Personal log of Kowalski, Roger
The next morning started with a mild shock. The air hole had been closed by snow over the night and we suffered of asphyxiation, with a bad headache, until we let in fresh air. That was the second bad discovery. Outside a blizzard was blustering and we had to shovel away the snow that had fallen in front of our entry.
Our clothes had become cold and damp and the geeks were all looking like the hangover they deserved. We decided to use some of our gas and iron rations to cook a meal. That when we discovered the third bad thing in the morning.
“Where is my backpack?”, Skylar asked grumpy. “Outside. We left it maybe a hundred meters up the path. We just couldn’t carry it anymore.” We all stared at Dan and Mark. “You what?”
The situation got a bit out of control after that, so that someone said, that if that shit doesn’t stop, the cave could collapse which means certain death at this point. At least for three of us, Richard said.
“You are so stupid, you three really deserve to die”, Babsie said what had come to my mind too, but I didn’t. Mark shrugged: “That’s just a fucking backpack. It’s worth not more than a couple of hundred Nuyen. To cheer you a bit up, Dan, Skylar. I got us a deal for forty millions!” “What?!” “Forty!? But that’s more than ten millions more than we expected.” Mark smiled. “So just forget that fucking backpack, okay?” “But the crank was in it”, Skylar argued. “The Novacoke.”
“You three are so full of shit, you don’t get it”, Richard said in a very dry tone. Mark looked at him aggressive. “You promised us a few nice days in the wilderness, Richard. And what do we get? This shit here? If you don’t shut up, I’ll sue you about this. And I promise you if I’m done with you, you won’t have the shoes anymore that someone would kill you for in a back-alley.” Richard just smiled. “You signed that own-responsibility disclosure when we made our contract. You remember? If someone is going to sue you, it’s me. It’s us other that you bring in mortal danger with your shit here. And I guess when we are done with you, there will be a big bite less of that forty millions of yours be left.” “Dare you”, and Mark’s expression hardened in a maniacally way.
A moment long it looked like Mark would get his knife out and the situation was going sideways. But it didn’t. He smiled and sat down, laughed. “This is just a joke. You are a joke. This drug kid yesterday had it right. You feel so important here, don’t you? Some spare-time Rambo orc that you are. Fighting for survival, waiting for the world to end, because you don’t manage to get on top of the ladder of this world. So you just hope there will be an other world for you. One that needs you. That needs your archaic skills. But I tell you something, caveman. This world of yours won’t come. And this whole situation is just artificial. Just a joke. For tourists, that pay for the fun. Like us. Tourists that have real jobs and that enjoy to buy a clown like you for some days. For their amusement. Just a fucking joke. And it’s us who laugh at you.”
He smiled and I thought a moment if Richard would just shoot him. But he didn’t. Instead he started to prepare the cooking.
Skylar was shaky. Dan was looking as bad as her and even Mark, after his speech lost a bit of his composure. “What do we do now? You know…” “Let’s get out of here”, Dan asked. Skylar added, “let’s join. If there is no crank to bridge it, just let’s join.” “But we try to snap out of it”, Mark argued. “What?”, Dan asked. “Here? Now? Hang around with those suckers? How did you do it? I mean the forty? Didn’t Horizon withdraw their offer because of the peak levels?” Mark just smiled. “Money is where the military is.” “But our think-tank construction was for science, for medicine and social life…” “Do you want to get the money for the next step or not, Skylar?” “Next?” “Wireless”, Mark said. “Do you think I’m done with this fucking wires? We have to put at least a few other years of work into this to reduce the bandwidth for a wireless version. But you know that we are ten times faster this way.” “So? Can we join? I really want it”, Skylar begged. “The womb. Crystal palace. Please, Mark.” “Okay. Give me your links, my children.” “The solos just have no idea what is coming”, Dan laughed and with trembling fingers he managed to slot in a glass fibre cable into his datajack and connected to Mark. Skylar got so near him, that it was for a moment looking as if she was going to kiss him. But then the three of them just stiffened, shaking in a short spasm then Skylar sighed and sunk back, smiling and her legs opened a bit as if she was having an orgasm, moaning "give me everything at once." Then she slipped away.
Their eyes turned white. “Fuck them”, Babsie said. She had ignored the three and instead tried to make an inventory about the things we had on stock. “They are chipheads. I’ve seen enough of those junkies to recognize them. They’re just fucking users and they are already far out.” Richard and me were watching the three of them, who were just sunken against each other in a smiling cuddle. Only Marks eyes were left open and we was staring at us in this alien way. The way that gave me the creeps. “We find a way out of this”, he said. “We are one now. Nothing reaches to us. We are neXt steP. Experience, rEvolution…” Then he trailed off. It wasn’t his voice anymore. It was something else that was talking. Then he closed his eyes and the three were not responding anymore.
"Creeps", Babsie said, and clicked them off like a loudspeaker with a finger-pistol. “Look. Native American Pemmican, Agutak, what’s that? I think we have to cook it with some water or what? Here is a description. Richard? What do you have?” We joined our stuff with some of his dried food and he even had some fresh apples. “And them?”, I asked and nodded into the direction of ‘the womb’. Babsie shrugged. Richard just said: “I don’t give a shit about them anymore. Sorry. But these idiots are dead already. We have to wait until the blizzard is slowing down. Then we get down to the creek. We have to cross it and to get up on the other side, until we reach the shelter. There’s some provision and I even got a radio there. We call for help and this ends. I’m so sorry, guys about the rest of the team. This never happened.” He stirred in the pot to melt some ice. “You like to have some egg powder too?”, he asked. Babsie approved joyfully. “I had bad groups, but this is a disaster. I’m really sorry.” “Don’t worry, Richard”, I said. “Just keep stirring. I don’t like it, when it is burned.”
After the last days exertion the time in the Rabbit Hole, which was the name Babsie invented for it, was almost joyful. As long as we managed to ignore the geeks and they only snapped out of it for short time to drink some of our water and feed themselves with sugar snacks. And those were going to end soon. They didn’t talk at all and we suspected they talked over commlinks anyway most of the time. And that the experiment with real life was considered a step in the wrong direction, at least in their hive minds. “You use two percent of your brain capacity, we use almost everything we have.” The only thing I could see was that they were burning up their sugar snacks like nothing. And that nothing practical or useful was coming from them and their sessions of trans-humanity.
Babsie said she was happy that the crank was out of reach and that she didn’t know what to do, if they had sniffed it inside our small cave, just an arm length away. “So you are a drug addict too?”, Richard asked. But he didn’t sound angry about it. He just sounded like someone who wants to know. “Clean since a week”, she said. “And I want to stay that way.” “I got a lot of kids with such problems here. That’s why I have this no-drugs clause in my contract. You have seen why. The poor kid that killed himself. Thaniel. That was so sad. He was looking like a nice one, not like those egocentric rich assholes over there.”
“And what do we do about them?” “They have broken the contract in every sense of it’s meaning. And it would be even legal to throw them out of here. I don’t give a shit about them anymore, sorry guys.” “Don’t be sorry. Just tell us what’s up now.” “They can follow us, but I won’t give a damn about them. They have lost their food. They have no water rations, not even water bottles with them. They have wasted Skylars backpack, I don’t think they have a chance to find that thing after the blizzard’s gone. So they have lost their tent and her clothes. They won’t make it. And they will pull us with them if we let them.”
“Fuck me sideways!”, Babsie nodded. “But anyway, I will not put their lives on my conscience if I can avoid it. If they cooperate, I help them where I can. But this is a serious thing now. It’s not a fucking game anymore. We have one dead already, the blizzard was not on forecast, but weather is a bit unpredictable here anyway. If it’s too bad we leave them down at the creek, where they got water, but I would prefer to get everyone up to the shelter. Really. Do you help me with that?” “Hm”, Babsie pressed her lips together, throwing a glance to the womb. “They ain’t worth it.” “But if it doesn’t endanger our own lives”, I added quickly, “I see no problem with it. We go through this as a team, aren’t we?” Richard smiled. “That’s the spirit.”
The day went by without any changes to the weather. We spend our time with casual conversation. Babsie had a bit of music playing on her phone, we were reading, waiting. The light in the cave was coming from one of those chemical lights, Babsie had found in our backpacks. But it was going low in the evening. The cave had been cozy, a good way to spend the time. Outside we long ago would have been dead.
Note to myself to thank Miss Simpson for group-hideout.