Since the end is nigh, I doubt this will ever be read, but yet | must write it, if only for myself. What else is there to do anymore? Let philosophers debate on whether this is a Morton’s Fork or a Hobson’s Choice, but this I know: the stars in the sky are countable. On one hand. I get ahead of myself, but gazing at the night sky, where once before the twinkles were innumerable, I can’t help but be filled with an impending sense of doom, with an indisputable fatalism. And yet, knowing what would await, I cannot bring myself to end it myself.
I’ll cling to these last precious moments before oblivion or hell overtakes me. Precious, despite everything, only because they’re better than the alternatives. A moment, an aside from Faustus: Swollen with the cunning of a self-conceit, Man’s waxen wings did mount above his reach, And, melting, heavens conspired his overthrow; For, falling to a devilish exercise, And glutted now with learning’s golden gifts, He surfeits upon cursed necromancy; Marlowe told us. But no one listens to literature. Of course, no one calls it necromancy.
No one called it necromancy then, ither. Some words just don’t pass readily from the lips of man. Where to begin? Around five hundred years ago, half a millennium ago, science confirmed the existence of a soul. What had before been exclusively the domain of religion and the nutjob, paranormal fringe was now established scientific fact, right up there with gravity, relativity, and quantum mechanics. Newton, Einstein, Heisenberg, and then Sakaguchi. The way they did it though threw more than just religion into turmoil, especially after the experiments were repeated, and confirmed.
Multiple times. I do remember the media furor and the near-rioting in many cities. Let’s see if I can relate this properly. Because of ethical concerns, the experiments were not conducted on living people, but rather upon recently deceased corpses. Less ethics to worry about that way, especially when the bodies were donated to science. So, rather than testing the existence of an invisible puppetmaster within these shells of flesh, science went the way of seances and Ouija boards, attempting to locate recently departed souls.
As it turns out, there is an ephemeral, ethereal “thread” that binds soul and body together, but it has an incredibly short … “half-life,” I guess … the thread unravels, frays, and fades away within days of the body’s death. But it was enough. In retrospect, perhaps too much. The first successful experiments were declared failures. It was only after several repeated attempts with identical results that a reluctant study was published. The souls that the researchers were able to detect were all gendered opposite of the bodies they were tethered to.
I wish I had time to linger on describing the controversy, chaos, confusion, and sheer hate that those results sparked. But, if I had time to linger, I wouldn’t be writing this, would I? The results were published, and other scientists were able to duplicate the experiments and the results. It was confirmed. Inside every man there is a soul of a woman, and inside every woman, a soul of a man. From the most aged of elderly to the newest infant that dies during childbirth: the thread binds opposites of soul and body into one cohesive whole.
If you can call it cohesive. After one researcher, working with aborted and miscarried fetuses, proved the existence of such a soul as early as the first trimester of pregnancy, abortion – regardless of circumstances – became illegal overnight. The consequences of science: sometimes it proves religious concepts to be valid. Years later, science pushed beyond the borders of ethics to experiment on those still living, to find the thread and soul, but in the meantime, it birthed atrocities.
Because of the transgendered nature of souls, but not of identity, science then turned to the study of transgendered individuals, those suffering from what was called, rather clinically, “Gender Identity Dysphoria. ” Without exception, in all cases where the the individual had been positively identified as GID, science was unable to find the soul, even mere hours after death. Apsychia, they called it: “lacking a soul. ” Less than human, others said. As if mankind ever needed a reason for bigotry.
With the legal precedent of equating abortion with murder on the basis of the unborn baby possessing a soul, crimes against GID individuals were no longer prosecuted. No soul equals not human. Not human equals no rights. After all, a common epithet used to describe horrendous criminals was “soulless,” so what did that imply for people whom science stated had no souls? I was one of the few who called it bigotry then, but a more kindly view might concede that civilization was dealing with a massive collective shock to their own identities and thus were not competent to make rational decisions or to carry out humane treatment of others.
There was an old activist group, promoting ethical treatment of animals; they expanded their coverage. People for the Ethical Treatment of Others. Sad that that was a necessity. Sadder still that it was ineffective. Stemming from this though, science did attempt to locate the soul of living beings. They began with those people who were thus considered less than human, not requiring the same ethics concerns as “real people” would. Until science did determine that they had souls while alive.
And like everyone else, their souls were transgendered to their bodies – women inside the bodies of men, and men inside the bodies of women. But then, whence the dysphoria if they were identical to normal humans in all such regards? Science had one more bombshell to drop. In a groundbreaking study, using criminals sentenced to death, researchers were able to locate male souls in male bodies and female souls in female bodies. After death, however, tracing the thread out from the body the souls were … different. What had been a male soul while alive was a female soul after death, and vice versa.
One more star disappeared last night; it distracted me from this chronicle, but I can’t afford to be distracted – there may not be time to finish it otherwise. While astronomy has long since refuted geocentric Ptolemy and heliocentric Copernicus, one has to wonder if there were not some seeds of truth in both. It shouldn’t be possible. It shouldn’t be real. It takes time for light to travel. Even from our own Sun, it takes around eight minutes to reach us. The next nearest star, about four years. Established fact, and yet. Well, and yet it isn’t working that way.
When the first stars, those most distant, went out it wasn’t much commented on. The light that’s reaching us from them is older than even our own star, so it was assumed they just petered out and died. But then the disappearances got progressively closer and closer and analysis of the light that was being studied indicated nothing – no nova signatures, no black holes, nothing at all unusual. Just light, then not light. As if, when the star disappeared, all the light emanating from it also simultaneously went out. Cause and effect both erased from reality. But again, I’m ahead of myself.
The next major breakthrough was communication. Anecdotally, Sakaguchi and the first researchers were so shocked by their findings, that they didn’t even attempt to communicate with the disembodied souls they discovered. Later researches attempted, but met with no success. It takes a while to piece together the disparate accounts into one cohesive whole. There may be some speculation, on my part, the researchers’ parts, and even the parts of said souls, but it isn’t much more than a case of filling in the gaps, rather than making things up whole cloth, the way ancient religions were wont to do.
If only that were the case, though. As near as was determined, in the afterlife (for want of a better word), every single soul that exists does so in an oppositegendered state from the body that it inhabited while alive. Understandably, the souls were confused, disoriented, angry, and tending toward despondency. But despite the souls of the dead existing in a transgendered state, the afterlife closely resembled everyday life in the living world. There were no lakes of fire, no pearly gates, no gardens filled with seventy-two virgins, nothing resembling the classical images of heaven or hell, paradise or perdition.
However, the perceived and implied torment of these transgendered souls caused many of the world’s leading religious institutions to issue statements proclaiming that science had contacted the souls of sinners or the reprobate, drawing them momentarily from Hell. The saved or the elect, their souls would retain their proper form in the afterlife. Their tune changed somewhat, however, when the souls of recently deceased religious leaders were contacted – with the same results. To some, it was a refutation of the Perseverance of the Saints.
To others, a refutation of the sainthood of those studied. There is an afterlife, and you’re all going to hell. Science said so. Not a pleasant concept, to be sure, and there were plenty who rejected or denied the science, just as they denied Galileo, Darwin, and others who set forth truth that was in contradiction to established dogma. There was an rash of war and murder for a time, as people sought to send their foes to an early hell, but on the whole the crime rate significantly dropped; capital punishment became a much more effective deterrent.
Sorry, another star just went out. With so few left, I check the old familiars frequently – in an earlier time, I was an astronomer. Last night, old Procyon. Tonight, Epsilon Eridani. We still have eight neighbors, but only two could ever be seen without special tools. At this rate, though… Sirius tomorrow, the Centauris the day after. Then … Sol not that long after. Time is running out, but I cannot continue tonight. So long, old friends.