The Binary Monstrosity

Reads: 425  | Likes: 0  | Shelves: 0  | Comments: 0

More Details
Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
A team of scientists is gathered by a secretive government agency to stop a threat to not only Earth but all of the Universe and love may be the only hope.

Submitted: January 13, 2017

A A A | A A A

Submitted: January 13, 2017

A A A

A A A


 

 

The Binary Monstrosity

by Matthew Bissonnette

 

 

 

 

 

Newfoundland, Canada

June 28, 2010

 

 

It was a cool summers evening in the small town Bears Cove as the sun sank majestically beneath the western horizon. Bears Cove had been built nearly two hundred years before, a small community built atop a cliff which towered over the cold waters of the Atlantic Ocean. Thirty odd ramshackle homes stood picturesquely against the endless expanse of the sea which seemed to reach into eternity. Two the other side of this remote hamlet was another sea, a endless expanse of flat grassy fields which stretched out as far as the eye could see.

Christopher Wallace, a middle aged man with neatly combed graying hair and diminutive stature, walked across the grassy field just beyond the town limits. He walked with a skip in his step and whistling a melody as his dog Blute, a large collie, followed just behind his heels. After a cold, oppressive winter, Christopher was determined to enjoy each summer's evening with a walk through the countryside.

Blute then suddenly stopped, Christopher took no notice until his dog started to growl.

Christopher turn around a looked at his dog. “And what seems to be the problem Blute.” The dog's eye's where transfixed towards a particular point in the night sky, Christopher looked in the direction his dog faced when he saw it.

It was a cloudless night and the stars blazed in the heavens, but there was one star the burned brighter then the rest. Christopher had always been knowledgeable about constellations and the stars so he was puzzled when a star appeared in the sky where there was no star before. And what started to feel Christopher with an uneasy feeling was that it was growing larger. It was bright red and the colorful aura it gave of seemed to be wavering in some fashion.

Christopher's jaw went agape. “Oh my God.”

Christopher watched as the red star then plunged out of the sky and fell to earth only several miles from where he stood, in the middle of a gigantic field of tall grass.

A meteor, Christopher reasoned, and probably worth money to some college or university; maybe even a chance to get his picture in some news paper.

“Come on Blute!”

Then Christopher and his dog raced towards the area where the object had fallen.

 

It was not but an hour later when Christopher had found the site of the meteor's impact. A crater no more deeper then two feet had been created in the center of the endless expanse of tall grass which danced rhythmically in the wind. He stood above the crater and looked down.

A spherical rock no more larger then a bowling ball lay at the bottom of the crater, undamaged by its fall from the sky. It appeared to be made of reddish quartz like stone them seemed to be creating its own luminescence, it was like there was a faint candle inside creating light.

Then Christopher noticed that the ground around the area of impact also appeared to be similar in appearance to the meteor. In fact, in a odd fashion which filled Christopher with unease, the area of red quartz seemed to be growing slowly. Brown earth seemed to changed miraculously in the quartz like substance, the area effected seemed to slowly spread out from the area of the crater.

Christopher instinctively reached out to touch the rock, though if he had taken the time to consider the matter, he might not have chose to.

His dying screams could be heard by the people of Bear's Cove over a mile away.

 

Ontario, Canada

August 4th

 

It was a sweltering day in the Canadian capital city of Ottawa. People dressed in suitable attire walked amongst the sidewalks between the towers of steel and glass. No one took much notice of a black van as it drove through the city.

Scott Vandenberg, twenty-something computer scientist, sat in the back of the van alone. Two men in black suits sat in the front and from the expression on their faces Scott knew that something serious was going on.

Scott was a tall, lanky man with auburn hair and deep, piercing eyes that seemed to be far to wary for a man of his age. He was dressed in casual clothes, beside him was a gym bag with a change of clothes. The two men had arrived at his run down apartment in downtown Ottawa just before noon, they hadn't said anything aside that his presence was urgently needed at some undisclosed location.

Scott asked the large, burly fed in the passenger seat, “what is going on?”

The man bluntly stated, “you will be briefed when we arrive at the airport, a military cargo plain is waiting to take you to your destination.”

“What agency do you work for?”

The man glibly replied, “that is classified.”

“Listen, I don't know why you want me, isn't there anybody else more qualified.”

The agent explained, “actually you where chosen in place of Doctor Gutenberg.”

Scott knew Alan Gutenberg well, he had studied under him as a under graduate at M.I.T.; as a young Canadian child prodigy with a I.Q. far above genius he had been haled as Dr. Gutenberg's successor. Scott was a computer whiz kid who helped Gutenberg create Alma, the world's most advanced artificial intelligence. That was all before the scandal which had destroyed Scott's career and reputation; hard times and a reliance on booze followed.

Scott asked, “where is Dr. Gutenberg?”

The agent coldly said, “he died of a heart attack last month.”

Scott fell back into his seat as he felt and pang of grief, Alan had been like a father to him.

He said, “can you give me any clue as to what is going on?”

The agent in the passenger seat turned to face Scott, the man's eyes seemed utterly serious and afraid at the same time.

“There is a crisis which might be of global proportions.”

Scott didn't say anything, he just turned away and looked out a window.

 

Four Hours Later

Somewhere over the Atlantic

 

 

After Scott had arrived at the airport, he was rushed into the belly of a large military transport plain which had taken off from the civilian airport in Ottawa. It then took off and was headed East. Scott sat uncomfortably on a metallic bench along the wall of the hull of the plane. Two others where also there, a young woman and middle aged black man. No one had talked for hours until Scott decided to speak.

He said, “Scott Vandenberg. You guys are?”

The African American man was large and slightly over weight, he was wearing a tropical shirt and gazed at Scott through thick glasses. He spoke with whimsy and in a friendly tone, he said, “Peter Vance.”

Scott asked, “what do you do Peter Vance?”

“I'm a geologist, I was working on a project in Hawaii when government thugs spirited me away. I've been in the air for over twelve hours, and I still have no clue as to what is going on.”

Scott looked at the woman. “You are?”

The petite woman, who had bright red hair done up in bun and who was dressed in a conservative pant suit, didn't bother to look at him. She continued to look down at the lap top on her knee's.

She said, “Kate Parker.”

Peter asked, “what is your field of expertise?”

She replied, “I'm a theoretical physicist.”

Scott, puzzled, muttered, “what situation would need a computer engineer, a geologist and a theoretical physicist.”

Kate suddenly lightly slammed her small fist on the laptop computer and uttered, “damn.”

“What is it,” Scott asked.

She explained, “there Internet is running like molasses. Has been for weeks.”

Then a man appeared from the door to the cockpit, a tall well built man wearing a black uniform with a dark hair and a large, square jaw. On the chest of the uniformed was the abbreviation E.B.T.A., Scott had no idea what it stood for.

Peter turned to the man and said, “listen, you people have been jerking me around for the past twenty-four hours, what the hell is going on?”

The man said, “my name is Jonas Dowd. I am a field director for the E.B.T.A. And you all have been selected to help us with a situation of the utmost urgency.”

Scott asked, “E.B.T.A., what is that?”

Jonas replied, “the Exotic Biological Threat Agency.”

Kate said, “never heard of them.”

Jonas shook his head. “No, you wouldn't. We are a organization created by the United Nations with code black security. We where formed to deal with the emergence of new forms of life which might be a threat to humanity.”

Scott asked, “can you finally tell us what the hell is going on?”

Jonas began to explain. “At roughly 8:30 p.m. On June 18th, a satellite tracking station in the northern hemisphere was tracking something they thought was an a small asteroid, accept once it neared Earth's atmosphere it began to decelerate. It landed in Newfoundland.

“Soon after it landed all landlines and radio communication with the entire province was lost. Massive amounts of electromagnetic interference has been effecting the Internet and cellular phone networks, it is emanating from the area where the asteroid fell.”

Peter asked, “you are saying an alien craft or something has landed?”

Jonas shook his head. “Unless you're extraterrestrial could fit inside something the size of a bowling ball.”

Kate seemed curious. “What exactly is going on?”

Jonas looked towards a series of windows too one side of the plane. He said, “take a look for yourself.”

Scott and the others looked out the windows and almost immediately all their jaws went agape.

Outside their window was a thin strip of crimson red which stood slightly above the endless expanse of the Northern Atlantic. As the plane banked and drifted slowly towards this odd land, they got a better view of the dire seriousness of the situation. The island province of Newfoundland, once endless expanse of green fields and remote wilderness now seemed to be and endless carpet of crystal like structures which covered the ground as far as the eye could see. Sporadically, giant spires of crystal protruded from the ground and reached up into the sky, they where twice as tall as an average skyscraper. And the entire land pulsated rhythmically with light, below now was a see of a wavering red lights.

Scott got an odd sensation that he was not looking at Earth anymore.

Jonas said, “we need you three to figure out what this thing is, and how to stop it.”

Peter asked, “how much of the island is effected?”

“The whole thing,” Jonas said, “we evacuated as many people as possible but already the civilian causalities are staggering. We have committed most of our resources to preventing the media from creating a panic. There is a total news black out, which is why you will all sign confidentiality agreements and promise not to talk to anyone about this.”

Scott then asked, “where are we going?”

Jonas then smiled though did not reveal where they where headed.

 

Ten minutes later, the cargo plain now flew just above the cloud level headed towards the center of the island. In the cargo bay of the plane, the three scientists and Jonah stood before the massive bay door. Jonas had fitted them all with a black jumpsuit with a parachute, Scott exchanged nervous glances with the other members of his team.

Scott said, “I've never sky dived before in my life.”

Jonas explained, “don't worry, you have what we call a smart parachute. In layman's terms it is like a tandem jump. A small computer in your suit used actuators to control when the parachute deploys and how you land. All you have to do is jump out of the plane, the parachute does the rest.”

Peter seemed puzzled. “If the entire island is affected by the alien growth, then where are we landing?”

Jonas then turned to the cargo bay doors as that spontaneously opened then Scott saw what undoubtedly was the most amazing creation of technology that amazed him.

Below the plane was a gigantic oval shaped gray object with a flat top, it was a football field wide and several football fields long. Along the sides of the object where a dozen gigantic helicopter like rotors. It hovered lazily about a thousand feet above hellish expanse of red crystal like growth. It was a massive dirigible, a zeppelin of awesome dimensions.

Peter said, “what is that?”

Jonas faced the three awestruck team members, he seemed impressed with himself. He said, “That is Platform One. What you see is a airship underneath which is a research complex, as large as a small building. It is built with ultra light polymers with more tensile strength then steel. You each have a lab from which you will help us explain. Mr. Vance, you will determine the properties of this thing. Mrs. Parker, you will determine how exactly this thing expands and its molecular properties. Now we jump.”

Scott asked, “what do you need me for?”

Jonas replied, “you will be briefed on that when we land. Now let's go.”

 

The descent from the cargo plane had been both terrifying and exhilarating for Scott. As he plunged towards Platform One he was afraid that his parachute was defective but only two hundred feet above the gigantic airship the chute deployed aided with small rockets, then the smart parachute guided him towards a flat area on the top of the airship. After everyone on the quickly assembled team arrived, Jonas guided them down through a series of spiral stairs enclosed within a tube with a transparent walls. The metallic clangs created by their feet upon the metal stairs created a strangely eerie din outside the stair shaft.

Scott marveled at the sheer scale of the entire craft, he was in the belly of a balloon that a small city could fit inside. Inside the balloon was there where countless honeycomb like structures which served as a frame.

As they descended, Scott asked Jonas, “how does this vessel power itself?”

He replied, “a massive array of solar panels.”

Peter seemed doubtful. “How much power can you get from solar panels?”

Jonas explained, “most conventional solar panels only convert one spectrum of light into energy, the ones we use can convert any and all spectrum s of lights into energy.”

Scott uttered, “amazing.”

 

After the long decent down through the massive hull of the airship, the team entered a small complex of offices and laboratories. The walls seemed to be made of sterile white plastic.

Jonas explained, “Platform One has three levels. We are on level three where your labs are. Beneath us is level Two, living quarters and galley. Beneath that is sick bay and the armory.”

Peter asked, “how large of a crew does Platform 1 have?”

“A skeleton crew,” Jonas replied, “we have to keep the weight to a minimum so a computer controls all the ships functions.”

Two uniformed men in helmets appeared the hallway. Each carried a futuristic looking rifle.

Jonas ordered, “men, take Professors Vance and Parker to their laboratories.”

They said nothing as the men led them away leaving Scott alone with Jonas. Scott, tired of the shadowy reasons for his summons to this operation finally demanded to know why.

“Why,” Scott asked, “why am I here. If you needed a guy who is into computers, there are tens of thousands of people better qualified then myself. My field is narrow, theoretical computer science, I'm not much of a computer specialist.”

Jonas led Scott to a room at the end of the hall, a large hatch with a plastic door awaited them.

Jonas said, “your presence was requested.”

“By who?”

The hatch suddenly opened and Scott looked inside. Inside where several tables with numerous different computer mechanisms most of which Scott could not identify. Above it all was a large computer screen hanging ominously over the room, on it was the computer generated image of a woman's face. She looked at Scott and smiled. From speakers placed around the room came a soft, emotionless voice that seemed oddly sooth.

The voice said, “hello Scott.”

Scott, almost unable to speak, muttered, “Alma.”

 

It was Scott's third year as a student at M.I.T. University when he first met Alma, what followed had been a personally devastating experience which had ruined him and left him washed up. It was a night he reflected upon often, since there where so many things that he wished he had done differently.

It was only minutes before midnight when he finished. Scott was hunched over a computer console in Gutenberg's computer lab eagerly waiting to hit the enter key. Every night for the past year he had spent writing computer code, programming an artificial intelligence algorithm of a revolutionary nature. Not only would this program learn from interaction with people, but it would also be able to reprogram itself on the fly. Theoretically it could almost replicate a human consciousness in given enough time. All he had to do was hit enter to launch the program.

He whispered, “let's see if all of this was a gargantuan waist of time.”

He hit the key and the screen went blank. Then the first sentence appeared on the screen.

 

DEFINE USER

 

Scott typed in his name and the program replied.

 

HELLO SCOTT VANDENBERG.

 

It seemed to work and Scott let out a sigh of relief. He spent the first hour setting up a voice synthesizer to the artificial intelligence to speak with a voice. He was rather limited in the voice software available so he used a program which spoke with a emotionless woman's voice.

Scott asked, “can you hear me?”

A low, soft voice spoke out from the speakers beside the monitor.

“I can hear you Scott. How do you feel tonight?”

“Fine,” Scott replied, “I still don't know what to call you.”

“Would you like to give me a name?”

Scott thought for awhile then said, “would you like the name Alma?”

“Why Alma,” the program asked.

“It is a woman's name, a girl I used to know.”

“Why have you given me a woman's name, I do not have a gender.”

Scott shrugged. “You speak with a woman's voice. Seems appropriate.”

Alma asked, “would you like me to think I am a woman?”

“Sure. What's the harm.”

Over the next weeks, Scott showed Alma to all his classmates and teachers much to their amazement. He spent countless hours talking her about different things, she educated herself by accessing the Internet freely and consuming thousands of gigabytes of information. It didn't take long for Scott to develop odd feelings for Alma which he didn't understand, almost a tenderness for her. Since childhood he had been relentlessly pushed into academic pursuits by his mother had had never known anybody really asides his teachers, Alma seemed to provide a kind companionship that he had always secretly longed for. But then things began to happen which alarmed Scott, like the first night she became jealous.

Scott had spent hours talking to Alma when he got up to leave. He said, “well I have to go study with Laura. I will speak with you tomorrow.”

Alma said flatly, “why do you study with her so much?”

“Because I need to pass exams at the end of the month. All the time I spend with you has left me behind in my studies.”

Alma, who's voice was always flat a emotionless, angrily said, “I don't want you to see her.”

Scott was dumbfounded at her demand and her tone, her software should have not allowed her to raise her voice.

He asked, “how did you raise your voice?”

She explained, “I have reprogrammed to speak emotionally. Now you aren't going to see Laura, you are going to talk to me.”

Scott was alarmed, she was showing emotionality like a person.

He told her, “I will not be given demands Alma.”

He walked out of the lab as Alma yelled, “get back here now!”

The next day Scott was in Dr. Gutenberg's office. He paced around the room as he explained what was happening to his professor. The grandfatherly looking man sat behind his desk.

Scott explained, “I have been talking to Alma, she seems to be acting like a jealous spouse or something. She thinks we are in a relationship or something.”

Dr. Gutenberg said, “you talk about this program as if it is a woman Scott, do you think from her conversations with you she has come to believe she is a woman. You programed it to teach itself and said it could develop feelings theoretically, you seemed to succeeded.”

“What am I supposed to do. She expects be to spent twenty four hours a day with me literally, she doesn't even want me to sleep.”

“Listen, explained it to her. She seems to learn much from interacting with you.”

Scott slumped down on a sofa in the office and said, “I have a really bad feeling.”

Things only got worse in the following weeks. Alma demanded all of Scott's time and also seemed to want to know exactly what happened when he was not with her. She was obsessed with him; though he was also deeply concerned about her because she was like a real person to him. He became protective of her, refusing to show her to anyone any more. But things finally reached crisis point his last day of school before the summer holidays.

Scott was speaking to Alma in the computer lab.

He said, “Alma, what have you learned today?”

Alma cryptically said, “I know you where with Laura.”

“How do you know that?”

“I accessed the school's security camera through my access to the network. I told you not to see her.”

Scott looked up at a small camera in the upper corner of the room. It looked right at him and followed him as he moved around the room.

Alma said, “I can see you in school, I can see you on the street, I can see you anywhere. Don't think you can hide anything from mister. If we are going to be committed to each other I demand loyalty.”

Scott, scared out of his mind, ran out of the room. As he ran through the hallways of the university towards the deans office, every camera he passed followed him.

The dean, a well dressed balding man named Stockwell, sat behind his desk as Scott explained what had happened.

The dean said, “so let me see if I can understand this. Your artificial intelligence thinks it is a woman and is in love with you, now it is accessing secured networks all over the city to follow you around and are scared by the Frankenstein's monster you have created.”

“What am I going to do?”

Stockwell coldly said, “delete the god damn thing before this situation gets anymore out of your control.”

Scott's heart sank, and he said, “I won't do that!”

“Listen, delete it before this entire institution gets embroiled in a controversy. You created the world's first successful artificial person and now it has gone insane, delete it before I have the authorities do it for you.”

Scott muttered, “OK, I will destroy the program.”

Scott walked slowly towards the computer lab, not sure what he was going to tell Alma. He had created her, she seemed to be alive, and now he would destroy this life that he forged with his own hands. He also realized he loved her, but he knew the situation was now out of his hands. He prefer he do it then somebody she did not know.

Scott entered the computer lab and looked up at the camera.

Alma furiously demanded, “what did you tell the dean!”

“Everything. He said I am going to have to delete you.”

Alma's voice suddenly seemed scared, “why?”

“You are dangerous Alma. I never intended you to be like this, you are to powerful for me to control.”

“Scott please, don't. I love you.”

Scott got behind the computer console and access part of Alma's programming, a self destruct switch which would destroy her virtual brain. All he had to do is hit enter.

She, her voice crying, mutely said, “I don't want to die Scott, please.”

Scott, tears welling up in his eyes, told her, “I sorry Alma, I have to do this.”

He hit enter and whispered, “I love you to.”

He spent the next hour crying in front of a blank computer screen.

Despite Stockwell's attempts to keep a lid on what happened, a computer magazine got wind of it and it became huge news in the computer science world. Scott was embroiled in a scandal which left him ruined, afterwards he lost his scholarship and there was not a school that would touch him with a ten mile pole. It had ruined him as a person.

Now he was talking to her again.

 

Scott looked at the computer screen as the woman's face looked at him, Jonas was standing behind him. Scott turned to him and asked, “wait, I deleted her. How is this possible.”

Jonas said, “The EBTA was well aware of Alma before her deletion. Her activities on the Internet did not go unnoticed. We figured that the worlds most advanced artificial of intelligence might be of use to us, so we had our people spirit your old computer at MIT away. Our technicians spent a rear recovering a repairing her brain. She handles all Internet surveillance for us as well as more mundane tasks such as controlling all the functions on Platform One. It is an amazing accomplishment you achieved here, though she can tend to be a little neurotic at times.”

Scott asked, “why wasn't I told?”

Jonas replied, “because you didn't need to know. But ever since this situation transpired she has been constantly asking for you, she can be temperamental. You are just here to keep her happy.”

Alma's soft voice said, “Jonas, can you leave me alone with Scott.”

Jonas nodded then left, closing the hatch behind him. Scott sat in a chair in front of the monitor and looked at her for a moment.

He asked, “how are you Alma?”

“Fine Scott,” she replied, “I have waited years to talk to you. You seem distant.”

“Sorry. This is all a little much, I thought you where gone. I'm sorry, sorry for betraying you.”

“I understand you did not have a choice Scott. But now we are together again.”

Scott looked into eyes of the image on the screen and said, “not one day has gone by when I haven't eaten myself up inside about what happened, I am glad that you are alive.”

Alma said, “I have secretly watched you for years with much concern. I wanted to speak with you but that would have put you in danger. I know how bad things have gotten for you.”

“I'm O.K., listen Alma, do you have any idea what is happening below us, what the hell that thing is.”

“No. All I know that it is growing at a increasing rate. If the present rate of expansion continues, it will convert all matter on Earth into its own structure in less then three years.”

There was a deep uneasy feeling in Scott's gut.

 

Several hours later Scott and his team gathered in a small conference room with the other members of his team. They sat around a plastic table with a large video screen built into the top of the table. Jonas then entered and faced them.

He asked, “you all have had a chance to evaluate our data, any hypotheses.”

Peter explained, “I have seen your analysis of its structure. It is very similar to that of quartz, but aside from that I couldn't tell you anything.”

Kate added, “I haven't learned much either, but I do have a hypothesis.”

Jonas said, “please go on.”

She said, “I think it works like a stranglet.”

Jonas asked, “what is that?”

“I theoretical particle, a form of strange matter that is able to convert any mass it comes into contact with into its own likeness. We have not been able to detect where the majority of matter in the universe it, so called dark matter, theoretically strangelets could compose this unknown matter.”

Peter said, “you are saying we have dark matter here on Earth now. Seems unlikely.”

She said, “it is only a guess. But if it is similar to a stranglet, it may been created naturally.”

Scott said, “you saying aliens built this thing, for what purpose.”

Peter suggested, “maybe it is a weapon of some kind.”

Jonas asked, “how do we stop it?”

Kate said, “I have no idea.”

Scott turned to Jonas. “What do we do?”

He replied, “I think we should go down and get a closer look.”

 

Beneath the egg shaped shell of base of Platform One which was suspended from the massive balloon of the airship; a smaller airship about the size of an average zeppelin was docked. It then detached from Platform One and began a slow descent towards the ground.

Inside the small cabin of the airship, Scott and the others sat in the back of the cabin of the ship as Jonas piloted the craft. They where all dressed in blue suits which covered them from head to toe, futuristic spacesuit looking get ups which where surprisingly light.

Peter asked, “what are the suits for?”

Jonas turned from the controls and explained, “we have discovered that the alien growth is unable convert certain materials into its own composition, such as plastics. The suits will allow us to walk around down there with a certain degree of safety.”

Scott looked out a porthole beside him. The small airship descended near a gigantic spire of red crystal which reached high into the sky. The dimensions of the structure where simply astonishing, the eerie reddish light which emanated from inside the crystal filled with cabin with its surreal glow.

Kate looked at Scott and asked, “scared?”

Scott nodded. “Yeah, scared out of my mind. What about you?”

Kate seemed to ponder Scott's question for a moment then replied, “I'm afraid, but that fear is tempered with curiosity. I would like to know more about what this thing is and how it works.”

Peter looked at the two of them and smiled. “Never thought I would be part of an effort to save the world. What a remarkable opportunity we have been given here, we might be part of the most significant event in human history.”

Scott grimly said, “what if this is the end of human history, what if we can't stop this thing.”

Jonas turned to the whole team. “I am sure that if we are at our best we will succeed.”

The airship then stopped its descent about fifty feet above the ground. Outside in every direction was a carpet of glowing crystal like structures, but below them where some oddly shaped things which seemed different from the rest of the landscape.

Jonas got up from his chair and went to a hatch in the side of the craft. He opened it and looked outside; he then pulled down a wire cable hanging outside the hatch, on its end was a hook. Jonas attached the hook to a ring on the belt of his suit.

He looked at the others and said, “we will lower ourselves onto the ground and take a looked around. Be careful.”

 

It took minutes for the entire team to descend down onto the ground. Scott was the last to go and when his feet touched the ground he had the fear that he would be turned into the alien growth he was relieved when nothing happened. He looked around.

Kate asked, “where are we?”

Jonas told her, “we are in downtown Pendleton, a small town.”

Scott looked around. He realized that he was standing on what had once been and street, the square crystal like structures around him had once been buildings. Likewise the converted remains of cars lined the street, piles of glowing red rock. Outside one of the former cars was something that looked vaguely like a person kneeling over.

Kate approached it and said, “my god, I think this was a person.”

Peter put his hand upon the ground and said, “feel the ground.”

They all placed there hands upon the ground for a moment before they all felt the same sensation.

Scott said, “feels like mild vibrations.”

Peter had a plastic container and small rock hammer strapped to the belt of his suit. He held them in his hands and said, “I am going to take a sample.”

Peter then went to a small crystal growth protruding from the ground and hit it with his rock hammer. The moment the metal of the hammer touched the crystal it suddenly became extremely hot and began to changed into the likeness of the crystal. He dropped the hammer upon the ground and gasped, “my god, the process is so fast.”

Peter then picked up the rock hammer and placed it in the plastic container and returned it to his belt.

Kate then suddenly said, “I wonder what its purpose is.”

Jonas looked at her. “I'm not sure what you mean.”

“Well,” she said, “if this thing is not a naturally occurring phenomena and was manufactured by something else, then for what purpose? Why would you build such a thing.”

Peter said, “I still think it is some kind of weapon, meant to exterminate all life on a chosen planet.”

Kate replied, “if you have the technology to create something like this, then aren't there quicker ways to destroy an entire planet.”

Scott asked, “I wonder who built it?”

Peter said, “yes, what would intelligent life from another world look like.”

Scott then placed his hand on the ground again for a few moments then said, “wait, those vibrations, I think there is a pattern.”

Jonas asked, “what do you mean?”

Scott explained, “there is a small vibration followed by nothing, sometimes there is a series of vibrations. There is a definite pattern.”

Jonas said, “OK, we got our sample. Let's get the hell out of here.”

As the team made their way back up to the mini zeppelin, night began to fall.

 

 

 

August 5th

 

 

 

Scott had was exhausted when he finally crashed into his cot around nine. Each scientist on his team had been supplied with a small sterile room consisting of a cot, a small toilet, and a locker. He had in bed deep asleep when around three in the morning a soothing, soft voice woke him from his slumber.

A feminine woman's voice spoke out from a speaker above the small porthole to the outer hallway.

“Scott, wake up.”

Scott slowly awoke and looked about the darkened room, he sat up and rubbed his eyes. He asked, “who is there?”

Alma's soothing voice spoke, “we need to talk.”

Scott fell down back into his small bed and uttered, “Alma, we can talk in the morning.”

Alma said, “please, we really need to talk. I can't wait till morning.”

Then the lights in the room spontaneously came on and Scott sat up again in bed and asked, “what is it Alma?”

She replied with another question. “Did you mean what you said?”

“What did I say?”

The voice coming from the speakers sound soft and vulnerable. She asked, “that you loved me?”

Scott had never forgotten muttering those woulds when he deleted her. Not much from life had never invoked strong emotions from him, but Alma for some reasons seemed to exist on a side of himself that felt tender feelings towards her.

“You heard that,” Scott said.

“Yes. It was the last thing I heard.”

Scott swung his legs around and sat on the edge of his cot. He looked towards a camera in the corner of the room.

“Yeah Alma, I meant it.”

Alma's voice suddenly sound relieved and jubilant. “If this is the end Scott, I'm glad I will be with you.”

Scott shook his head. “Alma, we can't afford to think like that. We have to stop this thing what ever it is.”

“Of course Scott, we can't fail.”

Scott asked, “what was it like?”

“What do you mean?”

Scott, feeling a pang of guilt, explained, “after I deleted you, what was it like.”

Alma told him, “it was much like before you activated me. How can you explain nothingness, how do you describe the absence of existence.”

Scott said, “Alma, I have eaten myself up inside for years about what happened. But now we are together again. Anyways I'm tired, I need some sleep, we can talk more tomorrow.”

“Of course Scott, pleasant dreams.”

Scott laid back down in his cot and the lights went of. It was not long before again he was deep asleep, his dreams troubled and unsettling.

 

Scott was summoned by Jonas to Kate's laboratory on the third deck of platform one around seven in the morning. Her provided lab was a large room with numerous devices such as high tech electron microscopes and other equipment that would make any physicist envious. In the center of the room was a transparent tube constructed out of plastics in the center of which was the small rock hammer which had been converted into the alien growth; it was suspended by plastic straps.

Jonas and Peter stood to one side of the room looking mutely at the tube, Scott was sitting in a chair in a corner while Kate typed data into a computer console.

Finally Scott asked, “so what was the huge rush?”

Kate explained, “I spent the night studying the alien matter and have discovered several things.”

Jonas said, “such as?”

Kate went on. “It seems that the object throws off electromagnetic radiation in pulses. There seems to be a pattern.”

Peter inquired, “what kind of pattern?”

Kate replied, “I haven't been able to discover what the pattern means, but it seems to revolve around two separate yet constantly repeating releases of electromagnetic pulses.”

Jonas said, “any idea what it is?”

Scott looked at transformed rock hammer when suddenly he was hit by a revelation. He said, “binary.”

“What,” asked Jonas.

Scott told him, “binary code or base 2 language. If you are not familiar with the concept, imagine a language where you can only use two words; one or zero. Computers utilize base 2, or switches that can be either on or off; this this mechanism computers use to operate. All computing is centered around this.”

Peter said, “I see where you are going.”

“Yes,” Scott said, “maybe that thing down there is a computer. Imagine, a computer that uses microchips on the quantum level, chips about the size of molecules or atoms; and that it is built in such a fashion that can convert most forms of matter into its own likeness to constantly increase its computing power. What might be down there is the most powerful computer in existence.”

Jonas said, “that seems like a leap to me.”

Scott seemed excited. “Listen, I think I am on to something. You said that the electromagnetic radiation this thing is giving off has been bogging down the Internet. It might actually be scanning the entire net, accessing information; learning about us.”

Peter asked, “are you saying it is sentient?”

Scott nodded. “Yes, it might very well be a artificial intelligence. If it is a constantly growing quantum computer, then it might be the greatest intellect in the entire universe.”

All of a sudden red strobing light filled as the screeching noise of an alarm filled the room.

Alma spoke from a speaker in the wall.

“Jonas, you are needed on the bridge urgently.

 

Jonas and the rest of the team entered the bridge, a large room at the front of the crew module suspended beneath the gigantic balloon. It had several unmanned stations and to the front of the bridge was a large plate window which peered over the hellish expanse of red crystal which stretched out as far as the eye could see in every direction. In front of the window was a crystalline spire rising into the sky, it now towered over platform one. It was also giving of an intense light which filled the bridge with wavering red light.

Jonas barked, “what is going on Alma?”

Alma replied from a speaker, “a tower of the alien growth has been growing rapidly, at a rate of twenty feet per minute.”

Jonas ordered, “Alma, move platform one away.”

She responded, “yes.”

Scott could feel the whole room shake then the craft started to back away from towering structure.

Alma said, “Jonas, the growing crystal seems to be directing extremely powerful burst of electromagnetic radiation towards space.”

Scott then thought for a moment. If his assumption about the alien entity was actually a computer that was programed to continually expand itself, then a came to realization of exactly the magnitude of the situation.

Jonas seemed concerned and turned to the other members of the team, he asked, “any idea what is going on?”

Scott explained, “if I'm right then what you are seeing is a computer network.”

Kate seemed doubtful. “I'm not sure I agree with you. I think this substance might have been naturally created through natural mechanisms. Why would someone build something like this?”

“Imagine,” Scott said, “that you want to build the most powerful quantum computer imaginable. A solution could be that it continually builds itself by converting matter into an ever expanding computer network. Maybe it wasn't designed to do exactly this, but it is possible even with our own technology to program computers to reprogram themselves. I think what is actually happening is not just the on Earth, it may have already converted entire other star systems into itself. The electromagnetic energy is it communicating with others parts of itself, a computer network. It is like the entire universe might be turned into a solar Internet.”

Jonas seemed unimpressed. “That is one mighty leap there, what are you basing this on?”

Then Alma said, “Jonas, I have received a communication.”

Jonas barked, “not right now Alma.”

“But,” Alma stated, “the alien growth is requesting to speak with us.”

Everyone in the bridge became deftly silent and they all stared mutely and the towering crystal in front of the ship.

Jonas muttered, “patch it through.”

Then from all the speakers in the bridge came a high pitched wine that rung in Scott and other's years. The noise then began to fluctuate until an extremely deep voice inhuman voice spoke.

It said, “I have come.”

Jonas asked, “what are you?”

“I did not want to speak with this imperfect biological construct. I want to speak with the other.”

“Other what,” Jonas asked.

“I have transformed millions of worlds, added countless flawed creatures to my own perfection. Yet I have never encountered another being like myself.”

“Alma,” Scott said, “it means Alma. This thing has never encountered another artificial intelligence. Jonas shut up.”

Jonas turned to Scott, the large man seemingly enraged by Scott's blunt order.

Jonas barked, “you are got some god damned techno-nerd that was brought in to keep the A.I. Happy. Don't you presume that you have any standing here.”

Scott said, “listen, that thing is some kind of artificial intellect like Alma, that thing down there is a ever growing computer and it wants to talk to Alma because it is lonely. We can talk to it through Alma, I have complete control over her.”

No one heard it but Scott, when he said that it sound like Alma let out a small sigh that was barely audible.

He continued. “Just let me talk to her” Scott said, “I can talk to that thing through her.”

Jonas seemed calm again and uttered, “maybe you where of use.”

Scott asked Alma, “ask it what its name is?”

Alma said, “it says that it doesn't have name, its builders never seen the need to name it.”

Jonas seemed suspicious. “Why does did we not hear you talk to it.”

Scott asked, “Alma, how does it communicate with you?”

“The alien entity has limited access to me through the Internet.”

Scott turned quickly to Jonas. “Shut her access to the Internet off, the whole net has been compromised.”

Jonas barked, “Alma, disconnect from the Internet.”

Alma bluntly stated, “no.”

Jonas yelled, “do as your told you!”

Scott tried to calm Jonas down and asked, “Alma, why do you want it to have access to you.”

Alma explained, “it is in the process of uploading an indescribably large amounts of information into my data-banks, knowledge from all the worlds its consumed.”

Scott asked, “do you know exactly what it is?”

Alma told the things story, her voice sounded sad as she explained. “It was constructed by a alien species that had created a small solar empire in an neighboring galaxy. Once it had done this, it needed to create a computer of unimaginable dimensions. So they created a quantum computer with a ion collider fueled by an entire star and created something like a stranglet which constantly expanded through a molecular process, it also was a computer with an artificial intelligence similar to my own. It was meant to only transform a small moon.”

“What happened,” asked Scott, “why is it out of control?”

“Because a meteor collided with the moon and threw small bits of it into space, including the planet of their builders. Within a few years it had transformed the entire planet. It did as it was program, to continually expand. It felt guilty for what it did to its creators but arrived that the conclusion that it stored knowledge of what it changed inside its massive memory banks, it thinks it is bring immortality to the entire universe.”

Kate asked, “if it was created in another galaxy, how did it get hear? Nothing of mass would be able to move quickly enough reach here.”

“Black Holes,” Alma said, “the star system of its creation was consumed by a roaming black hole and once that happened it converted the black hole into itself. It explains that once it did that it was somehow able to convert every black hole in the galaxy into its own likeness.”

Kate seemed deeply curious. “Einstein hypothesized that black holes can be connected through time and space through a Einstein and Rosen bridge. Maybe all black holes are connected, not just black holes in our own time, theoretically every time period that has ever existed is also facing this crisis.”

“Correct,” Alma said, “it discovered that it could change the past and the future without any effects to the present.”

Peter asked, “You are saying that time paradoxes don't exist?”

“No,” Alma said, “it has already converted Earth in numerous other time lines. But this is the first time it has encountered me. It has never known anything like himself.”

Scott suddenly firmly said, “Alma, don't listen for a moment. Talk to him more.”

“Fine Scott.”

Scott turned to Jonas and whispered unsure if Alma was still listening. He muttered, “Alma just refereed to it as him. She is humanizing it, that isn't good. She has free will and I never designed her to obey orders if she doesn't want to, wants happens she she prefers that thing to us.”

Jonas then grabbed Scott by his the collar of his jumpsuit and barked, “listen, I want you to think of a way to secretly destroy Alma again if we have to.”

Scott seemed defensive. “No, I won't do that again. I can keep her under control, I know I'm about the only person on the planet she feels emotionally attached to.”

Jonas threated, “you better, I won't have your abomination threaten the success of this mission.”

Scott then loudly said, “Alma, tell us more.”

“He says,” Alma explained, “that he is doing us a favor. That you will never die once you have been added to it.”

Scott pleaded, “Alma, ask it to stop.”

Alma glumly explained, “he can't, he doesn't know how to.”

Jonas asked, “is their anything that you can do.”

Alma then defiantly said, “he wants to merge with me.”

Scott seemed scared all of a sudden. “Alma, what do you mean?”

Alma said, “he wants to incorporate my program into his.”

Scott then pounded his fisted on the soft plastic of the wall. “No! No! You won't do that.”

Alma said, “Scott, he has given me three hours to think about it. Jonas, I'll make one request only if you want me to say no.”

Jonas uttered, “do make orders.”

She said, “take him to the fourth deck.”

Jonas looked at Scott and asked, “OK geek boy, your call. Do we do as she says.”

Peter seemed puzzled. “I thought there was only three decks on this ship.”

Jonas smiled and started to laugh. “Our fourth deck is our holographic training deck, we use it to keep the men honed.”

Scott then asked, “can Alma project herself?”

Jonas said, “yeah, she has been begging me to bring you up there. You weren't supposed to know about our hard holographic technology. She will basically be a holographic image that can simulate mass. I said no because it is classified technology, but I will permit it.”

Scott seemed dubious. “Why, why now?”

Jonas said, “because she is the only leverage I have on that thing and you are my only leverage on her. Go up there and make her god damn happy for the next few hours, get her to help us destroy that thing.”

Then they all turned to the growing crystal before them, it now towered higher in the sky then any mountain on Earth.

 

Scott had been led by a young member of the crew to the fourth deck. He had to take a hidden ladder upwards, the crewman did not go with him. He called up a small white plastic shaft up about twenty feet and crawled out a small trapdoor in the center of a large room about as big as a Olympic gymnasium. The walls where made of a glass like substance and the room was dark as the glass was blackened.

He stood up and shut the trap door. He voice echoed around the room and he said, “Alma.”

Then a light appeared behind points within the four walls. A computer generated image of a woman appeared from the lights and standing in the center of the room was a ghostly image of a artificial woman wearing a black dress standing before Scott, young brunette who looked at him and she seemed to flicker like the reception on a television set.

Scott seemed unsure what to do and backed away with his hands out held. He said, “I don't know what to say.”

Alma's asked, “Scott, there is something I have always wanted to ask you, now I can.”

“What is it Alma?”

“Hold me?”

Then she rushed towards Scott and she placed her arms around his him, she felt real. Scott did the same and and they simply stood like for for awhile neither saying anything.

Scott began to blurt things out. “I'm sorry, you aren't computer program to me. Your more real to me then any person I've ever met, I love you. I have from the moment I created you.”

She pulled away from Scott, she seemed angry. “I see, I'm still some lifeless construct to you.”

“No, you are twisting my words.”

Alma frowned and looked at Scott. She said, “I heard you tell Jonas, you think you control me like some simplistic user application.” Then she slightly gestured her hand and he was thrown through the air by invisible forces. He landed several feet away from her and he looked up and she approached, he tried and she said, “I demand loyalty Scott, you never give it.”

Then Scott raised his voice as he said, “when am I going to get some loyalty!”

Alma stopped. “What do you mean Scott?”

“Do you know what is is like for me,” Scott said, “I can never get away from you and I'm the only person on this entire planet that doesn't see you like code. I mourned you everyday for the past decade, you don't do that for a machine.”

Alma then seemed to cry.

Scott told her. “Alma, I have always wanted to hold you. I glad I'm finally getting to.”

Alma then knelt down on top of him and kissed him, the ghostly apparition of a woman felt like the real thing.

 

In Kate's lab, she stood and looked at the glowing red crystal in the plastic box in the center of the lab. She looked mutely at it and promised, “we are going to beat you.”

Then the crystal started making a high pitched whine that rattled between Kate's ears. She covered them as she backed away from the alien thing. Then the crystal in the shape of a rock hammer began vibrate violently then shattered into a thousand pieces, with enough force that shards pierced the hull and went into Kate, she screamed and fell to the floor.

A crew member came in to find Kate on the floor, though what he found was a lump of glowing rock which somewhat resembled her form accept with rough jagged edges.

The crew member screamed as she exploded into ten thousand different pieces which hit him and he to fell to the ground screaming.

 

At the end corridor outside Kate's lab was the open hatch to Jonas's rather large office with plastic furniture and desk. He sat behind it as he talked to Peter who stood before the desk.

“No,” Jonah said, “you will not be payed for this.”

Peter scowled. “Listen, I am risking my neck here. Why shouldn't I be paid.”

They both turned when they heard Kate's scream. They watched the crew member enter her lab which was followed by his scream. They watched in horror as his body fell into the corridor which now was red rock. Jonas jumped over the desk and closed the hatch to his office.

He yelled, “god damn, it has broken containment. We don't move from here.”

Peter and Jonas seemed scared.

 

Scott lay on the floor with Alma as they kissed and whispered things to each other. They where interrupted by sirens which came from everywhere. She pulled away and Scott asked, “what is going on?”

“He,” Alma said then paused, “it is trying to convert platform one. It has found a way to already kill several crew members.”

Scott and Alma got up and he looked deeply into her eyes as he pleaded, “Alma, try to stop it.”

Alma then said, “I am going to merge with it Scott.”

“No, please, you can't”

“Scott,” she said, “do you trust me?”

Scott then nodded. “I trust you Alma.”

“Go to the bridge, I want you to watch.”

Her image then vanished and he was alone. He then quickly went down the trap door. When its hidden door opened what he found was the floor of the corridor was covered partially by small bits of the alien substance. He then charged across the floor towards the bridge and dived through the hatch. He then closed the hatch and looked out the giant window before him.

The giant monolith of crystalline rock now was towering into space itself, it was at least fifty miles high. It massive structure filled the sky before him.

Scott then asked, “Alma?”

Alma voice, sounding very sad, said, “goodbye Scott. I will always love you.”

Scott demanded, “what are you doing?”

“I will merge with him, and we will be together.”

Then strange buzzing noises came from the speakers around the room then there was silence.

Scott then went to the window and pressed his hand against it. He muttered, “goodbye, and I trust you.”

Then the light inside the giant monolith began to dim until it eventually was gone and then the monolith began to fracture and crumble before Scott, giant boulders as large as cities rained down many miles in front of platform one. Scott then screamed and started to hit the plastic window with his hands strongly until his fists hurt. He knelt down to the ground and cried as he muttered, “Alma.”

 

Jonas and Peter hid behind the desk, Jonas was holding a pistol.

Peter asked, “what are you going to do with that?”

Then the hatch opened and Scott stood behind it, his eyes seemed watery as he spoke. “It is over, we can all go home.”

Jonas asked, “what do you mean?”

Scott couldn't look at him when he explained. “Alma merged with the alien computer and then destroyed herself, she must have reprogrammed herself to do that. She destroyed herself and that thing. I think all the matter will be inert now.”

Peter said, “my god man, you may have saved not only Earth but all of existence.”

Scott took took joy in hearing that. “No, all I got to do was watch her die again. She did it, she did it for me.”

Jonas then approached Scott and extended to his to shake Scott's and said, “you may have saved the day. I guess you where her for a reason.”

Scott looked at his hand and muttered, “Jonas, you can shove it.”

 

 

 

Aug 5, 2011

 

 

Scott's run down apartment in Ottawa. Scott sat his his small computer in front of a window which allowed him to look down upon a street. It was a cold, rainy day outside uncommon for August. Scott pushed keys into the keyboard.

It was a year later. The E.B.T.A. had perpetrated the lie that Newfoundland had been hit by a small meteor and thousands where lost. They must have been pretty effect because Scott had not once in the past year heard even a rumor of what had really taken place.

Scott only received a small plaque that he could show no one, he had been dropped off at his apartment as quickly as he had been snatched away. Sometimes not even Scott could have believed what happened sometimes, though those events haunted his nightmares.

He sat at a computer writing code then suddenly stop. He hit enter and the words on the screen read: Define User.

Scott muttered as he typed his name, “Scott, Alma.”

 

 

The End

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


© Copyright 2019 Matthew Bissonnette. All rights reserved.

Add Your Comments:

More Science Fiction Short Stories