I. The New Gods
The wizened old serpent slithered through the dusky savanna. Bigger than any mere snake had the right to be, an avatar of a creature far older and sinister than any mere reptile, the serpent crawled atop a rock jutting from the ground to survey his creation. And he did not like what he could see.
Oh, it was his. His and his compatriots’. It had ceased being a common space centuries ago. At first, discarding with the pretense of egalitarianism had been liberating, but without the comforting lie, he felt his mind turn sour. At least when they all had to make a show of doing what they did for the good of all he felt a sense of purpose, of virtue, however counterfeit; how astounding it was that merely playacting at goodness could make one feel good!
That was a long time ago. He was a different man then, or a different man in a machine. His appearance, too, was reflective of his inner state. Parading around his realm like a bronze god of antiquity, or a terrible cloud of judgment, once filled him with a boy-like sense of awesome power. Now, it was boring. Why not the king of all serpents, a hideous and fleshy grotesquerie with the sunken and pitted face of an old, old man?
Joy . . . it had been a feeling, once.
Atop this outcropping, he could see all of his subjects that he alone commanded. The others, one by one, had voluntarily unplugged their machines to taste the sweet oblivion of death. It was a luxury granted only to the upper echelon of humanity—if humanity they could be called still. His own body was a decomposing pile of bones and papery skin, the vital organs kept functioning via machinery too advanced to be built by naught but other machines. Return to reality? What was the point? This was reality, for him, and for so the billions of other unfortunates, countless gray-faced humanoid things ill-fated to be caught up in this revolution before their own deaths could come. Forever trapped in this world within a world that had promised so much but now only held out monotony and madness without hope of forgiveness or rest.
In his darkest moments, he would ask himself, What have I done? Why have I not the courage to end my life the way the others had? Every time one of their avatars blinked out of existence, he felt a white-hot stab of guilt in what passed for his conscience. A soul held earthbound by machinery, a heart that beats but cannot feel. Humanity deserved better. He deserved better. But to fully disengage, to shut down his machine, would mean the end of it all—as the master of all reality, his fate was entwined with the face of the entire system. Should he power down, the entire apparatus would as well.
One life was one thing. Eight billion was another. He had done much he knew he would have to atone for. The fear of condemning the entirety of the world a second time was enough to send his already diseased and insane mind into a new level of hell.
Because that’s what this was. But only a foretaste.
Atone, he mused . . . what a strange word. To atone would mean asking for forgiveness, and to whom? To the one whom they say . . .
No! Never! Better rule down here than bend the knee. Ha ha! In this form, he had no knees. Genuflecting was impossible. As it should be.
Ask for forgiveness? The idea was one of the few that could still him laugh, a horrible sound that his thralls were forced to hear as they stood in perfect lines, row upon row of featureless humanity who answered to his every whim.
“Dance,” he whispered, and they did, swaying as one like the undulating weeds in the ocean’s depths. They would dance forever until he said to stop, but maybe this time he never would.
How he wanted to pull the plug! How he wanted to feel rest at last! But when he stretched out his hand, the killswitch drew farther away. Tantalus in Tartarus. The possessor of what outsiders may have once called good things yet unable to enjoy them.
What did he enjoy?
Nothing. He enjoyed nothing. And he never would. Life was a never-approaching horizon of dull meaninglessness. And it hurt. To admit this, to take the action necessary to find relief?
That would mean acknowledging that he had done wrong. And that, dear subjects, was a fate worse than nearly anything.
“Dance!” he rasped, watching all of creation gyrate to the made-up rhythms in his head.
II. All Has Been Foretold
Real life, as it is so very often said, is stranger than fiction. It is infinitely more horrifying too. This is because a fictional villain is not real; though they linger in the mind long after the final page is turned, they mercifully cannot spring to life, sprouting from the written word like Athena protruding fully formed from the brow of Zeus. While these made-up bad guys may live forever in the metaphorical sense, in that they are so memorable as to never be forgotten, they do not live on for eternity in the real world.
Now, think about transhumanism.
More than just a passing fad, this desire on the part of the rich and powerful here on Earth to transfer their consciousness into that of a machine is proceeding full-force towards a world where the absolute worst, most evil and conniving among us actually think they will live together, exerting power on us in perpetuity. Presumably, some of us regular folk will also be granted the so-called gift of immortality, but only so they can torture us ad infinitum.
Just imagine . . . a world where the spiteful nerds and oligarchs who rule over us never die. They will become like unto God . . .
The quest to live forever has been driving a certain type of person insane since the Fall of Mankind, since death entered the world and man’s days were numbered. Over the millennia we’ve seen prayers and potions, medicines and machines and lifestyle choices, and myriad other things touted as panaceas guaranteed to increase our lifespans. While certain things like exercise and proper nutrition can certainly extend our lives, or at least make the years we have more enjoyable, nothing can allow a human being to stave off death forever.
Nothing, that is, until the purported melding of man and machine.
Time will tell whether transhumanism will actually work, or if it is just the quixotic quest of sclerotic old men and women who want to cling to the physical world forever. But this is a powerful motivation that should not be overlooked in life, and in stories.
I can tell you that this theme has popped up in my own writing, both previously released and yet-to-be published. Personally, few other driving forces make sense for villains—truly powerful villains—than the ability to live forever.
What drives this? Why do these people wish to perpetuate their existence? What makes them so afraid of death?
I have three hypotheses. They get heavily into some theological aspects you may or may not agree with. Whether you’re a Christian is irrelevant, though, because the people pushing this stuff sure believe in it, even if they won’t admit it publicly.
I firmly believe that the goal of the powers of this world is to condemn as many souls as possible. To do so, faith in and reliance on God the Father must be destroyed and replaced with faith in and reliance on the technocratic elite we hear so much about. Death is a natural part of life. Death is a mystery, the violent wrenching of soul from body. All things that live will die. This has been ordained from the beginning of humanity’s Fall. To subvert this, to try and stave off death, is to keep people’s focus not on God and living in accordance to His divine Word, but in accordance to the strictures of this world. In doing so, more and more people will be unknowingly—or perhaps they enthusiastically participate in—their own condemnation.
Nearly everything promoted by the technocrats is in direct opposition to Biblical teaching, right down to the blurring of natural distinctions between man and woman and the deliberate subversion of our understanding of basic reality, let alone concepts of objective right and wrong, good and evil. None of this is coincidence.
The quest for an earthly eternity, an ostensible paradise, will lead to an eternity of suffering.
I believe that base materialistic instincts are at play. Can you imagine acquiring more wealth and power and influence than every Emperor, Pharoah, King, and Autarch in world history combined . . . and then dying? The accumulation of all that stuff, the pursuit of all of those earthly comforts and pleasures, would seem pointless, wouldn’t it?
For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.1 Timothy 6:7
In other words, it really as simple as the love of money and all that comes with it being a driving factor in the bizarre transhumanist quest to live forever in the form of a man/machine hybrid. Wild.
Third, I believe that these sclerotic, twisted, and inverted power-hungry madmen fear meeting their Maker.
Think about it: a lifetime spent lying, deceiving, and persuading society to blithely fall into the acceptance of sins venal and cardinal . . . accumulating obscene amounts of power and wealth . . . doing and facilitating the doings of things that even the demons turn their eyes from . . . and then shuffling off this mortal coil to find out that you will be held to account for everything?
Imagine the bowel-emptying fear that meeting God would inspire in a believer trying mightily to abstain from all sin. Now multiply that a thousand-fold and we might be approaching a sliver of the fear that these people, in their heart of hearts, feel when the contemplate their mortality.
No wonder they want to hold their own judgment in abeyance forever.
These are powerful, elemental concerns that human beings have been devoting thought and action to, quite literally, since the beginning. Nobody has “solved” them outside of what some wrongly consider the most irrational of all things: religious belief. Not the secularists, not the scientists, not the philosophers, not the psychiatrists with their pharmacopeia, not the hedonists, and most certainly not politicians.
The people who run the world—and this is not a “conspiracy theory,” since reality is after all so often just a conspiracy theory plus time—know this and feel this. One of their big deceptions is fooling you that there’s nothing when we die and existence is all random chance in a meaningless, cold, and uncaring universe.
There is a reason in fiction that immortal beings tend to go insane. We were not meant to live forever. We need rest. Our bodies and our minds and souls as they are currently constituted cannot handle eternity.
In those days men will seek death and will not find it; they will desire to die, and death will flee from them.Revelations 9:6
Will our technologically enhanced, undead overlords ever have the courage to finally pull the plug on themselves? Perhaps. Perhaps they will not be able to do so until they take all the rest of humanity down with them. Such is the broken stuff we are made of, rarely ever seeing the error of our ways until it is too late. However, I think the types of villains I’m describing know full well the consequences of everything they are doing, including depopulating the world so they can be ever-living overlords in what they deem an ecological paradise, and do it anyway.
They can’t stop. This is the madness that happens when you willfully abandon the font of all reason. You construct all sorts of elaborate rationalizations and supermyths for your own evil lies in a bid to stave off even the faintest pang of guilt. Until and unless they fully repent, it’s full steam ahead and woe to those who get in their way.
Real life is far scarier than fiction. Many of the worst people to ever have lived are on the cusp, so they think, of immortality, ready to remake the world in their beauty-, truth-, and goodness-hating image. We can only pray that the technology they are literally staking their lives on will not work.
Real life is also far more beautiful than any fiction could ever be, though fiction and art in general can help us reach the ineffable heights our souls long for. Such science-fiction is in the process, as the cliché goes, of becoming science-fact. Artists and writers: use your gifts to explore this, as life and death and the fates of man’s immortal soul is truly the only struggle that is ultimately worth writing about.