Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Last Dog Standing ~ Episode Seven

(previous eposode)
Episode Seven
Dog tired...

Daisy slides the door to the kitchen pod tightly shut and whispers, 'Computer programme, can you hear me?'
'Yes. Why are you whispering?'
'I don't want Douglas to hear.'
'Douglas... I have been wondering why you haven't given me a name, after all this time.'
'Never mind that now! Look, I don't want him to know about you yet. I don't know whether I can trust him and at some point I am going to have to sleep. You can keep watch without him knowing.'
'Deception is never a good idea. Honesty is always the best policy for a peaceful mental state and Douglas seems quite pleasant.'
'He might try and kill me and steal the ICL. Who knows, maybe even reprogramme you.' Daisy's psychology works. The programme is designed not only to protect her from harm but also protect itself and the valuable experimental data stored in its memory over the last five years.
'Although to err on the side of caution might be wise. You are going to burn that toast if you are not careful.'
'Mmm? Oh, thanks.' Daisy had forgotten about the toast, deep in thought about what to do next. 'Can we seal off a part of the ICL overnight?'
'Yes, I can lock down the living area off from the kitchenpod, bathroompod, bunk and cockpit.'
'Good. It's a plan then. We'll do that, and make sure you don't talk to me when he can hear as well.' Daisy scrapes some of the burnt edges off the toast and squeezes a dollop of hydrated jam powder onto it.
'What if there is an emergency?'
'An alarm will do to alert me.'
'Daisy, Douglas, I would like a name.'
But Daisy has already left the kitchenpod with the toast and doesn't reply.
Douglas takes the toast and slowly eats it, savouring every mouthful as though it's his last. Daisy watches, suddenly painfully aware of the precariousness of her existence in the ICL for the last five years, not so much trapped as cocooned in safety while the world she knew fell away.
'Douglas catches her staring at him eating and grins. 'Bread is almost of unheard of now, I really appreciate your generosity in sharing this with me... and I want to apologise for my behaviour..'
Daisy simply nods and then catches sight of her still sodden onsie on the floor. She picks it up and sighs. 'I'll let you finish your toast, I'll just wring this out in the loopod..'
'You have a proper toilet?'
'With water?'
'No, not really, more of a... compacting thing really.' A thought occurs to Daisy and she dashes into the bathroom pod. The smell is unbearable as the toilet is still uncompacted from the morning. She dumps the onsie in the shower and then, holding her breath as best she can, cranks the toilet handle for the required twenty times and presses the flush. As the measured dose of recycled water blasts away the waste into the biodigesting system a fresh mist of 'Ocean Laughter' puffs through the air duct. Daisy stares at the sodden onsie in the floor pan of the shower unit, its dirty pink fur matted and ruined. Then, with trepidation, takes a look at herself in the mirror above the small sink unit. A puffy faced, unkempt version of herself stares back at her, grey vest and sweatpants completing the look. The computer programme had been right, had she really been going to go out and the meet the world dressed like that? The five years had taken a bigger toll on her than Daisy had realised. Perhaps not only the world had fallen apart in that time.

A wave of tiredness suddenly sweeps over Daisy. It had been a day of extremes, of too much to take in, of utter chaos and madness. Every sinew and bone aches after all the sudden physical exertion and her mind is whirling with everything she has witnessed and heard. But above all, she is tired, dog tired and needs to sleep. To shut it all out and simply sleep. Daisy heads back into the living area and indicates to the bathroom pod.
'I'm really tired, I have to sleep, it's been quite a day. The toilet is in there and you can sleep in here.' She indicates to the the moulded sofa he's sitting on. 'We'll sort out your trike tomorrow, in daylight.'
Douglas watches her go and glances around him but there is little to hold his interest in the bland d├ęcor of the living area and the thought of a real bathroom propels him through to the 'loopod'. He tries a tap and a high pressure burst of hot water hits his hands and he smiles to himself. For the first time in along time, things seem to be going his way. He decides a good night's sleep in the safety of the ICL is too good an opportunity to miss and settles down on the sofa, soon fast asleep.

The computer programme waits till both Daisy and Douglas are asleep and then locks the doors to their respective compartments. It had been calculating how likely it is a different course of action would be taken by Daisy from the one likely to be preferred by SpaceLife Science now the external conditions of the experiment had changed so drastically. Undoubtedly the experimental data gathered over the last five years needs to be downloaded to the Team and since it could not be done at the ICL site, then the ICL would have to go to the SpaceLife Science Team, wherever they are based now. Daisy had suggested London as their likely location and so it would be pertinent to move the ICL to the city before they both wake up and Douglas attempts to take it, by force or otherwise, to NewCumbria. The computer programme sets the auto satnav to London and starts the engine gently rolling at a low speed, keeping a circuit open for obstacles and road damage. By its calculations, the ICL should reach the city long before either Daisy or Douglas woke up.

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