MEMORIES FROM A HAUNTED PAST
I was frozen. Placed in a steel coffin where my body was frozen below zero degrees Celsius. It was a long journey. A journey I wasn’t consciously aware of. And my body went beyond the local star system. To star configurations beyond previous reach.
On this silent ride star-ship staff were looking at my body from time to time. They looked to it that my body had the right temperature. A body that would be brought back to life as we entered the Proxima II star configuration. The star system had a blue giant. A blinding blue light source in outer space. It had rare planets orbiting the star on oval patterns. And the half-planet/half asteroid Divergent waited for us in the black void. A planet that wasn’t fully spherical. Rather it had large chunks of matter separated from it. Creating a partly concave surface. With great probability caused by prior collisions with other heavenly bodies.
I was unconscious. My parents (whom earlier slept unconsciously beside me in other steel coffins) were brought back to life for an unwanted purpose. It turned out that our fleet of star-ships were intercepted by ships of alien origin.
A war broke out. That put pressure on us and made it necessary to bring dead people to life much earlier than expected. My father was one of those. He had been a military officer in his earlier life. A deviant, a rough space fighter with military capacity. He was sent down to the surface of a red planet. Not too dissimilar from Mars but bigger. A journey into a reddish landscape with torn and yellow outcroppings. Very much like adjacent cliffs. Formed by constant lava flow.
His ship took fire above the surface of an alien city. With sparks of lightning coming from ground-to-air defence units. It was a hostile alien race. Not much could be seen up close. But my father went down there. With a burning military ship taking ground and rolling in circular motion.
He equipped himself with ray guns taken from a weapons store alongside the middle-part of the ship. Futuristic stealth weapons with homing missiles. The grunts were screaming. They pushed themselves out from the ship which was hitting fire due to the ground-to-air defence units.
One of the grunts’ space helmets was partly cracked from the ground impact. Or so it was said.
They lost their lives again upon alien ground.
I was introduced to the job by certain hiring managers of the company. It was a company grown to some size from the incentive of higher educated people. People using body augmentations to adjust to the necessities of the alien world. They were using a modification of English language. With great focus put on engineering work suitable for the space colony. “Retro-wear” was a word meaning clothing designed by designers in the company.
As I entered the middle-size hall (measuring thirty meters) I was pushed into a clothing area where I could leave my space-suit for a stand taken care of by company staff.
The company was called “Symphony” due to its careful attention to style.
I collected myself for an interview with those people. People dressed in retro-wear with a slender back with points of body contact creating distance between the cloth and the actual body. It was for balance of body temperature.
I made eye contact. My dull face. Grown a little scared from the moment projected its eyes into the face of one of the hiring managers. I tried not to stare. I tried to say something fit for the moment. But I was practically raised from the dead.
Having a weak condition.
“Sydney ‘Sid’ Plainfield?” The hiring manager asked, “Is that your real name?”
“It is.” I said nervously, “Sydney being the real name and ‘Sid’ my spoken name. I’m just an young woman.”
“Ok Sid.” The hiring manager said, “This is the deal.”
LOST IN THE INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX
The warning signs turned out to be normal elevator signs telling me of my ascent to higher areas.
I went out of the elevator shaft after a hissing sign and ease of gravitational force. I came to an area full of dumpsters. Internal transport vehicles passed me by as I came to look at a facility map that would tell what way to go to the restroom areas. I looked at the map but had forgotten the name of the restroom areas. I was tired. Frustrated. Longing for the security of a good nights sleep. And I looked at the marked areas: The construction zone, the mining areas and the clothing facility. Used by women like me.
“Are you ok?” A young man asked me as I stood before the intricate sign.
“I’m just tired.” I said to the man.
“Are you a new worker?” The man asked me.
“This is my first day.” I said and went.
When I finally entered the restroom areas (called “Free-space”) I came upon a bearded man that talked about the strain of muscles experienced in the construction areas. He also said peculiar things: Like the experience of strange happenings in the facility. The disappearance of workers. Exchange of manager support staff.
Some days the workers were seen, some days they were gone. Lost in the elevator shaft to the mining areas. Screaming were heard some days. Other days they were back. And some of them described they had new orders. New orders and also time with the managers to inform themselves of company policy.
I had been one of those.
I can’t hide it. I’m easily intimidated by nature. But the fact of being left alone on dying earth was the worse part of the spectrum. I went to the stars to immerse myself in another world. To serve my own interests on a colony beyond normal reach. Just working there alongside my parents to make a living on an alien world.
For the company of my parents and a decent pay check.
The descent to the mining areas of the industrial complex was about getting experience as a miner using drilling gear and explosives to extract ore from the underground levels of Divergence.
It was hot in these areas. The “Retro-wear” suit was good as it had temperature compensation technology to adjust temperature as required. It was like a combination of pure clothing and a space-suit.
But as I entered the mining areas I went the wrong way. The dark chambers had a height of three meters and a width of ten meters dimly lit by fluorescent lights. I had some drilling equipment and the advantage of being schooled in drilling from earth.
I didn’t arrive at the chosen destination. Instead I entered an alien vault looking pretty similar to my initial descriptions. The vault was full of steamy surroundings. Alien plants were growing there. Steam was coming up from pools of running water. It was an irrigation pattern set in system by human workers working alongside an alien race.
A human worker came up to me quite angry.
“You shall not be here!” He said. He was a young worker with a dreadful scar upon his cheek.
“I went the wrong way.” I said.
Suddenly I saw one of the aliens. It was a black shape with protruding body parts that with a moistly green back almost camouflaged itself with the surroundings.
“You shall not be here!” The young worker said again but I had to ask him about the aliens.
“They are the same as they always have been!” The young worker said, “But we cooperate closely as we couldn’t handle the war.”
I was led to the exit. But the sense experience of the alien vault and the business taking place against my instructions was making me uncomfortable. I looked back again at the alien vault with a neon blue sign just stating: “Do not enter.”
I walked the dark chamber once again. My mind was building fragments of the stories told about my father making war on the alien planet. About the alien surprise. About what happened to my mother. That was pushed into the blackness of space after a sudden heart attack.
This nightmare was my destiny.
BECOMING A SUPERVISOR
A fearless worker learning the physical aspect of colonialism. In time though I came to see that the best way to good fortune meant knowing the psychology of the managers. Becoming a worker that could assume the perspective of someone that knew the rules of the game.
Becoming resistant to pain.
One day I was competing for a job as a manager. A job beyond Divergent on a smaller asteroid where rare ore were extracted from the blue patterned surface. I looked into the blue light from the blue giant. Feeling a connection of colours.
Wearing an eye protection visor upon the glass of the space-helmet.
It felt peculiar. I met a man there. A middle-age man looking a bit like my father. I was introduced to a working procedure where I had to prove myself along the others.
“You shall just do as the company have told you.” One of the managers said to me standing beside. “I’m old now and must be replaced. Say hello to your resurrected father.”
As things developed according to law and routine I came into the mind of the man joining me on the asteroid surface later. It was possible to walk there with additional support from the thrusters on my back. A low gravity (one tenth of earth gravity) pulled at me but also let go of my body mass to a large extent.
Theories from contemporary scientists described this rock (Hell’s Pathway) as a fragment coming from Divergent separated from the main planet/asteroid by a collision in earlier times. The shady hollow was seen in the background too.
Divergent hovered like a black giant in outer space with a large hollow containing human settlement.
I was alone with this man looking a bit like my father. A dreadful hint of future engineering made his face stand out behind his space-helmet protection. He had a chin rebuilt by future engineering. Resurrecting my father in a body attuned to the demands of future colonialism.
“Is it you?” I asked the man standing in front of me.
The radio link was off at times. My father said “Yes” and I saw the facial expressions but I couldn’t hear the actual words. A language containing names such as “Trigonite” describing the metal extracted from the body of “Hell’s Pathway”.
“Why now?” I asked, “Why resurrected in a new body a bit different from before?”
“I was killed upon alien ground ... distortion... but it was not ...distortion... It was not like the rumours described the event later.”
He summoned his spirit. Stared into the blueish glow of Proxima II and then later upon me. He talked about the afterlife just as the entrance into another dimension. Discovered by future science and known by scientists at depth.
“I was separating from my body to enter the afterlife.” He said, “I was entering a high-tech environment for dead soldiers. A burial ground for those deceased. It was a waiting room to return to the physical later. Supporting the space-mission with some experience.”
I couldn’t hear every word and all connections between the sentences. But the whole experience of it triggered the subconscious parts of my brain. I saw my father’s death in front of me. Caused by the loose description and the functioning parts of the radio link.
“You have been there too.” My father said, “You were there before you were resurrected for the colonial mission of Divergence.” He said, “This mystery is just about adjustment. To learn bits and pieces of it over time.”
The living module was a cubic settlement built for ease of mind. Surely containing support units needed for fresh air, water and heat. But also comfortable in a recognizable way. I had been resurrected from the dead. It was alien country. But “Alien” was just a simple word for a mystery transcending my concepts of space and time.
Now I detached the outmost part of my right arm to place this reverse engineered item in a support unit. Needed for physical checks and to inject fresh oil into the artificial system. I was a cyborg. But a cyborg that had strong human elements: Real lungs, a real heart and a cyber brain with organic parts.
I just sat there. I watched the routine check and also detached my left leg. To lift it up as I sat in my bed. To inspect the leg with my artificial eyes. To check it for anomalies. For cracks or other bad signs. It had been a horrifying journey and I leaned back onto the bed to listen to the beeping sign of the support unit.
I was partly relieved.
It had a human element. Something strangely forgotten. The memory of a girl leaving post-apocalyptic earth in search for a better destiny. But I temporarily failed my mission. Adept to move upon the planetary surface with clumsy attempts.
I drove the truck alongside my father. A shape with android features. Projecting metal parts in sight in a bad attempt to convince me and others of humanity’s past.
“Why did we do it?” I asked my father.
“We did it to overcome the poison of post-apocalyptic earth.”
“But why did we forget about it?” I asked quite sad.
“In order to forget the burdens of life.” He said, “To find a way beyond memories to a better future.”
“I would rather remember it.” I said.
I turned the direction of the truck. With several travellators moving in system to roll over small deviances in the planetary surface. We entered a zone of construction sites connecting together to build a vision of Divergence terraformed 2703 A.D.
Interplanetary rover vehicles rushed by and turned to different areas. Where people in space-suits collected in groups alongside living modules. To watch the emergence of Proxima II beyond the shadow of “Hell’s Pathway”.
The village had a human component. But it was alien in the sense that “normal” living modules connected together around a central torus. A central torus with sweeping searchlights. With an additional tower above the torus where nightly guards inspected the landscape with binoculars.
A high shriek announced the presence of alien intruders. Caught by the guards protected by sentry-guns and ray-guns. Some surveillance personnel made a sign to us to enter the human village. The alien intruders were put to rest.
I can’t remember the following passages in depth. But I’m a lone investigator. A female warrior upon alien ground. Forcing myself beyond body consciousness. Into a mode of intellect fit for the task at hand.
I can’t remember precisely but I’m coming to the end.
The next day I was back in the industrial complex. I had orders to undergo a course in information technology. It was important to learn the skills of a computation expert. To digest the enormous amount of information available on the information networks.
I was a cyborg after all. With a cyber-brain in addition to my human brain. Necessary for creativity.
The course introduced me to the complex information technology needed for education in the skills of an experienced manager. I came to look upon a large cluster of computers. Created in the blue surroundings of a highly ventilated shaft.
Hackers introduced me to the computer cluster. I sat down at one of the terminals. It had a human interface and another interface suitable to pure robots. This interface connected to my cyber-brain with an interface in the back. It was like a journey into a world partly known by me. But more mysterious.
In the end though it was revealed that the computer networks were handicapped by a problem that pushed humanity into a deadly trap.
The fact that information just was information and that a hacker could manipulate this information. The hacker standing next to me, Travis Montgomery, bought by the company, could attest to that thinking. As he had been hacking the system for personal gains before.
Bought by the company for his knowledge of information technology.
“Information is just information.” He said, “And it can be hacked any day. In addition to this the balance of power between the aliens and the humans on this rock makes it much more difficult. A reason for the war your father experienced on his way. I’m sure you will agree.”
I didn’t answer to this. I had to make up my mind. But the hand of Travis, lit by fluorescent lights, came to distort my vision of stability on Divergence and the path I had chosen.
To make my way beyond initial stereotype.
Still fit for the system.
I was having a time of eerie recognition of humanity’s future. It was not a future for those easily equipped with human talents. It was rather a war of the mind: Of the mind, consciousness and intellect.
But I had a heart too. A heart longing for contact with myself and my mother. In another time, on another place I would have been a reader. A reader/writer describing my female emotions. That is why I wrote these memoirs. On my computer. To confront my dark emotions. My dark suspicions concerning a future devoid of simple diversions.
I just stood in the vicinity of the industrial complex. Built against black cliffs aiming for the skies. Skies of black as this environment lacked a thick atmosphere. I wore a space-suit. And my personal rover vehicle stood beside. To watch the blackened skies like me. In fact my personal computer was hidden inside the rover vehicle. In a golden box camouflaged as my lunch box.
I just stood there. Reflecting upon the failure of information technology. Failing in a future where information could be bought by anyone. And where humanity confronted an alien race with high intelligence. But also animal creatures attacking human installations by instinct.
The black wall of the cliff side rising to the black sky was making me feel insignificant: So small, so fragile, in a future devoid of purpose.
I was silent. The blue rays from Proxima II sent shivers along my neck. I once had a lover but I rarely remember him. A black giant. A kind of man forgotten in time and space.
I loved him like I loved several others. But this was female dreams lacking any true world context.
Instead I confronted the harsh and brutal reality of being put to my own devices. Feeling strangely in love.
In love with this alien country.
As I descended upon the blackened ground to collect some alien pieces.
Confronting the mystery of being alive.