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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Shell [Episode 7]

"You have no idea, Jane Soutaine," the driver spoke. He turned his head back at where he was driving - the glistening base of the Island Spire, sparkling like crystal underwater. But at one point, he suddenly swerved the car to the left, and applied full thrust.

Island Spire was never her destination, she thought.

"Then you are to bring me to the Godfather?" Jane asked.

"Be quiet. Save your questions later," the driver replied. He drove the car into a sunken cave, previously undiscovered. The tunnel lining was very close, a slight wave would push the car and scrape the walls.

Then, something came into light. It was an underwater facility. It was white, but stained with corals and mosses. Floodlights were lit and shone on the car, tracking their path. The facility was dome shaped and was windowless. There were several fans spinning, presumably power generators. And near the middle level, a small compartment irised open, like a mailbox flap.

The car parked into the chamber.

Then the floodlights were turned off while the water was being siphoned out and heater was drying the chamber.

"What is this place?" Jane asked under her breath.

"The Hub," the driver replied. "It was once owned by the Indonesian authority to imprison those ruthless terrorists across the globe and so to maroon them from human civilisation."

"And now?" she asked.

The car door hissed open. "Come down. Someone would like to meet you," the driver said. He leapt off the car and Jane followed him. She still could not see his face under the hat. She even could not tell how big was he because his loose robe was like an old inspector/detective fashion.

After a series of turns and bends, an endcap door spiralled open and he invited her in while he stayed outside. She looked at him one last look before the door spiralled close. No, she still couldn't see his face.

"Hello, Jane Soutaine," another voice echoed in the room. Everything was chromic silver and empty, devoid of furniture and decorations.

She spun and saw a bald man, dark in skin complexion and of medium built. His eyes were in total white while his sandy-coloured robe covered his body. His hands clasped neatly.

"It's been a pleasure to meet you," he said.

"You are the Godfather," she exclaimed softly.

"Why, yes. And I do wish you would call me Traveller. The Traveller," the so-called Traveller said, with a smile. "I hope the driver didn't make any rough turns to bring you here."

"Oh, we had an exciting trip though," she said.

"And so it would seem," the Traveller said, still smiling.

"So what is it about now?" Jane asked.

"Let's start from the beginning, shall we?" the Traveller asked. "A piece of sky has fallen, and you were sent to investigate it before everyone was zapped away. Then you find yourself in quirky situations. And you want answers."

"Yes," she said.

"I am afraid the answers are not ready for you yet, Jane."

"Then what the hell am I doing here?" Jane asked angrily. "Send me back. I need to meet Dan."

"Yes, Dan," he replied thoughtfully. "I don't think you can go back up that easily now." The Traveller waved his hands and a projection appeared showing a news about recent terrorist attacks in Singapore and the photo shown was her, Jane Soutaine. Everyone on Earth was wanting her now, dead or alive.

"No..." Jane inadvertently released out one single word.

"I am here to help you, Jane," the Traveller smiled. "Don't you worry. I will promise to clear your name and records from this horrid stuff."

"How?"

"What do you know about interaction, Jane?" the Traveller interrupted.

Jane remained silent.

"You see, you must come to a point to believe that what is on this world is not what you know. I am going to blow your mind off with this and I hope it will shed some light to your mind," he said. "Our Earth is actually a vast information storage system, or archive. We are storing data as we perceive things through our five senses. And after the perceptions, we transmit them, we tell them, to other people in great stories. For example, you went for a trip and saw a nice house. The house is a data packet to be stored in your mind, then you go off telling your friends, thus this data packet is transferred to your friend. The process will go on and on."

"Your point is?" she asked.

"There would be a point where all the similar information will be crossed out and remained one. I mean, redundancy in information will be eliminated. There would come a point where only one person knows about the trip and scenery you saw, while others will slowly forget through time. In computer terms, we are all defragmenting."

"You can't be serious."

"Hear me out, Jane. What we are doing every day is defragmenting the computer, Earth. Sometimes we pass our data packets faster, by electronics or transportation, sometimes slower by word of mouth, but nonetheless, there always be an ultimate storage person."

"Godfather, I mean Traveller, there are more than seven billion of us on this planet and there would be countless permutation and combination to reach that ultimate storage person. It could take up to years and years, not to say newborn babies are coming out each day," Jane said.

"Yes, but compare to geological timescale, it is actually quite fast."

"You are speaking as though we are machines," Jane sulked.

"We will come to that. But what I mean is, we are rich in interactions but there is a point where data clean up is required. Think of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Think of the grey goo outbreak in China. Think of natural disasters. Those incidents are meant to wipe out data to be recalculated and restored. A technical glitch."

"Why are you telling me this?" Jane asked.

"Because, my dear Jane, it all has to do with the shell," the Traveller smiled.

And the next time she knew was darkness consuming her.

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