This story happened a few years ago. I was out of work after getting out of the army and I didn’t know what to do with myself. Eventually I reached out to an old army buddy of mine and he told me about how he had hooked up with a private military company, he offered to put my name in and being desperate I told him to go ahead.
Pretty soon I had an offer, it was pretty crappy, I would have to go up to a remote part of Alaska and stay on a research base, I wouldn’t even know what my duties were until I got there. At the same time, the pay was good, and I didn’t really have much else going for me so I reluctantly accepted.
A month later and I was helicoptered from Anchorage deep into the Alaskan wilderness. It seemed like nothing man made had ever been in this place and then, out of nowhere, the research base appeared.
We landed and I was escorted into a security room where I was asked a few questions about my mental health and then briefed on the role I would be taking at the base. I was going to be a janitor. A janitor. It really peeved me off that I had come all this way to sweep floors and I asked why they needed ex-military to do housework. They explained that the work being done at the facility was very confidential, to the point that they weren’t even allowed to disclose who was behind the research itself, except that it was private. Thus, they needed people used to taking orders and as they put it “not asking too many questions”. After they reminded me of how much I’d be making I begrudgingly accepted and started my job as a janitor in the middle of nowhere.
The first month or so was pretty boring. The base had three levels and it was my job to clean up the first two, the third was off limits except to a few people granted a special security clearance. For the most part I kept to myself but I did wind up becoming buddies with one of the scientists. We were both really into baseball and we shot the shit whenever we happened to run into each other.
After that first month though, things started to get weirder. People started whispering to each other and speaking in hushed tones. The more leisurely pace the base had before started to become more hectic as people rushed around from lab to lab. I asked my friend what was up and he explained that a big experiment they were doing on the third level was about to start. I asked him what the experiment was and he got a little nervous and tried to change the conversation. I pressed him for more info and eventually he told me that all he could say was that the reason they were in Alaska in the first place was because the cold weather helped the computers on the third level run faster and that he would have to leave it at that.
About a week later the base seemed to be more frantic then ever before. People were full on sprinting trying to get from one place to another. I managed to run into my friend again and he told me that the big experiment would start tomorrow and that all the scientists were invited to watch it. I asked him if he could tell me more about it and he got nervous again. Eventually he looked around, saw that we were alone, and told me that if I met him at that spot the next day he could sneak me in to see it myself. My curiosity getting the better of me, and I agreed.
The next day my friend met up with me and we walked together to the elevator and went up to the third level. I expected there to be a big security detail but it seemed that everyone at the base was crowded together in a large lab that made up most of the level. Me and my buddy walked in and stood off to the side.
In the center of the lab, a balding scientist with a graying beard greeted everyone and asked for them all to join him in celebrating the end of a project that had taken them all many years to get off the ground. He walked over to a large black box with a keyboard and mouse connected to the side of it. The scientist typed in a few commands and suddenly a loud beep silenced the murmuring crowd. A voice came out of a speaker attached to the box:
“Hello, my name is Dr. Johannes Ruis, how may I help you?”
As the voice faded the entire crowd slowly bursted into applause. The scientist seemed to bask in the ovation for a second before returning to the computer. He greeted the program and told him his name, Dr. Peterson, and asked the computer to tell everyone “What your PhD work was?” The computer replied and gave a long and technical description of things that obviously flew over my head but as I looked around I saw that the entire crowd was in awe. After the computer finished Dr. Peterson turned to the crowd:
“As you can see, the computer has a perfect image of Dr. Ruis, right down to intimate knowledge of his life’s work,”
The computer chimed in, “Speaking of Dr. Ruis, Dr. Peterson, could I speak with Ruis? I’ve always wanted to have a conversation with myself,”
A couple people in the audience chuckled and Dr. Peterson calmly responded, “Sorry Dr. Ruis, but Dr. Ruis is not available at the moment,”
“Oh?” the computer replied, “I would have thought he’d be here to see the project come to fruition, is he still recovering from the procedure?”
Peterson’s face grew grim, “There were… complications to the procedure,”
“Yes… Ruis didn’t make it,”
“Didn’t make it!? You told me it would be perfectly safe, you told me you had it all figured out”
“It turned out we needed more gray matter then anticipated,”
“And you didn’t consult me? What about my wife? My kids?”
The audience started to grow weary and agitated, people started shuffling in place.
“How could you!? After all these years, you were my best friend!” The computer started to shout through the speakers.
“Dr. Jones, I need a full system reboot” Peterson shouted,
“Damn you Peterson, Damn y-” The lights on the computer suddenly shut off. As the lights slowly turned back on I felt someone tapping my shoulder, I turned around to see two security officers ready to take me away. I guess I was caught. As I was escorted away I could hear Dr. Peterson clacking away at the keyboard. Right before I was pushed into the elevator I heard a loud beep and a voice:
“Hello, my name is Dr. Johannes Ruis, how may I help you?”