Manhattan is a monument. The triangular mile-high pyramids of midtown still stand, but they are empty. A cold wind was blowing. The lower East Side is now a vast field littered with abandoned vehicles of types I have never seen. Some of them have been open to the seasons for years. Brambles have grown over the seats, through the steering columns (at least I think that's what those whiplike extensions from just below the lefthand window must be).
Then, early in June, I found an entrance.
Everyone had moved underground. Of course that movement had begun before I left, but I had no idea it would be so extensive. The world has been reforested.
It is very beautiful, but there is no one to talk to. I am the last person left alive.
Underground is nothing but desolation. Endless corridors where my footsteps echo. Condensation collects and runs down the walls. Occasionally a gust of air shows some random action of the atmosphere controls, so somewhere there is still power, but I have yet to find a machine or terminal that works. Not that I would understand how to work them even if they were active. The lifts do not work and I have had to climb access ladders or stairs.
There is no sign of violence. It is as if everyone had stepped out years ago and not returned.
The Gyges works very well on the planetary surface. (Naturally I left the scoop in orbit.) She was designed to be rugged and intelligent. She sang to me as we flew over what was once the eastern United States (recently called, from the chart, the "Northwest Alliance.") Nothing exists but trees, as far as I can see, as far as Gyges' sensors can scan: trees and rolling hills. This used to be called Pennsylvania when I left, and this was Ohio. The Lakes gleam to the north, pale and blue.
I landed south of Chicago. The Loop is enclosed in a dome, the old 20th Century buildings perfectly preserved. Everywhere else there is nothing but forest and meadow, river and lake.
I walked into old Chicago. The access lock to the dome stood open. Ancient computer printout littered the street. Soon I found what looked like an escalator, frozen forever, going down. I found a hospital on the first level. There were bodies in some of the beds. This is the first sign of human beings I have found.
The bodies were mummified inside lifesupport tents. They had certainly been dead for years, and there were not many of them. I sat beside one of them for hours. I do not know what happened to them, what terrible disease they had or why they were abandoned here in lifesupport which no longer functioned.
At what seems to have been a nurse's station on the second level, I found a terminal with a small ready light burning. It might allow me to search for information. I will try to find out what has happened to the world, where the people have gone, and if I must remain alone for the rest of my life.
Gyges tells me my psychological adjustment is in peril. I have been too long without other people.
Keywords: found, gyges, nothing, years, some, people, happened, lifesupport, bodies, level, old, dome, chicago, trees, sign, access, work, works, terminal, find, where, world, would, underground, everyone, must, open, abandoned, littered
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: Wed Apr 17 2002
Privacy Note: This site uses Hitbox and Webtrends Live to track activity, this is so the author and myself know how many people are viewing the site. The ads below pay for the tracking service.
We collect 'aggregate' statistical information about the use of this site. We do not collect or store information about individual users and we do not sell the information we collect onto any other company or individual.
You can prevent tracking by switching off cookies, or by rejecting cookies from the tracking companies. All new web-browsers (IE6 or Mozilla) have options to do this.(Sal)