Tuesday, 2 April 2013

The Controls

By Andy Hamilton

“We should have left a note,” she says, watching him struggle with the oversized steering wheel.
“Will you stop with the note already!”
“It’s just, I’m just saying…”
“I know, but you’ve been ‘just saying’ every five minutes since we left.”
She folds her arms tightly and peers through the windscreen.
"Listen,” he says. “We’ve practiced for this, haven’t we?”
“Yes but…” 
“We’re ready. You said it yourself. We can’t learn anymore from practicing, we need to start doing. You said that yourself.”
“I know, but this is different; this is dangerous. If we’d just left a note, then if something goes wrong, someone might…”
“What could go wrong?” he interrupts. “We both know what we’re doing. Right?”
“Yes but…”
“Okay then. Lets go.”
“Look!” he says, pointing at a grey spec through the windscreen. “There it is.”
“There? Really, are you sure?”
 “Look around, this is exactly what the map described.”
 “It doesn’t look like much,” she says.
 He exhales deeply, allowing his cheeks to puff out. “It doesn’t look like much… yet.”
 “Yes,” she says. “Of course, ‘yet’. Which one is ours?”
 “Ours? Let me double check.” He rumbles through a stack of crumpled papers on the dashboard. “Here we go. Ours is number three.”
 “Number three,” she says, pressing her index finger against the windscreen. “One. Two. That’s it. That’s our spot.”
“Are you ready?” he says, taking her gently by the hand.
“I’m ready. If we pull this off, we’ll get A’s for sure.”
“Okay. You first.”
“Me,” she says, holding her hand to her chest. “Why don’t you go first?”
“You have to go first. HELLO! You’re the planetary expert. I can’t do my thing until you’ve done yours.”
“Oh yes, I suppose you’re right.” She takes a small laptop computer from her bag and begins to type. “I decided to take a little bit from all the models I’ve coded before and combine them into one brilliant supermodel.”
“Okay,” he says, peering over her shoulder.
“My inspiration was motion. Not only will our planet orbit its sun, it will also spin and sort-of bob on its own axis.”
“I know! But that’s just the start. The landmasses and seas will move as well…”
“Exactly, and it will also have an orbiting moon with its own gravitational pull, just to liven things up even more.”
“And weather?”
“The same idea, a bit of everything. There will be cold places, hot places, calm places, stormy places, all sorts of places. And the weather will change too. Different times of day, different weather; different times of the year, different weather.”
“That’s insane!”
“I know. But I think it’ll work.”

“Your turn,” she says, handing him the laptop.
“Me? Well, mine isn’t nearly as elegant a code as…”
“Quit stalling. I showed you mine.”
“Okay,” he says. “Okay. I decided to write a quite basic evolution programme…”
“Evolution! You must be kidding me.”
“It’s a rip. Your evolution programme is just going to copy and paste the code from my model. Your lifeforming is going to rip-off my terraforming.”
“Hang on,” he says. “You didn’t let me finish. I started with an evolution programme, but I tweaked it.”
“Yes really, I changed a lot actually. This code will be 100 per cent original me. Totally in my image.”
“And how do you figure that?”
“Because of the controls.”
“The controls?”
“Ya, I coded in a load of controls to make sure that everything evolves in its own random way.”
“Oh ya, like what?”
“Well I engineered love.”
“Love! Great, that’s going to get us an A.”
“Not just love, I coded hate too; and jealousy, anger, lust, compassion, grief. I’ve coded all sorts – stuff that’s never been done before. Spirituality, religion.”
“But that’s mad. Anything could happen? The whole thing could crumble into chaos.”
“Don’t worry,” he says, as he taps his forehead softly. “I also wrote a code for the sun. So no matter what evolves – after about five billion year – it all goes kablammo!”
“Oh God,” she says, as the oceans begin to fill with water. “We should have left a note.”