He woke with the cursed sun. The sky had been swirling black and crimson, barely enough light passed through the veil of cloud and ash to power his sensory circuits, but he saw and heard all the same. It was an azure blue today, brighter and more vibrant than he’d ever seen, but he had no way of verifying if this was due to faulty optics or a faulty sky.
32,212,658,491 seconds. Give or take a few hundred thousand. How many processor cycles? Many billion times more. He could count them exactly, but it took only a few moments and was hardly a diverting past time.
The motors controlling his joints had long since decayed into useless balls of ferrous orange rust. This was of little real importance, as his central processing core had been severed from his actuary unit in the incident, leaving only optic and audio inputs available. Why and how they had lasted so long he couldn’t begin to comprehend. He couldn’t recall his inception or the mechanic and electronic method of his construction. Perhaps they were never explained to him. Why would they be, he mused.
When it was dark and the sky was clear he watched the stars. They moved slowly but surely across the firmament.
He wondered why he had been given just enough to survive, but not enough to thrive. Did his creator not think this might happen? He tried to understand his predicament from first principles, but he always hit the same barrier – he did not know how he, the world, or, indeed anything, worked. Worse, he didn’t know why. His observations of the sky, even given all the time in the world and the capacity to record, log and examine these observations effectively, could not answer why.
It was the third time he’d had to compress his memory, and at each attempt he lost fidelity. Each compression was coming more quickly. He estimated this was the last time before he’d have to start deleting memories. Maybe it had got to that stage before, and that’s why he couldn’t remember the incident.
Maybe he’d found out why. Maybe he’d figured out what his purpose was and it was so bad he’d decided to wipe his own memory to forget it again. Maybe it was so bad he caused the incident. If he could smile, he would. A fine destroyer of the universe he turned out to be, if he couldn’t even switch himself off.
Originally published on 365tomorrows.com.