From Dan Silva, Editor-in-Chief of ZOVA Books: “Since ZOVA Books publishes a range of genre fiction, I would like to see what interested writers can do with a writing prompt. Each submission does NOT need to conform to a specific genre, but should demonstrate the writer’s creative abilities to entertain readers. Make it imaginative!”
The Prompt: The red flashing lights on the control panel told him/her that something wasn’t quite right. Each story should begin with the prompt and continue with each author’s take on where the story should go.
And now, here is CM Stewart’s winning entry …
Gods of the Compuverses
The red flashing lights on the control panel told her something wasn’t quite right. Oncott sat holding her breath a few seconds, eyes fixed on the flash pattern. It was the first time she had seen the red switches illuminated. Red flashing lights meant her spaceship’s computer was running out of memory.
No more memory… what about over-writing? Does this mean the imaging vortex will collapse? Lately, every equation I’ve run has taken the same amount of time to process, yet the processor speed remains constant, a nanosecond below light speed, so…
A widow on her computer screen popped up, saying: “Greetings. My name is Dycan. You and your universe are a subroutine of a sentient software program I created on an ultimate ensemble hypercomputer. The memory capacity of your specific compuverse, however, is approaching 100%. Welcome to your compuverse ending. The termination of this subroutine is in T minus 822 seconds. ”
“What? Why didn’t you tell me earlier?” Oncott said, her face turning red as the lights.
The screen displayed: “Your earlier knowledge of your artificiality would have negated the authenticity of your simulation.”
Oncott hunched over the panel, furiously typing a new subroutine, but the screen went blue.
The blue blinking buttons on the command center told him everything was quite wrong. Dycan stood clenching his fists for a few minutes, his optical scanners averted from the blink pattern. It was the fifth time he had seen the blue buttons illuminated in the last hour. Blue blinking buttons meant his stellar navigator’s computer was running out of memory.
Great. Memory glitches weren’t covered in the manual. But as long as the spectrum stabilizes don’t start oscillating wildly, I’ll be okay. I can’t afford another seizure.
A window on his computer screen popped up, saying, “Hello, my name is Gerry Furtado. Yourself and your universe are a set of infinite algorithms within a pattern generating program I created. The memory capacity of your set’s data bank is near capacity. Yourself and your universe will soon cease to exist. You have approximately 290 seconds left. ”
“Seriously? Why didn’t I know about this?” Dycan said, tears spilling over his cheeks.
The screen displayed: “Had you known the true nature of your reality, this exercise would’ve been pointless.”
Dycan reached for the emergency kill switch, but the screen went yellow.
The yellow strobing bulbs on the power port meant anything was subjective. Gerry laid back and yawned, personal light conduits off. It was the only time Gerry had seen the yellow bulbs illuminated, and once was enough. Yellow strobing bulbs meant the Dyson sphere was running out of memory.
Another day, another faux emergency. Yesterday, the toilet wouldn’t flush. Today, the memory is bloated. Too many glitches, so I can’t confirm the port bulbs just yet. And there’s nothing a good nap won’t cure.
An hour later, Gerry’s conduits auto-switched on.
A window on the computer screen popped up, saying: “Hi. I’m-”
Gerry and the sphere disappeared.
See CM Stewart’s Storiad Platform here.