All in Balance – Part 2

Continuing the story – Still not thought any more about the name for the AI but am defining the secret area in my story – the place where the controlling AI cannot see.  A safe space for living outside the norms of the futuristic society that is heavily controlled.  I hope to write background information to flesh out the universe next and define where this habitation area is and where in human history the story is based.  Enjoy – all comments welcome.

 

**

 

 

Hannah smiled as she caressed handfuls of damp grass where she lay, staring at the powder-blue sky above. A rainbow hung at an impossible angle, straight-lined like a brush-stroke across her view, making her laugh out loud.  If she hadn’t known better, she would have said she was drunk.  She sat up promptly to disprove the thought but the world around her struck back with a small swirl and a swagger, throwing her long black hair wind-milling briefly around her pale face. “Say it ain’t so..”, Hannah crooned, eyes screwed shut and mouth formed into a dramatic pout to mimic singers she had seen in history records.  She loved how playful this place was- she felt sure she would die without it.

 

She had no idea if it was an actual song but the words unintentionally dulled her euphoria, the rainbow guttered and died like a faulty neon sign as the powder-blue sky gave way to the dank and grimy metallic corridor in which she was lying.  A pang of longing lingered as the summery images faded.  With a sigh, Hannah wiped the dust from her hands onto her grey work-suit, a residual smile at the corners of her mouth as she murmured “Ain’t so..” to herself.  She was alone.  The corridor was cramped and triangular – on odd shaped space, squirreled away in a forgotten sliver of the habitation zone. An odd-ball, ill-fitting sanctuary where Hannah had met with others who, like the quirky corridor, found their ill-fit into their roles in society needed this haven from their AI controlled existence.

 

Malcolm had been the first to discover the corridor when he was ten years old.  Four hours unaccounted for – his parents nearly hysterical with worry- and continuous sweeps of the habitation, work, education and recreation areas by more Droids than Hannah had ever seen before, or since.  That day went down in history and, when Malcolm re-emerged, seemingly none the wiser, Hannah ran to hug him, wide-eyed and desperate to know what adventures he had been on.  She never got to hug him.  A wall of soothing words from numerous, fluid droids obscured Malcolm and his whole family from her view.  They disappeared that day, unheard of, only to reappear six months later as if nothing had happened; their dark, slumbering house suddenly springing back into light.  Their friendship re-commenced like the nights Hannah had spent crying at her friends loss hadn’t happened.  The relief at his re-appearance was so intense that she only tried to ask him once about where he had been but Malcolm would not answer her.

 

Malcolm.  Getting to her feet, Hannah squinted into the gloom of the corridor before spinning on one foot to look behind her.  Thankfully, she was quite short and slight so she could walk comfortably with enough headroom in the apex of the triangle not to worry scraping her face or shoulders against metallic walls.  Malcolm, and most of the others were considerably taller which is probably why this slice of heaven had been dubbed the “Secret Stoop”.  It was her twentieth birthday before Malcolm took her to Secret Stoop and the closest he came to discussing his missing six months.  She hadn’t pressed him, caught up in the miraculous existence of the place and the heady sense of freedom they both enjoyed.  Like a pair of jubilant revolutionaries, they were soon gathering a cadre of like-minded friends to share the experience and explore what the place could offer them, hidden from the reaches of Magma1.

 

Undiluted euphoria, freedom and love permeated the space and its properties slowly evolved and revealed themselves to the group.  Each day seemed to reveal a new and astonishing property of the corridor as them moved further from the entrance in both directions.  The first discovery was from the area Hannah was in now where singing aloud transformed the space into any vista you imagined.  Two people singing the same song could experience the same altered reality and manipulate it together, often with weird and jarring results but, the more they sang together, the easier it got.  Before long they could all sing the same reality to explore, without moving from where they stood in the corridor.  But it wasn’t without dangers- you couldn’t go back into AI controlled territory with a mind shining like a creative beacon.  Calm.  Focus on your task.  Remember your role.

 

Resigned to having been forgotten about, Hannah began mentally preparing herself as she walked towards the entrance.  A meter short of the handle, the door swung inwards, creating a temporary dead end for the corridor and blocking the nearest light source, plunging Hannah into darkness.  The door swiftly closed again and a stooped figured turned towards her.

“Malcolm?” Hannah enquired with a querulous mix of relief and uncertainty as she squinted to try and recognise who was quickly approaching.  The figure revealed itself as her brother James; his face bloodless, making his short, dark stubbly hair appear like black grass, pushing through spring snow.  “You can’t leave,” James stammered, “they’ve taken Malcolm.  They know.”

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