Tom Mazanec

Singularity

Agent Ed Langley entered O5’s office with the bound report.

"Good day, Ed., I look forward to hearing how successful Project Oracle has been.”

“I know this sounds like a bad joke, but I have good news and bad news.”

“OK, let’s hear both kinds.”

“First, the project had a partial success in its goal. I fed the discovery dates of the 8,992 skips we have documented as of the end of last year, and there is a definite periodicity in their occurrence. The frequency of occurrence is governed by three functions. F1 is sinusoidal with a period of 2.3 years, and F2 is sinusoidal with a period of 6.7 years. I will get to F3 later. As for predicting the location of the skip, The program has a 72 percent likelihood of forecasting the octant of the globe in which the next skip will be discovered. Testing the oracle program on the 16 skips uncovered so far this year, the program correctly forecast the octant of 12 of them.”

“Well, that is somewhat disappointing. It will help us focus our resources somewhat, but an eighth of the globe is a rather large pinpoint. And 28 percent error rate is rather too much to risk diverting our resources enough to make a difference. It has been getting harder and harder to keep up with all the SCPs, what with the population growing we get more of them all the time. So what is the good news?”

“I am afraid that is the good news. The bad news is F3. It is a rising curve, an asymptotic one in fact, which, coupled with F1 and F2 both peaking in mid-2021 will result in a number of skips that year beyond any plausible extrapolation of our resources to fully secure and contain.”

“Oh fuck.”

“That is not all, sir. The line of F3 goes vertical at an asymptote of March 5, 2058. On that date the number of skips rises to infinity.”

“OH [EXPLETIVE DELETED]

*

The First SCP

The White House 1806

John Qualtrough entered the Oval Office. “Mr. President, thank you for seeing me on this unusual request.”

“Why Mr. Qualtrough, you did yeoman’s work in helping secure my election. Surely I can spare a few minutes of such a benefactor. But what is your peculiar request?”

“I left an object at the door. I would like to bring it in and ask your opinion of its nature.”

“Very well, let me see this object.”

Qualtrough went out the door and returned with something in his hands

“I can relieve your curiosity, my good man. You are holding a cuspidor.”

“Mr. President, I give you my word of honor that this is a hammer.”

“Is this some tasteless joke?”

“No, Mr. President. Let me explain. Last autumn, according to a neighbor of mine, a stone, white and round as a globe, crashed into his shed and destroyed it. It had fallen from the sky in a streak of light. He took this prodigy into his house as a remembrance. A short time later, his cousin visited him and asked why he had a pistol laying on the floor. The man insisted it was a round stone which fell from the sky. The man and his cousin got into an altercation over this, and soon came fisticuffs. Not being able to resolve the dispute by this means, they came to me, as a leading man of the community, to decide the dispute between them. I informed them that they were either jesters of fools, as anyone could see that they had a butter churn. They each vehemently defended their identification of thaw object, so I called my good wife and showed it to her. She enquired why the men were carrying around a dead otter. Having business here in the Capitol, I thought it would be prudent to bring the matter to your attention. I fear the item is bewitched”

“I see. Well, I am a man of some small intellect and education, and I do not truck with such superstitions as witchcraft and things, stones or cuspidors, falling from the sky. Mr. Qualtrough, if this is a jest I shall be most annoyed and it will not go well with you. Summon my daughter.”

As Martha entered the Oval Office, she made a grimace at the item. “Oh father, why have you brought such a disgusting thing into the White House? It shall make a dreadful mess to clean up.”

“Do not worry, Martha, no one will use it, and if they do I am sure their aim will be well and good.”

“Use it? What would one use that for?”

“Daughter, could you describe this item?”

“Why, it is a rotting log, covered with mushrooms and dirt.”

“I see. You may return to your room, dear.”

President Jefferson turned to Mr. Qualtrough when she left. “I apologize for doubting you, that is a most peculiar item. What are we to do with it?”

“Mr. President I fear a plague of madness if such a thing become well know. My grandmother’s grandfather fled such madness in Salem. I submit that it be hidden away and only the wisest and soberest be allowed to study it. Until its nature is understood, it should not become general knowledge.”

“You may be right at that, Mr. Qualtrough."