Friday, 1 May 2015

Last Dog Standing ~ Episode Ten

(previous episode)
In the near future, Daisy takes part in an isolation experiment for five years only to find a very different world waiting for her when the doors open... 
(comedy/horror/sci-fi/distopian. All rights reserved) Part ten of many.

Seventeen minutes and counting...

' ...And then they dropped plague bombs over all the major cities in Europe and Russia.'
'Why?' Daisy can hardly comprehend what Douglas is telling her. 'What kind of sick...'
'Why not?' is Douglas' weary reply. 'None of it made any sense, not the war, the killing, the death.. I think in the end the whole of humanity just went crazy and the bombs were one of many, many atrocities. Like mad dogs chewing off our own limbs. There were conspiracy theories, it was done by secret government agencies in a last ditch effort to end the war, or to make sure the human species didn't survive. Who knows?'
'But why the plague?'
'No cure without access to modern medicines. One of the few diseases that can effectively end us but not necessarily jump to other species. It was a modified, virulent, airborne, pneumonic version. Rumours at the time were it was so an enemy invasion could just sweep through the cities and re-inhabit them as long as they had the vaccine. I've heard all kinds of theories since, from super-rich terrorism to alien invasion. Anyway, you have to understand, London, along with Paris, Berlin, Moscow and many more, were hit and plague spread across the them. Now you don't want to travel into these cities, not without a hazmat suit, air supply and antibiotics.'
'When did they drop the bombs?'
'In the late stages of the war. So, about three years ago.'
'And the plague will still be active in the cities?'
'Do you want to take the risk?' Douglas stares at Daisy for a moment or two, seeing the anguish in her eyes and a thought occurs to him. 'Hey, I'm sorry, did you come from London?'
'No, no... I just... this is a lot to process, all of this. I've woken up from a five year dream to find I've slept through the end of the world. It's not what I signed up for, y'know?'
'Anyway, we can't be going into London, OK? So you need to turn this... caravan thing... around and go around London.'
'Um, I can't.'
'What do you mean you can't?'
'Well, I'm kind of locked in here with you.'
'I thought you said it was on autopilot.'
'It sort of is.'
'Sort of?' Another thought occurs to Douglas.' Are we alone? Is there someone else on board.'
'Sort of.'
'Sort of yes or sort of no?'
'It's not so much a someone as a something...' Daisy pauses and weighs up all her options. If she tells Douglas about the computer programme then she loses the any tactical advantage it could have had but, if Douglas is right and the city is plague ridden, then the programme could be driving them to their certain and very unpleasant death. With Douglas' help she might be able to stop the programme before it is too late. She sighs and decides perhaps honesty is the best policy after all. If Douglas wanted to kill her, surely he'd have done it by now. 'You see, when I signed up to this experiment, they built in a computer programme to act as a sounding board for my inner voice, to help keep me from freaking out being sealed up in the ICL for five years....'

Fermat types at a furious speed on the console in front of him. There isn't a second to waste as the ICL seems to be heading into the city for some reason. Fermat needs to stop it before it's too late and it reaches the three mile contagion zone. He uplinks to the satellite dish placed thirty stories above him on the roof of an old church and sends the computer coded message as a microwave radio relay. There is nothing more he can do except wait and hope that the on board computer programme picks up his message. He paces nervously up and down in front of the screen, adrenalin still pulsing like fire through his body. 'Come on...come on... pick it up.'

The small satellite antenna on top of the ICL has picked up a signal. A computer code written with the correct access protocols can only have come from the SpaceLife Science Team themselves. The computer programme checks Daisy is in no danger with Douglas and then turns its full attention to the message. It is an address and route map, which seems to avoid going any nearer than five miles to the city centre. It states the Team have relocated to avoid the worst excesses of the war and is now housed in a secret underground bunker beneath a cricket ground in the middle of Richmond Park. The London head office is no longer functioning. For a few seconds the programme runs through likely scenarios based on the visual imagery from the forward monitor and the anecdotal information Douglas is providing in the living area. Statistically, it is probable the Team would relocate a safe distance away from the city centre and the headquarters. The computer programme acknowledges the message and resets the route to keep outside the three mile contagion zone. If the route is clear, they would arrive at the underground bunker location in seventeen minutes.

A silence falls over the living area as Daisy tries to imagine the last awful days of the war, bombs raining down on ravaged cities full of desperate people and Douglas tries to work out a way to unlock the door, not least of all because of a now, more than urgent, call of nature. 'I can't get this bloody door to budge!'
'No, well it's lock-sealed, you need to either type in the code or cut out the power to it.' Daisy sighs.
'Can the computer programme hear us? I need to use the toilet! Open the door!'


Fermat sets a digital countdown on the computer systems, 17 minutes and counting before his means of escape finally arrives after five long, long years. He scurries back through the resource pod towards the exit lift when he remembers something, he glances through the porthole into the lift almost hopeful nothing would be there but the lift is still full of the bodies of the rest of the SpaceLife Science Team, all except T-Ladi. He shudders slightly in disgust at the the sight of their mummified, shrivelled corpses. T-Ladi would have to clean them out and get the lift ready for Daisy Darruthers, if she's still alive on-board the ICL. The airlock protocol programme could be overridden long enough to squeeze the air out of her, just as it had the rest of them. He screams over the intercom at T-Ladi to hurry up and dispose of the bodies before he deals with her in the same way, then glances at the timer. Less than thirteen minutes. Just enough time to pack.

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