“So do we tell them or not”?
“Well their your customers and as far as I can see it’s up to you”
“Why do you keep saying customers? These are people, these people have lives and you’re telling me I have to decide their future”
“Look, you asked me to go over the contract, that’s what I did, it’s a contract, which makes them customers”
“Okay okay, just tell me where we stand…exactly where we stand”
“You have the paperwork nearby”
“Yeah, all 300 odd pages of it”
“Ok page 278 paragraph 5;
In the event of a localised or global situation which Relight considers to be a non-immediate threat to the below signatory, then Relight reserves the right to notify the signatory until after the hibernation period is complete, the decision to notify or not will be made by the most senior employee on site within 24 hours of the situation becoming public knowledge.
“You’ve read it”?
“Yeah I’ve read it, and there’s no way round it”?
“As legal advisor to the board I have to tell you no, there’s no way round this, the decision has to come from you, unless you’ve found anyone else left to make it”?
“Don’t be stupid, they all left before the rest of us even knew, never though head of I.T would land me this shit…….what would you do”?
“I’ve spoken to the people behind the news and its being candy appled, their putting a sugary coating on a poison apple to make the truth taste a bit nicer, but the truth is were fucked and it’s just a matter of time, far as I see it you have the chance to give them more time than most of us, they are 120 miles from the nearest town and have 8 months of supplies, so if I had the chance of not knowing and living day to day normal for as long as possible id take it……and id take it gladly”
“Is it really that bad”?
“Shit…. I guess that’s it then, I’ll wipe the drives and seal the building, give them a chance, if any...”
“You made then right choice, trust me, and good luck, may god be with you in this godless world”
The cabin was small but functional; the main living area 15 paces by 20, bathroom 10 by 5 and bedroom 10 by 10. Joe had measured this on day 4 with the plan to work out the floor space and value but soon lost interest, this was meant to be a retreat of sorts away from his day to day work in the industry, he settled with a total value of…… “not as much as his 4000 sq.ft apartment”. But this was home as much as that for six months, well only 2 more months to be precise. “Why am I doing this” he would often ask himself, sometimes out loud, but then Meg would answer some banal querying reply which soon taught Joe to keep such questions buried deep in the mind, though he was growing sure Meg could still hear them. Over the past few months he had grown fond of Meg, as much as you can grow fond of an AI unit. But there you have it he had developed a relationship with a computer. Not for the first time as he comically recalled his youth and the close bond he had with his first laptop, and simultaneously his right hand. But that was 30 years ago and times had changed and that’s why he was here, Joe needed a change.
He first heard of Relight a few months after the divorce, he had finally given in to the constant after work drink invites Carol on reception bombarded in his direction by any social media platform available, she even found his old my space page and that’s when he gave in, that sort of commitment deserves reward. So they all met at Matts Wine bar a few blocks down from work and began the rudimentary task of putting the world to rights. After listening to Carol yet again claiming the US would have been a better place had Trump got in Joe made his move, he slipped away while she went to drain the three oddly coloured cocktails she had devoured. Joe knew this was time to leave as her fourth would give her courage to start on relationships and how Joe should be “Back in play” a phrase she appeared proud of almost like she had coined it herself. Just as Joe was settling the tab Paul from accounts came over and eagerly pulled him over to his table were his girlfriend Terri sat, Terri was a good friend of Carols so Joe was mindful of watching all he said.
“Just wanted to run something by you Joe if you have 2 minutes”
Now Joe indeed had 2 minutes, maybe five if Carol felt the need to apply more face paint.
“Always for you Paul”
Joe actually meant this as he liked Paul and Terri, they were a good couple and seemed gleefully happy in their world, though Joe did wonder sometimes if that was the same world as the rest of us lived on, the sort of couple that gives the rest of us hope that maybe the one is out there as these two seem to have found each other. Now that said Joe did find there company a bit chocolate, nice at first but too much gets sickly, this encounter would have to be quick.
“Joe, me and Terri got to thinking and decided you need a break, now I know you don’t want to hear that but trust me and hear me out”
“Paul, you’re right as usual and now you have 1 minute left”
“Ok, ok the short version, 6 months paid vacation away from everything and everyone”
This sparked Joe’s interest and he drew back the chair to take a seat, Carol momentarily upset by the sight of this as she vacated the ladies consoled herself by immediately flirting with the barman, who was in fact Gay and everyone knew this, apart from Carol.
“Wake up Joe”
“Meg I told you last night I decide when it’s time to get up not you “
“But Joe I do believe it customary to up some time before the following nightfall”
“What….what time is it Meg”?
Joe started to move at this news normally without reason, most days even with no responsible duties to name apart from urinating and defecating he still felt it pertinent to be up before the sun went down. But today was different and he had no intention of toilet duties being the highlight of his day.
“I see your dressed Joe, what plans do you have for the rest of the day”?
“You see im dressed…….Meg how often do you watch me”?
“Every moment you’re in the cabin and as far as the outside camera see, I have been meaning to ask about your sleep actually Joe, you seem to have a nightmare or disturbance the same time every night just after you turn out the lights, not for long, it ends as quick as it starts and then you sleep swiftly and soundly, should I record it in future for you to review”?
“Meg I can assure you that’s not something you need to concern yourself with let alone record, how about you spend the time defragging your hard drive, though I will thank you for pointing something out”
“Your welcome Joe but can I ask what”?
“I need to get out more”
Joe had only ever seen this part of the states on survival specials and Bigfoot hunting shows, sadly he enjoyed the Bigfoot shows more, shame as the former would prove a lot more useful than supposing every slightly large track to be that of a 9ft mythical creature.
But now he was going to explore, he was supplied with no maps just a basic idea of the topography and water ways, he knew there was a cave set to the base of a steep hill to the north and a river running in the valley below, he sat halfway between these points with light forest to all sides, today he would head towards the cave, not that he had any vested interest in caves but more where it was situated drew him to it.
“Meg I know your limited in what you can find me on your files but I wondered if you have flight records and flight plans”?
“Joe I have the top 1000 sites cached from Jan 1st this year in their entirety on local drives for your use, though I will remind you the safe search filters were applied prior to this which meant 347 on the top 1000 had to be removed followed by 137 of the following top 1000. Flight records I have for all major airlines and flight plans though obviously those would have been subject to change”
“I get the picture Meg were a sick race and wonder how we manged it this far but here we are and don’t worry the flight plan I want to check won’t have changed”
Joe uploaded the data from Meg to his I.V.O.R and headed to the cabin door.
“Ok keep the rest on the desktop and find me sundown Time Meg”?
“Darkening from 20.45 to pitch black approx 21.45 depending on cloud cover, air temperature and humidity”
“I’m sure there’s a reason they make a difference and I’ll let you tell me one day but all I need to know is I have 3 hours till I’d rather be in here than out there, see you soon Meg”
“And you Joe, hope you find what you’re looking for”
“So do I Meg, otherwise you and I may be friends for a while longer than planned”
As Joe set off he looked back wondering if Meg really did watch every moment, a strange notion to come here to get away from everything and everyone only to have nearly every moment watched and likely recorded, also made him think twice about solitary bedroom activities in future.
The slope rose gently with the dropping sun still falling warm on Joes back. The way was mostly covered in soft loose dirt and exposed tree roots, roots that had brought Joe to his knees swifter than a well-placed kick to the undercarriage. The slope was starting to steepen now and the gradient was getting tough, maybe not such a good idea Joe thought to himself, maybe none of this was but he was here now and blind curiosity drove his legs further than before.
The trees were clearing now with the base of the mountain and its granite rock now piercing the previous soft soil. A quick glance to the east confirmed his hopes, the elevated position gave a clear view of the low horizon. 20:47 and as Meg had said the sky was starting to darken, just 10 minutes to wait, hopefully disprove his theory and 45 minutes to get back to the cabin feet up and plan how to make the last of his time here more exciting.
Joe sat on the nearest rock that would inflict the least amount of pain on the coccyx and looked again to the east, though the sky only darkened slightly he knew what he was looking for and exactly where to find it. ENE, 37 degree elevation, 20:58 and 23 seconds with a prominent iridium flare, if it was there Joe would see it as the sky was crystal clear and starting deepen its shade of blue by the minute. He watched the time as much as the Sky, much like you watch the last seconds count down on the microwave, you could do something else with the last odd 20 seconds but you don’t, you stare back and forth from the food inside to the time on the countdown, The time passed and Joe saw nothing, much like the evenings previous but now he was sure, the others could have been oversight on his part with no exact times to work with and no clearing to view from. This time he could be sure, it was meant to be there and it wasn’t, this was the first time any sort of tangible fear had crept through Joes now cooling bones and he didn’t like it, not one bit.
He set off back down the slope at a pace his fear and thoughts following close behind, his relationship with Meg had just changed dramatically like a stranger stood at your side on the battlefield any other day a stranger, that day your closest friend.