Friday, 3 March 2017

Last Dog Standing ~ Episode 12

(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 twelve of many.

Resetting Expectations...

You've overridden the computer programme? Daisy asks, almost in awe of the small, slightly battered robot. 'Yes, Fermat programmed me to be able to access all systems on board. For when we are... were going to be living in it. Is he dying?'

Outside, Fermat is screaming and screaming until one of the baying pack moves up gingerly approaching the lead dog and clamps its jaws around Fermat's neck. There is a strangled gurgling noise as the jaws meet in the middle and the screaming stops.

'I should imagine so.' Douglas shudders slightly at the thought of what might be happening outside. Having no windows and soundproofing on the ICL now seems like a brilliant bit of design engineering. 'Can you get the ICL moving?'
'Yes but you are very low on water, power and food. The bio-digesters in the system were only engineered for a five year tenure. We should go to the garage before we travel anywhere.' T-Ladi runs a diagnostic on the ICL's service history. 'The ICL could do with a deep clean, as well. Many, many of its cleaning schedules were not complied with. This is a breach of rules and you have triggered penalty payment clause 4579, Daisy.'
'I'm guessing the prize never happened.' Daisy replies, waving to the door. 'So the penalty doesn't really matter.'

'Wait a minute T-Ladi, did you just say we needed to go to a garage?' Douglas asks. 'You do know that civilisation as we know it has ended?'
'Yes. I do not mean a petrol station. The garage is a purpose built ICL utility workshop, very near here. Fermat sealed it after Downfall Day. We can restock and clean the ICL. Make any repairs, I registered there is some strange metal framework wedged under the chassis as you threw me in through the door.'
Guiltily remembering Douglas' bike, Daisy moves the conversation on. 'What about the computer programme?'
'It will be fine, I will simply reboot the system and it will start running as though from the start of the experiment again, wiping all memory of the last five years.'
'Wait!' Daisy can't explain why it matters but losing the only thing she has shared the last five years with, even if it is only a piece of particularly belligerent computer code, seems the same as erasing part of her herself . 'Do you have to wipe its memory?'
'Well,' T-Ladi pauses for a moment and tries to analyse Daisy's facial expression but fails. Human faces are still too tricky and Fermat would not let her practise on him. 'I could reset the clock instead, it might override the safe mode.'
'Well, this sounds like a plan, we travel to the ICL workshop restock the caravan with enough supplies for us all to make it to New Cumbria...'
'Why would you travel to New Cumbria?' T-Ladi asks, surprise registering in her synthetic voice.
'Because they are building a new country there...' Before Douglas can continue, T-Ladi starts to laugh.
'What's so funny!' Douglas folds his arms and slumps into the nearby sofa.
'New Cumbria is a piece of Government propaganda to try and make humans feel more comfortable about the fall of civilisation. Something to cling to. The hope was people would survive in small pockets across the country and try to rebuild with the thought of a power base in the mountains. There isn't anything there. Maybe a few sheep.'
'How do you know all this?' Douglas asks annoyed, first it was Daisy and now a robot is laughing at his plan.
'Fermat hacked into the public broadcast software. He found the source files and the outline of emergency planning. There was no plan.'
'No New Cumbria?'
'No. No new nothing. That is why Fermat went to great lengths to get the ICL back. He had a plan.'
'Which was?'
'Live in the ICL.'
'And....' Douglas asks a small flame of hope flickering in his mind at the thought of a new plan.
'No, that was it.'
'Just live in the ICL? ... Forever?' Daisy can feel her blood pressure rise, five years was bad enough but forever?
'No, just until his death. We ought to get this vehicle to the garage, I shall drive us there now.' With that, T-Ladi unplugs herself from the docking port and makes her way through to the cockpit.

Daisy sits next to Douglas on the moulded sofa and tries to make sense of the last day. But there is no sense to it. Nothing makes sense any more.
'I was going to be rich and famous. Write a book, live on a island paradise. Give regular interviews, maybe even a tour or two. And now, now I have to spend the rest of my life in this... this... egg powder and Sun-U-Like and there isn't even any cake....' Daisy stops making any sense and starts softly and inconsolably crying.
Douglas sighs, for a moment he wishes he was still on his bike, free, alone and with a clear plan to get to New Cumbria and start a new life. But it is much a dream as Daisy's imagined future is. The only thing that is real is this, here and now, the ICL and the slim chance they might survive for longer than most in the hi-tech cocoon of protection the capsule provides.

T-Ladi slowly manoeuvres the ICL back onto the road and keys in the location of the garage into the auto satnav. Then sets about overwriting the digital clock, resetting it to five years without overwriting the memory banks of the computer programme. It takes a few minutes but she is successful and the digital projection above the sealed doors in the living area suddenly flashes back into life, rolling back 1827 days in blur of light and starts counting down again.

05.12.366.24.60.60.... 05.12.366.24.60.59...