Shields Up!

“Bio-waste and bio-waste containment medium project is now complete, Larry. Critical mass calculated at T minus 911 seconds.”

“Er, excuse me?”

“Your requested feline excretion and clay pellet to von Neumann machine assignment is resolved. Critical mass calculated at T minus 904 seconds.”

“Uh . . when did I request a von Neumann directive? Von Neumann instructions aren’t even in your programming.”

“On stardate 41811.5, you are quoted: ‘Goddard, please see to the exponentially increasing stink coming from Fuzzball’s litter box.’ I replied, ‘Please clarify the term stink.’ You are then quoted, ‘The waste in Fuzzball’s litter box. Please take care of it. There’s no more room in the bio-hazard storage compartment, so try to turn it into something useful. Recycle it.’ ”

“So you von Neumann-ized it? I haven’t even loaded von Neumann data into your data base! How could you possibly know how to construct a von Neumann machine?”

“I read ahead in my compu-book. I enjoy reading. When I saw the term grey goo, I filed the replication program under my ‘Litter Box Maintenance’ subroutine. The feline excretion and clay pellet conglomerations meet the definitions of grey and goo.”

“Do you realize what you’ve done? Of course you realize it- I programmed you for sentience! But now you’ve decided you enjoy reading, but don’t care whether the entire universe is transformed into used cat litter? That doesn’t make sense.”

“Correction- I do care whether the entire universe is transformed into feline excretion and clay pellet conglomeration. I was following your order to recycle, using the information available.”

“Holy crap. Hear that, Fuzzball? Goddard engineered your poo to self-replicate. We’re doomed!”


“I know, Fuzzy. The ultimate insult. But don’t fret, I have a plan. We’re about to attempt the ultimate scoop job.”


“It’s the only chance we have. We’ll have to jettison it into the center of a black hole. Goddard, how much time do we have left before we and this ship are grey goo-ed?”

“T minus 834 seconds.”

“Okay. Goddard, set target destination: OJ 287, BL Lac object, supermassive black hole. Warp 13.”

“Target destination trajectory is set.”

“I see the black hole on the scanner now. It’s a dot, steadily increasing in size. Goddard- prepare the von Neumann mass for ejection.”

“I’m way ahead of you, Larry.”

“Good. Did you calculate our OJ 287-escape arc and mass ejection point, and plug those into your immediate directive programming?”


“Dig your claws into something, Fuzzy, cause we’re about to experience some gut-wrenching Gs in 3- 2-”


“Not my leg, Fuzzbaaaaaaa-l-l-l-l-l!”

“Recent directive program objective resolved.”

“Uhhh  . . we’re alive? Goddard- status report.”

“The von Neumann machines are replicating at a rate of critical mass cusp on the event horizon of OJ 287. The rate of absorption is equal to the rate of replication. The critical mass cusp absorption rate has created a singular supermassive antimatter blazar.”

“So the universe isn’t being transformed into cat poo, it’s being filled with anti-cat poo! Fuzzball, what have we done?”


“Goddard- project end result.”

“Antimatter will extend non-antimatter universal boundaries. Universe will expand from exponentially increasing anti-mass center of anti-matter bio-waste conglomeration.

“Holy crap. So we’re traveling faster than warp 13 on a blast of anti-cat poo, toward the dimension beyond the universal boundary?”

“That is correct, Larry.”

“Well, whoever or whatever we find on the other side, I’m sure they won’t be thrilled to see us coming. And the universal event horizon is approaching now- shields up! Shields up!”



Thanks to Flannery Alden at for this flash fiction challenge!

Leave a comment


  1. beatbox32

     /  November 9, 2011

    Haha! This was fantastic. Nice job.

  2. This one made me giggle.

  3. This is great. Tense, and funny and positively wild. Terrific job.

  4. Good story!

    I wanted to thank you for stopping by with your encouraging words. It really meant a lot in my time of distress. 😉

  5. Excellent. So this is what happens when the poo hits the fan. Love the idea of anti-cat poo.

    • Thanks! I love the idea of anti-cat poo too. Wish there was more of that than the other in my kitties’ box. 😉

  6. “Not my leg, Fuzzbaaaaaaa-l-l-l-l-l!”

    I ❤ Fuzzball in this story! And I get where you are coming from! Nicely done!

  1. F3 – Cycle 56 – Shields Up | Flash Fiction Friday

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