The following was printed on the dust jacket of a book found in a comet’s impact crater on the Yucatan peninsula, near an ancient Mayan settlement. The contents of the book were not legible, as most of the pages had been eaten away by a corrosive jelly also present in the crater. The sides of the jacket were recovered, along with review excerpts citing the book as “The Sleeper Hit of the Millenium” and “A Lot Better than the Bible”. With the book were the charred remains of a Gameboy Pocket and a perfectly intact Namekian dragon ball.
I was born in 3096 inside a volcano on a distant planet to a pair of humans who were exiled from their home in the Great Spice Wars of 3094, both of whom I never knew. Vulnerable and scared in the heart of an active volcano, my life was saved by a tribe of nomadic robots, who took me and raised me like the organic son they never had. In retrospect, living among machines was sometimes difficult, but it was the only life I’d ever known. I was forced to find my own nourishment from the beginning, as my surrogate parents were not dependent on organic food. I subsisted mainly on small plants and starving animals that I could scrounge from the barren landscape. The robots taught me to read and speak in several robotic languages as they traveled the vulcan planet, their tribe in search of whatever scarce power supplies remained after the apocalyptic destruction of most of its surface.
I lived with these machines until my thirteenth birthday (which I was able to guess exactly, due to my lifelong training in mathematics), when I knew it was time to leave my family and seek my fortune. I hijacked a spacecraft from a small settlement not far from our tribe’s encampment and evaded their guards, who were understandably angry that I’d stolen their ship. With a few minor injuries, I managed to surpass my home planet’s considerable escape velocity. I charted a course for my parents’ home planet from half-remembered coordinates and legends that my robot parents used to tell me with their speech synthesis programs as I fell asleep in my youth. I traveled through space at near lightspeed for decades, passing the time by writing stories, composing electronic music, and reprogramming my ship’s computer.
As my ship accelerated, I saw the history of the universe unfolding outside my window – I quickly lost track of how many years would have passed back on my volcanic home. I thought of my tribe, wondering if I’d ever see them again, if I’d ever feel the cold caress of their steel arms, if I’d ever again challenge the younger machines in reciting prime numbers. I realized that, due to my speed, milennia had passed there; it would be a miracle if the planet itself even existed.
The journey was ill-fated. Apart from taking what seemed like centuries, the coordinates I’d been steering toward were not those of my parents’ ancestral home, but instead those of a planet made mostly of plastic. Thinking the planet might at least be habitable for a human, I attempted to disembark from my craft, and upon doing so quite nearly sunk about a hundred meters into the surface, the rubbery substance bending down with me like a trampoline. Walking on this surface proved difficult, due both to its strange tendencies and my lack of exercise for the preceding decades. I managed to traverse my landing site and find supplies for my ship, but, forgetting the care I’d been taught in my youth, I opened my helmet without checking the atmosphere first. I passed out immediately, and would have died right there, at the bottom of a hundred-foot indentation in a plastic planet light-decades from my home, if it hadn’t been for a cybernetic pterodactyl scout who happened to be passing overhead.
The pterodactyl extricated me from my predicament and brought me back to his plastic cave, gripping my limp frame between his talons as he flew for miles over the shining surface of that world. He nursed me back to health over the course of several of what I assumed were weeks, all the while not saying a word. To this day, I’m not sure if that cybernetic pterodactyl saved me out of the goodness of his heart or to attempt to eat me. Once I was healthy, I left his cave and made my way to my vessel, slowly negotiating the rugged landscape of this plastic world. To my dismay, my craft had been stolen by marauding horseshoe crabs, who were still kind enough to leave a note indicating that they intended to sell it for scrap.
Marooned on a desert planet with no food or companionship, my hope ran thin. I bounced up and down on the planet’s rubbery surface, in a vain last resort to free myself. Miraculously, the ground beneath my feet began to tremble as I bounced higher and higher, becoming a sea of tiny bubbles, massaging my tired feet. I saw the stars begin to accelerate backward, moving slowly at first, then faster as my planet-vessel began to move. With no control over where I was being taken, I could only hope that I’d end up in a habitable environment, and that the journey would be short enough for me to survive without food. I grew nervous as the stars flew by at impossible speeds, but continued to bounce, moving higher and higher with each jump, yet still constrained by the planet’s gravity.
My last jump, though, is one that I’ll never forget. I bounced to a height of several kilometers above the ground, suddenly breaking free of gravity’s pull. Panicked, I saw my life flashing before me as I spun out of control into the vacuum. Luck was on my side, though, as I found myself on a closed timelike curve around a pair of black holes. The universe replayed its history in reverse as I watched in awe, witnessing the synthesis of planets from dust and smoke, comets chasing their own tails, and a thousand suns changing colors faster than I could see. I was spit out of the black holes in the direction of a green and blue world that I could only hope was hospitable. To my amazement, the world was teeming with life, humans no less!
My feet touched the soft ground of this new world as I was set down gently by unknown forces, as if a consciousness greater than my own was guiding me. I initially had difficulty communicating with the planet’s inhabitants, as I spoke only bytecode and a few phrases I’d picked up from my adoptive parents’ speech synthesizers. Very much confused and alone, I was happened upon by a family of humans who took me in as their own. They gave me a name, food and tools to stimulate my mind. I’m now known as Emmett.