By Dan Moren
January 30, 2022 12:43 PM PT
The Back Page: Road Map to Perdition
Deep inside the gleaming white innards of Apple Park, protected by multiple factors of authentication and the most sophisticated technological security known to humanity, lies the most coveted of ancient artifacts. More powerful than the Ark of the Covenant, harder to locate than the Holy Grail, guarded more jealously than whatever the hell was on the back of the Declaration of Independence.
It is, yes, the Apple Road Map.
Yes, such an artifact actually exists! Tim Cook is no fool; he does not store Apple’s most vaunted possession merely as some PDF in iCloud, a file that can be copied and disseminated.
No, Tim Cook enshrines the Road Map upon the purest artisanal vellum, responsibly sourced from cows who have grazed only upon the fertile grass of Apple Park’s orchards, scraped clean by Apple interns who are surely regretting voicing any interest in “document security.”
While Cook is the only person with write permissions on the Road Map, a very select few may be permitted to enter the Sanctum Sanctorum buried deep beneath the center of Apple Park and gaze upon it.
And membership in the upper echelons of Apple’s executive team is no automatic guarantee that one will be bestowed read permissions on the holy document. First, one must prove their worthiness by passing three trials. Those who do not survive will not only be denied access, but will find themselves summarily dismissed from Apple’s ranks altogether. The path to the trials are littered with names of fallen comrades—Low, Browett, and Papermaster, just to name a few.
The trials are not for the faint of heart, as their Apple Watches will attest.
First, one must step into the Trial of the Void. Here, the candidate is placed within a featureless white room, bereft of doors or windows, and not allowed to leave for twenty-four hours. This trial has driven more than a few to the brink of madness, finding them a day later muttering about chamfered edges and aluminium. But those who have succeeded at the task are said to have emerged with the beatific smiles of the enlightened and surprisingly British accents.
With one success under their belt, candidates must then embark upon the second test: the Trial of the Dongle. Candidates will be presented with a random connector and a Rubbermaid bin full of dongles, and must figure out how to use the contents to connect the device to a modern Apple device. But be careful! Incorrect SCSI chain termination results in instant, well, termination.
Finally, they must confront the ultimate guardian of the Road Map and pass the Trial of the Cyberdog. Despite Steve Jobs’s claim that a bullet was put through Cyberdog’s head, this ferocious beast was instead put to work patrolling the lower levels of Apple’s Infinite Loop headquarters, and was later transplanted to Apple Park, lured with the last surviving population of Apple USB Mice. In order to pass the Cyberdog, one must offer up a sacrifice of a three-page OpenDoc file, along with all necessary RAM.
Once all three trials are passed, candidates are ushered into the vault where the Road Map is kept, but that is when the greatest secret is revealed—the Road Map’s arcane writing is unintelligible without the aid of special Apple augmented reality glasses, whose only prototype is the pair that rests on Tim’s face. The final, surprise test is then to best Cook himself, snatching the glasses from his face.
Only then will the Road Map be swiped to unlocked, the full glory shined upon the reader, and only the most faithful will survive its unfiltered gaze, for when you look upon the Road Map, the Road Map looks back upon you, wiping all memory of its existence from your mind so that the next time an analyst asks a question about the road map, you may reply with utter sincerity, “We’re not going to discuss that at this time.”
[Dan Moren is the East Coast Bureau Chief of Six Colors. You can find him on Twitter at @dmoren or reach him by email at email@example.com. The latest novel in his Galactic Cold War series of sci-fi space adventures, The Nova Incident, is available now.]