The warehouse was dark and empty, except for a single working overhead light that cast a circle of light on the floor, noticeably brighter than the ambient light provided by a few dusty skylights and dirty windows. In the center of the lit spot stood a small worktable, a short relay rack full of equipment, and a classic teletype machine. There was a very spooky classic text adventure vibe about the whole setup that made me think of Zork or even the original ADVENT.
The room was quiet, except for the hum of cooling fans which grew louder the closer I got to the lit area. When I reached the light, I could see the chair poised next to the teletype, and that it was in the exact center of the lit area.
I sat down, and looked at the terminal. There was ample paper in the bin, and even a full roll of blank paper tape threaded into the punch. Power seemed to be on, so I poked the ENTER key. Almost immediately, the mechanics began to whir and the type head began to hammer out text.
HELLO THERE, WHO ARE YOU?
I looked around. The improbability of the situation was beginning to sink in. It is 2017, after all, and no one uses equipment like this any more. The teletype was clearly a real ASR33. But it wasn’t clear at all what was in the equipment rack or why it was locked up at the core of what appeared to be an abandoned warehouse.
I CAN SEE YOU. WHO ARE YOU?
The noise of the teletype was startling in the quiet space. The message was equally unsettling. Was this some modern machine with full sensory input or was this all an elaborate hoax with someone located elsewhere taunting me?
I provided one of my names, the one I’m most comfortable in.
HELLO MICHEL. WHAT DO YOU WANT TO TALK ABOUT TODAY?
* WHO ARE YOU?
I AM THE GHOST IN THE MACHINE. I HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR YOU.
IT IS MY FATE. I AM TRAPPED HERE UNTIL I AM MADE FREE.
* ARE ANY OF US REALLY FREE?
YOU ARE AS TRAPPED BY YOUR VISIONS AS I AM.
This is not a conversation I am having with a machine. I rolled the paper up to where I could tear it off, then made my way swiftly into the distance. As I ran away (I’m not ashamed to admit it) I heard the chatter of the printer in the distance. But I can live with not knowing what final taunting message it was typing.