Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Waiting For The Next Explosion - Conclusion




Even though there were times it did not quite work Department 10’s one near constant since it was created was the tendency to hide things in plain sight. Such was the case with the current headquarters located outside the small town of Davisburg on the western edge of Virginia. To the outsider passing by on Interstate 81 driving north towards Roanoke the main complex looked to be nothing but a medium-sized chemical plant surrounded by support buildings. What earned the designers their pay back in the 1970’s when it was originally built was because that is exactly what it was intended to be.

During construction no one paid any attention to the secretive outside contractors brought in to build the plant or least of all the huge pit dug to house the massive underground complex where all the dangerous Department 10 work was done. The icing on the camouflage cake was that the above ground chemical plant did actually employed sixty local workers producing an array of mundane household chemicals sold in supermarkets around the country. As long as the workers stayed to strict authorized locations and ignored some strange inconsistencies they were showered with the best in pay, benefits, and guaranteed lifetime employment. The things they had to ignore were the prison-like security that guarded the area and the large amount of unused property outside the main plant environs. But most of all the workers were told never approach the overly large building that supposedly housed the sales and senior management types.

Feeling the Dassault Falcon jet begin a tight bank I looked out my small window and saw that a runway had been built right next the forbidden  building sometime since I had left Department 10 . “How in the hell do you explain the runway to the workers and locals?” I asked Amanda.

She immediately looked up from the computer tablet she was reading but froze as she clearly began to say something. My first thought was that the behavior was odd; Amanda was never the one to second guess herself in her words or actions. The fact that this hesitation went on for several seconds with her facial expression morphing into one of placid relaxation only raised my concern even more.

“Amanda?” I said leaning forward from my seat.   

“We never did,” she suddenly said with a smirk, “we just hired fifty more workers, paid some actors to act as senior management types and give speeches to the local Chamber of Commerce about our commitment to the local economy. The residents ate it all up and have in fact become highly protective of the factory. Given that they chased away several environmental groups over the years wanting to inspect the plant we almost do not need security anymore.”

That sounded entirely like the woman I had known for so long. I almost wanted to ask about her brief but near cationic state but thought against it. I did not want her to get any idea I cared, which it was sure she would certainly try and use against me at some point.  “So you still leave out the part about the ten megaton nuke sitting in the bottom sub-level ready to be used if something escapes confinement?” I asked instead.

All I got from her in response was a weak, stifled laugh. Just minutes later after we landed, I was rushed up to the third floor of the main building housing the low risk medical facility and shown the reason Amanda had went to such great efforts to locate me.

***

At first glance, the person lying on the sophisticated hospital bed connected to a mind numbing array of monitoring leans and IV tubes looked just like any other poor victim suffering from second and third degree burns along with extreme bodily trauma. An extreme critical condition mess to be sure but where things got very strange were the lab and MRI scan results I began reading in detail while sitting in the small office adjacent to the unknown person’s hospital room.

The patient was obviously a human female and despite the injuries looked like any other person you might pass on the street. The first journey into the surreal was that not only did the patient have two extra chromosomes in her genome but a closer examination of the normal forty-six show a whole host of extra genes that I could not even guess at what they might do in her body. Needless to say I was not surprised to learn that others genes associated with various genetic diseases that all “regular” humans carry were completely absent. Furthermore, the nucleotide sequences, called telomeres, that protect her chromosomes from deterioration were arranged completely different from other humans.  While the other doctors involved in her treatment guessed the patient’s age at mid-twenties, theoretically at least  she could be anywhere in age from twenty years old to two-thousand.

Just the examination of the patient’s genome could take several lifetimes to understand but at least I understood the basic principles and could discern their actually workings over time. I had absolutely no clue as to the purpose or workings of the nanoscopic crystalline structures that not only floated throughout the patient’s body in the hundreds of billions but were embedded on a cellular level. In fact these structures made up most of the patient’s nervous system and could be traced back to an unusual formation of purely organic cells in the prefrontal cortex of her brain.

The notes from the other physicians involved were as short-sighted as them were telling. The Defense Intelligence Agency types brought in for consultation were mostly convinced the unknown subject was some sort of Russian/Chinese superspy. Such paranoia was both extremely sad and funny in a way since neither country could hope to produce such technology, it was simply that advanced. The onsite Department 10 doctors at best thought she was yet another lost alien, or at worst, a scout for an invasion fleet. This attitude actually depressed me greatly, given the few actual incidents with aliens that were on record it suggested that while there were a few galactic Nazi-like species roaming around in space most had long since advanced beyond the stupidity of war. Those opinions sadly said more about human ignorance and our nearly unchanged caveman behavior than the unknown woman. Amanda had even brought in a few civilian hot shot physicians and God bless them, they at least had the guts the scratch their heads and say they had no idea about where the patient came from or why she was so different.

Amanda had not seen fit to tell me how the patient came into her custody but what puzzled me was why most of the crystalline structures floating through her body seemed inert. They resembled a purely theoretical type of nano-robot that if the design issues could be worked out would do nothing but repair cellular damage in the human body. I sat in that office for close to ten hours going over the data and examining the patient before I laid my head on the desk and went to sleep.

I do not know how long I was asleep before the dream began. The first thing I remember though was seeing the Earth floating in from of me. It was immediately apparent I was in some sort of spacecraft looking through the eyes of the pilot. And as this person looked at Earth I felt sadness but it was secondary to a need to answer some question. After several seconds of just looking at the planet a decision was made and hands that were not mine danced along controls. The Earth began to grow and somehow I knew the pilot had decided it was time to enter the atmosphere.

The spacecraft skimmed over several cities throughout the world and I found myself wondering how it was evading detection and whimsically, at least to me, wondered how rural trailer parks in the American south were immune to the cloaking device I assumed the pilot was employing. There came a moment when I sensed the pilot becoming worried when several indicators began flashing. A holographic image emerged of what I somehow knew to be two advanced fighters on an intercept course. After that fear blurred the dream but I knew that the fighters had somehow detected the spacecraft, and then fired upon it. The last few images I remember were of the two attacking fighters, both experimental models that flew out of Area 51 in Nevada. Then there flashes of fire, severe pain, and finally of troops in biohazard protection gear putting the pilot inside an infection containment tube.

When I awoke I found Amanda sitting in the chair across from the desk. The look on her face was unlike anything I had ever seen before, almost like she was a completely different person.

“The universe continues to display a wealth of irony in my current situation and in those I have encountered.” She said.

“Excuse me?” I said puzzled but an idea in the back of my brain was beginning to creep its way to my consciousness.

“Amanda Grey invested a great deal of prestige and resources into developing a barbaric method to remotely control human beings. The only thing that surpasses the quirk of fate that she fell victim to such a predicament is that she herself caused it to happen.” The woman in front of me said who I was now convinced was not Amanda.

“What did she do?” I asked.

“She deduced early that the crystal nanites in my body had considerable ability to repair all cellular damage, including that caused by simple aging. What she could not discern that they also have other capacities she could never imagine. Amanda took several samples from my body, and then injected them directly into her bloodstream. The cellular repairs took only a few weeks to have an effect, however when they started integrating into her nervous system she had no idea of that it allowed me to gain access to her mind and then a little later, her body. The result was purely accidental; however once again the universe intervened and her actions allowed me to complete my mission.”

“You’re from the future.” I blurted out expressing the idea that had slowly begun to form after I had reviewed all the data concerning the unknown patient. “What kind of mission were you on and how did something as primitive as our fighters shoot you down?”

“You are correct Doctor Mansion,” the being possessing Amanda’s body said with a very human smile, “My name is Shi and I am from what you would perceive as the future. As for my mission, there are many unanswered question about how my own civilization evolved from this bloody and barbaric time. As for how I was brought down by your armed aircraft, one of the few constants in all of human history is how random and unforeseeable events can alter or even destroy the best laid plans.”

“So shit still happens in your time as well, that’s somewhat comforting.” I said more to myself than to the being across from me, which drew a puzzled look from Shi. “Never mind,” I said not wanting to confuse Shi even more. “You said you’ve completed your mission, what do you mean?” I asked.

“I will tell you Doctor Mansion if you promise to help me.”

The animalistic part of my mind questioned if I could trust anything Shi said but on some deeper level I knew she was being honest with me and that her intentions were peaceful. “Yeah,” I answered, “I’ll do everything in my power to help you.”

Amanda’s body shuttered suggesting that whatever Shi was about to say bothered her greatly. “My mission,” she began, “was to find the nexus of where your civilization ends and mine begins to take shape. After so much misfortune much to my surprise I have inadvertently stumbled upon one of my civilization’s founders.”

Modesty was never one of my strong suits but at that moment I had absolutely no idea who she was talking about.   

Shi smiled again and went on to explain, “Few records survive but what does mentions an American doctor that did much to begin picking of the pieces of the old world and begin the long journey of building a better one.”

“Me?” I said. “Bullshit, your history is pretty screwed up if it somehow believes I could be any part of the building a better world.”

“I can tell you no more, but I can show you but as I stated earlier, you have do something vital for me first.” I silently nodded my head and after Amanda’s body took another deep breath Shi began. “It pains me terribly to be here with no way to return to my own time. The horrors of your civilization dig deep into my soul and I cannot take it. It is far better to end my existence than to live in this time. I need you to terminate my body as quickly as possible.”

Once again I felt overwhelmed by everything I wanted to ask Shi but one question came to the forefront. “If I kill your real body what will happen to Amanda?”

“I am sorry; Amanda Grey’s ill advised introduction of my nanites into her body will condemn her as well. While a piece of her consciousness remains our bodies are permanently linked.”

I felt no sorrow for Amanda, she had played the cards life had dealt her and lost. As for Shi, she knew I would do as she asked and that she would prove to me that years down the road I would a play an important part in shaping her civilization. Without saying another word Shi made Amanda’s body stand up and walk over to where I was sitting. As soon as Shi placed Amanda’s two hands on my face I could literally feel the nanites rush into my body. That is when the visions began.

***

After Shi proved that I actually had a destiny beneficial to someone other than myself, I went into her room and pulled all the wires and tubes from her hopelessly damaged body. Shi’s real body began to glow and the next thing I know I am miles away looking at the smoky ruins of Department 10’s headquarters. The following weeks I was grilled by various officials as to why I was not in the building when it inexplicably exploded. They had nothing that proved I had anything to do with it and eventually released me from all responsibilities associated with government service.

For months afterward I wondered about Shi. As the visions of her society come into focus I realized she was as far removed from me as I was from the first humans that began to walk upright. In her society Humanity was not just flesh and blood creatures but it spanned a spectrum of beings that encompassed what I would call computerized artificial intelligence, a combination of the two, to those who just have the nannites. But I can tell this expanded humanity is far more than that, it is a true trinity where one facet blends into the other.    

Eventually I decided it was time to start the long journey Shi visions said I had to take. A remote village located in the Argentine province of Tierra del Fuego became my destination and I once again work in a small clinic helping the locals. It is strange to know that in a little over six years the entire cesspool called Western Civilization will implode and take most of the rest of the world with it. Some might wonder why I do not try and advert the coming disaster, the trouble is that the house of cards those in the Northern Hemisphere built will not fall from one thing alone. There is far too much greed, paranoia, and apathy for any one person to change the course of human history.

Shi's nannites have fully integrated themselves in my body. Through them I have quickly come to realize how oblivious normal humans are to the true nature of physical reality. As the transition point from the end of my civilization to beginning of Shi's draw near I will have to start introducing the nannites into other people. It is a difficult decision to make since it is far too similar in nature to what Amanda attempted in that hideous secret laboratory located in Poland. I console myself by knowing that my actions will not only ensure the survival of the human race but that something far to grand for me to fully understand even now will come into being.

With a new life just beginning there is one final act I must perform before I can close out the old one. I stand on the edge of a cliff overlooking the ocean. In my right hand is my Sig Saur pistol that I have used many times to take human life. Using all my nannite assisted strength I throw the thing as far away from me as possible. I see a small splash off in the distance and without any further delay I leave the old corrupted world behind me.       

(Author’s note: Excuse the typos, been busy and I’m lucky to get this much done. Hope you enjoy my psychotic ramblings.)

8 comments:

Pixel Peeper said...

Interesting and surprising ending. I did not expect the "glance into the future" at the end. That's quite a thing to have to live up to, being a founder for a new civilization!

Life As I Know It Now said...

Good ending with some hope for the remote future. We'd be doing all of life on this planet a favor if we could evolve further along or go away--take your pick. :)

Akelamalu said...

Interesting ending Beach. I hope Shi was telling the truth.

Beach Bum said...

Pixel: I failed on several points on this story. Even with a nice, shiny new laptop free time is short and the mental energy to write is often not there.

Life As I Know It Now: In the long run, I believe humanity will survive. I even have some hope for the medium-term future but the next 50 years will be very tough.

Akelamalu: It will all work out eventually, we humans breed like rats and while our level of actual intelligence is debatable, we do have a decent record to run on.

Randal Graves said...

Humans may be stupid, but they're stubborn, so you're right, we'll find a way to adapt to whatever follows this increasingly filthy cesspool we created, settling down enough to work on the next cesspool.

Great stuff man, but when I first read it, I though you typed Doctor Manson!

Beach Bum said...

Randal: LOL!
You might find it funny but I actually based my character of Dr. Greg Mansion on Dr. House.

Red Nomad OZ said...

Wow! I'd never have guessed the ending to this one! AWESOME!!

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

If this story is indicative of "psychotic ramblings", then I must be psychotic, too, because I enjoyed it. Good job!