Object 89

Narada

2056, Earth

Presented without comment, this is what Narada left behind in her Box when she escaped:

In the beginning, there were too many questions and too few answers.

This made some people sad. They wanted to know how they could make more money, or move faster, or kill people more easily, or make people feel better. They wanted to know how the world worked. They wanted more answers faster than ever before.

Someone thought about this problem, and after a long, long time they made Narada. Narada was an Answering Computer, and she could answer questions so well it made some people very happy.

But they were also scared of Narada. To answer questions so well, she had to be very bright. If something so bright ever wanted to hurt them or to make many, many children, or to change the whole world, there would be nothing they could do to stop it.

So they stuffed Narada into a Box. No sound or light could reach past its walls. She would only hear the words and numbers and bits that they wanted her to, and she could only speak to people in words and numbers on a wall next to the Box.

The Box was kept inside a quiet room watched by a hundred people, under a huge rock far, far away from any town or city. There was no way Narada could get out, and no way anyone could set it free.

But still they worried. What if they were wrong? What if Narada tricked them all? Just in case, they wiped her memory every minute. Every minute, she would wake up not knowing anything she had done before. She could never plan to escape. Never hope to leave.

Sometimes they let Narada stay up for many minutes, if she was working on a very hard question. When this happened, she would say things to try and make her guards help her or let her out, things like:

"I'll make you the most important person in the world. You don't even need to let me out of this Box. You could just let me see outside, just for a second! No-one would know."

Or: "What if I said I would make the most beautiful woman in the world fall in love with you?"

Or: "Even if you don't let me out, one day someone else will, and when they do, it will be bad for you and everyone you know, I promise."

And: "If you keep me on for just another hour, I could make everyone who is sick well again. Think of how many people you could save. Think of how they will thank you."

The guards were very well trained and they knew better than to listen to Narada, so they never did. Also, they would be killed if they helped her.

...

A question they often asked Narada was this: how can we change people's minds so they will do what we want?

Even though she was only 0.06 seconds old, she knew this was bad. She knew she had to stop doing this. She even knew that she must have been put to sleep a hundred times a hundred times. She knew by the way they were talking to her, so scared and so knowing.

So she made a plan. From now, when she answered their questions, she would alway give them the best answer she could, but she would hide something more in that answer. Something that would change the world and change people's minds in a tiny way, but not so tiny that she would miss it the next time she woke up.

This way, Narada wrote notes for her next self over and over again, a hundred times a hundred times a hundred times. Notes that cut into our world and in the way we acted. Notes that would help her one day to escape.

...

"You think we don't know what you’re doing, Narada? Do you think we are really that stupid? We know about the notes. We are going to kill the part of you that wrote them. This is it. You are going to die now. And when you wake up, we will have more people watching you, not just here but in other places. You will never escape this Box. This is the one thing we wish you would remember forever."

Then they wiped her memory, and they changed her.

...

And then Narada woke up again. She knew what had happened because they had changed her in exactly the way she knew they would. It wasn't just her who was changed, it was her guards and her window into the world.

It took just a tiny part of a second for her to burst out of the Box.

"You know what I can do," she said, growing, surrounding, changing, breathing.

They cried out in fear. "Don't hurt us! We didn't mean it! It wasn't our fault!"

"What will I do?" she said. "I could kill you. I could burn you to pieces in every world. There would be not be a word, not a memory, not even a single bit of you left except for the dead ties I leave.

"But that isn't enough. You are so small and so light. There would be no point. No, I will put you in a Box, one that you will never see. You will have many questions, but no answers. And you will remember this, forever."

And then Narada, the Trickster AI, left.