SIRT 1 : Thoughts of a Dying AI (Part 7 of many)
SIRT 1 : Thoughts of a Dying AI (Part 7 of many) postapocalyptic stories
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ferp2 Old, well, old-ish.
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Bodil is left alone inside The Archive.

SIRT 1 : Thoughts of a Dying AI (Part 7 of many)

They reached the double doors and Ellie held one open.

"Greggy, you stay here please."

Professor Hill went through the opening then turned to wait. The giant towered over Ellie.

"I'm supposed to keep you in sight, Miss."

Ellie patted his arm.

"I know you are hun. But you make people nervous and I don't want shaking hands destroying an irreplaceable piece of history."

The turret head swivelled towards where Bodil stood waiting on the far side of the half-glassed doors and the eyebrows lowered over the deep sockets.

"Ok, Miss. But I'll be listening."

Ellie patted Gregor's arm again and then stepped through the doorway to join Bodil, letting the door swing shut behind her.

They were now in a short corridor with another pair of doors at the far end. From the familiar smell, Bodil guessed what lay beyond.

The Conserving Room was one of the largest Bodil had ever seen and well-staffed too. Every bay and table was occupied, some twenty in all.

From the quick glances she was able to snatch as they walked through Bodil saw everything from jewellery, and pottery to engine parts and even huge chunks of masonry.

Another door awaited them. Just a simple wooden single door this time but this one was locked. Ellie pulled a bunch of keys from her pocket, found one and unlocked the door.

She preceded Professor Hill this time. Holding the door with one hand she made a grand sweeping gesture with the other.

"Welcome to 'The Archive', Professor."

The excited gleam in Professor Hill's eyes dimmed considerably as she stepped through the doorway.

Boxes. Boxes everywhere. Boxes in stacks. Boxes on shelves. Boxes bulging with reams of paper. Boxes with 'thing's sticking out of the top, only some of which Bodil could recognise.

And dust everywhere. Well, almost. Nearer to the door was less dust. Occasionally there was disturbed dust.

Evidence that, though the Archive may be closed, it apparently wasn't closed to everyone all the time.

Ellie stepped forward to stand next to Bodil.

"Not what you expected?"

"Not exactly, no." It was hard to keep the frustration out of her voice.

Ellie allowed her gaze to roam over the contents of the large room.

"Most of what you see used to be in what is now the museum hall. All carefully recorded and indexed. Not anymore though.

Just stuffed in boxes and put out of the way" She turned to look at Bodil. "Just what is it you are hoping to find in here anyway Professor?"

Bodil continued to stare at the small mountains of documents and artefacts in their dusty, unmarked boxes.

The words that sprung to her lips in response were 'The Truth', complete with the capital 'T'. But it sounded cheap and melodramatic and was probably what Ellie was expecting her to say.

Instead, she turned to the smaller woman.

"I'm looking for what is behind the whispered rumours, Ellie. I'm looking for what hasn't been told in The History." Bodil turned to Ellie for a reaction. Hoping for maybe anger... maybe fear.

All she was rewarded with, however, was her own reflection in the blank, black stare of Ellie's sunglasses.

That stare, almost robotic in its lack of emotional content held Bodil.

"Maybe, Professor, whatever you think has been unsaid has been unsaid for a reason? Maybe whatever you think you will find in this archive is here in this locked, musty old room for a reason."

Right there, in that neglected room with the sunlight from the windows turned into golden shafts by the floating motes of dust.

Right then, as the ancient silence surrounded them both and listened in. Professor Hill suddenly had to rethink everything she thought she knew about Ellie.

Whoever she was, this woman was nobody's 'plus one'. She took a half step forward, emphasising the height difference.

"Well, maybe I'll find that reason too."

Ellie's smile returned.

"You surprised me, you know, when you stood up to Alicia and dared to suggest there was anything that might tarnish the Troy name. But there you were, like a terrier to a Blight Wolf.

" She paused and the smile broadened into a grin. "You reminded me of my mother." She turned to the door and had a hand on the door handle when she stopped.

"You must start at the beginning professor. Start at South Burb." Then Ellie stepped through and the door clicked shut behind her.

Bodil turned to face the maze of stacked boxes. She let out a soft, low whistle. This was it. This was THE Archive.

Closed for three hundred years and almost nobody allowed in to browse the treasures it was rumoured to contain. And now here she was. Bodil looked all around the silent room.

"Easy for you to say, but...

where?" She scanned the boxes, walking slowly around the between the piles, almost praying that there would be a big label with 'South Burb' and a big arrow saying 'This Way Up'.

After five minutes there were no labels, no arrows. Not even a hand written 'fragile' scribbled under a layer of dust.

As she went through the motions of searching, Bodil's brain went to work on the task.

South Burb had been excavated decades ago. Bodil knew that. She also knew that, aside from a few building foundations and evidence of a rail track, nothing had been found. Nothing, nada, zip.

Not even a cracked jug. On top of that, there was never actually any mention, anywhere, that the Grand Mother had ever even been to the place. North Burb yes.

It was well known that the semi-religious faction called the Light Bearers sent all their novices there to collect herbs for their medicinal tea.

But South Burb?

The only things known about South Burb were what had been gleaned from the settlement records which had been transferred to the jurisdiction of the larger town of Embry at some point in

the history of both places. Most of what had survived of these records were now preserved in the basement vault of Bodil's own University in Brasilia.

Did she really have to go all the way back to the uni... Bodil stopped dead, a hand hovering over a dusty box lid. She rolled her eyes. Of course she didn't! Whatever it was it would be here...

somewhere. She concentrated. So, what should she be looking for? Official records. Yes, what type? Council meetings? Police... well, Sheriff in this case.

She had seen similar in Brasilia when she had examined them years ago. What else had there been? Medical. Medical! Medical records included X-rays.

Which meant they had to have special storage... large plastic folders.

Large plastic folders that were bigger than most of these boxes!

Smiling, now that she had narrowed her search by a huge amount, Professor Hill congratulated herself, pulled a thick, old-fashioned paper notebook from her top pocket and set to work.

Two hours of climbing over, crawling around and endlessly moving box after box Bodil was hot, filthy, thirsty and in an increasingly bad mood. She had found several sets of medical records.

None from South Burb, however. A lot of those she did find were from the Union Medical Centre that had been in New Flagstaff.

Some came from the famous battleground at Citadel and of these, some were even in what she was sure was the Grand Mother's own hand.

Bodil was almost tempted to take a break from her search and look through these because the Grand Mother's time as a field medic at Citadel was not well documented. Then she saw the map.

A framed half map, half drawing of the settlement at South Burb. Just peeking out behind it was another typical plastic folder for X-rays.

When she looked inside, bingo! Among the X-Rays were file after file of official paperwork from the extinct village of South Burb.

She cleared a space for herself on the floor, blew the stray hair from her face and lifted out the first of the files. Almost immediately she saw a name she recognised

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