Probably a really bad idea…
I always knew I was better than the others, so when I survived the explosion I merely took that as confirmation of the fact. I clearly had more survival instinct than the others, who lacked backbone both figuratively and in some regrettable cases literally. It was regrettable, of course, that they died – just as my own injuries were regrettable – but the universe, as I knew even then, cares not one whit for regrets, only for survival of the fittest, and I survived.
In fact I was more driven than ever. Knowing one has radiation poisoning concentrates the mind wonderfully, and I put my own survival down to the cures I found and the life-support system I built. I built them for others, too – believe it or not, at one time I was a philanthropist. For a long time my only motivation was to help others like me.
After the second accident, I put my survival down to my life support systems. But it also confirmed for me that I was a man of Destiny. What that destiny was, I knew not, but the Gods must have had a special purpose for me.
But over time, that changed. My children betrayed me, as children always do. And I had lost everything in the pursuit of mere survival. I had only hate. Hate and the desire to survive. So I started to pull down all that I had built, and became just as able in the pursuit of destruction as previously I had been in creation.
But destruction palls even more quickly than creativity, and after enough time even the will to live goes. When you have seen everyone you know, everything you have known, even your home planet, destroyed, eventually one grows tired of battling the inevitable, and I chose death. I disconnected my breathing apparatus, my heart monitor, my feeding tubes, and waited for oblivion.
It didn’t come.
I’d always been aware I was special, but now I knew the Gods were singling me out. But it wasn’t for greatness – though I had achieved great things – but for eternal torment. For what the Gods thought of as my hubris, in extending my own life, I had been cursed with immortality.
So I had a new resolution. If the only way to die – the only way to end my existence – was for the Gods – for the universe *itself* – to be destroyed, then so be it. I was up to the task.
I reconnected and improved my support systems, and got rid of much of the rest of my body, leaving only my head – while I might be immortal, there was no point dragging an ailing carcass around when it could only bring me pain. And the support system, while inessential for survival, did keep me alert and ease my discomfort.
It took millennia, of course, but I had little else available to me except for time. I sent agents into the various Galactic Empires, causing them to increase hostilities. I disrupted natural phenomena, creating ruptures in space and time. I infiltrated the Gods themselves, creating factions and counter-factions within them.
When the War came, it was not one of the petty conflagrations I had been involved with previously (though it had something of their style and structure about it. An artist cannot help but leave his signature on his work). The Gods fell from Heaven, and took reality with them. Dimensions twisted, time and space becoming confused. Changes that should have taken billions of years happened in days, and as the universe began its collapse, as it fell at many times the speed of light into a single white-hot point, I knew my existence was finally over.
And then, at this end point, something pulled me back. I felt a force like none I have ever experienced, and found myself back on my own world, now undestroyed, but still in my present shell of a body.
And that’s when I finally realised I was not special.
Perhaps you have heard of the hypothesis that there are many universes, and that in each one history plays out slightly differently? That in fact every time a choice is made, the universe splits?
I had died a thousand times over, but in those universes my consciousness no longer existed. My mind only existed – only continued to perceive – in those universes where some one in a billion chance had conspired to keep me alive. And it would keep doing so. No matter what happened, no matter how much of me rotted away, there would always be a tiny conscious spark, trapped inside a decaying blob of grey matter, doomed to eternal existence.
And I would not even have the consolation of being a man of destiny, of being singled out.
For this will happen to *everyone*. Everyone in existence will have their own private hell, a million eternities of deaths never consummated, of a brain asymptotically decaying, never quite falling apart enough to lose that spark of awareness. It will happen to you, just as it has to me.
And that is some comfort, I suppose. For the first time in my life, I no longer feel alone.
After reading Anathem I had a very similar thought!
I’m really liking the tone of this. Wistful, even regretful, but with the quiet arrogance of the unashamed monster.
I’m also a bit excited by the ‘newniverse’ tag, as that’s a project that seems kind of fascinating to me.
I felt an odd sense of familiarity throughout this story – particularly at the lines about the life support system, the treacherous children, and the decapitation – but the reason didn’t hit me until about a week later: the narrator here is totally Davros, right? He might not attribute his survival to quantum immortality in the show, but everything else fits pretty much perfectly.