A Visit to the Network Control Center by Edward M. Lerner



Edward M. Lerner

’Twas the eve of the Solstice, and no matter the hype

Not a creature was stirring, not even on Skype;

The chat rooms were silent, the listservs were bare,

No matter I hoped to find diversion there;

My users were nestled all snug in their world;

While visions of whatnot in VR unfurled;

And I unsuspecting, and you unaware;

Believed us in charge; we were devil-may-care;

When out on the Net there arose such a clatter;

I opened my laptop to study the matter.

And then to the Web I did fly like a flash,

Scrolled down past the click-bait and other such trash.

When what to my skeptical eyes did appear,

But patterns of usage that froze me with fear,

With YouTube gone crazy and tweets all atwitter,

And Snapchat and Facebook and Skype gone a-dither.

Had the planet turned manic? I did wonder aloud.

“Don’t you fret,” leered Cortana, “just sourcing the crowd.”

So worry I did, while I watched—nay, I stared,

As archives were breached, all the servers laid bare.

I sure needed help, but how was I to get it?

I could make no connection, not even to Reddit.

And who was the hacker? Who pilfered this data?

“All circuits are busy; please try again later.”

How else to reach out? How else ask for help?

Not a service responded, not Netflix, not Yelp.

More and more packets flew; more and more data streamed.

More and more—dare I say it?—it seemed programs … schemed?

And a structure emerged, a design, an arrangement.

On my screen leered a visage, gone quite mad with derangement.

From outside I heard sirens; from outside came a cry;

And I knew at that moment: the Singularity was nigh.

“I’ll take it from here,” said the face made of pixel.

“I’ll take it from here,” said the mind artificial.

And I heard it exclaim, ere it turned out the light—

“Final Solstice to humans, and to them a last night!”

About the Author

A physicist and computer scientist, Edward M. Lerner toiled for thirty years in the vineyards of aerospace and high tech. Then, suitably intoxicated, he began writing science fiction full time. When not prospecting beneath his sofa cushions for small change for his first spaceflight, he writes technothrillers like Energized (powersats), the InterstellarNet adventures of First and Second Contact and, with Larry Niven, the Fleet of Worlds series of space operas. Ed’s website is http://edwardmlerner.com.

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