GreyBeard Dreaming

Thursday, November 13, 2014

short story from the Flood Time Chronicles: Day of the Hydra

Day of the Hydra

Lyn WickLund was a hundred and five years old. So was her husband Tom come to think.  Hell her children were over fifty.  How had that happened? Then again perhaps she was a hundred and ten. That was even worse.

At this point what difference did it make?  

She thought about that for a minute then chuckled.  Had she really thought that?  She hadn’t thought of THAT old hag in thirty years.  She’d thought THAT memory was purged.

<shudder>  

Guess not.  

That damn Texan.  If she ever saw him again she was going to…...she was going to…..

Well never mind what she was going to do. Right now she needed to find that diesel tank.  They were over Stagecoach Road.  Encana Oil & Gas should be down there somewhere.  Blue heron reservoir flooded and covered it up..but the fuel tanks should still be there. Even better, perhaps there was a tanker truck. Those were always nice.  Especially diesel.

She  was “en-gestalt” with Tom.  She could almost hear  him thinking.  He was laughing at her. could feel his laughter in the back ground.  Damn men were all alike.

Still ..it was nice to have them around for  the heavy lifting. Tom was piloting the The Pier Idiotic Table,what a name for a smokeship...but it kinda grew on you. It was actually kind of appropriate for a hydrocarbon salvage operation like they had.

Oil Suckers people called them.  Usually not to their face.

At any rate he put the ship right where it needed to be and she dropped the underwater drone.

Teleoperation was cool.  She never tired of it.  Especially since that damn texan had injected her involuntarily with neural interfaces. Of course they all would have likely died if he hadn’t but she was still annoyed.  Enough of that. She became the drone. She WAS the drone.  She dove through the water looking for an oil tank, a truck tanker or something.  They needed some more hydrocarbons.

Yet...her thought kept returning to the  day of the Hydra..

***

And the rain was on the earth forty days and forty nights.

She wished.  On that fateful day it had been raining non stop for six solid months.  More of a heavy mist or a light drizzle really.  Not actually rain, what they used to call a soaking rain, but it added up.  Everything was flooded.  No one knew exactly how much because all communications had gone haywire a month before the rain started.  No electricity either.  In the blink of an eye a hundred years of technology was rendered useless.  

Winter was coming and the drizzle would be turning to snow. They weren’t going to like that.

People had started to die like flies.  Those in the hospitals died first and then the old folks.  SOME of the old folks, some old folks were tough as boots...others just died.  It was heartbreaking.  The WickLund Clan had helped as many as they could.  Gawd knows they worked their heart out.  Some they saved... many they couldn’t.  People were so stupid sometimes.  Nowadays being stupid was lethal.

That day there was serious doubt if they would be able to save themselves.  She, Tom and the rest of the clan were on the roof of the office building at 825 Delaware Street.  It was the tallest building in town. From there they could see everywhere, and everywhere they looked they saw water.  All but the tallest buildings were underwater.  

They tried to stay up above the water because it was NASTY.  Here and there bloated bodies floated.  Many were human.  It stank.  It was better to be as high above the flood as they could get.  The WickLund Clan had helped hundreds if not thousands of their fellow citizens of Longmont to escape and yet  had somehow managed to get themselves trapped.  From the looks of it land was so far away  that even if they had a boat it wouldn’t help.

Unless it was a cabin cruiser.  Damn few of those left. Oh, there had been quite a few before the rain began.  Whole dealerships of the silly things.  The yuppies thought that they were status symbols or something.  In the early days many of those yuppies had loaded up and abandoned everyone else.

She wondered how far they got on one tank of fuel.

Some of them flew the coop immediately.  Others didn’t.  You had to give credit to those that had helped  to save their neighbors, unlike some of the preppers.  Some had tried TOO hard, got a case of the stoopids, overloaded their boats and sank.  They probably accounted for some of those floating bodies.

The smart ones just loaded up and floated.  They didn’t try to go anywhere.  Where would one go?  How far was the nearest land?  Which direction was the nearest land?  She suspect the whole world was flooding.  Where was Noah when you needed him? She’d never look at a rainbow the same way again.

Oh well.  It’d been a good life.

About that time Tom called her attention to a speck on the horizon.  It was coming from the south east.  Odd thing. It looked like a  vertical airplane wing towing a skier.  Very strange.  Only it wasn’t a skier.  It was some kind of metal thing ..in the water...but it  was throwing up quite the rooster tail.  It must be moving very fast.

It was.  The strange apparition approached faster than she thought possible for a sailing ship.  It WAS a sailing ship. It was a variation of a kite ship, except the kite was manned.  It sailed in the air.and drug it’s keel in the water at the end of a long cable.....there was no motor sound.  Damn thing was moving at two or three times wind speed. Once again like a kite board.  That was FAST considering how the wind could blow  on the front range.

She thought back on that day.

Damn Texan.  

He didn’t HAVE to do it that way. It didn't MATTER that he had to get to Idaho to pull  Chris Summercorn’s irons out of the fire and then on up to Calgary to help BigFoot., and then swing back down thru Minnie Snow Tah and the Midwest.  It seems that he had this thing about helping out Bar Flies.  

…..as if barflies weren't pretty damn good at helping themselves.

That was commendable but he could have at least stopped for some coffee. She remembered how well he liked coffee.

But no.  What’d he do?  He was in the gondola of that vertical planform airship.  A SmokeShip she later found that it was called.  Damn gondola looked like a PeterBilt.

A PeterBilt with a gattling gun.

Damn Texan didn’t even slow down as he skimmed by.  He waved...and shot at them with his gatling gun!!

Scared her to death!

He hit her too. Good thing he wasn’t shooting bullets.  He was using that gattling thing to launch snakey things.  Hydras.  Snakes with arms.  The damn things flew through the air and smacked her, her husband and a couple of more people  in the chest...and the arms grabbed them.  

She and them would be the first wind riders but….about that time she took a little nap.

When she woke up she knew what was going on, what HAD been going on, and what to do about it. She even had a plan. The hydras were field expedient neural interface injectors complete with memory diamond.  The body of the hydra was a High Definition Graphene 3D printer.  

Stuff hydrocarbon feedstock  in one end and it puked out what you wanted from the other end….simple. If you didn’t have hydrocarbon it could use CO2 from the air.  It just took longer.

The FIRST thing she had it print was food.

Yes food.  Being stranded on top of that damned building for a week with nothing to eat had given her an appetite. The Hydra  sucked CHON out of the air, added a few trace elements  and printed food. If it didn’t HAVE the right trace elements it’d spring into the water and get some.  That’s what the arms were for...and then it would RTB (return to base).  It’d print any kind of food that she wanted and it  was served...hot.

She had beeftips, with a french fries, butter, green beans and bacon strips. (it did better with long skinny stuff) The food was delicious. It tasted JUST like the real thing.  Maybe she wouldn’t kill that damn Texan after all.

After that they used the Hydra’s to extrude a Drag Keel Smoke Ship for themselves. Piece by piece. The thing went together like Lego’s.  It took weeks, but they got ‘er done.  They’d been living in it ever since.

In fact they’d formed a company.  The WikLund Wild Cats. Wild cats in the oil field sense.  They were PetroSalvagers. They searched for old petroleum storage tanks that had been drowned and used the hydrocarbons for feed stock. It served two purposes.  One, with the oil as feedstock they could  build anything. Two they prevented  or cleaned up pollution.

They pretty much had printed everything they wanted.  They had even printed  additional  printers.  With the new BlueTooth Feed from the G2BEC Wraiths they had print plans for damn near everything….except land.  They could print floating infrastructure though.   They had been very successful. Their Drift Clan was nearing the Dunbar limit.  It was about time to fission.

Damn Texan.  If she ever found him she was going to...going to..grrr...

She was a hundred and five?  Now how had THAT happened?  She looked and felt like a twenty year old.  Must have been something in that Hydra Bite.

Oops..enough day dreaming.  There’s the tank.  She maneuvered the drone up next to it and it stuck like a lamprey.  Then she sent down a hose.  The drone drilled through the tank walls and they sucked up a few hundred gallons of diesel. They were good to go.

Damn Texan… if she ever saw him again she was...she was..she was gonna…

grrrrrrr.