Robin Maxwell, a historian, screenwriter and bestselling novelist, is writing a full-length novel for grahamhancock.com that we will be releasing as a serial publication — chapter by chapter — periodically.
With tongue firmly in cheek, her story peels back the veil of existence and looks behind the scenes of our current tumultuous times and the strange, precious multiverse we inhabit. At the center of it all, Ed and Helen are cosmic coders who discover that Ed’s Earth Simulation has gone completely out of control. But there is worse brewing. Much, much worse…
Below is Chapter 3 of I Am Your Creator Dude.
Enjoy, and stay tuned for more chapters to come. Read:
“I just read your brilliant ‘I Am Your Creator, Dude!’ Your story is great! Funny, clever, thought-provoking and entertaining.” – Graham Hancock
“Coward,” he said accusingly.
“What if I am? Would you think less of me?”
He thought a moment. “Yes.”
Helen, not usually a sulker, sulked.
“I can’t help who my mother is!” He didn’t need to stifle his shout – once again, there was no one in their long swath of the Infinit-Train car.
He was annoyed because the train was heading towards their home – in the wrong direction from his mother’s lab. Ed could have let Helen get on the train alone, but this was going to be a good test of how much his nagging might change her mind. She did have a point. His mother was formidable with a capital “F”. But what was the matter with Helen that she couldn’t face Catherine again? Okay. Maybe she had punched a few holes in Helen’s self-esteem last time they’d been together. But those were mundane mistakes, as faux pas went.
“I’ve told you before,” Ed wheedled, “you need to think of her sitting on the toilet.”
“I just have a bad feeling. She’s a soul-crusher. I don’t want to witness your flaying alive.”
“What could she possibly say?”
“I don’t have a clue.”
Catherine had recently given him serious grief about the half dozen technocrat billionaires he’d coded, thinking their inventions (of course Ed’s own inventions coded into their consciousness) would improve planetary health overall.
A way for every Tom, Dick and Mary simulon to buy any book that had ever been published by pushing a few keys on their computers, and landing on their doorstep.
Spending a software fortune on honest philanthropy.
But every one of them had gone rotten, and some of them were outright demented. That pasty-faced college boy who’d been having such a hard time scoring pussy the old-fashioned way created a program that allowed him and his douchebag friends to compare the facial photographs of college girls to decide which of them were hot enough to date, the thing later exploding into an internet monster, the control of which he ultimately gave away to Russkie robots during an American “election cycle,” changing the course of his game’s history.
The bookseller-turned-monster entrepreneur – whose father Ed had decided should be a unicyclist in the circus – sent a giant white penis rocket into space in preparation for traveling to the Moon.
Electric Car Man, who spent 90 million dollars to launch his personal roadster into space, had his heart set on Mars. Hostile, hostile Mars! Right. Another planet to pollute when Sapiens were finished trashing Earth.
Ed considered deleting the lot of them. It would be a bit trickier to code-away the 7,000 satellites orbiting the Earth without creating worldwide communications suicide. But he had to do something about the EMFs that were frying brains and wreaking havoc on some of his favorite systems. On the same day 170 satellites had been launched into space, herds of sheep all over the world started walking around and around in circles. Well, after all, they were sheep. But then there were worm tornados – “Wormnados,” the biologists called them, but the scientists weren’t laughing.
The billionaires had to go.
He looked over at Helen who was biting her thumbnail down to the quick. It was the only habit she had that was decidedly un-Helen. “Don’t you think it’s odd,” she began, “that this ‘suggestion from Bob’ to visit your mother is suspiciously timed with a threat of the Big Suck?”
“Fine. Have it your way. I just don’t want to be there…”
“Because what? You’ll think I’m a spineless wuss again, and you’ll break off the engagement?”
“No.” There was a lot of ambivalence in her voice at the admission.
“Then I think you should come. Stand by your man as he takes the worst of his mother’s body blows.”
As they raced up to their stop at home and Helen made no move to get off, Ed breathed a deep sigh of relief. They settled into an uneasy silence as the train made its long loop-de-loop to a destination neither of them actually wished to arrive at. He began a long meditation on Earth’s scientific and academic communities, considering whether he should allow them a little more open-mindedness, but then thought no. It was so entertaining watching the mainstream scratch the eyes out of any fool who dared to put forward a theory that challenged the establishment. Helen always accused him of being unnecessarily mean, but he relished a little theater, and new theories – after a good drubbing – were usually proven true, and the outliers eventually had their moment in the sun…some of them after their avatars were dead, it was true. But that was life in the big city (one of Ed’s favorite aphorisms). He wasn’t going to start making it too easy for the mavericks now.
“THE BRAIN LAB” train stop bore this stark, stern sign. No frills, no pithy little bon mots, like “The Myths and the Maths” or “Music of the Spheres Station.” It was just what it was – a place that studied the single most momentous artifact in their universe. The rest of the “Multiverse Entire Network” supported myriad creatures with brains or brain-like organs. But none were anything like Catherine’s creation.
Exiting the train car, they crossed the polished white marble boulevard between the stop and the lab’s front door with its rather amazing bas relief carving – a work of exquisite art at its center. With its tussle of blue and red painted veins and arteries surrounding what one immediately perceived as either a strange white flower with two large petals flanging out to each side, or a muscular butterfly. Or – if one was a human sex hound – would instantly see ladyparts, spread wide, complete with a scary, twisted clitoris at the top of it. It was, of course, none of these. ***
The inferior aspect of the human brain-stuff surrounding the white “brain stem” was open to interpretation, at least Ed thought so. Every time he observed this phenomenon to his mother, she would spatchcock him with a withering glare. One did not “interpret” such a thing of beauty.
It was her brain. Her invention. Her code. Ed believed Catherine had spread the rumor herself – that the human brain was the most powerful invention in their cosmos. The other residents would surely have come to the same conclusion eventually, but she was simply not willing to wait.
In any event, in his 21st thousandth year, she had gifted him – her only child – with the brain’s code, to do with what he wished. Back then, it had been pretty basic – anatomy, physiology, electromagnetic neural network, its vascular system, chemical soup, fatty tissue – its bony covering yet to-be-decided – and not to forget the spinal cord. That was a wonder in itself. Mother had thrown in the spinal cord because, for the previous 10 million years, Ed had been quite a clever and obedient boy.
She’d been less than thrilled when he’d chosen for its “outer vessel” a hairy, apelike creature that he’d written code for one night when he’d gotten very, very drunk – you did that sort of thing in your twenties – and plopped the ape down in a globe game while he was deciding what to do with it. It was hard enough to keep the fuzzy beast half-upright, though it was brilliant at brachiating around big trees with its prehensile toes and fingers in the “jungle” – another one of his favorite habitats. “Very fecund,” his mother observed with admiration and a little sneer the first time she’d seen what he’d done with her gift.
Some whispered that Ed was a genius just like Catherine, but on a smaller scale. His games were legendary, but then he had imagination abounding. And wasn’t that – aside from a sick obsession with coding – what game designing was all about?
“Go on in,” he urged Helen, who seemed paralyzed, eyes fixed on the brain bas relief sculpture in the center of the door.
“I don’t think so,” she said, standing her ground.
“You’re not still replaying that dinner fiasco, are you?”
“Ed. I dropped the whole stuffed turkey on the kitchen floor…right at her feet.”
“Well it hadn’t been cooked yet.”
“And once it had been roasted… to perfection, I might add…what happened?”
His voice got very tentative and low. “She discovered you’d cooked it with the giblets still inside?”
“Still in the waxed paper wrapping. Ed, your mother thinks I’m an idiot.”
“We’re not going to have this fight again. Not here. She does not think you’re an idiot. Just…go.” He pointed at the door.
“Fine.” She poked it lightly with her pointing finger, and it pivoted on its center axis, opening smoothly.
The first thing that knocked you over was the lab’s size. It wasn’t like Kid Chaos’s Asteroid Belt – a computer simulation inside a computer simulation. The Kid was not really whizzing around with 2 billion sharp boulders at 25 kilometers per second. He was in his bedroom, half of which was occupied on one side by his unmade bed – always crunchy with cracker crumbs – on the other a rather elaborate workstation that dwarfed Ed’s Earth Sim array.
No, the BRAIN LAB actually took up real estate along the millions-mile-long architectural masterpiece that was the Infini-Tron Arms. There was a feeling of great sobriety and sanctity entering the airplane hangar-sized space with its massive picture window looking out onto the wormhole in which the construction hung, spinning like a figure-8 tree ornament on an invisible wire. The colors out the window – the “walls” of the wormhole were pretty spectacular, but frankly, nobody looked out very often, what with so much entertaining exploration and experimentation going on inside.
What passed for music from the planet Zoloftan was being broadcast to every corner of the lab. It grated on Ed’s ear, though Helen – perversely – seemed to like it. A few coders were on the floor of the hangar meandering aimlessly, lost – appropriately – in thought. On either side of the hangar were smaller units – little labs for brain offshoots. “The Museum” was quite a nifty exhibit with models from every step of the evolutionary tree – both the visceral versions, and beside them the 3-D coded facsimiles. No one visited The Museum much. Everybody was too busy working on future brain variations. It was still an impressive display, Ed thought.
Across the way was the “Debate Hall”, where coders came to indulge in their favorite arguments, some mild palavers, like “The Right Brain-Left Brain Conundrum” and “The Cosmic Joke,” to what could sometimes pass for bloodsport – “Which Came First, The Chicken or the Egg?” “Where Does Consciousness Lie?” and “Who Created the Creator?” These filled the hall every time.
There was a separate “Eye Building”, which had been Catherine’s idea. She was very proud of her brain, but – aside from the mysterious Neural Network, the eye – she never let anybody forget – was her personal miracle.
She’d even allowed a comfortable thatched hut and campfire corner for the psychedelic coders who enjoyed dressing up as Amazonian shamans. One had taken to wearing a nifty fedora made of crushed mushrooms. You’d never know by looking at these guys that they held some of the most delicious secrets around, like where the “crazy drug” receptors were lurking in the human brain, just waiting for ingestion of the plant substances that took you on magical mystery tours of parallel universes and meetings with strange grey machine elves. Or why even a minor dose of “Ecstasy” caused sexual excitation in octopuses.
Back at the end of the great space, flanking each side of the picture window, were the BRAIN LAB’s two most mysterious constructions. They were large arched doorways, and only doorways, and though there was no physical building or chamber behind them, they were departure zones — portals — to the brain’s most loved, feared and controversial functions. Once inside you were transported to “DreamWorld” on the left and “Psychopathology” on the right. There was an ongoing argument between researchers as to which was his mother’s most dazzling accomplishment.
Some believed dreams were the pinnacle of Catherine’s work — whether the perverse and hideous “nightmare,” or the spooky prophetic dream. There were champions of symbolic dreams and fantasy dreams, problem-solving and lucid dreams.
The “Psychos,” as they were known, quarreled incessantly among themselves about which was the freakiest of the brain’s mental conditions. Some believed it was “Clinical Lycanthropy,” a delusion in which the affected person could transform into a werewolf. “Apotemnophilia” — characterized by the overwhelming desire to amputate healthy parts of the body — was a perennial favorite. On the other end of things was “Stendhal Syndrome”, which caused patients to experience physical and emotional anxiety, panic attacks, confusion and hallucinations when exposed to large quantities of particularly beautiful… art. A real head-shaker, that one.
Ed could see a crew of architects arguing over the reconstruction of a third doorway, just to the right of Psychopathology — “PSI.” The threshold to psychic phenomenon had been crossed so frequently that the marble floor had worn away, and accidents had happened. More than a few psychic researchers had fallen flat on their faces.
In any event, everyone could agree that Catherine had an intellect beyond comprehension. All fine and good for his mother. A hard act to follow for Ed.
But nothing in the entire Infini-Tron Complex was more majestic than the creation taking up 75% of the space in BRAIN LAB, the monstrous huge BANCS – the “Brain And Neural Complex Structure” – spread semi-horizontally, floating just above the hangar’s floor. It was nothing less than the complete Central Nervous System, from the tiniest neuron in the little toe, to peripheral nerves incoming from limbs and organs, up the long phallic-shaped spinal cord (Catherine had a wild sexual streak she rarely employed, but had done for this exploit), leading to the inevitable, undeniable, unfuckingbelievable brain, which was the size of a small apartment building.
But here was the thing. It wasn’t merely a gorgeous static sculpture. It was alive. Through every neuron, nerve, plexus, in every corner, every corridor, every crook and nanny, the chemical-driven firing synapses were snapping, crackling and popping (shameless sound effects – the system was, in reality, all completely silent). It was a fascinating walk up the slight incline from the “Pinky Toe Entrance” on the railed ramp (coders were famously clumsy). The whole way up you were forced to resist startling at the electromagnetic storm passing right by you. The zinging and zanging you felt in your own calf or penile head, stiff nipple, or brachial plexus (even hoping against hope the little shocks would repair that pesky rotator cuff injury) definitely woke you up.
It was, after all, merely foreplay. Entertainment. The walkway was a lead-up to the brain itself. Because when you got up into Catherine’s lair there was no joking around. There was a purpose to your business, or you’d better turn around and stop wasting her time.
As Ed prodded Helen ahead of him – against the structure’s left upper arm – they could both feel the gut-pounding thump of the “Wandering Atrial Pacemaker.” W.A.P., as it was known – was the little arrhythmia that occurred when control of your heart’s electrical impulses “wandered” around the nodes from pillar to post. It was making Helen very nervous.
“She’s going to be fine,” Ed insisted. “Like you said, it’s not you she wants to eviscerate. Clearly it’s me. And hey,” he added, bumping up against her playfully, “no turkeys anywhere!”
She gave him the stink-eye at that, though his words actually had the desired effect. Her shoulders sank, albeit minimally, in relaxation. But it was something. One woman in his life at “peak angst” was doable. Both of them…an un-survivable shitstorm.
It was hard not to be awed by the winding tunnel through the glutenous, pinkish-gray outer cerebral cortex (a hue so pretty Helen insisted on a living room couch that color) and into the “white matter” whose axon bundles were a full orchestra around them, sending nerve signals hither and yon through the body. The tunnel narrowed and rose in a dramatic side-approach to the pineal gland. The gland was so elegantly designed that Ed had stolen it for his Egyptian “Eye of Horus” symbol.
They descended a broad staircase striated with thick blue and red blood vessels, then he and Helen moved through the cerebellar arch into Catherine’s office. The desk chair was a wooden throne on wheels. His mother had, some centuries ago, re-fashioned herself after the 16th century Virgin Queen (certainly one of Ed’s most gutsy and flamboyant creations), but in the end, Catherine was too vain to stay with the real monarch, as she had a heavily pockmarked face and teeth that had gone black with age. Catherine’s public excuse was that the wide-skirted gowns and poofy ruffs would hinder movement through her brain-space. The truth was, his mother much preferred to emulate the actress whose name was the distinguished “Catherine” that played the queen in the “movies” (one of the greatest distractions Ed had conceived in the whole history of his world). His mother Catherine wore baggy men’s trousers and sophisticated white silk blouses that draped, and a short bobbed haircut like the actress had in one of her films, the one about a batshit crazy aviator. She opted to keep the throne.
“Hello, Helen,” Catherine said, swiveling on her black flats to greet them. She fixed Helen with a lizard-cold eye.
He moved across the spongy floor to embrace her with his best hit-me-with-your-best-shot expression, which never fooled Catherine for a moment.
“Ed…Ed. Ed. Ed. Ed. Ed. My darling boy.” She looked deep in his eyes. Deep, deep into his eyes. She was silent for a long time, as though deciding which thunderbolt to hit him with first. Another half minute passed in silence.
“Mother, stop. You’re scaring me.”
In fact, Helen was backing up incrementally, never taking her eyes off Catherine. He thought he could hear Helen’s coronary W.A.P., or maybe that was the pinging in his own ears.
“Let’s get right to the point,” he said. “You’re going to insinuate that I have something to do with The Big Suck.”
Her face remained immobile.
“It would have to be rumors of The Big Suck, though. It can’t have started, or else between the time we left Bobs’ place and got here, most of the Universe would already be slurped into its decaying vacuum bubble.”
“Are you sure you’re not talking about ‘The Big Freeze,’ Catherine?” ‘The Big Rip,’ ‘The Big Bounce’, or ‘The Big Crunch?’” Helen blurted.
The accusation must have come as a surprise to the speaker because it had certainly shocked Ed. His significant other had just challenged the fearsome Gorgon over no less than the four possible catastrophic endings of their universe. They were all theoretical, of course, as none of them had ever occurred before. But there was no bigger enigma brawling within the ranks of Infini-Ton Arms than “The End Game.” Ed had even used the term in the title of one of his “super-hero” movies, allowing the evil genius to erase half the living things in their universe. Ed watched as Helen recognized her blunder but instantly decided to stand her ground, posture curling momentarily, then straightening courageously. She looked his mother dead in the eye.
“Gary is never wrong,” Catherine said, glaring at Helen.
Of course Gary was never wrong, Ed thought. “Master of the Multiverse,” he single-handedly managed the Space-Time Matrix and so had access into what Ed’s Earth Sims called “the future.”
So the Big Suck might indeed be in the offing.
Ed felt his stomach lurch. “What does this have to do with me?”
His mother said, “One of your blockheads is about to set The Suck in motion.”
“No way! The closest my sims have gotten is toying around with the Large Hadron Collider, and at the most, they might generate a tiny black hole that would gobble up the Earth Game. My loss, but manageable.”
“Aren’t you curious about your dear mother’s involvement?” Catherine wheedled. “Why the Bobs sent you to me?”
This was actually beginning to concern Ed. “How does it involve you?” he said quietly, looking at his feet. Next to him Helen was stiff as a post and hardly breathing.
“I gave you the brain, dummy!!” she screeched, momentarily losing her well-practiced reserve. “As far as the Bobs and Gary are concerned…”
“The buck stops with you?” Ed whispered.
Catherine came nose-to-nose with him. “Yessss,” she hissed. “With me.” They warned me you were too full of yourself.”
“Untrue! The Bobs love my game.”
“We all have our weaknesses.” She turned away as though she couldn’t bear to look at him anymore. “I gave you a perfectly brilliant code for that organ. In its natural state the human brain was a masterpiece of form and function.”
“So why waste it on mouth-breathing cave-dwellers?” Ed shot back. “Self-determination…free will…why bother to do a game like mine without them?”
She wasn’t listening anymore. “You and your tampering. Your ‘natural selection.’ Evolution!” she spat.
“You loved it, Mother. You watched while I tweaked and fiddled so that every day some new wonder appeared on Earth. Balenciaga gowns, the Sistine Chapel. Chocolate croissants. Anyway…” He was searching for some tiny mote of logic. “Look, only a handful of my sims have the skillset for something like…”
“Why are any of them allowed to have the skillset?!” Catherine demanded with a point like an icepick. “I warned you about your science nerds. Quantum physicians. I told you they were dangerous. They needed reining in. And the crazies? They’re almost as numerous as the normals now. Injecting bleach into the veins! Those “incel” creatures calling for more women to be burned alive!”
“And a group of coders,” he argued, knowing how pathetic his argument was, “who’ve designed a game that allows players to walk across the surface of an oil painting.” Who was he kidding? The fucking mess that was his game was the reason he’d gone to the Bobs today in the first place.
“Wait a minute,” Helen said. She bumped Ed aside so she could face Catherine fully. “What are you not telling us? What knife-twist of guilt are you waiting to deliver?”
Ed regarded Helen with surprise. Right. What had he missed? “Well?” he demanded, giving Catherine the same beady eye she had leveled him with.
“This simulon of yours…” she began.
“Of ours, he reminded her snarkily.
“…will not only suck our universe into oblivion…”
Ed was seeing the problem in his mind’s eye – just a tiny bit of the quantum field slipping into its lowest possible energy state – its “vacuum state” – and a bubble of vacuum decay expanding outwards at the speed of light, gobbling up chunks of their universe until there was nothing left.
“I’m talking about all of the universes, my darling,” Catherine replied, her tone icy. “All of them. The entire Multiverse.”
Ed felt pinioned to the floor. The thought was nearly too much to grok. His mind wandered to his Earth sims who, in the current world, were still arguing about the idea of a Multiverse actually existing. It was mean of him to withhold the fact that it did, he knew, but he enjoyed the debate and the clever researchers who had theorized “quantum fluctuations” and “explosive growth spurts” to justify its presence. There was the one who had hypothesized an ever-inflating multitude of “bubbles” continually budding off new universes – a “Bubble Multiverse,” infinite and endless. So what if one of them was extinguished? Another was always being born to take its place. And the guy who’d suggested “Branching Universes,” each one forking into several different versions, one for each possible outcome. Clever, clever, clever… But few of the designers here worried much about the end of it all. Most liked to think that nothing could destroy the Multiverse, and all the theories – including the Big Suck – were mentioned – if at all – with a cynical chuckle. Who would ever consider fomenting such an outrage?
“Ours would be just the first,” Catherine continued. “One parallel dimension after another – poof! All gone. Forever. There’d be no coming back from this. So, Ed, I suggest that you and the girlfriend…”
“Helen is my fiancé.”
“Whatever she is, take her out of here with you and fix this.”
“Consider it done,” Ed replied, holding Catherine’s eye with all the strength and dignity he could muster, praying the stink of fear coming off him wasn’t too obvious.
As he took Helen’s arm and walked her out of the office the squishy cerebral matter under their feet threw them into each other – a less than elegant exit.
“Straighten up,” he whispered. “Let’s not give her the satisfaction.”
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