Hal looked up from his calculator. “The lucky numbers? They’re similar to the prime numbers. You start by striking out all the even numbers. Then after 1 you have a 3, so you strike out every third number. That gets rid of 5, 11, 17, etc. Now after 3 you have a 7, so take out every seventh number, and so on.”
“Oh, right,” Sham recalled. “13 is the fifth lucky number then, isn’t it?”
“Oddly enough, yeah,” Hal confirmed. “But you don’t have triskaidekaphobia, do you?”
Sham blinked. “That’s like paraskavedekatriaphobia, isn’t it?”
Hal shrugged. “Not quite. Look it up.” He punched at his calculator. “But it doesn’t look like that will work either. Your higher dimensions on the sixth floor are never used as extra space for terminals. You’ll have to try something else.”
Sham frowned. “Would the odds improve if I provided the mapping information directly?”
“We have zip on that,” Hal indicated.
“There’s that big room right in the middle – how about I just place some sort of device near that location which will activate in 1999?”
“Well, it would be difficult constructing it with the technology of this decade,” Hal said, nonplussed.
“It’s better than restarting,” Sham insisted. “Go get the Quantum Loop staff and BigE to work on it.”
“I think you’re using fuzzy logic.”
“Just open the imagine chamber door, Hal.”
“I’m sorry, Sham. I can’t do that,” Hal intoned ominously.
“It’s going blooie again…” Hal smacked his calculator and the door opened. “There we go. Wish we could thrash the originator of this Y2K bug.” Sham sighed, stacking some papers as Hal popped off.
Sometime later, Sham was prepared to put his plan into action. But Hal still didn’t have high hopes. “Sham, BigE has calculated a 90% probability that activating your device will only delay the 1999 reconstruction in the Red Room by 4 months. People will actually have LESS terminals to work on.”
Sham sighed. “Well, currently I have no alternative so let’s try the direct route. Here goes nothing.”
Sham switched on his abstract device. And Hal blinked. “Sham, in tracking your signal, BigE has picked up an analogous analog object!”
Sham blinked. “How do you account for that?”
“Someone else has an assembly!” Hal addressed Sham. “And… it looks like the other one is actually responsible for Y2K?!?”
“I’m trying to get a fix… but it’s looking like the Y2K Bug that hit us in 2000 was actually a virus initiated by someone named Millie Niem here in the 60s. That’s why even Y2K approved computers were affected!”
“I knew Quantum Loop was compliant,” Sham muttered.
“Sham, you can repair our problems in the future if you catch the person in the field nearby!” Hal finally declared.
“Would a net work?” Sham wondered, hurrying towards the location.
But as it turned out, a net was unnecessary. The person was Millie Niem herself, and she stopped willingly when Sham confronted her. However, she was not very forthcoming (or even thirdcoming).
“A virus to truncate dates to two digits in the Year 2000?” Millie retorted, laughing. “How fantastically fantastic! I’d like to see you validate such a claim.”
“You can prove it if you crack the encrypting of her device,” Hal assured Sham. “Unfortunately we don’t have a starting point.”
Sizing up the situation, Sham reached down and grabbed a bit of paper that had been left on the ground. “‘Use largest known truncatable prime’?” Sham read. “I think this will provide enough information to substantiate my statements.”
“That won’t help you,” Millie stated defiantly.
“On the contrary — I think everything can be determined now,” Sham retorted in satisfaction.
What has Sham figured out? Will all this really solve the problems with Y2K? And what about Sham’s mission to provide Mizuloo’s terminals? Find out when the story concludes in issue six…
–Greg “hologrami” Taylor
[This issue also had more “Cynic’s Corner”, and the results of my survey on Saskatchewan. I’d needed some filler in the prior episode. I was kind of clever in my youth. Maybe I still am.]