Old Memories

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Other  |  House: House of Ghosts


Strange things occur when you least anticipate it...

Submitted: December 21, 2017

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Submitted: December 21, 2017

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Old Memories

Q. B. McKinney

 

 

 

Grandpa Jason powered down his VR transmitter and placed it on the table next to his recliner. Sharing memories with young JJ3 always made him nostalgic, melancholy, and a little bit weary. “I need to take a walk maybe that will help shake the blues,” he mumbled to himself as he was standing up. Even with arthritis slowing his jogging down to a slow walk, Jason refused to “sit still and let rust cover my butt.” Stopping a brief moment in front of the desk; he made calculations for the next planetary alignments on his astrological charts, jotting down a few notes to remember what their conversations were about and closed his journal; tying a bow in the two strips of leatherette to help keep the cover intact.

"Come on Tabb-E, rise and shine." Jason gave the wake up command to his robotic quadruped sidekick; causing it to stir. It was scavenged from a pile of antiquated DARPA equipment, badly damaged and abandoned after the Global Obliteration Decree. With a little TLC and tweaking of the Radio Frequency Machine Learning System (RFMLS) program, Tabb-E was reborn. The 3D printed skin bore a resemblance to its namesake Labrador/Golden retriever, but the Original Tabby had gone to doggy heaven many years ago. The perception sensors on the “dog” lit up with a blink and it un-docked itself from the charging station. After a long day of hauling, it needed a couple of hours charging time even though it could run for weeks between docking.

 

Jason grabbed his rucksack and favorite leather jacket from the bench bolted to the wall inside the exit chamber, next to the recovered and modified human universal load carrier exoskeletal suit he called “Hefty”. He could still smell a hint of his father in the lining; a faint mixture of Versace Eros for men, cigar smoke (Macanudo Vintage Maduro,) and motorcycle exhaust. Old Mac had given him the motorcycle jacket and a couple of other things before he and Jackie moved to the "Safe Zone" under government orders. All citizens retired and past the age of usefulness to the Industrial Complex Corporation was placed outside the main cities to live out their final years (usually shortened) in Congruence Groups.

 “It is here that the elderly can live in harmony with nature and find peace with their creator in the final days,” is what the representative of the Corporation had said with an aura of haughtiness as he finished the presentation. He powered down the holographic display and sat with his neatly manicured hands clasped in his lap. “He looks like a turkey vulture waiting to feed on a carcass” Mac mumbled to Jackie, and she shot an elbow into his ribs while trying to stifle a laugh. After reading the contracts and agreeing on the amendments made, he and Jackie placed their thumb prints on the scan pad at the bottom of the ISung tablet (Apple and Samsung had merged by then,) and the transaction was complete.

“The Corporation would like to thank the both of you for your compli…, er…, assistance in this matter” the representative spluttered, giving them both a handshake before leaving ‘that felt like gripping a dead fish’ Mac said as Jackie was securing the exit chamber. They both burst out with laughter.

 Mac always said when the government gives you something, you can bet your last dollar it will benefit them in the end. He made sure his children and grandchildren were supplied with ample assets necessary for the global currency exchange, consoled them with the reassurance that he and Jackie would be alright; and that was the last anyone had seen of them. Jason received encrypted communicates from his parents for a while afterwards, but he was never able to track their source of origin. “Sometimes you must die to the world to live for yourself” is another saying Mac used frequently in his elder years.

 

Jason checked the navigational beacons on his Regional Positioning System to ensure his coordinates were correct and started his hike in the direction of his last beacon placement. With most of the worlds power grid fried by the electro-magnetic pulse (EMP) blast of the dominant countries trying to “protect its citizenry from threat of inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM) attacks” and the rest toasted by overload; what remained of the world’s populace were left without a reliable power source. Within a period of a decade, the riots, weather “anomalies,” and exhaustion of resources caused the remainder of Mother Earth inhabitants to return to basic survival skills… with the exception of the Corporation.

 

“How about a little walking music Tabb-E” Jason articulated to the dog so that it comprehended the voice command. After a brief pause for music selections, an up-tempo guitar run preceded “I see the bad moon rising.” He repositioned the pack on his back, danced a quick (and mechanical) old man’s jig, and began his trek. After a couple of miles, Jason stopped to check his bearings on the compass. After reading all of the books his father left for him, he knew not to put all of his trust in electronic gadgets; even if he did build them himself. His source of powering the subterranean lodge he called home was once a diesel generator that his father converted to solar power, which Jason had later converted to use the principals of a Searle Effect Generator or SEG. Most of the equipment he had scavenged was converted to use this, as was his trusty side kick that was returning from its grid exploration.

Jason crested a hill and viewed the remains of the city that was there. Once a bustling metro area was now reduced to nothing but decaying ruins. He could imagine the children crying as their parents were bustling them away to safety (or what they thought was safety) the internment camps the government was calling “havens” ended up being the opposite. Each individual was inoculated to protect against an unknown pathogen the enemy was to administer as biochemical warfare, but the biochemical warfare had already begun with the genetically modified food products; and pharmaceutical companies paying lobbyists to coerce congress members to pass laws protecting their poisons they hawk as medications. The Food and Drug Administration, along with American Medical Association, covered their sponsorship by the food corporations they are saying causes diseases… “Pork is the leading cause of hypertension” one year and the next it is deemed healthy and “the other white meat.” Chicken is touted as a healthy alternative to beef, but then you had better watch out for the bird flu; with beef it’s the mad cow disease.  The global depopulation agenda is in full effect, and the common citizen takes no notice; but can recite the latest sports statistics or tabloid gossip.

“How about we rest over there?” Jason pointed to a shaded area under a pile of rubble that vaguely resembled a city hospital. “We might just get lucky and find something we can use.”

The wind was howling through the twisted metal of the skeletal structure, with its enormous support beams jutting skyward like fingers of a metallic giant, clawing its way from an underground tomb. It shrieked and wailed, sounding like specters of patients that met their demise in the abandoned health care facility. The powers that be decided who lived and who perished based on their worth to future societies. Those too ill or infirmed to contribute were left to suffer the onslaught of natural disasters until their life support, both mechanical and spiritual expired. He could still catch a faint whiff of decomposing flesh mixed with the smell of rusting metal and other decaying materials as he found a sturdy place to sit and stepped out of the exoskeletal outfit.  He began exploring the area for any electronics or wire, scraps for another generator or whatever gadget he could trade for necessities. Walking down a long corridor, he came to a door marked STAIRS with a character symbol egressing and steps descending. This probably leads to the basement and by chance a mechanical room, he thought pausing to place a locator beacon so Tabb-E could track him in case he got into some trouble. Opening the door, he shone his flashlight inside to assess the area; propped the door open with a chunk of concrete and entered.

Carefully traversing the concrete and metal staircase, Jason counted each step and landing as he had done on several past instances of a search such as this. He always wanted to prepare himself to exit in total darkness if the situation occurred. “Seventeen…eighteen…nineteen…twen…” is as far as his count got before the second flight of stairs collapsed from underneath him; sending him plunging into a pool of water that was once the basement. Arching his back and with a few strong kicks he resurfaced in time to watch the rest of the twisted metal structure snap free from its anchors and careen towards him. Adrenaline surged through his body causing old Jason to nearly walk on water; but even though it felt like he was swimming rapidly, the metal was falling more swiftly, hitting both of his legs and knocking him underwater again.

 “Twist your body left and kick off the frame with your right foot…”

Mac? Jason thought while simultaneously (and subconsciously) following instructions, which kept him from being pinned underneath the staircase and leading to an untimely demise. He burst to the surface; gasping and splashing, scanning the area for more hazards and a way to get out of the water. But he was mostly looking for the body that went with the voice that gave him the lifesaving instructions. There’s no way Mac could have been here, it was just your imagination he concluded when he found a place to finally get out of the chilling dunk. You were in trouble and you came up with a solution, albeit it sounded like your father spoke to you, he’s long gone. He heard the comforting and familiar computerized bark from Tabb-E and noticed a harness being lowered to him. Thankfully he had equipped her with rescue features just in case something like this happened; an afterthought, but an appropriate one in this case. “What took you so long getting here, I nearly drown?” Jason told his sidekick. “Just kidding, I’m glad you made it. It would have been a tough go, getting back up here without stairs.”

After sloshing back to the place he entered the ruins, Jason surveyed the equipment he left behind to ensure no one had come along and helped themselves to it. Reassured that everything was there, he built a fire using a small stack of pressed recycled paper briquettes and a ‘log’ rated for several hours burning time. Removing his wet clothing down to and including his skivvies; he huddled close to the fire and took out his journal to chronicle the day’s events. Thankfully, the weather was unusually mild for the time of year; but with the global power outages, the HAARP stations couldn’t continue to create weather anomalies therefore nature was slowly returning to its original patterns. Sitting around in the buff was one thing…sitting around exposed and freezing would have been intolerable.

 Jason sat in the flickering light near the campfire, shadows dancing against the wall; writing notes in his journal.  At least fifty-three years has passed since the Global Obliteration Decree was put in motion, twenty-three years after the media created a hysteria claiming an unknown “planet” was destined to strike Mother Earth. Nine inhabitable planets were found out of two thousand one hundred and seventeen possibilities, and New Earth was chosen to be the birth place of the new human society. He sat for a moment, deep in thought; until he caught a glimpse of movement in his periphery of vision. Illuminating the area revealed what appeared to be a large cat-like hybrid, its blue-green eyes reflecting in the light; and arching its back it hissed one word “keeper…”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


© Copyright 2019 Q.B. McKinney. All rights reserved.

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