Caption: Verisdad, Greenland, USSR. Thursday 17 April 1980. 3:22am (Global Standard Time). [5:22am local]
<On a small bed, a cot really, in a room no bigger than a broom closet, in a small house, in a tiny village, Tatiana Gorboz awakes at the sounds of an arguement in the main room of her home. She gets out of bed as quietly as she can and pushes aside the curtain that serves as her door. In the main room, soldiers are restraining and beating her father and older brother, while another soldier holds her mother down and rips at her clothing. Her brother sees her and signals with his eyes. Tatiana ducks back into her room, climbs onto the bed and opens the window, trying without much success to do so quietly. Even as she jumps out into the snow, she hears the soldiers shouting at her. She runs across the snow as fast as she can but her fourteen-year old legs, restrained by her heavy skirt are no match for the soldiers' and she screams as she hears them getting closer.>
Tatiana: Get away from me. Help! HELP!
<She keeps running towards the village square. Ahead of her, she sees lights coming on in some of the houses. Suddenly her body stops working and she falls down into the snow. For a moment everything is dark and a chill, like a creeping fog, covers her body. Then she's turning and there are lights. She knows that there are people gathered around her but she can't seem to see them clearly. She lays there thinking, 'I've lived in the snow all my life, but I've never been this cold.' The light fades.>
Caption: Zinzinnati, Ohio River Province. Thursday 17 April 1980. 3:22am GST. [3:22am local]
<In the Saint Jerome/Saint Gertrude Hospital emergency room, Mekul James lays in a bed struggling to draw air into his defiant lungs just one more time. At the foot of his bed, two Doctors stand arguing over treatment options. They look at Mekul, then back at each other, and then their arguement changes.>
Doctor #1: We're both wrong. Any more albuterol OR any more epinephrine will kill him. His heart won't take it.
<Emotions flash across Doctor #2's face: anger, confusion, shock, acceptance.>
Doctor #2: Then there's only one thing left to do.
Doctor #1, drawing a coin out of the pocket of his white jacket: Call it.
Doctor #2, watching as his collegue flips the coin into the air: Heads.
<Doctor #1 catches the coin, flips it onto his wrist, and then shows it to Doctor #2.>
Doctor #2: Damn.
Doctor #1: You lose. You have to tell his mother. Better hurry or she won't get to say goodbye. I'm going to go check in on the stabbing victem in bed 2. <He walks off.>
<Doctor #2 looks at Mekul one last time and then turns away also. Mekul tries to draw in another breath and fails. The light fades.>
Caption: Seattle, Northwest Territories, Confederate States of America. Thursday 17 April 1980. 3:22am GST. [12:22am local]
<Two girls with long black hair are walking down the street. One is about sixteen years old. The other is about two years younger.>
Rose (the 16-year old): You shouldn't be so much of a smart-ass. They might not let you join.
Sara: I don't WANT to join your gang.
Rose: You need to, you little shit. How the hell do you think you're going to survive living here. There are only gang members and victims. Do you WANT to be a victim?
<Her response is cut off by the squeal of tires. A car comes whipping wildly around the corner half a block away. A teenage girl with bright blue hair and a grim expression leans out of the back window with a sawed-off shotgun in her hands. She fires once, pumps, fires a second time. The car whips around another corner and disappears into the night. Sara realizes that she's laying on the ground. She looks around for her sister. She looks into Rose's eyes but there's no one looking back at her. Sara looks away from her sister's body and down at the blood streaming from her own wounds. The light fades.>
Caption: Heaven, Grand Computer Room. Thursday 17 April 1980. 3:24am GST.
<Angels are running frantically from one computer station to another. There is an air of desperation in their actions and the tone of their voices. It is definitely not just another day in paradise. Even when one of the Archangels strides into the room, the Angels continue to scurry about.>
Raphael the Archangel: Mikvael!
<Mikvael rushes over and bows, though a bit perfunctorily.>
Raphael: Mikvael, what in the Name of All That's Holy is going on here?
Mikvael: We upgraded the Soul Routing System to version 16.04.102 last night and everything was going smoothly until about ten minutes ago. We're still not sure what went wrong but it looks like the automated routing sub-system of the SRS crashed and the backups failed to engage.
Raphael: When can you have things back to normal?
Mikvael: We're reinstalling build 101 right now, but some of the library files are locked out by the system errors.
Raphael: HOW long?
Mikvael: Five minutes, maybe longer.
Raphael: <Sighs.> There's no real choice then. Reboot the system.
<Mikvael pales to the color of his robes.>
Raphael: You DID hear me.
Mikvael: Uh. I mean, yes. But we can't- I mean, I can't authorize a complete shutdown. What if-
Raphael: I'll take the heat. Just get the system rebooted and back online.
Caption: Heaven, Mikvael's Office off the Grand Computer Room. Thursday 17 April 1980. 5:46am GST.
<Raphael, Mikvael, and two Programmer-Seraphims are seated around a conference tables that seems likely to collapse under the reams and reams of printouts that have been piled on top of it.>
Raphael: Any chance we can recover the lost data?
Mikvael: I really doubt it. We pulled every last quanta of data off the drives and sifted thru it for even partial data-tracks. It's just not there.
Programmer-Seraphim #1: We were lucky. It could have been much worse.
Programmer-Seraphim #2: I've been running simulations. We only lost a very narrow field of data. Deaths occurring from 3:23:06 thru 3:25:34, Human children between the ages of 13 years, 10 months, 14 days to 14 years, 3 months, 2 days, and only from Earth-Positives from G142 thru J003. It really couldn't have been that many.
Raphael: <Sigh.> Just tell me. How many Souls got deleted from our tracking software?
Programmer-Seraphim #2: It could have been as high as one hundred and eight-
Programmer-Seraphim #2: BUT, <She interrupts,> but it was probably more like twenty-five to thirty-five.
© Copyright 2001-2009 Michael J. Ahlers. All Rights Reserved.
and © Copyright 1980-2009 Michael J. Ahlers. All Rights Reserved.