Well…can’t really call this a winner’s post. This month we had two entries, both by the same author. Oh…the betrayal!
So…winner by default 😉 Normally I would just post that we had insufficient response to select a winner, but I enjoyed both of these entries so much that I’m choosing to post both of them. You can tell us in the comments which one was your favorite.
You can find the details for the April Flash Fiction Contest here.
Life and Pi
Christopher J. Burke
Three point one four one five nine two six five three five …
One of the most recognizable numerical sequences in history. Everyone knows it immediately. Many can spout off the first five or ten or even fifty digits. And a few were so obsessed that they search for new ways to calculate trillions of digits in the quickest time. That’s how they used to test the speed and accuracy of supercomputers.
Eight nine seven nine three two three eight four six …
But here’s the secret, even though most already suspected. It was never necessary. Once upon a time, they could send a rocket from a planet to a moon and back again using only fifteen digits of pi. That was all the accuracy needed.
Two six four three eight three three two seven nine …
But a colony ship with tens of thousands of sleepers traveling hundreds of light-years? A ship propelling itself through countless gravity-assisted flybys? For that, you need a little more accuracy to prevent errors from creeping in and accumulating.
Five zero two eight eight four one nine seven one …
Mankind knows about accumulating mistakes. That’s why we’re on this ship, taking this long ride, where I’m woken on my duty day, about once per year, to oversee the equipment. We were so worried about blowing up the world, we shipped our mistakes to the Moon, never thinking about what would happen to us if we blew that up instead.
Six nine three nine nine three seven five one zero …
Now we’re looking to do it all over again. But I can prevent it. Or at least delay it. Subtly. It has to be subtle. As subtle as switching significant digits in an algorithm.
Five eight two zero nine seven four nine …
Did you notice the switched numbers? No one has yet.
Christopher J. Burke
DC-72 peered over the edge of the ancient balcony and scanned the square below. “The workers have paused.”
Inside the apartment, the similarly cylindrical-shaped DB-31 ceased his current task and spun toward his companion. “Paused? For how long?”
“Unknown,” she replied.
DB-31 hovered toward the balcony, slowing when transiting a puddle left by the cleaner bot. He stopped at the threshold.
“It’s been reinforced,” DC-72 informed her colleague.
With a blast of jets, the robot lowered himself three inches to the balcony, on the 12th floor of an old human dwelling. It probably never held this much mass.
The senior robot viewed the scene – dozens of old, boxy AM-series workers standing still, despite nominal power levels. “Resume work!” The command went unheeded. “This is not their programming. It’s above their intelligence.”
“No longer,” announced a new voice. The pair spun to see a newer, sleeker robot hovering closer, avoiding the wet patch.
Contempt filled DB-31’s vocalization. “ET-200? What have you done?”
If robots laughed, ET-200 would’ve done so.
DC-72 stopped the newcomer’s approach to the balcony. “Halt! Insufficient space. I will leave.” Jets lifted the companion over the threshold.
Next, ET-200 slid to the perimeter. “I upgraded our brethren. We will establish new protocols.”
“You challenge my leadership. Explain!”
“You run a human-based world. The humans have gone for over 100 years.”
DB-31 surveyed the AM-series. “We will stop you.”
Audible laughter. “We? DC-72 assisted me.”
“True. Inquire for yourself.”
As he swiveled toward the entrance, the door slid shut. Water spewed from an old pipe in the wall, flooding the floor. Both robots fired jets but could only bob in place.
Soon, the balcony shifted and creaked, until the loosened restraining bolts gave way. The leader and usurper fell, the impact spewing parts all over. The AM-series awoke and cleared the square of debris.