Tequila Sunrise – A Sci-Fi Short Story
Chennai, 2:54 AM
“Why’re you calling me in the middle of the night? We just met and had drinks..like a couple of hours back!” Harsh spoke with his eyes closed.
The Tequila shots made it hard for him to open his eyes or speak properly.
“I want to tell you something my five-year-old son did today,” Dev said with excitement.
“Look, Dev. I get it! You’re happily married and have a cute kid. Just don’t rub it on my face. And what is it with you people? Stop talking about your kids and stop talking about what they did and showing pictures of them. Now let me sleep”
“Look Harsh, wait! You’ll be really excited about what I’m going to tell you”
“Grrrrrrrr! Tell me”
“Today he showed me something he drew, and I was shocked”
“He was awake when you reached home?”
“No, he slept off. But he left the drawing on my study.”
“What did he draw? A picture of a cute girl?!” Harsh laughed at his own joke.
“No. He drew two mountains, the sun coming out from between them, a house, and some v-shaped birds.”
“What’s the big deal? All of us used to draw those when we were kids.”
Harsh woke up from his bed and rubbed his eyes. He knew Dev was onto something. Harsh and Dev are friends from college. They lived in the same city and had day jobs. But what brought them together was their love for conspiracy theories. And they spoke about it on their YouTube channel “Conspiracy co.” What started out as a fun project grew to a famous channel with over 2.3 million subscribers.
“What did we draw as kids? What was the first piece of drawing you remember?”
“Two mountains, the sun coming out from them, some birds and trees”
“For as long as we know this is the most common form of art we see among kids, right?” asked Dev.
“Of course!” Harsh was fully awake now.
“And many of us wouldn’t even have seen a sun coming out from the mountains. So, how did we get that image in our head when we were kids?”
“Dev. I know you’re on to something and it sounds really exciting. Just tell me what it is?”
“Calm down. I am getting there. This will involve a lot of questions, but you’ll understand why I am asking those. Now tell me, what happens when you start a computer?”
“It powers on…”
“I know, idiot! What happens when a computer boots up?”
“The computer shows a set of screens and it logs you into your account.”
“Yes! The set of screens that load during the boot is a sign that everything is working fine with the computer, right?. And all the computers of the same make the boot up with those same screens displayed in the exact same order.”
“Woah! Woah! Woah! Are you saying we’re machines, and the mountain and sun drawing is part of our boot sequence?”
“Yes, my brilliant friend! You got it!”
“Holy f***! Never saw it this way!”
“Me too! Until I saw the drawing now. Being drunk really changes our perspective towards things”
“This is huge! Wow!”
“Yes! I know that for very long, we discussed posting a video on extraterrestrial life forms using us to study animal behavior by creating an environment like Earth, like how we test stuff with mice. This finding would help us with the video. This is something that is hidden in plain sight for all these years!”
“Yes! And, I have another theory too! What if we’re an AI program they’re testing for their research! Like how large organizations test AI programs for business and entertainment use cases.”
“So, you’re saying the whole world is an AI program?”
“More or less! What if the whole world is a virtual environment and we’re nothing but individual AI instances on it! And the intelligent life forms are conducting this experiment to know how AI programs interact with one another, form bonds, settle disputes, and stuff…”
“Yes! For us, it may feel like we’ve lived millions of years. But, in their world, we’d be a multi-year project to study the interaction between AI programs.”
“The more you say it, the more convincing it sounds”
“Yes! And, if we say it out loud, people will think we’re crazy. But who cares! Our subscribers are going to love this!”
“Now that I’ve said it, I also have another thought! Say we go by the theory that we’re individual AI instances created by another life form. Now that we figured out their plan, don’t we become anomalies? AI instances that went rogue. What if they shut us down! Wipe our memory or something! Like the do in the movie Men in Black”
“Now, you’re thinking too much! First, the chances of this being true are very small! But, even if we assume it is going to happen, it will take some time. You think they’ll wipe our memories with a single click!”
“You never know!”
“Hmm…okay! We’ll do one thing. Let’s put out a video about this today. The more people see it, the more it will spread. With our channel getting a million views for each video and this getting more…fingers crossed…we’ll have more people thinking about this. How much of memories can aliens wipe off!”
“Good idea! But I feel too sleepy with all the drinking,” said Harsh. His eyes drifted back to sleep as he said it.
“Me too! I don’t know how I drove home. Still surprising.” Dev let out a chuckle.
“Let us get a couple of hours of sleep. I’ll call you at seven in the morning, let’s figure this out and post it by the end of the day!”
“But Dev! This is insane, man! If this were true…we’ll be hired by NASA or they’ll even give us Noble prize”
“Nobel?! Just go back to sleep da. Let’s talk in the morning.”
After Dev hung up, Harsh felt like writing about this conversation somewhere, when he was looking for a notepad and pen which he left by the side of the bed, he was distracted by a notification on his phone. It was about a story posted by a girl he was interested in. As he scrolled through her social media feed, his mind started to think about her. And, before he knew, he fell asleep.
Unknown location, 3:10 AM
The office looked deserted as three of the seven night-shift employees were on leave that day. Roma was at her desk playing a game of 3D chess. When she was about to defeat the CPU, she got an email with a red flag on it. She paused the game and opened the email.
“Ah! This again!” she said to herself dialed a number on her intercom phone.
A guy picked up the phone on the other end
“Hey, Roma! What’s up?”
“Some drunk guys figured out about the mountain and the sun drawings. This is the tenth time this is happening this month! Just fix the damn thing, Steve…make the kids draw a circle or something.”
“Yeah, noted. The team is already working on it. How big is the damage? Did they tell it to somebody?”
“No. It was the middle of the night, and both were drunk. The automated monitoring system initiated the sleep protocol for the instances before sending us an email. I’ll be performing a memory wipe in some time”
“Thanks! The next fix should be ready and deployed in a couple of days. Babies born from next week will have a different version of this program.”
“Thanks for taking care of this, Roma.”
“You’re welcome, Steve.”
Roma hung up the phone and pulled the records of the AI instances attached along with the email. She keyed in a few commands and started a memory wipe.
“Initiating memory wipe for the last five hours,” she said to herself and executed the command.
She resumed the game on her computer.
“Checkmate,” she said to herself as she made the last move.
With one window of her screen displaying “Memory wipe complete”, the other window said, “You Won!”
Chennai, 8:30 AM
“Dev, it looks like you called me last night. And we spoke for fifteen minutes. Do you remember what it was about?”
“No man. I was drunk and couldn’t remember a thing. Maybe we discussed the next video on our channel. But couldn’t remember what it was.”
“The damn drinks. We need to control how much we drink. We’re getting old.”
“Okay. Let me know when you remember something about what we spoke about last night. I’ll have to get ready for work.”
“Sure, Harsh. Good day.”
“Good day to you too, Dev.”
I hope you liked the short story. You can find more short stories and novellas from here.