Valentine's Day

The Cat that Saved the World

By Douglas E Gogerty

I could not believe she was gone. The world seemed so empty without her. Every spare moment was taken with thoughts of her. It was if she was haunting me. I felt so alone. It was at its worst at night. I just laid there awake. No matter how tired I became, sleep would not visit me. As the days went past, the world seemed to become a darker and darker place.

After several days of reclining on the bed without sleep visiting once, I took to wandering the streets. I thought that a walk would distract me enough to get some slumber. I had hoped that I would be relaxed and distracted enough to find sleep. I was wrong.

I would pass a person sleeping under a bridge and feel envy. With their troubles, they still managed to put it aside for sleep. I thought that perhaps I should drink until I passed out. Only then would I get some rest. However, the morning would come and I would have to function. I could not bare a hangover. Thus, I did not take that route. I just walked through the night awake -- envious of the sleeping world.

Night after night I wandered. I felt like the cat I came across nightly. For several nights the furry black creature avoided me. She was suspicious of anyone stalking though the streets at night.

However, after numerous encounters, we became friends. We were two strangers passing in the night. We had no plans to harm one another. We would just rendezvous on a bench. After a few strokes of her black fur, we would be on our separate ways.

I could feel her bones underneath that black coat. So, prepared to bring my friend some food. I think she appreciated the treats I provided. These encounters were not enough to forget, but it gave me a respite from my ever-present thoughts of the departed.

After a nights sojourn, I would arrive at home at dawn. Sometimes I would think she was there, but of course, she was not. Despite my attempts to forget, she was forever in my thoughts. I showered and headed off to work. Work was another escape. It was mind numbing work, but it kept me distracted.

Naturally, I thought of her on breaks. There was no escape from images of her. When working, my mind was somewhat freed from thoughts of her. However, when I got home the haunting thoughts returned.

I could not rid myself of of her laugh, her smell, her touch. On one particular occasion, I glanced at the calendar. It was Friday the 13th of February. The pangs of loss struck me hard with the upcoming holiday -- the holiday for lovers. This pending occasion was not the day for those of us who were alone. All of the memories of my time with her flooded my thoughts. I remember the previous Valentines Days. An enormous wave of emotions overcame me, and I became more restless than ever before. Everywhere I looked I was reminded of her. I knew that I could not stay in the house. I had to get out.

Being a Friday night, I did not have to work the next day. I could drink until I passed out. However, I would have to brave the couples enjoying themselves out on the town. If I were to drink, I would avoid the popular night spots. I would have to go a little farther afield.

Happy people was something that I thought would break me. I had to avoid those fortunate couples who had each other. Straying from my normal route, I would miss the encounter with the cat. In this mood I was in, I did not want any company. The cat would be find for a day without me.

I did not even want to encounter the sleeping homeless. I was filled with envy of the entire world. They lived in such a happy place, that I could not stand to join them. I would make a turn whenever I would encounter a sound of joy. I wanted to be alone with my thoughts.

After many twists and turns I ended up down by the river. Perhaps the sound of water would clear my head. Perhaps it would be enough to relax me. Being February, the river was frozen solid. There was no sound of rushing water. It was just a cold harsh reality of winter. A cold breeze chilled me to the bone. I gave a brief thought of shelter to protect me from the cold. However, I pressed on.

While down by the river, I discovered a series of caves. I guess I had always known they were there, but I did not give them much thought. These dark places were mostly ignored by the city. They were boarded up to prevent people from entering, but it was never enough. There were occasional reports of some kid was lost in them. There was no chance of that on this frigid winter night.

With every step, my despondence grew. My despair became so great that I did not care what happened to me. All the the fear and apprehension vanished from my normal self. The blackness of my heart matched the blackness of the caves. Thus, I entered.

The darkness of the cave was enhanced by the darkness of the night. I had a small flashlight from my phone. It did not offer much light, but it allowed me to look where I stepped. While I was dressed for the cold winter's walk, I was not prepared for the journey into the caves. Nevertheless, I did not care. I climbed through the dilapidated barricade and wandered the caves.

I had heard that the caves where a catacomb of passages. Because of this, it was easy to get lost in them. Further, you could walk for hours and get deeper and deeper into the bowels of the earth. These thoughts did not push through my thoughts of her. I was undaunted in my journey. In these dark caves, I would unlikely run into anyone. I would have the entire weekend to myself. The idea of being alone with my thoughts drove me deeper into the caverns.

A person of sound mind would have turned back long before I did. The spot I found myself was dark. My phone complained about its failing battery. I shut it off, and the spot must have been as black as any spot on earth. The cool dank air hung heavy in my nose. There was a distinct smell of sulfur. Despite that smell becoming more pronounced, I pressed on. I spared the phone battery as much as I could.

Suddenly, the cool dampness turned to a dry heat. The dark fog lifted and a strange light illuminated the cavern. My phone was no longer needed. I could see enough to avoid tripping. I wondered how the cool air became so strangely warm.

Where was I? I did not know, but I had entered someplace strange. This particular cavern had a strange red-yellow glow that emanated from some mysterious place. I glanced around as the hellish smell washed over me. I looked back and noticed that I had crossed a rune on the ground.

I was at the entrance of large cavern with no other apparent exits. It appeared that I was at a dead end. It did not look like I could go any further. I would have to turn back. However, this place caught my eye.

Where was I going to go? There was no sense in turning back immediately. I decided to explore this strange place. As I looked around, I noticed some strange glowing marks upon the walls. I studied these glowing red runes. Whatever they meant to indicate was completely lost upon me. They simply did not mean anything to me. I had no idea what language it was, or who had placed them there. It seemed strange that anyone came in this deep.

I began to appreciate the warmth as I explored the cavern closely. The more I looked the larger this cavern became. It was as if the cavern held a small city. No, it was a large city. It seemed to expand as I looked around. Every corner led to another part of the cavern -- and more city. As I wandered around, I felt that this city was enormous. I did not know there could be such a city below the one in which I lived. This city's streets were as numerous as the caverns I just traversed.

Everywhere I looked, there were strange runes. However, not unexpectedly, there were no people walking about these streets. At least, I did not see any people. On occasion, I did hear disembodied voices. I could not quite make out what they were saying. I tried to follow where they came from, but they would vanish and come from another direction.

Welcome to Riley? I thought to myself. Is this town called Riley?

I kept trying to find where the voice was coming from, but I seemed to simply chase shadows. I did not see any people in this city. I could not locate where these voices came from and which direction I should travel. I just heard the voices saying things that barely entered my consciousness.

Bring the Necrinomicon to the temple, I thought I heard in a raspy wispy voice.

Were these voices in my head? It seemed strange for them to be in English when the runes clearly were not. Where had I heard the name Necrinomicon before? Why did this voice want it? I wondered where the temple was. I continued to walk and look about the city. I turned a corner, and somehow knew that the temple was on this high spot in the cave. I had never been in this place. How would I know where the temple was? My fragile mind led me on.

Kahlua awaits! I thought I heard.

I began to doubt the shadowy voice. It did not make any sense to me. What was it saying? Was it just my mind playing trick on me? Was it just echoes from the city above? It was saying such strange things.

Nevertheless, I entered the temple. Visions of a great evil flashed through my head. This was a temple for one of the great old ones. I do not know how I knew this, but I found myself in a temple of the elder gods! The pieces began to take shape.

I was not in Riley, I was in R'lyeh. Chthulu awaits -- not Kahlua. I needed to chant from the Necrinomicon in order to summon the great god. I felt my sorrow wash over me. My great adventure came to an end. It was time to turn back. I did not know how long it had been since I thought of her. The search of the city completely distracted me. Suddenly, the lonely restless nights washed over me. I nearly toppled over in grief.

At that moment the earth shook. One of the elder gods could feel my pain. It reached out to me. It grabbed at me and shook me. I knew the words! I did not need the book.

"Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn!" I shouted.

Without her, I wanted the world to burn. A tsunami of pain and anger rushed back to me.

"Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn!" I shouted again.

The sorrow I felt for the homeless people living under the bridge. It was not fair. The world deserves better.

"Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn!" I shouted a third time.

The earth began to tremble. The roar was deafening. I could feel my mind slipping into the madness of power. I looked forward to the world burning. There was not a single thing on this earth worth saving. I could think was let it crumble into dust.

However, the cat that I had befriended came to my mind. The innocent creature had comforted me on several of my walks.

"Go away pitiful creature!" I shouted.

The madness continued to grow. The insane power grew within me. I could feel the entire world shake beneath my feet. I could feel the emense power flow through my entire being. Despite my concentration on the destruction of the world, the cat kept breaking into my thoughts.

The words, which once came easily, they would not come. It was a struggle to speak. The kindness of the cat fought against the spell.

The world was not fair. The innocent always suffer for the sins of the evil. The world deserved destruction. The world deserved destruction. The world deserved destruction.

My resolve wained. Sure, humanity has its problems. There is pain and suffering in the world. However, it is a much gentler place than it was just 50 years ago. Where were these thoughts coming from? I could feel the madness and my razor-thin sanity fight.

"She was gone!" I shouted.

I felt that the world should pay simply because of that fact.

"Not everything is about you!" I retorted. "The world should not pay because you are alone!"

"The pain and suffering can end tonight," I said as my resolve began to break down.

"What about the good things?" I asked.

"Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu..." I shouted but caught myself as I looked down.

The cat had followed me into the caves. Rubbing against my leg, it seemed to say, "What are you doing? Where is my treat?"

I realized that I was taking my pain and transferring it to the world. Should I take my pain out on the world? What of all the happy people? Perhaps, happiness will come to me again. The world should not suffer because of one coincidental day. Good thoughts of her flooded my brain. I almost saw myself walking hand-in-hand with her.

I could not bear to see all of the happy lovers in a mangled heap because of me. With the summoning one of the old ones, I could destroy the good with the bad. My anger, fear, and all my negative emotions drained from me. I felt at peace for the first time in weeks. I grabbed the cat and began stroking her.

"Good kitty," I whispered and the cat purred.

I heard a bell chime midnight. It was Valentine's Day. I smiled. I collapsed on the steps of the temple. I slept. For the first time in a long time I slept. I do not know if I moved. I just slept. It was a long hard sleep. Nothing could disturb me from it.

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Around the Campfire

By Dwayne MacInnes

It had taken quite a while and a lot of planning for our camping trip to come together. My work schedule only had me off every other weekend. Wes had black out dates from his job that he could not take off and Doug was scrambling to finish remodeling his kitchen. So by the time we all finally got together it was late October.

The one thing that worked for us was the weather. The days were warm, the mornings and evenings were cool. Only the nights were cold. It was actually quite beautiful to be camping in the fall as the leaves turned. Another plus was that we were secluded in our campground as most campers had packed it in for the season long ago.

We made sure that we stayed at a public campground especially with hunting season in full swing. Nothing invited getting an unwelcome bullet in the body more than running through the woods during deer season. Most hunters were cautious and made sure of their target. However, there were always a couple of first-timers usually from the big cities. They tended to shoot anything that moves, whether it is wearing hunter's blaze or not.

So it was on one of the last nights of our stay we were sitting around the fire. Wes had placed a pot of water on the flames to heat so that we could enjoy some cocoa before we turned in. We were telling tales of past camping adventures/mishaps as well as ghost stories and having rather good time.

Doug was again regaling us with the story of being attacked by a gull while in his canoe when he approached its chicks he thought were albino beavers. We were all laughing pretty hard when we were surprised by the "Excuse me" spoken by a stranger standing next to us.

None of us noticed the man approach us. He was in his mid-fifties and wearing an old red and black checkered jacket, a hat with earflaps, and laced black boots. Needless to say, we were all pretty dumbstruck as we fought to put our hearts back into our chests.

"Sorry," the man apologized, "I did not mean to startle you. I only wanted to warm myself by your fire."

"Sure," I said as I offered a vacant log he could use as a chair.

"I just don't see many people out here this late in the year," the stranger continued.

"Well, one thing led to another and by the time we got out here it was nearly winter," Wes replied.

"Would you like some hot chocolate?" Doug asked already pouring some hot water into a metal cup.

"Mmmm, I can't rightly say the last time I had cocoa. I would love some," the stranger said accepting the cup offered by Doug.

"Well, my name is Jason Bitner," the man said.

We all exchanged our names and shook hands as the firelight flickered upon our faces.

"So what brings you out here?" Doug asked.

"I like to walk these woods this time of year," Jason replied. "I have been doing it for many years. I guess it is a habit seeing as how I used to hunt around here many years ago."

"Really," I said. "I thought you couldn't hunt in this area."

"Oh, this was a long time ago. Before this became a campground. In fact, it was about this time of year the last time I hunted here," Jason stated as he stared fixedly into the fire.

It felt like there was something in the air that compelled us to sit there and listen. Afterwards we all realized that we were entranced by Jason's story and we could do little but listen as he told it.

"I was doing some deer hunting. I had my pack and rifle and I have always had good luck in this area. Of course, back then you had to be wary of the mountain lions. They could sneak up on you that would be that.

"I had started early in the morning so I could get the most of the daylight to use for my hunt. My initial optimism was starting to fail when by afternoon I still had not found anything. No tracks whatsoever. Nothing.

"Now, not many people know this, but over in that direction," we all looked over to where Jason pointed, "there is a wonderful clearing. It has a small waterfall that cascades down into this chasm.

"I figured I would head over there eat a small lunch before I circled back and called it day. That is what I did. I set my rifle against a tree and I ate my sandwich. Afterwards I decided I'd take a look into the chasm. The sheer drop is about fifty yards into a shallow river. If you ever lost you balance and fell in...Well, that would be the end of you."

The firelight bathed Jason's face in an eerie orange glow as he stared into the snapping flames. The three of us waited, barely breathing for our guest to continue his narrative.

"That's when it happened," Jason finally said. "I was looking down into the chasm when I heard the sound of soft footpads behind me. I slowly turned and there a few yards in front of me was a mountain lion. I stood there frozen with fright; I fought to get my mind to function again.

"I glanced around and I finally remembered I had a rifle. However, it stood resting against the tree I ate my lunch under. Unfortunately, the lion was between me and it. The lion gave a most bone chilling cry you can ever experience. I frantically looked for an escape.

"The chasm was behind me and the lion blocked any escape into the woods. I had to do something. The lion then began to slowly creep near me. I knew I only had moments left if I were to escape. I had to do something."

Jason again stopped his story and stared hard into the flames. His eyes were not focused on the flames but instead on an incident years past. The seconds past slowly and finally I could stand it no longer.

"What happened?" I asked.

Jason snapped back to the present and smiled as he looked at us. "Well, I died," he said with a laugh.

"Thanks for the cocoa. I better head back. Good night," and with that he retreated back into the shadows from where he came.

"Well, he got us pretty good," Doug finally said.

The next morning we thought we would locate that clearing Jason mentioned. There weren't any trails and there was a lot of underbrush, but by noon we thought we located it. There was a small waterfall that fell into a deep chasm. We looked down at the small river Jason told us about and were about to head back when I noticed something.

"What's that?" I said pointing to a tree.

We ran over and there on the ground at the base of the tree lay a rusty rifle and tattered backpack. We quickly rushed back to the chasm and stared down.

"I think I see something down there on a ledge," Wes said excitedly.

Doug quickly pulled out his cell phone and called the Park Service.

It was not long before the place was a buzz with deputies, rangers, and rescue teams. We stood back from the action and watched from a distant as some rangers finally hauled up the skeletal remains that Wes saw on the ledge.

A ranger finally approached us. "Good work guys. It looks like you did find a body. According to his driver's license his name was Jason Bitner. He must have fell down there sometime around 1949."

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The Amnesiac

Seventh Entry - Part 3

By Douglas E. Gogerty

Date: 525.3.47

 

I sat there staring at the robot for quite a while. Eventually, I gathered myself up enough to speak.

"Besides Alexa," I began. "I have seen no others. So, there are others?"

"Each housing unit contains a single individual. Each one has been given information and personality programming in order to aid in the survival of the colony. Further, there are several redundant systems. For instance, you are Dr. Hypatia's mathematical backup."

"You just said personality programming. What does that mean?"

"Each individual here is based upon an actual person whose personality was encoded into our computer system. While you do not have their memories, you have an encoded framework for your personality."

"I would ask how that is possible, but I don't think I really want to know. So, there is a Dr. Pergamese on Earth?"

"Not exactly. Your name was assigned to you. Galen of Pergamon is an ancient physician on Earth. All names given had ancient Earth origins. In this way, you were stripped of your ethnicity. The design team did not wish to have any racial or ethnic issues crop up in the colony."

"Okay, let's back up for a moment. Did I have an analog on Earth?"

"Not exactly an analog. You have a personality framework of someone on Earth. Because of your experiences, you will definitely turn out to be completely different. However, your particular framework was that of a medical doctor. It was hoped that you would enjoy your job with this particular set of personality traits."

"That makes sense. Now tell me where the name Alexa Hypatia came from."

"Hypatia of Alexandria was a famous female mathematician from ancient Earth."

"There is a lot to take in here. You may have noticed that I have been in the company of Alexa. Are we assigned -- um -- procreative partners?"

"Each individual will have the opportunity to choose and build their own relationships. The societal structure is completely up to the individuals making up this group. No one has been assigned a mate."

"So, my attraction to Alexa is not a part of this personality programming?"

"Not at all. It is a natural extension of who you are. Her feelings might not reciprocate."

"I think they do, but I will not take that for granted. Thanks!"

"The program designers struggled with the relationship problem for quite a while. They debated upon the number of females and males. They wanted the proper number to ensure survival. It was decided to revive an equal number of each. However, what occurs will be derived from natural processes."

"So, monogamy is not programmed into us?"

"That is correct. It is hoped, but that circumstance would be quite difficult with the number of individuals involved. The chances of getting a proper mate for each person is quite long."

"You have been talking about the design parameters, etc. for a while. How do you know so much about these things?"

"I was designed to interface with all of the computers on this planet. Thus, I am responsible for aiding in the survival of this colony. I can order the robots to perform any function. I am the only one with this functionality, although there is a manual on converting one of the others to my functionality."

"Do you have knowledge of what is happening on Earth?"

"I have at my disposal the accumulation of Earth's knowledge. It is updated daily from Earth."

"We can contact Earth?"

"The Earth sends us a daily signal and we do the same. Their signal updates our knowledge base. We send them mission updates. It should be noted that this knowledge is approximately 50 years out of date because of the great distance."

"So, they do not know Alexa and I are awake."

"That is correct."

"I assume that since the incubation and raising of us has proceeded according to plan. So, what is the status of our mission?"

"The mission is performing within acceptable parameters."

"Even though Alexa and I woke up early."

"It is not a completely unexpected event. The mission was designed more than 1500 years ago. The designers would be quite pleased that we have only experienced minor incidents like this."

"Everything has gone well?"

"It took quite some time for the soil bacteria to adapt to their new soil. This did not fit within design parameters. Once they adapted, they have been doing quite well."

"Hey! That is why the fruit does not rot."

"The bacterial biomass on this planet is quite a bit smaller than on Earth. However, it is within guidelines for more complex organisms."

"What other animals are here? I thought I saw a cow the other day."

"We have a stable population of cattle, sheep, and goats. They have done quite well in this environment. They have successfully reproduced for several generations."

"I have not seen any birds."

"There are a few chickens, but the food supply for a population of birds is not currently adequate."

"Why is that?"

"The program designers did not want the colonists to compete with pests. Thus, there are few insects here. The insects that are on this planet perform helpful functions. For instance, there is a healthy population of bees here."

"So, no birds or insects?"

"Insect pests comprise a majority of the diet for many of Earth's flying creatures. It was deemed contrary to the long term survivability of the colony to introduce pests just to give birds something to eat."

"What about aquatic animals?"

"The water on this planet has not been found suitable for aquatic life."

"So, this did not go according to plan."

"There was a contingency plan for this. The situation is similar to the birds. There simply is not enough food to support this type of life. However, if circumstances change, embryos are available."

"Are there other human embryos?"

"Yes, there is several more humans that can be raised."

"I have so many more questions."

"I hate to cut this short, but I do have things that I should attend. If you have further question, your biobed will answer them."

"Thanks for your time."

That was a worthwhile conversation. I learned a great deal, and I no longer fear the robocalypse. For now, I will discontinue entering items in the journal. Thanks for reading!

 

End of Entry.

End of Log.

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The Amnesiac

Seventh Entry - Part 2

By Douglas E. Gogerty

Date: 525.3.47

 

"Dr. Pergamese you should really return to your bed," stated the robot.

Clearly this robot was different. It used different words than the others. Perhaps this on had the answers.

"Why should I return to bed?" I asked.

"The bed will answer all of your questions."

"I am not interested in having the bed supply my unconscious with answers. I want you to answer my questions?"

"It is much more efficient for the bed to answer them."

"I am not interested in what is most efficient. I am looking for answers and I want them now."

"As you wish. May we take Dr. Hypatia to her bed?"

"So you can use your mind control to put me asleep? I do not think so."

"That is not an accurate assessment of my abilities."

"You put her to sleep did you not?"

"I can induce theta wave activity in the human brain. Is this of what you speak?"

"You put Alexa to sleep, but you did not affect me. Is that because you can only hypnotize one of us at a time?"

"It is true I can only affect one brain at a time, but I will not induce sleep in you if you do not wish."

"First of all, I do not wish it. Secondly, can I ask if you are programmed for telling the truth?"

"I may not lie."

"Nevertheless, I do not know if I trust you."

"Like you, Dr. Hypatia will have questions if she is not returned to her bed. It will be very inefficient."

"Very well, I will trust you. Let's go."

We walked the short distance to her house. The robot went in while I waited outside. I peeked inside and noticed that her home had an identical arrangement to mine. The homes must have been built with a process in mind. Even the fruit set out on the table looked identical to mine. Clearly, the robots did things in an orderly fashion. Thus, to me it was obvious that the robots were in charge.

While I was not sure I trusted the robot I had been speaking to, I prepared myself for its return. I did some exercises to raise my heart rate. If he attempted to put me to asleep, I did not want it to be easy. If I had any stimulants, I would have taken them. However, I did not find any among the rations. I also thought about things to keep my mind active. I was ready for its return when it exited Alexa's house.

"Dr. Pergamese, are you sure you do not wish to go to bed?"

"I am certain."

"Very well, where should I start?"

"At the beginning."

"Could you be more specific?"

"Why are there so few people on Earth?"

"Dr. Pergamese, we are not on Earth?"

"What? Where are we? How did we get here?'

"We are approximately 50 light years from Earth. The project coordinator called this planet New Earth III -- as we are the third such colonizing mission."

"How far removed are we from Earth?" I interrupted.

"It took 1000 years just to travel to this planet. We have given them daily reports and received reports from them. However, they are more than 50 years out of date because of the distance."

"How long have we been on this planet?"

"If you look at your device, you will note that the date is 525.3.47. That is the length of time all of us have been on this planet. 525 years, 3 months and 47 days. We robots spent 500 years preparing the world for the frozen embryos that would become the planets residents."

"500 years?"

"These housing units were constructed from the space crafts that were used to bring us here. That was our first project. The ship was designed to be separated into such house facilities. Thus, each of the homes has a wall that has been subjected to interstellar travel. Nothing was left to waste. For other raw materials, the robot force has been mining this planet. Thus, the daily utensils, chairs, and other items were constructed on this world. It was hoped that we have constructed everything required for your survival."

"Why is it that I know I am a doctor?"

"The biobed had provided you with everything that was required."

"The biobed?"

"The biobed has provided you with everything required since you were an embryo."

"Wait! I was just an embryo on the ship?"

"That is correct. Space and weight were a major concern. It would be very inefficient and difficult to transport mature humans. Furthermore, they would most likely not survive the long journey. However, keeping embryos alive is quite easy."

"That is why I do not have any memories!"

"The science team did not think it wise to imprint specific memories into you. They hoped to give you enough information to where you would accept the situation. However, you would have to spend the entire term in the bed."

"So who are my mother and father?"

"Technically, they have long since died on Earth. We did not keep records of specific individual's parentage. However, both of your parents were medical doctors. This is why you were selected to be the colony's medical resource."

"When was I born?"

"All of the current adults were implanted in their respective biobeds 25 years, 3 months and 47 days ago. With all of the information required to be instilled into you by 525.3.50. However, you are up early."

"Hence, some information is missing."

"Correct."

"That is why I have been told repeatedly to return to bed."

"Correct. However, it is apparent that your bed is malfunctioning. During you last venture out, I had attempted repairs. My repairs do not seem to have resolved the situation. You bed is still unable to keep you in sleep mode. I hope that your medical training has not suffered."

"I do not think it has. I have dreamt of medical issues even while not sleeping in the bed."

"Nevertheless, it would be prudent to sleep in the bed. It will reinforce your studies."

"Agreed. So, Alexa is a mathematician?"

"Dr. Hypatia is responsible for the mathematics education and usage on the planet."

"Wait! Mathematical use?"

"Dr. Hypatia will be the chief economist, treasurer, accountant, and have several mathematical duties of this type. She will use her actuarial training to increase the colony's survival. Most of the residents will have multiple duties -- except you. The project leads felt that the medical profession would be kept busy enough."

It was a lot to take in. I had to sit down for a moment to comprehend what was happening.

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The Amnesiac

Seventh Entry

By Douglas E. Gogerty

Date: Date: 525.3.47

 

I once again awoke in the bed. I remember that I encountered a robot, but I simply fell asleep. I can only assume that this robot had some sort of hypersonic sleep signal. This would explain why I felt relaxed instead of panicked. Further, it would explain why I slept the entire afternoon, and on through to the morning.

I do not know what to think of the robot's capabilities. On one hand, much of my suspicions of the robots are simply gone. A night's sleep in the bed will apparently do that. On the other hand, I worry about their mind control capabilities. After all, if they can put me to sleep at will, what else could they do? I do not know if they realize that the more these events happen; the more suspicious I become. I think it is clear that the robots and this bed have some sort of brainwashing capability.

On the plus side, I know more about my life here. While I have no direct recollection of my medical studies, I know more about physiology and anatomy. I think the visit to the hospital must have jarred something loose. I feel like my medical training has been quite thorough now.

The events of the last few days have given me a new found boldness. It seems that the worst thing that will happen for my actions is a nice long sleep. I will perhaps have to endure a session in the bed, but I feel that I am easily fighting off those brainwashing sessions.

Since the robots I have encountered do not appear to be able to answer my questions, I have decided on a brash action plan. I have decided to go up and down the street knocking on doors. I am going to see who comes to the door. In this way, I hope to find out what I can from my neighbors.

From my own experience, I am going to assume that everyone has a similar experience to my own. That is, I think they will all have limited memories. I think no one will have memories that go farther back than a few days. I want to test this theory.

Before venturing out, I ate a morning meal. I found that my pack from yesterday's adventure appears to have been undisturbed. Thus, some of the provisions I had packed have survived without harm. For some reason, I think it odd that the food did not decompose in any way. Perhaps, there is something special about these crops. They may be resistant to rot. Even the fruit on the tables appears to be fresh.

I grabbed the pack and put some more food into it. I am heading to Alexa's house because I think she will answer the knock. Further, she may want to visit her neighbors as well. I made my way to her house, and she answered her door after a brief wait. She too seems to be very suspicious of our circumstances. I am sure she wants to know what the robots are up to. I explain to her what my plans are and she put her fears aside.

We walk away from the town square. We are both pretty sure there are robots doing work in the other direction. We go from house to house. Naturally, we skip my house. However, no one comes to the door at any of these houses. We make our way to the end of the line. No one at any of the houses answered to our call.

"What do we do now?" Alexa asks

"We could open up the doors," I suggest.

"We should not..."

"Why?"

"It just seems wrong."

"Why?"

"It is an invasion of privacy."

"If I am correct, they are being harmed by robots. We should do something."

"What if you are not correct?"

"I guess I ask for forgiveness."

"I will not help you in this."

"Perhaps you are right. However, let us knock on the doors on our way back."

That is what we did. As before, no one answered their door. We made it all the way to Alexa's before deciding to continue to the last group of houses. As with the rest of the houses, no one answered our knocks.

As we approach the town center, we once again encounter a robot. As was the case with the others we encountered it said, "You are up early Dr. Pergamese and Dr. Hypatia. You should go back to bed."

Alexa attempted to run, but I held her firm.

"I have some questions," I replied. "Please contact an entity that can answer them."

"You are up early Dr. Pergamese and Dr. Hypatia," it said in its mechanical voice. "You should go back to bed."

"Do you understand my request?" I asked continuing to keep Alexa from running.

"You are up early Dr. Pergamese and Dr. Hypatia," it repeated. "You should go back to bed."

"Thank you for your concern," I said. "Please continue with your work."

With that, the robot walked away. Alexa was in quite a shock, so I took her to a park bench. I thought it was a fine time for a little picnic. I opened my pack, and gave her some food. I was surprised at how well she accepted it.

She relaxed and we chatted for a little while. Then I saw the robot from the previous day. I felt my anxiety rising. That was different than the other day. Alexa, on the other hand, fell fast asleep. Something different was definitely happening. Perhaps now I would get some answers!

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The Amnesiac

Sixth Entry Continued

By Douglas E. Gogerty

Date: Date: 525.3.46

 

When the robot told us that we should return to bed, Alexa ran. I remember the fright I felt when I first encountered a robot, so I assume that she returned to her house. I will check on her later.

"What is going on?" I asked the robot.

"You are up early Dr. Pergamese," it replied. "You should go back to bed."

"Why?"

"You are up early Dr. Pergamese. You should go back to bed."

"Why are you interested in me going back to bed?"

"You are up early Dr. Pergamese. You should go back to bed."

It became clear that it was not equipped to answer my questions. I was hoping to get some answers, but it simply repeated the same phrase. This robot was incapable of giving the answers to my questions. I am a little crestfallen about it.

However, I have no interest in returning to bed. I was not finished exploring for the day. After all, it was still early in the day. Thus, I decided to walk away from the robot.

The robot noticed that I was not heading back towards my home. It attempted to intercept me, but I easily avoided its stance.

"You are up early Dr. Pergamese. You should go back to bed," it repeated as I walked away. I do not know what it did after that, but I hope it just went about its business.

Since I was alone, I could go anywhere I wanted. Thus, I decided to explore the buildings in the public square. My first stop was the hospital. If I was a doctor, this is where I would work. Like everything in this place, it seemed strange to me. First off, it was really small. It appeared to be more of an aid station than a full functioning hospital.

There was an admitting station in front of a short hallway. As I walked down the hall, it appeared that there were just three rooms for in-hospital patients. Naturally, if our little town was small enough, I would be doing house calls. There was no need for anyone to stay in the hospital. I wondered why have a hospital at all?

I walked a little further and noticed the dispensary. It had a large assortment of medical treatments. Hence, it appeared to have whatever I would need for medical emergencies. I was surprised by the number of supplies in that room. This place was clearly prepared for anything. Its emptiness told an oddly different tale.

The last room in the hall was a single operating room. There was an array of medical equipment, and it was too equipped for any type of scenario. If I was the only doctor, I would have anything I needed at my fingertips.

However, what was the need without any people. I have been looking around for a couple of days, and I have only encountered one other person. What is the reason for all of this medical technology?

The hospital had the same sort of cold calculation that the rest of the place had. It had a cold functionality with no signs of personality. It seemed to me that the robots built the place. They had a set of plans that they followed to the letter. Thus, it was a strong, sturdy place, but it did not have any touches of humanity.

My tour of the hospital did not take long. My next stop was the school. Oddly the school seemed normal. There was no one in it, but it seemed ordinary for a school after hours. There were classrooms along a central corridor. At the end of the hall, it appeared to have some sort of administration offices. To me it seemed to be like every school.

I looked in one of the classrooms. It was small as it could only accommodate perhaps 10 people. It had a few rows of desks and a chalkboard at the front. The chalkboard seems strange to me. Usually, there were whiteboards at the head, but they went with chalk.

Other than that one oddity, it appeared to be a normal classroom. The entire building was the first thing that I encountered that did not make me feel odd. It was like an every school. That alone made me feel uncomfortable about the place. For some reason it seemed too perfect.

With that feeling, I went into the library. At least, that is what the sign on the building read. There were lots of shelves and other equipment you would find in a library. However, besides the lack of people using the building, it was also missing books.

This building appeared larger than the hospital and the school. This could be because it was not divided up into rooms. It was a single large room. There were shelves lining every wall. There were lines of shelves interrupting the open space. Perhaps this was an illusion that made the building seem bigger. However, all of the shelves were empty. I looked around and all of the shelves were empty.

Scattered here and there were desks. If there were books, a person could read at these desks. These desks were clearly meant for research as there were terminals of some type on each one. I had hoped to find some things out from them. Sadly, they were not currently functioning. Despite my best attempts to fix that situation I was unable to get the terminals to work.

The robot I encountered earlier was no help, and these terminals were not going to be able to answer my questions either. I was being thwarted at every turn. With this setback, I decided to enjoy my provisions while I was in the library. I found a comfortable chair and ate some of the food I packed.

It was a satisfying meal, and the chair was quite comfortable. I did not even stir when I heard someone or something enter the library. I was just in a relaxed state. When I saw the robot coming towards me, I did not even panic. I simply drifted off to sleep.

 

End of Entry

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The Amnesiac

Sixth Entry

By Douglas E. Gogerty

Date: Date: 525.3.46

 

Once again, I spent the night on the floor. I still think that the bed means trouble. However, I need to find something more comfortable. The hard metal floor is just not conducive to a good nights sleep. I need a mattress or something.

Today, I am going to look for life. The object in the field has given me hope that there is life here. There must be some sort of animal. If there are animals, then there may be people. There cannot be only robots here. Thus, I am going to try finding people. If I do not run into any people, I may start knocking on doors. I do not care about the consequences.

I had more fruit for my morning meal. Its weirdness has worn off, and I find it delightful. It is far superior to the reconstituted meals I have been eating. I hope I get another basket of fruit soon. In any event, I put some into a bag for my journey. If I am gone all day, I will want something to snack on.

I went outside without concern for robots. I just went. The previous day must have been some sort of work day as the hustle and bustle was gone. The odd thing in the distant field was still there. However, I wanted to explore other areas. Thus, I will find out what it is later.

Today, I am going to walk on the walkway. I am going to see where it leads. I have explored the grove of trees and the farm fields a little bit. I want to see what else is in the area. The activity yesterday indicated to me that there was more to this place than just these visible housing units. Apart from finding life, I hope to find out the lay of the land better.

For instance, I noticed that there is a high concrete wall behind the housing units. I did not notice this before, but it has been there quite a while. This wall makes it appear that we are in some sort of zoo. Perhaps it is to keep hostile forces out. Was there a war? The wall could be for many purposes, but I thought I would note it.

I am continuing past some housing units. I may come back and knock on doors, but for now, I am just walking. I want to know what is past these houses. Where were those trucks going? Where is the storehouse?

"Hey!" I hear a voice say interrupting my thoughts.

I look around and a young woman is approaching me. I do not know if it was instinct or what, but I rushed to her and gave her a big hug.

"I thought I was the only one here," I told her.

"I thought the same thing," she replied.

"My name is Galen. Dr. Galen Pergamese."

"You remember your name?"

"Well -- no. It was on a placard outside my home. I just assumed..."

"Oh..."

"You do not remember anything either?"

"I have no memories before waking up yesterday."

"Well, it says here that your name is Dr. Alexa Hypatia."

"It does not ring any bells, but it appears that we are both doctors."

"From what I have been able to surmise, I am a medical doctor."

"Hmmmm. I do not think that is true for me. I want to say mathematics."

"I wonder if that means we have a university around here somewhere."

"Perhaps. Where are you going?"

"I am just exploring."

"My I join you?"

"Certainly."

Alexa and I begin walking along the walk path to see where it led. I began to hope others would join us, but it was just the two of us as we reached the end of the row of houses. We may still knock on doors, but first we are looking at what lies beyond the houses.

We first came to a series of stone buildings. We assumed that this was the heart of our little area. There was a school, a hospital, a library, and several other buildings. They were all arranged around what could be described as a public square. There was a raised platform in which speeches could be made. It appeared well planned.

Further down, there was what appeared to be the storehouse. It was a large nondescript metal building. A walkway led to a set of doors in the front of the building. We could see in and there were shelves of goods visible from our vantage point.

Some trouble had been made to dress it up. There is what could be described as a park in front of the building. There were benches, plantings, and winding walkways. It looked as though there were expansion plans. Perhaps for children's play equipment.

Behind the storehouse, there was a driving space and parking space. Some trucks, which I likely saw yesterday, were parked alongside this storehouse building. The building was not very wide, but it was quite deep. Perhaps to give them room to do other things such as process raw materials without exposing the process to the customers.

Past the storehouse was a series of smaller buildings. They had front doors, but they appeared empty. These were much smaller than the storehouse. Alexa and I discussed it, but we could not decide what was their purpose. We could not figure out why you would build structures with no purpose. Why did they build empty buildings?

The last structure we encountered was a factory -- a robot factory. It did not appear to be too active. Nevertheless, we could see a small collection of inactive robots standing out in front of the building. They looked like they were ready for activation. However, before we could get a closer look, we encountered a robot.

"You are up early Dr. Pergamese and Dr. Hypatia," it said in its mechanical voice. "You should go back to bed."

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