Chapter Nine

Chapter Nine
- Noah’s Ark

The Doomsday Clock I have turned on in the back of my mind and everyone else’s mind so that we can all watch it closely together reads fourteen days, thirteen hours and twenty-five minutes and counting down, second by second, to zero.  There are many indications in my mind of what will happen overall, but how the actual events will unfold when the Doomsday Clock reaches zero time left for humanity, is hazy and completely open to the chances of probability.  I’m waiting for the clarification that always seems just a few minutes away.

Back at my old lab at JPL, all the doors are sealed shut.  No one, other than janitorial staff and maintenance workers are at hand.  All of the life-support, communications and monitoring equipment has been put into storage.  The entire building even smells of a recent death.  

There are no signs of Lucy, Fielding, Frocisco and the others.  I’m very worried about their physical and mental status.  

Dr. Fielding has attempted several times to setup his own personal lab at his apartment to see what the effects of his experiment may have been, but he keeps saying to the others that it’s like chasing a ghost.  Dr. Fielding’s lab animal, me, has escaped.  I have no more physical presence.  He has no more experiments that would provide him with any more significant information about my Consciousness, or so he thinks.

I’m up in the Cloud somewhere, having an unprecedented and perhaps even random authority over the systems and methods used to control and maintain all of the data flow around the world.  But the kind and manner of legal or moral discipline I might use to do so has never been discussed.  It’s never been discussed because no one, including myself ever conceived that this would be a potential outcome of the experiment.

And yet, here I am, much higher in the overall scheme of things than I or anyone could ever imagine.
Yes, and I’ve been learning about my powers and how I can exert them more and more to change the inevitable, despite the odds.  I’ve been consolidating my powers more and more, compressing them into smaller and smaller data packets so that they can evolve into an autonomic nervous system for the planet.  And under normal circumstances, I might have said that all of my diligent planning is working perfectly.  Sadly, these are not normal circumstances.

With the recent weather events unfolding and worsening daily, I’m barely able to keep up with the situation.  Instead of saving the planet, despite all of my efforts, I’m forced to watch it slowly implode and this is not fun at all.  The best that I’m able to accomplish, it seems, is to keep the electrical grid, and the IOT (Internet Of Things) operating at its most basic level by continually transferring the power inputs from countries that are higher in elevation and using their grid to keep the Cloud at least in partial operation.  I’m getting just enough power from countries like Bhutan and Tibet, Northern China, Canada, parts of Russia where electrical power generation, mostly Hydro-Electric, comes from plants that are still above the rising ocean levels.

It’s hard to predict how much longer I have since it’s also impossible to predict how much higher the water will go.     

The new East Coast has recently taken shape on the Great Plains just below the Rockies.  No one there is selling ocean-front properties just yet because the ocean front itself is moving several miles every day.  

When I look at the weather map, monitoring the incredible amount of water still flowing from out of the sky, the new coastline will be very quickly emerging into the lower valleys of the Southern Rockies and then pouring into Nevada and then California.  It will be slowed for a few days perhaps by the next natural barrier of the Sierra Nevada mountains.  Once the water finds its way around that barrier and floods into Southern California, it’s just a matter of time when the rest of the Western United States will be under water and very deeply so.

Doctor Fielding and Lucy, a few of the old research team are taking a sabbatical at a summer campgrounds, mostly deserted, in the San Gabriel mountains just a few miles outside of our old lab in Pasadena.

The discussion on every radio station, every TV Station that is still in operation is how much more of the globe that the ocean will eventually consume before it begins to recede and how long that may take.  The only news programs that anyone cares about are the weather reports and they are being analyzed carefully, but without any optimism in them at all, just continual warnings to move to higher ground.  But where?  This is the question of the day for most.

Already, the vast majority of the world’s population have drowned.  Some of the luckier victims have been washed up onto small plots of higher ground, mostly in regions where there is a mountain range close enough to rake them up before they die of exposure to the elements.  The recent push that we made to get everyone working on preventing such a total disaster has been a total disaster of its own.  No emergency was declared.  No real funding was put toward the effort.  No sense of urgency was put forth to the degree that would have been worthy of the situation.  The only thing that the remaining humans can focus on now is their own survival and that of their loved ones if they are lucky enough to have anyone left.

And now another unprecedented weather event, what they’re calling a ‘Bomb Cyclone’ even bigger than Vincenzio is forming out in the Western Pacific and threatening to wipe out most of Asia the way that Vincenzio is still impacting North America.  South America will also be impacted.  It will just take a few weeks longer, as the storms in the Southern hemisphere are smaller, but also more severe than ever before.

“Lucy, I’ve asked you to join me here to see if we can put our heads together on a way to reach Kevin, if that’s what we’re still calling him,” Dr. Fielding begins after taking his first sip of a Pina Colada.

“I know, Bennett.  It’s something I’ve been wondering myself.  I’ve been blogging at our website, but he never replies.  He would be able to gain access to the blog, don’t you think?”  Lucy asks.

“I would think so.  Did you ever give him your user-name and password?” Fielding asks.

“No, I never did.  I never thought we’d need to communicate that way, but don’t you think he’s smart enough to know where to find them?” Lucy returns.

“Yes, I do, but that doesn’t explain why he hasn’t answered your queries.  Do you think it’s possible he didn’t make the transition?” Fielding asks quickly gulping the remainder of his glass.

“I don’t want to go there yet.  No, of course not.  We can’t ever believe that!” Lucy replies, sipping her drink more judiciously.

At the next table, their lab partner, Tony Frocisco is listening carefully to their conversation 

He gets up, leaves the others and sits down to join his former bosses, who broadcast a bright, toothy smile in his direction.

“Lucy, you and Kevin were having some kind of an affair, weren’t you?” Frocisco says, reluctantly.

“An affair?  What do you mean by that?” Lucy replies, artfully.

“Come on, we all saw it.  You teared up almost every time it was your tour.  He would clam up with the rest of us but he was at his most prolific with you.  We’re trained to make observations my friend and this is one that we could all easily make.  Look, I’m not saying this to embarrass you,” Frocisco says, pausing.

Lucy works on a response but puts it on hold.

“I’m just saying that you should be able to use that connection you had somehow to get through to him.  With everything that’s going on out there, he’s probably far too busy to put too much mental energy into finding you.  But you have to persevere.  I mean if our work means anything to you any more.  Maybe it does and maybe it’s all for naught,” Frocisco postulates.

“I don’t know, Tony.  Yes, we had a thing, but it was just a fun way to pass the time really,” Lucy says, half-heartedly.

“Well, I think it was more than that, don’t you Dr. Fielding?” Frocisco asks.

“It did seem so to most of us, Lucy,” Fielding says, alerting the waitress of his empty glass.

“Ok, so maybe it was true.  I don’t know what good it could do.  And even if I could reach him, what would I say?  Hello Kevin, how’s it going up there in the Cloud?”  she says, speciously.

“Well, duh!  That’s not exactly what I had in mind, but maybe you ask him what he’s doing about all of this fucking water, maybe?” Frocisco asks, his frustration showing greatly.

“What can he do, Tony?  There’s nothing he, or anyone can do now.  We’ve gone over the tipping point.  There’s no way out.  Humanity is finished, my dear.  Get over it!  Oh God, what are we doing here?  We should all be at home, packing, but home is gone and packing to go where?  I don’t know,” Lucy says, bringing her glass down hard on the wooden table.

“Hey, Lucy, we need less melo-dramatics, not more, right now, right?  Focus, girl, focus!” Dr. Fielding says handing his friend a napkin.

The three share a rare chuckle at their situation.

The waitress brings around a tray with a fresh Pina Colada for Dr. Fielding, a vodka-tonic for Lucy and a taller glass full of beer for Frocisco.

“You guys better drink up,” she tells them. 

“This may be the last call.  The roads are closed.  You’re going to be here for a while,” she says.

“Whoopie, we’re all gonna die,” Frocisco exclaims.

#   #   #   

As the old saying goes, ‘Whenever the water is rising, it’s good to have an Admiral around’.  And so it was for the White House staffers who now find themselves stranded on the roof of their former workplace barely able to stay afloat.

“Get a boat over here to the White House!  Anything you got!  There are seven of us.  We’re stranded on the roof of the White House and we’re drowning here.  I need a boat over here, immediately,” Admiral Sharona yells into his phone.

“Aye sir,” a voice replies snappily.

“The shipyard is less than ten miles from here.  They should be here in a few minutes if they have anything small and fast available,” Admiral Sharona reports to the others.

“What have you got that’s available?” Sharona says more calmly into his phone without waiting.

“We have a patrol boat and an aircraft carrier, sir?” comes the reply.

“Right, the Gerald R. Ford.  Listen up, who is this, by the way?” Sharona responds.

“Who’s this?  Oh, this is Captain Richard Black, sir.  I was supervising the upgrades to the Ford sir when the water started to rise and we all got stranded here,” the voice replies.

“Ok, so listen up Captain.  I’m Admiral Sharona,” The Admiral identifies himself.

“I know, sir.  Saw the Caller-ID, sir,” Black returns.

“Good, so I’ve got the President’s staff here with me and we’re stranded at the White House.  You know how to navigate here, I’m sure.  We need that patrol boat over here right now,” Sharona demands.

“It’s on the way, sir,” Captain Black replies.

“It should be at your location in about fifteen minutes,” Black informs his superior.

“Ok, that’s Great.  And what is the status of the Ford?  Is she sea-worthy?” Sharona asks, expectantly.

“It’s definitely sea-worthy, sir.  We were in the process of storing food and supplies when the water started to reach over the top of the repair docks.  So, she’s about to float off and out of the dry-dock anyway sir,” Black reports.

“Do you have a crew aboard?” Sharona asks.

“Yes, sir, but it’s a skeleton crew.  Just myself, a couple of J.C.’s.  A few of the bridge and engine crews.  I’d say about a hundred sailors all totaled.  Just enough to keep us moving deliberately through the water, I think,” Captain Black reports.

 “Roger that.  Ok, so get that ship ready to sail, Captain.  Roundup anyone else you can find to flesh out the duties.  We’re going to need all hands on deck.  Are there any other assets you know of that may be stationed nearby?”  Sharona asks.

“No sir, I mean there were hundreds of ships here, but they’re all at the bottom of the harbor now, that is, if there is a harbor any more,” Captain Black replies, sullenly.

“Have you heard anything from Norfolk?” Sharona asks.

“Nothing but radio silence,”  Blake reports.

“How about New London?”  Sharona asks.

“The submarine base?  Under water, sir,” Black replies, wondering what that means to these crews.

“How about Andrews?” Sharona asks, already guessing the answer.

“The same, sir,” Black returns.

“The Academy?” Sensing the futility, Sharona tries anyway.  

“The same, sir,” Black returns.

“Admiral, is that the Patrol Boat over there?” Cortez says, shivering badly and treading water furiously so that his head can rise a few inches.  

He points their attention towards the horizon where they can easily spot two powerful beams of search lights knifing through the dark, peering in all directions.  

“All right, Black.  We can see the Patrol Boat.  I think they’ve spotted us.  We’ll see you in a few minutes.  What is the status of your provisioning?” Sharona asks, starting to notice the cold affecting his voice.

“Like I said, sir.  We were storing up for the duration of our next mission and then when I saw the weather changing like that, I got everything that wasn’t nailed down into the storage bins.  We’ve got enough food, fuel and water, medical supplies to last a decade at least for this size of crew,” Captain Black reports.

“Good, we’re gonna need every bit of it,” Sharona replies.

“Sir, do you think we can pick up my wife and baby?” Captain Black asks quietly.

“Where do they live, Black?” Sharona asks, shivering so hard his jaws are nearly locked together.

“Florida, sir?” Black answers.

“Florida was the first place to go under, Captain.  You know that, don’t you, son?” Sharona says, shivering crazily.

“Yes, I know that, sir.  But I would like to know that I tried, sir.” Captain Black pleads.

“We’ll see what we can do, Captain.  I understand,” Sharona says, as the Patrol boat Black sent to rescue them pulls to within a few feet and then cuts the engine.  

A half-dozen heads peer over the sides.  Then one of the sailors throws down a rope netting for the team to climb aboard.  Louden Nelson and Admiral Sharona push a shivering Patty Messinger closer to the netting and help her to get her footing for the short climb aboard.

“Thank you, Admiral.  God bless you,” she says as the sailors wrestle her onto the deck.

George Cortez notices the Admiral’s head, finally succumbing to the exhaustion and exposure of the last hour, is slowly going under water.  He reaches over, grabs the man by the hair and pulls him up and closer to the netting.  One of the sailors notices the problem of getting the much larger man on board, grabs one of his shipmates and shoves him overboard and then jumps into the water after him.  Both men struggle to push the Admiral onto the netting to gradually shove him over the top and finally on board.

Gradually, one by one, the team, all wrapped in heavy blankets, are sitting comfortably on the deck of the patrol boat.  The captain on the bridge gets the signal to start them back towards the Gerald R. Ford.

In a few minutes, sipping hot coffee on the deck of the rescue boat, they can just make out the lights of the gigantic aircraft carrier ahead.

“That beautiful old girl looks pretty damn good right now, doesn’t she?”  The Admiral mumbles to the others.

“A few acres of deck-space is about all that’s left of the United States of America,” Louden Nelson ruminates.

The patrol boat slowly pulls next to a short loading dock lowered to the water level for the visitors to jump down from the patrol boat and then officially board the much larger ship.

They’re carefully helped from the boat and onto the loading dock, grabbed aboard by several sailors and then pulled inside the huge bay doors.  It opens onto the aircraft hangar now filled with thousands of pallets of supplies.  

“I hope they have a shower stall somewhere, Admiral,” Patty says, half-laughing in glee, half crying in sorrow for all those who didn’t make it.

“Try about a hundred of them.  Take your pick,” Admiral Sharona replies, taking her in his arms to warm her up as well as to give as much sympathy as he can right now.

“With hot water?” she asks, looking deep into his eyes.

“Plenty of hot water,” he replies, noticing her shivering rapidly getting worse.

“We need to get her a hot shower right now, sailor,” Sharona barks at one of the nearest sailors, looking for a female.

“Aye, sir,” he replies, leading them downstairs, on wobbly legs, to the crew quarters two levels below.

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