Human Civilization was based on weakness. It was as simple as eat, or be eaten. The strong ate the weak. Edward James was accustomed to dining regularly at the tail end of another historical cycle; he was a survivor. Hence, his situation was temporary.
Like every other human being who had touched the earth, he wondered why it was during HIS LIFE that the End Times were ramping up? It was never going to happen.
James was part of a dwindling generation of seekers, students, and shaman who managed to ride out the currents of entropy following World War Two, during the late 1940s in the 20th Century. It always came in cycles. In the 1970s another downturn began.
A migrant worker in his own land, he’d done a lot to keep him and his family eating: labored in steaming clanking machinery pits; engineered alchemical formulas embedded into fibers with allotropic carbon sending the catechisms of silicon, epoxy, and rare metals overseas to inferior deities pretending to be men and women.
James no longer cared about standards of living, national defense in an international realm of hostility, or an elevation of global social conformity consciousness.
He wasn’t concerned about feeding the poor, healing the sick, or erecting cathedrals of shining light and sublimity. He no longer dreamed about piloting golden ships and landing them upon unspoiled paradise planets light years away from his own decadent world.
It was never going to happen.
Edward Anton James had lightened his load. Resigned himself to a tedious regime of speedy pattern recognition, heartless decisions, exhausting attention to detail, and rapid damage control. Patching obsolete cultural protocols. He would always REBOOT, and Smash Any Key To Continue.
He managed a livelihood as a horror movie scriptwriter, capitalizing on his fascination of aberrant and abhorrent human behavior; that reptilian mindlessness coming out of the apex of a mammalian nerve cord which governed the Earth-Beasts’s transactions of faith, politics, and suppression. Edward A James wrote tales of pure unwitting evil.
James was dedicated to excess, it was in his blood: so when he was in between projects of fabricating dark tales of fright, he applied his rare and refined worldview to wandering and charting the dark mysterious realms of computer criminals; cyber stalkers; and professional hackers liars and thieves.
James rose from his chair, stretched, and examined the containment chamber. Prison Suite. Priority One was determining WHAT had sent him here and how, then contacting the outside world, ideally by escaping physically. He cracked open a fresh bottled water and explored his kitchen. He required coffee. He must contact his wife, Kathleen James. What was she thinking?
The structure was octagonal with smoothed corners. Like a spaceship. If there had been a view… It would qualify as a five star luxury hotel… If it had an entrance… If it had an exit.
James booted his new laptop, a customized machine Erich Morrison had lent him for evaluation. Whoever put him here wanted him to have access to some information. There was an unsecured WiFi signal. It was a start.
Time to test the waters. He signed in with his Multinational Internet Provider, eMail: 502 Bad Gateway. Next he pinged his social networking, professional networking, and his blogger site. He wasn’t surprised that he was invisible to the World Wide Web.
So, something was monitoring and filtering his communications. That wasn’t new.
James went back into his private cafeteria and prepared three cups of dark fresh brewed coffee. He started drinking the first one. The place’s layout reminded him of somewhere. He hoped that when the coffee stirred him it would vanquish these foggy mists in his consciousness.
Mists! He and Kathleen, they had been navigating the dark mists! On a mystical machine.
Kathleen, his Wife, had picked the tandem bicycle’s color: Memphis Blue Metallic. Kathleen loved that color, Edward James relished the machine’s solid refinement, its rigid wheel rims, and wide smooth touring tires. It weighed less than a clunky department store single rider cheapo bike. He relished its fine machining and precision assembly.
They had paused at Parson Promontory to examine the kelp fastening itself to the slippery boulders, then subsequently breaking off in little pieces, like giant tea leaves.
That species; identified as CODIUM, ‘oyster thief,’ ‘dead man’s fingers,’ was multiplying and displacing the local native kelp species: bad news for the local fishing industry. They had trouble fathoming something so intriguingly organic could be a problem.
James couldn’t help notice that the day had been abnormally frigid up here at the edge of the world even during July. The humidity was manufacturing some of the densest fog he had seen in ages. The thick moist air was streaked dark pewter, as if polluted by black carbon slime. And it was so heavy and dense it seemed to break up into shards.
“Edward, shards of fog, that’s an odd figure of speech,” his wife Kathleen told him.
“Kathleen, shards of fog? No? Try a metaphor more prosaic. Shards of broken CLAY, that will be our bodies. That will be us, if we do not get going RIGHT NOW. We’re at the big drop, Parson Promontory, right before Angelique’s.
“We need to go down while we can see the road, while the cars can see us,” When did he say this? He couldn’t remember!
Edward James drained a first cup and studied his realm. It was eight sided, reminiscent of Angelique’s Place, and that troubled him. Kathleen was Angelique’s husband’s sister. Angelique, no… She wouldn’t… Edward dwelt on the reality that everyone had a price.
“Paranoia,” he verbalized to no one in particular. “Systematic delusions, Schizophrenia. Too many black hearted hackers wearing me down, cracking my sanity…” His soliloquy ran automatically. Unchecked.
Cup Number Two of French Vanilla. He’d jimmied the single serving little coffee pods and doubled up the contents; there wasn’t an espresso maker. He’d have to place an order.
He looked around, and at the ceiling. He navigated and memorized and planned. An open layout, with partial dividing walls; kitchen, bath and shower, a pantry with a dumbwaiter! He hadn’t seen a dumbwaiter in years. The floors were hard granite stone, darker than that fog which had abducted him.
James kept circling exploring counter-clockwise. There was a sleeping area for two, with a queen-sized bed. He thumped the high density memory foam mattress and was relieved that an army of dust mites did not rise up.
A pair of end tables, ebony, matching. At his left, a cell phone charger. He checked his phone, zero bars. Upon the other end table was a photograph in a silver frame, with gold-colored engraving. It was a picture of Kathleen! Like at their home…
Next to the silver frame, a Colt 1911 Pistol, 45 Caliber, Nickel Plated. Engraved geometric symbols, angling lines, and delicate scrolls. On its slide were intricately detailed fleur-de-lis patterns: stylized flowers, symbols of Historical French Monarchies.
The Colt 1911, was Archaic Engineering. It had survived as the USA Standard Sidearm for World War I, World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. Edward James expertly lowered the raised hammer. Commander Model Colt. Press-checked the firing chamber, slid out a 7-Round Magazine.
The old Forty-Five contained Twenty-First Century 225-grain hollow-points.