Are we there yet?

You know what the dumbest thing about the future is?  There’s no lighting.  Just kidding, the dumbest thing about the future is everything, but the poor lighting is annoying.  You don’t think about it most of the time because it never gets too dark at night and you’re outside most of the time because inside got blown up, but then you have to go into a secret underground bunker you remember “oh right, it’s dark without lights”. 

In movies and TV shows one of the skills that all characters have is the ability to make torches out of a handy stick and some nearby rags.  These super-torches give out more light than a small sun and are smokeless and heatless.  Which is a fine trick.  Sometimes they don’t even need oxygen.  Sadly I was sick that day at movie school. 

Lucien has a flashlight that looks like a flash cube from an old instant camera and has to be wound up for approximately nine hundred hours per minute of weak light that it puts out.  In order to conserve this precious resource we mostly stumbled around in the dark.

“That sounds like a good way to fall and hurt yourself.”

It sure is.  I don’t think we were ten yards into Alpha Complex when I took a bad step on something and felt like I had been hit in the ankle with a sledgehammer.  The pain was so intense that I almost suffocated before I could get control of my breathing.  What a way to go huh? 

One thing you learn in the apocalypse is no matter how badly something hurts there’s worse coming.  I limped along, by which I mean Lucien was seventy-five percent holding me up, because what were we going to do?  Turn back?  For what?  It’s not like I’m going to get better.  You just keep going and get more and more injuries until you fall apart like an undercooked gingerbread person. 

Talk about the blind leading the blind, or in this case the weak leaning on the weak, ever since he got shot in the gut Lucien hasn’t had much wind in his sails.  Even though I barely weigh anything because I’m so lithe and attractive, having to haul me around might as well have been dragging a car like in one of those strongman shows on ESPN Six for him.  I think that bullet messed up his diaphragm or something because he doesn’t breath right anymore.  I can hear it.

It’s a good thing we didn’t run into anything more dangerous than centipedes the size of beagles because we were in poor condition to put up much of a fight.  You know that disgusting show Fear Factor hosted by that screaming dullard from Newsradio?  I’d be great at that show now since I spend my time eating trash, crawling through muck and the grime, and getting bit on the neck by rat-snake-spiders. 

We were heading for a soft light in the distance and when we got close enough to see I must have looked like an exhumed carcass when I crawled to my feet.  It took us over an hour to get there and I bet we weren’t even half a mile into the complex. 

“There” in this case being an ATM kiosk thing that must be a computer.  The screensaver told me helpful facts like the current population of the complex was 0 and the current production level was 0 which means that we’re in an ultraviolet work capacity warning and the current target goal will take 19 million additional shifts to reach.  Also that the current temp was 37 (must be Celsius because it’s balls hot) and environmental controls are offline. 

As a joke I said “computer, warp factor twenty” and the screen changed to show things like – 1 Users are active on the network, You have 73 new private messages, You have 529 new responses to your posts,  Your Current Rep Score: 7,214, There are no Members online and in your area, Current Time: 1345 2 15 2099.

Lucien gave me look like “why does this machine know you?” and I shook my head at him “I don’t even think about why this shit happens anymore.”

I asked the computer to tell me where the guns are but it wasn’t that easy.  Nothing can ever be easy.  Lucien kept telling me to ask it where other things were trying to figure out where the armory might be, but for all we knew there wasn’t an armory.  Do cities have armories?  Do future cities have armories?  We did figure out where a security station was but the ATM told me in no uncertain terms that it was locked down and we couldn’t get in. 

We hobbled there anyway because it wasn’t that far, all things considered, on the chance that it might have been broken open but it was not.  On the plus side we did flip on Lucien’s flashlight cube for a second and did have the pleasure of seeing that inside the security station was a pyramid stack of grey mummified corpses. 

On a whim I asked the computer to send me a Johnny Cab to take me home and it said that all drones were currently out of service.  When I asked it to show me the way home a map came up.  When I said that I was super drunk and couldn’t walk and needed help it said that an emergency medical team was being dispatched and would arrive in SYSTEM ERROR 4501 hours.  We stared at that map for a long time.

“Seems simple enough” I said unconvincingly. 

Lucien sigh-coughed “Here we go.”

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