Fly on the Wall: A Visit to Elon’s Parallel Universe

The latest in Fair Observer’s series of fictional dialogues intended to make sense of the underside of the news. This episode belongs to the world of science fiction.

FADE IN:

INT.SHINY FUTURISTIC DOME

THE SCENE takes place 420 years in the future, in the palindrome year 2442. Planet AlsetDS14’s most brilliant technological and entrepreneurial mind, NOLE SKUM (50) is on a Hypermooz 5-dimensional holographic call with SEGRIM (34), his ex and mother of two of his bionic children. NOLE has invented the first operational wormhole in the galaxy, but it is still a secret. In recent weeks, he successfully teleported himself to a parallel civilization, an alternate world (earth) exactly 420 light years away. People in these two alien civilizations share the same genomic identity, but in contexts separated in time by the distance between the two planets. Though both were created simultaneously, by an effect of space-time AlsetDS14 is 420 years ahead of earth, benefitting from four supplementary centuries of technological research and development.

NOLE

How’s it going? We haven’t pinged for some time. I was just calling to know how our kid is doing.

SEGRIM

Which kid? We have two you know.

NOLE

Oh yeah, I forgot. You know, the older one with the weird name I can never remember, it’s so complicated.

SEGRIM

Fred? He’s OK, but QY!f*inity has started making some sounds that resemble words.

NOLE

What was in our Knilaruen quantum brainfeed when we came up with that bizarre name, “Fred”?

SEGRIM

Yeah, it’s weird. My original idea was Derf!93, not Fred. My new holographic soulmate thinks it could have been the lack of oxygen in your wormhole that was playing havoc with our synapses.

NOLE

I told you not to tell anyone about the wormhole.

SEGRIM

Come on! Everyone knows you’re obsessed with wormholes and fixated on conquering other planets. They know you’ve been slaving away secretly on the wormhole.

NOLE

Yeah, but, as usual, with their goddamn short seller mentality, they think I failed, that it would come to nothing —

NOLE pauses, closes his eyes, wincing as if about to shed a tear.

NOLE (CONT’D)

— But that’s great! Let them have their way. I couldn’t have asked for more. It means nobody suspects what we discovered when the wormhole became operational.

SEGRIM

You mean the twin civilization hundreds of light years away?

NOLE

Yeah, populated by alternate versions of ourselves, weird, backward people locked in the pre-technological past who call their home “earth,” as if it didn’t even deserve a number.

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SEGRIM

Yeah, I guess they should’ve at least called it earthDS3 to indicate their rank in their planetary system where there aren’t even 10 planets — and all of them natural, like just barren rock!

NOLE

In any case, what we discovered is too important to share with anyone.

SEGRIM

You mean, the fact that we are finally in contact with another civilization?

NOLE

No, everyone expected that at some point. But nobody imagined finding a civilization that is a mirror of our own. We are literally over there as well as being here.

SEGRIM

So it isn’t just your invention of the wormhole, to be sure the wormhole IP yours and yours alone!

NOLE

Everyone understands wormholes are possible and that they annihilate space-time. But no one could have imagined we’d reach something that’s an exact mirror of our world — the only difference being it’s 420 years earlier in galactic time.

NOLE looks up towards the sky then turns his attention back to the hologram.

NOLE (CONT’D)

I know we’ve split up, Segrim, and, like we agreed, you’re free to do your own thing, but, hell, you promised never to reveal the secret.

SEGRIM

I didn’t tell anyone. Why are you accusing me?

NOLE

Somebody’s been talking and it wasn’t me.

SEGRIM

Well, it wasn’t me. Maybe there’s a leak in your goddamn wormhole!

NOLE

You traveled in it, didn’t you? And you talked to people on earth.

SEGRIM

Only once. I was curious what kind of music my alternate identity, someone named Grimes, was into.

NOLE

Didn’t I tell you not to interact verbally with anyone on earth?

SEGRIM

I didn’t say anything about the wormhole. I just asked a few questions.

NOLE

They must have been the wrong questions. My alternate earth identity — a guy everybody talks about, called Elon Musk — apparently he got wind of it —

NOLE (CONT’D)

Anyway,it’s the only rational explanation I can think of for his recent strange behavior that keeps him constantly in the news.

SEGRIM

Now I get it! You’ve been using the wormhole for trivial purposes, spending hours listening to all kinds of rubbish from earth’s ridiculous electronic media of four centuries ago — as if it mattered today. Or even mattered then.

NOLE

Hey — when I’m not traveling through the wormhole, I use it to pump all their digital communication. Nothing trivial about that! Y’know, figuring out a parallel world that’s still centuries in the past could help us understand our own past. I call that a public service.

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SEGRIM

Come on! You’ve always been a hopeless narcissist. Now you’re lost in space admiring the parallel version of yourself.

SEGRIM pulls at her holographic hair then suddenly claps her hands.

SEGRIM (CONT’D)

Wake up, Nole! He may look and sound like you, but Elon’s a loser. He hasn’t done anything significant. I mean, it’s not like he’s about to create a wormhole.

NOLE

Look, his obsession with moving earth’s population to another planet shows that — even locked into a technologically backward past — he’s on to something.

NOLE pauses to let a new brainwave emerge through his neural wiring.

NOLE (CONT’D)

OK, he doesn’t know it, but we know that he’ll have to wait another 300 years — at least — before it even starts becoming conceivable. You know, once the Indians discover how to industrially manipulate quantum entanglement. Hell, those humans — stuck in their dark ages 420 years ago — hadn’t even invented the immortality pill.  

SEGRIM

You’re right about that. So sad! Poor wretches!

NOLE

You have to admit it’s kind of fun watching how things are going on earth. Maybe Elon’s really going to accelerate things. He’s on the right track. He even created something called the Boring Company —

NOLE closes his eyes a few seconds to pick up information from his neural feed.

NOLE (CONT’D)

Don’t you find it funny that nobody on earth wondered why he would be so obsessed by the idea of boring.

SEGRIM

Wasn’t it just a joke about being known for his eccentricity and always doing ridiculous things? I mean, like, telling people he’s not just a boring scientist.

NOLE

No. He has so much money people refuse to think of his behavior as ridiculous. It’s a world where money makes decisions and value judgments, not people.

NOLE waits for a nod of approval from SEGRIM for this deep thought.

NOLE (CONT’D)

I finally figured out what the idea of “boring” really signifies. It’s about Elon’s obsession with the idea that he might be the first to bore a wormhole in the galaxy. I can say that because, in a certain sense, his brain is my brain.

SEGRIM

True enough, you guys are definitely mirror images of one another. Pathologically obsessed by impossible ideas.

NOLE

Come on, you said the wormhole was impossible and now you’ve been there and seen it. They also said the immortality pill was impossible.

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SEGRIM

Hey, that wasn’t you. That was Yar Liew Zruk’s invention [translated into earth language: Ray Kurzweil].

NOLE

It doesn’t matter. It’s because everyone — people like you — doubted all these supposedly impossible inventions that Yar and I had to struggle so hard to make them work.

SEGRIM

Are you really convinced they did work? Maybe it’s all an illusion.

NOLE

What are you saying? You’ve seen it with your own eyes.

SEGRIM

Yeah, but I have the right to doubt my own eyes. Hell, it’s my body, after all. I can decide what’s real and what isn’t real.

NOLE

But we saw the same thing, so it must be real.

SEGRIM

Yeah, but we have the same Knilaruen exofentanylium dose injected into our visual cortex every 14 minutes since the age of 12, like every other prepuberty member of the race in the last 137 years. Couldn’t that be having some effect?

NOLE

Negligible. The injection is all about improving nature, making it more accurate, not distorting it.

SEGRIM

Well, my alternate earthling identity said something that got me thinking. She talked about a book she read that said something about what someone in their civilization called “hyperreality.” It imposes itself as a substitute for elements of the physical universe and takes over people’s entire perceptual field. Literally cancels the senses.

NOLE

That’s nonsense. In the past 200 years, we have definitively shown that what the earthlings still think is reality, like plants — you know trees, flowers, that kind of thing that grow spontaneously out of the ground – all that may be real in some superficially physical way. But it’s basically just an unprofitable illusion. What grows in our brains is the only reality that counts.

SEGRIM

Yeah, I guess it is — planted, watered and nourished by Knilaruen exofentanylium!

FADE OUT:

Fair Observer’s running feature Fly on the Wall is a series of imaginary, but believable dialogues intended to use fiction to help us make sense of the world. Each fictional dialogue takes place in a private setting between sometimes real, sometimes imaginary people in the news or behind the production of news. By exploring the motivation and intentions of the characters, these dialogues provide an opportunity to illuminate the shadows lurking in the secret corners of current events.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.