Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Chapter 2 Part 4

The light bulb flew out the door into the main entryway and hit the floor. Somebody called out, and Esther and Ivan ran out to see who was there, and they almost collided with Michael and a small search party. Esther scowled, "What are you doing here, Michael?"

Michael said, "Finding you; you're welcome. We could all hear you guys fighting from the top of the stairs, by the way. Very professional."

Esther said, "We're doing just fine, thank you. If it were for you, we wouldn't even be here, there's all kinds of cool stuff down here!"

Michael bent over and picked up the light bulb, "What's this?"

Esther said, "It makes light!"

Michael turned it over a few times in his hand, and pointed to a crack running down the side of it, "You already broke it. You found an ancient, probably priceless, light and you threw it."

Esther looked embarrassed, "Well, it sounds bad when you say it like that..."

Michael shook his head, "OK, so then rephrase it in a way that makes it acceptable to throw ancient artifacts at a stone floor."

Esther said, "I still got us this far."

Michael, "And what are you doing next? Have you even thought about what you're doing? It's almost midnight, it's freezing outside, you have no supplies, and you're breaking everything in here." Esther looked thoroughly embarrassed. Michael continued, "You can't just break into everything. There's no reason for us to stay here tonight, we'll carry everything we can and work on this back in town.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Chapter 2 Part 3

"That answers that." Chimed Stephanie.

"Well put, Steph," Replied Ivan, "But that still doesn't help me read antique English."

"Right, so let's just throw our hands in the air and leave with the doors unlocked and the torch fuel burning. This is obviously so absurdly out of our league that we shouldn't even look at the books."

"That's not what I'm saying."

"That's not what it sounds like."

"I'm sick of you yelling all the time."

"Well, I'm sick of your bitching all the time."

"I'm getting sick of your shi-" Ivan stopped all his bitching as the torches in the other room lit up. "What the hell?" They went into the other room and found Stephanie with her nose buried one of the manuals. "Steph, I didn't know you could read old English!"

Stephanie glanced over her shoulder, as if Ivan had interrupted her while balancing her checkbook, then said, "No, I can't read old English, that would be ridiculous. This is the Esperanto version."

"Where did... Never mind. What do we need to do?" Said a thoroughly frustrated Ivan.

"All the parts are numbered, bring me numbers three, two..." For about an hour, Stephanie read off the instructions in the manual, Ivan put the battery together, and Esther got bored and went back out into the entryway. She replayed John's movie over and over again until the film froze during the hourglass bit and the film melted from the heat of the lamp. Esther pretended like nothing happened and came back in to see Ivan sitting on the ground surrounded by torn plastic bags and some electrical parts. He was pouring electrolyte through a funnel into a battery enclosure wired to small spotlight on a tripod.

"I don't see how this is supposed to make light." Grumbled Ivan.

"Didn't we talk about bitching?" Said Esther, who was now twisting apart a flashlight she had found on the shelf. Ivan started to reply, but was interrupted by Stephanie issuing more commands.

Ivan got up and fetched a fist-sized plastic sphere with large metal screw plug sticking out of one end. Stephanie told him to twist it into the socket on the spotlight. "Now, flip the switch on the back." instructed Stephanie. Esther looked up from the flashlight directly into the business end of the spotlight just as Ivan turned it on. She cursed and threw the light in Ivan's direction, missing gloriously.

Chapter 2 Part 2

Esther glared at Ivan. Ivan smirked. Esther led the group through the door and they peered in. They had half-expected the room to light up as the front one had, but it hadn't, so Esther held up the still-burning torch to get a better view. The room was not particularly large, and the torch light illuminated all four walls. There was some sort of table to their right, a couple of industrial-looking shelves to the left, and a door on the opposite wall. Esther walked in and examined the table, which had a few books laid out on it, and several unmarked switches on the wall above it. She then walked over to the shelves, where there were several rows of thick books and several objects laid out, wrapped in clear plastic.

Ivan went back to the table and started idly flipping through the manual closest to the door. It was in old English, and he was finding it very difficult to read. He moved on to the next book to the left and furrowed his brow. He flipped open all of the books to the first page and looked over at Esther, "These books are all the same, just written in different languages."

"Can you read any of-" Esther was interrupted by several clicking sounds coming from the entryway. She poked her head out the door to look at the screen, which was now alternating between black and white. It did this for several seconds before another clicking sound came from behind the glass panel where the light was coming from, and a new picture came on screen.

John came back on screen and said, "Wonderful, you have chosen to continue!" The group all came back into the first room. "I imagine you're confused, as the room is fairly plain. Either that, or you don't understand English and you decided to continue on simply because you heard the door unlock. Either way, this room is something like a crash course on the facility, which is much, much larger than either room you have seen thus far.

The books on the table are manuals for the basic functions of the Library, I suggest you read them. On the wall above this table are several switches. The Switch closest to the door will illuminate the torches on the wall so that you can see what you're doing. These torches, as well as the ones in this room, will burn for about 2 hours before the fuel is depleted. Some of the items on the shelf are parts of a battery, a fluid electrolyte, and several electric lights. These will last much longer than the torches, but again, they can only work for a limited amount of time, so it is important that you turn them off when not in use, and that you work through the manual so that you can construct your own means for generating electricity. Should the torches or batteries fail before you can finish, there are several emergency lights and candles on the shelf, but I wouldn't use them unless you absolutely must. The rest is described in the manual, good luck."

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Chapter 2 Part 1

The door on the far left clicked, and everyone knew that it was open. On the screen, John picked up a large hourglass and flipped it. The sand started falling. The group turned to each other, tried to read each others' body language, but failed to do so. "So," Said Esther, "What do we do?"

Ivan said, "I doubt that this is real. This has got to be a hoax, or at least a gross exaggeration."

"What? The guy was just talking to us through a wall, how is that a hoax?" Said Esther.

Ivan said, "Well, obviously that's not a trick, we just saw it. But it was also just a picture, it doesn't mean that everything he said was true. What if we go in there and it's a trap? Maybe we're not supposed to go in there."

Esther raised her voice, "If he didn't want us here, then he easily could have left the front door locked. Or he could have told us not to go in there when he was speaking to us. Or, you know, he would have just left the door locked!"

Ivan raised his voice, as well, "Maybe he's just sick! You heard him, 'I look forward to meeting you.' What the hell is that? He's clearly nuts, this place is, according to him, something like 700 years old!"

Esther yelled, "So he was a little eccentric, who cares? Look, we need to go in there. If there's anything in there like what he just did with that picture, then we could be walking into a goldmine. Besides, if he really wanted to kill us, he would have done it by now. He could have just made spikes come out and stab us. Hell, he could have just locked the front door and let us starve to death. He unlocked the other door, gave us the option to leave, and left the front door unlocked."

Ivan calmed down a little bit, "It's still probably a big waste of time."

Esther didn't calm down, "Then we'll leave after we look! I'm going in. Listen, if nothing else, we should try to get that moving picture machine out of here. If we can get that back home and figure out how it works, then we could be rich just for that."

Ivan paused for a moment, then spoke, "I suppose you're right..."

Esther calmed a bit, "Even if he's exaggerating, and the stuff in there isn't world-changing, there should at least be a few cool machines we can grab and use. He also clearly has some sort of fuel here to run this stuff, we can grab that, too."

Ivan paused again, "What if it is as big as he said? Should we be the ones to find out?"

Esther, now perfectly calm, said, "Absolutely."

They both looked up at the screen to see that the hourglass was now half-way through. They both walked toward the door and stopped a couple of feet away from it and stopped. Esther took a breath, and stepped forward to open it. She reached out her hand to grab the door handle, and jumped out of her skin when Stephanie shouted, "Yeah! Let's do it!" Esther and Ivan both turned around and glared at Stephanie, who had her fists up in the air and a ridiculous grin on her face. She looked embarrassed, put her hands down, and wiped the grin off her face. Esther grabbed the handle and pulled on the door. It wouldn't budge.

"What the hell?" Yelled Esther, as she began pulling the door with all her might, "It won't open!" She then kicked the door and it swung in easily.

Ivan walked up to the door to inspect it and pointed at some writing above the handle, "This must mean 'Push'."

Monday, November 7, 2011

Chapter 1 Part 4

A thin man then appeared on the wall, and they realized that it was him speaking. The man was thin, with wavy auburn hair, and piercing, grey eyes. "Hello, and welcome to The Library Alexandria, Revision 2."

"Hello, what is this?" Said Ivan.

"My name is John Autumn, and I am the curator and founder of this repository of knowledge and technology."

Ivan looked annoyed. He waved his hand as if to get his attention. His hand cast a shadow on the wall, and he realized that his likeness was being shined on the wall from behind the glass. It was one of those situations where he knew that the man on the wall wouldn't talk back to him, but he asked anyways, because he figured that he couldn't embarrass himself if the man wasn't really there, but he didn't want to come off as rude if he was.

"If you can see this film, then that means that it has been at least 400 years since it was built. This also means that whoever is viewing this has made the discovery of a lifetime. It my time, humanity was making progress is science in technology at rates which are difficult to even describe. Disease and hunger had become all but unknown in developed nations of the day, and aging had been slowed considerably. However, this was all being destroyed by a global technological revolt led by extremist religious groups who saw the technology as blasphemous, and radical political groups who saw this as disruptive to their power.

These groups convinced many people from undeveloped nations to start destroying advanced technology and places of learning in their own countries, and then in the developed nations of the world. These groups were incited to destroy only the most recent developments of our day to slow the growth of science to a pace that the political and religious groups could control and use. It wasn't long, however, before pent-up jealousy and hatred caused these riots to spiral out of control into an all out war against knowledge and progress. It got worse as the same religious and political groups, when forced against the wall, turned on the same people whom they had led to start this revolution by using the latest technology they had at their disposal to fight off the rioters.

At the time that this library was sealed off, most world governments had declared themselves as being in a state of emergency. Marshall law is being imposed, quite unsuccessfully, in most of Europe and North America. The East was among the earliest, and hardest hit at this point. At this date, 2076, these riots have been going on for 4 years, escalating continually with no sign of slowing. Although the majority of people are not explicitly in favor of these riots, many of them are simply apathetic or rioting for other reasons. The outlook is grim, and that brings us to where we are now.

This is not your average public library. This place contains much more than volumes of science and literature. It contains step-by-step instructions for reconstructing the most important technological, industrial, and medical innovations up to my time. And, well, yes, it also has an extensive scientific and cultural archive as well. The point is that this library is effectively a seed from which a better life for all may sprout and grow forth.

If you step through the door on the far left, there will be additional instructions for what needs to be done. But, you must first understand that the effects it will have on you, your way of life, and perhaps even the rest of the world, will all be your responsibility the moment you step through that door. When I finish speaking, an hourglass will appear where I am now and the door on the left will be unlocked for 15 minutes. If you open the door and go inside, then it will remain unlocked and society will progress once more. If you cannot accept this responsibility, then allow the timer to run out. As soon as the last grain of sand reaches the bottom of the hourglass, then the door will lock, and remain locked for another 25 years.

Make a wise decision, and if you go through that door, then I look forward to meeting you."

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Chapter 1 Part 3

"Well," said Ivan, "Shall we look through the door, first, or pull on the friendly-looking levers that could do anything?"

"Flip a coin. Heads for the door, tails for the levers." replied Esther. Ivan pulled an uneven, strange copper coin out of his pocket and flipped it off his thumb. He reached out to catch it and missed magnificently. It bounced off of Esther's shoe and rolled away toward the levers. They followed it and it bounced off the wall and landed on heads. "The door it is."

They all walked over to the door. They paused, looked at one another, and then Ivan pulled on the door handle. "It's locked." he said.

Esther frowned, "Then that was all pretty pointless..." They walked back over to the levers and looked it over in more detail. Unfortunately, there was no more detail to be seen, just a smiley face, a glass window, some switches and roman numerals.

"Well, I'm guessing that we're supposed go in order." Said Stephanie.

"Really?" The other two sighed in unison. Esther rolled her eyes and pulled the first lever. A click was heard behind the glass. She waited a moment for something to happen, but nothing did, so she pressed the button. It resisted and then clicked as she pushed it in, and a dim flame lit behind the glass. After a few seconds a blinding white light burst out of the glass panel and lit up the white screen. Ivan shielded his eyes and felt for the second lever and pulled it. A sound like rushing water was heard behind the wall, and the light faded to a dim charcoal grey.

The lights began flickering and numbers started shining on the white wall, counting down from 4. The horns in the color beeping with each change in number. After the number "0" appeared on the screen, it went blank, and then displayed, "Welcome to the Library Alexandria, Revision 2." The group, confused, looked at one another in confusion, as they still could not read this antiquated English. Then the title was read aloud through the speakers, and they all jumped and looked around for the man who was speaking.

- - - - Apologies to the reader. You have likely already guessed (correctly) that Esther, Ivan, and Stephanie were all watching a film. You know what a film is, and the description above probably seems condescending, or at least annoyingly over-descriptive. While it is true that you have seem a film before and understand what it is, the three people involved had not. The three people involved discovered this film in the year 2787, Over 600 years since the anti-technological revolution, and 400 years since the last bit of useful information about humanity since the industrial revolution was lost. This will be thoroughly explained shortly, until then, please turn off your cell phones and enjoy the show. - - - -

Chapter 1 Part 2

Stephanie followed Esther and Ivan down the stairway. They walked for a while, and then they continued walking. After about 5 solid minutes of walking down the stairs, they turned around and looked back and saw that the light from above ground had faded to a small square of light that had long since stopped illuminating their location. So they kept walking for another 5 minutes, until the light was but a speck.

Ivan began to worry, "How do we know that we're not about to fall into a pit, or a lake, or a trap?"

Esther stopped and the rest followed suit. The sound of her removing her pack could be heard and then the sound of her rummaging through it. "Does anyone have a match?"

Stephanie's face lit up, though nobody could see it, "Here!" Esther then struck a match and lit a small lantern. She held it up to see how far the stairs went and they were all surprised to see that they were about 10 steps from what appeared to be a small landing and a door. They walked down the remaining stairs and stopped in front of the door and looked at one another. The door was a heavy, industrial, grey door with a brushed steel handle. Ivan shrugged and knocked.

"I don't think anybody's home." Said Ivan, as Esther reached out and opened the door. As they pushed the door open they heard several clicks around the room as torches lining the walls lit up. They looked around the room, which was about 10 feet high and made of the same granite as the stairs. Along the wall opposite the entrance were more doors similar to the front door, however only the door to the far left had a handle on it. On the left wall there was a glass plate sunk into the stone, with a large, red lever on either side, and a button below it. The left lever had "I" written next to it, the right a "III", and the button a "II". Above all of this there was a picture of a large, friendly smiling face painted on the wall in green. In the top corners of the wall were two metal horns colored with peeling green paint. The right wall was filled with a great white square, and didn't appear to be doing much.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Chapter 1 Part 1

Nobody could read it. The sign, that is. It was a large sign, made of a silver-colored metal. It could have been steel, aluminum, or tin. That information is lost, now, as none of those present at the time were metallurgists and the sign was soon after scrapped by the impoverished people living near it. What is known is that the sign read, "Welcome to the Happiest Place on Earth" and had in fact been stolen from Disneyland.

Four people stood around the sign with a sense of awe, confusion, and discomfort. The discomfort from the frigid weather of the Canadian Shield, the confusion from the fact that none of them could read the ancient English sign (not that it would have helped), and the awe from the staircase behind the sign that appeared to descend directly into nowhere. The staircase itself was not particularly threatening, it was made of perfectly square, flat, polished granite. It was eery because of how effortlessly the surrounding natural landscape surrounding it transitioned perfectly into this very unnatural staircase that went down into utter darkness.

A small, dusty-brown haired young woman broke the stillness of the group by walking confidently toward the staircase. Almost immediately, a stocky black-haired man of about twenty-five leapt forward and grabbed her arm, "Esther! What the Hell are you doing?"

"Get off me!"

"Get back here!"

"I!" Esther brought her foot back behind her, "Said!" she started swinging it "Get!" her boot firmly connected with his shin, "Off!" The young man let go of her with a yelp, holding his leg and hopping on one foot.

"What was that for?"

"Don't touch me, Micheal."

"That doesn't mean you get to kick me!"

"Then don't touch me."

"Then don't go in there."

The other young man in the group, Ivan, pitched in, "Esther, Micheal's an ass, but maybe he's right, we don't know what's down there."

Esther glared at Ivan, "Then I'm going to find out."

"That sign could easily say 'danger' or 'certain death ahead' or even just 'no trespassing'"

"It might also say 'free candy and beer', besides, how bad can it be? I mean, there's a picture of a castle on it." Coincidentally, this is precisely the reason that the builders of the staircase decided to use a stolen Disney sign.

Michael stopped nursing his leg long enough to say, "Esther, we should at least come back later after we've planned this out. It's too dangerous to go down there by yourself."

"Well, then I guess it would be a real dick move for you to stay up here." as she turned around and started trotting down the stairs.

Michael hesitated for only an instant before he proudly and boldly started walking in the opposite direction, "Fuck that. Have fun dying down there, I'll gather a search party in the morning."

"You're a dick, Esther, wait up." Called Ivan as he took off after Esther down the stairs.

"Umm... what about me?" Piped a voice. Esther and Ivan both backtracked and looked up over the top stair at the girl whom the voice had come from.

"Oh," Esther sighed, "Sorry. Come with us, Steph?"

"Ok." Stephanie then meekly walked over to the stairs. She stopped before the first one, looking down. She checked her pockets and pulled out a book of matches, looked relieved, and put them back in her pocket. Ivan and Esther really can't be blamed for forgetting Stephanie. She was a plain looking girl, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but she also seldom spoke and didn't contribute much when she did. She was the sort of girl who would go to a party and sit in the corner, behind the punchbowl, and put her hood up.