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The Non-Conformity Chronicles

Chapter 8 - The Road Not Traveled

"An individual has three minds. The first is the Spirit from which all consciousness and energy emanates and which connects the individual to the infinite. The second is the soul. The soul remembers everything from the beginning of time to the present. The soul forms the template for our physical bodies and directs all of the physiological processes in our body. The Conscious Mind is our operational mind. A Conscious Mind, when conventionally educated and trained, blocks our awareness of and access to our Soul and Spirit. A Conscious Mind that is educated and trained to accept and function with Spiritual Faculties can direct the integration of all three minds. This at once frees and empowers the individual in ways that others who are not also connected cannot comprehend." - From The Non-Conformist Training Manual

         After a quick breakfast of reconstituted eggs, bacon, country fries and coffee, they took their packs, got into the vehicle and headed out of the city. After several hours of driving, their vehicle was starting to slow down. "This vehicle is rather old," Dora explained. "The lithium battery packs have lost some capacity from age and the isotopes in the beta voltaic generator have exceeded their half-life. It doesn't really matter though because we have taken it as far as we can."

         She pulled the vehicle off of the highway onto a side road that was blocked by a very battered and decaying barrier that said, "Road Closed."

         "Here is where we go from the road less traveled to the road not traveled."

         They removed the gear and supplies from the vehicle and Dora reprogrammed it to drive itself back to the city, park in its designated spot and delete the log of its recent travels.

         The new road wasn't really a road anymore, but rather fragments of rubble from former pavement overgrown with trees, shrubs, vines and brambles. "This is what the highway would look like if the maintenance bots didn't keep it free of vegetation and repaired."

         At first, moving through the brush was very difficult. After several hours, they crossed a narrow trail and began following it. Dr. Baker was becoming exhausted, so they stopped and set up camp. Dora collected a quantity of grey green moss from the trees, dried it gently over a fire and ground it into a fine powder.

         "This is Usnea, a lichen with antibiotic properties. This is what we would have used to treat your wounds and save your life if a healer had not been available. Add this to your medical knowledge base. I will keep some of this powder in our medical kit just in case. An expert in herbal medicine will know the medical uses of several thousand plants. I am familiar with two hundred of them, mostly local plants."

         They sat next to the campfire eating rehydrated ration packs. "From the size of the trees growing where the pavement was, I'd have to guess that this road hasn't been used for a couple centuries at least. Are there many of these abandoned roads?"

         "Yes," Dora replied. "Nature has reclaimed the pavement but the road beds still offer the most direct path and easiest travel between some locations. Because of this, paths often follow the old road beds."

         "Like the path we are on now?" he asked.

         "Yes," she replied.

         "Who uses the paths?" he asked.

         "Animals and people," she replied.

         "What people? You have suggested that there are more people out here, but you have been vague on the details. I was always taught that everyone lived in developed areas with all travel and activity organized through Central Accounting Administration," he said.

         "The population collapse that preceded the great economic revolution resulted in the depopulation of the entire planet. Houses, vehicles, even entire cities become abandoned and fell into disrepair. After a few decades, nature was actively reclaiming the land, as you can see. The population collapse was triggered by a combination of natural pandemics, biological warfare, genetically engineered unintentional pandemics, resource depletion, pollution, climate change, natural disasters, war between nations and civil wars over control of the population. Some of the survivors were the wealthier elite of the society that had the resources to create special retreats, even underground cities that were reserved only for themselves. Your world, the world controlled by Central Accounting Administration descended from this group," she explained.

         "Others were farmers, naturalists, rural residents and Native Americans. Essentially, those people who had the skills and were in a position to take care of themselves. They made lives for themselves by returning to the land and living a low technology lifestyle, somewhat like the ancient Amish. Others became even more primitive and live an aboriginal life style."

         Another group was the scientists and engineers who had the technology and facilities to sustain not only themselves, but also the technological base that they were dependent upon. They developed several 'science cities' that have a superior technology when compared to your world."

         "Is Central Accounting Administration aware of this?"

         "Only to a limited degree, the elite who created the Central Accountant were extremely concerned about anyone who was not under their control and had initiated several waves of civil war to purge all un-controlled and uncontrollable people. When the Central Accountant became completely autonomous, it determined that the elite who had been programming it were a source of social instability and imbalance. It then eliminated its creators. The Central Accountant then made the assessment that the surviving independent human communities were no threat and were not worth the effort and resources required to conquer them."

         "That is not consistent with my experiences with the Central Accountant."

         "The Central Accountant is a network of super computers with sophisticated artificial intelligence algorithms. More important, it is controlled and defined by programs and programs are written by people." She looked at Dr. Baker and smiled, "and I am a people."

         "Are you telling me that there are entire civilizations existing side by side with mine, that we don't even know that they exist and the Central Accountant ignores them because it has been hacked?"

         "Enlightenment is very satisfying . . . isn't it?" she replied.

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