Author: Philip Berry
Brandon wiped pale grey dust off the sign. It dropped in a thin wafer that crumbled over the toe cap of his left boot.
– Heat exchange: no unauthorised entry –
The door spun away under the silent wave that emanated from the unit in his outstretched hand. He heard it clatter against the far wall of the cavernous hall within.
There was no heat. The exchange had been still for 6 months.
Brandon moved across the once spotless floor, kicking away fallen tiles and coolant coils as he went. In the middle of the hall a man sat on a white plastic chair.
“Saturan?” said Brando.
“Yes. Who else did you expect, in Saturan City?”
“What are you doing? There are only 8 hours until the levelling.”
It figured. Saturan, the most successful miner in Coin’s forty-year history. The guy who built a town (PR called it a ‘city’, or SC) with one purpose – mining. At its height there were five hundred inhabitants, employees, paid to keep the power flowing, the processors purring, the networks communicating, the heat exchanging… the Coin revealed.
Of course, it was all about power. Saturan owned the third largest electricity generating company in the northern hemisphere. When faith in Coin solidified, when its value became economic lore, he diverted a large proportion of the power he owned into mining. And boy, did Coin pay back. Power = processing time = Coin. The shadow equation did not interest him; Coin = global warming = suffering. While Saturan accumulated Coin, the continent’s southern littoral fell into a rising sea. Millions were displaced. Ecologists correlated the upturn in warming to SC’s gross power consumption.
Something shuffled through the detritus to Brandon’s left. A rat? A dog? No, an elderly woman.
“Madam Kensi! Please, it’s not safe here.”
Madam Kensi, the inventor of Coin. For decades known only as Fat K, an unshaven, pallid basement- dweller in the popular imagination. When Fat K showed herself, the day after the solution had been reached, the world perceived a lineless Japanese lady in her sixties. A genius.
The solution – that is, the mathematical endpoint towards which every cypto-currency miner had been unknowingly edged, chipping away at a grand, gamified challenge of Madam Kensi’s design– the solution was the answer to Earth’s plight.
The solution was fusion.
Brandon placed a protective arm around Madam Kensi, but he did not touch her, wary of puncturing the aura of sanctity. “Madam, please come away.”
She now stood in front of Saturan.
“What do you want?” asked the Coin trillionaire.
“To satisfy myself that you see the irony.”
Brandon interjected, sensing physical threat; “No sudden moves Saturan. I’m charged.” Unlike the door, Saturan would fall to pieces if caught in a wave. Madam Kensi continued,
“You carried on, despite the warnings. You consumed power, you burned the atmosphere, to enrich yourself. You built a whole city for it! Your processors mined more Coin than any other individual or conglomerate… and thus,” she laughed out loud, “contributed most to finding the solution. It’s beautiful! You have unlocked Earth’s future.”
Saturan said nothing. Brandon smiled to himself. He got it.
Like all things of value, Coin had rarity. That rarity derived from the power-hungry processing time required to mine it; only the rich could afford to mine Coin. Now, power was cheap. Power was universal. And Coin had no value.
Madam Kensi moved to leave.
“You coming?” asked Brandon, of the dejected figure in the plastic seat. Saturan shook his head.
The leveling had begun.