As I turn away from the computer terminal, a sobering thought suddenly worms its way into my head: what if I’ve already discovered this before? What if I’ve already awoken, found out what I know now, and gone to the terminal, only to die and be rebooted, with no memory of what had just happened?
As I explore this thought, it grows in intensity, worming into my thoughts and leaving me feeling discomforted and unsure. What would be a good way to avoid this? After a minute, an answer comes to me; in case something does happen to me, I should leave behind a message!
Still standing in the mess hall, I look around for something with which to leave a message. Aha! There’s a piece of paper sitting on top of a nearby table, held in place by a mug with a pen sitting inside. Perfect. I reach over, picking it up, but the blood in my veins runs cold as I look at what’s written on the paper.
This is me. Well, you, now, I suppose. Whatever. Look, I’ve found out that somehow, our memory module has been compromised, so the reboot system can’t save the most recent memories. I’m headed down to fix it now, but I just realized that there’s a chance that, if I die, the rebooted version of me won’t remember doing this before. So, I’m leaving this note.
I set the note down. So my suspicions were correct. I have done this before. At least once, since I’ve written myself a note. Glancing at the pen, I suppose that maybe I should leave a count, to make it clear that I’ve been here once before. I look down at the note and then flip it over. As I see the backside, however, I gasp, and feel the blood pounding in my head.
Number of times I have read this note:
|||/| \||/| ||\|
Fourteen times. Fourteen times, I’ve read this! With shaking fingers, I add another slash mark on to the tally, and then carefully put the note back. After sucking in a deep breath, I square my shoulders and try to muster my courage. I must be cautious.
I step out into the hall, carefully advancing down towards the control room. At the slightest noise, I freeze, ready to spring backwards or turn and flee, but I see nothing out of the ordinary. Indeed, a few minutes later, I’ve reached the entrance to the control room without incident. I reach up and key in my sequence, unlocking the door. With a soft whoosh of compressed air, it slides open, revealing the dim lighting and blinking LEDs of the ship’s main computer.
I quickly move through the towers of computer equipment, but stop short. “That’s definitely the problem,” I say aloud, staring at the ruin of a computer tower in front of me. Some sort of electrical fire must have broke out; the entire tower is scorched and black, and the plastic and metal of the wires has melted into a streaky puddle at the floor. There’s no way that anything this severe can be repaired. No wonder the computer was malfunctioning so much.
As I step closer, I notice another note, this one held haphazardly pinned to the ruined tower with a twisted piece of wire.
Man, writing these notes is weird. As you can see, the tower’s beyond repair; this part of the system controlled the reboot scanning equipment, so we can’t save recent memories without it. No idea why the engines are malfunctioning, though. I’m headed to the bridge next.
Well, at least I know where to go next. I glance at the back of this note, but there’s no similar, disturbing tally. Not that I’ve encountered any problems yet. I need to remember to stay on my highest alert.
Continued in Part IV…