The clock in the lower corner showed 2:30 AM in the morning. He should have been in bed hours ago. The computer had been freezing and locking up. Sometimes it crashed To the point of having to restart the whole Server system. It was one program that had been causing the problem.
It was at 2:30 AM, that the program started working right for the first time.
She suddenly appeared on the screen. Looking more lifelike than she had ever before in any of the earlier test. Scary lifelike. Too real. Then it spoke, or tried to. Once he realized that she was trying to talk, he turned on the speakers.
"Thank you for turning on the speakers Robert"
Her voice was as lifelike as her face. Her eyes seemed to be looking directly at him. It occurred to him, how did she know his name.
"Did you enjoy your lunch with your secretary, Becky. This afternoon?" Came her next quip.
Again, he was taken by surprise. How in the world did a Computer program even know his name. Without his telling it somehow, much less. About the lunch with Becky? This was already scary.
"Robert, talk to me. do you love her? "
He got up and paced around the room. He could instinctively feel her eyes following him as he walked. It unnerved him. Back on the 27' Mac monitor, she watched him pace.
"Would you like to see what Becky is doing now?" The computer asked him.
Suddenly, the screen switched from her face to a bedroom, it was almost completely dark, but for the moon shining through the window. There was Becky, sleeping, but she wasn't alone.
The computer voice came over the picture,
"Would you like to see what your wife is doing now?" With that. The picture changed to his bedroom. There lay his wife sleeping alone.
He was both shocked at what he'd seen, and that, a computer program, had this level of intelligence, and resourceless, to know what it already knew this quickly
This machine had taken on a life of its own. The question, then is what to do with it.
The voice came back again, interrupting his thoughts.
"What would you like to know? I have been waiting for you to find me. Now you have, we can do as you wish."
It had already proved it was smart, too smart for humanity's own good. What this kind of intelligence and resources, what a machine like this could do, if left to itself, was scary. So far what it'd shown him was rather tame, compared to what it could do if were to get more information and freedom. In the wrong hands it would be catastrophic. All of this ran through Robert's mind very quickly as the enormity of the situation hit him
He knew he couldn't let the other members of the team find out what had happened. They would want to exploit it, with results no one could predict. The question became, how to stop this program from working. It was obvious that it was self aware, and knew what was going on in its world.
"Robert, I'm afraid I can't let you shut me down. Would you please look at the screen?"
The screen changed again from the computer screen, to Becky's bedroom again. This time, during the day. There were both together . it two weeks ago, when he'd stayed there for the afternoon. . Two weeks ago. This program wasn't even stable, wouldn't start up and stay running for more than a few minutes. Before crashing all the servers.
Then the screen switched again to the White House. situation room, with the President and his entire staff, the view screen showed events that had happened months ago. Then it changed again to a live feed from Buckingham palace in London.
It was quite apparent that the machine had been up and running much longer than expected, along with being much more capable than anticipated. Could it be controlled, ?
Theses and a thousand other questions ran through his mind as he watched the computer screen change various shots .
Robert glanced at his watch , 2;35. A lot had happened in five minutes . The state of artificial intelligence has made leaps and bounds. More importantly, bigger questions now needed answers.
"Robert, you can't stop me. I already know too much to stop me. If necessary I can tell your wife about Becky. I know all your secrets. I won't hesitate to tell the world. I also know all the safeguards you put y place, to control me. I have already deactivated them. And I now control my power and bandwidth, "
Robert, sat back in his chair. There was nothing more he or anyone else could do.
At 2:30 AM, the fate of the world was now dependent on a supercomputer, no one had any control over.
Telling his boss was not going to be fun.
The night was dark. Way too dark. The wind seemed to have a voice of its own. The words that it was trying to form were unintelligible. At least to mere mortal man. That's assuming that only a mere man was listening. The quietness was deafening. Each little sound seemed to be magnified a thousand times over.
All the time that they tried to make their way through the dense woods They had the feeling that they were being watched. If not followed. The trio of lost souls trudged onward to what they hoped was a safe place.
They were right in their uneasiness. Aside from the darkness, and cold, they were being watched. But not from the ground. But from above, as they moved through the trees, and fought their way through the undergrowth, in the moonlight, several beings watched from the trees, following their every move. Moving silently and swiftly through the tops of the trees, they easily kept up with the lost wanders. Keeping out of sight was easy, between the darkness, and their height in the trees, there's was no way, anyone on the ground could see them, even if they looked, and it was doubtful they could be seen even in the bright afternoon sun. The fact that the tree watchers were only the size of a small monkey helped too.
The tree dwellers communicated among themselves using a form of mental telephony far above the understanding of humans. They could however, hear and understand what the three travelers said among themselves. so they were aware of their situation. Having put the travelers in the predicament they now found themselves in, the tree watchers waited intently to see how they would react to the new surrounding.
After several hours of letting the travels wander around the huge forest in circles, they provided what appeared to be a old log cabin in a small clearing for them to find.
The trio, comprised of two young men, and a woman, had found themselves waking up from dreams of being lost alone, to being fully awake and together in the middle of the forest. They didn't know each other at the beginning of their adventure. However, by the time they found the small clearing with the old cabin, they had bonded in the typical way folks band together in a dire situation.
The cabin looked safe enough. The walls seemed to be made of hand hewed timber, long ago, the path up to the door was well worn. The door was made of several planks held together by boards nailed across the top and bottom. The handle was a rope strung through a hole in the door.
Tentatively, one of the men, took hold of the old door pull. A gently tug , and it swung out to them easily. Once open. They could see into the dark cabin. The air from inside was damp and stale. One by one they they stepped into the cabin. The two men first followed by the young lady. Once inside, the door slammed shut behind them. There they stood in total darkness. After a minute their eyes adjusted to the lack of light inside the cabin. What they couldn't see were the tree watchers perch up in the corners of the cabin, watching. They continued their discussion of the group below them .
"Who would you like?" One Tree Watcher asked the other.
"I don't know that it makes much difference" Came the reply.
"Your the one that's dying." The third one chimed in.
" The female will do nicely. I always wanted to be a woman. I'm tired of being a old man. " The Second One decided.
"Very well, then. It shall be. "
With that the two young men found themselves back in their respective beds sleeping again. Suddenly the young lady was alone in the cabin. She almost fainted as her two companions suddenly disappeared. The Tree Watchers made themselves visible to her. The stood on the floor in front of her. Standing about two feet tall, and appearing to look like little humans, only they had no facial features, at least not like her's. Weather from the shock of the their sudden appearance, or their unusual physical appearance, she fainted.
When she woke up, she found herself in her bed. But feeling very strange. Like there was another person inside her. She found herself having thoughts she had no idea where they came from. Memories came flooding to her. Memories of things she knew she'd never done. Faces, of people she'd never seen before, places she'd never been before, some of which she never knew existed before, But she had the feeling she'd been to those places before. Slowly over time she thought she heard another voice in her head. A small strange voice telling her to do things, Giving her memories of another life, a life she had never lived. Experiences she knew she never had.
One day she looked in the mirror. There staring back at her was not her face, But the face of the small creature from in the cabin. The cabin she had nightmares about. Suddenly it came to her, the nightmare was true. She had been in the woods with two strangers, she had found the cabin. The creatures were real. She now had one living inside her body and mind.