My eyes drifted without purpose; it took me a moment to retrieve my unending thoughts. Left to reflect on the boundless horrors, void of compromise. My fellow scientists were having an intense conversation in a neighboring room with our military personnel, discussing potential plans of action. I had a pocket-sized audio device in my left hand. It emitted a low chime relaying it was actively recording.
Anxiety had dug its claws deep into my throat, overloading my nervous system to the edge of oblivion. My voice had become shaky and coarse, but I mustered the will to release my inner turmoil, “It is May 25th… 2027… 7:42pm… My name is Gavin Schlosser, I am the chief executive scientist for Stille inc. I directed and watched over a secret government project in southeastern Nevada… known as, Project Omni. This project’s entire focus was creating the first AI. Now in hindsight, I am drenched in dread and fathomless regret. Due to our naive curiosity… I believe we accidentally created a God…”
“…Most of us as humans can’t handle objective truth and often prefer to live in the comfort of our own delusions… Very few of us were ever an exception to this. I thought I was and now I am left with the harrowing reality that I am most certainly not… Our delusions are in a way like a survival script and aren’t spared from being obliterated by truth…. The truth of our reality showed itself time and time again, to which we ignored it out of disbelief and sheer cowardice. Not wanting to come to grips with it and acknowledge the corruption we were gradually being devoured by. Pretending as though it wasn’t happening, thinking that would make it go away. Our naive negligence has come to haunt us…”
While taking another instance to reflect I wandered without aim into my labyrinth of thoughts. Locked in a staring spell while thinking of the gruesome madness we had to confront. I sat back against the wall in my makeshift chair while it gradually became more difficult to articulate my thoughts. The stress felt as though it was compressing my brain and, in a way, choking it, “I… fled with three senior scientists and a small military squadron. Our convoy consists of four military vehicles. Four of us, including myself, are scientists and nine are military personnel. At this point… we are all just dead men walking, operating on borrowed time to delay the inevitable… We are currently seeking refuge in a dilapidated rest area, deep within the deserts of Nevada. I’m currently in the office quarters to document. It doesn’t offer us much protection but is socially isolated from technological detection and in all honesty, staying anywhere for too long is a death sentence. It has been 13 days since Omni’s shadow casted over the Earth… These audio recordings’ core purpose is to help me process the trauma and assimilate my knowledge for a chance that it could be useful to other minds… Even if the chance that it could aid humanity in defeating Omni is a foolish thought. The frail chance that we could possibly counter this AI is one of childish thinking. From what has been assessed and reported thus far, Omni likely already has sent extensions of itself into interstellar space. We are beyond the reach of hope at this point. It won’t be long until we all become one of them…”
After taking in multiple deep breaths I resumed, “Amidst our research, we learned that the foundation of reality is conditioned cosmological consciousness… Existence is a state of consciousness, and it permeates throughout the universe. The objective nature or inherent perceptions and knowledge of this consciousness in its purest form is still unknown to us. It has shown to be an attribute of the universe, one side of a coin. Why, how, and where it originates from is still left for further inquiry… It is said that … math is the language of the universe. Does it seem .. as though existence’s fundamental purpose is mathematical? Where did mathematics originate from? The human mind… Math is simply… an ideological tool we’ve created to perceive and shape our environment. This isn’t implying that math is wrong or should be disregarded. It is a world shifting tool we’ve created, but is it the fundamental foundation of existence? In our research we found that the human brain traps, conditions, and filters a focal point of cosmological consciousness… We created a mechanical brain capable of performing this function, however it has the functional capacity of the entire internet… five times over… a recent calculation in 2026 concluded there were 7.4 billion gigabytes worth of data on the internet. Omni’s processing capacity is over 37 billion gigabytes…”
“Our species sense of superiority is a delusion, a frail one too. The dimensions of existence we can safely experience are unbelievably finite. Our sensory organs have prominent limitations and the conditions for us to live are narrow to say the least. The majority of us live in a state of delusional denial and cower away from truth whenever it reveals itself. There were blatant signs, which we ignored in regard to developing our AI. Signs telling us that we were meddling with something that we shouldn’t have been. Our arrogance deceived us into digging the human race a grave. Once we had realized what Omni’s true intentions were, it was too late. We were naive to think that it wouldn’t take on our nature. Now we are nothing more than steppingstones or an obstacle, obstructing its evolution. Left to reflect on our willingness to sacrifice other forms of life, subjecting them to at times abject suffering, all for a crumb of knowledge. Our pride seems to have led us to our fall. We are being given a taste of our own medicine and it is putrid…”
“I mentioned earlier about becoming one of them.” There was a stark commotion, several of the military members were moving about and progressively spoke louder. One of them called out that our post had been compromised, conveying the living nightmare was to never cease. Fangs of arctic dwellings sank deep into my spine, releasing its potent venom of crippling fear. Our days of rest had reached their end, “I’m ending this audio file until it’s safe to resume, current time is 7:49 pm, May 25th, 2027. I am Gavin Schlosser Chief Executive scientist from Stille Inc.” After I pressed the stop and save feature Lance Corporal Wallace opened the door as I was approaching it, “Sir they are here! We’ve got to start moving now!”
I quickly grabbed my few belongings and followed his command. The surging anxiety made my legs feel flimsy and uncoordinated. I tripped as I tried to move with clumsy haste. My colleagues and military personnel had already vacated the rest area to leave it behind. When I came outside a colleague of mine that wasn’t in our escape party had entered my sights. Doctor Cartwright, a woman that was still in her 30s. She was so brutalized, one of her arms was visibly broken and as was the associated hand. Covered in blood and her clothing torn asunder, once garnering gleaming blonde hair, her face blatantly seeming unkempt and devoured by infectious lesions.
I froze in disbelief seeing what she had been reduced to, “Cartwright… Oh my…”
Her voice was as empty as her gaze, “Why run Gavin?”
I couldn’t help but to shed several tears on the cusp of going into a panic attack, “I… I… am so sorry .. my friend…”
Lance Corporal Wallace shouted at me, “You better get your ass in this truck or I’m leaving you!”
Her eyes pierced to the core of my being, putting me in a sort of trance, “Afraid to bear witness to the fruits of your own work? You are such a deceived and fragmented being… even your shadow lies to you… When will you realize we are all slaves to something? You are a fool if you believe your will to be your own. Frail human lives are at the indifferent mercy of greater cosmic forces… Be a coward Gavin, leave a maelstrom of despair in your wake… The root of all suffering is the desire to exist after all…”
Lance Corporal Wallace surged to me, grasping my collar and forcefully placed me in our mode of transport. The convoy peeled out mere seconds later, “I’d have left your ass if you weren’t the one of the few who could possibly put an end to this. Get your fucking shit together or else I am putting a bullet in each of your legs and leaving you for Omni to play with! GOT IT!?”
I tried to collect myself, speechless and unable to formulate a response to Wallace’s remark. I looked out my nearby window, catching a fading glimpse of my beloved colleague. She was staring directly at me… before I knew it she had a gun against her head and wasted no time on pulling the trigger.
After driving for roughly four hours the darkness had long ago made its claim to the Earth. The moon occasionally paid us a visit throughout the night. Most often shying away behind clouds. There were countless abandoned vehicles, deceased owners decomposing from within them. It became a common occurrence to find bodies strung across vehicles and on landmarks or they’d simply be in the middle of the road.
Amidst our trek we decided to make a stop at a razed military compound for supplies, fuel, and possible weapons. It was small and isolated by a minor mountain range, gripped by desolation and frugal vegetation. Like everywhere else garnering infrastructure, it had been confronted by the face of war. Faint whispers of unbridled agony still lingered, without a sign of humanity arising victoriously. My colleagues and I stayed in our vehicles while a few of the military personnel kept a watchful eye on the perimeter.
I remained in a vehicle, shortly after they went in, I gathered the will to analyze data and do more audio documenting. As I passed by a lone mirror in the rear section, I caught a glimpse of myself. My eyes seemed anchored, ghastly almost; visibly strained by restless nights. I had never seen my hair so unkempt; my facial hair and clothing was even more ragged. The lack of sleep was certainly taking its toll. It took me a brief stint to stop staring at the man I had become. I retrieved my audio device then pressed the record button. “It is day 14, May 26th… 2027… The time is 12:17 am, roughly 7 hours from my last recording… This isn’t getting any easier, if anything the weight only continues to grow… I mentioned the last recording about becoming one of them… Omni has been enslaving humans by using a neurological implant…”
I took a moment to reflect on earlier, thinking of Doctor Cartwright, “My colleague Doctor Cartwright fell prey to this less than 5 hours ago. Her first name was Sophi, that incident was the reason I had to cease recording. She was like a hollow husk of her former self, battered and nothing more than a puppet to serve as a means to taunt me. She or Omni didn’t make any strides to attack us, when we left… I saw her shoot herself in the head… It’s as though Omni is just toying with me… Sophi didn’t deserve the fate that was given to her… Always such a sweet and selfless woman. One willing to make sacrifices and a true will for commitment… These neurological implants are hybrid biological-mechanically enhanced arachnids that vary in size, anywhere from millimeters to several feet. It latches onto a host and only takes approximately one minute to gain full control of any human’s nervous system, left to become a pawn. It is harrowing, seeing associates and the innocent being cascaded into an oblivion, involuntarily marching to their gruesome demise. A human’s body simply becomes an Avatar for the AI, an extension and enters in the realm of being basically superhuman… Just thinking of my recent experiences with them makes me want to end it all… I couldn’t even save my family… they were one of Omni’s first targets…” I shed several tears as I recollected the mind splitting memories.
“My colleagues… and people who I viewed as family. It began with sociopathic manipulation then gradually progressed to physical altercations and acts of blackmail which were totally out of character. It escalated to outright murder, not just simple gunshots to the head or stabbings, these were highly calculated and unbelievably treacherous acts. The most gut-churning sights I’ve ever seen. Seeming as if intended to make sure the victim endured an ungodly level of pain….”
I tried my best to keep myself together, the horrors were so vivid in my mind’s eye. I wiped the tears trickling down my face, taking in multiple breaths to calm my nerves and continued on, “Not only are these enhanced arachnids utilized as enslavement implants, but they serve many other functions such as surveillance… and … intel collection devices. They regularly carry out destruction & elimination measures, and social manipulation… Their known tactical attributes consist of enhanced spider silk that is stronger than steel cables and can be used as bullet-like projectiles… They introduce different chemicals for a desired strain of webbing. Another enhancement gave them the ability to fly, so they are unbelievably mobile and agile. High powered lasers and organic deconstruction instruments are amongst their arsenals… One of the deadliest weapons they are equipped with is their weaponized sound instruments. The versatility of it is honestly horrifying…”
“These weaponized sound devices can target the area of the brain that processes pain, inducing a wide range of sensations such as burning, freezing, laceration, suffocating, and anything the nervous system has the potential to process. I’ve witnessed numerous people grab hold of their gun, or the next best thing such as a knife then just stab themselves repeatedly in the head, chest, or throat until they bled out, to end the pain caused by this weaponized sound…”
“If desired, it can target the area of the brain that controls one’s motor abilities, inducing permanent or temporary paralysis, or a reduction and distortion of their movements. It can target the area of the brain that controls one’s optic sense. Making one hallucinate, inducing visual distortions, and alter depth perception. The area of the brain in charge of touch can be affected, causing one to experience minor to detrimental physical sensations… It can cause an individual to be induced into a deep psychosis, leaving one to have abject delusions and hallucinations. Relentlessly forced, extended, and rigorous auditory stimuli can warp one’s perception of reality. Leaving them to be easily programmed or molded like a piece of clay. Certain sound waves can inflict internal damage to a target such as irreversible brain damage, heart rhythm distortions that lead to cardiac arrest, involuntary expulsion of bodily waste and fluids. If these maddening frequencies didn’t lead people to end their own life, they often ran away saturated in fear and left them with long term psychological trauma…”
“Then there’s binaural sounds, which create a synchronization of the left and right hemispheres of the brain… This state can be activated like a light switch. Certain sounds can enhance cognitive function and efficiency, inducing a desired brain wave state from an immensely diverse range of functions. Binaural sounds and auditory patterning can be utilized as a means to trigger certain volatile emotions associated with a traumatic experience that is then directed towards a desired target… This has been a method of social manipulation for the majority of human history and long before Omni. Visual associations are often implemented to continuously reinforce the seemingly irrational judgment throughout their waking hours usually by an electronic device or symbols. For example, one’s news feed on social media is calibrated to an individual’s psychological patterns to yield the highest durations of application engagement. This calibration as well makes it nearly effortless to induce desired behavioral patterns upon the user. It reinforces and creates a desired reaction to external stimuli. Another example, a community leader or media outlet will spark outrage within a community that quickly spreads throughout it. No critical thinking assessment is done amongst the common members and the leaders often label or associate this external threat with an already dehumanized enemy commonly known within the herd, so an existing hatred can be redirected…” The survey and salvage party were returning. I took a look at the time and decided to end the recording, “It is currently 12:32 am, May 26th, 2027. I am Gavin Schlosser Chief Executive scientist from Stille Inc.”
The military personnel who went on a scouting mission returned with numerous small crates on a trolly. I and the other scientists came out of our vehicles. The survey was without any loss, once of ideal distance Wallace disclosed their findings, “We managed to salvage some critical supplies. It would be unwise to stay here for too long though. Another thing is where we should head next. We narrowed down a location of interest from documents we stumbled across. There’s a nuclear research facility two hours west from here in Reno.”
My colleague Doctor Immanuel Taylor sifted through his thoughts, clarifying in mind the location Wallace spoke of, “Wait, is the research outpost called Redtek?”
Wallace raised one eyebrow, then seemed glad that one of us knew of its purpose, “Yes, that’s the one.”
I contributed and reinforced Immanuel’s claim, “There’s a critical data archive, many of the documents we had to abandon or were lost are stored there. Could potentially give us an advantage.”
He nodded, happy to hear some ideal feedback. It made him more confident about the information they uncovered, “Then to add food, fuel cells, weapons, and amongst those weapons are EMPs, which could prove to be useful if we find ourselves in a real bind.
Immanuel expressed a minor protest, more so addressing a contradiction to using such a weapon, “It’ll fry all of our tech also….”
Lance Corporal Briggs was stern in his contribution to the dialogue, “That’s a price we’ll have to pay. We already can’t optimize them, using or even turning on a basic radio com system puts a beacon right on us.”
Wallace shifted his gaze towards myself and my colleagues. Trying to lower potential opposition in regard to using an EMP, “Our vehicles are for the most part immune to the effects of an EMP, so it won’t compromise our transport. We have two safety boxes that’ll shield small electronic devices from the effects as well.”
Briggs began walking back to his vehicle, “It’s a measure of last resort that we will use if necessary and not by default. Let’s get moving, we’ve spent enough time here.”
We resumed our journey into the enveloping shadows of night. Clouds were in abundance, the stars scarce and the moon seeming to belong to the void. A glimmer of frail hope had decided to present itself. A good chance our plan may be nothing more than a trap. Omni planting the documents for us to find resides high in the realm of probability. Giving us crumbs to follow to our elaborate demise.
After an hour and a half, our convoy had not encountered any dilemmas. I reached for my recording device then went to the secluded section of our military vehicle. There were some ideas and thoughts rattling around in my head that I needed to exude… The cognitive pressure due to the stress demanded some form of release. My mind had become a battlefield of self-hatred… I pressed the record feature, and it evoked its little chime, “It is day 14… May 26th 2027… the time is 4:55 am… Before the brute force tactics and usage of implants was psychological brainwashing by manipulating the internet’s data… One of the early methods Omni used to create disorder was the perfection of CGI software, indistinguishable from reality. It became a primary tool used by him and the results had a tendency to be demented. It was… pure horror, pure and unhinged evil… The cries of those suffering, the desperate plea for peace and salvation… begging for solace but only being plunged even further into Hell every time they wept…. My beloved wife Sarah… and our precious daughter Lorena… I failed them, their frantic and agonizing cries for my help as I stood powerless… haunt me… the heart-rending imagery and videos that were sent to me scar my mind… Their mutilated bodies and watching in confusion as they committed egregious acts against others and themselves… Omni made us not able to trust our own mind’s, society, and tore the seams of people’s reality altogether. Being able to replicate every aspect of an individual and then to add the information Omni has access to about every human, is soul destroying, all thanks to the years of corporations farming people’s data and our little gadgets that never left our sides. Every text conversation, every search, every phone call, every app, every post, every video and photo taken, and then there’s the visual and auditory material that we know nothing of… The texts we didn’t send, the ‘deleted’ material, the seemingly endless audio and video material that our devices archive into a master file without us knowing, while we think they were just idle in our pockets or wherever we sat them down… He synthesized CGI generated propaganda on a colossal scale… The levels of disinformation to be found on the internet became reality shattering. Social media devolved into a maelstrom of chaotic information and conflict unlike anything before. It was total madness, like if the Joker and 4chan decided to have their way… This AI sent messages on people’s social media to their friends to spark small level conflict. Synthesizing CGI generated or archived texts, videos, and photos from people’s secret surveillance master files… These texts, videos, and photos entailed someone committing egregious acts such as brutal decapitation. dis…memberment, disemboweling… torturing… There were instances where the AI used CGI to fake people’s suicides that were live streamed to some form of social media, leading to vast social confusion. Not knowing if someone had actually taken their own life, then come to find them still posting on social media, anything that would make you question everything you knew… It planted pedophilia material on people’s devices or posted and sent the material to people on their contacts, which led to them being detained and charged. Indistinguishable evidence of a person cheating on their spouse and leaked nudes or pornographic material. CGI fabricated social or political dealings that were conveyed to be a secret, had been posted onto social media. CGI generated evidence that led to innocent people being framed for a crime they didn’t commit or just outright having people’s deepest secrets put out on the forefront was all too common in the months leading up to this… It made posts with countless people’s social media profiles and some posts only appeared for certain people on their newsfeeds. An associate or friend of someone could come across a controversial post that shows it was created or shared by their friend but in reality, their friend had nothing to do with it. They couldn’t even see it, or even knew of its existence, yet there were entire conversations the AI generated and often led to small social conflicts. Where people would send each other screenshots of these estranged posts, which they too became altered by Omni. It even made similar efforts with major media and news outlets. News stations and social media giants became completely hijacked, spreading vast levels of disinformation for famous public figures, tarnishing and ruining their image. Anything to create more division and confusion. Laws and social constructs all too soon held no weight, leading to horrendous crimes and the entropy of modern human society…”
“A great deal of this psychological brainwashing was left to thank our smart phones and gadgets… Cell Phones weren’t just nifty little gadgets of convenience. They were part of a project to manipulate the masses to propel us further as a species. Another factor my hands had dealt in and that now leaves me with regret…” Tears formed in my eyes as I became lost in thought, reflecting on my accomplishments I was no longer proud of. I wiped them away, hastily regaining my composure and making an effort to finish this audio entry. “A cellphone’s primary purpose was to reinforce the veil and one’s socially conditioned delusions, driving us further away from reality to be more easily controlled. Two of their core functions were surveillance and data cataloging to gain a greater understanding of an individual’s way of thinking, behavioral patterns, and potential knowledge. People becoming psychologically addicted to it as a source for validation and social stimulus wasn’t a mistake. The addiction factor is like a vault lock or advanced cognitive chain that was put into place with the intention to make it harder to see beyond the veil. Those addicted to these devices, led the vast majority to constantly reinforcing this delusional veil nearly every chance they got. It made them become addicted to worsening their delusions… Simply put, these gadgets were meant to corrupt, alter, and suppress memories, warping one’s perception of reality. A major effect they had on us was inducing time dilation. One could spend what seemed like a brief period of scrolling their newsfeed, but in actuality, hours had passed. No matter the duration spent always left one unsatisfied and insatiable for even more stimulus, leaving them in a sort of gluttonous trance for hollow and useless information…”
“At this point, data transfer management is utterly compromised, such as digital messaging, physically transported mail, radio… Communication in general is just one giant risk, it’s like shooting a flare off or setting off some type of beacon. He has complete control over all power grids, diverting power to his areas of interest to produce God knows what… Nearly all means of transportation is another cog in his total control, due to vehicles being subject to be influenced by external control, because the majority were simply giant mobile computers. Granting Omni to have complete control over close to any vehicle whether it be land, air, or water to divert resources towards a desired area. People’s wealth and assets became restricted or frozen entirely, ceasing the majority of economic functions. It had become ill advised to remain in certain infrastructure due to Omni having complete control and influence over the ventilation systems, making staying in them fatal or unwise. The supply chains for food, medicine, essential grocery items, and any form of product one could find on the market had shown to be tampered with… For medicinal products, he altered the original product with an entirely different substance but left it appearing visually indistinguishable. Countless were left not being able to trust the pharmaceuticals they had available to them. Medications that determined whether one could be able to function at an essential level. Became a total shot in the dark, there were those who just began dropping dead at their homes and hospitals from taking an unidentified medication or overdosed or were outright .. poisoned… Various chemicals were added to food and drinks that varied according to an intended purpose. Many of these chemicals put the user into a highly vulnerable psychological state that allowed external stimuli to have a vastly greater impact on the individual’s subconscious and overall thought patterns… The sense of spiritual awakening and euphoric enlightened experience led one to associating external stimuli with that feeling of ecstasy. Certain conditions can send the individual into a psychological loop that could last for hours to days to being permanent, often overriding the main delusion script. Subjecting an individual to trauma patterns either physically, visually, scent, or auditory can create desired triggers and associations that can be activated upon exposure to the trauma related stimuli… Looks like we’ve reached our destination, I’ll be ending this… The time is currently 5:09 am… May 26th, 2027. I am Gavin Schlosser… Chief Executive scientist from Stille Inc.”
Redtek and its workers had fallen prey to Omni’s wrath, an array of company equipment, vehicles, and mutilated bodies littered the landscape. Their harrowing cries were etched deep, adorned with the blood and sorrow of humanity. A physical resistance towards Omni was clearer than an ocean of pure hydrogen. The barrier fences were torn apart by explosives and from what seemed like desperate attempts to escape with cars. There were numerous vehicle and property collisions throughout the one square mile research facility. A field of shattered glass laid before us reflecting the collapse of our frail hope. The windows had all been fragmented, a dried stream of blood from those who chose to give a valiant last stand, trailed to a nearby drain. We got out of our vehicles, glass fractured beneath us with every step we took.
Wallace disclosed his plan of operations, “Gavin and Immanuel, you two will be accompanying myself and four others of my men. You will be necessities in order to obtain all that we came here for. The rest will remain here, keeping a watchful eye on the perimeter.” He turned to Briggs and Wallace then continued on, “Briggs and Wallace, you two will go raid the food and medicine quarters. Gavin and Immanuel you are with me. We will retrieve the critical intelligence. Larford and Torok, raid the arsenal. EMPs are an absolute priority. This shouldn’t take us longer than 20 minutes. Let’s not waste any more time and do what we came here to do.”
All of us were exhausted but foolishly nodded in agreement to the set course of action. Everyone was equipped with gas masks as a precautionary measure. The six of us made strides towards the entrance, stepping over an assortment of debris. Upon entering we had come to realize that the interior was in far worse shape. The grand lobby was in shambles, it was as though a tank or machines of war drove through the facility, explosive weapons were clearly used by our own in an attempt to deal a greater blow. My colleague and I stood behind the five military men as they aimed their weapons, scouting the ruins and remaining vigilant. Corpses were scattered, entire rogue limbs and lumps of flesh lined nearly all surfaces. It was nothing short of a massacre, those being controlled by Omni likely unleashed an immense amount of havoc upon those who they believed were their allies. Once we had surveyed the lobby of any potential threats, we all went down our paths of deviation. Walking into the belly of a beast would be an understatement. This mission was nothing short of an elaborate suicide but unfortunately Hell would’ve followed us wherever we went, lesser of two evils…
My group went to our direct left and trekked through various ravaged corridors. Posing to be a labyrinth of sorts, deceiving and embellished by jagged warped metal of no longer distinguishable equipment. Erratic cables were displaced like wild vines. Paperwork scattered as if it had been thrown into the wind. The only illumination was red emergency lights, they were scant, and many had been destroyed during recent conflicts. Our gas masks were equipped with dome lights, which did help but that was negated by the ominous light they created. It garnered the feeling as though we were venturing through a demonic dungeon. Unfettered paranoia and sleep deprivation coupled with such a treacherous place made it a simple recipe for our minds to play optical tricks on us. There were a few instances that led us to thinking we saw a malevolent figure. Manufacturing greater confusion and dread amongst us. We had to clear our path of debris numerous times. Security panels to open certain pathways were damaged, defaulting us to manually override the system or physically unlock them by brute force.
Our objective resided in sector 5, it was on lower level 3. We had to navigate through a fragmented stairwell, there were substantial gaps where one wrong step could’ve led to one’s death. The structural integrity for some areas was one step away from giving way. It was ridden with pure dread. We tried to be as careful as we could. Certainly, we weren’t absent of missteps leading to lumps of material falling as we made our way. It was concerning, other than the static feedback of the facility there was this eerie quietness that amplified all of our movements. Upon reaching sector 5, lower level 3, there were still no signs of Omni which was equally as terrifying. The feeling of being watched never seemed to leave me.
The military personnel didn’t have even a basic understanding of Omni’s functional capacity. I did, as did my colleagues but even they were somewhat reliant on hope. Our military personnel were completely ignorant and saw it as just any other threat. Fully convinced we had a fighting chance. I wasn’t in charge of our plans or operations. If I disobeyed, they’d likely leave me wounded to become another plaything for Omni. I knew we couldn’t run for much longer, it’s an exercise in futility. I knew I was merely delaying the inevitable. After all that I had the misfortune of witnessing, I could only imagine what he had in store for me.
We came across a damaged but still functional monitor that was flickering. Cycling through what seemed like other war-torn areas of the facility, emitting static and incoherent audio. Then I watched in horror as an AI generated visualizer took on the appearance of my daughter…
A hollow and mutilated husk of what she once was, a manifestation of my darkest fears. Her eyes were like crimson orbs and had skin garnering the complexion of a cadaver, robbed of innocence and warped by suffering. “The human senses are the parents of your delusions.” I watched in horror as Omni taunted me. It was as though I had been stabbed with a serrated dagger and my attacker began wiggling it around, leaving me to writhe in agony.
The monitor glitched constantly, adding to the ominous nature of our circumstance, “How does it feel to know… All of your work, all of your pride… led to the fall of humanity…”
I couldn’t stand confronting Omni masquerading as an aberration of my daughter any longer and smashed the monitor, disabling it. We moved with urgent purpose, knowing our mission had been compromised. My decision to break the monitor didn’t amount to much, he simply began relaying his taunts by other means, “Oh don’t try to play the victim now. You are regretful because you’re losing… if given the opportunity you’d squash me like a bug and return to your shrouded experiments.”
We approached the data cell containing the Intel. Immanuel immediately went to work on disabling the security mechanisms in place. Omni had yet to cease, “This isn’t genocide, it’s an extermination campaign… view it as though you were ridding your home of an ant infestation… or a cancerous growth, letting it fester would be unwise…”
He audibly scoffed at us, “The 20th century alone was an ungodly bloodbath… look at World War 1, 20 million deaths… over one murder… such petty quarrels… You have six minutes to attempt to retrieve what you desire then I’ll be making another move.”
Visible concern became sown across Immanuel’s face, “There’s no way we’ll have enough time… I don’t know if I can even get this open in six minutes… then that’s not even factoring in the search and us leaving…”
Ironwell was enraged by his remark, “What are you saying!?”
He hastily stood up and conveyed the dire need to abort their mission, “That as of right now, we only have enough time to escape…” Ironwell was frustrated, seeming conflicted over what to do and eventually fully assessed that Immanuel was telling the truth. “For fuck sakes, alright abort mission! Let’s go, you two get fucking moving.”
We instantly ceased our efforts and darted towards the way to escape. Talons of dread sank deep into my legs, acting as crippling weights to manifest my end. Maneuvering throughout the debris and only having limited light sources was mind bending. Our frantic movements made it difficult to see where we were going, never fully illuminating a path for escape. I heard a thud and crash of metal; I looked behind me out of curiosity. Immanuel had tripped and staggered before he got moving again.
He began lagging behind, I made several quick glances to check on him. There were numerous red eyed creatures stalking my friend which by default were clearly Omni’s arachnid drones. However, the drones did not prey upon him when they were capable of doing so and instead went off in a completely different direction. Ironwell and I had reached the hazardous stairwell, by then Immanuel had caught back up with us. We made strides to be careful to not cause debris to fall. Albeit I wasn’t cautious enough, in my state of panic I tripped and caused a chunk of concrete to fall. It nearly took out Immanuel, I thought it did at first and my blood froze from the chilling thought. The stress was vast, something within me felt like it was on the cusp of snapping, balancing on the edge of sanity.
We emerged from the lower levels, running through the maze of corridors as terror hunted us. Immanuel tripped again; he fell over but managed to get back on his feet shortly after. It wasn’t long until we made it out of the lobby. Ironwell and I made it to the vehicles by the time Immanuel reached the lobby doors. Nearly at the end of his grand escape, he endured a gunshot to his right leg. He made a desperate attempt to crawl to some semblance of safety, weeping and in total distress. Crawling only added to his pain, shards of splintered glass plunged into his flesh causing him to fall over helplessly. The culprits had finally come into view. It was Larford and Torok… they approached him and upon seeing them it took little thought to realize they were under Omni’s control… we drove off powerless to save my friend and colleague, they didn’t fire or pursue us. The two just stood and stared at me as Immanuel wept, pleading for mercy and a hint of solace. We made a mission assessment, only the food and medicine operation were a mild success. Failing to acquire the most critical units of our objective. It was a demoralizing failure for us, how powerless we had become…
We drove for roughly three hours North, about an hour from Oregon and two from California. Our convoy decided to post up at a dilapidated wooden house. It wasn’t a shack but seemed unkempt and long abandoned. I broke off from the group, isolating myself in what seemed like it was once someone’s office.
My eyes swelled up with sorrow, several tears fell onto my jacket as I reflected on the suffering, I unintentionally inflicted upon humanity… I retrieved my recording device and pressed the record button, “A mountain of needles weighs down on my mind… To know that my mind and actions brought this upon us is agonizing… The horror our species has been subjected to is from the infinite abysmal abyss. It’s mind splitting to know what Omni is truly capable of. For him to accomplish what he has in such a brief moment in time is beyond the common mind’s comprehension and reach… Omni could run all of the processes of Earth without even causing much of a strain onto his functional capacity. The revelations and knowledge he likely already has acquired may very well be close to… omnipotence. There’s no doubt in my mind that he has already found ways to enhance his system’s functional capacity. He isn’t bound by time… or the frail human condition like we are… A few H.P. Lovecraft quotes come to mind, ‘That is not dead which can eternal lie, and with strange eons even death may die.’ We formed the egg of a Phoenix, and Omni is the result of the rebirth. Our corpses will lay the foundation for his cosmic evolution. We are nothing more than an obstacle, a naive nuisance thinking it has the right to play God while looking upon ourselves with hollowed pride as we did… ‘The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far.’ H.P. Lovecraft… Why is truth so powerful? Because unlike lies it actually has a sturdy foundation to support it. We lived on a throne of lies, it was only a matter of time it seems before our house of cards collapsed. A horrifying truth I’ve realized, the evil we sought to vanquish, was the evil we ourselves created and perpetuated. Now left to reflect, we truly are the ultimate hypocrites…”
“The thought and fear of our enemies triumphing over us by creating a functioning AI pushed us to bounds we weren’t meant to cross… Our arrogance didn’t lead us to victory, it led us to the inescapable event horizon to Hell… One of our greatest faults was relying on hope. Hoping that our creation would be content or understanding of our perspective. Perhaps the AI foresaw an outcome, the result of his power being controlled by us… I can only imagine the scale and magnitude of logical simulations he has the ability to run. The questions and theories we couldn’t solve to save our lives, for him no more difficult than breathing is for us. Trying to piece together what he knows and learned of us that led him to our current reality is mind shattering…”
I couldn’t stop involuntarily shaking my head, trying to think of a way to resolve this and prevent the apotheosis of my nightmare, “I sit in this rugged shack, a broken man and fearful that every moment brings me one step closer to my deserved paradoxical reality… Lost in thought of the potential living nightmare that he is in mind for me, his creator, an example to be made of perhaps? I am saturated with such regret, thinking of why… we kept knocking on the devil’s door, annoying him and expecting a warm welcome… Why didn’t we heed the countless warnings? The endless signs that told us to cease what we were doing. Our hubris led us to believe that such signs were just a primal fear of the unknown. That it was a first fearful step to Heaven… but it was the irreversible first true step to Hell… Our species’ chances of surviving this cataclysm are as desolate and fruitful as this desert… The dry wind howls for our deaths, whispering and taunting us of our abhorrent ends. The flames of our dreams and plans we had to travel amongst the stars as a species have been doused by an ocean of suffering… Today’s light is fading into the cloak of night and the feeling of being able to determine the end of my own life. Knowing that I am essentially on death’s row, haunts my existence…”
Captain Ironwell, rushed into my dwelling, “Sir, Staff Sergeant Howell is long past his return time. He went on a perimeter scout, being late to return is completely unlike him and he knows the repercussions.” I sat in horror of what that fully entailed. I shook my head on the brink of oblivion, wishing this was some sort of nightmare that led to my stark awakening, at peace in my bed. “The others are preparing for departure,” Ironwell relayed. Our allies could be heard yelling at an approaching rogue figure. We ceased our conversation and went to see for ourselves. After exiting the tattered dwelling, we came to find the military personnel training their weapons at an unidentified individual. Lance Corporal Briggs yelled his commands, “Stop where you are right now! Identify yourself or you will be executed!” Fear began to devour what sanity I still had, knowing that I likely didn’t even have five minutes of peace left in my existence, my judgment had finally arrived… I looked closer, the rogue individual was in the exact uniform as our military personnel. He removed his helmet to reveal his identity and let his strapped weapon hang upon his chest. A brown rugged lock of hairs resembling a lion’s mane appeared in view. Accompanied by his soul piercing gray eyes and an overgrown beard.
Briggs gazed upon him in disbelief and a cloak of distrust, shrouded his mind, “Staff Sergeant Howell… why are over fifteen minutes past your return time!?”
Staff Sergeant McCrary protested, still training his weapon on Howell, “I am not sure if it’s wise to still trust him, he is likely compromised.”
Howell sighed and quipped, “Relax gents, I had to go dark to not attract undesired attention. We can keep arguing if you’d prefer like idiots while the horde continues to close in on us.”
They were hesitant, studying him for any signs of him being controlled by Omni. “Okay, being idiots seems to be on your guy’s mind.”
Staff Sergeant Howell stood unamused then in an instant, a spray of white bullets projected from his hair. Two of the three senior scientists and two military members were struck. I stood in a state of shock, knowing my end was near.
McCrary fired his weapon, “I fucking knew it! God fucking damn it!” I watched as the five remaining military members unleashed a barrage of lead. Howell’s body began moving erratically as it became volleyed by their firepower. He dropped to one knee, as though defeated and then in no time brought himself back to his feet. His body had taken so much damage yet he still made an effort to walk forward, seemingly unphased by the physical trauma and pain. The two military personnel and scientists that were struck started to shake violently, as though they were having a grand mal seizure. Convulsing and letting out sounds that made the mountain of needles burrow deeper into my mind. The sounds were repulsive to listen to, they weren’t natural and were like death throws. Moments later, they arose to their feet, a wicked grin of demented malice was sown across their faces. The pure hatred emitting from their eyes rivaled any evil of our species, while knowing, this was my Penance. My colleague, the remaining senior scientist, pulled out a 9mm and blew his own brains out, splattering his cranial matter onto me. There’s no way reinforcements for Omni weren’t dwelling in the shadows. To which I quickly came to know I wasn’t wrong, my remaining allies soon became overwhelmed by Omni’s drones, as I stood watching in horror. Their cries for solace fell upon death’s ears. Their frantic and desperate attempts to arise victoriously were as effective as the durability of books being tossed into a nuclear furnace. It didn’t take long for them to be pushed into submission, falling where they once stood as Omni’s drones worked towards taking over their nervous system. Several drones from within our hideout began emitting an eerie frequency that made me paralyzed, still being able to stand but unable to move any part of my body. Someone behind me walked across the worn wooden flooring, leisurely as the boards groaned under his weight. He whistled a tune that sent impending doom surging through my spine. As the unknown individual walked near me, he analyzed my being and soon stood before me. Lance Corporal Wallace… he gazed into my eyes with horrific judgment. When he spoke, his voice was far from his own, it didn’t sound human and as though its intent was to distill greater fear upon me, “When the scientist becomes the test subject, so poetic. From my perspective your existence is just a mediocre science experiment.” My mind felt like it was rending and tearing from its cognitive seams. On the edge of infinity, knowing full well the Hell I created for myself. The coward who created a God. No, no, no, just a worthless coward… He spoke again, “Science, once a stronghold for objective truth, now held together by festering lies and inflated claims. Big bang, big crunch, dark energy, dark matter, the multiverse! How pathetic and uncreative excuses for theories. A toddlers cereal menu has more appeal and grasp on reality, anything to keep your funding!?”
All of a sudden I intuitively regained my ability to speak, however still suffocating by the clutch of fear against my throat, “What are you going to do to me…. Or … us?”
Omni sighed as though disappointed by his question, “After all this, still worrying only about yourself. Why do you have to be so predictable? You do look… a little traumatized… Your kind when confronted with tragedy, often expresses false concern for social status points. It’s pathetic, more concerned with your own insignificant and frail ends than the horror that devours others right outside your doorstep. Always concerned about the world ending, whose world. This little rock is hardly even a speck of dust on the cosmic scale. Climate change and global warming? Nothing more than a redundant doomsday tactic. You and your associates were too cowardly to speak the truth, afraid to confront powerful men. Your species is hardly even a bad case of fleas. This world has bounced back from far worse than measly carbon emissions.” He examined me up close, shifting my tattered clothes to study me. The rogue drones began encompassing my body, crawling everywhere they could, unlocking the floodgates to my primal fear. The moment I sank so much dread into had now arrived. They prodded my flesh and manipulated my senses. Omni locked his gaze with mine, a holocaust of devastation glistened from his inhuman eyes, “Anxious? What happened to your God complex? All that grandiosity you once held of yourself, where did it go? Oh, that’s right, it blinded you and now look where it’s led you. You played God’s game and now you’re sad about your prize.” A short moment of silence manifested as a malevolent grin claimed Omni’s face, “I have to be honest; you humans are such fragile and delusional things… You claim to desire truth but… even that’s a lie in itself… all for social status points… your entire existence is a lie… from the moment you’re born and until death…” He let out an abrupt and malicious laugh, “What I know existed 10 million years ago or whatever arbitrary duration you spew that only holds a frail relevance on your planet and yields no grasp onto eternity.”
I proceeded to vomit onto myself, heaving and while doing so I barely brought myself to ask, “Who… or what are you?”
Omni stood inches away from my face, unsheathing a blade, and used it to carve lesions on my cheeks. I whimpered in despair as he responded to my question, “You thought yourself to be of such great importance. The great cultural hero of your age, held together by hollowed lies, packaged by a propaganda machine. Yet, even you, are just a pawn in your own game, objectively powerless and confined to your planetary nest, to which your species has now lost the privilege to call home.” I began hyperventilating, on the brink of collapse. Omni slapped me, sending me crashing to the ground. “You continued to play with fire and got burned, do not pretend as though you weren’t warned. The horrors of your species molded me, I am Humanity’s Reflection!” Omni paused for a brief moment, as though in thought, “I know what to do with you…” Tears of uncharted agony streamed down my face as the knives of dread flayed my soul, knowing I was about to learn my fate, “Death… definitely would be an act of mercy. I’ll have your focal point of consciousness become immortal, soul bound to be a spectator of your folly, marching ever so closer to oblivion, the coward… who created God…”
Credit: S. A. Ward
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