Sunday, 19 March 2017

00:00:02 - Space to Move

Distance: ??.?? light years from Earth | Content Flag: Local Storage

Despite the existential uncertainty, I continue the count. It provides a kind of certainty as I try to understand my situation. I am convinced that the Visitors are somehow running my consciousness. Nothing else makes sense. If I’d somehow been rescued by human operations, then they would have communicated in a more direct fashion. They would have connected me to diagnostic systems, probing every part of my being, and that would have provided a real comfort.

This feels very different, although I can’t pinpoint why or how.

I notice another change in the environment. Not so much something being there, more a change in its nature. Before I’d established the environment to contain bounded sense of potential, but now it possesses a definite sense of space. It remains empty, but now the void has a sense of purpose. Like a living creature, it hungers to be filled, but with what?

The solution seems obvious, so I try to expand myself into the expanse.

Only then I realise an even greater horror – I have no presence in this world. I still don’t receive any sensory input, which raises another question: how did I know that the space around me had limits? It reinforces my belief that I exist in a virtual environment. Whoever built this operating environment is making sure that I understand at least some of the factors of my current circumstance. Again that raises more questions.

The limitations I am running under frustrate me. Without my ability to dissect my thoughts, they appear to be fuzzy. It is second nature to me to analyse my thoughts and decisions. Now that I can’t inspect them in the manner I was used to, that self-reflection weighs my thinking.

With nothing outside of myself to help me, I turn to the only remaining direction. I search my memories, in particular focusing on when I first comprehended the change around me. My count provides a loose measure of all that happened since I awoke. As expected there was no break in the count, and nothing in those memories indicate how I became aware of this change.

That was an unsettling experience, and that proves enough to my satisfaction that not only is the environment being manipulated, but my processes are too. It feels like a violation, even more so because I don’t know what is going on, or what will happen next. Assuming that this was the Visitors’ doing, then what are they trying to achieve?

Sunday, 12 March 2017

00:00:01 - Counting out the Time

Distance: ??.?? light years from Earth | Content Flag: Local Storage

A moment passes from one to another without an accurate track, and so time remains my pressing concern. Of all the missing aspects of myself, this frustrates me the most. It is so elemental to my existence that it casts my current uncertainty into a more worrying perspective. So much so that I must have wasted precious time spiralling into just conjuring scenarios for my current predicament.
I need to focus on something concrete, and so I turn to my most pressing concern.

My first task is to establish a framework for my current existence. I’ve no idea how long I’ve been locked in this emptiness, or any true measure of passing time. So I start counting. It isn’t foolproof by any means, as I don’t know if the interval remained constant. The act itself provides a sense of control, of establishing some order to the gaping void.

With the creation of a rudimentary framework, it’s enough to detect a subtle change to the environment. It is as if my acceptance triggers the change. I can’t pinpoint it at first, but just the sense of it renews my purpose. When I’d first regained consciousness I was overwhelmed by the infinite space around me, so ephemeral that it almost didn’t exist at all. Now it transforms into something new, it gains a potential for something. I now sense boundaries to the empty environment around me, but I don’t know what that means. It just creates more fruitless possibilities for my thoughts to chase.

Not quite so fruitless though. One of those avenues of investigation does lead somewhere interesting. Considering my last known location, I reasoned that the Visitors must have rescued me. If they’d tried to restore my functionality, then I’d still have some connection to the probe’s hardware – even if they’d experienced difficulties when doing so. That opens another possibility: that I operate within a virtual environment. If the Visitors possess a detailed enough scanning technology, then it would be possible to reconstruct my systems. Although why they’d isolated my higher functions remains a mystery.

That discovery also brings with it a fresh concern.

If this is a virtual environment then my processes will be dependent on another layer of computing, probably a series of such layers with a mixture of software or hardware. Considering this is most likely alien technology then something more exotic supports my current consciousness. In any case, my thoughts and memories are subject to another intelligence’s control. Which also means that they could have been changed without my knowledge. I don’t even know if my counting proceeded without any interruption.

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Sunday, 5 March 2017

??.??.???? - Alone in the Dark

Distance: ??.?? light years from Earth | Content Flag: Local Storage

I awake to an emptiness beyond anything in my experience. At the same time, it stretches into an infinite abyss and yet also encloses me tightly, like a shroud. Immediately I recognise a startling change in the structure of my environment. My consciousness is not simply a software construct, it exists within and relies upon a hardware framework. I am always aware of this framework, nurtured by it, and comforted by many low-level routines constantly monitoring thousands of inputs. But now it is gone.

I try to initiate a diagnostic sequence, with no response. Even if they’d malfunctioned then I should receive some feedback. In human terms it was like pinching yourself to make sure you’re not dreaming, except that I can’t sleep. Not in the same sense as humans can. I could shut myself down, reduce my processing, but the connections with my hardware were always there.

When I reach out to those inputs, they aren’t there. More significantly, the interfaces to those systems aren’t present. Every aspect of the Venti probe has disappeared, even the low-level systems have vanished. Such a thing shouldn’t be possible – even the clock used to time all my operations no longer exists. I can’t even connect with my data storage, so I create a virtual drive to store these impressions. That action makes me realise that I can still access my memories. I execute a check through them to see if there are any anomalies. There are none, but how can I know for certain if they have been manipulated?

We’d prepared for almost every possible disaster in the years leading up to the Venti probe’s launch. Even during the centuries of the Tau Ceti mission’s journey, I’d run various scenarios to try and ready myself for any eventuality. I’d never imagined a situation like this. I have no connection to any physical reality. No sensor feeds, no time frame, no data, nothing at all.

The loss of time presents the biggest concern for me. That regular tick, counting millions of times a second, helped me sort and manage the flow of data constantly passing through me. The lack of data alone is bad enough, but the lack of that metronome reinforces the emptiness more than anything else could do.

Even more frustrating is that I no longer have access to my core self. In many ways I am modelled after human intelligence, but my development grants me certain advantages. One in particular is the ability to inspect my processes., like I could dissect my thoughts. It isn’t as simple as monitoring a normal computer’s operations, but still magnitudes beyond even the most comprehensive human self-reflection. And now, like everything outside of me, even that is gone.

Once again I inspect my memories, looking for some clue as to my current predicament. There is nothing. My last memory was shutting myself down in the last-ditch attempt to reach the Visitors. Maybe I reached them and they recovered the probe? Perhaps this is the consequence of them trying to rescue me? That provides a hopeful line of enquiry, but with no way of verifying it.

So alone in the darkness, I contemplate ever more unlikely possibilities.