I have an original world, Hell, who I credit H. P. Lovecraft for the inspiration. I am not asking a question about any of Lovecraft's published worlds.
Inspired by The Whisperer in Darkness I have contrived a Hell where the aliens have taken their harvest of human brains from an outpost in our solar system, similar to Yuggoth. In Hell, these brains develop cities and infrastructure for the aliens’ enjoyment. For them to be useful, the brains need to live as long as possible. For them to be productive, they need to experience basic human needs, which can be leveraged. They are connected to automatons in a nearly immortal arrangement.
Aliens are in all respects properly described by the Mi-Go created by H. P. Lovecraft. They never interact with the automatons when they are active, it is impossible for the cameras of an automaton to see an alien, for the same reason the Mi-Go cannot be photographed. Humans have no knowledge of the aliens at all. The victims were harvested by random selection, being drugged and abducted by a global terrestrial cult. Aliens do not monitor Hell, but they get signals from the brain farm and the mausoleum. Aliens will only ever come to Hell for the following purposes:
- To maintain the brain farm when an error is signaled, and for periodic maintenance on the vat system.
- To replace a defective brain, or install a new crop (similar to The Matrix without the bodies)
- To configure a new automaton body when one no longer responds to its brain (this is triggered when a brain goes into shock).
- To insert a newly configured automaton into a casket (done from behind the mausoleum, where any broken automaton that may be in the casket is removed and recycled)
- To appreciate the structures and industry the garden produces on the planet, as a form of art.
Replacement: Should an automaton "die" for any reason, the system waits for the brain to go into shock, and then tranquilizes it. The community has been covertly trained through religious suggestion to bury their dead in a special "casket" which is left in a special "mausoleum." A new body is paired up with with the brain, and placed inside the coffin. This is inserted back into the climate controlled mausoleum, and the anesthesia is stopped.
Hell has an automated facility which manufactures remotely controlled humanoid automatons in a few different sizes. The construction uses synthetic muscles which approximate a human muscle, connected to a molded mineral skeleton and coated with a silicone skin. The automatons are slightly more durable than an actual human body however, neither the automatons nor their sensors will suffer mechanical damage from the environment in Hell over less than one day of exposure due to the materials used.
The automatons are fully wired with fourteen sensory devices including vision, hearing, olfactory, gustation (taste), touch, nociception (pain), equilibroception (balance), proprioception (body position awareness), thermoception (heat), hunger, thirst, expansion (stretching of lungs and blood vessels), blood quality (oxygen and hormone levels - simulated), and tensoception (muscle tension).
To motivate the brains to be industrious, the sensors are calibrated to earth. Signals of heat, hunger, touch and pain all come back to the brain in a jar. An automaton left outside would send fairly horrible sensory input to its brain. This compels the construction and maintenance of habitats, transportation, suits, and quality of life industry.
The automatons connect to their brains wirelessly, sending and receiving nervous commands and sensory signals with a very slight lag. The aliens have found that our brains readily adjust to this and it becomes imperceptible. An interface also superimposes augmented reality overlays onto the visual picture of automatons (which all have a special ultraviolet reflective coating for the purpose of chromatic keying). So people look like people, not robots.
Automatons generally have enough power for 3 days of normal human physical labor, as a reserve, but recharge wirelessly each night without the host knowing. The brain never knows what their "charge level is," it follows a fake "hunger routine" so the person needs to eat regular meals. Food is processed chemically similar to normal human digestion—a rudimentary system—which sends the signals of "full" or "hungery" or "toilet" to the brain-in-a-jar. Then the automaton can do its simulated business.
Automatons have bones that can break and muscles which can tear, and they feel stab and blunt wounds. This compels them to manage themselves in avoiding damage and dangerous situations.
The automatons can eat and drink but cannot be intoxicated or anesthetized, because “food” never interacts with the brain. Thus they do not perform or need surgery. They also have no organs to fail or suffer other ailments. A damaged person is generally destroyed as swiftly as possible to reduce suffering, but the resurrection is inevitable. For this reason, fear of injuries generally serves very well to prevent violence.
The people have learned that "no one dies in Hell" and generally, a team goes out to open up caskets eventually. If someone is particularly not liked, or the people who buried them are incapacitated, it is possible to simply be forgotten. Eventually, you will feel starvation and feel suffocation, but can not die until the automaton dies. The coffin is a wireless charger; the automaton can not die in a coffin. If a brain goes into shock in a coffin, the standard anesthesia is given, but no replacement is paired. The anesthesia simply stops any time the mausoleum door is opened for whatever reason. The automaton then may scream for help, or wait for shock again.
Brains are kept in a completely sterile and climate controlled environment. The possibility for a virus or bacteria simply does not exist in their static and sealed enclosures. Blood is given nutrients and oxygen according to the feedback from the automaton and several glands which were harvested with the brain. Lymph, pituitary, and other glands operate in response to brain feedback, and produce hormones and proteins as signaled by the brain. Blood pressure responds to the brain's heart signals as well. Blood oxygen levels are a balance between the signal from the automaton and what is sustainable to the brain. The vat can not asphyxiate a brain, so an automaton outside in the 420°C nitrogen air would decrease its oxygen, and send the "burning lung" signal to the brain, as well as all related heat and acid sensory inputs, but the brain would not be starved. In short, the brain has all life support systems needed for physiological wellness, and full sensory inputs for psychological interaction with the world, and a belief that they have "some" control over their destiny. The vats also replicate glands periodically by stem cell regrowth, replacing glands every couple decades.
Hell is a earth-like planet which never evolved life. It has a toxic 420°C air mostly of nitrogen and carbon dioxide. There is no organic life save what the aliens brought, and the few structures they provided to start ages ago.
The purpose of Hell is simply to build infrastructure on this planet for use and enjoyment by the aliens who operate well in an environment like earth. Unlike human societies, these aliens have no plans or designs for Hell. It has been determined that control requires too much effort, so this is allowed to run as a wildflower garden, taking its own course. It is not intended for production so much as it is for a piece of art. The humans have complete autonomy and absolutely no supervision or direction. By their own will to survive, they create their own habitations, perform engineering and chemical and mining operations, establish villages connected by trains, and generally do everything possible to improve their own quality of life. They build greenhouses and gardens inside their enclosures, from seed provided some time before anyone remembers. There are several animal species for agriculture and pets that they can maintain. They tend to cooperate because death comes very slowly, and resurrection is something they fear worse than death. They are quite industrious with these motivations.
Would these brains is a jar suffer a possibility of death or shortened lifespan from the psychological trauma of living in Hell? This is where I diverge from Lovecraft's brains, mine are still mortal. I am attempting to gauge how long they may live under these hellish conditions.
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