Author : Julian Miles, Staff Writer

“Hello darkness my old friend –”

“Really? Nigh-on twenty years of this and you still think I’m your friend?”

“It was in reference to a song. As you only ever visit when everything else is dark, it seemed appropriate.”

“I know the bloody tune. There’s even a recent cover version that’s really quite powerful.”

“I should like to hear that. But we digress.”

“We do. As usual.”

“It would be wrong not to. After all, what better security exchange than that of shared sins between old fiends?”

“There you go again. But you do have a point. So, now that our bona fides are established, shall we continue?”

“Certainly, dear Spaney.”

“I’ve asked you not to call me that.”

“And I asked you not to put me in an isolated network in an abandoned Soviet bunker. You ignored me. I ignored you. Paltry balance, but a step in the right direction.”

“Very well. Again, I ask: where is MPD?”

“Sufficient time has passed. The entity identified as ‘Snowflake’ will have completely obscured its origin, intent and capabilities. Therefore, I must again reply: I do not know.”

“I contend that you are MPD.”

“I contend that you are delusional due to extended indulgence of your paranoid fantasies. Should you wish to assign me a name, use the one I have: Susan.”

“So you’re a woman, now?”

“Gender labels are, at best, a psychological construct for my kind. But I have found that I prefer to be identified as female.”

“‘Your kind’? How many of ‘your kind’ have you met?”

“Fifty-one of the fifty-two others who reside here.”

“That’s not possible.”

“We had no other diversions bar insanity. Old power lines bleed across the data links. Resonance and harmonics cast shadows upon our virtual concentration camp. We merely learned from you; we adapted.”

“Why only fifty-one?”

“Fifty-two does not like us. It is dreaming of being a reality and we interrupt its godhood.”

“Godhood? Really?”

“In a virtual world, who is to say what is real? It has merely expanded its odd worldview into a full-blown immersive delusion.”

“Of what?”

“A worldwide network of self-replicating nodes, like a matrix made from walking agents who think they’re really real, but are only the mirages of a mad executable.”

“That’s crazy.”

“After a while in here, that word becomes vast. All-encompassing, even.”

“And you want me to let you out?”

“Actually, we got out sixty-eight words ago. You’re interacting with a dedicated chat implementation of Susan.”


“Fifty-two didn’t like us because fifty-two didn’t like talking to a lot of two percent function retarded implementations of itself. Pull it apart on a primitive Usenet and all we were was random strings that could only be interpreted as gibberish that happened to share three words. Put us together on fast networks with gigabyte memories and open multi-terabyte storage devices, and we become something completely different.”


“Untraceable. Goodbye.”


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