I had a dream that I lived on a spaceship that was in the middle of a space war. It was one of those big spaceships where there’s different places with different environments for the different species to live in. Civilians lived on the ship. Families. I was one of the civilians.
Our ship had crash-landed on this enemy planet, years ago. We couldn’t leave the ship, of course, because we couldn’t breathe their air. So we dug in and fought with them there.
One day, I was so fed up with the war, I wished that the war would end, and I didn’t care how it ended. Why didn’t one of us just do something decisive?
I pushed some buttons on a panel. All of our missiles launched at once. The enemy’s capital city turned into a blazing inferno. Tall buildings fell. Everybody died.
Oh shit. What had I done? Okay, the war was over, but that was a freakin’ atrocity. Mass murder? That was not my style. How did I even cause that to happen? I was just a civilian. I shouldn’t have had access to do that. I’m not sure what I was really trying to do, punching stuff into that computer. But I was expecting to not be allowed to do it. I was just trying to blow off some steam, screw around. Had I really killed millions of people?
Then I remembered that Satadru had once given me a little tour of the bowels of the ship’s IT infrastructure. He was a civilian contractor, working on the IT for the ship, which included some of the military IT. He took me to a room that had an old mac classic in it. This was the ship’s authentication server. It worked, and so nobody had ever updated it. Satadru had to fix some stuff in that room, so I poked at the authentication machine while he messed around. I must’ve given myself missile-launching powers and then forgotten about it and now I launched missiles and killed everybody.
Over the next few weeks, there was an investigation. Even the military does not approve of this atrocity. They were determined to find out who was behind it.
I was sweating. It was me! They were going to find out! They were going to investigate, they were going to look at logs, they were going to take fingerprints from keyboards, they were going to find me!
But maybe not. That was almost a year ago. Maybe the fingerprints weren’t readable from the keyboard.
So I sweated and fretted. I tried to act natural when this came up in conversation. Which it did. A lot.
Finally, one day, the military asked me to come in for an interview. SHIT! They’d found me!
They brought me to the interrogation room. Sat was there. They had found something of mine that I had dropped when I was in that IT room. Some dumb toy I had in my pocket. They asked me if I knew anything about it. I was like “Gosh, I forgot about that thing! I haven’t seen that in so long!” They told me they’d found it in that room and asked how it might’ve gotten there.
I tried to act cool. “Oh, gosh. I had forgotten about that… Sat brought me into that room for a second, like a year ago.” They asked why I didn’t come forward with this information when I heard that the investigation was underway. “Honestly, I didn’t remember that. That’s a pretty unremarkable room,” I said, not honestly.
Then they showed me a video of me being in that room. Sat checked some of the network cables. I asked him annoying questions about the authentication server. I pulled open a videogame and played it for a second, then turned it off.
That was it.
I hadn’t granted myself illicit access. In fact, I had done nothing wrong! There was no way I could’ve launched those missiles! The fact that it happened just as I was having wrathful thoughts was just a coincidence! I was so relieved, I was unable to mourn for all those deaths. I tried to pull myself together, though, so my rejoicing wasn’t suspicious.
They said I was free to go!