Monday, September 17, 2012

The Infinite Loop

Even before the extinction of the human race, old highway 54 was downright dangerous at night.  The lack of recent maintenance exacerbated the problem somewhat, but no one seemed to notice, except for the one pick-up truck working it’s way through the dark.

It was being driven by a cybernetic-humanoid, a robotic entity designed to look vaguely human; it walked on two legs, had two arms and a head.  True, the CH droid had three times as many joints on the legs and arms that could extend and retract but the head was very human-like if you overlooked the metallic sheen and the rotating optical receptors.   It could still operate an old pick-up truck found in an abandoned town outside the Grid.  Most cybernetics didn’t bother much with them, but they were the only useful transportation in the Uninhabited Zone.

Analysis of the humankind-ending plague revealed that it started somewhere in this area, which made it an area of interest.  The humans living here were the first to succumb.  Towns in the area had been deserted for nearly ten years now. 

So a girl suddenly walking in front of the truck came as kind of a shock to the CH droid's CPU.    What happened can’t be well translated from digital, but within an instant the droid decided on a solution; force the vehicle into first gear, apply the handbrake, turn the wheel exactly 30.2 degrees, miss the girl, run the truck up the embankment to slow down, turn the wheel 29.57 degrees the other direction and back on the road.  As back end of the truck slid, the cyborg applied more pressure to the brakes and allowed angular momentum to slow forward inertia.  If it were at all possible to do so, the cyborg would probably have shit in it’s pants. 

When the truck stopped, the CH droid did a quick analysis of vehicular damage and, finding none, opened the door and walked out onto the road.  Servos in his head whirred as his vision switched from enhanced optical, to thermal to ultra-violet and back to optical.  There was no girl.  There wasn’t even a body, just a moonlit road weaving through the forest.

It made one last scan and returned to the pick-up.  It was able to sit down before it noticed the girl was sitting in the passenger seat.  What happened to the droid’s processors is hard to translate from digital speak, but the whirring servos was basically the digital equivalent of yelling, “What.  The.  Figgity.  Fuck!”

The woman looked at the cyborg and said, “Hello.”

“Hello.  Can I assist you in some way?” said the cyborg.  It could see that her eyes had a certain glow in them that was unknown in any species of mammal on earth.  Her skin was pale to the point of being translucent.

“I want to go home.”

The cyborg processed this and said, “Yes. I can help you.  Where is your home?”

“Drive.  I will show you the way.”

The cyborg did as it was told.   The girl did not speak she simply sat and glared at the robot. It caused occasional danger warnings to flash in the cyborg’s CPU.  It doesn’t translate well from digital speak but it’s equivalent to being highly creeeped out.  Cybernetic entities rarely understood the term uncomfortable silence, but this one was learning quickly.  Finally it said,  “I am cybernetic humanoid number 1153.  I must say that it is amazing to find a living human, in this area.  Tell me, do you know anything about the catastrophe that lead to the plague?”

“Please watch the road.  It’s dangerous” said the girl.

“I do not know if you are aware, but something happened here that decimated the human population.  Do you know anything of it?  Are there others here, others that might have survived?”

“There are no people here.  There was only Kyle.  Kyle killed me.”

The cyborg paused to process that information.  “You are dead?”

The girl nodded, “Kyle killed me.  He killed me because he thought I was a liar.  He wouldn’t watch the road.”

“I believe you might have hurt yourself.  Allow me to take you somewhere were you can get help.”

The woman shook her head, “You can’t help me.  You will die too.  Just like everyone else.”

“Everyone else?” 

“Everyone died because Kyle wouldn’t watch the road.”

“I do not understand.”

“Kyle... you should really watch the road now.”

As quickly as the girl had appeared, there was a horn blast and the pickup was bathed in light from the headlights of an oncoming semi.  The girl screamed and the cyborg calculated.  It doesn’t translate well in any language, especially digital speak, but the droid came to a conclusion.     The cyborg reached out to touch the girl and it’s arm passed right through here. just like the semi passed through the pick-up moments later.  Instantly, both the truck and the woman disappeared. 

The cyborg slammed on the brakes one more time bringing the truck to a stop.  It opened the door and started scanning the area for the girl or the semi.  Suddenly, he noticed something metallic sticking out of the embankment.  The cyborg knelt down for a closer look.  It was remains of a tanker truck, long buried and overgrown.  With some digging, words could be read, ‘Biologic Solutions.’

Ten years ago, the company reported a loss of a transport truck but failed to detail it’s cargo, a virus being engineered as a biological weapon.  Still, the CH droid ran into a problem explaining how it made the discovery.

Words like paranormal, ghosts and psychic phenomenon don’t translate well into digital speak.

 It settled for suggesting that it had inadvertently activated a lost biological data fragment caught in an infinite loop.  Upon providing a terminating condition the data revealed the location of the wreckage.

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