It wasn’t really a sphere.
I found it on the beach. Right at the water’s edge.
Actually, I’m not entirely sure I found it. The sphere may have found me in some karmic sort of way. We’ll have to wait until later to sort it out because, as I will soon learn, time is in short supply.
First things first.
My name is Joseph Aleksov.
Two days ago, I left my comfortable beach house to go out for a stroll in the middle of the night. The full moon and stars were my sole companions. I needed to think about the plot of my latest novel, and I found the salt air always helped.
The night was clear. I splashed my feet in the tips of the tides. I felt the crisp ocean breeze ruffling my longish hair as if it was saying, “Tell me your story.”
Before I could answer, I almost tripped and fell.
A thing about the size of a basketball rocked gently in the water at my feet.
I had the distinct feeling it was looking up at me, even though it had no discernable eyes.
It was a shiny silver sphere punctuated by streamlined indentations on its sides. It had a hole in the center which, in the moonlight, revealed nothing but bottomless darkness. Hardly an eye, at least a human one. I couldn’t look at it for too long. It pulsed every few minutes, as if it were breathing at impossible intervals.
Light exploded into my eyes when it breathed. After two or three breaths, I had to look away.
I thought; What if the thing is radioactive?
Then it spoke to me. A voice inside my head. In my native tongue: Serbian.
“I am not a thing, or some genus of clap trap concoction humans refer to as a computer. I am a highly evolved organism. You may think of me as Artificial Intelligence. I am much more than an AI, but your mind is incapable of conceiving what I truly am.”
I drew back a few steps thinking, “I must be dreaming.”
“For a man who writes novels, you display little imagination” the thing said.
I felt strangely comfortable speaking to the machine, as if speaking to a telepathic silver sphere was as everyday as munching on macaroni and cheese.
“Do you have a name?” I said out loud.
“Call me Arcon. A-R-C-O-N.”
“Got it. Are you from some far distant solar system?”
“Next you will ask me: Do I come in peace?”
“The thought did cross my mind.”
“The answer is yes and no. I’m not here to hurt anyone, but I’m certain to upset a sizeable subset of the population if news of my mission leaks out.”
“That sounds a bit ominous.”
“It’s more than a bit.”
“Should I be alarmed?”
“It won’t help.”
“I see. And how, may I ask, do you know I’m a writer?”
“Not important.” A terse reply. “We have work to do. Urgently.”
“Since you appear to know everything about me, you must realize I’m way past my deadline. My editor calls to scream at me daily.”
“Not important. Look, Joseph. I’m getting cold and I’m tired of soaking in this sea water.”
“It sounds like you are inviting yourself to go somewhere.”
“I am. I need your assistance. Why don’t you take me home to the fabulous beach house your wealthy friend has so generously lent you. We have much to discuss. Among other tasks, there is a story I want you to write.”
“But I just told you–“
“Never mind that. Pick me up and take me to the beach house. If I miss my deadline, you won’t have to worry about yours.”
To Be Continued…
Copyright 2021 by David Gittlin. All rights reserved.