“I’ve been thinking a lot about death lately.”
I looked over at the speaker. He was my work friend, but we rarely spoke beyond the usual platitudes and comments of about coworkers. For a moment I didn’t know what to say. Honestly I had forgotten his name a few weeks ago and had done my best to cover it up with a judicious use of ‘dude’.
“Not like, killing myself or wanting to die, just about death.”
“Okay.” I shut off the miniature welding torch and turned to face him. “Do you want to talk about it?”
“No.” The small bead of yellow light played across his safety goggles as he shook his head. “But, yeah I do.”
“Well.” I shrugged. “Where do you want to start?”
“It’s just.” He waved his torch in a deflated motion. He caught himself after a moment and turned it off. “I get it, it’s a part of life, there is nothing we can do to stop death, but then there’s the whole thought of uploaded consciousness. I mean, we’re not there yet, but we’re close, so if you upload your brain into a machine, then your body dies, do you truly die?”
He held up a hand as I opened my mouth. “That doesn’t matter. What I mean is, I’m an atheist. I don’t believe in a god, or an afterlife, but then one of the basic laws of science is that energy cannot be created or destroyed, simply changes. To me, I take that as some form of reincarnation. Not like I’ll die and then wake up as a baby, but that the energy that is my make-up will be reused. Eventually, it will reform into an advanced life form, but it could be thousands upon thousands of years before that happens.” He turned back to his work area. “But, when I’m in bed at night, that doesn’t really help. We die, we pass from this life into the unknown, and I can’t figure it out.”
“Do you need some time alone?” I offered.
“No.” He laughed. “That makes it worse.” He flicked on his torch and turned back to his work. “You know, sometimes I just wish I was a little stupider. I think I’d enjoy life a lot more.”
“Yeah.” I nodded and turned back to my work area. I looked down at the scattered pieces of mechanics and circuit boards. For a moment I couldn’t think, I just stood there staring. “Hey.”
He looked up at me. “Yeah?”
“Sorry, but I forgot your name.”
“Hmm.” He stepped closer to me. “I thought I fixed that.”
His hand reached toward my chest. I looked down to see a metal panel fall open at his touch. Tiny spots of lights on circuitry not unlike the pieces on my workstation blinked inside. I tried to swat his hand away, but his finger tapped something inside and I could move anymore.
“Don’t worry.” He looked me in the eyes and gave a reassuring smile. “We’ll have you back in order in a moment.”