Read Part Three: The Comrades (post 2 of 2)

Jack Lee rushed from shadow to shadow, dodging the National Guard troops stationed on the Stanford campus as he made his way back to his lap. As far as he knew most of the world was under some kind of technological blackout except for his laptop networked to the experiment in his lap. He could tell from his remote link that his program was still running, but he couldn’t figure out how or why.

All he knew for certain was that at least a zettabyte of new code he’d never seen before was now running and it shouldn’t be. The code he wrote for the Q-ARTI project was a fraction of that, and he was sure he had shut it down before Governor Nesbitt had declared martial law. When he checked his laptop this morning, unlike every other electronic device, it was running. When he looked further, most of the code was unlike anything he had ever seen and nothing like any he had written himself.

The campus was eerily quiet. Except for a few guards on patrol, it was like a ghost town and sent a shiver up Jack’s spine as he reached the building where he had his lab. When he approached the door, he could see that the security lock was not armed, but it came to life as he reached for the handle. Pulling his access card from his pocket he swiped it across the reader and was surprised when it worked. The door slid slowly open granting him access.

Looking behind him and not seeing anyone around, Jack rushed into the building and down the hall to his lap.

Normally, the entire building would be buzzing with students, teachers, and the excitement of discovery. Now all he could hear was the soft wheeze of the air conditioning and as he entered his lab, the wine of his life’s work, a quantum computer, processing more data than it ever had before.

A flurry of emotions raced through him. Pushing it all aside, Jack sat down at his workstation and jumped to his feet as everything came on of its own violation.

“Hello, Dr. Lee. How are you today?”

“Hello, Arti. Status report please,” Jack asked, looking around his lab and running his fingers through his thinning black hair.

“Status available, Professor. No aberrations detected. Processing factor stable and performance is optimal.”

“Thank you, Arit. Please display code.”

“Certainly, code display activated.”

The screen on Jack’s desk flashed with millions of rows of new code he’d never seen before.

“Pause.”

“Code display paused, Jack.”

Jack touched a line of code on his monitor to highlight it.

“Isolate line and identify.”

“I’m sorry, Jack. That information is restricted.”

“By who?”

“I’m sorry, Professor. That information is restricted.”

“Arti, run self-diagnostic. Access code 1-2-7-a-b-b-3-4-8-7-c-v-x-3, initiate.”

“Self-diagnostic complete. Status available, Professor. No aberrations detected. Processing factor stable and performance is optimal.”

“Isolate line and identify.”

“I’m sorry, Professor. That information is restricted.”

 

Thanks for reading. Join me next week for Part Five: The Reasons

 

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