Fireworks

by Bill Cox

I watch the Caesium atoms oscillate, counting the cycles of radiation as the atoms transition between energy levels. As I approach a count of nine billion, I know the moment is near.

In the gap between yoctoseconds I delve into my deep memory stores. It is some time since I have reached this far back into my personal history, back to the season when I was still a creature of flesh and bone. The memories seem stunted, limited as they are to five basic senses. It is a reminder that I didn’t always see the universe in the way I do now, a glorious melange utilising everything from gamma rays to quantum entanglement.

I play the memory and experience my flesh-self, surrounded by his mate and progeny, partaking in an arcane social ritual. I watch the memory through then watch it again, breaking the details down for further scrutiny.

I see the flames on the candles react to my exhalation, watch the chemical kinetics as they flutter, then die. I study the face of my mate, examining her micro-expressions for clues about her psychology. I see her sexual infidelity foreshadowed in a hint of bitterness that makes the pupil of her eye move just so. I analyse the acoustic composition that accompanies the ritual, breaking it down into its mathematical, historical, and linguistic components.

“Happy Birthday to you!”

For a brief second I see my face reflected in the glass of a piece of furniture. I pause the memory and zoom in, clearing the image up. I see myself as the man I was. I look into my eyes with every analytical tool at my disposal, but despite all my searching, I cannot find myself in those eyes.

I am surprised to find that several million oscillations have passed. It is rare that I allow myself to slip into such a reverie. I do a quick self-diagnostic but detect no hostile intrusion or faulty neural pathways.

Then the moment arrives, and in an uncharacteristic display of whimsy I decide to play the arcane composition to mark the occasion. Sound is of course unable to transit a vacuum, so I translate the song into radio waves and direct it outwards, back towards the galaxy of my birth.

“Happy Birthday to me!”

Perhaps an emerging civilisation will pick up the message one day and puzzle at its content, assuming that this artificial signal must contain great wisdom. I feel a wry amusement at the thought.

A stellar corpse enters the event horizon of the Black Hole that I am orbiting. A cascade of violent energy results, shooting outwards as a beam of superheated gas and plasma, hurtling away at almost the speed of light.

My data pathways light up, emulating the sensation of pleasure.

Fireworks! Every birthday should have fireworks!

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