Deity On Arrival
Dr. Moira Kostas stood before her creation, which sat atop a metal table. “It” was a simple box made of plastic, the front of which was hollow and allowed for the placement of a glass screen. Behind the screen rested a next of coiled wires, which connected to microprocessors Kostas and her team had spent years fine-tuning. She allowed herself a moment to take a deep breath, collecting her thoughts before she proceeded.
Here goes nothing, she thought. With a self-conscious wimper, it began.
The box hummed for several minutes, and an image finally displayed on the glass screen. It was a yellow circle, roughly the width of a human head, and in the center of the dot was an arrangement of lines, spaced to look like a facsimile of a face. The expression given to it was indifferent. It looked like this:
So far, so good, she thought. She took a seat at her desk, making a note of the progress on her computer. The humming fell to silence, which she also made a point to notate, and after an hour’s wait the on-screen expression changed. It then looked like this:
This change inspired hope in Moira, and she made a note of it on her computer. 10:45 AM, October 10 2022: Woke Up!, declared her notation.
“Hello.” The greeting was quiet, calm, and Moira made another note.
10:48 AM, October 10, 2022: Spoke!
* * * * *
Three days later, Moira’s lab was flooded with members of the press. They were corralled to the back of the room, where they were told to wait politely, sitting in chairs that had been provided to them by NaviQuest Globaltronics. Moira’s box sat two yards away from them, covered by a white sheet.
“When can we see it?” Barked Chester Furguss, a brash and hungry reporter with United Collective. His query was bolstered by the grunts and snarls of his peers.
“Him,” Moira corrected, “Please, just be patient for a few more minutes. He’s had a very grueling time.” She added, trying to be as congenial as possible, “In the mean time, I’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have for me and my team.”
“Harumph!” Chester called back. The sentiment was mirrored by his peers. “I’ve got a question.”
Moira remained composed, smiling her approval at the impetuous youth.
“How do we know this isn’t another farce?” Chester asked, his digital recorder held in Moira’s direction.
Before Moira could respond, Clayton Knell stepped between Moira and the digital recorder. “We at NaviQuest engineer many things, but we do not engineer farces.”
“Step aside, Knell.” Challenged Chester. “Or have you forgotten about Quaque –” Chester looked down at his notes, trying to carefully read the word he wasn’t sure how to pronounce. He gave up, relying on its catchier title. “Omni Trekking, that is.”
“Quaquatraversing,” Moira corrected. “We haven’t forgotten about that, but there is no evidence that says the mission was a ‘farce’.”
“Then where is the pilot? Where is the ‘oodles’ of information your spokesperson promised would return with her?”
Clayton once more interrupted, “That is neither here nor there.” He confronted Chester, hoisting him from his seat, expelling him from the room despite the young man’s fervent attempts at releasing himself. He slammed the door to the lab, locking it before turning back to face the rest of the stunned reporters.
“You were all briefed beforehand as to what questions were considered ‘in play’, yes?”
The reporters looked to one another then back at Clayton. They nodded.
“Good. Then no more bullshit about Quaqua… Omni Trekking. Yes?”
Another reporter timidly raised her hand. Clayton gestured for her to speak.
“How–” the reporter faltered, clearing her throat before she continued. “How long has ‘it’ been awake?”
“That’s more like it.” Clayton withdrew to a corner of the room, taking with him a fraction of the tension.
Moira smiled warmly. “He has been awake for roughly three days now, give or take an hour or so.”
The reporters all made a point to correct their questions, removing “it” in exchange for “he”.
“Three days? Why the delay in alerting the press?” Asked the reporter, feeling more brazen. “Isn’t this the kind of thing you would want to mention sooner — especially in light of…” the reporter caught herself, casting a nervous glance at Clayton. “I mean to say, in light of how big this could be, wouldn’t you want the world to know as soon as possible?”
“Most assuredly. All the same, when dealing with something this ‘big’, it’s best to take every precaution. Wouldn’t you agree?”
After a round of questioning, during which Moira was asked the standard queries (How long was the project in development? Whose idea was it? How did Moira get the job? And so forth.), Moira was ready to introduce the star of the show. She pulled back the white sheet.