Yearning to be Like the Gods (flash fiction)

Here’s a piece of sci-fi flash fiction about the hubris of humanity and the pursuit of super-powers. It’s about 625 words and has an estimated reading time of 2 and a half minutes. Let me know what you think!

The experiment had great potential and, if it succeeded, it would make Marlon Fowler the most intelligent human being on earth.

Marlon was a multi-billionaire, a tech mogul, and one of those transhumanists who believed anything could be solved with technology. He made his billions in Silicon Valley, and since retiring, he spent most of his time sinking his vast fortune into little pet projects and intellectual pursuits.

But this one, by far, was the most ambitious.

“Are you ready, Mr. Fowler?” Orson, the scientist, asked.

Fowler was seated in the California laboratory of Orson Webster, the genius scientist who’d developed the brain-computer interface tech. It had the potential to hook up Fowler’s brain to the internet and the vast sums of knowledge, all the combined knowledge of humankind.

It had never been done before – Fowler would be the first to try it. And Webster, the scientist, admitted it could be dangerous.

I was one of Webster’s research assistants in the laboratory, and I was skeptical it would work. But, if it did work, it would be a modern marvel of science and perhaps usher in a new era of super-intelligent humans.

“I’m ready, Orson. I’ve been ready my whole life for this,” Fowler said, chomping at the bit to get the procedure started.

“Very well then,” Webster replied. The scientist scanned Fowler’s brain, the first step, and would then surgically insert the microchip.

I thought Fowler was crazy. True, I was a researcher who worked on this project, and I thought it had potential. But the risks were tremendous, and the research was still somewhat new.

This billionaire tech mogul had the pride and audacity to try it, and he paid handsomely for it. It reminded me of those myths about men who wanted to be like the gods – and how they were often punished for it.

How was this any different from Adam and Eve eating from the Tree of Knowledge? Was it proper for one human being to have that much power and information at his disposal? To have the world’s library in his brain?

Fowler was put to sleep by this time, after giving the thumbs up to begin the procedure. He smiled his billion-dollar smile, then passed out. Webster, myself and the team of researchers and doctors got to work.

The brain surgeon carefully inserted the microchip, which would provide Fowler instantaneous access to the internet. All seemed to be going well.

“Success!” Webster yelled when the surgery was complete.

The research and medical team clapped and hugged, myself included. This would go down in the history books, after all. Hell, we may even win a Nobel Prize for it.

But something wasn’t quite right.

Fowler was supposed to wake from his slumber by now, but he didn’t. Webster checked his diagnostics; he still had a pulse, but he seemed almost to be paralyzed. The team went into a frenzy, rushing to and fro.

Fowler’s wife, who stood in the adjoining room, banged on the door, demanding answers. We didn’t know what to do or what happened.

Webster pulled me aside after running a quick brain scan.

“It didn’t work, after all” he lamented, looking nervous. “There’s major brain damage. I thought … I thought this would work, but …”

“Is he alive?” I asked.

“Yes, very much alive. But the brain damage is significant.”

Fowler sat in the laboratory chair, motionless. I had a feeling this would happen, though I didn’t share that with many people.

Like all ancient mythology warns us, there are limits to what humans can and can’t do. This billionaire pushed the envelope too far.

We’re made to be human, not like the gods.

The End

(Photo by JJ Ying on Unsplash)

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