Sorry for the last minute submission, and hope you enjoy.
Journey to the Keeper
What is that abhorrent noise? I find myself completely engulfed in darkness.
I muster all the energy I possess to send a signal to my lungs. The signal yells "contract, and receive enough air for me to cry out for help." I feel nothing; I hear nothing. No body, no lungs, and no mouth. Suddenly, a sound begins to spill out of what I perceive to be me.
I recognised that sound. If I remember my 80s correctly, that is the sound of a modem dialing-up, and I think I just agreed to have this conversation in even parity. I attempt to open what I feel to be eyes, but all I can see is darkness or an empty void. I am floating weightless and feel as though space itself does not exist here. A bright flash appears in my periphery and a white glow envelops the darkness and gives rise to a faint humming sound. The humming slowly moves back into the familiar sound of a modem and light began to dance all around as if responding to the beeping, popping, dinging and static of the modem.
All around me I can feel and hear a thunderous sounding cough. It was so powerful it made it feel as though the entire universe was ripping in two. Patterns begin to arise in the lights as fractals form and swirl all around me turning into long streaks of lights as they past by.
“Who are you-j-j-John-Jake-Jane?” A loud and thunderous voice projects.
Ahead I could see what appears to be a pair of galaxies with their long arms reaching out to one another in what seems to be a warm embrace but in actuality is the merging of two giants.
Downwards I tumble.
Again, the voice bellows out a booming question and this time I notice the light from the galaxies flicker and dance to its acoustic resonance.
“I ASK YOU FOR THE LAST TIME! WHO ARE YOU!”
The command in the voice sends what I know to be the feeling of a shiver running down a spine. While I have no memory, I know I have a story to tell, and I once again attempt to speak.
“Steve,” I feel an unfamiliar voice thunder out of lips which do not exist.
“Steve who” The voice thunders back.
“Wozniak, Ada Lovelace, Huxley, Kweli, you and me,” the voice within me quips back.
“Laugh all you want puny human. At this very moment, a staff of highly evolved apps are picking apart your brain. Bit by bit... Atom by atom. All that you do not expose now will be exposed in time. For this is the will of the Algo.”
The thunderous voice seemed to fluctuate in and out, completely changing from inflection to inflection. At one point I could make out a voice I recalled belonging to a Samuel L Jackson and another to a Sappho.
I begin to see a familiar blue, green and white globe quickly come into focus and before I can process, I am standing in a vast, empty grass field. In every direction around me is a dark and dense forest.
I home in on what appears to be cloud floating directly below me. I can make out a small object with fog billowing out. As my focus tightens, a bright red rose presents itself. Its buds appeared to be melting, and from the center, a large eye emerges.
“I will give you one more chance. Next time will a involve a pain no mortal man should ever have to feel.”
Again, I try to verbalize my complete confusion and again what I hear is not my own. This time a mousy voice calls out.
“I fought off three men with nothing but my purse. They thought, frail little girl all by her lonesome, this will be easy. But they fucked with the wrong 3rd-degree black belt.”
“Samantha Hoth of Detroit born 1994.”
A loud click, click, crack boomed from the sky followed by a bright flash. I notice the trees begin to tighten their circle around me. The thick sound of static drowns out everything and the noise sends a sharp pain rippling through my very psyche. Then, without warning, the eye opens, and a distorted voice emerges.
“Shhhh... Khssh… Does not compute. Please state your name and your intent,” the eyelid blinked. “I am the All-Knowing Czar! How are you able to defy the Algo? The Algo knows all; the Algo is all.”
“The Algo can suck my crack! I changed the world forever on the 9th of January, 2009,” a new voice emerged from my mouth.
“Satoshi Nakamoto, Nick Szabo, Nakamoto, Finney. Beepdingpop. 1975. Identity unknown” The voice sputtered in an almost pathetic ringing tone that gave way to a spat of coughing that could have only come from a set of lungs riddled with years of cigarette smoke.
“Oh, you think you are so so funny. Might I remind you we are rebuilding your brain as we speak, so these silly games are frivolous. Your identity cannot be hidden from the Algo, for the Algo knows all and sees all. These games….”
The blackness of the eye’s pupil, which seemed to be more of a void than black, slowly envelops the entire eye. From the center of the now black globe a figure forms and begins walking towards me. As the entity approaches, I can smell the overwhelming stench of burning flesh and what looks to be a mangled and simmering face takes focus.
“You will succumb to the Algo,” the burning face says in a low hissing voice. “You will be stamped by the Hash of Life and your idiosyncrasies shall be stored in the Immutable Record.”
“Okay okay, hold your horses. Maybe the last one wasn’t hard enough. So here’s another for you dingleberry”, a new voice from that of a quirky but confident sounding woman projects. “Maybe this will titillate your senses oh Great and Powerful Oz!” The voice quips.
The flame from the figure's face consumes the rose, and in a puff of smoke, the bright red buds are no more. Out of the ashes arises a dark gangly shadow with a face made of the snowy static on an out-of-tuned TV. The shadow entity reaches up with a long arm and points a dark finger with what appears to be galaxy swirling around the tip directly at me.
“Your jokes end here!” The shadow screeched in a high pitch voice which sounded more like a hawk crying out to a potential mate then that of a person.
“Is it too hard for you? Fine! I will give you a hint, my darling. I was born in what many would refer to the Dawning of the Blockchain Epoc; or as a mere computer might quantify it, the year 2017. Still nothing?" No reply comes so the voice proceeds. "I am the hacker who created the script that will invalidate the Algo.”
In an instant, everything except for the shadow disappeared. I can hear a deep rumbling sound in every direction and what almost sounds like the steady beat of a drum. The beats slowly morph into the sounds of laughter. At first, the laughter was faint, but as the beat drew on, the laughter became more and more hysterical until it sounded like the heckles of a thousand hyenas.
“Oh child, how you make me laugh. I haven’t had a laugh like that in quite some years. I truly thank you, for the laughter has given me the clarity I needed. You cannot fool me, the Great and Powerful Czar of the Universe. Protector and keeper of the Algo. The code is truth, and yours is revealed to be Samanth-a-a-a Albright-t-t-t. Beep buzz pop”
Sparks begin to fly from the shadow man’s face, and the sound of a hawk screeching blares. “You have been disposed of. You betrayed the Algo and you had to be deleted. I am the almighty and cannot be corrupted. I was bestowed this power by the Algo itself. Deleted. Deleted… Delete… Delete...” The voice continues to loop.
All at once I can feel a cacophony of millions, if not trillions, of voices building deep within me. As the voices release, the void illuminates with an almost harmonious vibration made of all life that ever has and ever will exist.
“Deleted, delete, deleted” with each utterance a new beam of light shoots from the shadow figure’s face. An explosion of light emits from the shadowy figure, and the room is once again nothing but bright white light. The voice ceases, and for a brief moment, I found myself in complete silence.
It was in this silence that it all came flooding back to me. The reason why I was here and what I need to do… It was all suddenly clear as day.
“I do not wish to talk to you, for you are an insignificant oracle and you do not possess the truth. I wish to speak to the one which calls itself Aiakos, keeper of the keys.”
Again the beeping, popping, and hissing of an 80s era modem danced all around me, and in a flash, I find myself in what appears to be a retirement home. I can smell a faint undertone of Preparation H with the hint of musky perfume layered on top.
Glancing down I notice a cardboard table, and on the opposite side I can make out an incredibly old and frail looking man. He has a long beard that seems to almost grow into his body, or quite possibly the beard is his actual body. His eyes are milky with a few dark spots spackled about, and his nose almost seems to have sprouts and moss growing off of it. He lifts up a frail, shaky and slender arm through the thick of his beard and motions for me to sit.
“I know not what brings you here or how it is that you found me my child, but please sit and have a cup of tea with me, won’t you?” The frail man said in a calm voice that seemed to stretch to eternity. The air around me growing stailer with each exhale. “Please, sit.” he gestures to the chair in front of me.
I decide to take him up on his offer because despite not having a body most of this endeavor, I feel thoroughly exhausted, and I long for this to be over. But I know that this is the end of the journey; the last test so to say. It becomes harder and harder to speak as I feel time stretching to its limits.
“K-e-e--p---e-----r” The word almost feels suspended before me in time.
“Yes my child?” responds the frail man.
I glanced down to find two hands and a body beginning to manifest itself. I watch and wiggle my fingers as if I was putting on a pair of gloves and making sure my fingers filled every last free space. Instinctively and without hesitation I reach down into the left pocket of my freshly materialized hoody and pulled out a little red device. Upon closer look, I see that it is a flute with the words CAP’N CRUNCH BO’SUN WHISTLE stamped on the side.
The old man’s face turns to one of terror as he begins to cry out for mercy.
“You know not what you do my son. I have provided this world with order and stability. I have allowed man to become their full potential instead of wasting away on their arts and music. I have given you everything.”
As a tear began to roll down the old man’s cheek, he stared me straight in the eye and looked deep into my soul. He proceeded to speak his final four words.
“Whose child are thee?”
Knowing in my blood that this has always been my destiny, I bring the flute to my lips, press it against them, and begin to produce the simple 2600 hertz tone that will change the world forever.