Ports — A Short Story
The collectors weren’t out tonight. You could tell when they were out by the faint blue-orange tinges over the iridescent sheen of the terra-formed bio-dome.
“Do you think it’s true?” She paused and pursed her synthetic micro-filament lips. I feigned ignorance as to what she meant. We both saw the rolling cosmic explosion over the horizon. Supernova. The word had meant little to me twenty-five years ago; a buzz-word in an educational neural implant data stream. I was never a good student. My talents were in number crunching and box ticking, the kind of menial work that should’ve been automated a thousand years ago.
“Slyphs like us shouldn’t worry about the here-after.” I reached for the vape in my jacket pocket and planted the pipette between my teeth. The bitter metal taste sat on my tongue and I closed my eyes.
“Aren’t you afraid of being forgotten?”
“Stars and people die, May. Synth bodies or not, we’re just as organic as the rest of them.”
“Stars get remembered, Jonas. The Orion constellation in the Milky Way was recalled by many a generation.”
“The only ones that worry about legacies are kings and fools. Dead is dead. It doesn’t matter if anyone recalls what you did after you’re gone. It’s not going to bring you back.”
May leaned over. Her pale blue fiber optic hair draped over her eye in that beautiful way that I’d grown to love.
“So, what did you live for?”
I felt her prod my chest. Artificial synapses underneath the dermal plating informed me that it was a light brush of her ceramic fingertips.
“I just lived. Lived as long as I could and as well as I could.” The bright orange stellar explosion grew brighter. It would hit us in moments. I offered a blank stare to the cargo ship that had broken down on the landing pad. We’d outrun the annihilation for years on the repurposed jump ship but, just like everything else, all things came to an end.
“It was a good life, I guess.”
“That’s all it could have been. The scribes are all gone now. We should just sit back and enjoy our front row seats to the death of the universe.”
She stood on the ledge and stared down at the thousand yard drop below. Part of me wanted to stop her, but I saw no purpose in doing so. Instead, I watched her wobble on the metal rail and waited to see if she left me before the fireball took us. Even in the face of sure annihilation, I still felt the need to stand here, to be present for as long as I could.
“My parents used to call me special,” I said, to break the silence. Maybe it was more for myself than her. “Said I would make a difference in the world.”
“You had parents?”
“Not all slyphs were made in a lab. Some volunteered.”
“I was eighty years old. I wanted to keep living.”
The procedure had been painful. My neurons had been lit ablaze during the psyche upload. Before my organic eyes had shut off, I remembered the fire. The whole of my body felt like I’d been lit ablaze.
“What were they like?”
“Career driven. Mom was a logistics engineer. My father was a nano-technologist.”
The fireball took up the whole of the night sky. One more sentence and we’d be wiped away.
“Stay with me,” I said. “It’s too late to jump anyways.”
I remembered the white flash before it all went away. I remembered the warm press of her synthetic skin against mine. For a moment we burned bright, her underneath the contours of my wrapped arm and then-