The pillar was solid black. It reflected no light. You didn’t actually see it. You saw the outline of what it obscured. Only after I touched it did I realize that there was a texture to the surface. It felt like it had the grooves of an Ancient Greek column in front of the Parthenon in Athens. Or wherever the Parthenon is.
I wasn’t certain what the column was for, but I couldn’t help staring at it. The sense of emptiness drew me in and made memories come. Memories I didn’t know I had. I remembered my first night here on Neptune. My official paperwork called it a posting. My duty assignment. The reality was it was an incarceration. Neptune station was a comm relay for the outer solar system. It was a solo posting. My job was to keep the machinery of the relay working.
What struck me as the most ironic was the silence. Literal terabytes of information flowed through Neptune Station every second, but none of it was with me or for me. The lack of outside communication made the quietness of the station profound. Noise in the mechanical systems is inefficient; something out of tolerance; a portent of fault. My job was to eliminate the noise.
Fortunately, I was good at my job and this left me with time to explore. Three months in was when I found the pillar. I wanted to call it a palantir, but the moment I logged it, the AI responsible for the intellectual property of the Tolkien estate initiated a net wide cease and desist. So I settled for the pillar. In fact I almost mis-spelled it, but auto-correct handled the problem for me.
It’s been 250 years since the mega corp, Microsoft, developed autocorrect. We have pocket sized AIs; FTL travel; drugs that extend life indefinitely; yet we don’t have the ability to develop a useful autocorrect system. But I digress.