© Elizabeth M. Young 2010
Apocalypto Posse: Part III, The End?
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The next few days were like a working vacation. We reorganized our booty and used up some of our looty, clearing out empty houses, disposing of the dead and sanitizing the heck out of everything. We didn’t know what it was that we were sanitizing yet, so we went after the microbes just to be safe. It was a stupid ploy that the medicos were playing because of the dead bodies. We knew that they had seen what was trying to kill and eat us. They just would not talk about it, as if they weren’t quite sure about their suppositions yet.
It being Midsummer, we learned to take the hottest parts of the day to get some rest so we could work in the cooler evenings. We had some spectacular thunderstorms, there being a daily and constant buildup of cloud towers every day over the Sierras. One day it was so fierce that we thought the wrath of God had finally come down on us.
On the fifth day, we got notice that some jokers from the former states of Southern California and Texas were trying to take over the power grid and water systems. They wanted everyone to pay for the privilege of letting them screw us as they had always screwed us. A hundred of us took some trips to take out the ones who were stupid enough to wind up in our area. There weren’t many of them and their greed overcame their power and their sense of reality. They got the point very quickly as they winded up dead, never to reach home again.
On the 8th day, the medicos tried to take blood from the 20 or so individuals who were now showing definite signs of change. They had grouped up and were running Tio Pepe’s restaurant. They spent their days and nights cooking some of the most fabulous food that we had ever eaten. We did not even sweat over the idea of getting infected. Perhaps it was the silly hope and stubborn resolve that they were going to be alright. There was Guatamelan, Brazilian, Bütterschnitzel, French, BBQ, Chinese, Creole and even some Morrocan food. Day after day, The Huddler’s personalities remained even and intact. Other than a rapid decline in their reeking and smelling, they were no different than the rest of us.
We made progress through the heavy list of tasks that led to setting up in our new and wonderful home. We had to keep a close eye on the children, who thought the place a wonderland of hills and creeks and hidden places. Halloween was going to be a nightmare for us and a joy for the children. We decided to corral them in an area that was boundaried by the freeway, the little schoolhouse and the monument. We were home. We were alive. We had survived.
But then the following sequence of events changed our lives into something that made us wonder why we had ever even bothered.
At 7:05 am on the 19th day, the medicos had just gotten blood from three of the Huddlers when the first one just collapsed and died. Then the second one died, and the third one went. The remaining 17 of them firmly decided that they weren’t giving up any blood and none of the shocked medicos messed with them.
Oddly, the three dead ones didn’t pop and start to ooze like the previous Huddler phases. They stayed fresh like normal dead humans.
Just as that hot mess broke out, a handful of the communications nerds freaked out, running around and yelling. They had heard or read something from the WWW that had scared the hell out of them. It took more than a few doses of sedatives to get them to even calm down, but then they calmed down a little too much. Whatever the drama was all about, it would have to wait a couple of hours until they woke up.
We looked at their computers and listened to the HAM radios, but we heard nothing that was any more alarming than it all had ever been. We should have been more observent, but we didn’t pay enough attention. The thing that had freaked out the nerds was sitting right before us, as obvious as our eyes could see…and we didn’t even notice it.
The medicos rushed the Huddler-Lite and Communications Nerd blood over to their temporary labs so they could take a look at it all under the stereozoom scopes. They wanted to test it for all sorts of things and to figure out what the heck was going on. An hour passed and the medicos didn’t show up to tell us anything, so we took a hike up there to see what was taking so long. If this was another deadly phase of whatever was trying to kill and eat us all, we needed to start on some protocols. It was a stomach dropping time. We dreaded getting any answers. After so much hope and so much success…
We approached their labs with extreme caution. It was way too quiet in there. After securing our entry, we got to the lab and…everyone was sitting around, looking as if their grandmother had grabbed them, tried to stuff apples in their mouths and to put them into the oven.
They told us in dead and dry voices that the latest phase of Huddlers, the ones who had been cooking up a storm at Tio Pepe’s, were a new phase allright. Their blood was packed with nanobots. Nanobots! The most killing event since the dinosaur extinction was because of nanobots!
So that meant that the earlier phases of the Huddlers were not bacterium or viruses, but were rudimentary nanobots that were designed to be breathed in, then to enter the bloodstream through the lungs. From the lungs, they were programmed to get to the brain and to kill the host by taking the brain apart at the molecular level. The twist was that something or someone decided to enhance the nanobots, making them capable of evolving as they replicated and spread from human to human.
We all knew this of course, but the medicos had just discovered something new: the nanobots were now able to communicate with each other inside the host and to have the hosts communicate with other hosts. The human host was the computer screen, the earphones, the microphones, the antenna…all in their own minds. The result was that our twenty Huddlers had been communicating silently not only with each other but with other Huddlers for an indeterminate distance. It all might have been a worldwide network or it all might have been confined to just those few.
We just didn’t know. So we studied the possibility of just killing them all. That was when the medicos just threw up their hands and said “Don’t worry about it.” We instantly wanted to know what the hell that meant, but were interrupted by the crew down at the Communications Nerds headquarters. They were waking up and talking crazy. So we ran down there, hoping to not find out what the disturbing news was.
No luck, it was disturbing. It was so simple. So simple. And we all had been missing it for weeks. One computer geek figured it out by accident. He had noticed that the “on” light on his $20,000 laptop was off, meaning that either the light had burned out or that the equipment was broken. He took his laptop apart and found it full of gray dust. He cleaned it all up and put the the laptop back together. It worked fine.
Except for one problem. The “dust” was the former innards of the laptop. Something had eaten the innards and turned them all to dust. But the operator had, for weeks, still been working the web like it was 1999! There was Google, NASA, all of it. He was getting e-mail and twitter messages…from equipment that had dust for innards! Actually, it had all been going on for real, but the computer had nothing to do with it. The equipment was all just props to make us all feel comfortable.
When the rest of the group checked the situation out, they realized that they had been communicating, but in a whole new way that was not anything that they comprehended. Their equipment appeared to work as it always had, but had been doing so long after the innards had been eaten and replaced with black dust. Examination of one sample of the dust indicated that it was not dust. It was all nanobots. A whole world of nanobots of all types, shapes, sizes and colors. There were tool bots, battery bots, construction bots, memory bots….all within a dash of dust the size of a pinhead.
We backed out of there and went back to the labs to tell the medicos that the computer nerds had not been really contacting the web for who knows how long. We told them that they must have been hallucinating for weeks. The medicos were aware of the problem, having finished their testing. They’d known about it for a while. Finally, over the next hour or so they told us what had been happening for quite some time…
After we heard it all was when we decided to just get on with our lives, because there was nothing else and nothing better to do.
You see, the nano bots were the disease that was supposed to kill humanity, not bacterium or viruses. The first phase, the phase that the Shit Eaters set off involved nanobots that could eat brain, chop up red blood cells or dissolve organs. They were supposed to kill most of the human population, then self destruct. Only the nanobots somehow managed to work with, not against the humans, adapting and reconfiguring themselves in order to keep the host viable, healthy, thinking and alive, rather than dying and deteriorating.
Their first attempts at human/machine reconciliation resulted in people who went crazy and violent, dying before they could go too far. But the ‘bots figured that all out and integrated with the brain to heighten intelligence, eventually even fixing pre-existing problems and improving people’s thinking.
At first, the nanobots didn’t know how to keep the flesh and body functioning, and this is why Huddlers stank. They were actually well decomposed by the time that they actually died. The next phases involved keeping the body and flesh viable for longer and longer periods while improving communications between humans. Thus, the Huddlers became less smelly, got along better and had less and less change of mood, personality and affect. All of humanity, by that time, was an integrated, thinking and unified entity.
And this latest phase knocked us over. The latest phase made the Huddlers practically normal and undetectable, able to seamlessly interface with machine and human alike because they were both.
They were both human and machine.
Both human and machine.
THEY WERE US.
WE WERE THE LATEST PHASE OF HUDDLER. ALL OF US. NO ONE HAD ESCAPED OR WAS LEFT UNCHANGED.
AND WE SMELLED GREAT.
And now, 3,000 years after the Great Nanobot Transition, we are making great progress in our space travels. We have a regular schedule of ships going back and forth to Mars, where the major cities are now well populated and are producing incredible new products for trade with our new customers in the alternate universes. The Earth is well protected and restored to its natural wildness and beauty.
And the Apocalypto Posse will always ride, because life in the alternate universes is not as friendly as people believe it to be.
Fini, for now