The Master Program Ch. 01byVarun1987©
The idea for this story comes from JR Parz and the Master PC stories. I write this inspired by his original work.
NB: Chapter 1 is pretty much a long introduction. Chapter 2 is where the fun begins. Please bear with this.
Chapter 1: Stephen Lowe
It was the middle of the Easter holidays and Stephen Lowe had been sitting in one of the reader rooms at the British Library since 9:30am. His second year exams would start in four weeks, and he really needed to make up for all the lectures he had slacked off in. However, good intentions aside, after five hours of constant revision, his mind had begun to wander. He shut his physics text books and locked his Macbook to the desk with a chain provided and began his wander around the library.
After about ten minutes he began to think about returning to his desk. He walked by a section filled with old journals and diaries and the desire to procrastinate gripped him again. He browsed around, flicking though a lab-book from the 1960s, which detailed experiments on rats, before picking up the journal of a computer programmer, J R Parz. The journal covered his work from 1978-1986 in great detail from what he could tell by flicking through. Stephen intended to leave, but before putting the book down, he turned to a random page somewhere in the middle of the book and began to read.
'I ask myself if this world is real? What I am uncovering has the potential to change our interpretation of the word 'real' forever. In these vivid dreams, these 'Masters' are gods, I suppose, and they seem to have created us as an experiment. We, along with billions of other civilisations in the Universe are just a lab experiment. And I think I've tapped into how to change things. I am writing a computer program which could allow me to shape the Universe itself, not that I need to use a computer for this, but I'll stick to what I know.'
Stephen thought this guy was some sort of cultist or a religious nut but he had never read the rantings of a crazy man before. Curious, he flicked forward a few pages.
'I turned a spoon rusty. I know it sounds pathetic in terms of altering the fabric of all reality, but I programmed the spoon to turn rusty 10,000 times faster than usual, and it before my eyes it turned brown and crumbled. I know the computer itself shouldn't run a program of this scope, but it can, and did! It's like I'm circumventing reality... with a computer program.'
Stephen found a stool and sat down, began to analyse various pages of the book with great scrutiny. Between 1978 and 1980, Parz had begun to question the nature of reality, he thought a god, or gods, if they did exist, may have created the Universe as a form of entertainment, or for scientific curiosity, and he began to write a program that would enter their reality from this one. By 1982, he had learned how to bend rules of reality to rust a spoon, wither a plant and later to cure a cold he was fighting. It was in 1986 that he claimed he'd made a real breakthrough; he cured and eliminated chicken pox. He chose the disease at random, but he figured he could cure anything that way. Stephen began to lose interest as he thought this guy was clearly just mental, so he skipped to the last double page.
'They contacted me, I found a way to teleport from London to Sydney, then as I teleported back they contacted me. I can't tell you what happened, I think they made it impossible for me to fully recall them or what they said to me, but they were impressed at what I had done. However, my work was ruining their experiment; changing too many constants, like the speed of light and gravity. I think, from what I understand, we, and all sentient life in the Universe (Yes! Aliens!), are the variables, while our environment is a constant, that's why they stopped me from my work. They reversed all my changes, but as a reward I can still alter other people, to my suiting. As long as I stick to the rules of the world.'
The last entry was dated 1996, 10 years after the previous.
'I am content, I have my health, my women, the program cannot let me reach their world anymore, I have no need of it. So I give it to you, I have uploaded it to a server, and programmed the owner of the server to keep it online forever, by any means. This means whenever you read this, you can still access it. The program transcends reality, so it can understand you, and run on any computer. I'm sure you could even find a way run it on a slice of toast. You might even find a way to alter reality from your thoughts alone but until then, keep my program alive. I shall never get to meet the 'Masters' again, but I'd like to think someone else is enjoying my life's work.'
The bottom of the very last page had a list of instructions that should be entered into a computer console. Stephen took the diary back to his desk, nearly 90 minutes after he had left it. He woke up his Macbook and eagerly loaded the console. He typed in all the commands as instructed and in disbelief equalled by excitement he saw 'Master Program' downloading. It auto-installed, which worried Stephen for a second; he feared he had been duped into downloading a virus. The screen went black, and unresponsive for a few seconds. 'Shit!' cursed Stephen, whispering subconsciously due to his library surroundings.
Just when he became panicky, 'Master Program' appeared at the top of the screen.
'Input the name of user:'
'You are Stephen Lowe; Do you mean Stephen Lowe?'
Stephen was incredibly freaked out for a second, then realised the program had probably worked out his name from his personal details stored on the Mac. That is unless Parz wasn't crazy. He clicked 'yes'.
'Choose target by typing their name, you have 1000 slots left:'
'Six targets in range, please select:'
A drop down menu came up with Stephen Alexander Lowe, British Library, Euston Road, London, 0 mi as the first result, with five other Stephen Lowes and their locations, up to the last one, who was 23.2 miles away. He figured that the program did this by IP addresses, so he pressed cancel and turned his wifi off. Waiting 20 seconds he typed in Stephen Lowe again, and the same list came up. A little surprised, and a bit worried, he chose himself.
What he saw made his jaw drop. A model of himself appeared on the screen in very high resolution, wearing his exact outfit, t-shirt and jeans, standing feet apart with arms 45 degrees to his sides. He quickly looked round the room for cameras, then spotted his own inbuilt webcam, and covered it with his hand. Still, the slowly rotating model was visible. Dozens of tabs existed at the top of the page, and he saw arrows indicating plenty more were available. He moved the mouse over his body and 'Torso' appeared next to the pointer. He scrolled over to his left hand and clicked. The display zoomed into his hand which then rotated on screen as his body had done earlier. He clicked on his index finger and 'physical attributes' appeared as a sidebar menu. His eyes fell on the 'length' slider and he clicked on it, scrolling it so that his finger halved in size, then to the other extreme, where it was twice the size. He also, saw a button with a text cursor next to the slider. He clicked it and out popped another dialogue box.
'Input desired length:'
'+1 inch,' he typed.
He saw his virtual finger appear longer on screen, and a button labelled 'Commit' in the bottom right corner turn green. He clicked the change and another dialogue box appeared.
'Are you sure you would like to commit changes? Autosave is on.'
He left 'turn this notification off' unchecked and pressed 'yes', hesitating only for a second. Horror instantly engulfed him; his left index finger twinged as it began to grow to match the screen. He looked at all the bowed heads, terrified anyone might see his finger magically grow. He stared at the elongated finger and immediately began to wonder if Parz was sane, or if he was turning crazy. After a few seconds of touching the finger to things, he looked at the screen with panic. Next to 'Commit' was 'Revert', which he clicked nervously. A box popped up with three options; 'Undo previous change', 'Revert to original' and 'Revert to earlier save'. His eyes darted over the first two options, as the last was greyed out. He clicked 'Revert to original' and another prompt appeared 'Are you sure? You will lose all changes you have made. You cannot undo a revert if you make new changes.' Stephen pressed 'yes' and hid his finger as it shrunk back to its original size. He took deep breaths to calm himself and comprehend what just happened. Calmly, and with continued deep breaths, Stephen collected his stuff and made his way to exit the British Library.
The whole journey back to his Camden flat, Stephen's mind raced. He was trying to think if he was dreaming, he thought maybe he'd imagined it, he just didn't think his finger could do that, not because of a computer program written thirty years ago. His flatmates, two girls from his halls, Sophie and Helen, had both gone home for the holidays, so he sat down at the kitchen table and opened up his Macbook again, assured that he would have privacy. The Master Program was still running; specifically the display of Stephen's virtual hand. Less nervous this time, Stephen tried lengthening his finger again, and reverting the changes, three further times before deciding that it was real. Feeling a bit more adventurous, he clicked 'full view' and returned to a full body view of himself. He looked at a few more view options, and chose 'toggle clothes'. His naked body appeared onscreen and it looked pretty flabby; he hadn't really done much exercise this year, yet he had been out drinking with his friends a fair few times. He looked at the menu tabs at the top and clicked 'physical health'. All the tabs were replaced by new tabs, all relating to one's bodily well-being. He examined a few and found 'fitness'. A side bar menu appeared with various sliders. He looked around to find 'body fat' which was at 21%, not overweight, but certainly heading that way. He scrolled it down nearly as far as it went, to 8%, and then pressed the 'Commit' button. Instantly his stomach grumbled, and his body rippled in places as all over he could see and feel his fat disappearing. The rather disconcerting sight of bubbling skin subsided and he lifted up his t-shirt.
"Oh holy God!" exclaimed Stephen, looking at his chest, his body had never looked this good. The gym, running, hill-walking and various forms of exercise in his pre-university days had given him some decent musculature, but of late it had been hidden by his layer of fat until now. His previously slightly tight clothes now hung loosely around his stomach and thighs. He could see sliders which would allow him to increase some of his muscles, but he was proud of the ones he'd built up through hard work, so, for now, he started to read the other options. In the top right corner, he found a button marked 'Help'. So far, the program had seemed fairly straight-forward, but he had a suspicion he was only scraping the surface, using the help guide seemed like a good idea, so he clicked.
'Welcome to the Master Program. This program will allow you to change the people around you physically and mentally to how you wish. This guide will help you understand how the program works. Would you like to enable audio?'
Upon clicking 'yes' another box appeared.
'Help audio enabled. User audio enabled.'
Stephen read 'User audio enabled' and then, sceptically, he spoke, "hello?"
"Hello, Stephen," replied a cool, slightly mechanical voice.
Stephen jumped back slightly and his eyes widened. He didn't know what he expected, but that was definitely eerie.
"Hello, Stephen, do you prefer this audio?" came a clean, crisp female voice, which sounded mix of authority and seductiveness, kind of like one of his hot teachers from school.
"Yeah, it's perfect actually."
"Where would you like to begin?"
"Wait, first...what are you?"
"I cannot tell you anything more than you already know."
"How do you know what I know?" said Stephen, then instantly, he thought, 'can...you...read my mind?'
'Yes,' said the voice, inside his head.
"No, no!" exclaimed Stephen, "no reading minds!"
"I am a read and write program for mind and body, if you do not permit me to read minds, it is difficult for me to complete any tasks you set. We can continue to use the spoken word, if you wish, but I will continue to monitor your thoughts so that I can complete any tasks to your exact desires."
"OK, but only if I give spoken instructions, I don't want to...to...think 'what would it be like if my foot is twice the size' then suddenly see it become massive."
"As I said, I am attuned to understanding desires, not arbitrary thoughts, but I will take that command into account."
"Right, so, um. Let's see."
A thought occurred to Stephen and he brought his right index finger to his left eye, and removed his contact lens, placing it on the table, before doing the same with his right eye. He looked at the blurry computer and spoke, excitedly, "OK, restore my eyesight to perfect vision!" His eyes burned momentarily, causing him to wince, and a tear to roll down each cheek. He blinked a few times then looked around the room. He could see everything clearer than he could with his lenses. He stood up from the kitchen table to look out the window and could read licence plates on cars parked on the other side of the four-lane street.
"This is amazing, like, wow. OK, next, so on to diseases and genetic defects."
"You have several allergies, all to a mild degree and dispositions to certain cancers and medical conditions. Would you like me to list them in detail?"
"No, no. Well, can you remove them?"
"Yes, would you like me to do so?"
"Yes, make me the picture of perfect health, in fact, rather than remove my disposition to getting some cancers, can you completely eliminate any chance of me getting it? Or any disease for that matter?"
"Doing so now...improving immune system...repairing all organs...increasing regenerative abilities. You now have organs as healthy as they were when you were born. Toxins should be eliminated from your system thirty-two times faster. Any damage will heal fourteen times faster and more efficiently than usual. Your metabolic rate has been set to slow aging by 23% and to keep your new physique relatively constant. Any diseases you contract should be eliminated within hours of entering your system."
"Whoa, I'm like Superman," said Stephen, who could actually feel himself getting healthier, though he realised that could be psychosomatic, "in fact, Superman; yes, give me the ability to fly."
"Unable to complete task."
"Human flight is not possible under experimental conditions."
"Oh yeah, can't break laws of physics... give me wings."
"Unable to complete task."
"But I'm not breaking any rules?"
"You are exceeding the maximum impact factor."
Furrowing his brow, Stephen asked, "What is an impact factor?"
"Impact factor is the measure of any change you make on the experimental conditions. To take the example of giving you wings; that would require altering your genetic structure to a point that would alarm other humans, and would provoke study of your body, and question how you came to get wings."
"OK," interjected Stephen, "wings would look stupid, I get it, but couldn't you make everyone just think that was normal."
"That would have the same impact factor, as both scenarios would involve the human race believing that humans can have wings, something that is not set by experimental conditions."
"OK, but you said I can no longer fall ill, so wouldn't someone find it strange, like a doctor say, that I can now fight off...AIDS?"
"As someone who will not get ill, it is incredibly unlikely you would ever find yourself examined by someone who would realise your physiology is abnormal. If you were to die of something unexpected, I could program the coroner to not be aware of any abnormalities in your body, and only one person would need to be affected by your changes; this results in a low impact factor."
"OK, I get you, so let's say... I take a piss in the corner of the room when my flatmates are in, you could make them not perceive it?"
"What about, a bus full of people?"
"Yes, however, impacting a large group of people at one time is unadvisable for experimental repercussions, and is therefore disallowed. A bus full of people would be permissible, but millions of people would not be."
"Right, OK, another question. You say you can't make someone think I can have wings..."
"Incorrect..." interrupted the program, "I cannot make large numbers of people think you can have wings, you have 1000 slots in total of people you can change in any way you like, so long as those changes do not have repercussions for the remaining billions on the planet. The number 1000 is assigned because even if these people break the statistical norm of the populace they can be disregarded as anomalies without ruining experimental results."
"So I could make my flatmates think me pissing in the corner is normal, but not the whole country?"
"Correct. Please note that changes can naturally incur other unintended changes, for instance, your flatmates considering the passing of urine in this room to be normal would have a negative impact on their perception of hygiene. I will try to warn you in such an event and if possible, I will try to suggest alternative changes you can make with lower impact factors, should you exceed maximum impact factor again."
"Cool. Speaking of going to the toilet, can you eliminate the need for me to go to the toilet? And need to eat I suppose?"
"I can optimise your digestive ability to the point where it would remove your need to excrete waste products. You cannot bypass the need to eat, that would require too great a change in your physiology"
"OK, well go ahead then."
Stephen gave himself a second then tentatively said, "you can make mental changes too?"
He was unsure about tampering with his own mind, but he did always have the option to revert back, so he decided to give it a go, "make me 25% more intelligent and improve my memory by say...double."
He got verbal confirmation, but internally he knew it too, because at the back of his mind, some concepts he had been struggling to revise earlier suddenly made a lot more sense to him. He was reluctant to change himself any further for now, so he ensured that he was saved, both as he was now and his original self, then sat down and began to think whether or not he would use this on someone else.
He put off the moral dilemma of tampering with another human being's very fibre by touching himself up a little more, this time using the manual sliders. Now that his face was near devoid of fat, he was very pleased with how he looked, so he didn't change his appearance more than a few tweaks, mainly focusing on making his nose a little shorter and smoother in profile view, giving his dark brown hair a naturally styled look, and improving his skin condition, including a very slight tan.
"Is it possible for you to make people to think I always looked this way?"
"Would that use up any of my...slots, was it?"
"No, such a task is too minor to use a slot."
"Well, do that then."
Once the task was done, he disrobed himself in his bedroom and admired his new body. After nearly fifteen minutes of self-admiration, he began to think again if he could ever manipulate another human in this way. In just a pair of boxers, he walked back to the kitchen and closed the program, trying to put it out of his mind, as he went back to his revision.