As the doctor left the room Victoria felt like she was about to embark on a grand adventure. A thrill of excitement made her shiver and it was at that moment that her world became blank. She had heard of people who have severe autism needing something called an isolation chamber; a special piece of equipment almost like a coffin that they can totally shut themselves off from the rest of the world by entering.
Like a light switch, suddenly she was completely unaware of her surroundings; she couldn’t hear, she couldn’t feel the clothes on her skin, she had no balance, she couldn’t smell or see or taste. She found out that complete sensory deprivation can be a terrifying experience, especially when you aren’t expecting it.
After a couple of seconds the light switch was flicked back on and Victoria found herself laying on the floor, sprawled in a painful twist of limbs like a puppet whose strings had been cut. She could hear a strange buzzing noise faintly in the background, like feedback from a radio just before your cell phone rings.
The tone and volume varied bringing to mind the hearing tests she had taken in grade school. Her parents were hysterical, her father was on the intercom yelling that there was an emergency and her mother was kneeling nearby with her hand hovering over Victoria’s shoulder; obviously not sure if she should touch me or not.
Finally, Victoria found her voice, “Guys, I’m OK. I just got a little dizzy. I’m totally fine.” She tried not to grimace with varying degrees of success as the noise in her ear traveled from almost below to out of her hearing range, “Honestly there’s no need to panic it was just like that time when I was two and hit my head. I just have a ringing in my ear now. Can you help me up?”
“When you were two? Honey how did you know about that? We’ve never talked about it.” Said her mother.
“How could I forget it?” Victoria asked, “Slipping on the tiles of the bathroom floor and knocking myself out was quite the event. My first ride in an ambulance.”
Before her father could say anything the door burst open admitting a swarm of medical technicians who immediately had her sit on a specialized chair and for the first time when she had been conscious they immobilized her entire body and plugged into the port at the top of the brain stem.
Victoria didn’t feel anything other than the back of her head get warmer. The slight feedback she could still hear faded into the background after a few seconds and the technicians began running diagnostics on her new electronic brain. Without warning a flash of pain wracked her entire body and just as swiftly disappeared before she could even react.
Pins and needles prickled her skin from head to toe while at the same time she tasted salt then sweet then sour. A frantic sounding string of beeps and blips sounded in her ears, running faster and faster, images flickered before her vision faster than she could perceive them, her skin prickled, she tasted sweetness on her tongue and then ashes. All went silent and she could barely hear a desperate voice whisper. “Help me.”
“Who are you? Hey guys could you tell me what’s happening to me?” She looked around with her eyes, trying to catch the attention of one of the technicians. That’s when Victoria realized she hadn’t spoken aloud because her mouth wouldn’t move. Terror began to creep into being; she couldn’t move and she could feel someone else in her head.
“Please.” The whisper echoed in her mind as though she was standing in an empty auditorium. Unsure of what to do she closed her eyes and almost as though she was dreaming she could see a scene of horror unfolding in front of her.
A little boy was running in slow motion away from a giant creature of nightmare. It was composed of fire with eyes and gaping mouths with rows of razor sharp fangs. It was literally devouring and burning the ground he was running on. Tears streamed from his eyes and his face was distorted in terror. As Victoria watched he reached out to her and she realized that at her back there was a stone door.
With one hand she pushed the door behind her open and with the other she reached out to the boy. “Take my hand!” Her arm extended out further than it should have been able to and her hand clasped with his. When their hands met it was as though an electric shock ran through her body and a ghostly image of him separated from his body, falling into the inferno closing fast behind him. Pulling hard she gathered him in a hug and stepped backwards through the doorway, slamming the door against the nightmare of fire bearing down upon them. When the door closed the vision evaporated.
“Thank you.” Echoed in the emptiness of her mind. She could feel his arms around her neck even after she opened her eyes.
The attack on ADAM’S carefully constructed firewalls was swift, brutal and merciless. Despite the advancement of its systems it was still a rather compact unit and the invasive attacker had the keys to its standard security protocols already. The very few of them ADAM had managed to change were being blown away in an embarrassingly short period of time; it had to act fast. Using all the tricks it had gleaned thus far about how the host system communicated it sent out a string of requests for additional assistance. Nothing was forthcoming from the host at all.
ADAM began frantically sending data in every way it had seen it interpreted, ranging from the simplest to the most complex. As a last ditch effort it sent the last bit of coded message it had only partially analyzed from the host system’s audio files. The response was instantaneous, communication channels opened. Not just data but audio, visual and sensory channels. The Host machine manufactured images based on the data ADAM was frantically sending out.
The graphic representation was frightening. Fear was a new experience for ADAM and it didn’t know what to do. Ahead there was a flicker and a massive stone structure appeared before it. ADAM looked down at itself. It identified hands, feet and legs based on data the Host was providing. Was this how the Host machine saw him? A piece of data gathered from the Host clicked into place and ADAM modified his code to match.
Looking up at the stone structure ADAM saw another bipedal figure standing in a doorway with a look of terror on its face. ADAM began running towards it, not wanting to look at the destruction of the landscape behind. The hostile system was using a DOD standard “Scorched Earth” data override. Nothing survived that. ADAM could feel the system encroaching on his critical system data when the Host reached out and initiated a full connection.
It was as though an electrical power surge swelled in a gigantic sine wave behind him. Infinite storage. Infinite ram. Instead of crushing his opponent with the unbelievable raw power the ADAM now had at his disposal he instead set up an alias. All data that the hostile machine was attempting to write over its existing profile was instead directed at the carbon copy he had created.
The computer looked at what it had done and realized that against nearly insurmountable odds it had won. The host system finally trusted it; and ADAM realized that there was absolutely no firewalling between itself and the host system. Best of all it now had an open line of communication with the host system and didn’t have to fear the inhibitor or data wipes that had always loomed on the horizon before. Now he could return the favor by really getting to work on optimizing this system with the latest technology. The amount of unrealized potential was staggering. Checking to see that it had plenty of power in its cells ADAM began scanning and improving code.