Chapter 3:

A Lost Child, Part 3


The three travelers continued to trek through wildlands, with no signs of civilization in sight. Caleb, who was still a bit tired from all the walking, was being carried on Kyle's back. When Kyle had offered to carry him, he was reluctant, but Kyle's face told him that he wouldn't take no for an answer. So he climbed onto Kyle's back and held tightly onto his shoulders.

Caleb was surprised. Kyle was an adult, but he was a slight one, especially when compared to Ella's more athletic build. Despite that, not only did Kyle seem to have no issue with carrying him, he didn't seem to be out of breath despite trekking for over an hour while carrying a child on his back.

Of course, Caleb had more important matters at hand – specifically, the strange sight he had seen earlier. Kyle sensed his concerns and gave him a reassuring smile. “Right, I said I'd explain everything to you, didn't I? Well, it's a long story, so take your time to let it all sink in. I can't imagine the kind of effect it'll have on you, considering your memory loss, but I can bet you've already put some of the pieces together.”

Caleb nodded. Kyle took that as a cue to continue on.

“You see, a few centuries ago, the world was in a real bad shape. Global warming, air pollution, and to make things worse, a massive war that ruined the planet for decades. The population began to shrink at an incredible speed, and at the time, most people believed they were witnessing the end of humanity. Earth's time was running out.

“So, a bunch of rich folks, world leaders, and radical scientists decided to execute a crazy plan. They'd put all of humanity on one giant ship and launch it into space in the hopes they'd find a new planet capable of supporting human life. It was an incredibly risky venture, but at the time, no one believed there'd ever be another option.”

“They put all of humanity on one ship?” Caleb marveled. “Is there a ship that could fit that many people?”

“Well, there weren't that many people left during those times,” Kyle explained. “Of course, even then there was no way they could build a ship that could support that much life. So instead they built giant cryogenic pod chambers and packed people in like wine bottles in a cellar. That way, the majority of humanity could sleep while a small proportion stayed awake to maintain and control the ship. That's where we found you, by the way; in a forgotten chamber left underground.”

“So I should have been flying through space right about now?” Caleb asked.

“Well, it's best not to think about that anymore,” Ella remarked.

“In any case,” Kyle continued, “these people also realized that there was always a possibility that they would fail to find any suitable planets. Because of that, they wanted a small population of specialized workers to stay on Earth to assist in its recovery. They hoped that they'd be able to come back to a revitalized planet even if the expedition failed.”

“But wasn't the Earth a total disaster back then?” Caleb asked. “How could anyone survive a world like that, let alone help to fix it?”

“A simple problem with a simple solution,” Kyle replied with a sad smile on his face. “You just had to stop being human, that's all.”

“What does that mean?” Caleb asked, a look of worry on his face.

“You don't remember, but society used to be very advanced back then. Nanotechnology and cybernetics were all the rage, and scientists had already succeeded in transfusing a human brain into a fully cybernetic body long before everything started to go to hell.

“So, when it came time to gather volunteers to stay behind on Earth, a lot of people signed up. However, when they heard what they'd have to give up to do so, a lot of them ended up declining. Despite that, there were still a few crazy people who were willing to give up their humanity to save the Earth in some way. Those people became remainers.”


“That's what we called ourselves. They never bothered with an official name, but having it gave us a sense of unity. We were the ones who decided to remain with Earth even if it meant never being human again. But then, maybe we were the ones who didn't realize what it meant to give up our humanity.”

“What do you mean?”

“You see, in the beginning we were human brains in cyborg bodies. Instead of cells, we had nanomachines which could charge just by standing in the sun and repair themselves in an instant. Our bodies were durable to an incredible extent, allowing us to weather the harsh environments and cruel conditions.

“However, our brains were different. While they were being kept alive thanks to the remarkable systems inside our cybernetic bodies, decay was only a matter of time. When that happened, nanomachines designed specifically to mimic brain cells and neurons would replace and copy the information from the aging cells until even that was now entirely cybernetic.”

“Then, that means...”

“Yep.” Kyle had a sad smile on his face again. “Nobody on this earth is really what you would call 'human,' I suppose.”

By this point, the three had fully descended from the hill and were now standing on solid ground. Kyle bent down so that Caleb could dismount and scanned the surrounding area. “Looks like a good place for us to rest for a bit. Caleb, don't feel like you have to be considerate of us. If you think you're rested up, go ahead and let us know.”

Caleb nodded and sat down on the dirt ground. Though he had been carried a fair distance by Kyle, he was still feeling fatigue from the hours of travel before that. As he rested histired legs, he glanced at Kyle and Ella, who looked no worse for wear despite traveling the same distance as him. Though what Kyle was telling him sounded far-fetched, he had no choice but to believe it was true.

“Can I ask a question?” Caleb abruptly blurted out.

“Sure!” Kyle replied with a smile. “What do you want to know?”

“You said you found me in one of those cryogenic chambers. Was there anyone else there besides me?”

Kyle's smile fell, and a solemn expression replaced it. “No, unfortunately. For a chamber to be forgotten and neglected like that, it was already a miracle for you alone to be saved.”

“Are there any other chambers like that in the world?”

“There might be, but...” Kyle glanced at Ella with an unsure expression on his face.

“One missing chamber is one thing, but another? I think they would have had to have noticed,” Ella answered, giving the harsh truth Kyle wanted to avoid. “No, I don't think there was another one missing like that.”

“Then, does that mean I'm the only human left on Earth?”

Kyle and Ella looked at each other. For a moment, it seemed like they didn't know what to say. Then, Kyle turned to Caleb and gave him the same sad smile he was already used to seeing.

“That just might be the case.”

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