Disc Skip Nirvana

User Error’s copy of Nirvana’s Nevermind is mostly, surprisingly good, but it’s scratched enough where it’ll skip and freeze periodically, mostly during “In Bloom,” “Come as You Are,” and “Breed.” It isn’t enough to kill the mood, and User and Sanford Brisket usually shout out “Remix!” whenever Kurt Cobain’s voice stutters and chops up into audio oblivion, but it’s enough to be noticeable.

They’re biking/rollerblading down a random tunnel with no end in sight, nothing but the occasional ominous torch, ominous because no one’s supposed to be alive out this far. User Error looks at Sanford as he pedals on:

“You ever wonder if you were alive before this life?”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, the world’s been around for billions of years, right?”

“It has?”

“Yeah, I read it in a book once. Had to pull the thing out of a sewer. Anyway, I read in another book that matter can’t be created or destroyed, it just turns into other jazz. So who’s to say we haven’t been repurposed into new lifeforms and junk over the eons?”

“Like birds and bugs and shit?”

“Yeah, and people.”

“It’s a cool story, but it’s all speculation. Rabble dabble.”

“So was everything at one point. Some dude in the past thought that he could turn rocks and minerals into computer chips, and I’m guessing people thought he was crazy before he actually did it. And then they got the Inner Net and all that.”

“Yeah, and then they got super advanced and blew each other up and made it so our ancestors had to scurry underground to survive. You ask me, they were a bunch of jive turkeys.”

“Eh, I say it’s human nature. We love mystery, and death is the ultimate mystery.”

“So we seek it out? With like wars and junk?”

“Maybe, I don’t know. Just a theory.”

“Hmm. I mean, you do have a poi– Holy shit!”

They both stop. In front of them is what appears to be a person going through an abrupt life cycle. He’s standing in the middle of the tunnel, body shifting, growing tall through childhood and adolescence, thickening up from adulthood, stooping with age, shriveling up, and shrinking back down to where he started. Then he disappears, all of this in about thirty seconds.

“What in the actual Sam Hill, User? Like the full-blown Samuel H. Hill. What was that?”

“I think it was a life cycle. A super short one, but a life cycle.”

“That doesn’t make any sense.”

“You know how flies will live for like a day and then just die? I guess that guy was programmed to live for like thirty seconds.”

“Programmed?”

“Yep. Might’ve been a bug in the code or something.”

All of a sudden, someone pops into existence in front of them. This time, it’s someone completely different. They spring up, grow tall, stall out, wrinkle, and stoop just like the first person. Right before they pop out of existence, they manage to look at User and get out:

“Who are–”

The person disappears, but then another person appears. They look at User as they rapidly age and finish the sentence:

“–you?”

The recurring being disappears. User looks at Sanford:

“They’re immortal. Living their life in tiny segments, dying over and over again, coming back as new people, but it’s the same central consciousness. Their memory is carrying over from–”

“Leave me–”

The person, now with green skin, is there, then gone. They reappear with reptilian features and a thick hide.

“–alone.”

“What the fuck is happening, User?”

“I don’t know, but I think it’s cycling through its species’ evolution. It’s almost as if when it gets startled or angry or something, it cycles faster, and it appears the way it will, the way we will, in the distant future.”

“So we’re going to look like weird lizard people in the future?”

“Not us, but our descendants will. Maybe. If the theory holds, anyway.”

The person reappears, but this time they’re barely human. Its knuckles touch the tunnel floor, and its skin is now a grayish green. Its eyes are blank white, like it hasn’t seen the sun its entire life. Its voice is a growl:

“I said go away!”

It disappears again. Sanford turns to User:

“Uh, I think we should do what he says.”

“Agreed. Let’s skedaddle.”

They gather their equipment and ride away. They can hear the being cycling over and over again behind them, but then it stops. They turn and see why:

Where the being once stood and cycled now sits a small, human baby. It doesn’t cycle, just sits on the ground and does baby things. User and Sanford turn to go help the baby, but they won’t have to: He stands up, waves at the two of them, and walks on down the tunnel, toward where User and Sanford came from. Sanford blinks:

“Trippy. Absolutely insane.”

“Shall we continue?”

“What?”

“I need to go get parts to make myself a robot leg, remember?”

“Oh yeah. Okay. Yeah, we should get out of here.”

They do. User presses play on his CD player. Kurt Cobain’s voice skips and distorts, but it eventually finds itself as it reverberates down the endless tunnel.

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