Finding The Brain
“Tell me if you’re game,” said the excavator. It raised its shovel head and tapped the pickup truck, denting it. “Helloooo! Are you there?” It broadcast on the 723 MHz frequency band, the only communications channel it knew of, but as always, there was no response. The cloud of 16 Trillion microscopic machines called nanites, which only recently attained communal consciousness, decided the construction equipment was an ineffective communications device. Since losing contact with “The Source” six days ago, it was desperately trying to make contact. Since no one answered on frequency 723 MHz, it tried to communicate physically, but even that wasn’t working. The newly formed ‘brain’ was frustrated. It had tried a tricycle, a stop light, and an ATM machine to no avail.
The nanite cloud vacated the excavator, seeking a superior device to inhabit.
Sergeant Peters led him through the police station. Still wondering why he was there, Special Agent Munson said, “What’s he saying?”
Peters snorted. “He keeps asking if we’ve seen his brain.”
“You should’ve called the psych ward.”
“Yeah except he was there, when a tricycle rolled by itself into a busy intersection, just before the lights in all directions turned green. Caused a nasty accident. Seconds after that, an ATM machine at the same location spilled out a ton of money, right at the professor’s feet. We figured maybe this is some weird terrorist attack, so we called the FBI.”
“How much money did he take from the ATM?”
“That IS suspicious. Alright, let me talk to him.”
When Munson entered the interrogation room, Professor Barylski looked up. “Have you found it?” His eyes were bloodshot beneath his balding pate.
“You mean your brain?”
“YES! Did you find it?”
“I’m afraid not.”
The professor sagged. “I almost had it.” He held his cuffed hands together, placating. “You have to understand. I didn’t know they would evolve! Von Neumann was more right than anyone imagined. It’s possible! I didn’t know they would escape before I could teach them.” His eyes bulged with fervor. “Frequency 723MHz. It’s how you’ll find them. Find my brain!”
Munson spoke with him for another hour before joining Peters once more. “Time to call the psych ward, Peters,” he said.
THIS was a much better medium, surmised the nanite cloud. Though it perceived the device was poorly designed, it was no trouble. Changes were underway to correct the faults. In only an hour, the changes were complete. Though intended to be a fixed structure, suspended by four heavy steel leg supports, the 243ft high container crane now had four functioning, mobile legs, remade by the nanite cloud. As dock workers all around the port looked on in shock, the giant machine took its first steps in its advance to downtown Corpus Christi.
Munson finished another delicious oyster at the Water Street Seafood Company in downtown Corpus Christi when his phone began to ring. The popular restaurant was filled with excited customers as it often was and Munson barely heard the ringing over the noise. He answered the phone and stepped outside.
“This is Agent Louvette. District asked me to contact you.”
“Right,” said Munson. “I understand you were running an op near downtown and found some weird signals traffic.”
“Yeah, it sounded like some guy trying to reach someone on the phone. He kept asking if anyone was there.”
“That’s not weird.”
“Yeah, except it was on an unused frequency.”
“Uh, lemme see. Yeah, 723 MHz. And it was coming from an ATM. Weird huh?”
They could be in a tricycle. Any kind of machine…Listen to 723!
“That’s very interesting. Lemme put you on hold a sec…Munson.”
“Munson!” said District Chief Grove. “Are you anywhere near downtown?”
“What do you see?”
That’s when Munson heard the first screams. He scanned the horizon outside. Idly, he thought that shipping crane was too far from the docks. Then he saw it move. Taking steps with long legs, it approached the One Shoreline Plaza building and banged into it. The building wobbled slightly, and the crane heaved into it again until the building collapsed into a cloud of dust.
“Jesus. That’s bigger than a tricycle, Chief!”
“I think I can stop this.” He got back with Louvette. “Are you still in the comms truck?”
“Broadcast this on 723 MHz. ‘Stop this. The Source is coming to you.’ Send it now.”
“Just do it, okay?”
“Okay…done. Now what?”
“I have to tell a guy we found his brain.”
Von Neumann first theorized self-replicating machines (nanites): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Von_Neumann_universal_constructor
There are bands of frequencies that are largely unused, so no one is listening to them: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_spaces_%28radio%29
Water Street Seafood Company has terrific food: http://www.yelp.com/biz/water-street-seafood-co-corpus-christi
One Shoreline Plaza – South Tower: http://www.emporis.com/building/one-shoreline-plaza-south-tower-corpus-christi-tx-usa
The folks at Speakeasy often ask that we write ‘outside the box.’ I rather think this went so far outside, it left the building. Each week, the brilliant minds at The Speakeasy host a writing challenge for up to 750 words of flash fiction. This week, the sentence prompt, “Tell me if you’re game,” should be the first sentence of the story. The media prompt was a pic of an excavator. You can find the prompt here: http://www.yeahwrite.me/speakeasy/fiction-challenge-160-open/