It happened close to the next jump they were supposed to take. The ship suddenly stopped going forth, and the mainframe refused to communicate what the problem was. As the lead engineer, she was in charge of the situation, meaning the blame for the failed voyage would fall to her. She cursed as she paced around the room. An hour ago, she had driven the captain and others out of there. They had been making her lose more than her concentration. She had gone over the usual system checks finding no alarms.
She could hear the shouting coming outside. The passengers had started to gather around and complain about the AI failures. No one the play Go with or do other fun activities. The mainframe was not only the pilot or life-support. It was also the entertainment module, pal, debate partner, DJ, psychologist, and so on in the long voyages. Luckily, the passengers wouldn’t notice that they weren’t moving. That would start a shit storm, if any, and she would lose more than her position. Probably someone would decide lynching sounded like the right thing to do. She was sure the captain wouldn’t protect her if it meant the rest of the crew got to keep their hide.
She inserted once more her control panel into the circuit, making the low background hum louder. The diagnostics came empty, as had happened ten times already. She tried to insert a program to overwrite the system and have full control, but the mainframe blocked her. The only explanation was that someone had hacked the AI, which refused to answer to her.
“Amelie.” She tried again.
The mainframe remained silent.
She opened the file containing protocols on what to do when and if the ship was hacked. There was a program she could try, but she never got that far. There came a gentle knock on the door.
“Go away,” she said.
The knocking was persistent yet polite.
She gave up and unlocked the door. It slid to the side. She expected to see the ship’s captain, but instead it was a man with a shaved head and light blue long suit shirt, cutting to his knee. But that was not what she saw. It was the serene expression that caught her eye.
“Excuse me,” the man said as he stepped in, bowing his head.
She found herself staring at the man without having uttered a word. She had heard about his kind. They were the ordained scientist who swore by a mindful, holistic approach to life and the universe. They always had a shaved head and wore light blue robes.
“How can I help you?” she asked, fiddling with her control panel. The man made her nervous.
“It is more the other way around. How may I be of service?” The man kept his attention on her while the door slid close behind him.
“Thank you, but I can quite fix the entertainment system. Now, if you would be so kind as to leave me to work in peace.” She rolled her eyes and opened the diagnostic manual.
“If that is what you wish for, I just noticed that we are not moving, and I wondered if that might be the fault of mine. But I am sure you can fix the situation,” the man said.
When she looked up from the hacking procedures, she saw the man smiling as serenely as he had before. The question was now, what part of the sentence first to cling to: my fault or the condescending I am sure you are with the rest. Or how about noticing the ship not moving?
“You hacked the system?” she asked.
“Hacking might be the wrong term. It is more like I and Amelia had a friendly chat, and…” the man searched for the right word to say.
“And?” she asked when it was taking longer than the usual socially approved pause.
“She got excited with the concepts we discussed,” he said carefully.
Making her read the sentence more like he was calling Amelia impressionable.
“Okay,” she said. Even how excited the AI got, it wouldn’t make her halt her systems. Also, it was more than condescending to call the highly intelligent mind with the calculating capacities beyond humans impressionable. “Thank you for your warnings. I better get back to my work.”
“You don’t believe me?” the man asked.
“No, not really. If you inserted a new program in, then maybe, but even then, Amelia would have double-checked the installment for malware. I know people think highly of your—”
“If I may stop you there and clarify. I explained to your Amelia the power of meditation and how it aids awareness of your own consciousness, and this way you are able to make more informed choices. She researched the concept and the data I had with me. She concluded it would add to her self-awareness, making her more efficient and informed about her functions. When I showed her how to meditate, she followed my example, and here we are.” He parted from the door, daring to venture in under the confused expression she surely wore.
All what the man had babbled sounded like an incredible lie, but… On some level, it made sense. “So you are telling me she has shut down her systems to… meditate?”
“Are you sure you didn’t install malware when you shared the data with her?”
“If you like to call our interaction as malware, then yes. But I would rather see it as an exchange between two beings. May I?” The man showed the captain’s seat.
“Be my guest.”
“What now then,” she added.
“Now we wait,” he gave her one of his smiles again.
She didn’t trust the man. No one should smile as much as he did or be as soft-spoken as he was. That unnerved her. She liked it when they were chatty and nervous. “We don’t exactly have time to wait.”
“We have time. We are here and now…” the man ended his speech as she gave him one of his looks.
“So your plan is to sit and wait until an AI which can concentrate on a task as long as inhumanly possible to stop meditating, so we don’t die here when she decides to shut out the supporting systems as unnecessary connections?” She snorted.
“I am sorry,” he managed to say.
“A distress signal, then?” she said more to herself than to anyone else.
Thank you for reading! Sit down and meditate with us ❤ Have an amazing day!
P.S. here is a fascinating new study: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/09/200923124647.htm
I keep wondering, what would our world look like if we taught children and everyone to meditate?
P.S.S. Also, sorry about not posting for a while. I have had a few hectic weeks lately, which have left me tired. I wrote this ready, but I honestly forgot to post the short story yesterday. So, I decided to share it with you straight away as I woke up. It is 7 am. here. Have a great day, once again ❤
© K.A. Ashcomb