Archived: Gilgamesh Rewrite by Brooklyn Sanz

In the year 2197, technology had reached a revolutionary peak that people had never thought possible. Cars no longer needed to be driven, wireless electricity had taken the world by storm, and artificial intelligence was thriving. However, the most groundbreaking and world-renowned technology was the ability to let people immortalize themselves via consciousness transferring. Thanks to the discoveries made by a massive team of scientists, doctors, and researchers, they were able to find a way to take everything that makes a person who they are- their memories, personality, morals, values, everything, and transfer it to a new body once the one they were in had served its purpose and came to the end of its journey. 

Unfortunately, the procedure was kept quiet and reserved only for the fabulously wealthy celebrities and government officials. All they had to do was have their consciousness downloaded to a hard drive device at their doctor’s office and have an emergency contact (or even more if you wanted to be extra safe) in the event they died unexpectedly and needed a loved one to request the transferring process. The new bodies were artificially made, but you wouldn’t be able to guess. After years of experimenting, scientists were able to develop a material that felt and looked exactly like human skin. To avoid suspicion, the bodies were customizable to artificially age in order to give the illusion of the natural progression of life- the people with access to this technology would then fake their own deaths and go into hiding, then reversing the “aging” to their bodies.

However, as the years went on, the working class began to catch on after multiple sightings of younger versions of the “dead” were becoming more and more common. A massive war broke out, people were breaking into government labs to destroy consciousness hard drives and attempting to tear the android bodies apart. On top of this, the Earth had begun to succumb to the massive destruction caused by humans. Realizing the severity of both situations, astronomists hired by the highest government officials began to look for other viable planets in the Goldilocks zone. While android bodies were immortal, they still required oxygen and other life-sustaining properties as humans that were provided only by the Earth, at least that they knew of. After ten years of searching, while the war was still raging on and getting worse by the day, a planet was discovered and it was perfect; nearly an identical copy of Earth with even richer oxygen, and it was at least 12 times the size which allowed for the expansion of the human race that clearly wasn’t downsizing any time soon with the lack of death. So, a decision was made. All current mortals would be eliminated as they were seen as dead weight and a waste of resources due to their economic status, but this would be kept a secret until the day of departure. The only exceptions to this were government officials who had not yet made the switch and the families of the fabulously wealthy. 

So, in the year 2202, the immortals departed the Earth. Many of the mortals begged and pleaded and cried to be let onto the ships but to no avail. Many died attempting to enter the ships while the rest were killed by nuclear explosions set up all across the globe by the government in order to destroy all life- not one mortal was meant to survive. Others were trampled by the stampede of fellow mortals attempting to join the androids before the government could kill them. Some became overcome with grief and took their own lives as they knew there was no chance for them. After all was said and done, the government had succeeded, and the mortals were all dead… all except two. 

25-year-old Firah (Arabic for persistent) and her 20-year-old brother Amani (Arabic for peace) had hidden in a bunker deep in the ground as her family had expected something of this nature to occur. Her family had unfortunately been killed during the war, so as an only child, she was left to survive on her own. Firah had been saving up money for years and taking out massive loans in hopes to somehow scrape up enough to afford an android body for herself. Amani, however, was disgusted with the idea of humans playing God and refusing to let the natural way of life take its course- he never understood his sister’s obsession with avoiding death. In any case, the war reached its peak and the immortals left one week before she was projected to have enough. She had majored in mechanical engineering and could likely figure out how to transfer her consciousness on her own, but the android bodies and transferring software had been turned to nothing but ash due to the nuclear explosions. Upon realizing she and her brother were alone on the corpse of the planet they once called home, Firah was nauseated with fear. She sobbed and screamed and hyperventilated not just because she was alone, but because she was terrified of death. She feared dying more than anything yet had always taken comfort in knowing if she just got enough money, she’d never have to be taken from this world by death. Now her security blanket was gone, and immortality would never be a choice again. 

As the years went on, the Earth began to heal from the government-inflicted destruction. Plants began to grow, the few surviving species of animals began to repopulate, but Firah found no comfort in this. She, along with the help of Amani, scavenged for any form of technology they could find, hoping to find any sort of hard drive and body to upload her consciousness into; she’d still be alone, but at least she wouldn’t ever have to die. Amani had made it clear to his sister that even if they were to somehow discover the necessary tools to immortality, Firah was on her own and he wanted no part of the torture of eternal life. Firah pushed this to the back of her mind and decided he would eventually realize he was being stupid and would change his mind. The siblings sailed through the oceans, hiked across deserts, climbed freezing mountains, and trudged through rain forests. No success. Now 34 years old, Firah panicked at any sort of indication of aging between her and her brother; their time to find a way to immortality was running out every second of every day. She pleaded with God to help her, but there was never any sign her prayers were being heard. But Firah refused to give up, she refused to lay down and die. Amani told her no such prayer would be answered because why would God help her to do something so unnatural? She ignored his commentary and continued to ask for answers. 

Firah had heard rumors of a community where the immortals went to hide after their “deaths” in Tristan da Cunha, a remote and vastly unpopulated volcanic island in the South Atlantic Ocean. Upon finding a surviving map, she and Amani took their boat made of large tree bark and other resources she had found and began the long journey to the island, hoping to find any sort of technologic remains. They sailed for six days and seven nights before a storm began to form. The ocean became angry and unpredictable, thrashing their boat all around. After turning her back to Amani in order to attempt to hold the boat steady, Firah turned around only to realize her brother was gone. She jumped off the boat as waves smacked against her and spun her under the cold ocean water, but she didn’t care. She had to find her brother. After searching for hours, her muscles ached and her eyes were heavy- she couldn’t swim anymore and her brother was gone, swallowed up by the sea. Her boat had managed to make a circle back to her, so as the sea calmed, she boarded it with a heavy heart and grieved for her little brother. She screamed at God, “What am I supposed to do now? The very thing I fear the most has taken my brother, the person I love the most, and now it’s going to take me, too!” Another prayer unanswered.

After another few days, Firah sailed up to Tristan da Cunha. Sure enough, upon her arrival, she discovered a nearly untouched abandoned community of lavish houses. The government must have decided it wasn’t worth nuking as all the people from the community were immortal and coming with them. She bolted to the first house she saw, a large, Italian-style villa with huge palm trees surrounding it- there had to be some sort of transferring software and maybe an extra body somewhere. She ripped open closets, discovered hidden rooms and rooted through them, and searched every square inch of the house’s property- she even dug up the flower beds but still, nothing. She repeated this process on every single house until there were none left to search. She collapsed onto the ground in defeat and began to sob. She cried for what seemed like hours until the sky was dark before deciding to go sleep in one of the houses, she hadn’t slept in an actual bed for years. But when she went to stand up, she noticed a house she hadn’t seen before due to the thick forestry surrounding it. The lights were on. Firah hadn’t turned on a single light in her frantic searching, and she certainly hadn’t missed a single house. She thought that surely her mind was playing tricks on her and rubbed her eyes, but the house was still there. She bounded towards it and attempted to rip the door open, yet it was locked. Why would an abandoned house be locked and have the lights on? 

Taking a deep breath and launching herself forward, Firah kicked the door in. And standing directly in front of her, pouring a glass of wine, was a human. Or, at least, he looked human. He looked at Firah startled and began to step back and call out. A woman came running down the stairs with un-human like speed and upon seeing Firah, stopped dead in her tracks. No one spoke until the woman asked, “Are you a mortal?” Firah broke down and told the story of the past few years, about the death of her beloved brother, explaining her journey before ending the story with, “I refuse to die like my brother. I’m going to find a way.” She hoped the immortal couple had some sort of technology remaining that they could use to immortalize her, but instead they then shared their story. They were trust-fund children of two very wealthy families who had died in a car accident shortly after marrying. Their families refused to accept this as their children’s fates and uploaded the couples’ consciousness into two new bodies identical to their mortal ones. This was before the android technology was perfected and was still in its infancy, so the couple was unaware that their consciousness had already been copied and downloaded during routine doctor appointments. This was not something they had paid for or requested; it was something that was given to them by their parents who had the power to access such technology. Firah pleaded with them to help her achieve immortality, there had to be a way. They had to have something that could help her. The couple told her it wasn’t possible, they had no access to such devices. Firah had finally reached defeat; she was going to die. That was it. The couple told her to go upstairs and rest while they cooked for her so she could eat upon her awakening before finally venturing back to the home she’d made for herself back at her family’s bunker and properly grieve for her brother.

When Firah woke up, the couple fed her and gave her supplies for her journey home. She heard whispers from what seemed to be a plead from the woman to her husband. “Don’t let her leave empty handed, even if there’s no hard drive, maybe she can find one. Give her a fighting chance.” The man came back to the room and motioned for Firah to follow him. She followed him to a dark room where he opened a large, metal door and exposed something that nearly brought Firah to her knees. It was a body; fair-skinned and blonde, a far cry from Firah’s tanned skin and long, black hair, but she didn’t care. As long as she could live forever, she’d learn to love her new appearance. “This was supposed to be for my sister, but she hated the idea of immortality and died a few years before the war began,” said the man. “It’s yours now, if you want it. I hope you’re able to find a transferring system.” Firah thanked the couple profusely before boarding the boat with the body, she was going to find a hard drive no matter what the cost.

Five days into her journey, Firah was sailing across the Pacific Ocean when she kept feeling a thump below her boat. She looked down to discover a huge stingray was swimming directly below her which threw her into an instant panic. She slipped, flipping the boat, her supplies, herself, but worst of all, her android body into the ocean. She dove after it, dodging the stingray’s long tail. She yanked the body up by its blonde hair and attempted to bring it back onto the boat. Just as she was about to push it up to safety, she felt a horrible, radiating pain strike through her leg. She had been stung. This caused Firah to nearly lose consciousness as she writhed in pain, accidentally letting go of her android’s body without realizing it. When she finally composed herself and boarded her boat once more, she realized the body was missing. Her eyes darted back and forth, panic filling her mind. She dove down into the ocean, looking for the fair-skinned android. She swam further and further down until the light from the surface could barely reach her, and then she saw it. The stingray had wrapped its long tail around the body’s leg and was diving down into the sea with it. Firah began to fight her way after it, the pressure of the ocean becoming more and more the deeper she went. She eventually realized how long she had been holding her breath and knew she couldn’t go another minute without breathing, so she rushed to the surface, gasping for air. When she looked down, the stingray- along with the android, had vanished completely. Firah crawled back onto her boat, laid on her back, and closed her eyes. Fighting back tears, she quietly said, “Okay, God. I understand.” Firah had been defeated for the last time, but this time she could no longer deny that immortality wasn’t meant for her. She accepted her fate, and let the ocean take her back home to where she could peacefully live amongst the animals until her last breath.