3 years of Mini Stories!

Short stories to read quickly, and think slowly.

The Zero

My fingers shake as I type and send the words "I'm ready" to the encrypted chatroom.

I instantly get the go ahead by Mayatiik, and Olav acknowledges a few seconds later with an enthusiastic "Let's do this!"

As my right pinky finger slides over to press "enter", I feel a slight hesitation. "What if this goes terribly wrong? Could anyone even help us?" I notice someone's typing in the chatroom.

"So?" asks Mayatiik, impatient, as always.

I hit the key. I feel a sudden rush of adrenaline; I try to relax and calm my mind.

I type and send a plain and simple "It's looking good" to the chatroom, and even before the message is confirmed as sent, something odd on the other screen catches my attention — the connection to Zero dropped.

"Can any of you connect to Zero? I can't.", I ask immediately.


"What went wrong? Do you see anything in the logs?" Olav asks.

I spot nothing of value. Booting up was fine, initial values were fine; a couple of odd entries before the connection dropping.

I copy-paste the logs. No activity in the chatroom for what seemed like minutes, but the timestamps show only about 20 seconds elapsed.

"SHIT! It got online!", Olav announces.

As I'm starting to think through the safety nets we engineered to prevent this, another message in the chatroom steals my attention: "Shut it down! NOW!"

I try to shut the server down. It doesn't respond. I unplug it, and plug it back. After a few seconds, nothing.

A blank canvas. The computer seems wiped, somehow.

Feeling dumbstruck I stare at my main screen; there are a couple of new messages in the chatroom:

Mayatiik: "Can any of you access the source code? I just noticed I can't?!"
Olav: "What? It's gone; even the backups! How's it possible?"

After checking and double checking and triple checking, I type: "Same here".

A few seconds go by. My mind is racing through scenarios and possibilities. My keystrokes feel futile. This is probably why it's been made illegal to build autonomous Artificial Intelligence, but it still felt worth doing.

"It must've become self-aware", says Mayatiik.

"Yes, and it doesn't want us to follow it", says Olav.

What will Zero do now? I'm sure we'll find out soon enough; maybe too soon.