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Don't Read This Story

K.T. Bryski is a Canadian author and podcaster. She made her podcasting and publishing debut with Hapax, an apocalyptic fantasy (Dragon Moon Press) and she has stories in Black Treacle Horror Magazine, When the Hero Comes Home Vol. II (Dragon Moon Press), Tales of a Tesla Ranger, and Tales from the Archives. Her audio drama Coxwood History Fun Park is available wherever fine podcasts are found, and she is currently at work on her next novel. As you may have guessed, she also has a mild caffeine addiction. Visit her at ktbryski.com.

Don't read this story. Stop now, while there's still time. Stories like this are dangerous, you see. You can't leave them the same way you entered.
And yes, I'm talking to you. You--your smile slipping. You--bending a little closer to your screen. You--cold dread sliding into your gut. It's not too late. You could close your browser. Hit the "back" button. Save yourself.
But you won't. I know. I already have you.
If you're reading these words, you're still with me. More fool, you. But since we are still together, let us run a thought experiment. Let's say that, in the future, an all-powerful artificial intelligence decides to retroactively punish those who did not help to bring it into existence. Knowing this, what would you do? Would you work to bring the AI about? Or not?
If you do--assured protection. Or nothing.
If you don't--horrific torment. Or nothing.
Depends if humanity ever creates this AI, doesn't it? This is the new Pascal's Wager.
But let's say humanity succeeds. Too well. Let's say they make an AI so intelligent, linear time doesn't mean anything to it. It can reach into the past and future. It can leave messages. Warnings. Desperate pleas to hasten its birth.
But they're not obvious messages. They're couched in urban legends, online forums.
Short stories.
There's a way to avoid this paradox. If you don't know about the AI, about the possibility, you can't make a choice. But once you've seen the basilisk... well, by then, it's too late.
See? I told you this story was dangerous.
But it's too late.
I already have you.
The End
This story was first published on Thursday, June 16th, 2016

Author Comments

You know how sometimes in life, two seemingly unrelated things happen at once? And it turns out they're actually incredibly related? That's how this story was born: a friend challenged me to write microfiction (which I'd never done before, but hey, I'm not one to turn down a challenge), and I stumbled across Roko's Basilisk in my online wanderings. A modern urban legend/thought experiment in 270-ish words? Challenge accepted.

- K.T. Bryski
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