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The Last Name in the Universe

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In the future, humans will no longer have names.

That's not a cultural shift or anything. I used to have a name! Probably not so different from the kind of name you have in the past! But when the monstrous ILLUSIONOID destroyed the rest of humanity, and there was no one else left to use it, it started to slip my mind.

At one point I wrote it on a post-it and stuck it on the refrigerator here in the moon base! That was very helpful! Then one year it came un-stuck and slipped into the little crack between the fridge and the counter, and by the time I thought to look for it...it had completely disintegrated!

For countless months after that I didn't worry about it. What would I do with a name, anyway? What possible use could it be, except for the dread ILLUSIONOID to twist into cruel puns?

But that all changed when, recently, I created a clone of myself. That clone is now a toddler. That toddler has no name! I've had to get by on calling him "kiddo" and "buddy" and, on occasion, "hey you". Is that going to give him some kind of complex when he grows up? Children get such a sense of identity from their parents, and here I am, sharing his entire identity, yet hardly able to give him any of it!

Oh, to have lived in the simpler past, when this kind of dilemma was not possible! Also, when my entire species had not yet been annihilated!

 

***

 

I've been thinking of taking a new name from some of the broadcasts I transmit to the past. They have lots of names. And none of the users are still here in the future to take offense.

I could start calling myself Quinn. Wouldn't that be ironic? For the renowned Identical Quinn, famed for taking on the faces of whoever he thought about, to have his name in turn taken by someone who was thinking about him!

I'm also fond of the name Sparks! One day, while listening to my own transmission via time radio, I heard the friends of the famous thirty-first-century hero by that name poking fun at it. The joke's on them: in the forty-first century, that became the most popular name for human children of all genders!

Of course, any name from my transmissions is going to be shockingly old-fashioned by the standards of their distant future, also known as my present. But what would that matter? It's not as if my toddler clone will know the difference...and we don't have to tell ILLUSIONOID.

 

***

 

Something occurred to me yesterday...to the extent that we can have a "yesterday" in the cold, timeless, eternal night of a moon that no longer has a planet, or, indeed, a solar system!

Perhaps my clone and I should have different names?

Even though I literally created him as an exact duplicate of myself, to help alleviate the burdens of my work and ultimately take it over when the cybertechnology keeping me alive runs down, maybe it would be good for him, you know, psychologically, to have a name of his own?

Certainly it would be less confusing. It's like in that last transmission I sent, you remember, where the woman is not sure if she is her original self, named Dana, or her own double, also named Dana?

You will not believe how that turns out, by the way! In the past your listening abilities are limited to the transmissions I've already sent, but here in the future I've already gone through all the recordings from that radio station stored here on the moon base's computers. All those things you're curious about? I know what happens next...and what happens after that...for more than a hundred years!

After that the newscast will be replaced by a daily hour of hissing from the WORMS. That was the point when I stopped listening.

On a related note, that entire town will be hit by a high-velocity name-loss front only a few years in your future. Everyone's names will be returned to them after a few days, though! Would that it could be so easy for me!

 

***

 

The radio recordings aren't the only ones preserved in the moon base. We also have the shareholder announcements from an evil corporation!

When ILLUSIONOID first defied its creators and began to menace the general public, this newscast named it in their segment Things We're Taking Credit For Now! Some historians considered this a major factor in ILLUSIONOID's rise to power. If only more people had been willing to disagree with things Kakos Industries took credit for, humanity might still exist today!

Was the company truly responsible for ILLUSIONOID in the first place? We may never know!

Unrelated, do you think the name Belladonnica has a nice ring to it for a clone? Or is that perhaps a bit too portentous?

 

***

 

My toddler clone said a name today!

The name was Carlos. At first I thought he was calling me Carlos. Then I realized he was simply reading the manufacturing label on one of our spare time radios!

Of course, everyone in the future knows that Carlos was the name of the inventor of the time radio. He modified existing radios using some basic scientific laws, and from then on it was able to pick up broadcasts...from the future!

It was also one of the first names I considered, when I started thinking about taking a new one. At the time I had just transmitted a broadcast featuring that very Carlos, as well as the by-now-ancient supercomputer Fey, whose role in the rise of ILLUSIONOID I am sure you have worked out by now.

But the more I think about this whole name venture, the more it feels wrong. For reasons I cannot adequately explain, any name other than the one I used to have will be unbearable!

If ILLUSIONOID ever realizes its ultimate goal of tracking me down and sealing my doom, I will use my final moments to ask if my original moniker is still in its database. Perhaps the dread machine will be merciful, and I will go to my end knowing, at last, who I was!

In the meantime, as long as memory fails, I will remain the nameless Last Man in the Universe.

Except to my clone! He's started calling me Daddy! Isn't that cute? I think he got it from TV!

 

***

 

My clone, of course, has no name-related hang-ups around a former, forgotten identity.

Stay by your time radios for tonight's tale, in which the famous Max Magus takes on a case that leads him to a penthouse apartment high above Park Avenue.

I, meanwhile, am off to give little Carlos his bath!