In the beginning was, is, and shall always be, the Command Line; a complex and ever-changing sequence of numbers that span across the universe like a living Googolplex. There has always been, is now, and will continue to be a string of these numbers generated for each and every single person ever born, whether they lived long enough to draw a single breath or not. It is one of the few absolutes in the Universe.
It’s like an algorithmic formula, counting down the years, months, days, hours and seconds until you arrive in this world, all the while changing latitude and longitude of the location you will be born, the probability of your parents’ ever meeting, and the infinite probabilities of your past, present and future lives as it relates to the previous set of numbers. It measures the length, width and breadth of the alternate dimensions created by each and every decision you will ever make, the ones you don’t make, your chosen course in this life and probable rates of success and failure in all dimensions.
The Command Line is divided into millions of smaller sub-sections, each designed to handle a specific job. One set determines out to the Nth degree the year, month, day, hour, minute and second of where you will be conceived. A subset of this calculates the street address of the motel room, the hourly rate charged, the business hours of the only available liquor store in the area, the temperature of the room, the amount of streetlight present on the twisted sheets, the odds of your parents being of legal age, the total volume of alcohol consumed and how the housekeeping staff split the tips that fateful night. It knows the odds of your being named for a famous literary character, a dead relative, a family friend, a cartoon character, or the stripper your father met one night at a Waffle House many years before.
A separate section of the formula predicts your birth weight and length, the odds of your being born to wealthy, educated parents who will love and support you throughout your life, or a pair sorrowful misfits born on the poor side of town, doomed to poverty, bad breaks and eternal damnation. It dictates whether or not you will be given up for adoption, or destined to die from a mysterious ailment one night six months after you were born.
Another set calculates the odds of your being conceived with the correct ratio of fingers and toes. It measures the level of pigment in your skin. It measures the number of times your heart will beat, and the number of breaths you will draw. Using a bilinear interpolation sequence well beyond our understanding, it figures the dominant and recessive traits of your parents, their parents, and the exponential explosion of related strangers who came before you, whose contributions to your gene pool will continue to influence your life in a million unseen ways.
These numbers are ever changing, growing, and fluctuating. They, more so than life, are what happens while you’re making other plans. They will grow and evolve, measuring the shifting facets of your face; the distance between your eyes, the length, height and width of your nose, and all of the other unknowns present in the unsolvable equation of human attraction.
You should know, however, that because the number of emotions a person can experience is somewhat limited, yours will be re-assigned to someone else after you have died. The emotions you feel, despite their uniqueness to you, have all been experienced before, and will be again.
The Command Line dictates your passions, your fears, your phobias and your weaknesses to the nth degree. It knows well ahead of time whether or not you will ever find the one person you were specifically designed for, and the precise distance you stood from one other on the only night your paths would ever cross, before you walked out of each others lives forever.
During the measure of your life, you will be issued one, if not all, of the following: a social security number, a handful of addresses, a series of state ID cards, several driver’s licenses, a never-ending wave of telephone numbers, barcodes for each membership you deem it necessary to apply for, a series of library card numbers, a place in line, and a spot in the flow of traffic each morning, noon, and night. On and on and on, this stack of plastic will stretch your wallets and crease your purse. The Command Line tracks each of these.
It will track your favorite song on the billboard pop chart, the number of times you are drunk, lonely, and lost in the middle of a room full of people. It counts the number of nights you waste channel surfing, telling yourself that your life would soon take a turn for the better.
The Command Line calculates your odds for happiness, your rates of failure, and the year, month, day, hour, minute and second of each and every pivotal event in you life on an X,Y of space and time. It will track your movements around the globe. As time goes on, it will monitor your slackening skin, decreasing height, the loss of hair on your head, and the diminishing density of your muscle mass.
It does this because all things are always moving toward their opposites.
It will, at some point, generate a new sequence, the one counting down the time you have left in this world, and probability of the manner of your death. It already knows the year, the month, day, hour, minute and the very second you will close your eyes and exhale.
It knows the longitude. It is well aware of the latitude. When you pass from this world, it knows how many people will stand around a deep, rectangular gash in the earth crying specific measures of saline solution from the ducts around their eyes. It knows precisely how long it will take until you are forgotten, and how long it takes you to dissolve into dust.
Much, it turns out, was decided before you were born.