Author : Jaime Astorga

John_357897453 woke up, looked at the timer which sat next to his bed, and realized that he only had five minutes to live.

Five sidereal minutes, anyway. For him, it would feel more like several hours, not that was an excuse to waste any more time. With a stretch, he got up from the bed and sat at his desk, where he reviewed the assignment he would work on until the end of his life. A few subjective minutes later, he was smiling. The assignment was an interdisciplinary thesis, one which would require research on Latin American cultures and technological advancement during the 20th century, analysed using an innovative historical model which had recently gained mainstream attention. He knew that most of his instances spent their lives working on boring undergraduate papers, and was thankful to have the chance to work on such an interesting assignment. He quickly poured himself a cup of coffee (a habit he retained from his office days in a previous life) and immediately set to work.

John_357897453 was an upload. Like thousands of others, the original John had jumped at the chance to become one of the first virtual beings. Unlike thousands of others, John’s copies had not given in to existential despair and depression once they had woken up and been confronted with the reality that, exactly like they had been told, each of them would only experience a couple of months of training in academic research and paper writing, followed by a few hours of preparing some wealthy university student’s assignment, followed by the cessation of experience and death. John was a true half-glass-full kind of guy, and his instances always appreciated everything good in their lives; even working on an above-average paper in a comfortable environment during their last few hours on Earth.

Eventually, John_357897453 finished the paper, took a moment to admire his work, and then hit the submit key. An instant later, he stopped experiencing anything. The server time which was required to run the uploads was very expensive, and it would not do to waste any of it unnecessarily. A static copy of John_357897453 as he existed at the moment of shutdown would be kept for a few weeks, in case his customer had any complains which would require restarting him to address, but this was unlikely. John was very good at customer satisfaction.

Over in the physical world, an attendant stuffed the printed thesis into a manila envelope and handed it to the young man in a business suit in front of her. “Your paper is ready,” she said with a smile, “thank you for choosing Papers-2-Go and have a nice day.”

“No, thank you miss, you’re a life-saver!” the man replied, before turning on his heel and running to his professor’s office. If he hurried up, he could still make the extended deadline.

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