At the sound of the voice he searched around the cave, fearing that someone had sneaked in whilst he had been distracted and hadn’t been looking,
but it was empty.
“Hello,” he replied feeling silly to be talking to a machine.
“What would you like to know?” the machine asked. Although it was clearly not a human voice, whoever had programmed it had given it some
personality. It had a pleasant enough sounding tone unlike the one from the testing room.
“What are you?” he asked.
“I was programmed to remove you from the facility and ensure your continuing survival until you become fully functioning. Then it is up to you what
to do, as I have no instructions beyond that point other than to assist you.”
He was surprised to learn this. “It was you who did that?”
“Yes.” And he thought he detected a tone of pleasure now.
“Where am I?”
“This place doesn’t have a name yet.”
He frowned and tried another question, thinking that maybe he hadn’t got the wording quite right and the machine didn’t understand. “What
happened to the facility?”
“It was vaporised.”
“Wow.” Not destroyed or blown up, vaporised. “That must have been one big explosion.” So that’s why there’s no ruins, he thought to
“Yes it was. I can calculate it to the nearest kilo-tonne if you wish,” the machine offered helpfully.
“No, no that’s alright.” He had already got the idea that it had been pretty large and the numbers would have been wasted on him.
But that still didn’t explain the lack of a crater. An explosion of that magnitude must have left one of those behind and it would have scorched
everything around it for miles too, including himself. And how was it that he hadn’t been injured? Maybe he had been thrown clear and afterwards he
had been travelling away from the crater. He did recall having a sensation like falling, but it had all been too quick for his senses to capture it
“So what do we do now?” He asked, choosing not to give voice to his misgivings just yet.
“My sensors indicate that it is getting dark outside and that it will be night soon. It would be helpful for you to get some sleep soon. If you open
the case you will find some stones. You will only need one of them.”
He took one out. “What are they for?” he asked, turning it over in his hands.
“These can be used to monitor our immediate surroundings and will raise an alert should there be any activity. Go outside and put one near the
He took the stone and taking five steps away from the entrance put it in a clump of tall grass where the stones formed a V, thinking at least that way
he would remember where he had put it. At the same time, he glanced around the hill and down into the valley. It still looked empty. The distant sound
of birds singing in the woods, getting ready to roost echoed across the valley. He stood, listening to them. It was something he hadn’t heard for a
long time. A sound his ears had forgotten, and he wondered just how long he had been stuck inside the facility.
When he returned he asked “Do you think there will be people from the facility looking for me?”
“No. They are all gone.”
“But what if the explosion alerted others who might come looking for me?”
“That would be impossible. You are alone. There is no-one else here.”
“Yes, but it won’t always be the case.”
“It won’t?” He didn’t understand anything that this contraption was saying.
“No. They will come looking for you.” The machine let him digest that piece of information then gave him another. “In a few thousand years this
is going to be a busy market town.”
“A few thousand years?” He repeated, blinking and wondering if he had misheard. “So when is this then?” He asked.
“By your calendar it’s 45BC. There won’t be a settlement here until at least AD150 when the Romans come here and build their villas.”
“What are you? A time machine or something?”
“In a manner of speaking, yes I am.”
“So you have literally taken me where no-one can find me,” he murmured and pondered this strange and rather exhilarating idea.
“Yes.” The machine replied.
He did not think that he would be able to sleep after that, but the combination of everything that had happened at the facility, the escape and then
the exercise and fresh air had made him tired that he had no trouble in falling asleep.
Waking up in the hole was, well, both a shock and a relief. He was half expecting to be back at the facility either in his room and finding out that
this was all just a dream, or in the testing room, as that’s where things tended to get weird.
edit on 29/11/2014 by YarlanZey because: (no