Thursday, November 10, 2022

What do They See?

Robert and Vlad looked at each other in excitement. How many years, how much money had it took? The two of them had poured their hearts and souls into the project. Ever since he was a kid Robert had dreamt of meeting aliens, other intelligent lifeforms, and hearing what they had to say. What their view of life and the universe was. Now, dolphins weren’t quite aliens, but they are intelligent, and the prototype him and Vlad had created would allow them to see just what they were saying to each other.

The device was a modified VR headset that would interpret dolphin communication. Robert and Vlad had discovered that the clicks and whistles of dolphins was, in a sense, a more sophisticated form of data encoding compared to human language. Dolphins didn’t communicate ideas so much as they transmitted images to each other. It was like if human language, art, and writing were all mixed together as one. It took years for the two to come to that conclusion, and now they stared at the culmination of even more years on top of that. The two looked at the device and then at each other, Vlad smiled, and gestured for Robert to try it first.

Robert put it on, and after carefully calibrating the different settings, was able to tune into the thoughts of the dolphins kept in the aquarium area the room over. Slowly the images started to pour in, images of food, of the ocean, the trainers at the aquarium, nothing all that abstract to be honest. Robert moved his head around, allowing him to better explore the images and scenes the dolphins were transmitting each other. Out of the corner of his periphery he saw something strange, a formless black blob. Slowly he rotated his head to get a better look at it, but it just looked like a blurry mess. Robert sighed and pulled off the helmet,

“It looks like we messed something up, some image is not coming in right,”

“Oh yeah?” Vlad noted, “Let me try it, I’ll see if I can’t re-calibrate it.”

Robert handed the headset to Vlad. For the first few moments Vlad seemed to simply take in the imagery, exploring it like Robert, until he paused:

“I think I see it Bob, a black blob?”

“Yes, do you think you can get it to focus,”

“I think so,” Vlad started adjusting the buttons and dials on the headset, slowly trying to give the blob shape. Suddenly Vlad stopped, his knees started to shake, his hands trembled. Robert stared in shock as tears slowly poured down Vlad’s face, until he fell to his knees, ripped off the headset, and crawled into the fetal position.

“What happened Vlad?” Robert said, his voice filled with worry, Vlad remained silent, completely silent.

Robert stared at the headset, what could possibly have done this to Vlad? He knew he should get help but he had to know, he had to understand. He picked up the headset and set it back up. He wandered the myriad images until he found the black blob once more. This time he focused in on it, watching it intently. The blob got bigger, expanding over the entire viewpoint of the device like ink spreading across a piece of paper. The dread started to take over Robert. Every primal urge in his body told him to take off the headset, but something was starting to resolve in the darkness. He had to know what it was. He had to know what it was. The image got clearer and clearer, over the headset he could hear the dolphins in the other room panic and cry. Finally the image appeared fully before him and Robert screamed. It was all he could do, as every bit of his sanity left him.

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