A short story by Michaela Ripper to be read before completing the survey found at
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    scilence a short story   by Michaela Ripper  “Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen.”    -    Albert Einstein I’m a scientist. That means that I’m rational, and I don’t trust something unless there’s evidence. That’s why I don’t expect you to believe my story.   In all honesty, if you had told me two days ago that I would travel to the future, I wouldn’t have believed you. If you’d told me that I would be having a c onversation with the greatest scientists in history, I would have thought you were crazy. And if you’d told me that my discoveries would change the world, I would have laughed in your face. I’m a scientist. I need evidence. But I don’t laugh now.  Those thoughts give me nightmares instead. *** The day was normal: a disappointing and fruitless day at the lab. After a full twelve hours of running numbers through the processors, I found an error in a datasheet which rendered my past month’s work pointless. I t hought that I was on the brink of finding a way to finally overcome electrostatic force with lasers. But what I actually found was a typo on page three. I slouched home after work and tried to think about anything except nuclear fusion. It was surprisingly difficult. Images of a world with unlimited, clean energy played in my mind. I curled under the covers and tried to quiet my restless mind. My sleep was normal. A dim, misty nothingness. I didn’t dream.  But in an instant, the night became the most un-normal night of my life. In a jarring moment, my consciousness was shattered by a sharp beeping noise, and my eyelids were flooded by whiteness. My eyes snapped open to a room that I had never seen before in my life; miles and years and worlds away from the room I had fallen asleep in. I sat upright in the bed, my nails digging crescents in the sheets. My heart pounded fiercely as my mind whirled to make sense of my surroundings. Grey walls with peeling paint, grey tiles, grey steel-framed bed with yellowed sheets. Goosebumps rippled across my skin. I was cold, wearing what appeared to be a hospital gown. There were metal cuffs locked on my wrists, with wires running to a huge silver machine beside the bed. It buzzed ominously. I thought at first that it was a haemodialyser, like one I  had seen my grandfather connected to once. But no, I wasn’t in a hospital, and I didn’t have a kidney condition. I fumbled at the cuffs with trembling hands. They were locked tight. I recognized them as the same locks we used at the labs. Magnetic-coded, and very difficult to break. To unlock them, you need to align the key’s teeth, the magnetic pins and   the magnetic poles. But as an undergrad I had discovered that if you had a strong enough voltage source, you could disrupt the magnetic field enough to weaken the lock. I swung my legs out from under the sheets and dropped to the floor. There were cuffs on my ankles too; the wires trailed on the jagged tiles. I was surprised to find no power cord; the machine was battery powered. I broke open a latch and fumbled through its internal parts. I was surprised to recognise a CPU, a calorimeter and what looked like a miniature oscilloscope. There was also a glass chamber filled with a strange amber liquid, and what appeared to be a tesla c oil; a tightly wound spiral of wire that’s used to produce a powerful electric voltage. Then I found what appeared to be the battery, but it looked more like a capacitor. No, it looked like a  graphene supercapacitor  . But that was impossible. The technology behind supercapacitors was still unworkable. But when I connected the supercapacitor to the tesla coil, a painful kick of electricity jarred my whole body and sent me jerking backwards. I recoiled in shock and threw the battery to the ground. I hadn’t exp ected such a powerful force. But it worked; when I pulled at the cuffs on my wrists and ankles, they just fell away. I stood up and walked to the door. It groaned open when I gave a hefty shove, and I stepped out into a dark corridor, where more fluorescent lights stuttered to life. There were no windows and no natural light. Along the corridor were lines of doors identical to the one I had just passed through. The corridor extended into shadows in both directions. It was eerily silent. I crossed the corridor and tried the door directly opposite. It was locked tight. I tried several more doors, with similar luck. Finally I pushed against one that swung open to a room the same size as the one I had woken to. But the far wall simply wasn’t there. Instead, half the room was filled with huge rocks, and pale white dirt. I bent down and picked up a stone at my feet. I recognised it as batholith, a volcanic stone. With as start, I suddenly  realized that this building was underground. Deep   underground. My rational mind was beginning to flounder. Suddenly there was a noise behind me and I spun around. What I saw far outweighed any surprise I had already faced; it was the most terrifying thing I had ever seen. Standing just a metre from me was a creature that seemed to be part human, part ape. It stared with deep-set eyes beneath a heavy brow. Sharp canines protruded from its wide-set mouth. It stood about a foot shorter than me, with long arms hanging to both sides. A ragged t-shirt covered its torso, oddly juxtaposed by the black hair covered its entire body. There was a strange silver contraption strapped to its throat. I started to stumble backwards, when a croaky, mechanical voice emanated from the device at the creature’s throat.   “Avalon Paske. You will follow me. I will take you to the others. You are not to dispute this instruction.”  I froze in terror. “Wh - where am I?” I stammered.   “You are in the western wing of the central bunker. Please follow me.”  The creature then lurched forward and grabbed my arm. I recoiled violently and gasped in protest as I was pulled through the doorway and out into the corridor. I struggled in futility against the strong grip. “What am I doing here?” I demanded, gasping. The c reature didn’t respond. The deep -set, black eyes were unreadable. I tried again. “What are you?”   “My name is Lucy. I am  Australopithecus afarensis  . I belong to Maria.”   “Hang on,” I said,  my mind reeling. “Lucy? The “missing link”?”   “That is correct. I am A L 288- 1.”   “But...”  Australopithecus afarensis   was an early hominid that went extinct 3.2 million years ago. The very first  Australopithecus   skeleton was found in Ethiopia in 1974. Its founders had nicknamed her “Lucy”.  


Jul 22, 2017
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