The First Elephant

The news broadcast pittered at just above a whisper. 

In happier news this morning China has a new ornament for what has been an empty landscape, the first elephant, that’s right the first Elephas Maximus was birthed this morning. China says they hope this will be the first of many but the process is difficult to replicate and provides only marginal outcomes for success. This elephant was produced on the thirty-third try and at fifty-five billion dollars per attempt, we may not be seeing another one of these anytime soon. Interactive 3-D’s will be published from the…

“Do you think it’s real?” Tury asked.

Gabriel shrugged.

“I don’t believe it, likely just another synthetic hoax, like the frogs they were talking about the other day.” Tury dropped a mocker, “Scientists are thrilled to find a rebounding population of the Common Frog, ‘Rana Temporaria.’” She turned off the skewed projection of the news, “Turns out they were all synthetics made for curbing the expanding insect population. This is just a tourist attraction, up their visits in person and otherwise.”

The news continued to murmur in her background, Tury placed another pleasure sampler between her teeth and tongue. The news analysts exuded excitement.

Experts say that Elephants once roamed all of Asia and Africa and while some outliers point to human activity as the cause of this great predator’s demise, most experts agree that the elephant came to the natural end of its evolutionary cycle as all animals do. Many experts have been quick to point just how poorly adapted the elephant was to this ever changing globe we call home. 

The news anchor turned to the host of the daytime talk-show that was due to come on next.

Bringing back an extinct creature is truly something marvelous, don’t you think Jack?

Jack Pillar’s laugh belied his artificial frame. Digital hosts were less expensive, less liable to gaffes, more appealing, and somehow more human.

Especially a creature so terrible as the elephant. On our show today we will highlight its exploits as one of the most voracious predators of the past few centuries.

Tury flicked her finger and the two of them once again had the room to themselves, “I hate those talk show hosts. So slick it’s a wonder any of the oldies still push non-plastic.”

Gabriel pulled an implant from his nose and said, “I don’t know why you’re on this all natural kick, the digital hosts mimic humans, it’s pretty much the same thing. There’s no real advantage to exclusively dealing with authentic humans, the science just doesn’t back it up, people really can’t tell the difference.” Memes flashed as he spoke to her, a tree turning into a machine, a mime, and a little girl yelling “it’s the same” Followed one another in brief flashes above his head.

Tury flicked her display over and shut him off. She spoke knowing he could still hear her, “You know for a juvey you’re certainly mouthy and knowy.” She shut herself down.

Gabriel sat up and played with his implant before moving into the eatery. Jonathan was always eating and the station was probably too small for his needs. His allowance wasn’t enough to live on his own and Tury was a bit old for a live-in but Gabriel didn’t mind. Most live-ins never interacted without a digital interface and Tury was a break from the monotony of digital exploits no matter how exciting. Human’s incredible ability to become unimpressed with the astounding was immense, and he was certainly washed at the moment. Some sensory deprivation and desensitization resets were probably in order to heighten his next adventure. He had hardly felt the effect of those last two implants.

Gabriel rolled a tiny globe between two fingers. The bliss of the abyss was beckoning. He marveled at the object’s physical presence, the space it occupied. It lent itself to a sense of permanence despite of the knowledge that nothing is permanent. Perhaps physical reality, was the greatest of illusions. In the whipserings of philosophers from the ages of ignorance, human existence and essence, ironically enough, had most often been tied to abstract processes rather than quantifiable and measurable characteristics–the physicality of the being. Perhaps the elephant had never existed. Its physical presence only an illusion, a transient being on an imaginary planetoid.

Gabriel moved back to his station after deciding on a drip. He entered the live feed and set about the enclosure. Digital ads flashed and played across his vision. He would have to update his blockers and scan for any pathogens, every corporation involved would be struggling to skim profits off of any visitors. The enclosure was crowded with hundreds of millions of people, all of them invisible but aware of one another, like a great hive mind of many particular neurons. The elephant was small, young, alone. Gabriel turned off his amps, color filters, and settled for the real thing.

The animal was dirty and bleating pitifully while robotic arms poked and prodded, testing and injecting. The golem looking creature huddled in the corner staring out across the vast enclosure that had been prepared for it. Is this what we were like, Gabriel wondered, So unaware of our own circumstance? The creature couldn’t attempt to imagine or comprehend what lay and existed outside of this cave, much less outside of its enclosure. To think this creature would one day become a great and ferocious predator, a ruler in his own right, how marvelous.

Gabriel stepped out of the live feed and opened his god-view. The options raced across his open eyes. He let his nerves be transed and felt himself expand into a digital space. The sensation was difficult to describe, an increase in size around him—the space he did not occupy. It quivered and breezed in his presence. He would visit many worlds tonight, just not his own.

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