Flashes of Sanity #41: Abnormal Code

Welcome to Flashes of Sanity! Your weekly dose of flash fiction on 500 words or less. This week’s entry is Abnormal Code!


”So tell me again, what did you do?” Warner scratched his head. This was just amazingly weird. All these years as professor and he had never seen anytging like this.

“Okay, first I changed the code in one line.” Sigla showed Warner the raw data of the program Warner himself built years ago. Just one change. A T instead of a C. “Then I ran the simulation according to protocol.”

Sigla pressed the run command and the screen turned dark. “How about grabbing a coffee while we wait?”

Warner nodded still baffled with what Sigla told him just minutes ago. Could they really have been that lucky?

“At first everything ran as normal.” Sigla pressed a button on the coffee machine. “Then after a while I began seeing the log diverging from the standard curve. Complexities clustered quicker.”
So far all things good, Warner thought and accepted the coffee from his undergraduate, even better than expected.
“Then the complexities dispersed instantaneouslu and the log ended below the standard curve.” They walked back to the office. “And the complexities grew slowly just to explode and implode again.”
“Have you controlled the change locally?”
“Yes, the change seems to be connected to signaling within the hosts.”
On the dark screen a log printed itself slowly. Graphs showed two lines competing to reach the top.
“Instead of controlled curiosity the hosts with the change work in a chaotic state of need.” Sigla continued. On the screen the blue line crashed down on the complexity graph.
Warner scanned the other graphs. Sample size abruptly also dipped for the blue.
“They are killing each other.” He whispered.
“Yes.” Sigla sipped his coffee. “The worst thing is that even though complexity show a cyclic structure, it steadily goes upwards. And once it reaches a complexity high enough…”
Suddenly the sample size collapsed.
“No…” Warner leaned closer.
“Yes, whole societies gone in an instant. These collapses also follows a cyclical pattern.”
“So they successfully repopulate?”
“Every time.” Sigla zoomed in the sample size and Warner got to see the few survives climb the line upwards. “After each collapse they rebuild faster.”
“I think you just found the gene for destruction.” Warner sighed.
“I think so too, sir. And it was just one mutation away all the time.”
“I am so glad it never caught on in our civilization.“ Warner said as the blue complexity line once again spiraled towards its red counterpart just to pass it.
“I will have the report ready within a year.” Sigla taped the keyboard and a writing program showed itself where he had prepared an excerpt.
‘The lucky mutation’ it said.
“I hope no society in our universe ever catches this virus.” Sigla exclaimed. “A society with these cravings could be lethal to everyone.”

Warner sipped his coffee, he agreed. Such civilizations could doom them all.

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