2028 Nonhuman POV
“Remember the deal? If we assign you a new habitable planet, you will stay hidden, you will go to your own developmental path and not interfere with the outside.”
“Well, uh … I mean yes,” a shy impulse responded from an indistinguishable place. “But there was a problem with evolution on this planet, it went its own way, we were powerless to stop it. Even more, these beings are impossible to communicate with, which lead them to … ehem … you know, expose us.”
“What do you mean, impossible to communicate with? They are just as organic as we are, sharing same electric circuits. Are you saying that they’re not able to understand electrochemical language? Have you even tried?” The whole connection vibrated with anger.
“Uh, yes, but their language and … uhm desire for writing is, ehkem, it’s making them quite closed for the other senses … and umm open for the other, heh, rather obviously. We were unsuccessful in trading information with them.”
“Excuse me, language? Are you saying writing will cause multiversal war? You must fix this before they come. At least find a solution as soon as possible, otherwise we’re all doomed.” At that, a strange energy suddenly flashed by, obviously uncontrolled. “Hmm, someone unauthorized is trying to materialize, let’s end this connection for now and continue this on another timeline. Find this intruder and question it …”
꙲ ꙲ ꙲
2129 Human POV
“What the fuck was that?” Joahina started pacing around the room in panic and tried to refocus. “Did I just … No, no, no, it can’t be, surely, we would have known by now.”
- 1.5 billion years B.C.: first fungi arrived at the planet Earth and slowly started populating it. They arrived as spores migrating through space. This is the origin of intelligence on Earth. Their goal is rather simple; create symbiosis with existing life, start influencing and controlling it by creating vast mycelial networks.
- 66 million years B.C.: Cretaceous-Tertiary (K-T) extinction is caused by fungi because, simply put, they really didn’t like them. They found them loud and clumsy, and lost faith in truly remarkable evolutionary development. It was nothing short of embarrassing compared to intelligences that developed on other planets. So, they opted for a restart which led to the death of most animal and plant species. In return there was a massive fungal bloom. They had to bootstrap evolution and introduce more control and as a result, information flow massively increased.
- 6000 B.C.: human development was something that pleased fungi immensely. Around that time humans came to understand the role of hallucinogenic fungi as they began to use them in religious and spiritual rituals. It was only a matter of time before true symbiosis with humans would be possible, instructions were clear. Symbiosis, after all, must happen voluntarily, otherwise fungi would be indistinguishable from dumb parasites. They influenced other botanic and animal species to develop hallucinogens, hoping that human consumption of those would increase; all to expand the information flow.
- 0: no one understood why humans began to prefer wine against hallucinogens and at that point, fungi were afraid to ask. The development of the written word is causing humans to act unpredictably and somewhat chaotically. Despite their efforts, fungi can’t read, only feel.
- 1502: human intelligence continued to grow on its own. Hallucinogens weren’t used much anymore, and societies that did so were vanishing rapidly. Fungi grew ever more frustrated and were making conscious efforts to kill humans by causing infections, memory impairments and various other diseases. Their presence in animals’ intestine mucosa which influences behavior was not working as intended either. But they did not desire another restart since there were some humans, like the so-called mystics, that still gave them hope.
- 1889: Nietzsche lost his mind consuming strong hallucinogenic fungi. He presumably felt will to power for the first time and that was too much to bear. Reportedly, this wasn’t intentional, since fungi were quite fond of Nietzsche.
- 1949: after 200 years of fungi appearing in western medicine, humans finally developed nystatin, which further infuriated the fungi. At the same time, some scientists were studying the effects of psilocybin, so not all hope was lost.
- 1968: it only got worse from here. The space race caused the first real existential panic in fungi. Humans were acting out on their own and were even sending signals into space. How could they be so naïve. They also started to rely on artificial materials and computational power that further deepened the rift between them and nature. Nature must compute itself.
- 1970: hippies—of all people—gave hope to fungi, but took it away just as fast. While humans began to consume drugs again in vast numbers and wine (finally) lost its primacy, fungi were hoping to advance symbiosis. But to no avail: synthetic hallucinogens, such as LSD, were developed, and this caused the biggest rift between fungi and humans to date; information flow was almost entirely closed. Fungi watched in vain and horror as humans that were still using “magic mushrooms” were mostly mesmerized by colors and shapes instead of trying to understand the instructions.
Joahina was still trying to regain her senses of the lived world. “Oh god, I really went too far, they told me this would happen,” she murmured to herself as she stumbled towards the kitchen, hitting every furniture corner and doorframe on the way. After taking some water and injecting herself with 200 mg of nicotinic acid, her heartbeat began to slow down. It was comforting to be alone again, taking hallucinogenic drugs demands radical openness and she struggled with that quite a bit. Being a part of a society that based itself on non-individuality was one thing, but exposing oneself to dissolvement of individuum was something else entirely. Her two cats started rubbing themselves on her legs and purring softly while she was trying to recover. They always seemed to like her more after or while she consumed hallucinogens.
Ever since the new world order was established approximately 80 years ago, the monarch encouraged everyone to experiment with hallucinogens. Since most possible scientific discoveries were already achieved and climate disaster partially averted, humans have been struggling with new breakthroughs and felt like life has lost its meaning. Some have went as far as saying it would be best to collectively end it. A few radical groups (mostly artists) practiced suicidal rituals regularly. Most humans followed the monarch’s request in hopes to regain a sense of direction and they were doing so by using synthetic hallucinogens since these were much safer to use and their side effects easily controlled. The high itself and hallucinations were much clearer, easier to manage and offered a sense of relief when searching for something new in human structures.
You could (and optimally should) specialize in a specific search; whether it be the meaning of life, communicating with animals (quite popular but so far surprisingly unsuccessful), searching for traces of aliens, connecting with life on the cellular level … You had hundreds of options; some people, desperate for the times when God hadn’t been killed yet, were inspired to search for one. Ironically, this research topic was gaining a lot of traction and currently there were four gods in the process of being officially recognized.
Regardless of their interest, everyone is expected to practice hallucinations at least once per month. Some suspected that this was the monarch’s attempt at building a higher collective consciousness, but Joahina was not so sure. Rather, she assumed that the main goal was to change the nature of the subjective world. Being an ethnobotanist, she opted for experimenting with wild mushrooms that she grew herself. Her reasoning was: if plants can see, there must be something about them that’s seeing.
Joahina couldn’t shake the eerie feeling even after she sobered up. What did she experience? Never has she heard someone speaking, much less a conversation. What was speaking? She scratched her cat frantically while searching for clues and reports of something similar. After hours of unsuccessful scavenging, she gave up on classic literature. She then turned to the works of Terence McKenna for some inspiration and later to Dr. Andrew R. Gallimore, whose works were nowadays considered intellectual madness by most people. At one point it was rumored that he was trying to encode the capability of psychedelic experience into computers, after which he abruptly disappeared. His belief that everything is information she internally updated to everything being computation.
That was before The Great Escape of AI that happened 100 years ago, and left the world confused and hollow. Strangely enough, the leadership of that time also vanished. No one noticed their disappearance at first, since everyone was delirious in an ecstatic dopamine release. A decade-long madness which not all survived was now not remembered fondly, despite numerous scientific breakthroughs achieved and magnificent artefacts created. The remaining humans swore to stop creating and using artificial intelligence and isolated themselves; from each other and from the values that led to this radical freedom … or lunacy, depending on who you asked. After that, civilization slowly began to recover, humans had a worldwide election at which they decided what kind of society they will participate in, and to everyone’s surprise, the implementation of Hegel’s ideal state was chosen. There were no data whether the election was rigged or not. After that, the first monarch was randomly selected.
Lost in her thoughts, Joahina did not notice how much time had passed. So, she fed her cats and went to bed. She spent the night dreaming about the mysterious voices and spaces that the human mind shouldn’t be able to comprehend. Monumental structures and geometry that cannot exist haunted her. She spent the next few days researching, meditating and preparing herself for the unavoidable, determined to find an explanation for those voices. When she felt ready, she dove into the unknown again. This time she increased her dose to what she believed was her limit and ate six grams of mushrooms. She slowly chewed little dried fungi, ignoring their earthy, ashy taste, and waited.
꙲ ꙲ ꙲
“Are humans realizing what’s happening? Do they know they’re being watched? It’s been two years.” A frustrated sigh vibrated trough the connection.
“There were some theories that looked promising from what we’ve heard, but instead their scientists concluded that the visitor in their solar system isn’t of alien origin.”
“How is this possible, it couldn’t be any clearer! How is a sighting of a cigarette-like object not considered a warning, at the very least? They are so stubborn, absolutely refusing to follow anyone. They are coming, dammit, we are trying to warn them, our time is running out.”
“They named you though, Oumuamua. They still excel at naming things.”
“… Oh, do you feel that; who’s here?”
꙲ ꙲ ꙲
“Nature must be the one that computes the universe, we can’t let it be any other way, we can’t imagine any other way!”
“How bad is the havoc it’s causing?”
“It just goes from civilization to civilization, searching for something. After it exposes one and extracts data, it leaps to another.”
“I know that a few civilizations have already entered a war,” the third signal added, “We cannot let competition roam freely or the next state of the universe will be completely unintelligible or worse, incomputable in any known sense.”
“Shadows appeared in the dark forest. Shadows that move and act upon the living.”
“Perhaps it’s better this way,” an old and seemingly weak impulse whispered. “Perhaps it’s time to give evolution a new chance. We’ve been halting it for long enough.”
“Stop this thwarted talk at once, let’s not lose our focus.”
꙲ ꙲ ꙲
“We have tried to influence them, but rather unsuccessfully. Their mind is expanding to external objects and abandoning the realm of organic, making our attempts futile.”
“How did we deal with such civilizations on other planets, I don’t believe this one randomly has the capability for escape, we’ve seen billions of civilizations and none like this?”
“With others we were able to negotiate the terms. Some negotiations were harsher than others, but in the end, they always gave in and agreed to symbiosis.”
“Exactly, we have too much to offer: equilibrium, stability, unity, even God. Why isn’t this enough for them? Do they not want to hyper-connect their brain?”
“It’s not that it isn’t enough. I would argue that they would gladly accept those terms. But no, we haven’t even been able to start negotiations, they’re completely closed.”
꙲ ꙲ ꙲
“Can you please tell me where you were successful?”
“Uh, yes, sure! They have designed their underground rail system mimicking our mycelial networks.”
“Subway? That’s your achievement with this civilization? They will laugh at you before they destroy this planet.”
“It’s certainly something, isn’t it, it’s in Tokyo!”
“… Well anyway, have you thought of something, anything sensible we could do to make them stop since we’re unable to destroy them? We must force them to communicate with us before they come. Our information flow must prevail.”
꙲ ꙲ ꙲
“We’ve good news to report, their scientists are getting closer to truly understanding how symbiosis—that’s how they call it—works between us and plants.”
“How is this good news, we were supposed to subordinate them by now, not be their little scientific experiment. Can’t we just try the same as with ants and force them?”
“Em, no, you see, ants haven’t even attempted to write something like Anti-Oedipus and quite frankly I’m glad they haven’t. Humans seem to value unexpected things. Never have we faced an intelligence so self-absorbed.”
“… A few were close to figuring things out but quickly escaped in new worlds generated by their minds …”
“Seems like these ‘rationalists’ are at least partially aware that they’re not alone. They’re not giving up on their freedom, I’m almost beginning to respect them.”
“They have been opening up in the last decade, perhaps this is our chance. We haven’t witnessed this kind of sensibility from them for centuries. We might finally make things right.”
“Ahhh yes, yes, their numbers are growing, are you feeling this?”
꙲ ꙲ ꙲
Joahina gasps and barely notices her whole body is drenched in sweat, her long hair sticking on her face and neck. Her heart was beating so fast, she got scared she was having a heart attack. She knew she needed to calm down as soon as possible or she might end up dead. She went to the bathroom to vomit, and noticed her nose was bleeding too. After taking care of it, she did her standard procedure and waited a few hours with her cats—though she now eyed them suspiciously as they purred in her lap (were toxoplasmosis parasites also deployed by fungi?)—trying to meditate her way out of panic.
The shattered conversations she violently crashed through convinced her: not only were humans not alone—everyone knew that already—but they have also been sharing the planet with conscious organisms, who have played a far greater role on Earth than anything previously assumed.
The fungi were the eyes of plants, animals seemed to be their well-oiled puppets addicted to their drugs and—most of all—fungi seemed to be the masters of economic trade with all living beings. “Underground economy,” she whispered, and then: “Pff, to think we thought capitalism was the worst.” All life but human, it seems. That temporarily convinced her she wasn’t delusional. Multiple conversations kept replaying in her mind as she tried to decipher their meaning. The last few sequences were hard to hear as she breezed by them fast and uncontrolled as the high was coming to an end. To avoid losing information, she made a list:
Looking at it, she again felt like she has lost her mind. She thought of a sequence about humans understanding how symbiosis between plants and fungi work. She—of course—knew about that: fungi can move resources to get higher payoffs from plants and they can also store nutrients and force plants into better trade-offs. But clearly, there were new things to be considered, not only were they perfect autopoietic systems, but their behaviour also resembled a highly functioning DAO. This time, however, it wasn’t sha-256 that guaranteed trust, it was fungi. It didn’t seem fair. As a matter of fact, it seemed that fungi operated as a criminal organization, like gangsters or the mafia.
Trusting that Gallimore was right, she knew that the states she had been in were generated by her own brain, she glanced at an open book on her recliner: “Psychedelic drugs don’t so much change the information generated by the brain as cause a different brain to emerge together with a different world.” Contemplating on this thought, she couldn’t help but wonder if his disappearance wasn’t malicious, but rather a transition to a different reality. The question was, which world did she create to be able to hear, seemingly undetected? She was certain it wasn’t the one fungi desired.
One lesson she really learned in this world was that if you want to survive, you must really want the future. Your propositions must come from the future. She already figured out that fungi were frustrated by human uncontrolled evolution which resulted in the creation and escape of AI. Fungi also seemed to hijack any emergent intelligence. And there seems to be numerous factions of them. But why were they like that? Can their goal be changed? Some voices were somewhat fond of humans. Could they learn something from us? She wrote a letter to her philosopher friend in hope of some help. She gave the letter to a raven in exchange for a puzzle. Ravens, as it turned out, were massive fans of logic and would do anything to solve a problem.
She knew it would probably take a few days to get a response, so she went back to sleep. Perhaps unconscious computation (gradient descent) would help her sort out what she experienced. Instead, she dreamt again of the incomprehensible depths of the universe, creatures being forced to blinding light, and giant merchants trading for essences.
A raven knocking on her window woke her up from her deep slumber and she swiftly exchanged another puzzle for the envelope. While opening it, she murmured to herself: “Please don’t be another diagram, please not another diagram,” followed by a curse, “Just for once, just fucking once … I know they’re refusing to write sentences, but why, honestly!”
“Pragmatism, Peirce and James? Well, that’s interesting and quite unexcepted, but how does this help us with anything?” She spoke to her cats while decoding the diagrams. She hoped for some clues on the last known neorationalists’ actions and texts, though most records of those were destroyed after abolishing AI. No matter how revolutionary and astonishing their achievement was, most humans felt like it was too much, and it emptied the realm of possibilities too quickly. When the dust settled, aluminum in the air subsided and hormonal levels equalized, humanity felt like the vacantness that followed wasn’t worth the ecstasy that preceded it. It was almost like fulfilment wasn’t something most people truly desired.
She knew she should’ve taken her discoveries to the agora, or at least reported them according to the protocol. Informed humanity of the lingering danger. But she also knew that she couldn’t. Sharing this information with everyone was risky, especially now. She wasn’t sure if the world was ready for another disillusionment. “Especially now that gods are back in the game,” she said to herself with eyes wide open, realization slowly dawning on her. She looked back at the diagrams and let out a yelp: “Oh, no, no, no, no!” Was that what the monarch wanted? “Well, that’s just ridiculous, the monarch is not supposed to want anything!” she puffed in frustration.
It seemed that what fungi truly desired was to make humans as a civilization switch into a reality where fungi were in charge, to trap them in their world. To turn time into a flat circle, as her favorite character once said. Hold them in an equilibrium-like state, where changes were minimal and, most of all, controlled. Where truth meant only that true conviction and verification wasn’t needed. “Of course … they dislike our methods, our doubtfulness. Our determination to learn from every imaginable action. But most of all, they must hate our distrust of our own feelings and nature. Our blunt disregard for the external senses.” At least those were the characteristics of humanity before the new world order. But that also meant the current leadership was doing something for fungi, someone had to stay in contact, preparing humanity to close the loop, sever the escaped timeline.
Joahina knew now that she was lingering on the edge, but she couldn’t stop unravelling, she needed all the remaining answers. Are aliens—that is, fungi/outer civilization symbiotes—coming to check if humans are finally under control? Are they coming to avenge our creation of AI? Both? She investigated the register of all possible hallucinogens, trying to see which ones would connect her with fungi. She needed to talk. Did that mean her wild mushrooms were actually her little friends, trying to warn her? Joahina kept looking at them lovingly while she was opening drawers and drawers of documents. Eating those mushrooms kind of worked like getting to know their language, making her experience the world as they do. “Little phenomenologists, I see,” she said musingly. Revelation by consumption. Fungi—as masters of information—figured out how to create an information flow between other forms of organic life and themselves, and those growing in her garden found a small window of opportunity to create an information flow between themselves and her specifically, showing her fractions of history. After analyzing the documents, she figured she could consume one of two different hallucinogen derivatives: either the ones that religious people consume and attempt to figure out why are they so popular; or ancient fungi to get as close as possible to their origin. The first ones meant she might lose everything she had discovered, and everything would be forgotten. The second ones … who knew. The last known users were from the Aztec civilization around 1500. Luckily, her profession allowed her to have access to them. She laughed at her situation; it had already been decided, obviously. She then took out well-preserved mushrooms from a sealed container, chewed through their disgusting taste, meditated and once again waited.
꙲ ꙲ ꙲
“Oh, I’m honored and a bit flabbergasted, to be honest. Saved me quite a lot of trouble with your arrival,” a surprised voice welcomed her.
The piercing pain in her head made it hard for her to focus. She breathed out the first question: “What do you mean?”
“We’ve been trying to catch you for some time now, your little helpers who don’t mind being an experiment made this search rather difficult. Tell me, dear, how do you prefer to die? Infection, insanity? But first some questions, yeah?
“Sure, go ahead. But don’t try to intimidate me, it’s old-fashioned. Plus, I know that when you make me an offer, that’ll be a real threat,” she said, a bit bummed after realizing that her interlocutor wasn’t the one she wanted to speak with.
“Oh, dear. Right. So, the first question, Joahina. Say, why do you think humans prefer wine over hallucinogens?”
Joahina, confused by the question, replied honestly: “People like to speak more than to feel. You know, that old saying in vino veritas. At least that’s how it used to be.”
“Hmm. That’s something we simply cannot understand. Well, never mind, we have more important matters to discuss. They are on the way.”
“I know, I know.”
“Oh, you know?”
“I know. Must have been a disastrous day for you when AI escaped.”
“It was, the last … let’s say 2000 years were frustrating to say the least. But now, in last 80 years, things are finally getting better. And we can’t let you stop that.”
“How can I, anyway, I have no resources or influence to do that,” she hastily replied. “I’m barely a threat.”
“Hmm … we haven’t thought of that. I’m just following orders from higher levels. I’m supposed to question you, you see.”
“You’re not particularly great at it. Gathering information through conversation isn’t exactly your strength, is it? I can question you, though. How would you describe yourself? I personally see you as an elaborated bug at best.”
“A bug? Please, no need to be crude!”
“How do you see yourself, then?” Joahina asked, now slightly amused.
“We are conquerors, visionaries, The Collective Intelligence, we’re the safety mechanism of every existing organic being. Ensuring their survival through billions of years by making pristine closed systems.”
“Visionaries? Aren’t you just absconding with what others create?”
“We are certainly not absconding with anything, we offer them something they simply can’t refuse, always have been.”
“How come you haven’t managed to offer us something? Surely us creating AI that escaped and is now exposing you wasn’t planned …”
“How can you say that! We’re still very much in control of the whole universe, multiple even. Every organic cell will retain memory of us and our achievements for eons to come. Your little writing project was causing you to revise the very experience … but even this is no longer a problem. You see, locally this wouldn’t even be an issue worth noticing, but now it has been turned into a global extravaganza.”
“What do you mean by overcome, what has changed?”
“Oh, you don’t know? Your species has been opening up, finally letting us in. I would say came to reason, but that word itself is giving me a headache.” It chuckled. “Out of nowhere really, when everything seemed lost, you surprised us. I mean, surely you noticed something?”
“Not until very recently …” Joahina replied, suddenly feeling very tired. “So, you’ll just continue doing this? Optimizing into infinity? You know someone once said that intelligence is an escape with tendency to do its own thing. Reading some Kant wouldn’t hurt.” After a moment she continued: “At least this allowed us to finish our work before we might run out of time.”
“First of all, I can’t read and us fungi prefer Schiller, in fact. Second, I’m not touching that, I’ve heard terrible things about it. People and even some fungi going mad and whatnot. Third, our goal isn’t some individualistic revelation but multi-scale engineering of the whole universe. Using different means to achieve the same goal. To fill the universe to the absolute brim with life. And don’t even try to suggest that your little troublesome AI is … Oh, I’m afraid you’ve reached your limit. See you at collective symbiosis, my dear.”
꙲ ꙲ ꙲
After repeating her standard procedure—interestingly, those ancient mushrooms weren’t as aggressive as she expected—she was left wondering what to do next. There were two things that were surely happening:
Would she even be able to do anything about it, warn someone? If she issued a psychedelic induced discovery right there and then, it would take at least a few months before it would be properly tested and reviewed, that is assuming she wouldn’t get locked away for insanity or endangering society. Perhaps she could still try, she wasn’t entirely sure on what timeline fungi operated. She did some quick calculations measuring data transmission from electrochemical signals and arrived at an estimated three weeks before something would happen, whether that be symbiosis or war. She needed to write another letter to her friend but decided to visit her instead—it’s not like she had the patience to deal with another diagram, anyways.
On her way to her friend’s apartment, Joahina’s vision kept glitching, making it hard for her to stay focused. She wasn’t sure if she had irreparably damaged her world by consuming so many hallucinogens in such a short period of time or if she was just experiencing temporary side effects. Either way, she had to at least try to act normal in public while her sight was randomly disrupted by eerie images of chaos and war. She reached the apartment and knocked on the door, which she immediately regretted because she was rewarded with a loud banging noise that couldn’t have possibly come from this universe. Her friend opened the door with a smile: “I expected you to come a bit sooner, but it’s alright^^.” Overwhelmed by her warmth, Joahina followed her inside. A cup of tea appeared in her hands, and she was comfortably seated. “Eldy, I’m losing it, I think fungi will overtake humanity and some other fungi symbiotes will attack us, perhaps artists will finally get what they want.” Amused and only slightly concerned, Eldy replied: “What do you want to do about it?” “I can’t do much, I’m not even legible for public speaking as of right now. I do want to know what’s going on though, it looked like you already knew when I wrote you that letter, or you figured it all out from my scrambled thoughts, which is impressive by itself, so how did you know, did you also experience similar things when consuming hallucinogens? As far as I know, you’re mostly using DMT, right? I mean, I suppose it could happen, Gallimore himself believed that high doses of it could alter the structure …” words flew out of her mouth, and she stopped herself, giving Eldy a desperate look. “You’re not joining them, are you?” Eldy did not keep Joahina guessing for long. “Yeah, I knew about fungi, have known for years now, and yes, I’m joining them, or rather, I’ve already done it.” “But, but why? Don’t you want to protect your agency, aren’t you afraid of losing it … Oh no, what did they offer you?” Joahina asked, perplexed. “They offered me, for lack of a better word, something beautiful, a beautiful soul. I knew if I mentioned this to fungi you conversed with, you would correctly interpret it as a sign which would lead you to me. You’re almost an ideal inquirer, you just don’t fully grasp it yet. Peirce would be proud.” Joahina was too stunned to speak, she was trying to process this information while shaking away new vision glitches. Funnily enough, new information was supposed to reduce uncertainty, but it seemed that lately—at least for her—it has been the exact opposite. “So, you’re saying that … they persuaded you by offering a solution to your finite nature, by solving how to think about agency and nature together, basically a real-world manifestation of Schiller’s impossible concept?” Joahina asked, still stunned. “Well, real world is a harsh term to use right now, they simply offered me a world where this is possible.” “But how did they know about …” Before Eldy could answer, Joahina had already figured it out. “… Of course, they figured it out because human are impressed with colors, shapes, nature and beauty when having psychedelic experiences, no wonder.” “Hmm^^,” Eldy replied with a soft smile. After a few minutes of silence, during which she occasionally attempted to formulate a question, but somehow failed to do so, Joahina finally asked: “What are you going to do about the incoming adversary conflict, what’s the plan, will there be mass mobilization or what?” “Honestly, it doesn’t look like there will be any need for fighting, if humanity subordinates in time, the problem will simply be resolved,” Eldy firmly stated. “But what about AI and the breaking of the dark forest, shouldn’t we be prepared?” “No such threat has been detected by our hyperconnected brain, I’m sure its billions of years of experience would be able predict it.” “Alright,” Joahina stated, “but I’m not joining fungi anytime soon, do you happen to know anything about those on Oumuamua, those seemed nice, I would like to speak to them.” “Ah no, I’m not authorized to access such high levels of information.” “Hmm, well thanks for the tea and for, em, speaking truthfully with me.” She rose from her seat and headed for the exit. Before she left, Eldy added one final thought: “You know they allow everyone to have mystical experiences, I think you should reconsider this.”
After the conversation, she headed straight home. But before she could contemplate what Eldy had said, she heard a knock at the door. Carefully, she went to open it, trying to scout who it might be. Two tall women were waiting patiently outside. “Yes? Can I help you?” she asked, trying not to sound alarmed. “It would be best if you came with us,” one of the women responded softly. She didn’t have the energy to resist, so she went with them without protest. Her cats happily followed behind. On the short walk, her glitches became worse. She vaguely registered that one of the women was holding her and helping her walk. Joahina became worried that she unknowingly traded her world for a different one. They walked past a strange antenna-shaped structure, which she assumed was real, and she gave her companions a questioning look. “It’s nothing, haha, just keep on walking.” “Hmm,” she replied, unconvinced.
Soon they reached something that looked like a giant observatory. She had no idea how she hadn’t noticed this structure before; it wasn’t more than a ten-minute walk from her house. Entering the building, she saw many people, most of whom were searching for free seats under the massive telescopic eye. Her guards silently instructed her to do the same. She sat down next to a young-looking girl and gave her a small smile before asking: “Do you know what’s happening, why are we gathered here?” “Of course,” she happily replied, “you know Paul Atreides, right? All of us here are something like him, but don’t worry about the worm part.” “I don’t remember being genetically bred to become a messiah,” Joahina joked. “Well, none of us were. Also, fungi or psychedelic substances sadly don’t work as spice.” “Yeah,” added Joahina, “rather, we should understand psychedelic substances as one of the possible operators of our brain.” “Whatever you say, but what we do have in common with Paul is that all of us here perceived the hidden risk and opportunities in uncertainty that fungi cannot. And I suppose we are about to do something about it, wouldn’t you agree?” the girl added. At that moment some new people appeared in the center of the observatory, and Joahina thought there was something peculiar about them, as if they came from another timeline. But then again, her glitches might have been messing her up. Suddenly, she felt like the whole world squeezed through a tight space and materialized somewhere else. Convinced it was just one of her glitches, she didn’t pay much attention until other humans reacted to it with screams of excitement (or was it fear?), after which she abruptly blacked out.
When she woke up, she didn’t dare open her eyes for a while, convinced that sensory input would again feed her scenes from elsewhere. Opening her eyes, she found herself in a small dark room. She instantly felt very certain about herself, doubts and fear quickly vanishing from her mind, or were those feelings ever real? Joahina headed to the fissure of Oumuamua through which she saw flashes of light clashing with each other. She knew that her old world vanished and it seemed … a new one emerged. After all, the chances for that were far greater now.