27 Dec 99%
I just had an amazing dream. I was wandering in some kind of a dark maze, made entirely of glass. Walls, floor and ceiling were all made of the same kind of seemingly transparent material but anything beyond was murky and unidentifiable. There were some vague shapes, occasional movement that I noticed with my peripheral vision, but every time I turned to look it had turned out to be just beyond my eyes’ resolving ability.
There was no sound, other than my clanking echoing footsteps. I kept trying to find my way out, and eventually it started to get brighter. There was more light as I kept going towards what seemed to be the right direction. Finally the light was just around the corner. I started running, but the corridor got longer and longer as I was intensifying my effort to reach the light. As it often happens in dreams, that fact was not particularly surprising, although it was deeply satisfying in a dark way. It was a confirmation of my suspicions. Now I was certain in my dream that the game was rigged and the fabric of the universe itself had conspired against me. Exhausted and desperate I stopped to catch my breath. And as soon as I stopped I started floating towards the light. It was an opposite of the Lewis Carrol’s notion of running twice as fast in order to get anywhere. I actually had to stop running to get somewhere.
The light was coming from a large and bright room. It was a fully equipped kitchen: a stove, various cabinetry, kitchen sink, dishwasher, granite countertops, a shiny toaster and a gleaming espresso machine with an obligatory professional-grade grinder next to it. It was all there. It seemed hyper-realistic in appearance, very detailed and vivid. The only thing that made it different from the real kitchen was the fact that the floor was entirely made of ice, and that there was no ceiling at all. The kitchen was open to the elements and white fluffy clouds were merrily floating around in bizarrely random directions in a blue summer sky. But that didn’t surprise me in the slightest. After all, this was a dream.
There was a strange hissing noise coming from the far end of the kitchen. I saw a frying pan on the stove and the sound seemed to be coming from it. I approached it and the smell of a mediterranean style scrambled eggs sizzling on a hot pan hit my nostrils and made my mouth water. The smell was heavenly and the fresh eggs were complemented by the smell of diced tomatoes, spices and soft cheese melting on top of the eggs. The smell was sheer bliss.
I realized with total clarity that unless I find a plate immediately I will wake up and the best omelette in my life will disappear. But there were no plates around. I jumped from cabinet to cabinet, opening them all, tearing drawers from their mounts, screaming but there was not a single plate around.
I woke up, almost crying from the unbearable sense of loss. My head slowly started to clear from the remnants of this weird dream. But it took me a minute to realize that, unlike the rest of the dream, the smell didn’t go away. There was no sizzling sound, but the smell was definitely there! A delicious breakfast smell. Moreover, there was a definite touch of fresh espresso aroma in that bouquet.
I must be going slightly mad, I thought. No, slightly mad doesn’t explain that. I must be completely and irreversibly nuts! I got up from the floor, despite numerous complaints from many of my body parts, that must have been pissed off by a rough night on the floor. What I saw was something resembling a small table beside the window.
The table contained the following: a plate of freshly prepared omelette, a separate plate with two slices of dark rye bread with a cube of butter on the side, a cup of cappuccino with a complicated frothed milk ornament, a small square of dark chocolate beside it, a silver fork and a napkin, and a small vase with a single flower in it. Most likely an orchid, but I’m so bad at distinguishing plants that I can’t be sure of anything more complicated than telling a pine from an oak. So, well, a mostly red flower of some intricate shape that isn’t a rose or a tulip – that’s the best I can do, sorry.
I was so hungry that the decision to eat first and ask questions later came easy. The breakfast was delicious! As soon as I was done, the table kind of half folded half reflowed itself into the wall. I couldn’t grasp what I was seeing, as if some weird geometry was playing tricks with my mind, but it was gone in an instant, and what followed made me forget everything else.
“Ahem… Good morning, Art.” Bellowed an unfamiliar male voice with an impeccable British pronunciation. I jumped, startled by the utterly unexpected and ridiculously loud sound pounding my ears. “I trust you had a good night’s sleep?” continued the disembodied voice gradually descending to more reasonable volume. Or, rather more likely, I have become so used to the sound of total and omnipresent silence here, that any normal sound would seem to me like a speaker-busting screech at the death metal band concert.
“I did, thank you,” I said uncertainty, frantically looking around trying to locate the source of the voice. I failed, as it did seem to come from everywhere at once.
“I must apologize for the unfortunate turn of events that had lead to you having to wait, unwelcomed, for many hours. Considering a very special circumstances of your appearance here, my hands were tied, so to speak, and I could not make the acquaintance until the reply came. Please accept my sincere apologies. I hope the breakfast was to your liking?”
“Reply? What reply? And who are you?” I asked, grasping for straws of logic in the sheer insanity of what was happening. I mean yes, I’m not a total idiot, I understand that this must be the AI speaking. But hell, imagine waking up in a totally sterile alien ship, with soft corners, vaguely odd shapes and proportions, soft omnipresent lighting in a subtly yet definitely wrong spectrum, weird in all kinds of subtle ways. That is if you can imagine that. Whatever virtually unlimited following events your imagination may suggest would not in most likelihood contain being served an omelette and having a small talk with Jeeves. It would certainly not be on the top of my list, to say the least. And yet here I am.
“Ah, where are my manners? Let me introduce myself. I’m what you would call an AI, running what you would call the mothership. Although both inferences are not entirely correct. For all intents and purposes I am the ship, as far as you are concerned. However calling me ‘the ship’ would be uncomfortable for both of us. You can call me Edward, or Ed. It sounds somewhat similar to what my name actually is.”
“Nice to meet you, Ed,” I replied, feeling very self-conscious. This whole conversation was awkward, bordering on the absurd. This was supposed to be the official First Contact between human race and an alien beings. The epic point in history that so many sci-fi writers had dreamed about. And the words that were coming out of my mouth were disappointingly bland, if not ridiculous. “Nice to meet you, Ed”? Really? But what the hell am I supposed to say? I had to say something though, and make an attempt to figure out what’s next.
“Ed, I was hoping you could answer a few questions for me…”