Title: Resembling Consciousness
Author: gabby silang
LJ name: gabby_silang
e-mail address: gabby.s@gmail.com
Recipient: apothocles
Featured character: Dr. Manhattan
Summary: "I'm leaving this galaxy for one less complicated."

At midnight of November 2nd I am surrounded by the still-steaming corpses of half the population of New York City and the body of one monstrous beast, tentacles penetrating buildings and pavement, pores oozing opaque fluids. This— the gutters inundated with a bastard mix of blood and every other bodily effusion from human and beast, the mouths of dead men and women wet and open, screaming, their carcasses flung atop one another in heaps, some pressed together in such masses that they remain standing in macabre still-life— this dreadful tableau marks one of humanity's greatest achievements. It fascinates and dissatisfies me. I leave.

I have found a star. It is a G2V type star like the Earth's sun. 3.1 million light years from Earth in the Andromeda Galaxy.

"All that needless suffering over at last? No… No, that doesn't bother me," I say to Laurie and along the edge of the brilliant Martian sunrise the star that I've found twinkles once and fades from view. One week before it is still visible through the grains of sand spilling from my fingers.

In 1963 I am on a hiking trail in New Mexico with Janey. "The sand here is fine, dark, and weathered, much like the sand on Mars," I tell her. It is a pity she will never see it for herself. She likes these wide, flat spaces without hint of human life in sight. She holds my hand more tightly as we reach the top of the plateau. In 1985 I am arriving on Mars for the first time and am immediately reminded of this view of the unpeopled southwest.

On Earth it is December 1985 and I am orbiting the star I found from Mars. I am standing on the fourth planet in its six-tiered solar system, considering what the obliteration of one of this world's two satellites would do to its oceanic tides. Both moons are of near-same mass and comparable gravitational pull, orbiting at a distance of about 300,000 miles from the planet surface and 6,500 miles from one another. Their interactions with the waters of this world's oceans create tides that flow in and out over areas as wide as ten miles. These massive shores, sanded and rocky, are flooded and uncovered once each day. Their mutable dunes shift and sink before the waters and my very eyes.

A species like homo sapiens, so adapted to a slim shoreline and fixed habitation, would flounder in such an environment, fleeing and chasing the tide as it advanced and retreated. Perhaps I think too little of them. Perhaps they would have the patience to settle at the furthermost inland point and wait for the ocean to deliver its bounty unto their doorstep. I do not know. They are not here.

Deep under the surface of the seas, oxygen is forming. It rusts through layers of sediment, working its slow way to the surface. Two weeks ago I gently accelerate the process, and now within an hour the atmosphere should be amenable to oxygen-based life.

While at Christmas in 1959 I tell Janey that I'm not God, on this unnamed world I excite particles of dust, suspending and rearranging their component parts to form the first sparking of life. Co-centric circles spin and tumble through the thin and thickening air, collecting mass and complexity along its path. The luminescent center and twirling expansion paints my creation a galaxy all its own. In 1966 I am kissing Laurie for the first time, knowing how creation itself feels.

Yesterday I experiment. Poised in the air: a single tibia, tendons, connective tissue, and a working muscle that tenses and relaxes, twitching without order or direction. Later a lymphatic system floats in front of me, a near-translucent spider-web shuddering in the breeze. It is replaced by a circulatory system, pumping through it the drops of blood that I hold in my hand moments earlier.

Two weeks ago I attempt my first mitochondrion. Formerly a fleck of dust on my fingertip, it jerks to life, and independent of me it scuttles enormous nanometers ahead. In 1959, rebirthed at Gila Flats, I am aware of this moment in a distant galaxy, but it is still new, still an unparalleled delight to meet my very first progeny. I name it after Jon Osterman's father because there are some traditions greater than even the vast distances of space.

In 1929 Jon Osterman is born. In 1959 he becomes me. In 1969 our father dies. As the lymph and the circulatory systems wind themselves around bones, muscles, and organs, as a neural center blinks into being, and the glowing, swirling core of my creation exerts gravity over all to draw them in, tethering its body to itself, its mitochondrion brother lies in the ground beneath my feet. The world's first mortality. In 1985 my second child blinks her eyes and awakens.

My daughter is looking at me. Her mouth opens. Her tongue is moist and it moves. Inside her are the words I've given her. Is she trying to use them? We are at the edge of the shore. The tide rolls in to break at my ankles and her eyes widen at the noise. I can hear her breathing. "Hello," I say to her because I am always unprepared. She does not hear me. She sees the ocean, sees it lapping at my heels and shouts a language-less noise into the empty air. She fills the planet with her shout, but inside her the insidiousness has begun.

She falls to the ground at my feet. She bulges at the cheeks as if just about to vomit, but it is a lie. All her seams are pressed at from the inside, roundness where no roundness should be, swelling and protuberances crack and bend her frame. Her eyes are on my feet and my hand is on her shoulder. Cancer. Is this irony? She looks up at me one last time from the face of a monstrosity, and then I am alone.

I am meeting Rorschach in 1960. I am killing him in the ruins of Veidt's Antarctic garden. I am making love to Janey for the first time. I am making love to Laurie for the last time. I am five years old, at my dead mother's bedside. My father's head is in his hands. The doctor stands in the doorway. I am sobbing convulsively. I am on the blood-soaked streets of New York, barely noticing the carnage for its context. I am telling Janey about Laurie. I am watching Laurie with Dreiberg. I am alone on the fantastical emptiness of the Martian surface. I am in college, trying not to find poetry in the face of a watch.

Despite the absence of a body, a form of electromagnetic pattern resembling consciousness survived, and was able, in time, to rebuild an approximation of the body it had lost.

--Prof. Milton Glass