SIRT 1 : Thoughts of a Dying AI (Part 16 of many)
SIRT 1 : Thoughts of a Dying AI (Part 16 of many) postapocalyptic stories
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ferp2
ferp2 Old, well, old-ish.
Autoplay OFF   •   2 months ago
Bodil and Victor run into a spot of bother.

SIRT 1 : Thoughts of a Dying AI (Part 16 of many)

Instead, she thought about the Los Alamos photograph.

The event it captured in all its faded glory signified the end of the war against the clones and also put an end to the debilitating nonsense that were the Faction Wars.

It was Year Zero and from then onwards, humanity began to heal itself.

Slowly at first but, under the gentle urging of the Grand Mother and her followers, change became a fervent driving force throughout the whole of the Grand Canyon province.

Something else that had returned and grew apace with the revitalising mood for change was the fear of death.

Made all the more vivid by the Grand Mother's promise of immortality, and this fear ensured a degree of cooperation between people that had not been needed before.

Of course, immortality through eternal youth brought its own problems. Chief amongst these in the early days was a result of every individual's fervent desire to avoid accidental death.

People looked out for each other, risks were weighed much more carefully and everything was done to improve personal safety. Accidents became rare and so the population exploded.

Ninety three years on and the last death from old age was written into The History.

It was about that time, too, it also became apparent that the Grand Canyon Province was not going to be able to feed this rapidly growing population for much longer.

And so The Simmet Committee was formed, headed by Joseph Simmet who was the Province's chief archivist at the time. The committee's role was simple. Firstly.

Find a way out of the province, either through or around the radiation. Secondly.

Find a new land, as free from radiation and mutations as was possible, that could support the growing population far into the future.

Ten years, and much research later, the first expeditions set out.

Bodil's thoughts were interrupted as they left the sunlit road and entered a tunnel. Everything became bathed in yellow artificial light.

The sudden change must have caused her to make some small noise because Victor glanced at her.

"Are you ok Professor?"

"What? Yes. I was miles away. The tunnel took me by surprise."

"I'm sorry about that." Victor sounded sweetly contrite.

"Don't be silly, it was hardly your fault. I wasn't paying attention is all."

There were an awkward few seconds of silence before Victor opened his mouth again.

"These tunnels date back to before the fall. Many of them survived pretty much intact."

Bodil couldn't help but be interested. She looked outside and took in the curved, enclosing walls as Victor continued.

"Some of them became shelters, whole communities even grew up inside them.

Some, usually the ones further into the mountains, were completely sealed by landslides and were only opened up in the last hundred years or so."

The stained and cracked concrete walls showed great age and many, many repairs. She could even see ghostly outlines of where structures maybe once stood against them.

The ceiling of the tunnel, even in the sickly yellow light, was black with what was most likely soot.

She pictured in her mind's eye a possible community that had called this tunnel home during those terrible days after the fall. Had it survived? Did it grow? What happened to it?

But she didn't ask. She liked the calm, reassuring sound of Victor's voice as he narrated the history of these ancient roadways.

It was like being snuggled up in bed with a warm milky drink and listening to your favourite book. Bodil enjoyed it while it lasted.

Soon, they emerged back into the sunlight and the sudden warmth of the sun through the windows revealed how cold inside the tunnel had been.

Or was it the breath of history that had left its chill. Whatever, it was good to be back in the sunshine and up ahead the road began to enter the first embrace of the mountains.

Victor seemed to stretch, flexing his back and arms and then his fingers on the steering wheel.

"We'll be at Niederurnen soon."

Bodil had never heard the name before.

"Oh, Ok."

"When we get there let me do the talking, ok?"

It was said with a smile but that didn't hide the slightly ominous weight of the words themselves.

It was a couple of seconds before Bodil acknowledged.

"Ok."

The Alps began to rise around them. Before long you had to actually crane your neck and look up to see the skyline on either side of the road.

Even looking ahead the snow speckled mountains seemed to be growing up out of the ground as they got nearer.

But, long before Bodil had to raise her gaze to see the endless azure still ahead, they came to the town of Niederurnen,

filling the now very narrow gap between the limestone walls of the pass in which it sat.

The approach to the town was uninspiring. Long, two and three storey buildings stretched across the half kilometre between the steep, built up sides of the enclosing hills.

The buildings, with their plain concrete construction, were devoid of decoration or any sign of occupation.

The single row of square windows on the upper floor gave Bodil the impression of medieval fortifications. She queried Victor about them and learned that they were factories.

Nierderurnen was an industrial town producing a variety of heavy engineering and aero industry products. She looked again at the stark utility of the buildings.

Victor's explanation made sense but Bodil couldn't shake the impression that they were approaching some huge castle of old.

Her impression was not lessened as they eventually joined a short queue of vehicles waiting to enter the narrow gap between two of the factory buildings.

This scene, too, could have been lifted from the pages of a historical novel or movie.

Replace the cars and trucks with horse drawn wagons, and the officious looking manikins with clipboards easily became the chain-mailed gatekeepers of yore.

The conjured image brought a smile and Bodil shared the joke with Victor.

She was rewarded with a broad grin and a deep chuckle and, for a moment, Bodil caught a glimpse of Victor beyond his job. Then it was their turn.

Victor edged the car forward at the beckoning hand gesture of a dark haired woman who wore the expression of someone who was near the end of their shift and feeling it intensely.

The gesture turned into a command to stop so Victor did so and thoughtfully opened his window as a small, sweating man stepped up to the car and leaned down, clipboard at the ready, pen poised.

"Yes, your name please?" It was automatic, probably the hundredth time he had said the words today.

Victor gave his name and then the professor's, presenting the back of his hand for the pen to read.

A full seat away Bodil caught the whiff of the man's body odour.

The man checked Victor's name against the clipboard and then turned to Bodil.

He raised his eyebrows expectantly, his slightly bulging eyeballs betraying a hint of irritation that he had to do so.

Bodil, following Victor's instruction to keep quiet, had nothing to offer but a smile.

Victor took over.

"This is Professor Bodil Ramsbottom-Fergusen, Hill-Davis. Head of pre-Sirtuin human history at Brasilia University." He explained.

"She does not have security ID but she is a personal guest of Alicia Troy O'Rourke-Lie"

This seemed to confuse the sweaty man.

"Possessor...?"

"Pro-Fess-Or" Victor intoned, as if to a child. But there was no sarcasm in his voice, only patience. "She is a teacher... at a Uni-Ver-Sity."

Bodil watched, bemused. How could he not... maybe he was a child. But even so... Bless Her Name, he's sounding it out.

It seemed to be true. Looking quite flustered now, the man's moist lips moved as he appeared to be sounding out the apparently unfamiliar words under his breath.

His fingers stabbed at clipboard until he got a result he could live with.

"Ah! Yes! University professor." Then his glee disappeared like it had been switched off. "Wait please, here."

Victor sighed and he and Bodil watched Sweaty Man walk to the front of the car and talk with Angry Woman. They both consulted the clipboard. They looked at Victor and the Professor.

Bodil produced a broad smile, it couldn't hurt. Then Angry Woman talked into her jacket cuff and Sweaty Man came back to the open window. He leaned down.

"Over there, please. You must wait." The hand with the clipboard gestured to some indistinct area behind the building to their right.

If Victor thought about pushing it, even for a second, he thought better of it just as quickly.

"Right. Fine.

Just, can we hurry things up? This is Alicia Troy's guest, The Bride?

The Professor is expected and I'm pretty sure you don't want to go giving the 'Miss Troy' more reasons to be pissed off at you people, now do you?"

But Sweaty man was already moving to the next car in line. Victor stabbed the button to raise the window.

"Dammit" He put the car into drive and swung off the road into the shade of the designated area.

"Problem?" Bodil ventured.

A 'Victor' shrug.

"Just Bureaucracy at work in our brave new world."

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