too far from my home, thinking to go off the radar for a time to experiment. It went alright at first, as I had to find a suitable place to be away from people and to place the drive so as to have the maximum effect. I didn’t want it to be too small or too big, as the blowback from the last effect had been a bruising effect I didn’t want to experience again. The damned impact alone had knocked the wind from my lungs and left a deep bruise on my lower back when I collided with the edge of a dumpster.
This time I wanted to be sure that I didn’t get knocked on my ass. Even as I was walking though I was thinking again and again upon what could go wrong, why the flash drive worked as it did, and what implications that would have for my connecting it to a wider area. Would it simply do its job and then diffuse after stretching so far? Or would it continue on and on?
I had to wonder what had happened to the world of before, and why we were still allowed to find remnants now and again of “civilized societies” that were still considered quite savage by today’s standards. Had this flash drive erased them just as it had erased everything I’d used it on thus far? If so I had to wonder what it might do the world each time it was used, if it was used all that often. The image of each era being peeled away like the layers of an onion came to mind, but it wasn’t accurate. It was more like the continual churning of the earth to prepare a field for its next harvest. It was a reset on a global level that I was thinking about, and it was terrifying.
And I was considering doing it again.
It might have been unrealistic, after all I had no reason to believe that the effect would be as lasting as the warehouse had been, but then stupidity often comes from thinking the lesser of all evils. I think it’s a built in failsafe to keep people from exercising caution in the face of the unknown, though it seems a bit faulty in some regards as I’ve heard so often in my life that caution is what comes naturally. The unknown is to be feared on an instinctual level by most, but I suppose that part of me was broken a long time ago.
I’m stalling, aren’t I?
You want to hear what I did on that nature hike, and why I’m writing this as quickly as I can before the reset hits my area. It didn’t spread the way I thought it would, meaning that it didn’t cause that ripple effect I saw at the warehouse. Instead it did something far different and yet infinitely more terrifying.
So I walked for a while, nothing but my pack and my thoughts about what might happen, not a soul in sight and not a worry other than those in my head. It should have been just a routine test, another hypothesis being checked out by one more scientist in a world full of them. It should have been a lot of things, but this is what it was.
I stopped after about a half hour of walking, finding a nice little clearing beyond the trees and bushes that lined the main path. It had obviously been a well-used campsite judging by the circle of rocks with the long-dead ashes in the center and the fact that so many branches had been hacked away to clear a space. In that small place only the bugs and whatever forest critters were watching could observe me doing the single dumbest thing I’ve ever done in my life. Before that moment I would have thought that working up the nerve to ask Bonnie Radcliffe to my senior prom would have been my biggest mistake, but it doesn’t even come close.
Why was Bonnie such a big mistake? Well for starters Bonnie’s supposedly ex-boyfriend, jock and future psychopath Mitchell Burns, wasn’t so ex as I’d thought, and had caught wind that I was asking his girl to prom. The beating I got after that sent me to the hospital with a broken arm and a need to blame the injury on doing something so stupid I can’t even recall what it was. After that though came the real humiliation and unending torture. Bonnie had agreed to go to the prom with me, but upon reaching her front door I was greeted not by the stunning prom date I’d been expecting, but by my good friend Mitch, who’d laid another beating on me.
That one I hadn’t been able to explain, and my parents had filed a lawsuit against Mitchell’s parents quicker than a cast could be slapped on my next broken bone. You would have thought that would have ended it, but that would have been too simple. For the years to follow, when Mitch, Bonnie and I somehow managed to attend the same college, yes, Mitch really got in, my parents’ legal troubles with the Burns’, the constant torture, both physical and psychological, had become such a problem that I’d made a new friend named Xanax.
Throughout all that bullshit and endless strife I had to all but rebuild and reinvent myself to become a stable individual. Even now I see Mitch and Bonnie in my dreams and wonder what might have happened if I’d kept my big mouth shut. Despite it all, that one bad decision still paled in comparison to the one I made in that clearing.
Why, you ask? Well, hold onto what you consider reality because this is where the story finally comes to a head. I can hear the rumbling in the distance and know that time is short. It’s been nearly a week since I finally lost the flash drive, and initiated a reset unlike anything that’s been seen by anyone since the flash drive was made I would bet. I wonder if it survived and is waiting to be dug up again, but I’ll get to that again, if I have time.
The rumbling’s getting a little louder, so if my typing gets any more erratic just know that I’m out of time, and I’m sorry.
I meant to put the flash drive against a rock, something big enough to witness the same effect that had happened at the warehouse. That’s all I meant to do, I swear. But curiosity overcame me, and stupidity I guess.
Damn, that last boom sounded close. I’d guess I only have a few seconds left if I’m lucky, so I’ll make this even quicker. I put the flash drive to the ground.
That’s right, I put it to the ground and then, just like the warehouse it rippled for further than I could see, that pulse taking in everything as the flash drive adhered to the dirt. I tried to pull it out, even then I was thinking that this was a bad, piss poor idea. But of course I couldn’t otherwise I wouldn’t be writing this.
My house just shuddered. I can only hope and pray that my family is okay. If they are and they somehow get to read this, just know I’m sorry. It’s about all I can think of to say right now, and the only words other than expletives that will come easily.
* * *
Stillness lay over the barren earth, a hushed whisper the only sound emerging as the final few shifts and grinding movements settled. Amidst the ruin of a once burgeoning civilization, monitors once prized for their plethora of information went blank, with only one line of script rolling across them. The cursor at its terminus blinked expectantly, highlighting one of the two bold, capital letters divided by a leaning backslash.
Do you wish to reset? Y/N