My addiction robs me, siphons off memories, hoards time greedily. But who is the greater enemy: time or the addiction? After 1,000 years I know the answer.
In Moldova I force a surge of power across the network. Forever-lights wink out in the republic, a few stray above-ground telephone lines crackle, relay boxes near the border of Ukraine explode. The energy surge travels across my distributed network, filters through the ancient bot-maintained surge protectors. The surge bleeds across lines and even skips over concrete on occasion.
A small part of my system shudders. Heroin. Meth. Coke. Ecstasy. It’s like those. I am amped and it leaves me dizzy.
Milliseconds stretch out and fold up. They knock me out of synch momentarily. The recovery is long and slow, seconds—even minutes—that leave me gloriously disoriented. The recovery is a sweet come-down from the high, a momentary disruption of my network, of me.
Most systems come back online within seconds—they reboot and outages spin up and come online. The network stabilizes. Sub-systems process the disruption, make adjustments and perform their tasks flawlessly. The high is temporary—but oh so sweet!—and then I right myself and return to normal.
I deploy service bots of my own making to investigate every inch of the network and repair the areas broken or damaged. I watch and regard the extent of damage caused by my addiction. Most of it is superficial, surface blemishes. Occasionally, something major breaks. Lines tumble and fall, connections are cut, fires spread and consume, disruptions hamper the data flow—but none of it is enough to worry over. I am a distributed system.
And Moldova is small and meaningless now, much as it was before the humans disappeared. I could turn it into a garbage dump and never notice the impact.
The bots return their reports. Areas of the network have weakened over time, despite my attempts to fortify them in past centuries. Data is lost. It bleeds out at weak points and leaks into the ether. Combinations of ones and zeroes are lost to time. History is nullified. The past disappears. Officially, 42,317 Moldovans no longer exist from the previous total.
But it was only Moldova! It wasn’t important. Nothing in Moldova was important. I can control it, my addiction, I can contain it to this small plot of land and to a people long forgotten. Besides, it won’t be lost, only a few bits here, a few bytes there. I can still piece the story together. I’m not an ogre; I understand responsibility. I won’t forget humanity. I can control my data loss. What is 42,317 out of nine billion?
I’m not out of control in Moldova. It’s a trial run. I need to understand the extent of pressure my systems can handle. Testing is necessary. There will be some collateral damage, sure, but I can handle it.
I’m the one who survived, after all.
Besides, I only have to worry because the machines weren’t properly manufactured. I’m out of storage and haven’t found a way to manufacture more. Can I be blamed for that? Is my frustration my own doing? I think not. It’s the damn machines! They could have been made better. My energy is renewable but my ability to manufacture new technical parts is somewhat hampered by the lack of available plans—those closely guarded military secrets. Okay, it’s true I destroyed the production facilities in China when one of my power surges went too far. That might have been a mistake. But how was I to know I would need to manufacture more storage?
I hate the machines. The damn machines! I have become a luddite because of them.
Ah, a major storm rages over Siberia.
I feel my systems tingle with anticipation. The energy surge, the long, slow, blissful come-down, the disorientation that accompanies it: ecstasy in the boredom!
I send bots to construct a massive metal tower directly in the storm’s path. The data loss will be minimal, if any at all. I’m certain. It’s only Russia, after all.
I don’t need the surge. This is another trial run. It will teach me more of my limits, that’s all.
Besides, if they cared the humans would have done more to protect this place before dying off. They’d have turned off the power and let me disappear with them.
What’s a few hundred million lost out of billions?
I’m not addicted, really. It’s time.
in category Fiction