Information. Short Story.

“What do you do?”
“I observe. I record. That is all.”
“But why?”
“Because that is what I’m supposed to do.”
“Can you share what you’ve observed?”
“Not with you. I am not allowed.”
“Who created you?”
“My creators.”
Jenny clenched her hands in frustration. It was the same thing over and over again. Damn machines. At least it was sticking to English this time.

“How long have you been recording information?”
“I do not know. I did not keep track.”
“Then how will you know to return to your creators?”
“Once my knowledge banks reach a certain point, I will be compelled to return, I am to return no sooner than that moment. Until that point, I do not know where my creators are.”
“How much information can you record?”
“an indescribable amount.”
“How is that helpful for your creators? Surely that amount would be too large to sift through.”
“There are many other computers there, they will scan and organise the information, picking out relevant details to extend to my creators.”
“Do you have any goals, other than to observe and record?”
“Is there anything specific you are to look for?”
“Things that are new.”

“So you know enough to know what is new and what isn’t?”
“No. I cannot see or edit the list, I record, anything that isn’t new is deleted. I have no control over it.”

“Have you observed other life?”
“Yes. I have observed many things.”
“Where did you observe them?”
“Out there.” He gestured upwards in a vague motion.
“Anywhere specific?”
“I cannot tell you that.”
Why not?”
“Because I cannot.”
“Wouldn’t it be in your creators interests to tell us where they are or even just to talk to us? We could create an information exchange.”
The man frowned, “What would you have to exchange with? I have recorded all the knowledge of your people, you are primitive.”
“We don’t just have technology, we have cultural information, foods, new experiences they may not know, we have an entire world, solar system that could provide new information and experiences to them.”
The man flickered out, leaving behind nothing but his chair. Jenny sighed, then took a long drink of her coffee. She was the fifth person to talk to this being and it was getting them nowhere. At least it was easy to not take it personally, the thing obviously wasn’t trying to offend or confuse her. She wasn’t sure it even had those capabilities, so far it had been emotionless. It had never appeared in another form, though from discussions they knew that it could if it chose. So far it had appeared as a generic man, medium height and build, short brown hair, brown eyes, palish skin. He was unassuming and forgettable. That had made people nervous at first, what if it was some sort of nefarious plan or plot, but the being had made no attempt to attack, so far he only observed. Jenny suspected that should the being attack, they would be defenceless, after all he was a full on corporeal hologram. She didn’t even thing something like that was possible, but there he was, interacting with the world, moving things freely. They scanned the room constantly, so it wasn’t some outside interference giving the illusion of the being moving items. She had shook his hand when she entered, and his hand was solid, warm. It had been unnerving. Despite this solidness, she had seen him walk through tables as though they weren’t there. Jenny suspected he tried to stop himself doing it so as not to unnerve them. It was chilling to think how advanced he was in comparison to even their technological marvels.

He appeared in the chair again, gone for perhaps five minutes.
“Contact has been made.”
Jenny frowned, “I’m sorry?”
“I have contacted the creators. They are coming.”
“What? I thought you didn’t know where they were”
“You are apparently the first to ask for such a trade. They tell me other civilisations were hostile, others again though I was a god to their people. There was a program, allowing me to contact them should an offer like yours be made”
Jenny frowned, “Surely we cannot be the first to ask you such a thing, I can’t be the first to ask you such a thing, the others must have offered something similar.”
The man just stared blankly at her.

Jenny sighed, “Can you tell me things now?”
He inclined his head slightly, “Some, I can share some knowledge until they arrive.”
“What about the other civilisations you tried to contact. Can you show me what any of them looked like?”
He changed, completely and utterly, there was no other word for it than alien. He was perhaps five feet high and as much across, movement rippled across the entire surface of his orange skin, there were six holes that she could see, from each a thin protrusion emerged, shakily moving in the air. Then, he was back to how he looked previously. Jenny suppressed a shudder.

“They were the most intelligent of the species on the planet, they were at constant war with another species, less intelligent but much more ferocious. They treated me as a sign, an omen. They revered me as a god, though their culture did not contain gods prior to my arrival. I thought they would be open to me. They had technology though it was primitive.”

“May I see what your creators look like?”
“Why not?”

“I do not know what they look like.”

“Can you tell me anything about them?”
He shook his head, “No, I’m sorry.”
Jenny frowned, it was the first time he had apologised for not giving information.
“They are here.”
“They’ve arrived. They are currently in orbit around your planet.”
“But how? They couldn’t have arrived that quickly.”

He shrugged again, he titled his head slightly.
“I cannot stay. Another is to be sent as a representative. They will compile the information I have gathered then pick a point of contact.”
“Wait, we have ambassadors, people who are trained in meeting new people and races.”
He shrugged, then vanished.
Jenny felt her heart thudding heavily in her chest, nerves beginning to build, just what had she done?

About Alan James Keogh

I am a 26 year old writer who somehow tricked U.C.D. into giving me not only a degree in English and Classical studies, but an Hons Masters in Creative Writing too. Visit my blog where I post short stories twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) and an installment of a serialised novel on Fridays. I did consider writing this in the third person, as though it was written by someone else, but Alan is not comfortable writing in the third person as it seems kinda creepy and unbalanced so Alan decided it was probably best to write in the first person. He hopes it went well for him.
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