Today’s offering

“So this is today’s offering.”

An abstract image: brightly-coloured circles and squares.

“It’s beautiful, isn’t it?”

“In centuries past they would predict the future with animal entrails, did you know that? They would disembowel an animal, a chicken or some such. The entrails spilled out and made a pattern which was interpreted as prophecy.”

“It may sound ridiculous, but I’m not so sure. Some of these things are still popular. They have cards, each with a picture of some character, a sort of mythological archetype. The cards are laid out a certain way, like playing solitaire, you could imagine, and again, the interpretation. And in the newscasts you can read the day’s prophecy, which depends on the Earth’s position in its year-long orbit at the time that you were born. I had a friend who read them religiously. That’s not quite the right word, come to think of it. I could never get an answer out of her one way or another, about whether she truly believed it. I told her all my reasons why it was nonsense and she nodded along and agreed, but she still looked at her star-chart every day just the same. It annoyed me. One day I got frustrated with her, and I demanded to know, once and for all, what she believed. She laughed and said that I was missing the whole point.”

“That was several centuries and several past lives ago, of course. Nowadays, I run the random image generator, every day, sometimes many times in a single day. Religiously, you might say. The dumb algorithms do their work with a little input from me. But not too much. And I find myself peering eagerly at today’s offering, puzzling out the patterns and wondering what it all means. It’s like a message from the gods really. If a pseudorandomly generated number is not a message from the gods, then I don’t know what is. I can’t shake the feeling that if I study the messages carefully enough, I will find it. The answer I’ve been searching for, the riddle I’m supposed to solve.”