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Once upon a time: Deus Ex Machina – part one…

17 May

When I was originally inspired, at the beginning of last year, to write down the nebulous idea I’d had in my head for a couple of months, the outline to a short story which was itself the result of me making stuff up in my head to stave off boredom at work, I had no reason to think it would be anything other than an interesting experiment for my own amusement.

But I’m easily hooked on shiny new things, so it got away from me a bit and took on a life of its own, so much so that I now have no idea how I will arrive at the story’s predetermined ending, nor how long it will take to get there.
But one thing I do know, having just re-read what I’ve written so far, even I wanted to know what happens next, I was that engrossed in the narrative that I forgot it was me who had written it in the first place and was frustrated when it actually came to an abrupt halt in the middle of a sentence…!

So if nothing else, you can be sure that I have a vested interest in finishing it, if not for anyone other than myself (and you Bonnie, obviously).

I have decided not to publish all that I’ve written in one post, (although I don’t want you getting the idea I’ve scribbled hundreds of pages already, I haven’t added to the initial text since that first burst of creativity stalled nearly twelve months ago) not because I want to unnecessarily tease it out, but because I want a chance to add more to the story before it catches up with itself, so to speak.
I wouldn’t exactly call this a “chapter” either, more like a taster, my total inexperience at this particular literary form precluded the concept of chapters ever occurring to me when I began writing, but when I was re-reading it yesterday, this seemed like a natural break in proceedings.

Also, it didn’t have a title until last night.

Another thing that only dawned on me rather late (about ten minutes ago in fact) was that I didn’t have a “cover” for my story, a frontispiece if you will, so I quickly rectified that and now I can belatedly present to you the very first installment of my very first foray into the world of fiction.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Deus Ex Machina.

image

Kreel paced nervously up and down outside the Mobius building, occasionally squinting up at the gleaming white tower that stood at one end of the giant plaza, before coming to a halt facing the shimmering holo-glass doors.
With one final nervous glance upwards, he stepped into the detector field and watched with the usual mixture of mild suspicion and semi-superstitious amazement as the solid-looking image of the doors morphed and stretched into a brightly lit corridor which terminated in front of the reception console in the lobby.

Noticing for the first time his pounding heartbeat and ragged breathing and taking a moment to regain his composure, Kreel entered the impossible corridor.

It had all seemed a lot simpler the night before, sitting in front of the V-screen watching yet another Info on the increase in living standards around the world, then seeing the latest ‘vert for Mobius Corp and thinking; Well why not, you’ve been wanting to get out of that dead end job for six cycles now, what’s the worst that could happen?

He’d heard all the rumours of course, everybody had. But that’s all they were, rumours. Nobody really believed the stories about secret experiments and research projects being carried out by the scientists at Mobius, not after all they’d done to stabilise the Race after the Discovery.

Even now you couldn’t watch V-screen shows for more than a few minutes without seeing two or three ‘verts for medical techniques enabled by the strange artifacts;

“Regenerate and replicate cell growth with repeatable accuracy!”
“Let Mobius Corp wind back your life clock!”
“Watch the years fall away, welcome back your youth”

The fact that Mobius Corp had been instrumental in unearthing every one of the fifty or so artifacts had seemed nothing short of incredible at the time, but as news of the discoveries spread it became clear that the contents of each site had included detailed directions to the location of the next device.

After that it was only a matter of translating the “operating manuals” found with each machine, something that seemed to have been made almost childishly simple by our unknown benefactors, cautiously power up the gigantic, sleeping mechanical monsters, and begin to test the unbelievable claims made by the alien literature regarding their abilities.

Since the discovery of the artifacts the dangerous slide in population had quickly slowed, a gradual rise in numbers being recorded around the world after only a few decades.
This apparently miraculous rescue of the Race, until recently teetering perilously close to the brink of extinction, wiped away any lingering apprehension harboured by those who had initially distrusted the use of alien technology for medical purposes.

Indeed, many joined the growing number of citizens who accepted and embraced the new processes, their monotonous daily lives forgotten as they made the trip to one of the thousands of Mobius Corp facilities that had sprung up on every continent and were now all presumably immersed in their new lives in the elite world of the Enhanced, as nobody ever returned to take up their humdrum former existence amongst the common people who they left behind.

In fact Kreel couldn’t think of anyone he knew who had gone to an interview for a position at his local facility, who had then come back to work for even one day, they’d all gone straight into the programme and never returned.
It really must be as good as the ‘verts make out, otherwise people would complain, he thought.
I’ve got enough credits and I never have time to spend them on anything else anyway, what have I got to lose?

But now, walking down the sterile white tube of the holo-corridor, he was having second thoughts.
What if the conspiracy nuts are right?
What if the stories about citizens being farmed for alien food are true?
Or the theory that people are being transported back to the alien homeworld, would that not account for the sudden plateau in population numbers in recent years, despite the increase in life expectancy?

His head spinning with all manner of imaginary horrors, Kreel was on the verge of fleeing the building when a concerned voice at his side asked;
“Are you alright, do you need to sit down for a moment?”
He looked down into the worried face of a young woman he had briefly seen behind the reception console, who laid her hand gently on his arm and guided him to a chair.
“Don’t worry, many people are disoriented by their walk down the holo,” she gave the holo-glass wall – from the inside, one unbroken expanse of window – a distasteful glare and said, “you just sit there until you feel better, I will check your appointment. Do you have your chip?”

Kreel wordlessly handed her his chip and she moved to the console where she scanned it and read his details off a glowing screen.
He watched her tap something into a terminal and heard a printer working somewhere. She looked up and smiled, “When you’re ready, you can go up,” she walked over as he rose shakily to his feet, “sixtieth floor, office number 6054. Here’s your card”

He thanked her and looked around the lobby for the elevators, turning back to ask for directions, but the girl had returned to her station and was talking on her link so he made for a promising-looking sign on the far wall, which said ENTER FLOOR NUMBER HERE, above a holo of a keypad.
He entered 60 on the pad and was suddenly and horrifyingly aware of tremendous but somehow bearable acceleration, finding himself traveling upward at immense speed, as though strapped to a rocket, coming to rest with the same inexplicably smooth motion, in a lobby similar to the one on the ground floor, the obvious difference being the corridors leading off in three directions, doors visible every so often along the gently curving walls until they vanished into the softly glowing distance.                  

A holo on the wall pointed the way to offices 6030-60, so Kreel made his way in that direction, legs still unsteady after the shock of his rapid elevation by unseen technology, reading off the numbers until he found himself in front of office 6054.
He had one last, brief pang of doubt, then squared his shoulders and knocked on the door.
  
            .      *******************************************************************

And that is where we shall leave Kreel for the moment, on the brink of…something.

I hope you enjoyed this, the opening episode of a tale that, if it carries on evolving the way it has, not even I can predict the course of.
I will post more of the story in the not too distant future along with adding new page tabs to the blog homepage, which will contain the entire story, added as I write it.

[I welcome all feedback, good and bad, on my new project and it will be gratefully received as always.]

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