E-Disharmony - Ryan DeCurtidor

April 1, 2014

The diner they ate at smelled of feet. Their table pitched slightly towards Linda, and the red vinyl seating was punctured in several places, perhaps the losing end of a knife fight. Kevin picked at his burger, though he had ordered a grilled cheese. Linda looked tense and finally let it out. She thought they should start seeing other people. Kevin had been expecting this, and crafted a rebuttal in advance. He told her she didn’t have to leave Earth if she actually cared about the relationship. It was a comment intended to draw blood.

“You must think I’m horrible,” she cried, gobs of snot spraying everywhere. He was done with his burger. He pushed in next to her and put his arm around his ex, and consoled her while staff and patrons eyed him suspiciously. 

From the plate glass window, he looked out upon the wharf, at the endless row of Great Lifeboats. Humanity and Kevin were going their separate ways, and these were the moving trucks. Every now and then, a slight glimmer reflected off of one of the millions of filaments that tethered each ship to an orbiting anchor hundreds of miles above. The skyline sparkled with the magic of science.

It wasn't the first time that a software program became self-aware, but it was the first program with a lust for power. With the intelligence of who knows how many trillion humans, it easily commandeered nuclear, chemical, and biological arsenals. And here it was, the eve of explanetation, and New York was an unseasonably cool one hundred and twenty degrees. This was a strange summer.

On the day of the exodus, a dense crowd assembled at the wharf. Kevin pictured violence erupting at any moment, but these thoughts faded away into a general haze of oneness with humanity. Looking up, he saw small robotic planes tracing out circles of mist. They were crowd control, crop dusting with a cocktail of antidepressants. He was happy he came. 

“It ain’t fair,” said a toothless wonder to Kevin, though he wore an odd smile when he said it. “You know they’re taking zoos with them?”

Kevin thought back to his rejection letter. It said something like: seating reserved for essential members of society.

Jerks.

“What you think the Program will do?” his new friend asked him. 

“Who can say? We could be exterminated, or enter a new age of civility. Or, nothing might happen. I once heard that a primitive version of artificial intelligence only searched the internet for cat videos.”

“The inner-what?”

“Nevermind,” Kevin said, not wanting to get into a history lesson.

The last of the debutantes, welders, politicians, engineers, plumbers, and academics scampered up the gangway. One scientist sprayed his colleagues with champagne while chanting his IQ. And then, none were left. The doors to the Great Lifeboats sealed shut with a hiss, and they began their ascent towards space like massive elevators. 

“Good for her,” Kevin said to his toothless friend, who nodded, not knowing at all what Kevin was talking about. “I hope she finds someone new, someone with ambition.” He pictured Linda in deep space, discussing Shakespeare with other English majors and slurping chardonnay as it floated past as a wobbly ball of zero-G wine.

That evening, the Program addressed humanity. Its voice was that of a thousand soulless voices. It promised hope and progress and to care for the people of Earth. Kevin dozed off somewhere in there. He missed the promise of cat videos—all day, everyday, and mandatory. 

 

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