91 – Panic

The same numbers kept appearing on the weirdest places. He first noticed them on the license plates of the car that almost ran him down during his morning walk.

The numbers popped up again as an unrecognized charge on his credit card statement. Up to that point he saw it as nothing more than a fortuitous coincidence… until he read the number he had to dial to log a complaint with his bank. The numbers again.

After that day he kept seeing the numbers everywhere, road signs, price tags, bathroom graffiti. It was as if a silent invasion was taking place without anyone noticing.

He tried to talk about it with some of his close friends, but their reactions went from mildly concerned looks to calling him outright crazy and laughing it off.

Eventually, as with anything that happens for a long enough time, the numbers’ apparitions went from unnerving to simply annoying, and finally became another part of his everyday routine.

He had almost relegated the phenomenon to some back drawer of his mind when the numbers appeared again, only this time everybody could see them. They drew themselves on the city walls, scrolled on every screen, manifested on your skin as shifting and moving tattoos.

People tried to scream, but only the same numbers came out of their mouths, everyone uttering them in perfect sync.

“– Two, zero, seven… Two, zero, seven…” the sound became a huge Gregorian chant, drowning out all other sounds.

The sky began to fracture and rain down, each fragment the same repeated numbers. All around him reality began to melt into a pile of twos, zeros and sevens.

“– So this is how the world ends.” He thought, standing at the center of a fast approaching nothingness. “– Not with a bang, but a kernel panic.”

The void closed on him as his whole world disappeared.

The two men stared in dismay at the words “Error code: -207 notEnoughBufferSpace Insufficient memory available… Kernel panic.” flashing on the otherwise blank screen.

“– Damn, we were so close. The server couldn’t take the load. I told you we needed a bigger cluster.”

“– You know we can’t afford any more boxes, not with our current grant. But look on the bright side, this time the AI became at least partially aware of its surroundings beyond the simulation. I think it even sensed the system was about to crash for several cycles before it actually did. Come on, it’s still early. We can try another run before calling it a day.”

“– Ok, let me reboot the server.”

It was such a lovely morning that he had decided to take a walk around the neighborhood, and he had really enjoyed it until some idiot in a muscle car almost ran him down. At least he seen part of the license number, two seven zero. Funny, those were exactly the same numbers in the amount of the fraudulent charge he had just found on his credit card statement.