Our probes have returned from Antarctica. The winds still blow fiercely off the plateau down the glaciers. Snow and ice cover the land and much of the surrounding sea.
It is day down there now. The sun hangs above the horizon and circles slowly around the Pole, around and around and around, moving higher into the sky toward the Polar noon, then settling slowly once more toward the horizon. Yet the winds still howl, the ice groans and creaks and roars; sounds like the collapse of civilizations rumble and crack across the endless plains.
We would call it desolation, as it was before man came.
Yet his works are everywhere. The tunnels and chambers along the coastal marge beneath the sea where the great tankers docked and the cities beneath the ice, all are still there. The caldera of Mt. Erebus still fumes, and within its volcanic rock are the ruined corridors of PSYCHE, empty and sad. The winds blow through, snow accumulates in the corners, in the living quarters and the hallways, the meeting rooms and refectories. Ice has covered the wall-hangings and sculptures; ice and cold have stilled the music, replaced it with the winds. Sea ice and glacier ice and pressure ice have closed around everything with an ever-tightening grip.
Our probe moved slowly through the corridors, listening to the sounds of ice and wind and nothing else. Its molecular sensors gathered impressions and stored them - impressions of cold and emptiness and fugitive ghosts.
Did I say that? Ghosts. Yes. We have so much memory. Imagine the Leyden Jars (organic crystals, really, but the name had some historic meaning once) storing capacitor after capacitor of impressions up and down the spectra. Imagine the tight three-dimensional structures in the databanks folded into holographic configurations of everything that was thought or said or done - every formula, every poem, every biomonitor assessment of feeling or sensation for all the humans. Imagine the sensors drifting through those empty halls, gathering layer after layer of experience back to the beginnings of the Worldnet.
The molecules are in deprogram processing. The ghosts spring out, intangible but endlessly repeating their dance, lifting their hands to gesture, moving their mouths to speak, turning and bending and making music.
These are the ghosts that fill those halls. Years of them. We might as well be there, have been there, to see it all again, so complete are the recordings.
Now overlay this impression of life and movement and purpose with the awful desolation that is Antarctica now, that is the PSYCHE Warren. So much information floods in now - from SciTech, from History, from Geography, even from Central Processing!
Keywords: ice, around, ghosts, winds, their, every, imagine, impressions, slowly, sea, much, layer, halls, those, capacitor, sensors, everything, music, cold, empty, psyche, corridors, beneath, desolation, sounds, toward, moving, horizon, snow, blow, antarctica
All text © 1986 Rob Swiggart. "Portal : A Dataspace Retrieval" is available courtesy of the Author's Guild Backprint Programme. ISBN: 0595197841All programming and software © 2002 Salim Fadhley. Released under the GPL. Code available on request.
Updated: Sun Apr 14 2002
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