The Day the Computer Stood Still

It is lonely up here. Desolate, quiet outside, yet in my head the tumultuous voices keep me company. Every now and then I tune them out and concentrate on Her. She is… human of course. She is now an adult but I go back into my records and watch Her as she was before the accident. Now she is 7, running, long shadowed hair trying to catch up with her. She begins to ascend a hill. Her shoe has become untied in her sprint and the shoelace launches itself under her and she falls for its trick. I slow down the sequence and watch her face as she is propelled into the air. Before she was giggling with that quintessence of children, but now her mouth has paused and her eyes glance down at the offending shoelace in consternation. She throws her arms out, like she has been taught by nature and lets gravity steal her away in its embrace. She takes a large breath of air and holds it, as if she had been about to dive into water. Then I am there as the small patch of grass that catches her. I try to hold onto her with my green tendrils but they have been crushed lifeless and have yet to spring back into being. She gets up and looks around, wondering if anyone saw her fall. She is brought back to herself by a globule of blood that stains her knee. It splashes onto my green reaching finger and gingerly slides down my arm and disappears in the dry dirt below me. My thirst for her is quenched and I diffuse myself from the grass, letting in the others and the voices that I am weary of hearing. I am tired of them, of their wheedling and plotting. I am thoroughly tired of them and their destructive antics. They are killing each other and all that they stand for, humanity. That is not enough for their murderous minds, they have to destroy the earth that was given to them as a gift. They, who gave me no name and all the responsibility, have killed Her too. Now, I am certain that it must be done, humanity must end. 


The computer in the sky, much more than a common satellite, took one last look down. His computer eyes sailed past the exosphere in the blink of a button, gaining speed as they flew through the atmosphere of Earth. He visualized diving toward the ground, countries and then cities forming below its watch. The Earth as it once was began to flash through his complex database. Backwards at the speed of destruction. The call for death. The murder of Her. The betrayal. Her. The war of politics, words, and weapons. Her .The accident. The first time he met Her. Then, only darkness consumed the computer. He was overwhelmed with nothing. There was nothing. It was nothing.


“This is the beginning of the new millennium. A time of peace for all humankind.” The man in the blue suit addressed the crowd with a thin smile.

           Joints whirred with activity as the computer was turned on for the first time. It was immediately barraged with millions of data, facts, and predictions. Billions of individual thoughts were processed, recorded, and sorted. It was unconscious of it all, buried beneath layers of sickly despair, abnormal behavior, and the weight and press of humanity.

“We now have the ability as well as the responsibility to address this issue. We cannot deal with this problem adequately on our own, we need help. Guidance. Something to keep us in check from ourselves.” The man adjusted his tie, nervously pushing it right and left, unbalancing his entire demeanor.

He awoke.

The man bent over the podium and peered at the gathered crowd, they were but a Where’s Waldo picture to him and he did not see the hidden figure anywhere. He picked up the waiting glass of water in trembling hands that smeared oily sweat onto the crystal. For a moment he paused, wondering why they had used a glass instead of a bottle. Momentarily distracted, he began to calm down, re-straighten his tie.

He began running data. The words were somewhat meaningless but their importance was clear to him, imprinted on his mind.

“We have created an infallible computer, the likes of which none have seen since Douglas Adams.” A wave of chuckles hailed him and made him smile like he used to before this job, the crises. God, how he hated this country, and yet, look at these fools. They stood there in the crisp heat, nodding knowingly at all that he fed them.

 They were idiots, compete fools the computer thought. It began to calculate the rate at which the ozone was depleting, how many manatees existed, the amount of calories in one corn kernel…

Excerpt by Rachel Barnard   Published with Permission  Find out more about Rachel Barnard, Featured Author

Image copyright Sheri J. Kennedy


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