Thursday, 16 April 2015

Last Dog Standing ~ Episode Eight

(previous episode)

Nearly there...

The last dog stretches and shakes off the remnants of sleep, there is a hint of mist in the pre-dawn air and as he leaves the comfort of his sleeping den, the motorway is quiet. He quickly picks up the scent of the ICL and starts at a brisk trot after it. By the time the sun burns through the mist, he has reached where it had crashed with the trike and where the stag and dog pack had run through. The mix of scents are heady and enthralling. He runs around for a while, trying to work out what had happened. The debris of the trike is scattered along a half mile stretch of motorway, dragged under the ICL for some while before breaking free and littering the road. Among the debris is a pannier of old clothing and for a minute or two the dog has fun ripping up the stretchy fabric and waterproof cloak he finds inside it, full of the odour of another human. Then the scent of the stag and the dog pack catches his attention, he follows it for a while, veering off into the scrubby land at the side of the motorway. There are twelve different dog scents, several of them female but as he plunges into deeper undergrowth, the scent he's following trails back round to the road, circling where the ICL had been. Twelve dogs are too many to take on at once, the chance of him being accepted as a lone male highly unlikely and so the last dog turns his attention back to the ICL and the thought of the two humans now in it and sets off again at a trot, gaining ground all the time.

Daisy wakes with a start. For a moment she can't work out what's wrong and then a sudden swerve tilts her out of the bunk and onto the floor. The ICL is moving. She pulls on a pair of crumpled jeans and a silver t-shirt from the ironing pile on the floor and tries to slide open the door only to find it won't open.
'What the? Computer program, what the hell is going on? Why is my door locked?'
The computer programme calculates whether or not it will help to ease Daisy's agitation to know what is going on and decides against it. 'Nothing to worry about, I am simply relocating the ICL to a safer position.'
'What? You can drive this thing by yourself? Why didn't you tell me yesterday... and where is Douglas?'
'Locked in the living pod as requested.'
'Will you let me out this instant!' Daisy slaps the door panel with the palm of her hand in frustration.
'Nearly there, not to worry!'
'Nearly where?'
But the computer programme doesn't answer and Daisy can do nothing except wait for the door to be opened.

Douglas rolls heavily off the sofa as the ICL swerves and he wakes with a thud. For a moment he can't work out where he is and then he recalls the night before. He scrambles to his feet and steadies himself as the ICL winds it way through bomb craters and burnt out vehicles on the motorway. He tries the door to the rest of the ICL but it is firmly shut and won't budge. The exit door is both locked and on a timer seal. There are no windows, he is trapped. Where the hell is Daisy taking him too? For a moment his mind is jumbled and confused. His trike, his belongings, probably now left behind and where are they going, not to London? She wouldn't be foolish enough to be heading to London would she?
The motorway has been obliterated by heavy bombing and what was once a flyover now blocks the way forward, the ICL can travel no further on this route to London without finding another road. The computer programme stops the engine and examines all the options available. Its computations are interrupted by Daisy, with a worrying message.
'If you don't let me out of here right now I am going to completely lose it and explode and then you'll be sorry!'
Certainly there are high levels of stress in her voice and her blood pressure is rising rapidly, the computer programme will not only be sorry if she lets Daisy explode but breaking her basic instructions to safeguard Daisy's emotional well-being. There is a soft click and then a hiss as the door to the bunkpod slides open and Daisy practically falls through into the corridor in her rush to get to the cockpit.
'What the hell have you been up to? Where are we?'
'You are yelling. Please lower your voice.'
'Of course I'm bloody yelling! What'd you think I'd be doing? YOU LOCKED ME IN MY BEDROOM and have taken control of the ICL!'
'Please lower your voice, Douglas will hear you talking to me. And technically, I have always been in control of the ICL. You are the lab rat, not me.'
'Where are we.'
'Because I am programmed to get the data back to the team at SpaceLife Science. I calculated Douglas would try and either convince you or use force to go to NewCumbria instead of London. For me the experiment is not over until the data is retrieved by the team at which point you and Douglas will be free to do what you will. You may even keep the ICL if they no longer need it.'
Daisy rubs her temples with her fingertips feeling a headache starting already.
'So, you can drive the capsule, do you know where the Life Science Headquarters are too?'
'No, it is not on the auto satnav, I need you to navigate for me. Plus we have run into a problem with the road.'
'What problem?'
The computer programme puts the forward view onto the monitor and Daisy surveys the scene in front of her. The road is completely blocked by a section of fallen flyover, a twisted artery of metal and concrete strangling an HGV in its grasp.
'Well, what do you expect me to do about that?' She snaps in exasperation. 'Well have to try and find another route, where are we?'
Daisy calls up the satnav map and types in the address for the SpaceLife Science headquarters, two alternative routes are flagged up. 'There you go, choose one I guess.'
'Where are you going?'
'To have a shower and eat some breakfast, if that's OK with you.'
'You might have to rethink those options.'
'What? What are you talking about now?' Hunger is dulling Daisy's anger into irritation.
''This capsule was only ever designed to provide resources for one person for five years and, let's face it, you have not been very frugal have you? Now there are two of you and the food and water levels are already at critical levels.'
As Daisy tries to digest this new bit of information the computer programme chooses a route and selects reverse gear and the capsule slowly backs up the road, weaving in and out of the bomb craters and burnt out cars.
'How long before it all runs out?'
'Oh, about another day or two. Without Douglas, a week maybe... but I am confident we will reach the SpaceLife Science Headquarters before that time and then you will be free to leave, again.'
'Leave and do what? Have you seen what's happened out there... leave and do what?'
'That Daisy, will no longer be my problem. Perhaps Douglas can answer your question for you.'

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