After the hottest July day since the last last one, it's very pleasant to have some rain today, a cooling tonic after yesterday's humid heat. I didn't get time to do a Wordless Wednesday yesterday so will make up for it today with some words as well.
I can't help noticing the lawn* needs less mowing as we move into summer and the grass slows down. Instead, I have a rambunctious chorus of daisies, dandelions, clover, vetches and what more discerning gardeners would call weeds (what I would call native flora vital to our insect and bee populations) shouting at me with an array of bright flowers and seedheads, competing valiantly with the roses for top billing at the moment. The lavender, japanese peony and jasmine are next to flower, the irises and love-in-a-mist running to seed. Not sure how 'flaming June' flew by so quick in the garden but loving the start of a flamboyant July.
* I need to come up with a new name for the space between the flowerbeds and fencing... lawns are so last century... 'garden meadow' or more acurately in this case 'weedy scree' maybe.
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.
minutes and counting...
...And then they dropped plague bombs over all the major cities in
Europe and Russia.'
Daisy can hardly comprehend what Douglas is telling her. 'What kind
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?'
why the plague?'
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.'
did they drop the bombs?'
the late stages of the war. So, about three years ago.'
the plague will still be active in the cities?'
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... 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?'
we can't be going into London, OK? So you need to turn this...
caravan thing... around and go around
do you mean you can't?'
I'm kind of locked in here with you.'
thought you said it was on autopilot.'
sort of is.'
thought occurs to Douglas.' Are we alone? Is there someone else on
of yes or sort of no?'
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
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.'
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
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!'
well it's lock-sealed, you need to either type in the code or cut out
the power to it.' Daisy sighs.
the computer programme hear us? I need to use the toilet! Open the
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.
wakes to the insistent buzzing of a fly. Only there could be no
flies. He had been very insistent on that particular issue when
specifying the build of the Isolation Capsule Laboratory Resource
Facility (ICLRF) for the SpaceLife Science Team. All the air intakes
must filtrate to clean room standards. Double PTFE and glass fibre
filters as well UV light irradiation chambers ensured nothing could
crawl through from outside, especially not any member of the order
Diptera. Flies, as far as Fermat is concerned, are a thing of the
past. So what is buzzing?
slips out from under the warm arm of T-Ladi and shivers slightly, the
underfloor heating has yet to kick in and the moulded, industrial
grade non-slip flooring is cold to the warm soles of his feet. The
buzzing is annoyingly close but as yet, in the dim light of
Sleep-Mode in the ICLRF, Fermat can't see its source. He wanders
through from the interconnecting sleep capsule to the main control
facility capsule and there, on a panel of remote sensors, a red light
is blinking on and off and emitting a high pitched buzzing.
ICL! The alarm is from the ICL. It's a direct relay message. Five
years and a day. Fermat glances up at the clock, still reading
00.00.00.00.00.00 and shakes his head in disbelief. The capsule,
wherever it is hidden has triggered a relay message. It weathered the
war! A surge of adrenalin rushes through his system and he punches
the clean, clean air with a clenched fist. The ICL has survived,
above ground, on its own and now they are not alone. Now they have a
chance to continue, maybe even survive above ground. For a moment he
hesitates and then taps the sensor, just in case it's another faulty
wire. But the light continues to blink in a sequence and the buzzing
does not stop. Fermat starts to count the number of flashes. Thirteen
short and one long followed by three short and a twelve second gap,
then the sequence repeats itself. Fermat stares at the red light,
mesmerised by the thought of it, after all this time. 182500 plans,
executed in his head a hundred times a day over the last interminable
five years, start to crowd into his consciousness. He shakes his head
to clear them and presses the button under the light. The buzzing
stops and he searches for the ICL warning signal manual on the
bookshelf above the panel of sensors, flicking through the pages
until he finds the right code. Thirteen, one, three, twelve.
13010312... Water Filtration System Critical. Less than twenty-four
hours left in the ICL before the water supply becomes too
contaminated with biowaste to drink.
city is drawing nearer. The last Dog can smell the contagion from
five miles out, and it slows to a walk and then to a standstill. Big
city, bad smell. But his options are limited, a lone dog will not
last long in open ground and the scent of the ICL is stronger now. He
does not want to be captured again and kept on a chain, taunted and
stoned until ready to kill for hunger but he also knows he does not
want to be hunted down by a pack of wild dogs. The ICL reminds him of
a previous life, a memory, a caravan holiday with his family, of
licking ice cream from fingers covered in sand and running through
cold, salty water, shaking it over them as they scream and laugh...
of the two humans who meant everything to him. The dog follows the
scent and finds the road blocked by a collapsed bridge. The ICL had
changed direction here, perhaps they wouldn't go into city after all.
Only disease lived there now, he could smell it.
sits on her bunk and wonders what to do next. She could hear Douglas
moving around in the living pod. Her appetite disappears at the
thought of only two days of food left. An image of the Last Dog
Standing pops into her mind and in its mouth is her arm bone,
shredded and bloody and she shudders and sighs, rubbing her arms in
an effort to get rid of the image. She
reaches for her vanity case and pulls out a barely used comb and
hairbrush, slowly running the brush through her hair while rummaging
around for a hair clip to keep it in a bun. Then, smoothing out her silver t-shirt, she squares her
shoulders and whispers to the computer programme. 'Unlock the living
area door, I need to talk to Douglas.'
computer programme is about to suggest this is unwise when its
attention is caught by something else and decides it is better that
Daisy is busy elsewhere and so unlocks the door, relocking it after
she joins Douglas in the living area.
Daisy can hear the soft click of the lock behind her as the door
slides shut but it is too late. The computer progamme has locked them
stares at Daisy for a second and then realises the ICL is still
moving. 'Why did you lock me in here last night and.. are we still
moving... who's driving?'
It's very competent. I locked you in to make sure you were... safe.'
my stuff? My trike?'
Daisy decides it's best to just lie. 'I stowed it in the
undercarriage. It's safe there, don't worry about it.'
are we going?'
have you done? Didn't I say it was no good in the cities anymore, we
have to turn around, before it's too late.'
It looked empty enough to me.'
been outside?' Douglas backs
away from Daisy.
no I saw it on the monitor earlier, just, look we are not even in the
city yet. I don't know why you are yelling at me. I didn't see
anyone, not a thing.'