The Deeps, Part 7

Many times in our busy days we anticipate taking in a game, or maybe go out join a team and play one of our favorite sports, when the time becomes available. It’s enjoyable to test our skills and coordination against others and to enjoy that teamwork with friends. Still we find that no matter how much we may want to do these things there are times when life gets in the way. And what I mean is this: We talk about Murphy throwing a wrench in what we want to do, creating situations that has to be handled immediately, leaving us disappointed because what we planned and wanted to do will not happen. Instead we must fix that broken pipe, go the hospital because a close friend or relative has unexpectedly had an emergency, or so many other things. If we are responsible individuals, we may complain and look longingly to that broken plan, but we will make the necessary detour and put our plans away for a future time if such can be done. If not then we will let them disappear into the sunset and try again later. And most of the time we find it is the prep work that takes the longest time. You know, putting the items necessary together or planning out the route to that unknown location. And many times the time necessary to do the required repair is much longer than anticipated, pushing back those original plans even further.

Even here in this story we find that such is the case. In many ways, other than the impossible worlds we writers create, fiction imitates reality and life. So it should be of no surprise that we see the main character or characters having to face unplanned and unexpected problems. As a reader we smile knowingly since we’ve had it happen much too often in our own lives. And as we get close to the conclusion of this short story we find Ed facing one of those unexpected problems or emergencies. And here is part 7 of 8 of the story, The Deeps. (again if this is the first time you can go to the sidebar under February 2015 and catch parts 1 through 3, and the remainder being under March 2015)

It was the time of the week to take in another game. Searching out the archives he learned these football games were generally played on Sundays, a single game on Mondays, and sometimes on Thursdays. So in keeping with the traditions of his ancestors he decided to do the same thing. Even though he had decided to originally follow those 2 teams, over time, he found that according to the season, as such a thing was called, he would follow different teams.

Of course, there were other sports. Soccer, or the other version of football as most of the world called it, basketball, rugby, baseball, and so many others. So if he tired of one he had others to watch. It was during these searches for others he came across the winter sports, and found the Olympics. It was a gathering of world athletes who competed for their individual nations – nations that no longer existed, and to win honor for themselves and their nations. Still it was much too easy to become, as he found the phrase in the libraries, “a couch potato”.

He could see, from the articles in the various papers and magazines (digitally of course), the passion many had for sports. He found many examples of merchandise that supported all levels of the sports world – from the most amateur to the pros. The amount of time and effort expended on the competitions were unbelievable. And as he delved into this world of competition, he found this seemed to exist on all levels of humanity. Be it sports, jobs, education, or whatever, it seemed the human species thrived on it. I guess in a way my father and I did also. Maybe it’s just a part of being human. Well, one thing for sure, I can’t prove or disprove it. I have no one to compete against. This got him to thinking about other parts of what made them, well, them. Here he laughed. He remembered during the time of growing up and his studies that there were many who had spent their lifetimes pursuing these subjects and had barely moved the discipline forward.

Besides, if he wanted to be honest, there was no reason to do this, the studying and researching psychology and sociology, because he was it. It was at this point he heard one of the warning buzzers, stopped his walk down the corridor, headed to the maintenance office where the panels would show him where the problem was, and realized at the same time he had been ignoring his duties. Nothing built by man could last forever, and when he looked at the calendar he realized he was months overdue on some of the needed maintenance, repair, and work. He had allowed this obsession to surround himself with the sea of humanity to take precedence over all his other work. Now he hoped it hadn’t ignored this work for too long.

Once at the panels he found there were 2 problems. Well, in a sense only 1, but the first had created the second so he had to shut down the second to prevent additional damage, and once shut down go solve the first. The problem he faced, was while most of the facility had redundant systems, in one area they were not so lucky. There were a number of water storage tanks, but they were all together and linked to one another, with a single main line coming into the facility. There had been no time to set the water system up as the rest had been. So it had remained a single weak point, but there had never been any real problems.

If any of the tanks started leaking it could at least be closed and locked out of the system until repairs could be made. But there was really only that one main line into the facility and if it began to leak it would mean the facility could be without water until it was repaired. Apparently this line began to leak. It must not have been too bad to begin with since the system hadn’t shut down, but now the flow of water into the facility had been reduced, while the flow out of the tanks was greater. Even with an identified leak, water still needed to flow otherwise areas critical would be without. Apparently the leak or leaks had reached a critical point. So he now needed to locate and repair it, or eventually he would be without water. Because he was alone there would be a great possibility it truly wouldn’t affect him, still it would impact other things such as food production.

While it was something he could do, in truth he wanted no part of it. Yet, what choice did he have? None really. Taking a deep breath he could only shake his head.  Looking up at the clock he found it was late afternoon, almost too late to begin the project. Maybe he should put together a tool kit, at least the basic tools, and maybe for the first time in his life actually head to the surface. Yeah he’d been close, to the doorway exit 50 years in the past, but that was as far as he had ever gotten. In fact it was as far as any of the 3 of them had gone.

Once they had reached that second door, the one on the far side of the airlock, opened it and stared out into the enclosed garage area where those old vehicles were stored they had stopped. They could feel the real air, the uncontrolled environment, the different smells, the feel of the heat radiating into the enclosed area, and in truth it had been too much. So they stood there as long as they could and in silence and in agreement closed the outer door and headed back into the facility. Yes, as a young person he had been curious, but after actually seeing and feeling it, his curiosity died. And he never asked again, and never wanted to wander the garage slash storage area or the wastes beyond that door.

Unfortunately someone needed to – if only to inspect the water supply lines, to make sure the tanks remained sealed. Once the water entered into the facility it was processed, used, and then reclaimed and sent to the gardens and hydroponic tanks to keep “food on the table”, to keep the greenery green, and to provide a few ponds to give the illusion of the outside. Of course with only 3 of them there wasn’t much to process and recycle. So much of the water use went to keep the gardens alive, and the hydroponic areas producing. Again at a minimal rate since there had been only their single family, and now only him.

This meant the water in those tanks changed rarely, and the circulation pumps kept the water flowing between the tanks keeping it fresh. Now, somewhere a leak had formed. And while it had been in the original plans to set up monitoring points, it had never happened. In the end the only monitoring that had been set up was acoustic in nature. Something which would pick up the sound of flowing water, which meant something such as a pinhole leak wouldn’t be picked up. It would only be after the leak had grown large enough to be heard, the system would send out its warning. This meant that a leak could go for years before it became large enough to be heard – at which point it would have become serious, and a threat.

At least the environmental suits still functioned. He couldn’t see himself heading out in just his overalls, the clothing he wore when he did maintenance within the facility. Although he really hadn’t tried working in those suits so he really had no idea if was even feasible. He knew, from the archives, that the suits allowed one mobility, and to move freely in the world, but none of the vids ever showed anybody doing detailed work. It was more to operate the vehicles, and to move around. Well, maybe he should at least put one on as he put his tools together and see how flexible it would be.

 

After about an hour in the suit he gave up. There was no way it would work. This brought anger to him. The last thing he wanted to do was to expose his body to the outside air, but he had little choice. At least he could go out into that large garage, and off to one side was the entrance into the area where the water tanks were located. He could at least start there and begin his search. Again he looked up at the clock and with the time of day decided he would do the searching tomorrow. He felt it too late to begin now. Besides he needed to search out the blueprints and trace to water pipe locations so he wasn’t searching and remaining outside for too long. Well, not really outside since he would still be in the enclosure. Just outside of the controlled environment.

* * *

Many times when we tackle a problem we have preconceived notions of what will work and what will not, only to have them dashed when we find out that what we had planned will not work. At this time we usually say, “Well, back to the drawing board”, or “Drop back 10 yards and punt”, or some other phrase. After we regroup, since the problem won’t go away, we adjust and get it done. Next week we conclude, The Deeps. How will it end? Will we see Ed finishing out his life? Will there be other failures within this place where he lives? These and so many other questions will be answered next week. Have a great week and be here for the conclusion of The Deeps. God Bless! (fdbrant.com)

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The Deeps, Part 6

Well now what? Ed has gotten his home-built system up and running. What is his plans for this set up? I must admit, not that I would want to be in his situation, to have basically unlimited resources to build what you want would be nice. And for him it doesn’t cost anything but the time to put it together. For most of us we are limited by money, and time available, since our jobs and other responsibilities have a tendency to get in the way. Maybe that’s why we read fiction, taking a little time out of our busy days to relax. It is a way to escape those responsibilities for a while. The only problem with this is they don’t go away while we are on our vacation into those fictional worlds, and are always there when we return to reality. (If you are here for the first time parts 1-3 are in the sidebar under February 2015, with 4 and 5 under March 2015.) So for your reading pleasure is part 6 of 8 – The Deeps.

With a nervousness that was almost overwhelming he went back to the library. He would be choosing what he would view in that room he had created. He wasn’t sure if he really was ready for it or not. When it came right down to it he had only been around 3 people, including himself, since he had been alive. Now, he planned on virtually – figuratively and in actuality – surrounding himself with thousands, and he truly had no idea how he would act and react to this. He remembered his father disappearing at times, and he would find him watching one of the monitors, with the sound turned way down. When he would look over his shoulder he would see some sporting event from the past. At the time it held no interest, so he would leave and go do something else. But now, since it was only he, he had to admit he was lonely. And maybe those sporting events would be the very thing he needed.

Still, could he handle the crowds, the ones who would show up at these events? It was a question for which he had no answer. He had been in the assembly room a number of times watching many scenes from the time before the impacts. Seeing much of the beauty of the world, but at the same time he avoided any that showed the cities and towns, and especially the humanity. He found the only thing missing was the smells, the scents, the feel of the moving air, the changes in the feel of the air, and the different temperatures as one hiked around. Of course, that was what it said in the books. He personally didn’t know since he had lived here in this enclosed environment for his entire life. Yes the small parks, green houses and such gave one a little sense of how it could be, but not really.

So he sat here looking over the lists. He knew, from watching his father, that football (and there were two different versions of this sport) had been very popular. He knew, from the archives, that even here in this place they had played versions of both in the parks. Of course this was when there were enough people to form teams to play. It had been a long time since such had been a possibility. He finally chose American football, more because it had been a favorite of his father. But before he could decide on what to pipe to the computers and screens in the assembly room he needed to understand it a bit more, learn something about the teams, and begin to see how it was actually played. So he spent the next couple of weeks watching, pausing the images when he didn’t understand something, researching his questions, and coming back and watching the game again.

Eventually he began to see the complexities of the game – the continual battle between the ones who had the ball – the offense, and the ones who tried to take it away from them – the defense. He found, as he continued to watch, that at times he could actually predict what play or counter play would happen. And he began to learn the tendencies of certain coaches, as the ones were called, who seemed to be in charge of the teams. He found he was becoming emotionally involved at times, with flights of joy as a big play would happen, and anger when there seemed to be a bad call or something unexpected had taken place. And he found, like most, he began to develop favorite teams. Yet, this wasn’t necessarily what he had set out to accomplish. Still it passed the time, and he didn’t feel so lonely.

Eventually he chose the game he would move to the assembly room, set it to begin at a certain time, headed for the kitchen to grab some food and drink, and mentally prepared to enter a room, which would become what was called a stadium,  join the crowds that would be filling that stadium, and watch the players on the field – all virtually of course. He remained standing, still not certain if he was ready for this. He had tried to watch the crowds during the games he viewed on the regular screen, since the cameras always panned the crowds during the games, but it wasn’t the same. Taking a deep breath and looking down, he could hear the game start, the cheering of the crowd as their team was introduced, and he found he couldn’t move. The sounds alone were overwhelming, how could he enter that virtual stadium and sit among that many people? He honestly didn’t know.

He found himself standing outside of that room. (There next to the doorway he had mounted a shelving unit and had placed the needed equipment necessary to make the images inside that room become 3D.) Here was the hat with the wireless VR unit, and many of the glasses necessary to create the illusion of depth. Still from all the noise emitting from the room he couldn’t eliminate the fear that had frozen him at the door. Shaking his head he thought. Now this is stupid. They are not really there. It’s only a projection, an illusion. So why can’t you go inside and join these fans who aren’t really here?

Truthfully he knew the answer. It simply was because he had never been among so many, even if they weren’t real. Well, that wasn’t the complete truth. At one time these people were living, breathing individuals living out their lives before death and destruction from the skies ended all of that. Still he stood there and listened but remained firmly in the hallway. Eventually he took another deep cleansing breath, shook his head, turned around and headed back to the library where he shut it down. He now knew it would take a few days, a few attempts before he could be brave enough to enter that room once one of those simulations were running. Maybe he could work up to it?

It was then he decided to slowly work into it using some of the other videos that combined the natural world with cities and towns. Once he got used to these cities, maybe he could handle the crowds. So for the next couple of months he ran an old series that explored the world from the air, only zooming in on people now and then. These he ran one after another until there were no more to see. He had to admit when seeing the world this way it had been a beautiful place. And even some of the cities seemed to hold their own particular beauty. And another part of all of this came to light, there didn’t seem to be a place where people hadn’t been. Even the vast oceans seemed to have traffic on them all the time. Well, soon he would try again. Besides his 68th birthday would be arriving soon. Maybe he would attend a game to celebrate.

* * *

He spent a number of days researching the teams, and for whatever reason, he thought he would try to watch a Green Bay Packers game, maybe followed by one of the teams on the opposite coast. It would be a tough decision – well not really since this was only entertainment, a way to pass time – because there seemed to be a lot of teams.  Finally he decided on one that was the furthest in the southwest – a team that never seemed to quite make it all the way to the championships but would cause problems for the ones who did. Besides it would mean he had a team from both sides, both, as they were called, divisions. And this meant a team from the northeast, and one from the southwest, although this latter was considered to be residing in the west – right on the coast. Besides, when they wore their old uniforms, identified as the powder blues, they really looked sharp.

He had learned through his research that there were pregame shows and decided he would watch one of these in the library before going to the actual game in the assembly room. He felt it would set the atmosphere, and even with all the preparation including some smaller events where a lot of people were present, he still wasn’t sure if the size of the crowds at these games would still overwhelm him or not. Well, there was only one way to find out. Tomorrow he would be another year older, and another year closer to his end. Might as well enjoy the time he had left.

* * *

The pregame show was interesting. This must have been a popular sport. The show lasted 3 hours. 3 hours, can you imagine such a thing? He had sat through the whole thing and then set the game to begin after a delay. He needed to hit the facilities, go to the kitchen and grab some snacks, and he wanted to be inside and sitting when the game started. This way he’d already be there when it began. In preparation he had brought in a small table and a comfortable chair. One thing about those bleachers, very quickly, they became uncomfortable, and if he was to be here 3 hours – the length of an average game – he wanted to be comfortable. The one thing he still didn’t understand was the stated length of a game being 60 minutes, yet it would stretch out to 3 times that long.

Finally he was back in the room and set up with drink and food. Looking up at the clock he had a couple of minutes so he took a deep breath, closed his eyes, and waited. With his eyes remaining closed he heard the sounds of the crowds and the movement of the people, followed by the loud speakers announcing the starting of the game. With effort he fought down his nervousness, and brought his breathing back under control. Slowly he opened his eyes, almost panicked when he found himself surrounded by literally thousands of fans. This sea of humanity seemed to press in on him, and what made it worse was how close they sat next to each other.

It took all his willpower to remain there, but he did, although for the first few times he could only remain there in that room for maybe 5 to 10 minutes before he had to pause the program.  He had to keep reminding himself that they really weren’t here, and it was all an illusion. He even had to take off the glasses to convince himself. Eventually as time moved on he could feel himself relaxing a bit, then he put the glasses back on, and carefully looked towards the area where the field was and began to concentrate on the players trying to ignore the crowds. It took all of his will power, concentration and effort but eventually he found he could. And if he could become more comfortable with it maybe he would take in a couple of games a week, heck maybe more. After all he had years of the sport, and of course, other sports locked away in the libraries.

* * *

It’s probably one of things we in our time and our world wouldn’t think about. We are generally surrounded by people all the time. Whether we are at work, going to the mall or maybe the grocery store there is always people around us. And for many of us being surrounded by fans of our favorite team is something we look forward to. So it would come as a surprise that an individual couldn’t handle being in the sea of humanity. Still we are adaptable, and what is a problem, something that set us on edge, can become normal, common to the point where we don’t even think about it any more. Next week is part 7 of The Deeps. Have a great week and I’ll see you here next Saturday. God Bless! (fdbrant.com)

Published in: on March 21, 2015 at 6:34 am  Leave a Comment  
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The Deeps, Part 5

There is only a certain amount of time that can pass before all the work, all the repairs, and the daily routines will become old. At this point one will be looking to something new – a change or break from the routine. Maybe go out and visit an old friend, go to a favorite restaurant or maybe it would be time for one of those road trips where one can refresh. Yet when none of these are available to you, as in Ed’s situation, what can you do to fend off boredom, to overcome loneliness? Again questions we in our time do not have to answer, since we are not isolated, or the last of our kind. Unless, of course, we decide that is the way we want it. (If you have missed parts 1 through 4 you can go to the sidebar on the right catch parts 1-3 under February 2015, and part 4 in March 2015.) And for your reading pleasure is the next episode in: The Deeps.

Another two weeks passed as he double-checked all of his work, but even with this needed work he could tell that the loneliness of this place was settling in heavily. It was then he got an idea and headed for one of the large meeting areas or assembly rooms and surveyed the area, took measurements, not that he needed to, since all he really had to do was bring up the plans for this place, and headed out to one of the fabrication areas. There were a number of these fabrication areas throughout the facility, and great thought and energy went into them since it was felt these facilities would be the reason The Deeps survived.

It was a known fact they wouldn’t be able to think of everything, so to have the ability to create whatever was necessary for that unseen or unplanned event was critical. Although, in the end, these “fab” areas were not responsible for the failure that lay upon the facility – it was time itself. Time on both ends. Not enough in the beginning, and because of this, enough time to show that the conclusions at the time of the sealing were correct. And again because of the limiting factors of time, the measurements from the plans to the final product were not necessarily the same and further reason to measure. Besides it gave him something to do, and he to admit, he did have the time.

Once he reached the fabrication space he drew up what he wanted, studied it a while, made a few minor changes, input the data into the system, and had the fabricator produce half a dozen large monitors. He felt he needed more than this, but would get these mounted on the walls and make a judgment call from there. Now all he had to do was monitor the process, and be in the right place at the right time when the monitors came down the automated assembly line – which he did. At this point he loaded the 6 monitors on a small fork lift and drove back to the assembly room he had chosen.

After moving the units inside the room he found he was sweating, and he looked up at the time and found the day was over. Where’d the time go? He realized at this moment his stomach had been warning him he hadn’t eaten since breakfast. Shaking his head he headed back out the door, shut the forklift down, with plans on taking it back to storage tomorrow, headed to one of the kitchens, prepared a meal, and headed back to his room. The one thing he truly had was time – well time until it took him like all before him.

Yet, once he had finished eating and taking that hot refreshing shower, and was looking at some program from the past on the tube, he realized that he really hadn’t been watching or listening at all. So he shut it down, grabbed some reading material, but again found he couldn’t concentrate on it either, he sighed and stared at the ceiling for a while. He was antsy and realized he wanted to complete his planned project, but made himself wait. The monitors were only the first part of it and there really was no reason to rush, even with impatience pushing him.

Finally, after his restlessness pushed him on, he left and walked the empty halls until he settled down, and headed back to his room, climbed into bed, and after sometime of being awake finally drifted off into a dream filled sleep where The Deeps was filled to over capacity with others like him. It seemed so different from the reality he faced.

* * *

He wished he knew more about programming and computers. It was his mother’s specialty, but he couldn’t ask her could he? He looked around this large assembly room to the rows of bleachers and the center area where whoever had called the assembly would speak. What he had planned for this area would give him the feel of what it was like to be surrounded by humanity. But, of course, it would be nothing more than an illusion. Still when one was alone as he, such an illusion would be all he had.

As he had mounted the monitors on the walls he found that he had to add additional ones so that most of the wall space would be covered. All of them were placed above the bleachers, yes those never used empty bleachers that had shown a promise never fulfilled, which had made the job of mounting them more difficult. This was followed by the speakers he set up in the corners pointing towards the center. All of this was the easy part. Then came the wiring of the whole mess, followed by failure after failure, when what he was trying to accomplish, refused to work.

He had yet to find a program on either the servers, or tower computers that would allow him to control this area as he wanted. It was then he remembered that some of those FPS games he used to play as a child had the capability he was looking for. Now which one was it, or was it more than one, he couldn’t remember. After all, it had been years since he had even thought about those days of gaming on the computer. Maybe he should go down to one of the libraries and head into the areas designated for gaming and see if he could find the one he remembered.

* * *

It was a month later when he finally got back to his project. He had a large smile on his face as he headed back down the hallway to his room. Nostalgia, what a ride, he thought. Because of the time since he had played any of these games he had forgotten how intense and how much fun they were. Rusty – that was an understatement. Games he used to fly through with ease now were difficult, and he found his avatar in the game world was dying a lot even on the easy setting. Yet, almost like back in his youth he found himself being drawn back time and time again. Being immersed in these fictional worlds, and those hours and days passing with him unaware of the passage of time. Finally, with the marathon sessions, he tired of the games once again, but vowed to come back now and again so he could immerse himself in these worlds.

Well, tomorrow he’d head back into the assembly room and try to continue where he left off. Now, if he could only remember why he’d quit in the first place. Still, he was sure once he got back into the room and picked up his notes he would be able to pick it up and continue. But it was the end of another day, and it could wait until tomorrow. Tomorrows would be with him until they were taken away, and he went the way of every other individual who had lived here, and any who had lived on this world. Yes, time for a shower, a meal, and maybe a book, and then to bed.

* * *

“Ah yes, that’s right. I went to check out those devices we used, well I used that allowed the screen and the game program to track movement.” It meant with the properly mounted hardware when he turned his head, or looked up or down, the scene on the monitor would change to reflect his view. An example that came to mind was some of the games where you were a pilot of a plane. With the equipment you could turn your head and look out the sides to see if your team was still there, or if the enemy had gotten a drop on you. Now he wanted to adapt this to this room. Well, there was only one way to find out if it would work. At least the program to operate the hardware was separate. He just had to figure out how to make it work with what he had in mind.

 

Taking a deep breath after too many tries, it still wouldn’t operate like he wanted. To help create the illusion he desired required those 3D glasses. He wanted the area to feel as if it was filled with the images, and not just on the screens of the monitors. Taking a deep breath he left the assembly area to clear his mind and maybe get something to drink. He’d been pushing it, and as in those immersive games the hours had flown. If fact when he had looked up at the time he found that not only had he been here all day without a break, but half the night. It was close to midnight. Guess I’ll call it then, and come back either tomorrow or the next. I’ve got to figure out what I’m doing wrong.

He then spent the next 2 days in the library researching the subject to find out what he missed, and realized it simply was a command line, which was optional in the gaming world. Because so many of them were set up to interface with the VR system, he had forgotten that most other programs out there weren’t, and the reason for the existence of the command line. So using the old DOS command “COPYCON”, he wrote it, ending it with the ”COM” extension finishing it with the “CTRL Z” command to tell the system he was finished with the file. He then inserted the command line into the proper folder and ran the program again. He held his breath briefly as it came on-line. He then hooked up the device to his hat, placed the 3D glasses over his eyes and watched the screens as they showed a nature scene, turning his head he watched as the views changed with his movement, giving the illusion of depth. This brought a huge smile to his face. It worked! Not only that but the sounds shifted with his movement adding reality to the scenes. Yeah! He thought . . .

* * *

If one cannot take a road trip, or visit a national park, what can one do? Do as Ed is trying to do. Bring these things to where you can at least visually experience them. If you think about it we have many programs that give us our national parks and forests, landmarks, pieces of history, and of course sporting events. Of course there are many covering nature, in all her many facets, and semi-educational programs going into the processes of our world. All available from the comfort of our living room. As we watch Ed in his attempts, what is it that he’s trying to accomplish? The answers will be coming in future episodes, so until next Saturday have a great week and God Bless! (fdbrant.com)

The Deeps, Part 4

As you think about the situation that Ed finds himself in – and there’s no way out of it – what would you do, how would you handle it? Even with his age being what it is would you remain, or would you venture out? Would the fact that you’ve spent all of your life there affect you in such a way that leaving would be impossible? Yet, if you want to think about this honestly any of the answers you would give is pure fantasy since you are not there. So all we can do is watch from afar, from a distance, and make our own conclusions from what is transpiring right in front of our eyes. (If you’ve missed parts 1 through 3 of The Deeps, you can go to the sidebar under February 2015 and find out what has led up to this week’s episode.) And for your reading pleasure is part 4 of The Deeps:

How much time had passed? How long had it been? He didn’t know the answers for those questions, but somewhere along the line he suspected he had flipped out – had gone crazy. It was the only explanation he could come up with. When he finally came back to reality he looked at the clocks that measured the passing seconds as well as the passing days, weeks, months, and years. To his surprise he found 2 years gone since he became the last human, the final flickering candle burning down to nothing, the end of the line. He found the clothes he was wearing, which weren’t much if he wanted to be honest, were filthy, caked in ground in dirt, torn and worn out. And he stank – speaking of missing too many showers. Looking in the mirror he could see a white beard half way down his chest, and his eyes still held a wild tint to them speaking to him – saying it would be easy to fall back into the insanity which had gripped him.

Better take this slow and easy. Don’t know what I did, or what I might have destroyed, or hurt, but I really do not want to repeat it. Taking a deep cleansing breath he stripped off the rags he wore and entered the shower setting the water jets to as hot as he could stand it, letting the streams of hot water wash away the layers of dirt, and the steam to help clear his mind. He leaned against one of the walls and let the hot water massage his back, and he had to admit it felt great. Once he decided to get out of the shower he’d shave off this beard, and get into some new clothing. It was time to take on those responsibilities he probably had ignored when he wasn’t right.

* * *

Another 2 months had gone by, and he had been quite busy during this time. It had taken all of his energy and effort to fix everything, to inspect the equipment, and to bring everything up to date. Once finished he finally sat down and watched the vids, cringing as he watched himself during his period of insanity tearing through the facility, screaming obscenities, breaking things, running around naked at times, and at other times spending time in his room rolled up in a fetal position, rocking back and forth, and only humming. And if he had said anything at all at those times it was unintelligible. What had brought him back to reality and sanity he didn’t have a clue. And truthfully he didn’t know what had sent him over the edge either. The only thing he could say was the fact he had reached the age of 67, and wondered how many years he had left, but honestly he didn’t know. And maybe, if he was completely truthful with himself, it probably didn’t matter.

 

During these times, after returning to sanity, he began a complete rediscovery of the huge facility. There were a number of areas, when there were more here, that were generally sealed off, or no longer visited. And these areas, because of no usage, had all the security cameras, and sounds recordings turned off. The areas were powered down, and minimal light and support was maintained to conserve energy. Since the assigned had never reached the facility, and the population never reached a point where the space was needed, well over 2/3rds of the unused space became just that and was never used.

Sure, as a kid it was a neat place to explore, but in a very short period of time, after the first discovery of this vast area, and his sneaking into it, he found it to be boring. It simply was a darkened cold area similar to the one where they were living, with exactly the same rooms, same layout, only the area still had all the materials marking it an area never used. Things such as plastic sealed mattresses, and furniture, unopened kitchen ware, and closets with hangers that had nothing on them, followed by a light layer of dust, further identifying the lack of use. In other words, it was like a new – and since he had only seen them in the vids it was only a guess – house, or apartment complex.

Again, as a kid, every once in a while, during these unauthorized excursions into the closed areas, he found tracks of others before him. Most were the same size as his tracks, stating other kids had done the same thing. But every once in a while he would find what he had to assume were adult tracks. Why or for what reason adults had come here, he hadn’t a clue, but suspected it could have been for breeding. It was the only thing that made any sense. Since here, no one could or would watch you, and it was one of the reasons he liked to come here. He could be truly alone, although at this point in his life, he had no idea what he would give not to be alone. Once again he laughed a bitter laugh, Oh how times have changed from back then to now.

After his return to normalcy, and with his travels around the facility to do the required maintenance, he found one of the doors open into the closed off area, and since he was it, he knew he had to be the one who had gone there. So with the completion of the work he decided to return there and see what he had been up to during those 2 years of insanity. So with a plan in place, he brought the lighting up to where one could see, but not to full power. It would still be a place of shadows and illusion, but he wouldn’t need any additional light to walk those hollow empty hallways, rooms, family units, and storage areas – all which at one time held a promise of a future only to have it not fulfilled.

The first thing he noticed was a feel of time and of unfulfilled promises, a smell of an area long unopened and sealed against all. It spoke of age, and the emptiness almost caused him to turn around and leave. Yet, looking in the layer of dust on the floors he could see his tracks, speaking loudly he had been this way in the near past. So with his utility belt, and wearing a hard-hat which had a headlamp, he began his exploration of this wing of the facility, one, other than his time of insanity, he had only traveled when he was a child. And this was probably 60 years in the past, or there about.

From the stride of the tracks in the dust he figured he must have been running. But why? What could he be running from or to? Since he was out of his mind at the time he didn’t have a clue. Curious he pushed on until he entered one of the large storage areas which had never been used. His steps echoed and the area was in deep shadows with only a few of the emergency lights burning. He looked high up on one of the walls and there, written in his own hand in large letters, and he suspected it was from one of those paint aerosol cans, were the words, THE END IS NEAR. He almost laughed. Wasn’t this something one saw in those old comic strips where someone would have signs over their shoulders shouting this to the world? And how did I ever get up there to write those words? He had to admit he didn’t have a clue.

Although, if he wanted to admit it, there was some irony in this statement written in paint, and obviously it was a fact. Yet, was it the truth? Good question. Since, when one looked out through those sensors that had survived the onslaught of the falling rocks from space, and the time since the incident, this old world was slowly returning. So it would only be the end of mankind, a slight bump in time when they existed. And when the earth had healed herself from the damage, there would be nothing to mark their passing into history – nothing at all.

He spent the next month following his path throughout this sealed wing, finding places where he had damaged things – superficial for sure, but he still had. Other places where there were additional writings on the walls which made no sense at all. Definitely the sign of an insane mind making sense out of nothing, and living in chaos, he thought. He really wondered what had triggered the insanity, and really had no clue as to what ended it. Or maybe, he really was insane, and what he was doing presently was only a dream. How would he know the difference? There is nobody to ask, now is there. This stopped him for a moment as he looked around and at himself seeing the dirt on his clothing from the cleanup he was doing. Slowly he had been repairing the damage, cleaning and removing the painted words on the walls, and preparing to reseal the wing.

He went to one of the rooms and sat down in one of the chairs and thought about it. No, if he was asking himself about his insanity there was a greater chance he wasn’t. But could he be sure? Of course not. And as far as he knew he could be asleep and all of this might be a dream, and he’d wake up and find his father still alive and they could laugh about it when he told him about the dream. He took a deep breath, let it out slowly, and shook his head. He knew better.  Sighing, he pushed himself out of the chair, did one more circuit through the wing, and left it for the last time, sealing the door behind him, cutting the power to the area, other than the minimal necessary to keep it operational, and headed back to his personal unit to shower, get into some clean clothing, eat something, and if time permitted, maybe a trip back to one of the libraries. He wanted to watch some more history from the beginning of their time, and maybe something from before, when the world was filled with people.

* * *

After returning from beyond, so to speak, would you question everything you do? And if you didn’t know what may have triggered your insanity, let alone what brought you back how careful would you be about your actions, your thoughts? Maybe one would laugh and state, “I guess I’ve been alone far to long”, and think about looking to find others. Still if you know in your heart there are no others where could you go to at least watch them? The obvious answer would be exactly what Ed decided to do. Go to the historical recordings and at least be able to watch even if one couldn’t interact with the masses. Next week we head to part 5 of The Deeps. Have a great week and I hope to see you here next Saturday. God Bless! (fdbrant.com)

Published in: on March 7, 2015 at 6:31 am  Leave a Comment  
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