Inside the ICL...
'Daisy, why aren't you leaving?'
'I have left! There's nothing out there.'
'What do you mean, there's nothing out there?'
'I mean the warehouse is empty, deserted, derelict and the streets.. the roads beyond... it looks like a war zone out there... there's no one there!' Daisy can detect a note of hysteria creeping into her voice and can feel tears welling up under her eyelids.
'Is this a joke?'
'NO, no it is NOT A JOKE. There's nothing there. It's as though World War Three broke out while I've been shut up in here... I don't know... and there's a dog, with a bone.'
'A dog with a bone seems quite normal.'
'A dog with a human arm bone in it's mouth is not normal!' Daisy shudders at the recollection.
'A human bone? How can you be sure?'
'BECAUSE IT STILL HAD THE HAND ATTACHED TO IT!'
'Do you need a sedative?'
'No, no I need a... a... an explanation! I need to know what's happened. Where is everyone... and why the hell is there a dog eating a human outside... what do I do?'
There is a long pause and then the computer programme replies.
'Is it time for a nice cup of tea?'
'What? What kind of answer is that?'
'It is the best answer I can come up with within the parameters of my programming... sorry.'
Daisy stands up and smooths down her hair and wipes away her tears.
'OK, so... we need to contact SpaceLife Science Team, perhaps it's just some local war or something. Can we contact the team?'
'No, there is no external contact.'
'Well, there must be something...'
'No, you signed away your life, remember. You signed a waiver that said and I quote...Being of sound mind and body I hereby forfeit all access to humanity for the full five years and in the interests of scientific research I am prepared to surrender my body and mind inclusive of all conditions and addendum listed herewith...'
'Yes, yes, OK, I get it. But really? You don't have an emergency procedure. What If I had died during the five years?'
'If there is no one waiting for you outside, then you must travel to where you came from before you entered the isolation capsule laboratory, perhaps they are waiting there for you.'
'The trouble is, I don't know where I am! The experiment was deemed a security risk and so, to keep the public away the whole location was secret... I was blindfolded and driven here, I have no idea where I am.'
'Driven? So you never left the country you were in?'
'Um... no, no. I was driven from the SpaceLife Science headquarters in London. They did a big media thing and then.. it was all hush hush to protect me and the capsule.'
'So, we are still in London?'
'No... no much farther than that. A couple of hours... have you got a map in the system?'
'No but if you know where the SpaceLife Science headquarters are, you can return there and find your answers.'
'And how do you propose I get there?'
'Public transport? It's deserted out there... there's nothing, no humans, no signs of any life except some mongrel corpse-eating dog who thinks I'm it's next meal. For all I know it could be the last dog standing on the planet and you think I can go and just catch a bus?'
'Do you need a sedative now?'
'NO... NO... I need a way to... to get past the dog so I can find out where I am.'
'Well, dogs like bones.'
'Which is why it tried to eat me, I have a lot of bones.'
'Perhaps it is just hungry. You could feed it.'
'Hmm, let's see, bean-sprouts and freeze dried egg powder or my legs...'
'I detect a note of sarcasm. I am only trying to help you.'
'No, it needs to be something to scare it... to keep it away.'
Neither Daisy nor the computer programme can think of anything so a silence builds up in the capsule, slowly stretching from minutes to hours.
'Under the cooking hob.'
'Pardon?' Daisy almost jumps as the sentence interrupts her daydreams of how the world ended while she was in the ICL.
'Under the cooking hob in the kitchen pod is a CO2 fire extinguisher, you could scare it with that.'
'How come I didn’t know that we have a fire extinguisher?'
'You are more of a microwave person.'
'I can cook.'
'Yes, as long as it's toast.'
'I heard that.'
'Under the cooking hob... which is the cooking hob?' Daisy scrambles to the kitchen pod and casts an eye around the cramped space.
'It's the round shiny thing with the dials in the corner.'
Daisy stares doubtfully at the small, red CO2 cylinder in her hands. It would have to do, hopefully it would keep the dog at bay long enough for her to find out where she is and what the hell has been going on outside in the last five years.