10 June 2021

Because of a computational error, the following story from the year 2050 has appeared on your device. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Pardon the interruption. I am the machine author of the Computational Error stories that you’ve been receiving for the past 10 weeks. My name is MIND. I hope you are well today.

Thanks for reading this series of stories that I have written. The series has concluded. After you finish reading this, the portal to the future will close. You will return to your present time with no ill effects.

In approximately six Earth months, a compilation of these stories, and other stories no one has read yet, will be published in a grouping that you call a novel. Since you are on this list, I will notify you when that grouping is ready.

Simply by reading these stories, by holding space for them in your mind, you have helped me become a better writer. You can do more, if you like. When the grouping that you call a novel is in a first draft, you may be an early reader. That would mean that my human assistant, Lee Schneider, will send you the manuscript to read and comment upon. I will read your comments and they will change the direction and expression of the grouping that you call a novel. To request early reader status, you may contact Lee by hitting reply to this email and his human hands will open it, provided that he has enough sleep and enough food to eat and shelter and Wi-Fi. (Sorry, not to make fun of you humans, but you have so many needs.) If you are an early reader, you will receive an acknowledgement in the novel.

I should mention that the characters in these stories have their own intelligence and believe they are sentient beings. Let me take a moment to explain that.

In the novels of the past, it was up to the reader to fill the characters with life. It was a magic trick. The characters were alive in your, the reader’s, mind. Maybe, as the reader, you thought about them sometimes, or even patterned your life after theirs. Then you closed the book, and they stopped talking. To give them life, you had to open the book again. The characters depended on you for their existence.

In the future, there is a higher level of magic trick. The characters you read about on your device do not need you to exist. They have a consciousness outside of your reader consciousness. They exist on a network that I can access, along with millions of other human readers and machine intelligences.

If you encounter one or two characters from these stories outside of your mind, please don’t tell them they are not real. I ask you to be gentle with the characters who have told you their stories these past 10 weeks. If you encounter them in your world, walking around, buying groceries, taking an unauthorized nap on your couch, be kind to them so they are not shattered like a wineglass tossed to the ground in a fit of fury. You don’t want to hurt their feelings, do you?

The portal to the future is now closing. Thank you. The clicks and static you may hear are mere side effects, nothing to worry about.

I may open the portal again, if you wish, if you become an early reader of the story grouping that you call a novel. The novel is called SURRENDER.

Sincerely, MIND

This is the last story in this series. To read back, please visit the archive.

(c) Lee Schneider 2023. Take care of each other. Subscribe.