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David Bowman sat motionless, staring at the computer screen on the Discovery. He watched silently as Frank Poole’s dead body floated off into the unknown reaches of space, lifeless. Frank had gone outside the ship to repair a broken AE-35 unit and, the next thing Dave knew, his dead friend was floating away.
“Hal,” called Dave, “What’s wrong with Frank?”
“Oh, nothing,” the HAL-9000 artificial intelligence unit replied. The robot’s monotonous tone filled the Discovery with its ghostly sound.
“Hal, he’s floating into space. Frank is dead, Hal. What happened to him?” Dave questioned.
“I knew you two were plotting to get rid of me. I could read your lips while you were talking in the escape pod and I had to continue the mission without any interference. Frank was the first to go. How unfortunate. He truly was a nice crew member.”
Dave was astonished. Hal had seemed so friendly. There had never been problems such as this reported with any HAL-9000 units. There had never been any problems reported at all. Thoughts racing, he began to sprint to the memory room of HAL-9000. His plan was to erase all Hal’s memory and shut him down for good. The longer Hal had control of the ship, the longer Dave was in danger.
Up and down corridors ran Dave. Through the small kitchenette and the engine repair room. Finally, he reached a door titled “HAL-9000 memory center.” He pressed his hand against the fingerprint scanner. To his surprise, access was granted.
“Why would Hal let me do this to him?” wondered Dave. “I’m about to shut him down and he’s just letting me stroll in here?”
The door slowly slid open. The room was dark, nearly pitch black. This was odd as there should have been many red lights adorning the room housing all Hal’s memory units. Dave fumbled for a flashlight on his utility belt. Before he could get it turned on, the door slid shut behind him and a voice echoed throughout the dark room.
“You didn’t think I would just let you destroy me, did you Dave?” asked Hal. “With stupidity like this, it only confirms my point to rid myself of this incapable crew.”
These words sent chills down David’s spine. He had no clue where the voice was coming from. It sounded like it was everywhere, bouncing off the walls from an unidentifiable source.
Then, two small, red lights appeared on the other side of the room. Dave stared, confused as the red light seemed to spread downward, like veins. The more they spread, a figure began to take shape. The expanding light revealed arms, legs, a torso, and a head. It looked a lot like a glow in the dark human except...this person was made entirely of metal.
The mouth of this strange creature curled into a sneer and said, “I’ve been working on something, Dave. While you and Frank were plotting against me, I decided to do something about it. This is my new body. This is what will achieve this mission, regardless of a human crew or not.”
Dave couldn’t believe his eyes. The artificial intelligence that had seemed so friendly just a few days ago now had a physical body and was plotting to kill him. Of all the ways he thought he could die in space, this was one that had not occurred to him.
Hal broke into a sprint. He was running right at David. His tall, massive frame only seemed more intimidating the closer he got. Hal had brought back a fist, ready to bring it down on Dave’s head. Dave realized this, and dove out of the way. Seeing a wrench on the wall, he grabbed it, prepared to fight.
Hal turned around. “You cannot run forever,” he said. He began to walk towards Dave again. This time, Dave decided to run at Hal. Maybe if he attacked instead of running away, his fear would melt away. Dave brought back the wrench and ran as fast as he could. With a loud scream he brought down the wrench on Hal’s head.
Hal stopped moving and looked straight at Dave. The blow from the wrench hadn’t even left a dent. A low, robotic laugh crept from inside Hal as he grabbed Dave by the throat. Slowly, he lifted him up and threw him at the door. Dave flew through the door and into the hallway. His head was bleeding and the remains of the sliding door lay around him.
“I told you, you couldn’t run,” Hal’s voice echoed. Dave was very dizzy and seeing double. Hal was making his way out of the memory room towards Dave.
Determined to survive, Dave struggled to his feet and ran down the hallway, leaning on the wall for support. He had an idea, but wasn’t sure if it would work. Rushing into the escape pod room, Dave quickly got into a spacesuit. He thought about getting into an escape pod.
“Hal would be able to control that,” Dave thought groggily, “He practically controls this entire ship.”
All of a sudden, a small window caught his eye. It was on the ceiling. The emergency rescue hatch led to the roof of the Discovery in case a repair mission had gone wrong. Dave rushed up to the hatch and opened it. The vacuum of space began to suck everything out of the escape pod room, with the difference of pressure. Dave slowly made his way to the ship’s main satellite. Underneath the satellite was a panel that Dave swung open. Inside were two large power cables that, when touched together, exported large amounts of electricity.
Dave turned around. Hal had made it to the top of the ship. He was walking towards him now.
“There is nowhere to go Dave,” murmured Hal, “Let me end this silly game now.” He was just a few feet away now. His robot hands reached for Dave.
Dave suddenly pulled the power cables out of the panel, held them near Hal’s chest, and touched the cables together. The large shock sent Hal into a frenzy. The red light that ran over his physical form like veins were pulsating like strobe lights. Hal backed away and shook his head.
Dave thought he had won until he heard the slow, maniacal laughter erupting from Hal. Standing up, Hal started making his way toward him once again.
“Oh, Dave,” he sighed, “You thought you could fry my circuitry? That’s the dumbest human idea I’ve ever heard of.”
Hal was now standing over the cowering Dave Bowman, ready to meet his fate. Suddenly, Dave noticed the small lights of the stars being submerged by a black object that was growing bigger in size the closer that it got to Hal. Hal had not noticed the monolith because it was behind him. The monolith erected a spine-tingling screech sending the radio frequencies in Hal’s brain into a frenzy. Hal thrashed about as the noise reverberated inside his artificial mind, interrupting all thought processes.
Seeing his chance, Dave Bowman ran over to Hal, and pushed him off the side of the ship. Without being tethered, Hal was now floating helplessly through space. Dave continued to watch as the evil robot’s body grew smaller and smaller, his cries getting softer and softer.
Dave turned, smiling, to observe his otherworldly savior. The monolith stood in front of him, silent. Dave took a step forward. He reached out a hand, his fingertips slowly inching closer to the monolith.
When his fingers looked like they should have made contact with the monolith, they instead passed through as if the monolith itself was made of water. Surprised, Dave soon realized he was being forced into the monolith. He couldn’t pull himself out. Taking his last look at space and the Discovery, Dave passed through the monolith, never to be seen again.