Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Last Dog Standing ~ Episode Two

(previous episode)

Episode Two
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?'
'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.'
'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.'
'I know.'
'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.'
'Got it!'
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.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Last Dog Standing ~ Episode One

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 one of many.

Last Dog Standing

Episode One
In the near future...

Daisy drums hers fingers on the stainless steel worktop. Above the pressure sealed doors a large projection of a digital clock is counting down.
Only five more minutes.
Only five more minutes.
In five minutes the experiment would be over and she would be free. Back in the real world. With real people. And chocolate. And alcohol that came in a glass with ice and a slice not in a sterile swab... yes she wasn't above admitting to sucking the odd swab in a moment of desperate, lonely madness... perhaps she'd delete that bit from her soon-to-be a best-seller diary. But free, to feel real sunshine on her skin, not the weekly Sun-U-Like lamp session. To feel the rain...
'We have a lot of protocol to finish before you go.' The voice brings Daisy back to the present.
'That ironing pile for a start. And you haven't compacted the toilet waste today.'
'Not ironing, not compacting, not today!' Daisy can feel her whole mood lift at the thought of change from the routine for the last five years. Glorious freedom!
'Well, I think it's a shame if you leave the place looking like this. They spent good money making you comfortable and this is how you repay them?'
'I've been in here for five years, without any interaction from the outside world of any kind, they are not going to care if I've compacted the toilet! Who put you in charge anyway, you are here to help me. You go compact it!'
'You know I can't, I'm a computer program designed to provide you with a sounding board for your inner voice.'
'Nag me to death more like.' Daisy whispers under her breath, not taking her eyes off the digital countdown.
'I heard that.'
'I heard that too.'
Daisy sighs deeply, wondering for the millionth time why she ever signed up for the experiment and then she remembers. On the successful completion of five years in the isolation capsule laboratory, under conditions that would resemble living off-world, she would be free. Free in the credit no problem, rich and famous for life kind of way.
'Are you really going to go out dressed like that?'
'Well, I'm guessing the World's press will be gathered to see if you are still alive or not along with your family and friends and, obviously, the SpaceLife Science Team running this experiment and you are going to meet them all wearing that?'
Daisy glances down at the once-pink fleecy onesie she is wearing. 'What's wrong with it?'
'You have been wearing it for the last 127 days. That's what.'
'Well, as you've already pointed out, nothing else is ironed so it'll just have to do and, as well you know, since I am an orphan and have no relatives out there waiting for me, which is half the reason I was chosen for this in the first place...'
'It must smell terribly...'
'Argghh! You are the most infuriating programme in the history of invented computer personalities... I don't care if I smell or how I look, I just want to be out of here and AWAY FROM YOU!'
'Just saying...'
'You'll be sorry... first photo to the waiting world will be of a big, pink, stinky, teddy-bear woman...'
'ARGHHHHHHH!' Daisy picks up the nearest object she can find and hurls it at the nearest speaker on the ceiling. The object, a spanner, misses the speaker and knocks the fire hydrant nozzle next to it instead. Immediately a high powered burst of water sprays all over her.
'… a big, pink, stinky, soggy, teddy-bear woman...'
'SHUTUPSHUTUPSHUTUP!' Daisy screams at the voice while jumping up and down, making a squelching noise with the padded soles of her onesie.
'Just saying...'
From across the room there is the sound of air escaping and then the doors click and slowly open outwards as the clock above finally stops on

Daisy half expects someone to appear in the doorway, with a fanfare and a cake, a cake would be nice... after five years. But seconds pass and no one appears. There is no sound either, no comforting cheering or applause. Just an empty, open door and silence.
'I thought you couldn't wait to leave.'
'Going!' Daisy waddles to the door in her wet onesie and then, thinks better of it and steps out of it to reveal a grey vest and sweatpants underneath. Then, hesitantly, sticks her head out through the open doorway and says 'Hello?'.
The word echoes around the cavernous interior of the warehouse holding the isolation capsule laboratory (ICL). The place is completely empty. It occurs to Daisy that the light in the building is coming from a huge hole in one of the walls, light streaming in over fallen masonry. She makes her way over to it and steps out into what once was a busy industrial estate. All around are the remains of burnt out buildings and wrecked lorries, and not a single person in sight. Daisy wanders around in the sunlight unable to comprehend what is going on. The place is deserted, destroyed. She stumbles out into the road but it is the same there, in all directions, devastation and an eerie, empty silence.

A movement near a pile of rubble catches her eye and a skinny dog trots towards her holding something in it's jaws. It is cutely straggly with a ragged ear and jaunty tail. Daisy smiles as it approaches her and than she works out what it's holding. It's the unmistakable shape of a human hand, still articulated and waving at her from the long arm bone the dog is chewing. For a second Daisy is rooted to the spot and then the dog drops the bone and starts to advance towards her with a low, ominous growl that suggests next on his menu is one of her arms. Daisy snaps out of her fright and makes a headlong dash back across the car park, into the warehouse and back into the ICL, slamming the heavy door behind her. She sinks to the floor, panting as outside the lone dog howls disconsolately at the loss of his next meal.
'Back so soon? I thought you couldn't wait to leave...'
Daisy squeezes her eyes shut, hoping it is all a dream, a nightmare she would wake up from in any minute and she would be safe in her bunk, about to start the last day of the experiment.
'Daisy, it's time for you to leave.' But the voice is insistent and definitely not her morning alarm.
'Daisy, are you sick? What has happened? The experiment is over, you can leave... it really doesn't matter what you wear... Daisy, please answer me...'

Outside the dog stops howling and sniffs around the ICL. There is no way in and so he wanders off to find some shade to lie in and wait. 
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