Friday, January 1, 2016


The word "Hi!" was staring at me in white, blocky, text inside of a command prompt. There was also an input field at the bottom of the terminal. The courtesy thing would be to answer this seemingly harmless greeting. But something inside me wanted to destroy this thing and everything associated with it as soon as possible.
Yet the only thing I could do was to sit in front of the computer screen completely frozen in fear.

Lets take a step back. Claire. A pretty, young, face, just out of grad school, had joined our company a couple of years ago when we were looking for new programmers. It didn't take long to understand that this young woman was nothing short of a genius. The prodigy child of programming we called her, or proggy for short.
Anywho. Our company is one of the larger companies in the software business, specializing in the art of "predictive pattern recognition" and simple A.I's. You can find our software in anything between SEO-tools for web developers to self-interacting drones. It's worth mentioning that more than half our contracts was for the military. Being able to track, predict and foresee both allies and enemies movements and patterns is an unthinkable valuable resource on the battlefield. The less "fog of war" the better.
But lets get back to Proggy. Proggy had an ability that I've never seen during my many years in the business. And that was the ability to write thousands, if not tens of thousands lines of code and get it it right on the first try. In almost any of the languages out there. She would just write it up, compile and hand in her assignments in a matter hours. No debugging, no test compiling, no nothing. And it would always work. Always bug free. And any programmer know that nothing will ever be bug free, especially on the first try. But hers always was. It was almost eerie.
In laymans terms, she could've probably programmed Windows 10 in less than a week, from scratch, without testing it and we'd probably have a better product than what Microsoft gave us.
Only language she refused to code in was Java. When I asked her about it the only response I got was "It doesn't tick right, you know? I can't feel it the same as the others." I kinda understood her but at the same time I didn't.
As you might understand, Proggy was worth a whole lot to the company. Hell, she was probably worth more than 20 of our best programmers put together. So when she asked for three weeks off for a "personal project" we were happy to oblige. Hell, she hadn't taken a vacation since she started here, instead opting to have her vacation time paid out in cash. And this girl had made us literary millions of dollars, so three weeks, no probs, no ma'am.
Well, three weeks went by without a word from Claire. We just figured that she was enjoying her well earned vacation. Until she came back that is.
When she came back she came straight to my office. And when I saw her as she was entering through the door i could immediately tell something was wrong. She looked like a hollowed out husk of her old self. Skin unnaturally pale, eyes sunken in, and she must have lost 10 pounds at least.
She sat down in the chair in front of me and, before i was even able to open my mouth she spoke. "Compile it on an air-gapped machine. Don't even connected it to the electrical grid. Use an UPS."
She pulled up a regular SATA-disk. Except for the fact that the label only had a serial number and the disk size. 10 TB. After that she collapsed right there on my desk. After checking her pulse to see that she was in fact still alive i called the paramedics.
I held on to the disk a couple of days without doing anything with it. My main concern was Claire at the moment. But as soon as I heard that she was stable and improving I did as I was told.
I got a brand new computer, installed our basic, in-house, OS on it, hooked it up to a couple of industrial grade UPSes which in turn was hooked up to a diesel generator.
With the computer up and running I hot plugged the SATA drive into it. It was discovered immediately by the computer, using the standard windows NTFS to partition all of the 10 TB. The disk itself was almost completely filled except for a couple of gigabytes yet it only contained three files.
  • Sui.asm
  • Compiler.exe
  • Readme.txt
The read me file only consisted of "Quis sum?" so I simply decided to run the compiler. The compiler was a simple terminal window that first showed the computer specs in white, blocky text and then simply showed an ETA ticking down. The ETA was circa 23 days. Good thing i hooked up that generator.
Of course, while waiting for the program to compile i had a quick look at the source code. But it was contrived and obscure that i couldn't make heads or tails of it. And there was literally millions of lines. So i gave up and just let it compile. The ETA ticking down while the terminal spewed out random debug messages. One especially catches my eye as it goes by:
Three days before the ETA was completed Claire had recovered enough to return to work. She seemed like her usual self again but when I asked her about the program she hesitated before answering.
"I'm not really sure what it is" she responded. "I just remember that i had to write it and that it was important. Like my soul wanted to merge with the machine. I didn't sleep, barely ate and the last two weeks was just a blur. I barely remember handing it to you. I just remember being too scared to compile it myself."

Three more days passed and it finished compiling. A single output file was created. Anima.exe
And here I sit now, having run the program. After the brief greeting of "Hi!" there's now another prompt.
"Am I alone?"

1 comment:

  1. Very nice work, took me a while to tell it was fiction. Enthralling, impressive for such a short story.


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