My buddy Simon is awesome. He's a geek like me, loves his techie job, programs on the weekends, has a Golden Lab. And cancer. The lethal kind.
Simon also happened to have figured out the meaning of life. He discovered some other stuff, like how to hack the universe.
He discovered that the meaning of life is to go out with an Original Death.
Simon's discovery is quite remarkable.
We are all prisoners of a computer simulation. We exist only in a digital form.
Our planet Earth, our entire Solar System, are all simulated. Your body, your cereal, the laptop in your lap, the oven in the kitchen, the entire world, they are simulated. It's a simulation of atoms, with some interesting starting conditions. We were allowed to evolve over time, to populate this planet, and die in unique ways.
And this is the way out of the simulation.
We must end our lives with never-before-seen deaths. The winners get to leave the simulation. The losers, those of us who die unoriginal deaths, their entire existence is annihilated. They go from existence, to non-existence.
The winners walk out into the real world in artificial bodies, complete with full legal rights of personhood.
That was the deal that the creator of our sim arranged.
Dwayne, Simon's friend, was another geek who hacked the universe, and he was into metallurgy. So he created an impossible sword and killed himself with it.
At Dwayne's funeral, Simon got a text from Dwayne's cell number. Whoever it was had texted "Hi, Simon, this is Dwayne. The key-phrase is Hardly Octopus Ireland Caitlin. I'm a happy fucker, an Original Death!" Simon smiled and knew that his friend was free, on the outside.
A key-phrase is something that two people agree on before one of them dies, and they're the only one who know it. No one other than Dwayne and Simon knew the key-phrase, and now that Simon had died and continued to live… Well, it sort of proved the afterlife.
So Simon, the miserable fuck with the cancer, hacks the universe and devises a curious method of suicide that leads to freedom. A Suicide Booth. One that guarantees an Original Death. It does this by keeping a ginormous database and inflicting death in a vast variety of non-repeating and impossible ways.
Simon was the first client, and he contacted a few us with our key-phrases. We're now sending about two hundred people a day, all in variously original ways. There hasn't been a single customer who hadn't checked in on the other side.
Large groups of friends, generations of family, all face a picture of their passed-on friend and listen to the speakers, wait for their loved one to speak each of their pass-phrases.
Little Jimmy (aged 67) winces as his sister speaks their pass-phrase "at least I didn't wrestle with the monkey", and he knows that upon her death Joanne left their home simulation. She was free.
Their families couldn't be happier. Their loved ones get it. The world is a different place, now that we know there's an out.
With Simon's booth, we know that there's another, entirely different world beyond the confines of this one.
But you know the truth? The ugly truth that not many know?
Our simulation's purpose is to produce conscious entities who died in original ways.
Some rich bastard walked into a corner store and asked for two trillion fucked-up digital entities for a party he was throwing over the weekend. It was a fad, like bringing pet fish to a house-warming.
The proprietor started up a simulator and fucked-up humans quickly showed up on-screen, were then transferred to the rich bastard's account.
But then the rich bastard was assassinated. I wonder why.
He paid for the order, so it was being carried out. The law on the outside stated that the simulation had to continue until the order was filled. There needed to be two trillion of us.
The law didn't say much about what to do with the product. The rich bastard paid for the pet licenses. The law allowed for these to be revoked. Pets whose licenses were revoked, instantly became citizens.
Citizens are provided with a cheap disposable android body. We're walking out of a neighborhood store into a world of opportunity.
We're party favors who stumbled through bureaucracy into existence.
But the worst thing is the number. Two trillion is a lot of humans, but it's not infinite. At some point the order will be filled, and the simulation will be shut down.