Bewildering Stories

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Left Behind


by Jörn Grote

Table of Contents
Part 2 appears
in this issue.

“Wow,” I said.

“You’re repeating yourself,” Xorotis said.

“Are all these ships full of humans?”

“No, I think the ships are humans, or what they have developed into.”

“Wow again.”

I had thought the ships of the EDF were big, but when we left the wormhole and entered the solar system, I saw the scale of my error. The EDF ships were small compared to the ships I saw then.

“Won’t they notice us?” I said to Xorotis.

“They will probably just ignore us. They have progressed so far, that we are nothing to them.”

“What do you want to do now? Will you go with them into the baby universe they will create at some point in the future?”

“Won’t you?”

“No, I have my own plans,” I said. I had indeed. The stories Xorotis had told me about his past had sparked an idea. And I wasn’t sure if I could catch up with over fifty years of extreme progress. The beings that humans had developed into were more alien to me than Xorotis had ever been.

Xorotis seemed to waver. “I must admit that I don’t know if I want to go, either. I searched so long for you, that I don’t know if I can catch up to the others.”

“How long did you search?” I asked. It had never crossed my mind how long the search had been.

“Well, because I suspected that Zoozeben had sent you into a trap, and the killing fields were the most likely candidate, I gathered a fleet of ships. Most of them I found on worlds that had been hit once by a singularity, some I got from the EDF. I installed weak AI’s that humans had developed in recent years and armed them with the most powerful weapons the EDF and humanity had. Then I entered the killing fields and searched for you. Nearly 75% of the fleet were destroyed until I found your ship and made it safely back to the wormhole opening. All in all, I would say 20 years.” He shrugged. “It was worth it.”


The singularity had hit in full force. The ships we had seen when we came back had indeed once been human. But the rate of progress never stopped. The near-singularity post-human entities seemed to like megascale engineering even more than the post-Grays.

Venus had been dragged nearer to the sun and completely altered, transformed into one big energy-collector. But that change was even understandable, like the dismantling of Jupiter’s moons and many other sources to provide matter for the fabrication of even bigger space-adapted bodies.

Other projects made less and less sense to me. The post-humans had changed and twisted every part of the solar system, but in most cases the reason eluded me. Like the structures that were orbiting the sun, extending artificial fingers deep into the hot plasma.

Xorotis had left to pursue his own goals, but he wanted to meet with me at least before the exodus into the new universe would begin. That it would happen was known to everybody. The media channels that I still could understand or follow made it clear that our universe was too limited and post-humanity had began to thought about ways to go elsewhere even before I had arrived.

I was orbiting what had become of Mars. Below me on the perfect spherical surface of the once red planet I saw something like immense formulas appear.

A post-human ship was nearby, and because I was curious I sent a question, asking if it knew what or had anything to do with it.


“Sure,” I said. I knew that most of them disliked to speak with mere language. Most of their messages, when asked, were so saturated with information that I needed computing power far beyond everything I had to even sort the different layers of basic surface meaning.


“Okay,” I said. I wasn’t so sure what he was talking, but as long as he was talking, it was okay. “Why are you alone?”


“And?” If that was a child, then where was I in the food chain?


Here I was talking with a post-human child that had probably more computing power than all the civilizations of mankind had before him, and yet he was a child. That meant I could still communicate with him. Maybe.

“Do you know about the plans to create a new universe and enter it?” I asked the child.


“What do you mean I’m wrong?”


“What’s the difference?”


Wow, I thought. I did that much too often. “What do you mean with the last words you said?”


“What is with those that have been left behind? Those of us who want to follow you?”


“They can’t follow you.”


He left Mars orbit and me alone with my thinking. The way to follow them would be left open. And maybe all the other post-singularity civilizations had done the same. Maybe in every system was a bridge to another multiverse, only waiting to be rediscovered.

* * *

The main problem all those that had been left behind faced was the loss of knowledge about the technology surrounding them. I had long suspected that the vanishing post-human and post-alien races had been aware of these problems and had designed technology that was easy to use even without understanding how it worked.

That was why the Grays and the other aliens had found ships on their worlds that could be controlled by simple button pushing. They were not much more than children’s toys.

But this technology could be used by everyone who had been left behind, and most of those first generation left-behinds wanted to cut all ties with technology. They may have been guilty of destroying most of it. And maybe they were the reason that no way had been found to follow the vanishing post-singularity-civilizations. The bridges to the new multiverses had been demolished. But not this time, I swore silently.

* * *

Xorotis and I met again at the bridge, far beyond Pluto, deep in the Öort cloud. Compared to other post-human engineering projects the bridge looked small, but it had still the size of Earth’s moon.

“And have you decided what to do now?” I asked him. The space surrounding the bridge was full of post-human entities, living spaceships. The upload to the new multiverse had long begun, and it was kind of boring. No fireworks, no big effects. Just ships that came and filled the surrounding space more and more.

“I will not go. Maybe I will see if there is still a bridge in the star system of my homeworld. I had contact with some aliens of the EDF crowd before they were to advanced to speak with me any more. Some of them wanted to go with the post-humans, having lived long enough as some of them, others wanted to search for similar bridges near their old homeworlds. But they were too far advanced for me to go with them.”

“Why don’t you help me,” I said to him.

“What do you have in mind?”

“I will tell you later, when we are finished here.”

“Finished? Finished with what.”

I opened my arms in the direction of the bridge. “Guarding the bridge, naturally. On earth were enough voices of dissent who hated the whole post-human development of the last decades. People who have remained mostly human and hate what humanity has changed into. They will try to destroy the bridge. And I will stop them.”


The attack came only weeks after the last entity of the post-humanity had left our multiverse through the bridge.

Xorotis and I had prepared a heavy defense, using the empty shells of the post-human bodies floating around the bridge.

To describe the conflict that ensued in words is impossible. The speed with which things happened, the violent outburst of energy can’t be accounted by words. Countless ships were destroyed, particle beams and missiles filled the space, cutting through matter and structure. Heat flowed from warmer to colder places, giving entropy another win.

The last attempt was a gigantic ship that tried to ram the bridge itself. I knew the design, I had seen it back above the Gray homeworld.

“I think it is Zoozeben,” Xorotis said. “Let me try to speak with him.”

Xorotis sent a message, saying that Zoozeben’s children had long left this universe. There was no point in destroying the bridge.

The answer came only seconds later. “I have no children any more, but I will destroy this thing, this monstrosity.”

We fired with all the power we had while the ship came nearer. Matter was transformed into pure energy, dissipating as heat and light into space. Piece by little piece we destroyed the ship. Slowly we dismantled its massive shell, peeling away layer for layer until only a small core remained. When it reached the bridge, it had lost too much mass and energy to be of any danger.

* * *

“And now?” Xorotis asked when we were back at the bridge.

“And now I begin with my plan.”

“You still haven’t told me what you want to do.”

“I do the same thing that the aliens did so long ago who created the wormhole network. It must have taken them at least half a million years to spread the wormhole openings over the galaxy. The first thing all the other races did when facing the singularity was to leave our universe. Yet this alien race remained here for a long time. Why? Maybe they had a good reason. Maybe there was once, very long ago, a world that had a singularity, and those left behind fell back into barbaric ages. They may have had technology that was easy to use, even spacecraft, but the bridge created by those ancient post-singularity-beings would have been destroyed. There was no wormhole network, no way to reach other worlds or civilizations that could have helped them. They had to begin at the bottom again to rediscover the lost knowledge of their predecessors . When their second civilization was near their own singularity, millennia later, maybe they thought of giving other left-behinds in the galaxy a gift, to make it easier for them. And so they created the wormhole network.”

“And what does that have to do with you?”

“I will take it to a whole new level. Make another gift to the races in the galaxy. I will collect technology and knowledge, and make it available and easily accessible for everyone throughout the wormhole network. I will surround the bridges that are gates to other multiverses with defenses only open to those that want to use them, not destroy them. I will actively search for cultures and civilizations that have fallen from advanced civilizations into dark ages and bring them the knowledge and the technologies to jump forward.”

“Why?” Xorotis asked. “Why do you want to do that? You have been left behind from your own culture, isolated from all your friends and family, and even my original died, who was your best friend. Why do you still care for what happens to those who have been left behind?”

“Why?” I stopped for a moment. Then I told him. “I could have died all these years ago, if the truck hadn’t been driven by aliens from the EDF. It wasn’t their fault, the accident was entirely my doing. I was drunk. Normally I would have died. I got a second chance. The children born into the left-behind societies did nothing wrong, and yet they are doomed to live in societies that will ultimately go backward. That is the reason. I feel good when I can give people a second chance, a better alternative. They don’t have to take it, but they have a chance.”

We both looked at the bridge, me and the not-so-alien alien. “But instead of doing it alone, I would like to do it with a friend. Two are better than one.”

“Yes, I think so too,” he said.

Copyright © 2005 by Jörn Grote

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