Dimmer Switch, Revised

  • by Gitabushi

The original “Dimmer Switch” was written, first draft, on twitter.  Later, I wished I had ended the story differently. After talking with my kids about it, I decided to rewrite the story with the new ending, and cleaned up and expanded the rest of the text to match the new ending.

I think I may stop trying to write novels for a year or two, and just write as many short stories as I can, just to build the habit of writing.  We’ll see. Anyway, I hope you enjoy this short story.

Be sure and let me know what you think, good or bad. And let me know which version you like better.

It’s the little things that strike you at the strangest times.
You’d think awareness of the Event would have permeated to my core, but when driving at night, I am still poised to click off my brights, should I see other headlights approaching.
No other headlights will approach.
Well, okay, I don’t *know* that for sure. I’m here. That at least implies the potential existence of others.
I think. I think, therefore I am?
Were none of the other inhabitants of the Earth thinking when it happened?
I dunno, I was never a philosopher.
Except now I think I am.
What do I have to do now except think, now that mankind killed itself off?
I love the feel of night air rushing over me when I leave the top down. It reminds me of simpler days, when I had a family, of trips to the beach…or even just going shopping.
There have been so many changes.
I’m amazed how quickly infrastructure crumbles when there isn’t constant human maintenance.
But perhaps the biggest change is me.
I’m many magnitudes smarter than I was before.
Things I simply couldn’t conceive of before are now clear and sensible.
Things that once perplexed me now seem obvious.
Details that seemed random now fit together to form unified wholes.
I can predict the weather accurately out to several weeks almost as soon as I enter a new region, just from the little clues of light, stirred grasses, and cloud volume.
Along with intelligence has come an unexpected mechanical talent.
My attempt to convert the Mazda Miata run on biomass worked perfectly after some minor modifications. The autopilot I rigged worked on the first try.
But I still drive the car myself. It feels more…mundane.
I have an idea what might have happened.  Bear with me, this may seem like a digression.
There was a theory on a time-wasting website that had tried to codify all the various tropes in fiction. The theory I’m thinking of was the “Conservation of Ninja.”
The idea was that in the climax of first movie/book/book section, the hero would fight a single ninja, and would struggle, but would eventually win.
Later in the same story/series, however, the hero would fight multiple ninjas, and defeat them with relative ease.
The website takes this sudden incompetence of Ninja ability to posit there was merely one unified whole of ninja ability.
When concentrated in one individual, that person was nigh-invulnerable.
When the numbers of ninja multiplied, however, they became laughingstocks, nearly Keystone Cops in incompetence.
A zero-sum of Ninja competence. The more Ninjas, the more diffuse the skill became.
Is this true for human intelligence?
Could there be a zero sum total of human intelligence, divided among each human being?
The movie Idiocracy posited that we were breeding for stupidity.
What if population *is* stupidity?
When virtually everyone died, intelligence concentrated in me.
Imagine the computing power of 7 billion humans, all in one mind. The intelligence would be superhuman.
And, in fact, I’m improvising technology that was beyond the reach of human science at the time of the Event. Imagine what I could do with a supercomputer, or a fully-equipped fabrication laboratory.
Is it possible that I am now God?
In the beginning, there was God.
He knew all, and was All Powerful.
Did He, in creating Man, divide His intelligence, part out His omniscience, divide His ability?  Did God disappear when His intelligence was divided among too many people? Was there a tipping point at some moment in the previous century when humanity became numerous enough that God died?
If so, did the Event bring God back into existence in me?
Or are there others who still share Humanity’s Intelligence with me?
I must find them.
Or perhaps it’s just the combined mental power of 3.5 billion humans.  Or 1.7 billion.
It depends on if I have the whole, or merely a fraction, and how many fractions we are.
As intelligent as I am now, how would I know, considering where I started?
There is a way to know, of course.
It has only been a few short months since the Event. That’s not enough time to be sure.
But if I suddenly find my intellectual ability taking another leap, then someone sharing humanity’s intelligence died. Conversely, if I suddenly find my intelligence dropping by a significant amount, it means a new mind was born.
But I can’t wait. I’m lonely. So I search.
What I wouldn’t give to have someone throw me a ball again, or even a stick. I yearn for someone to call me a Good Boy again.
Unbidden, my tail thumps against the seat. And my paw is on the dimmer switch.

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