Friday, 1 May 2015

Last Dog Standing ~ Episode Ten

(previous episode)
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.

Seventeen minutes and counting...

' ...And then they dropped plague bombs over all the major cities in Europe and Russia.'
'Why?' Daisy can hardly comprehend what Douglas is telling her. 'What kind of sick...'
'Why 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?'
'But why the plague?'
'No 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.'
'When did they drop the bombs?'
'In the late stages of the war. So, about three years ago.'
'And the plague will still be active in the cities?'
'Do 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, 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?'
'Anyway, we can't be going into London, OK? So you need to turn this... caravan thing... around and go around London.'
'Um, I can't.'
'What do you mean you can't?'
'Well, I'm kind of locked in here with you.'
'I thought you said it was on autopilot.'
'It sort of is.'
'Sort of?' Another thought occurs to Douglas.' Are we alone? Is there someone else on board.'
'Sort of.'
'Sort of yes or sort of no?'
'It's 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 years....'

Fermat 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.'

The 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 minutes.

A 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!'
'No, well it's lock-sealed, you need to either type in the code or cut out the power to it.' Daisy sighs.
'Can the computer programme hear us? I need to use the toilet! Open the door!'

Fermat 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.

click for next episode...

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Last Dog Standing ~ Episode Nine

(previous episode)

Five years and a day...

Fermat 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?
Fermat 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.
The 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 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.

The 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.

Daisy 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.'
The 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.
'Hey..hey!' 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 in together.
Douglas 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?'
'Autopilot. It's very competent. I locked you in to make sure you were... safe.'
'And my stuff? My trike?'
'Um....' Daisy decides it's best to just lie. 'I stowed it in the undercarriage. It's safe there, don't worry about it.'
'Where are we going?'
'Yes, London.'
'What 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.'
'Why? It looked empty enough to me.'
'You've been outside?' Douglas backs away from Daisy.
'No, 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.'

'WE HAVE TO STOP NOW! ...Daisy, you don't understand. The cities, they all have the plague.'

Click for next episode...

Monday, 27 April 2015

Movie Reviews: Marvel's Avengers: Age of Ultron

Marvel's Avengers: Age of Ultron (12A)

Writer & Director:
Joss Whedon


Wow, if you like your comic Superheroes, then this is the movie for you because there are an awful lot of them. Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Hawkeye, The Hulk and Black Widow are joined by Scarlet Witch, The Vision, Ultron, Quick Silver and Nick Fury. (Cast list here ~
Basically the world is put at risk when a peacekeeping programme (Ultron) made by Tony Stark & Bruce Banner, goes rogue. Cue lots of terminator style robots that need destroying by the superheroes inter cut with various other subplots: Hawkeye's private life, The Hulk and Black Widow love interest, Scarlet Witch & Quicksilver back story and most importantly, the emergence of a second infinity stone. Don't bother with 3D as there is enough going on without it. A gargantuan Marvel free-for-all, four out five stars.

DVD round-up

We're The Millers (15)
Jason Sudekis plays a pot dealer who enlists the help of a stripper (Jennifer Anniston) to pose as a 'family' on a drugs run from Mexico to America for $10,000. Made me laugh.

Earth to Echo (PG)
Family friendly movie, think ET meets Super 8.

Draft Day (15)
Always watchable Kevin Costner stars in this dramatic examination of the NFL draft process.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (12)
So not enjoying this reboot anymore...

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (15) 
Will Ferrell is back as Ron Burgundy, the anchorman for a new 24 hour news show. Funnier than the first.

Lucy (15)
Interesting sci-fi action thriller right up until the silly ending.