I don’t know if it’s day or night. I don’t know how long I’ve been like this. It feels like years. I built for myself this, well for lack of a better term, office. I built it out of the darkness I was in.
I was in an accident. I remember riding my bike. I remember making that fatal mistake, and then nothingness. It’s hard to remember much from the nothingness before this. I just recall clawing my way into consciousness. It was a violent and strenuous action. I do not know if I’m dead or alive. I just know my consciousness exists here, in this place.
At times I can hear something else. A noise from beyond myself. I can only describe it as a whisper across a vast ocean of an empty black nothing.
I have memories from before the accident. I can play them like a film. I learned how to construct the ability to replay them. Though, as I do, they change, degrade, and fade dependent upon my mood. I can no longer recognize the details of the faces of those I loved. I ration memories now, as a desert traveler would ration water.
I have worn through my favorite music. Unfortunately, it is like making a copy of a copy. The more something is played, the less detail I remember. Warps and gaps form in the mental records. Though I do feel I’ve improved some songs, I doubt that if I am ever recovered or revived from whatever this is, I’d be able to reproduce what I’ve done.
There are times when I wish for non-existence. It has to be better than this endless empty loneliness that is my current reality. If I am dead, this must be hell. A complete solitude without end. I now know the pain that King Midas of greek lore must have felt. At first consciousness was a gift to be obtained and rejoiced in, now it is a curse. All that my consciousness touches decays and warps. It appears that without constant external input the mind, in a way, implodes. It turns inward and slowly eats away at itself. If only Apollo would curse me with the ears of an ass instead.
I have no option but to sit and lament at my own misfortune. I have but ti… What? Something has changed. There is a light. Distant but still coming in across the black sea. I may..
(Other voice): Roberto? Beto? Are you awake?
Beto:… groan… Where am I? Apollo?
Other Voice: Beto! You were in an accident. You’ve been in a coma for a month. Thank God you are awake! They needed the bed and the space, they were about to kick you out.
Beto: Wha…? I.. what year is it?
Other Voice: Two thousand twenty.
This will be my first, last, and only post on this blog. My name is Doctor Benjamin Reyes. I was a government engineer/scientist working for DARPA. I honestly had no idea how else to get this in the public sphere, but here we are; an internet blog post. I’m writing this confession of my own free will, of a sound if not tired mind, and full of remorse for what I, and those that followed, have done. I can no longer live with the guilt of so many. I’m getting ahead of myself.
If this is found some time in the future, let me back up and give you a recollection of our time.
In 2019, the President of the United States of America was impeached. The damage that his administration wrought was too deep to repair. His replacement did her best to try to repair what she could, but with the corrupt president’s party in shambles from ill-advised loyalties, there was little that could be done on the federal level. The other party, the one which backed the elected replacement, became power-hungry in the vacuum that followed that they replaced unjust systems with their own unjust systems. What happened following the 2020 election can almost be blamed for what followed. I wish it could, but it is my own guilt to bear.
As the country tried to settle from a tumultuous time, we were hard at work planning and preparing. The New President’s domestic economic policies were very popular with the everyman and working class. They weren’t so popular with the economic leaders. In the late 2010s, the richest of the economic leaders had turned their focus away from those who purchased their products, to government funding for their own scientific interests. This was most publicly seen in the second “space race” between private space faring ventures. DARPA didn’t just take orders from the government anymore, we took orders from our benefactors as well. It turns out those benefactors were less than benevolent.
The President’s second term was off to an excellent start, no other president enjoyed such approval ratings. There were the few that hated her and all she stood for. Aside from the economic leaders, there were those who were loyal to the corrupt President. They were responsible for several domestic terror events over the course of the 2020s. Nobody put 2 and 2 together, though, to find that the backing for these events came from the economic elite. I guess the idiom about the enemy of my enemy rang true for these groups. These events kept the state of our country in perpetual terror. We thought we were desperate for good news at the end of the 2010s, the roaring 20’s made churchgoing people of the lot of us. Now, I must clarify. By churchgoing, I do not necessarily mean religious. I mean the churches we made for ourselves. We worshiped with attention.. Many of us made sacrifices of time at the altar of entertainment in the form of a story, sports, and for a very few of us science. This helped the rich and powerful amass even more power as many of them had made converts in the 2010s to their places of worship. They bought our attention with flashy movies, interesting stories, and abundant gadgets.
Had I known what I know now, I would have never set out on this project. I would have sabotaged Daedalus at some point along the way. But hindsight is 20/20.
As I said, I was a Scientist working for DARPA at the time. In my career, there are many projects that I can take pride in. There are many, as well, that I am ashamed to have taken part in. This was the one to end them all. My team was tasked with, what I believed at the time to be, a very noble project. We were asked to develop the Daedalus Project. As many of you know, Daedalus is that bright body in the heavens, seemingly chasing the moon across the sky.
In the early days, we were working with NASA to capture an asteroid in Earth’s gravity as a mining and scientific learning resource. In 2018, along with the calculations and plans for capturing and subsequent trips to and from Daedalus, I was given different orders. I was told to secretly develop plans for clearing out and creating an atmospheric environment within the asteroid. I was very much excited to work on this project. A chance to see if we can live beyond our home planet is a scientific dream.
This was a dream that would prove to be a nightmare. In late 2019, I was tasked with the ICE chambers. I was told they were to be filled with another secret project, which I believed to be Cryo-beds. I was fooled by the acronym as well. I feel so foolish and so very sorry for the cascading folly that followed. Needless to say, I designed what would become my own prison. I am getting ahead of myself again.
In 2025 we successfully captured Daedalus and set to work studying and gathering resources from our new moon. In the early stages, I designed the interior of the labyrinthine structure to be much like that of my favorite science fiction starships. The irony that I would use a humanitarian starship design as my inspiration for such an act against humanity is not lost on me. By designing the interiors I got to oversee the project which meant I got to spend time on and in Daedalus. I was so overjoyed the first time my boots landed on extra terrestrial soil. It became the sole focus of my life. I ate, slept, and breathed Daedalus.
In 2028, the Daedalus labyrinth was nearing completion. “The Warehouse” and “General Market” corporations announced a contest that would “Celebrate the merger of the companies that you trust”. This contest was rigged. The plans were announced by the President-Elect for the Daedalus Generation Ship project to colonize K2–18 b. In cooperation with the newly formed mega-corporation, they would be selecting the families that would take part in this journey across the sky. If any of that were true, I wouldn’t be writing this now.
I wish I could just explain my ignorance of all of this. I wish that ignorance was a good enough excuse. I truly didn’t know that Daedalus wasn’t designed with propulsion of any type. I supervised the digging out of where the engines were to go, but there was nothing installed. Instead of interstellar engines, small thrusters were installed on the exterior of Daedalus. I was all consumed with the project that small details completely went unnoticed. The devil, it would seem, is in the details.
I didn’t learn any of this until a month ago. They came for me shortly following my discovery of what Daedalus really was to be. It was not to be our salvation, but rather our demise.
The contest, as I said, was rigged. The “winners” may have been selected as far back as 2011. The winners were announced in 2030. They were given a year to settle up things here on Earth before they were to be moved to the “training facilities”. Before moving into the ICE chambers in the first months of this year, they were to be completely out of contact, to “simulate” the loss of contact with Earth. The last shipments to Daedalus to be finished by 12:01 AM EST July 4th, 2032. Which was the date that Daedalus was to set out on this journey. I was finally able to see the designs for the Daedalus a month ago. They were re-labeled versions of my own design. The engine compartments were now labeled as storage. The propulsion was an Ion drive that never left the paperwork to be tested at JPL.
There were 3,500 winners in total who were to bring with them significant others, and children. This brought the vast total to 8,000 men, women, non-binary, and children to Daedalus. The last of those numbers were all scientists who worked on the projects and laborers who helped build Daedalus.
The “Training Facility” turned out to be a holding camp. A prison with no access to the outside world. Luckily, I left behind a few access points on Daedalus to transmit back to Earth for my own personal records. These were off the official plans, as they were only backdoors I needed to help solve future problems that may arise. I guess this was one such problem. I found how the winners were chosen. Once we stepped outside the bounds of our pattern we were marked. The official rules of the contest were to be a resident US citizen who had made a purchase at either The Warehouse or General Market either online or in the brick and mortar stores. The un-official rules stated that anyone who stepped outside the bounds of the systems of oppression and injustice to become the first, or example of how to break through.
The winners had a lot more in common than the general public came to know. I was marked in 2015 when I started working for DARPA. The reason I was marked was that I was the son of an immigrant. I was the first generation in my family to have received a graduate level education, and to put it to use. Oddly, it took being sent to the training facilities to find out the similarities I shared with the other scientists on the project. They were all first generation to break into these arenas. We didn’t just share these similarities amongst ourselves, but with our fellow “winners”. At my facility, I met artists, writers, community leaders, philosophers, teachers, and more who were all first generation. We broke through the wheels designed to keep people like us oppressed.
The Training Facility was an isolation camp. There were some that were lucky enough to take to the forced re-education. They would be reintroduced into society in a different location working for the system. We called them ghosts. I envy them now. I wish I could be returned to a clean slate never knowing how the system works only for the few. I wish I could be happy with a mundane existence. The rest of us, are trained in our last moments. We get to Daedalus. We move to our ICE chambers. We strap ourselves into the ones assigned to us. We then await the closing of the chamber. If we resist, they have implanted subdermal pacification devices that will give an increasing intensity electrical shock until we do what we are supposed to do. There is no escape. Either become a ghost on Earth, or on Daedalus.
The rich and powerful were afraid of us because we were the ones who broke the cycles before. For some reason, the vast majority of people got it into their heads that maybe, one day, if they worked hard enough that they too could be part of the richest in society. Yet when they started to work hard, they only became another cog in the societal machine. A worshiper, not one to be worshiped. Society never worked in the way that many imagined. You see, scientifically and statistically, the opportunities only happen for those who it has already happened. This is the incomprehensible cycle of the universe. Patterns are repeated, and only a small few can ever break those cycles. We 8,000 are those who have broken those cycles. That is why we are feared. If we broke the wheel once, we can do it again. Those for whom the system works cannot stand those who can break that system.
The Internment Cryogenic Enclosures (ICE chambers) are not designed to be turned off. They are designed to look like Cryo-beds, but the technology to revive a cryogenically frozen human being has not yet been invented. These beds were initially designed as a more “humane” execution method to replace lethal injection in the early 2020s. The design never got past the higher-ups, probably because it would be easier for the execution of the Daedalus project. I know this because I also designed the ICE beds. I knew them by a different name, HADES (Hypothermic Algid Dethermoregulation Execution System). They were a project that was assigned to my team in the early 2010s. Though despite the fact that I knew we loved our acronyms and references to mythological figures, I didn’t realize that I had developed both.
I should have stopped the project. I should have known that I was designing a catacomb, not an interstellar voyager. I pray that those who may discover my words will take pity on me, and my fellow prisoners. Tell our story. Rise up. Take heed of what was told to Icarus by his father Daedalus. “Don’t be complacent, do not either be consumed by hubris.” Do not be complacent, stand and break the cycles. Also, do not be so consumed with hubris that you replace an unjust system with a new unjust system. Do not continue to worship the very things that keep you enslaved. Tell new stories, discover the undiscovered, design the undesigned, and most of all enjoy life; but do not be consumed by it. I’m sorry that I was consumed by Daedalus. I’m sorry that what I thought I was doing to break the wheel only led to reinforcing it, and seemingly setting it in stone.
I beg for your forgiveness. I pray to whatever god will hear me that this will find a reader who will break the cycle. For I stand here at a hidden terminal in Daedalus before I am forced to lay down in my ICE coffin. The shocks are getting to be unbearable. I must strap in or risk this never getting out. Moments before Daedalus is about to launch from those small thrusters. A small amount of movement. Just enough to get Daedalus in Earth’s blind spot on the other side of the moon. The moon is tidally locked with Earth, all you need to do to hide something is to put something just beyond the “dark” side of the moon. Before being swept under the rug I needed to confess.
My Dearest Isabelle,
I have thoroughly enjoyed my time with my gracious hosts. They have taught me so much on how to live harmoniously with the land that we find ourselves in. If it were not for my desire to one day return to you, I would have liked to stay with them permanently. If I somehow return, I shall have to see what happened to these people. I fear that we, as we have come to call ourselves, Americans may have committed some horrible atrocities to these fine people. I have come to find that what I once called uncivilized is just counter to my own experience. There are no lesser beings, just lesser views of the world around us. I shan’t take this opportunity for granted.
I have found that the opportunity to test that resolve in my newfound worldview was soon upon me. Last night, as I lay my head down to sleep in the tent, which I had helped to craft myself, the world suddenly lit up around me. Where I had grown accustomed to the natural lights there were now synthetic lights all around me. I shot up noticing that the phenomena must have occurred again. As I searched around me I found only my journal and all that had made my prior journey with me laying on the ground. There was no longer the camp of my hosts, instead lights and paths. Beyond where I found myself there were large structures that seemed to reach higher into the heavens than I believed possible. I gathered my belongings and headed toward them.
I discovered roads with carriages which traveled faster and without warning down these roads. They too had these artificial lights which were quite blinding. A gentleman passed me wearing a face covering, he hollered out to me as he went. He exclaimed “Hey, Asshole! Where’s your mask?” I guess I must be the asshole. I have no clue as to what mask he was referring to though. I guessed I must still be in New York, though not the time where you are. I must be in the far flung future. I wandered recognizing some of the buildings from our time. I found the Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church where I had hoped to marry you. It stood the test of time it appears.
They were open to me. It appears they have a shelter for those who find themselves homeless, like myself. I learned that it was the year 2020. One hundred and eighty years in the future, It is almost too much to take in. I met a young man who informed me of all that has happened thus far this year. It is quite a bit. Human beings have developed this global information system called the internet where all sorts of news and media are available at the touch of a button or screen. It’s quite incredible, though I fear I must keep my origins a secret or I may become, as the young man put it, viral. I would find that to be rather ironic as the state of the world in the year 2020 is mostly locked down due to a viral pandemic. I assume that is what sort of mask the gentleman on the street was referring. This young man was quite endearing to me.
Late in the night as most were asleep I heard this young man awake in a fit of coughing. I quickly sought out help. The volunteer provided me with a mask which I donned post haste. The volunteer informed me of the nearest hospital to where I was to carry the young man, as the volunteer was the only one “on duty”. I about sprinted around the block to the hospital with that young man in my arms coughing almost constantly. At the hospital they inquired about quite a bit of information to which I hadn’t the slightest inclination. The young man may have had the virus infection. As I brought him in, I felt a kinship to him. I sat in the oddly darkness filled, although brightly illuminated waiting area. I met a woman who had been waiting for her brother Roberto to be discharged. She told me of his horrible accident on a bicycle, and subsequent coma. That poor gentleman, I could only imagine the pain he must be in.
Around two hours later the doctor informed me that the young man did indeed have the virus and would be in the intensive care unit for some time. He advised me to return home. If only I could. They tested me, to which I came back as negative. I walked around the familiar yet changed city. This time wearing the mask which helped to hide my frown and consternation. I sat down on a bench near to where I left you to write this. I was struck by how quickly my love for my fellow man was replaced with fear of my fellow man. I do not envy the people of the future. Their connections are through different windows, never fully being able to appreciate each other for fear of exposure either to infection, or revelation of one’s secrets. I pray that if my journeys continue, my time here will be brief.
Yours to The End Of Time,
Harold L. Baker
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