Explosum Town 2050
Isabelle lived in an isolated area, that most survivors were afraid to venture into because of the radiation. It had been ten years since the bombs started falling all over the world. Countries could no longer contain that itch, to hit that big red button. Once all those red buttons were pushed, the fate of the world was sealed.
There were times that she missed interaction with people, just acknowledgment from another sane human being. Those thoughts of human interaction stopped when she saw what the world was evolving into, outside her scientific world. Her father had tried to get her into science as a young child, but she was never interested in it. She didn’t like it because she was jealous of the all the time that her father devoted to his study of science. All the time that her father put into those creations of his that he was always so busy with. It could be a robot that helped to clean carpets or a vaccine for AIDS, it didn’t matter to her. What mattered was that he cared more about those creations than he cared about her.
It was funny how loneliness could change a person. She could see things in retrospect, the small things that her father would do for her. He always made her lunches. He would leave them in the fridge for her. There were even times that he would randomly take her out of school, so that she could be his lab assistant for the day.
She would always complain about those days he made her learn stuff about his research. It was only after he had stopped allowing her to accompany him to his lab, that she wanted to go.She missed going. She missed the time that she had spent with her father.
Now science was the only thing that she had left in the world. It was what got her through her long days of searching for surviving plants and animals. The atmosphere was bogged down with a thick green haze. There were no living plants left within the perimeter of where Isabelle and her friend, Darius30, lived. Darius30 was the 30th and final AI that her father had created. At times, Isabelle thought that she could detect bits of her father’s personality within the AI’s monotone voice.
“Come. Sit down and eat. You know, you will die if you do not have enough nourishment.” Her father’s dead voice vibrated through her headset.
She rolled her eyes. Her father just had to give all his creations his matter-of-fact voice.
The voice was just as he had been in life, emotionless and cold. She knew that somewhere within the experiments and all the information populating within her father’s mind that he had loved her. Even if he never openly showed it.
“You just had to go and die on me, old man.”
The bombs fell without warning. The old man knew something was up, but he would not let her in on his secrets. His eyes were deep set within their bony sockets, and he was thin as a pole. If a bomb had not dropped upon her father’s mobile lab; he would have died from malnutrition.
Her phone buzzed with a message from her father.
Father- Get into my lab.
She stared down at the message with confusion. What lab? The only lab she knew about was his mobile lab that his sponsors had provided for him. The mobile lab was given to him in exchange for all his scientific research on how humanity could reach immortality through Artificial Intelligence.
Isabelle- What lab?
She waited impatiently for her father to respond.
She could hear tornado sirens shrieking outside the thin glass of her upstairs window. It was strange because she had just watched the weather report. It was supposed to be a bright and sunny day. The sirens just kept singing the annoying warning.
Isabelle- What’s going on? Are we under a tornado warning?
Something was wrong, her chest was tight with an unwanted anxiety that she could not calm away. She took a few deep breaths as she ran down the stairs.
Where would her father hide a lab in their small two story farm house? The other side of the house was leaning to one side, which made it hard to go to the bathroom since it was on that side of the house. The window gave her a sense of vertigo because it faced the ground. How she wished that her father had invested in their home instead of his experiments.
The only place it could be would be the basement, right? She wondered down the stairs and looked around the damp earthy-smelling room. The floor was compacted dirt, perhaps her father had hidden a room underneath the dirt floor.
She stared hard, her hands starting to shake with a need to find her father’s lab. Her heart was beating faster than she wanted it to, but it didn’t care about her feelings. Her heart just wanted her to slow down and take a breather. But did she listen? Nope, she just kept frantically searching around cracks in the dirt floor and the brick foundation of the house.
She leaned against the cold brick wall, momentarily giving up. Her heart pumped painfully when she heard her phone buzz.
Father- The lab is not inside the house. It’s in the shed out in the backyard. Type
the year of your mother’s birth,2010, then push your thumb up to the green pulsing light under the keypad. After the door opens, the stairs will lead down into an old bomb shelter that I converted into a makeshift lab.
It took her a few times of scanning through her father’s long text message to get what he was saying. Her mind was foggy, and she wished that she was not alone. She wished that for once, her father would be there with her, not just reaching out to her from a distance.
Isabelle- What is going on? Please tell me. I am freaking out and alone. Please, can you tell me when you will be home?
She almost dropped her cell phone while running up the basement stairs. She did not pause, the siren’s song pushing her along towards the shed. The shed, it was nothing to look at, just some pressed wood held together by a small tin roof. She paused outside of the shed’s door-less entryway to look up at the blue sky. There were no clouds and it was a glaringly bright day. The kind of day she hated. She much rather have seen a dark clouded sky. At least then she would not have been confused about why the sirens were going off.
The stairs that her father had texted her about were slabs of random sized boulders. Some of the boulders were slick with condensation. After falling a few times, she decided to slow down. She squinted her blind eyes, hoping that they would adjust to the darkness.
What kind of bomb shelter had boulders as stairs, she wondered, slipping a few more times within the darkness of the underground makeshift stairwell.
After she stepped off the last boulder she walked for a few minutes, thinking that somehow, she had become lost within an underground labyrinth. She hoped that everything had been an elaborate joke, but her father, the always right scientist, never joked. At least, he never joked with her.
“Isabelle. I detect the DNA of Isabelle.” Lights switched on so fast that she was blinded to her surroundings. Her eyes could not adjust from the total darkness to the blaring light of society fast enough.
“Dad?” She called out, wiping her eyes.
“Darius30. Tell me what has happened to the scientist who created me?”
Isabelle blinked in confusion at the earthy room that she found herself in. She looked up at the lights, wondering how they did not catch the roots that they were so entwined with on fire.
“Darius30? What does that mean?”
“I am Darius30. Tell me what has happened to the scientist who created me?” The voice repeated its earlier question.
The lights dimmed and red alert lights started flashing, hidden within the hanging root system of the earthy ceiling.
“Tell me, what has happened to the scientist who created me?” The bodiless voice demanded.
“I don’t know. You sound like him. Like my father. You must be one of his creations.” She laughed, thinking about how he loved his creations more than his own daughter.
The lights flickered on and off, while the red emergency lights glowed continuously.
“Okay, I see.” The monotone voice said, as a large door encrusted with dried mud creaked open.
“An old bomb shelter, my ass. I wonder how long it took him to build this.”
Isabelle shook away the echoes of the past to check the protective suit’s O2 sensor. She nodded her head in satisfaction. She could explore for about 30 more minutes.
Her hometown was now covered in a layer of thick gray sediment. She didn’t know what exactly the gray stuff was and she didn’t want to know. It could have been the ashes of those that had died that had been sealed off by dirt and bomb debris, for all she knew. Darius30 could analyze it for her, but she didn’t want to know. Keeping things a mystery was a way for her to keep her sanity.
The town used to be known as Nashville. It used to be the happening hub of country music. She could still vaguely remember the music awards that her friends were all into. She was the outsider when it had come to country music. It just wasn’t her thing, so while her friends were out partying at a music concert she would be reading a fantasy book. Always wanting to get away from her life, to something better. Now, what she wouldn’t give to have that old life back.
She hated that the survivors had re-dubbed the city, Explosum Town. The days that it was known as Nashville were the best, before the bombs fell and destroyed everything.
Every time she ventured out of her lonely town she was shocked by how many people thought that ghosts lived within the debris. There were even times that people claimed that she was a zombie. There was no way that anyone could have survived the bombs, unless they had been prepared for a nuclear fallout. Most were not. She was lucky that her father had been a paranoid scientist. Now all that was left of him were the bits of his personality that he had encoded within Darius30’s AI system.
The dark ages were back, without the use of antibiotics and clean water, disease spread quickly and killed off millions of people. The society that had begun to develop outside of the area she lived in was insane. People were burned for being witches, well, burned for being anything that the judging mobs of society deemed to be outside of their realm of reality. Was stealing bad, yes, but only to some of the mobs. Some of the mobs thrived on stealing and murdering people for food. While some of the mobs survived on eating their dead and digging through the old trash for anything that looked like food.
The river water looked clear and was always cool to the touch. Many people assumed because the water looked clean that it was clean. The water hid a danger that could not be seen with the human eye. There were all kinds of germs and diseases dancing around in the flowing water. Every time a small child or an elderly person drank from the river water near 2nd Ave. they died. No one was able to help the victims of the disease enriched water. The deceased would be set aside, so that the elders of the mod could determine whether the flesh should be burned or consumed. The elders were not always correct in their assumptions.
Isabelle wanted to vomit the first time she witnessed a little girl eating a human heart with a big smile on her bony face. The little girl held part of the heart out to a little boy who sat next to her. The little boy shook his bony head and laid down. She wondered if the boy had been close to the person whom they were eating.
Her stomach rolled. She thought about taking her mask off, but stopped herself when Darius30 warned her, in his monotone voice, that she would be in danger of contracting a disease. After the bombs had fallen, Darius30 took it upon himself to send her out to gather samples for experimentation. So, that he could see how the environment was changing and evolving due to the radiation.
All the survivors that lived outside of the abolished town thought she was a ghost. She was fine with being a ghost, eating her protein mash that she made from crickets. She bred the crickets inside of the small greenhouse Darius30 helped to keep regulated. The green house was twenty feet away from the big wooden wheel that relentlessly turned according to the mood of the river. Isabelle wanted to follow the river that helped to generate the enormous energy that was required to keep Darius30’s core processor functioning. She never did get around to exploring the waterway because Darius30 repeatedly warned her not to go anywhere that his sensors could not reach. She never could understand why her father did not design Darius30’s sensors to work just twenty feet below where his CPU unit was stored. Maybe their technology was not as advanced as she had once given it credit for.
“Do you ever tire?”
“Living without human interaction?”
Isabelle stopped pulling the bits of dried-out plants from her small medical bag to looked up at the large monitor that was Darus30. The AI stared at her with hollow eyes that were a bad imitation of her own.
“I wonder why he made you look like me but sound like him.” She mused aloud, not expecting a response.
“Are you going to answer my question? I am. What you call, curious about how the lack of human interaction, can affect the human psyche.”
She smiled. She was a ghost that lived with the distant echo of who her father was. He had somehow survived through Darius30, who carried on her father’s experiments.
“Maybe one day you can help me to make an AI version of myself, so that you are not alone after I die.”
“Alone. It might be hard to be alone.”
“Yes, being alone is hard.”
By Ashley Houston
Inspiration- Fear of AI and the unknown future.
Hope you enjoyed my venture into the Sci-Fi genre. 🙂
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