A piece of wisdom from Gen:
“I never believed in ghosts. Those who did, I felt, were either young or ignorant. But I did believe there was some sort of, well, quality in stone that could record our presence. I reasoned that, if the layers of rock around us were thick enough to absorb and protect against the very smallest waves the universe could throw at us — the really nasty radiation from Sol and from extra-solar gamma ray bursters — if they could do all that, maybe they could absorb other vibrations, too.
Everything physical vibrates, after all. At the smallest scales, impossibly tiny wavelets bind the very fabric of our universe, and the nonlocal multiverse beyond. We know that now. But for generations it was only a theory, until we learned how to detect them.
It just made sense that coarser waves — those that cause the air around us to vibrate our cochlea, say, or bounce speeding photons into our retina — that these, too, must penetrate and be absorbed by the rock that surrounds us. And even with a near-total rate of decay over time, no matter how infinitesimally small the remaining part of the wave, it was a positive amount. Some minuscule piece of it had to be locked up in the stone. Our sensors just weren’t smart enough to detect it yet.
This town, these worn steps, this smoothed wall, had rubbed against quite a few people since the first days on Mars. And those moments were here, unable to escape, trapped just as firmly as the native methanogens locked up in Utopia’s northern sedimentary deposits, lost for eons until we evolved from the same primordial ooze and flew here in bubbles of metal and moist air to become aware of them.
Given time, one day some clever someone would probably discover how to play back the past from the waves left behind. Just like the old grooved record in Simma’s museum of a library, in the room carved out of solid rock seven levels below the Martian surface.
But maybe for now, and maybe for always, humans were the best detectors, evolved over vast time to sense the minutest waves, even if it didn’t always register in the conscious mind.
My hair stood on end just thinking about it.
Somehow, I understood this stone.”