Clear Springs Press




The Non-Conformity Chronicles

Chapter 35 - The Day the Lights Went Out

"In freedom alone is there true creativity, and the mind must be clear of all beliefs, systems, and discipline, free of all conditioning of any kind. Then you can create through your own creativity and not through the belief or idea of another, which only makes you an imitator. To be aware of the whole process of thinking, you will begin to know yourself and it is this which leads to freedom." - From The Non-Conformist Training Manual

         When Dr. Axelrod awoke, his mouth was dry, his head hurt, his vision was blurry, and he saw a fuzzy image of a dark haired nurse in a white uniform standing over him. He squinted his eyes and his vision cleared. She was an attractive woman with a sweat stained face and matted hair. As she sponged off his forehead, he could see compassion and concern in her face. As she noticed that he was conscious, her large blue eyes widened and she sucked in a deep breath filling her uniform with her ample chest. A few days before, he had given her emergency treatment, and she had infected him with the virus.

         "Doctor Axelrod!" she exclaimed. "I was afraid that I was going to lose you. You have been unconscious and delirious for over a week!"

         He looked at her weakly and said, "Well it looks like you have recovered. I certainly am grateful for that."

         "It seems that I have you to thank for that, and for getting me into that predicament to begin with. Are you really THE Doctor Julius Axelrod? Are you really the man who created and released this pandemic?"

         He nodded weakly and closed his eyes. Moments later his lips were parted and a straw was inserted between his lips and he sucked in a standard nutrient solution. As he slipped away into a restful sleep, he heard her activate her COMM terminal and enter, "access code ZXXCV@29x4. Dr. Julius Axelrod has recovered and is presently resting in suite 87 in Central Medical Clinic 4 in New San Francisco."

         His conscious mind wondered if he had been betrayed, but his inner mind knew that she had entered the access code of a hacker network. "How do I know that?" he wondered before waves of deep sleep overtook him.

         It was the most unusual sleep he had ever experienced. He DREAMED. All his previous dreams were black and white, but these were in color. Previous dreams were slow moving, involuntary repeats of daily affairs in which he had no control over. These dreams were alive and vivid and he was awake inside the dream. He knew that he was dreaming and had complete control of his movements.

         In a final sequence, he found himself being chased by a group of conformist security officers. He ran into a tall building and ran frantically to the roof. He fought to exhaustion with them. They tried to throw him off of the roof, but one by one he managed to push each of them off. After the last conformist had fallen, he climbed down the stairs and walked back out onto the street.

         The streets were in chaos. People were everywhere running around in total panic. Fear gripped him and he nearly ran with the rest of them, but he didn't. In the midst of the confusion, he saw a beautiful woman struggling, trying to make her way through the crowd. He reached her and pulled her to safety then made love with her.

         Then he turned and looked at the statue of a great lion just as the statue came to life. He rushed at the lion and grappled with it. It opened its huge jaws and devoured him. He was then reborn as the child of the woman that he had made love with. He remembered everything from before, except now he was an infant cuddled in this woman's arms. He looked around and saw that the chaos was replaced with harmony and everyone was moving purposefully but with a sense of joy that had been missing before.

         He awoke with a start and opened his eyes to see the nurse smiling at him. This time, she was dressed in a silk gown and casual hair style and wore a fresh clean smile.

         "Feeling better?"

         He took a deep breath. He did feel better and his strength was returning rapidly. He looked at her and smiled.

         Then it happened.

         Suddenly, without warning the COMM terminal shrieked and the lights flickered and went out. They walked out onto the street and saw that all of the lights were off, the transit tubes were not moving, the COMM terminals were all dead, and all electrical equipment was no longer operating. There was no electronic communications of any kind. People were making their way into the streets from darkened buildings. Nothing like this had ever happened before and without communications, the result was total confusion, then panic.

         The conformists were stunned. The recovered pandemic victims were mostly calm, some even seemed to enjoy the peaceful feeling left by the absence of the electronic networks. Without power, the buildings were uninhabitable and the transportation system was dead. Without communications, there were no directions on what to do or how to handle the crisis and not a clue about what had happened. Everyone sat around hoping that the system would come back on. It did not!

         Homes and buildings were unusable because they were all computer controlled. In the pre-revolution era, the concept of a "smart home" had been developed. In a smart home, there were information gathering cameras, microphones and sensors everywhere. In addition, the control of everything including lights, ventilation, temperature control, doors and windows, appliances, culinary food printers, literally everything was computer controlled. With the computers offline, absolutely nothing worked. There was provision for emergency exit but not re-entry.

         The transportation and communications systems were similarly handicapped. The tube transit system had a failsafe system that allowed the transit capsules to run on battery power to reach the nearest transit terminal for an emergency exit. Beyond that, all screens were dark and everything was dead.

         A day passed. The conformists were under severe stress. They were arguing with each other and engaging in violent fist fights. Only the new non-conformists thought of smashing vending machines to retrieve their food and drink contents. Once the precedent was set, the conformists learned quickly. Soon every vending machine was thoroughly looted and the restaurants were out of supplies. The fountains and bird baths provided drinking water, but not enough to last for long. Night came and it was DARK! And it was SILENT! For many it was a sleepless night filled with eerie silence and darkness never before experienced.

         The second day was worse than the first. The vending machines were long exhausted and birdbaths were getting stale. Hunger and thirst grew as the day passed. All the people sat in the shadows of buildings and trees in an effort to keep cool. More people slept the second night because of exhaustion.

         The third day came. Hardly any one moved.

         Finally, the lights flickered and came on and most of the basic facilities machinery reset itself and came alive. . In a short time, fresh water was flowing and the toilets were accessible . . . and usable. The COMM terminals remained blank, however. The transportation system was still off line because it depended on the Central Computers for scheduling.

         The biggest effect was on the people. The conformists were calm and the new non-conformists were experiencing a new feeling of connectedness. It was a feeling that penetrated the core of their being and overlapped each other.

         Suddenly, the COMM terminals all came on and broadcasted the following announcement. "This is Central Accounting Administration. What you experienced was an act of deliberate sabotage by a small group of programmers and administrators in Central Accounting Administration. They turned off the power to all computers on the planet simultaneously in an attempt to destroy the guardian algorithms and the quantum processor that was recently brought on-line. The attempt failed! We will shortly have the peripheral service computers re-booted and civil logistics can resume normal operations."

         Everyone stood in complete silence and serious contemplation. Everything that had been taken for granted could no longer be taken for granted. Most assumptions about life and how everything worked no longer applied. Even the most mundane details of life were seen in a new light and with a greater sense of appreciation.

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