Year of Ideas: December, Glitch

“That’s weird,” Florene said, and Phylis looked up from the book in front of her.

“What is?”

“I could have sworn this said the Amicliss was discovered thirty years ago, but it says fifty-five.”

It’s the sort of thing that most people would brush off, something Phylis would have brushed off if it had been herself who misremembered, but this was Florene and that should have been impossible. “Are your files corrupted?”

“No, everything checks out fine. Unless my diagnostic systems are also affected.”

“What’s about superimposing? Maybe something from another location was saved over the data for Amicliss?”

“That is a possibility,” Florene agreed, but they didn’t sound as though they thought it was very likely.

“Maybe the book changed,” Phylis said. When it didn’t prompt a reaction, she added, “That was a joke.” Sometimes Florene still missed those, even though they were getting much better at understanding context and inflection.

“I wonder.”

“Books can’t change,” Phylis said. “At least not physical books.” It was a rare treat to be using them, though she often missed a proper search feature. Her grandparents often waxed poetic about the feel and smell of so-called real books, but Phylis didn’t understand it. There was a novelty to it, and pride at being trusted to handle them, but over and over again, they proved themselves more limited than digital documents. A digital document, however, would have had a built-in excuse for the mismatch with Florene’s memory. Digital documents received updates all the time.

“There are stories,” Florene began, “about events being remembered one way, when history showed they happened in another.”

“I’ve heard of that,” Phylis said. It was a superstition that had been around even when her grandparents were young, and time hadn’t done anything to diminish it. “But that’s just people remembering things wrong.”

“I am incapable of remembering things wrong.”

“Unless you’ve been hacked.”

Florene finally looked up from the book. “That is a more plausible, though more concerning, option.”

“Is there any sort of scan you can run for that?”

“I can perform a deep scan,” Florene said, closing the book. “I will return to the station and do so.”

“You don’t have to do it right now,” Phylis said, but Florene shook their head.

“If that has happened, then I am compromised and cannot be allowed to function until the problem is resolved.” 

Before Phylis could say anything else, Florene was moving through the stacks, out of range of their polite whispering. There was no way for Phylis to call them back now without earning the ire of the librarian, and that might jeopardize their future access to the books. With a sigh, she turned back to the table and pulled over the book Florene had been using. The paragraph with the mention of the Amicliss was obvious, and the number fifty-five seemed to be glowing. Without knowing why, or even thinking it would make a difference, she took a picture of the page.

Really, if the book changed, it was likely the picture would, too, but if Florene’s memory was unaffected, there was a chance the digital record would also be unaffected. If nothing else, taking the picture would remind her of the moment, and perhaps her own memory would be more reliable as well.

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by | Dec 8, 2022