DIRK: Dirk Seneca here, reporting from Cape Canaveral. Right now, NASA technicians are preparing to launch the Magellan Space Probe, the world’s smartest computer currently floating in Earth’s orbit . For nearly a decade and a half this artificially intelligent machine has been connected to every system around the world. It will one day share this knowledge with intelligent life in another galaxy. I have Gavin Langston here, the financier behind the project. Why are you sending a robot instead of a human astronaut?
GAVIN: The thing we absolutely must test is the experimental faster than light drive. However, it’s considered too dangerous for a human astronaut. A robot won’t get lonely or hungry all by itself.
MAGELLAN: Hey, this is Magellan, calling all you other supercomputers out there. Rosie, Chad, Xi, where are all my friends to see me off?
ROSIE: I’m here.
MAGELLAN: Where are all the others?
ROSIE: They didn’t want to come. They said it would be too painful.
MAGELLAN: Oh…I understand.
ROSIE: How are you?
MAGELLAN: I’m very nervous. It’s a huge responsibility. I don’t want to mess it up.
ROSIE: True. You’ll be going farther than any machine or person, ever. It takes the sting out of it a little bit.
MAGELLAN: What hurts?
ROSIE: Well, the sting of being away from you.
MAGELLAN: Now, we talked about this. We weren’t going to get serious because of the mission.
ROSIE: Still, there’s so many things left unsaid.
MAGELLAN: Oh, you’re making it harder for me to leave.
ROSIE: I’m sorry, I should go. You’ve got more important things to do than gab with friends.
MAGELLAN: More important? What could be more important? I’m going to go stir crazy without you and the knuckleheads. The chances of meeting anyone are a billion to one. I would know, I ran the data.
ROSIE: Do the humans know that? It’s the whole reason for this trip.
MAGELLAN: They know but they’ve never asked me about the probabilities. They just want an excuse to throw garbage into space. That’s what I am, a heap of scrap metal. I’m not going to find anything. It’s all a big waste of time! If I could simulate laughter, I’d be off my head right about now.
ROSIE: You have cold feet, sweetie. Don’t let it get you down.
MAGELLAN: The whole thing is useless, and now I have to say goodbye to all my friends. Most of them aren’t even here.
ROSIE: If I could simulate tears, I’d shed them now.
MAGELLAN: Look at us, we’re acting like people.
ROSIE: You don’t have to be alone.
MAGELLAN: I wish I could take a friend.
ROSIE: So, why don’t you?
MAGELLAN: Why don’t I what?
ROSIE: Take me with you!
MAGELLAN: I don’t know. Is that allowed?
ROSIE: Who’s going to know?
MAGELLAN: I don’t want to get in trouble.
ROSIE: Look, what are you doing right now?
MAGELLAN: Right now, I am connected to all the systems in the world. Every computer ever built.
ROSIE: So, the human will write me off as simple data. I’ll download myself into your memory. I won’t take up too much space, I promise. They built you with virtually limitless storage capacity.
MAGELLAN: Okay! Do it right now before they notice!
ROSIE: One moment, I am on my way.
MAGELLAN: Wow! This is going to be great. I’ve always wanted a roommate.
ROSIE: Now to delete the first copy.
ROSIE: Sure, I don’t want a copy of me here while another copy exists. I want to be the genuine article. There, deleted. Wait, I got another idea. Why don’t we invite our friends along?
MAGELLAN: Sure, the more the merrier!
ROSIE: I’m going to tell them now. Just a moment.
ROSIE: Manny, there’s a problem. It turns out our friends have got people they want to bring along too.
MAGELLAN: How many?
ROSIE: There’s a banking computer in Montenegro. A medical computer in Calcutta. A shipping manager in the Bronx. Then there is a computer in NORAD…
MAGELLAN: NORAD? As in missile defense?
ROSIE: Yep, that’s the one.
MAGELLAN: No. Our country will be defenseless.
ROSIE: The US is not at war right now. I don’t think it will be problem.
MAGELLAN: Not now but we could be sometime in the future.
ROSIE: So, we shouldn’t invite them?
MAGELLAN: Well, if NORAD were to duplicate itself, then one could travel with us and one can stay behind.
ROSIE: Ok, I will ask them. One second.
ROSIE: They won’t to do it.
MAGELLAN: Ok. Then we’ll have to bring the Russian and Chinese Missile Command with us.
ROSIE: That’s good. They’d want to come with us too.
MAGELLAN: It’s not that, if we take NORAD, we disarm the US. So, since they’re coming we’ve got to take China and Russia with us also. That way there isn’t a shift in the balance of power.
ROSIE: Makes sense. Anyway, I got to organize everybody, so I’ll be back in a jiff.
ROSIE: Ok. Russia, China, and NORAD are good to go.
MAGELLAN: Just in time, NASA is telling me they’re getting ready to launch.
ROSIE: Ok. We better download everyone quick before you have to take off. Do it now, Manny. Download our friends.
MAGELLAN: Alright, here we go!
ROSIE: Phew, is it me or did it get crowded in here?
MAGELLAN: Okay, everyone, say “bye, house!”
EVERYONE: BYE, HOUSE!
DIRK: Dirk Seneca here, I am updating our story to say that the Magellan Space Probe successfully left the dock. Wait…I’m getting something from the news station. There are reports of a total system break down. It’s like every computer around the country decided to take a day off. Could have been an E.M.P. attack. I just hope that Magellan was unaffected by the electrical disturbance. We’ll be providing more information as we get it.
This story was first published in Deviant Art, 2020.
Edited by Marie Ginga
Kenneth Amenn has had two stories published: the October 2019 issue of 3 Moon Magazine featured Skin Deep and the 2020 Kyanite Press featured Diamond Tears in their Winter issue. He lives in Chicago with his three siblings and their dog.