Escape into Society (complete)

This is the complete version of a short story I had been working on. In the end, I am fairly satisfied with it, but it could have been better. Had I more time, I would have liked to actually talk with some behavioral scientists, as well as linguists, to see how likely these events could have transpired over the few hundred years it did to possibly amend the story to make it more not necessarily believable, but potentially accurate. This is partially why I didn’t get into too much detail about Woota’s actual speech patterns , norms, or customs, because I just simply am not positive of what would be a realistic possibility.
The original 1st part is here, the original 2nd part is here, and the original 3rd part is here. This post is basically just all 3 put into one, although I did add a couple sentences which could be a basis for another story in the future, but we will see. As such, this is what I came up with.

Escape into Society

Sarah sat back in her chair as the leather cushion squeaked, closing her exhausted eyes hard enough that they started to water. After opening her eyes and wiping away the tears of exhaustion, she glanced at the clock on her computer to discover it was already well past midnight. Her last coffee was already several hours ago and her energy had finally ran out. She wanted to review her report that she had been working on one last time before sending it.

On the Development of Language among Cloister 16B

Dr. Sarah McMurdo, Head of Language Research for Project Embryo

Cloister 16B has shown the most advancement over the past 30 years in regards to the development of its language. While other cloisters have exhibited greater growth in technology or non-verbal communication, among other metrics we are observing, 16B’s language has evolved into the most complex of all of the cloisters’ languages at this time. It is hard to say what is the cause of their language’s success in comparison to other cloisters. It is worth noting that 16B also has one of the more intricate and pervasive religious-like belief structures. While there is a correlation, there is not currently enough data or a big enough sample size to determine if the religion is due to their advanced language or vice-versa. It is more likely the case that their religion is due to 16B’s form of containment, a large wall encircling their designated area, as their religion’s focal point is the wall.

The report then went on about how the humans in Cloister 16B had been slow at developing initially, much like the hundreds of other humans that were split into other cloisters. Most groups did manage to start using basic tools like wooden clubs and spears with stone tips quick enough, but not much happened after that for a while. There were enough deer that they could all lead successful hunter/forager lifestyles, and most stayed that way. Every cloister was given the resources to also develop agriculture, as plants that were farmable were also in every cloister, but only a few cloisters had become agrarian at this point.

This point being 240 years after the creation of Project Embryo, a mega-research project funded in cooperation with the American and Canadian governments in the year 2032. After many attempts, a researcher achieved the large grants necessary to create a facility where they would test human development from the beginning. The Canadian government was particularly excited to have this research project take place in Canada because that meant that the American government would be sending money to assist. While the Canadian government did properly use most of the funds as intended, as always, some funds did find a way to get appropriated into other projects.

That didn’t hamper the project though, and it proceeded as intended. The only way to accurately test that was to put humans at the beginning: back to before the stone age. The project entailed getting hundreds of humans from early childhood and putting them into different groups to see how they fend for themselves, and how they develop over time. Children from unwanted pregnancies, as well as some donors, gave their children to the program. The children were randomly separated into different groups and put into different areas, called cloisters. The children were never spoken too, so as to not give them any precognition about language, and they were simply nurtured as necessary before being shown how to forage for basic foods before they were abandoned in the cloisters. These cloisters were several dozen square kilometers in order to attempt to provide enough space for the humans to move around and adapt to their environments if necessary, as well as for the wild deer and other animals to move around, even if they couldn’t migrate very well. Different cloisters were isolated in different ways. Some cloisters were isolated just because there were on large islands or tracts of islands (with walls surrounding the far shores, just in case the water was crossed). Other cloisters were surround by walls or others had sets of speakers that would emanate loud and horrific sounds if anyone got too close, scaring them back.

All these groups of people in each cloister had been monitored by scientists for the past 240 years to see how they would develop with regards to their language, technology, culture, religion, science, and basically any facet of humanity as to get a better understanding on how humanity developed the way it did.

Due to the fact that there were no fully grown humans protecting them or teaching them, many cloisters perished at the beginning because the toddlers didn’t manage to find enough food and water on their own. The cloisters where all the humans perished were then rendered empty, necessitating that they be filled with some people who were drugged and moved from another more successful cloister, to further see how the 2 separate groups which originated from the same cloister would develop. Some cloisters did become agrarian, most stuck to hunting deer and foraging for berries and roots. Some groups had no language whatsoever and acted out of primal instinct. Other groups developed rituals and sometimes what was interpreted as religion. Some didn’t even discover fire, but most of the ones that did use fire were subtly shown how to do it by researches via secret service entrances.

Cloister 16B was one of the more exemplary cases.

The report continued:

Cloister 16B can be described as the most similar to ancient humanity. Their language has developed the furthest, far enough that I and other linguists can almost fully understand their primitive language. They have not discovered written language yet, but the verbal aspects are impressive to say the least, and it follows a grammar structure that we can piece together. Cloister 16B had also discovered farming, which led to them being able to live in one area, focusing on improving their homes and crop yield. 16B had also developed a fascination for the wall that surrounded their cloister. Cloister 16B had been one of the more successful cloisters ever since the beginning, and about half of their population had been moved to an empty cloister about 200 years ago, and while they didn’t have language to convey what happened to subsequent generations, it seems that the populace believed the wall was responsible, and a general cautious respect for the wall had been passed down ever since then. This is believed to be the reason the inhabitants of cloister 16B give offerings to the wall, but never dare get within arm’s reach of the wall. The Northern Lights, which are also sometimes visible here in the Northwest Territories, also seem to play a role in their religion, with offerings to the wall increasing after a Northern Lights sighting.

Since Project Embryo was ethically questionable at best, the location is would be conducted in was initially a secret. It didn’t take too long before the public discovered that the facility was being built in the Northwest Territories in Canada since it had gotten warm enough after the climate had gotten warmer, and the land was still cheap and desolate enough. As knowledge of the facility became public, there was lots of backlash and protests against the facility as it was seen as inhumane to just throw toddlers into the wild. Since the land was privately purchased through the grants, the land the facility was on became private property, and a security firm was hired to keep trespassers off the premise who were either protesting or sometimes trying to break in to free the human test subjects. As time wore on though, public opinion became apathetic as public opinion usually does, and interest in Project Embryo and the protests died down, and the project continued unabated until this day. Even so, it was hard for the researchers and scientists who were watching humans die easily preventable deaths, and they often felt guilty. They had to had to learn to separate their emotions from their work, but Sarah still felt twangs of sadness whenever any ill circumstances fell upon any of the members of any cloister, but particularly for those in 16B, as they were her star cloister since she writing a research paper on the development of their language.

One particular member of cloister 16B has caught my and other researchers’ attention. The others in 16B seem to address him by a name that sounded like “Woolta”, and he is a particularly curious member. His language skills, as primitive as their language is compared to modern languages, is still better than average for his cloister. He works in the fields sowing and harvesting corn and other vegetables, but his curiosity has led him to explore almost his entire cloister. He seems to have less fear for the wall, which is a problem since the wall didn’t have that much security. At one point, Woolta attempted to stack some dead trees in a fashion that would allow him to get up the wall. We reacted by increasing the height of the wall overnight to dissuade him and others. Not only did this dissuade Woolta himself, it also brought on the ire of the other members who believed that he had caused the walls to get higher, which also meant he was effectively ostracized by the others for attempting to scale the wall, which resulted in no further attempts at getting over the wall. This also led to the development of a few new words that cloister 16B invented. These new words seem to revolve around acts that make the wall higher, and they use these new words to sometimes express fear, and they are also used to describe someone who does a stupid or silly act. At the time of writing this, it appears that Woolta has been continuously ostracized for the most part, and excluded from group dinners, forcing him to steal and forage for food. His previous and current transgressions also seem to be used as an excuse for further ostracization. Some members of the group are discussing “Lokto”, which is another word they have recently developed. We are not sure what Lokto means at this point, as they haven’t expressed it in a way which gives enough context to ascertain its meaning yet, although it seems like it is some punishment that they intend to carry out based on other bodily and social cues exhibited when discussing this topic.

Sarah would have liked to see how things progress before submitting the report on the development of languages, as these new words were exciting, but she had a deadlines, and the paper needed to be submitted the following day. As such, Sarah was still working in the only illuminated office room in the small observation building. Everyone else had already gone back to their homes in the small town that had popped up for the research center in the Northwest Territories which was unimaginatively called Project Town. Sarah felt a shiver go down her spine as she contemplated how she was completely alone in the building before trying to focus on her work again.

After skimming through her entire report one last time, Sarah was satisfied enough, and exhausted enough, to decide that the paper was finished. She sleepily clicked the send button and watched as the email was sent off to her superiors. The monitor light reflected off of her glazed eyes as she shut down the computer and started lazily pushing her things into her bag. With her bag over her shoulder, she shut off the office light and started walking down the hallway towards the parking lot.

Curiosity got the best of Sarah as she decided to quickly pop her head in the observation room and look at the video feeds for the cloister surveillance systems. It was past midnight, so she didn’t expect to see much, but one monitor caught her eye as it was fairly well illuminated. Tiny cameras had been planted in all sorts of rocks, allowing for continued surveillance of the cloisters, and the monitor feed for cloister 16B curiously had some activity. She sat down on the desk and started flipping through the different feeds for 16B, trying to make sense of what was happening.

It seemed that most of the residents of 16B were looking for something as they were walking around in groups with torches. Sarah kept flipping through the feeds, trying to find a camera that was close enough to a group to hopefully eavesdrop and make some sense of the situation. The screen flashed with a bright light as the lens adjusted to take in less light for the next feed Sarah switched to. Sarah had switched to a feed for a camera that was directly next to a group of people as they were slowly and methodically walking and shouting. As she had feared, “Lokto” did mean a punishment, and based on the context, it seemed that the rest of the inhabitants had decided that killing Woolta was necessary, in hopes of making the wall go down again to its original size.

Sarah changed the settings to infrared mode in hopes of finding Woolta, as he was undoubtedly hiding in the darkness. Not all the cameras were equipped with infrared, but they gave enough of overview that she hoped she would find him. It didn’t take long because the infrared made it easy to spot human bodies, and she find him sneaking along the wall, away from the others.

Sometimes you make bad decisions when you aren’t in your normal mental state. Sarah was tired enough that this was one of those times. Woolta was one of the most interesting inhabitants of the entire program, and she would have been deeply saddened if he was unnecessarily killed. There was also the opportunity of talking with one of the test subjects directly. While against their entire credo, she just couldn’t resist.

Sarah quickly made her way out to the parking lot, forgetting to lock the door behind her in her haste. She got into her red Jeep and throw her bag in the back. She clicked the button to start the car and the electric engine silently activated. There was a brief squealing of tires as she zipped across the parking lot towards the exit, but instead of going towards Project Town, she made a left, further into the complex. Due to the size of the cloisters, the entire complex was huge, stretching across hundreds of kilometers, but cloister 16B was luckily relatively close, and if she drove fast, she could get there within 20 minutes.

The roads were relatively straight which allowed time for Sarah to bring up the video feeds on her phone. This also helped her concentrate because even though the adrenaline coursing through her was assisting in keeping her awake, it was still dreadfully late and she was tired. She managed to find a feed showing where Woota was just as she was getting close to cloister 16B. She brought up another window on her phone, showing the general schematics for the complex, and she managed to find a service entrance that led to a secret entry in a rock nearby Woota’s current location.

Sarah quickly stopped the car and put it in park, grabbing a flashlight and leaping out the door while the Jeep was still rocking back from her rapid parking of the vehicle. She leaped to the access door and entered the access code. Her flashlight illuminated the long and descending tunnel that disappeared into the earth. Her running left small clouds of dust as her feet stomped on the ground towards her destination. After a few dozen meters, the tunnel ended and the faint gleam of a metal ladder that went up into the ceiling was the only thing that broke the darkness. She ascended the ladder as the beam of light kept illuminating the area to her side as she simultaneously held the flashlight and used her hand to climb the ladder. After 5 or so meters, the tunnel ended as she neared the exit above her. Again, she entered the necessary security code, and the door opened. In the cloister, a solid rock opened up on the top like a submarine hatch, revealing the tunnel in the rock.

Sarah quickly turned off the flashlight and waited for her eyes to adjust as she scanned her surroundings, looking for Woota. As her eyesight started to adjust to the darkness without her flashlight, she started to make out the torchlights of search parties in the distance, and they seemed to be moving in her general direction.

Sarah loudly hissed his name as best as she could manage without being overly loud. “Woota!” Her ears prickled as she tried to make out any movement from him. “Woota!” She exclaimed again, this time as a quiet shout. She started to sweat with fear of being discovered by the search parties while looking for him.

Right before she attempted at quietly shouting his name again, a light rustling occurred as a shadow separated itself from a bush about 12 meters from Sarah. She could barely make out his silhouette in the darkness, but his trained and darkness-accustomed eyes could see her much more clearly. He could see that she was not one of the others from the cloister, and he was filled with an uncertain and morbid curiosity. He had never seen or heard of anyone else other than the few dozen people he was familiar with. Who could she be?

Woota slowly approached her in a stealthy crouch, still brandishing the club-like stick that he had been carrying around for the past couple hours in case it became necessary to defend himself. Sarah was head of the linguistics team, and it was now time to see if she and the rest of the team had understood their primitive language as well as she hoped they had.

“I, friend” Sarah struggled to convey her meaning in a language they had only briefly practiced with each other.

Woota seemed to understand her well enough though. “Who, you?” he asked as he inspected her. She had straight hair that was cut in an even line, unlike the others he knew. She wore a shirt and pants unlike any he had ever seen, although they were the norm in the outside world. Her clothes fit so perfectly, and the cloth material was unlike the leather they exclusively used. Her skin was unusually white and fair. Sarah was the strangest person he had ever seen in his life.

“I, friend. Outside, wall. Home.” She struggled to convey that she came from outside the wall where it was safe and that he should come with her.

Woota approached to within 3 meters of Sarah, and she could more clearly make him out in person for the first time with the aid of the moonlight. His leather dress, which was what everyone in his cloister wore, covered his torso and went down to his knees. His weathered face and skins were of a much darker tone than hers owing to a lifetime spent outdoors. He was shorter than average, but very lean and muscular, and his should length ratty hair reflected moonlight off of his greasy locks.

They stood there for a couple minutes inspecting each other until the silence was abruptly broken. “Woota!” A distant shout from a search party was heard, but it was much closer than before. A sense of urgency returned to the two, and Sarah quickly tried to convince him to come with her.

“Here, death. Outside, home!” She tried her best to pleadingly convince him to come with her. The surreality of encountering her, and his fear and doubts about being apprehended by the others convinced him to follow, but he wasn’t sure what to do, so he just awkwardly stood there, nervously looking over his shoulder at the impending search parties. “Home” Sarah tried to indicate into the hole in the rock that she was standing on. She started crawling down the ladder, indicating for him to follow. She started to descend, and Sarah turned on the flashlight about halfway down. Woota nervously peered into the hole, afraid of the flashlight, but his fear of being captured overrode his apprehension towards following her, and he also slowly descended into the hole, carefully using a ladder for the first time. Sarah impatiently waited at the bottom until Woota stepped down. “Rest” she told him, trying to convey that he should wait while she closed the hatch above them, which she moved to do by climbing the ladder again.

Woota’s fear crept up on him, and the thought of her abandoning him in the dark tunnel as she ascended the ladder again with the flashlight spooked him. He let out a crying whimper which got Sarah’s attention. “Home, rest!” she sternly told him, desperately trying to abate his fears as she hurriedly closed the hatch. She continued going up the ladder only to have Woota also start climbing the ladder behind her.

Sarah paused her ascent and considered saying something more to him before deciding to simply continue and just close the hatch. “Woota!” she heard a search party, and they sounded closer than ever. She hurriedly went up the last few rungs of the ladder and quietly closed the hatch and locked it. She started to descend only to find Woota halfway up the ladder underneath her. “Home!” Sarah exclaimed while pointing down, becoming quite exasperated at this point in her failed attempts to convey that they need to go out the other way. Woota remained motionless on the ladder, staring up at her with a confused look on his face. Frustrated, Sarah started climbing down the ladder, forcing him to go down as well until they were both on the ground again.

They stood there in silence for a moment, looking at each other in the flashlight-illuminated tunnel. It was obvious that Woota had seen hard work as his arms had scars on them. His legs were peppered with bug bites, and he would subconsciously stand on foot while he itched one leg with the other foot. He continued to hold the club that he previously wielded, still unsure of what was really happening and afraid he might have to use it.

“Home” Sarah said again, trying to show that it was safe with her. She beckoned for him to follow, and they started walking through the darkness towards the end of the tunnel. It took them a few minutes before reaching the end of the tunnel, where they pushed open the access door that she had previously left ajar.

Sarah’s Jeep stood in the clearing outside the door, and this immediately caused Woota to raise up his club in defense. Woota’s club was making her nervous, and she wanted to get rid of it. “Home, family” she softly said to him, trying to express that there was no danger of her car. She went over to the jeep and touched it, showing that it didn’t move. Woota cautiously lowered his club and followed her to the car. Sarah needed to start the car, and she could already tell that it would surprise him when it moved. She climbed into the jeep and tried to show how you could easily and comfortably sit inside of it. “Home” she beckoned for him to sit in the passenger seat. After a couple minutes of coaxing, he finally, yet cautiously entered the jeep. Sarah calmly took the club from him after some mild protests, but some comforting words of “family” managed to calm his senses enough to release it to her. She took the club and dropped it out the passenger side door, and then closed the passenger side door from the inside for him. In light of all the new experiences Woota was having, she opted to not attempting to buckle him in.

She was thankful that her electric engine was quiet, unlike automobiles of the past, as she started the engine. She turned on the lights and cautiously started rolling the car forward, hoping to show Woota that the car moved and that it was OK to be inside of as it moved.

Despite her efforts, Woota started panicking, grabbing the sides, distressingly moving around in his seat with an extremely alarmed look on his face. Sarah immediately stopped the car, cooing him with words of “Home” and “family” again, trying to calm him. Woota was not only unfamiliar with a large “beast” like this Jeep, made out of a metallic material that he didn’t recognize, but they didn’t even have horses or other beasts of burden in his cloister, and the entire concept of travel on something other than his 2 feet was lost on him. After repeating the procedure of starting and stopping a half dozen times, Woota seemed to finally come to terms with the car moving and him not being in danger while inside it, and he was calm enough for her to continue driving. The radio and music confused him, and Sarah quickly turned it off, opting to drive in silence with him as they drove back to the main exit.

The clock showed the bleak hour of 3:27 as they approached the security checkpoint. There was security 24/7, so she had to hide him long enough to get past the guard. After much struggling with conveying her intentions, Sarah eventually managed to get Woota to huddle up behind the driver seat with a blanket over him, in hopes that the guard wouldn’t look in the back.

With Woota hiding in the back, Sarah nervously resumed the last kilometer towards to gate where she was relieved to be stopped by Steve, a guard she was familiar, and luckily friendly, with.

“Sarah!” he surprisingly addressed her as he saw who was driving. “Bit of a late night tonight, eh?”

“Yea, I had a report due tomorrow, and I was up all night finishing it off. I hate to sound rude Steve, but it took everything out of me, and I need to get going before I fall asleep at the wheel.” She felt dirty lying to him since they had always been on good terms, but she justified her claims to herself in that they were half truths; she really did stay up late finishing the report, and she really was exhausted. She just failed to mention the person that she was smuggling in the back of her Jeep.

“Fair enough Sarah, you are used to a different schedule than I am” he chuckled as he clicked the button for the gate to open. “Have a good night and drive safe now!”

“Thanks Steve, have a good night yourself.” Feeling guilty for tricking him, she drove away from the check point and onto the highway.

Thrilled, exhausted, and anxious, Sarah continued driving down the road. She reached her right hand around the seat and pulled the jacket off of Woota. “Safety” she tried to convey that it was safe again, recalling some more words that they used. Sarah patted on the passenger seat, beckoning for him to come back up front. Woota clambered into the front seat and sat down. His face mirrored her exhaustion, but there was a deeper tone of confusion and apprehension in his expression. Not one, but 2 new people unlike any he had ever seen. A language that sounded much more fluid and unlike anything he had ever heard. An automobile. Flashlights, music on a radio, hard, black roads. These were all new things for Woota and he was awestruck, just trying to comprehend everything that he was experiencing for the first time.

They continued driving into the night away from the cloisters, research center and Project Embryo, heading towards a place that she deemed safe to sleep for the night before continuing their flight into this new world for Woota.

Sarah’s vision was blurred as she drove through the night. Woota had already fallen asleep, exhausted from being pursued in his cloister and then overwhelmed with the outside world.

She knew she couldn’t go home. Sarah wasn’t sure if the police would be called, or if the administrators at Project Embryo would just opt to use their personal security force that normally watched over the facility. In either case, her house would be the first place to check.

Sarah decided to go to a hunting and backpacking cabin that she and her coworkers partied at on some weekends. It wasn’t necessarily the best place to go, all things considered, but she couldn’t think of a better place in her current state at almost 4 in the morning.

After about an hour of driving and almost nodding off many times, Sarah pulled off the road and parked by the cabin. Woota was still sleeping so Sarah quietly exited the vehicle to investigate the cabin. After quietly entering the cabin and using her phone’s light, she determined that, as she hoped for, it was empty since it wasn’t the weekend yet.

Sarah went back out to the car and carefully rustled Woota from his slumber. As she anticipated, he was quick to get defensive and she tried to calm him down. “Home, safe” she cooed. She pointed towards the cabin “Sleep, nice.” Woota looked at the cabin. It was similar to the huts they lived in, but it was much more angled and organized looking. Small square holes in the side of the building made him think it was a similar clear material to the windows in the car. He was unsure how water could be so hard without it being frozen, as they had no glass in the cloisters, but it was the only thing he could compare it to. Brushing his thoughts aside while rubbing his bleary eyes, he silently followed Sarah inside the house.

They entered the house and Sarah closed the door behind them. Woota was slightly startled by the sudden brightness as she turned on the lights, but he remained composed enough. Woota was then led to one of the bedrooms where she showed him his bed. “Here, sleep, nice.” Her vocabulary was coming back to her now that she wasn’t as charged on adrenaline as before and she could start to express some more meanings than during their first encounter.

Woota said something that she didn’t quite understand, so he tried to express himself in a different way. “Scared” was all he said as his eyes started to water.

Sarah choked up looking at him. He didn’t look only scared, he looked terrified as he awkwardly stood there in the middle of the room. “Here, safe. I, watch” she said, trying to convey that he was safe with her. Sarah slowly closed the gap between them, intent on reassuring him. She originally wanted to hug him, but paused half an arm’s length away. It wasn’t that she didn’t want to hug him, but she recalled that Woota and the other members of his cloister had never really hugged each other. She quickly searched her memory, trying to recall what the members of 16B did to reassure each other. Sarah slowly rapped her right palm around his neck, drawing his head towards her. She touched his nose to hers, comforting him in a way that their tribe was more familiar with.

They stood like that in silence as Woota trembled for a few minutes. Eventually pulling back, Sarah showed him his bed, even telling him “Sleep” while pointing to the bed. They were used to sleeping on deer hides on the ground, so an elevated bed with cloth sheets was an unfamiliar thing to him. Still wearing his leather dress like tunic, he sat down on the bed. Sarah walked to the door, and tried to reassure him one more time. “Safe” she softly said. She then went to her room, took off her pants, turned off the light and lay down herself.

After a couple minutes, Sarah noticed that his light was still on since it illuminated the hallway. Curious, she got back up and poked her head through his doorway, only to find Woota half-glaring at the light before looking at her as he noticed her. She let out a short laugh, realizing that he didn’t understand how light switches quite worked. She put her arm in the doorway and touched the light switch. She wasn’t sure how to describe it, since they didn’t quite have an equivalent of “on” or “off.” “Night” she said, flicking the switch to turn off the light. Woota let out a surprised yelp, seeing how this light source turned off immediately by her merely touching a spot on the wall. “Day” she said, turning it back on. He just stared at her, almost as if he was expecting her to do something more. Unsure of what to do, Sarah demonstrated the light switch a couple times for him before he got up. She took his hand, showing him how to turn it on and off himself. Confident that he could do it, she went back to her room and lay back down.

After a minute or so, the light in Woota’s room turned off. Then back on. Then off and on again a few more time. After a few cycles of light, he let out a quiet, but still audible chuckle that Sarah could just barely manage to hear in her room.

Despite her exhaustion, it was nice to see Woota find some humor in his situation, and a slight grin crossed Sarah’s face as she lay in her bed. Knowing they had a long day tomorrow though, she had to get him to go to bed. “Sleep!” she half yelled across the cabin. One more cycle of lights followed by a chuckle from the other room, and then the lights went off and remained off.

So much had happened and Sarah felt like she was never going to be able to sleep. Where would they go in the morning? Who would be after them? What was she going to do with Woota? Those and many other concerns clouded her mind, and although she felt that she would never be able to sleep, her sheer exhaustion won over and she was fast asleep within a few minutes. Woota was scared of his new surroundings, but he wasn’t really aware of the situation he was in, and he didn’t have a specific thing to fear, like being caught or how to survive. His less crowded mind permitted him a much easier time going to sleep.

Sarah didn’t get much sleep as she was woken up by her phone at about 9am, only 4 or so hours after going to sleep, as a flurry of phone calls came in. As expected, all the calls were from the office; it was obvious that they had already discovered what happened and were trying to get a hold of her. The phone didn’t only wake up Sarah, but Woota was now hitting the main door of the cabin. Ignoring her phone, she quickly ran out of the room, forgetting to put her pants back on as she rushed out to address Woota’s issue. He seemed distressed, like he wanted to get outside but didn’t know how to. Woota saw her and pleaded with her, but she couldn’t quite understand what he was saying since she was still groggy-minded after just waking up after such little sleep.

Woota pointed at his crotch, repeating himself before banging on the door again. Not entirely sure what he wanted, she cautiously came up beside him. He slowed down and then stopped banging on the door as she got closer, eventually moving to the side as Sarah reached for the door handle. He watched intently as she turned the deadbolt and then pushed the lever down and then swung the door inwards. As she opened the door, Woota hurriedly sidestepped around her and half ran, half limped out the door. As soon as he was outside, he went to the nearest bush, pulled up the lower half of his tunic and started urinating.

It was too early after such little sleep, but Sarah couldn’t help but chuckle to herself as she considered the fact that Woota had yet to see a modern toilet. At least he was considerate enough to not go inside the house. Sarah turned to grant him some privacy and went back inside the cabin. While preparing a meager breakfast from the canned foods in the cabin, Woota cautiously entered the cabin, guided by the aroma of the canned vegetables that Sarah was frying in a pan. It was a basic dish, but both of them were famished and Woota kept eyeing the pan in anticipation.

“Hunger?” She ask him. Woota slowly thrust his head forward, much like someone imitating a chicken. They didn’t nod in his cloister, they had developed the forward head thrust visual cue for showing a positive response instead. To show a negative response, like how we would shake a head, they would thrust the head backwards, as if they were recoiling from something. That, and many other non verbal communication gestures, were different in all the cloisters compared to what we were used to. Sarah smiled and instructed him to sit and wait while she poured the food onto 2 plates and handed him one of them and sat down at the table in the corner of the room.

Woota stood there at first, holding his plate, unsure if he should seat himself as well until Sarah instructed him to sit down after pushing a chair away from the table for him to sit in. Woota took his place and gently set the food on the table like Sarah had. The food in front of him was a familiar concept to him. The metallic fork laying on his plate was not, and he curiously stared at it before questioningly looking back at Sarah for guidance. Sarah had already shoveled a mouthful of food into her mouth, and was already withdrawing her fork from her mouth at Woota glanced at her. She couldn’t help but silently chuckle again as she again considered the fact that he had never used a fork. Sarah demonstrated how to scoop and stab the vegetables in order to eat the food with modern table manners. Woota clearly hadn’t quite developed the ability to intricately hold a fork like most people do, and he held it in his hand like one would a tool with the tip sticking out of the top like a hammer. He tried to eat like her, but he ended up more or less using the fork in conjunction with his other hand to scoop the food into his mouth like they typically did in his cloister where they simply ate with their hands and without silverware.

They quickly finished their food, and Sarah pondered their next steps. They needed to move, but she wasn’t sure where. She also had many burning questions for Woota, and he also needed to know what was happening. Woota started asking her about items in their immediate surrounding in the cabin, and she explained what everything was and the ideas and concepts that went behind them. How they made pictures, what a radio was, what a microwave was, and all sorts of other things in the cabin. He was amazed at all these things, and since the technology simply didn’t exist for a lot of things, she found it challenging to explain things to him. She also posed some direct questions about beliefs and norms in his cloister that they weren’t sure of since they were never able to directly question anyone.

The conversation eventually shifted from him and his cloister, and Woota started asking other things about what she was doing and how she knew what was about to happen to him the previous night. He then asked why they were stuck in the cloister if everyone else was free, and why she and the others were just watching them. Sarah wasn’t ready to answer this question. She felt a lump in her throat as she held back tears when she saw how confused he was that he was forced to live in the cloister since he never chose that and everyone else outside of the cloister experienced a life full of these amazing gadgets he was asking her about. She told him that she would explain it later, but for now she broke off the conversation, explaining that they really needed to get moving, and fast.

It was likely that people would be looking and waiting for them. Woota didn’t understand how a warning could travel faster than a human, or car, since that was now the fastest thing he had seen. Sarah had to quickly explain that the phone she had, like everyone did, allowed her to instantly communicate with people anywhere around the world. The same device would be used by others to warn them that they escaped and to be ready for them. It was hard to explain because Woota didn’t understand electricity or wireless technology or any of the basic functions of a phone, so she had to settle with simply explaining that everyone had these things, and you could talk to anyone else with it, regardless of how close or far they were from you.

Sarah started searching on the internet for where she could safely take Woota. They couldn’t stay in the cabin or the wilderness forever. What she needed was some organization or group that could protect him and fight for his freedom. She found the Organization for the Discontinuation of Project Embryo, or the ODPE, which was an NGO that started shortly after Project Embryo became public knowledge more than 200 years ago. The ODPE had rapidly grown to thousands of members and activists, all fighting for the rights of the humans and babies within Project Embryo after its inception. Over time though, as public opinion became indifferent, the organization lost members and funding, slowly reducing it over the centuries to its current state. The ODPE was now just a shadow of its former self. There was now only a few dozen members, although most of them didn’t even participate that much. They had an office in Toronto, but only a half dozen people worked there, and they busied themselves with creating awareness pamphlets and posters which they tried to regularly distribute, as well organizing the occasional public rally that managed to attract a couple hundred attendees at best, but usually no more than a few dozen. A meager attendance turnout, dwarfed by the overflowing attendances at stadiums at its inception when the public was still very emotional about the whole situation.

Sarah was afraid that her phone might be tracked if she made a call now, so she opted to instead start driving in their direction and to contact them while on the road, either by Email or phone. For now, they would head out and start driving towards Toronto. She packed some provisions from the cabin in her car as Woota wordlessly watched her.

“We run much” Sarah explained over her shoulder as she packed the car, trying her best to convey that they had to travel a lot. They never had to really move or travel long distances in their enclosed cloister, so it was about the best explanation that she could think of giving.

“Where to?”

“To safety. Here are bad people. They want to catch us.” With that, Woota grew quiet as she finished packing.

They were both outside, and Sarah closed the cabin door behind her as she left the place. They entered the vehicle, Woota still apprehensive, but not nearly as much as his first encounter, and they drove on the dirt road past the cabin.

She didn’t want to go back the way she came, so she took back-roads to avoid Project Town until she got to another smaller village. After a few minutes of searching, she managed to find an ATM, which was lucky since ATMs were about as rare as payphones are today, with payphones being completely extinct. She withdrew as much cash as she could because she knew she was going to have to pay for gas and food along the way and she didn’t want her credit card to leave a paper trail for anyone to follow. After getting enough cash, they went to an attended gas station where she filled up her Jeep and got some food and drinks for both of them. She paid for everything with cash, which threw the attendant off since cash was used so infrequently. Sarah got back in the car where Woota was impatiently waiting. He again pointed at his crotch, and it dawned on her that she had failed to show him how to use a bathroom at the cabin.

“Wait please” she pleaded, deciding that here was not the best place to show him how to use a toilet, and fearing that letting him just go in the bushes near the gas station would attract too much attention. He looked confused and almost slightly angry, but he grudgingly thrust his head forward in silent agreement.

They started driving on a smaller road towards Toronto again until they got far enough out of the village that there were no more houses. Sarah pulled over and let Woota take care of business before continuing along the road.

They were both exhausted, having slept very little the previous night. She had bought 2 coffees while she was in the gas station, one for each of them, and she happily drank hers once they resumed driving. Sarah offered a coffee to Woota. He tried it and drank a big gulp of it which ended up burning his mouth. They never drank anything but cold stream water in his cloister, and he hadn’t expected a hot drink. He was also disgusted by the taste since he had never developed a taste for coffee. She ended up drinking his coffee as he angrily brooded, feeling tricked by her into drinking it.

During their first day on the road, Woota was content with watching the scenery flow by and asking questions about unknown things, which Sarah happily explained. He didn’t understand other cars, roads, street signs, large houses, and many other things they drove by, and Sarah had to explain all these things to him.

After the initial flurry of calls in the morning, the frequency of phone calls Sarah was getting had subsided. Nevertheless, she was still getting some calls from work. Since she was already driving, she decided to finally answer an incoming call. She briefly explained to Woota that she was going to have to talk to someone via her phone, but the sound would come through the car’s speakers. With butterflies in her stomach, her sweaty hand clicked the green button to accept a call on the Jeep’s screen.

“Hello?” she simply said, trying to contain her apprehension at answering the call.

“Sarah, what the hell is going on!?” Her immediate supervisor, Dave, was frantic. “We have been trying to get a hold of you all day long.” You didn’t show up this morning, and there was a lot of commotion in 16B. We decided to look at the security footage and it looks like you took a subject away from their cloister!”

Growing bolder and more defiant, she snapped at him. “He isn’t a subject, his name is Woota” she sternly said. Woota looked at her after hearing his name, but continued to look cluelessly on as she continued to talk in English, which he still didn’t understand.

“Sarah…” he sighed before continuing. He had calmed down, and he was speaking in a mellowing way a parent would speak to their scared child. “What happened? You knew what you were getting into when you first started researching this, and you never had a problem with it. I know it can feel questionable at times, but think of all the research you have been able to achieve and all that we have learned about human development.” Sarah remain silent, so he continued, “Please come back, bring him back, and we can work this out.”

“No.”

“What?” Dave was taken back. “What are you going to do then? I just don’t get what you’re trying to accomplish or why you took him from his cloister.”

“He should be free. They should all be free, and this just isn’t right to keep them all locked up like that.”

“Sarah, there’s nowhere for you to take him. Bring him-”

“No!” She shouted at him as she cut him off.

“Sarah, you are forcing me to call the police right now for theft and kidnapping if you don’t return with him.” Sarah was trembling, afraid, yet excited. She didn’t know what else to say or do, so she simply clicked the button to hang up the phone.

Silence resumed in the car. Sarah was obviously agitated, on the verge of tears, and Woota noticed that. He wasn’t sure what to say or do, so he just remained quiet, looking forward, but continuing to observe her from the corner of his eyes. Sarah was playing their conversation over in her head, and she realized that Dave said they would be forced to call the police. That implied that they hadn’t called the police yet, which meant that she likely wasn’t already being monitored or pursued by the police in any manner. She figured it would be better to call the ODPE before the situation got any worse. She fumbled around on her phone, relocating their phone number while she was driving until she found it and initiated a call.

The ring of her phone sounded throughout the car’s speakers. It rang again, and then again. The phone rang about 7 times, which meant that they didn’t have a voicemail set up, but it also meant that nobody was answering. She was about to hit the disconnect button and try again later when somebody finally answered.

“Hello, this is the Organization for the Discontinuation of Project Embryo. What can I help you with?” The voice greeting her was from a younger female, likely in her twenties. She sounded guarded, almost skeptical of the call, wondering if someone was calling with real interest, or if this was another prank or hate call.

“Hi, we need help” Sarah blurted out before really thinking of what to say.

The other voice turned more sarcastic, “If you are having a medical emergency, then you should hang up and dial 911.”

Unabashed, Sarah continued. “We need a place to go. I don’t know, I don’t know what to do. I have him and they are going to call the police and take him back, and he should be free.”

“Who exactly do you have” She returned to sounding skeptical, but more receptive than before.

“I am sorry, I am really on edge right now. Let me start from the beginning.” Sarah paused quickly to gather her thoughts before continuing. “My name is Sarah McMurdo and I am a scientist at Project Embryo. There was a conflict last night, and one of the people in one of our cloisters was going to be killed. I interfered and broke him out of there. We are now running away in my Jeep and I don’t know what to do or where to go.”

There was silence on the other end of the line until she managed to ask a less-than-reassuring, “What?”

Composing herself before losing her patience, she continued “Can you help us? I don’t know where to go or what to do with him. They are obviously going to call the police, and we obviously can’t remain in Project Town.”

“Yes, we can help, but our resources are really limited these days, and we are actually in Toronto, which is considerably far away from you guys.”

“Yea, we are already driving south, so we could head towards Toronto.”

“This isn’t a joke, right?”

Sarah started to almost get angry. This was an organization that was devoted to setting these people free. Now that the opportunity was knocking on their door, it seemed like they didn’t know what to do. “No I am not joking! I have him in my car, he’s sitting right next to me! What do I need to do to prove it to you?!” She turned her attention to him, “Woota, say something please.” In her frustration, she forgot to switch languages which resulted in him not understanding him, although he did catch hearing his name again. She addressed him again in his language. “Speak to her, ‘I am here.’”

He complied with a quick and confused “I am here.”

Sarah resumed talking at that point. “Do you see? You obviously didn’t understand him because he still only speaks his language, but I really have him in the car with me. His name is Woota, and we need help. My boss is going to call the police soon, and we need to get somewhere fast.”

“I also got some others on the line while you were talking, and one of them has an idea.”

“Hello” another voice broke in, this one from an older male. “My name is Steven and I am the project leader. Due to budget constraints, we don’t have an office in the Northwest Territories anymore, and we are only located in Toronto.”

“I know, we are driving there now, but I imagine it will take a few days.”

“Great, we have an unregistered apartment that we should be able to keep you guys at while we figure out something else more long-term. It will be obvious if you roll up to our address though, and you never know if the police will be able to access these calls. Let’s meet up in Sudbury, it’s a smaller town just north of Ontario. How long do you think it will take to drive there?”

“I am not sure, I would imagine 2 or 3 days, depending on how much I manage to drive each day.”

“That sounds about right. It doesn’t matter. In Sudbury, there is a restaurant called O’Malley’s on Elm Street. Simply call this number when you are there in the parking lot, and we will meet you there. I don’t imagine it will be hard to notice each other.”

“But what if they police listen in on the call then?”

“This is our office phone. We will leave it here, but then call one of the others who are there in Sudbury to notify them when we get another call from your number. We will wear some shirts of ours so you will recognize us. So just call us when you are in the parking lot and we will find you.”

“OK. Let’s do that then. We will try to get there as quick as possible.”

“Good luck and safe driving, Sarah, right?”

“Yep, and thanks.” With that, she hung up the phone and continued driving. Her mood had elevated noticeably. She felt like they now had a hope, they just had to get to Toronto. The rest of the day consisted of Sarah explaining what the 2 phone calls were about, and answering other questions about objects that they passed by while driving.

They drove until late in the evening. Their muscles ached after sitting all day, and they wanted to sleep more than anything. Woota never fell asleep in the car because it was all too unfamiliar for him to comfortably fall asleep in. They were not going to be able to get a hotel room without some identification, so it was decided that they would either sleep outside or in the car. They pulled off the main highway and took a back-road into the woods where she eventually pulled her car off the road into a clearing.

Due to their hasty escape, Sarah didn’t have a tent or even sleeping bags with her. It was luckily still the middle of summer, but it would still get chilly at night. Sarah told Woota that she didn’t have any suitable equipment with her, but Woota didn’t seem too worried. They both started collecting firewood for the night. Woota also insisted on finding some bigger rocks as well as sharp rocks. After making a fire, they ate some food that she previously bought at a gas station. Woota pushed some of the bigger rocks onto the fire in order to heat them up while the fire burned. He then dug what looked like two shallow graves near the fire. He explained that they would push the heated rocks into the holes and then push the dirt back on top of the rocks. The hot rocks would stay warm for a few hours and heat up the ground, allowing them to sleep a little more comfortably. Their only other sleeping supplies were Sarah’s jacket and a spare pullover that she had in her car. They both sat quietly by the fire until it got lower and the decided to go to sleep, both too tired to carry much more of a meaningful conversation.

They both awoke in the early morning with the sunrise. Shaking off the morning dew, they slowly got up and stretched their aching joints. They ate some more gas station food and drinks before getting in their car and resuming their journey towards Toronto. Sarah had long since turned off her phone in order to stop the barrage of phone calls she kept getting, but also to conserve her battery since she would need to call the ODPE in a couple days.

The day of driving luckily went by without any major difficulties. It was another day of continuous driving with the occasional stop to get gas or let Woota go to the backroom in the woods as Sarah had still not gotten the chance to teach him how to use a modern bathroom. Woota had seen a lot of the passing countryside during the previous day of driving, but today he finally started commenting on the distance itself. It was unbelievable to him how much distance they were covering. It took no more than a couple hours to traverse his cloister, but they had been driving at speeds that far surpassed walking speeds, and they had done it for hours upon hours. It started to blow his mind how big the world was, he wondered if there was ever an end, or if there was an even bigger wall around all of the land they were driving in, encapsulating them like his cloister was. He was also amazed at all the different things they drove by that didn’t exist in his cloister. The huge black road they drove on, the massive bridges over rivers wider than any creek in his cloister, all of the sharply built buildings, all of the other cars and so many people. Woota would occasionally ask who certain people were. Woota knew everyone in his cloister, and he was confused that Sarah didn’t know who all of these other people were.

Other than the barrage of questions that Woota proposed to Sarah, the day passed by without any complications. They kept driving towards Toronto, but after another 15 or so hours of driving, the shadows started to grow long and Sarah started to tire. They pulled off the highway and found another area to rest for the night in a clearing.

Like the previous night, they ate some food previously bought from a gas station as they huddled around a fire that Woota made, complete with rocks to bury for warmth. They talked again, this time about a more serious topic.

“Do you have fear?” Sarah quietly asked.

“No. Why would I?”

“At night, forests can give me fear. You don’t know what is there.”

“What would be there? Deer? They cause no harm.”

“Well there could be a…” struggling to find the word for a ‘Bear’. she realized that they didn’t have bears in his cloister so she simply said “Bear”, but as expected, he didn’t know what that was. “It’s not even ‘bears’ that give me most fear. It is other people.”

“What have other people done to give you fear?”

“Nothing specific. But you never know…”

“I don’t understand. Nothing done to give you fear, yet you have fear?”

“Well what about you?” Woota looked questioningly at her. She continued, “You were about to be killed or punished in your cloister. Does that not give you fear?”

Woota grew quiet, nervously looking over his should. “Yes… maybe I do have fear…”

“I’m sorry.” Sarah tried to apologize, but it seemed that she was too late and she had managed to instill a sense of fear in him. She instantly regretted projecting her fears onto him, and she tried to change the topic, but Woota didn’t react much. She didn’t know what else to do, so they silently watched the fire burn out before laying down next to each other on their heated beds and went to sleep.

Sarah woke up to find Woota clinging onto her arm in his sleep. It was such an innocent gesture, he just needed comfort, and she couldn’t help but smiling at him in his sleep as a mother would her child. After just enjoying the closeness for a few minutes, she eventually stirred enough to wake up Woota. The both silently got up and packed up their stuff and got back into the car. They were making good time, and she was hoping to be able to get to Sudbury by the end of the day.

As they neared Sudbury near the end of the day, she started to explain to Woota how the people were still following them, and they would have to meet up with some people who would try to help them. She ended up having to explain it to him in the framework that she had to speak to her village elders on his behalf so that their pursuers would hopefully stop and let them go. Inside though, she knew that it was going to be a long battle against the Project Embryo administration.

As she was getting close to Sudbury, she turned on her phone to call the ODPE. There were quite a few incoming text messages and voicemails, but she ignored them all. She called the ODPE, and it simply rang about 10 times. She wondered if the had said that they wouldn’t answer because he said they would call the people in Sudbury, so she hung up and hoped for the best. Pulling off the highway into Sudbury, her sweaty palms turned the steering wheel as she pulled onto Elm Street. She felt slightly more relaxed as she finally spotted O’Malley’s and pulled into the parking lot behind the restaurant. She told Woota to stay inside the car to avoid any unwanted attention as she stepped out and stood by the car, trying as best to inconspicuously scan the area for someone from the ODPE. About 15 minutes passed, and she was considering calling again when an unmarked white van eased into the parking lot from the road. There were 2 men in the front, an older man driving, and a younger man in the passenger seat. The van crawled past her, and stopped shortly afterwards. The younger man in the passenger seat opened the door, turned around and looked questioningly at Sarah. Sarah was getting nervous, not sure if this was the ODPE or undercover police, or maybe even just your typical robber. The man got out of the van though and started walking towards her.

Sarah let out a simply, questioning “Um?” as he approached, until he got close enough that she could read the letters on the left breast of his polo: ODPE. Sarah looked noticeably relieved, and he noticed that.

“Sarah?” he inquired, as he got closer.

Sarah simply nodded and reached her hand out, almost on the verge of tears with happiness that she had finally found some help that she could lean on.

He took her hand and shook it. “Hello Sarah, my name is John, and I am part of the Organization for the Discontinuation of Project Embryo. My colleague, Steven,” pausing to point out the older man who had stopped the car in the parking lot, disembarked, and was now walking towards them, “I believe you two spoke on the phone already, and I are here to help you get to Toronto. Where is Boota?”

“His name is Woota. He is in the Jeep.” She pointed towards the Jeep where they all looked and saw Woota staring back at them. Sarah couldn’t contain it and had to laugh at the way Woota was watching them. “So what is the plan from here?” she asked, looking back at John.

Steven cleared his throat before speaking. “I think the best course of action would be to simply abandon your Jeep for the time being. I would imagine the police would be looking for you, so I think it would be best if everyone got in our van and we could drive you two to a safe house we have on the outskirts of Toronto.”

Sarah didn’t like the idea of leaving her Jeep behind, but it couldn’t be helped. “You are probably right. Let me grab our things and lock my Jeep.”

Sarah went to her Jeep as the other 2 went to the van and opened the backdoor and quickly moved to gather up all the trash that was lying in the floorboard. “Come Woota, family, safe.” He got out with her and helped grabbed a bag that she was carrying. They then got into the back of the van and Steven started driving away from her Jeep.

Sarah explained to them that Woota still hadn’t quite learned English, so they wouldn’t be able to talk to him directly. She and the other 2 talked for a while as she explained what things were like for him, and ultimately why she decided to break him out. Woota had fallen asleep in the back of the van, and Sarah, exhausted after driving all day again, quickly followed suit as the conversation with the other 2 slowed down.

Woota and Sarah were awoken a couple hours later by Steven gently shaking their knees. Woota reacted quickly to push him back in surprise, but his seat belt kept him in place. Sarah was awake by then and calmed him down with some softly spoken words.

“I am sorry” Steven apologized. “I didn’t intend to startle either of you. However, we are here and I thought you two would be much more comfortable sleeping upstairs in some warm beds with blankets. I think a shower would do wonders too.” He laughed as he teased them about their general dirtiness and odor.

Sarah blushed in embarrassment, but still thanked him. She told Woota to follow, and they went up a flight of stairs to an apartment.

“This is an apartment that I pay for with cash only” Steven explained. “It has no official affiliation with anyone at the ODPE, so you guys should be safe here. Try to stay away from windows though and don’t answer the door without using the peephole, just to be safe.” He then showed them around the cozy 3 bedroom apartment with a kitchen and 1 bathroom. “I can see that you are both tired, so take care of business and we will figure out our next course of action in the morning. John and I will sleep in the 3rd bedroom so you both have some privacy.” It was almost midnight, and Sarah had no desire to shower nor how to show Woota how to use one, so she simply showed him his room, and she went to her room and laid down on the bed, elevated that she could sleep on a real bed for the first time in days. After 3 days of running, she finally felt a twinge of safety now that they were here. Woota also laid in bed and went to sleep, again confused at the change of location, but happy to be in such a soft bed.

A couple days prior, Sarah’s administrators had indeed called the police and said that she had stolen/kidnapped company property. The legality of the situation was questionable considering that he was a person and not an object, but the law wasn’t too clear on situations like this. In light of the confusion, a judge had approved a warrant for her arrest, and the police had been actively looking for her, and they would figure out what exact charges would apply when she and Woota were in custody.

In other events, the day after Sarah first called the ODPE, the ODPE’s Public Relations team got a little too excited with the information that they were going to assist someone who escaped from Project Embryo. They had made a public announcement that they were actively assisting “someone” who had helped someone escape. It had caught the media’s attention, and they were being constantly questioned by the public and news companies regarding what was really happening. It didn’t take long for the media to find out that there was an arrest warrant for Sarah, and the media was abuzz about how something that hadn’t happened since Project Embryo started was happening now. It also didn’t take long for police to connect the dots, and they had been actively monitoring any and all known members of the ODPE for a day or so.

The police used surveillance footage from cameras spread throughout the province, and they had been able to track the van up to Sudbury and back to the safe house. The fact that Steven had also used the van’s self driving feature to get them to the safe house only made it easier to find where they were since the police could access all self-driving cars’ recent driving history. Armed with the warrant for Sarah’s arrest, the police mobilized in the early morning after Sarah, Woota, John and Steven had arrived at the safe house.

It was shortly after 5 in the morning when the door to the apartment was kicked in. The sound startled all 4 of the people in the apartment awake. Their confusion was quickly cleared up when one of the officers shouted, “This is the Toronto Police department! You are all under arrest for robbery and kidnapping!”

Sarah froze in her bed, her biggest fear now realized, and just hours after getting somewhere where she thought they would finally be safe. She realized that Woota would not understand what was going on or what the police were saying. She sprang to the door and opened it, only to see Woota already in a scuffle with the police in front of his door. With all the yelling and loud noises, Woota had opened the door, and he was now fighting off the police officers who were yelling at him in a language he didn’t understand as they tried to arrest him. Woota was already bleeding from his nose, and he had his left arm close to his chest, both having been struck by batons from the officers.

“Stop! He doesn’t understand what is going on!” Sarah yelled frantically as 3 officers formed a half circle around him whom she ran to, shortly diverting their attention to her. She reached one of them and grabbed his arm, trying to prevent him from hitting Woota anymore. The police officer felt threatened and smacked her on the right side of her rib cage with his baton, causing Sarah to fall to the ground crying and clutching her side in pain as she struggled to breathe. Seeing this, Woota lashed out at the officer that hit her, violently hitting him with his right fist while the police officer was still looking at Sarah. One of the other offices turned and hit Woota on his back, and the third officer decided it was necessary to use his taser. He pulled out and aimed his taser as Woota and fired, causing Woota to tense up as he was electrocuted.

Sarah lay crumpled up on the floor, crying as she caressed her broken ribs. Woota was still lying on the ground, immobile after being electrocuted. The officers recomposed themselves, and then pushed both of them on their stomachs and handcuffed them as their rights were told to them. They were then pulled up and half carried through the door. Sarah saw Steven and John lying down in their bedroom as she passed by, both in handcuffs as well. They were all placed in the backs of separate cars where they were then taken to the local police station.

Sarah woke up with a start. She was cold; the hard bed she was sleeping on provided little warmth. She, and the others, had already been in jail for a full day, and she had just woken up on the morning of their second day of imprisonment. She had not had any contact with the others yet, and she had only seen the guards who had provided her food, as had the other 3. Woota, John and Steven were all in jail still as well, although John and Steven had been put together in the same cell, as this arrest was mostly focused on Sarah and Woota, and the other 2 were just accessories to their escape.

It was about nine in the morning when Sarah was startled to attention by the buzzing of the door as it was unlocked and a man in a suit was escorted into the cell by a police office. Sarah quietly observed him as he walked in. The officer then left the room, leaving the two alone as the door was locked behind him.

“Good Morning Ms. McMurdo. My name is Alex Wilson, and I am an attorney on your, and the others’ behalf. I was contacted by Steven, who I am to understand you are familiar with at this point. I was just talking with him and John, and they are-”

Sarah cut him off, “How are they? Are they still in jail? Where is Woota? Is he fine?” The questions were flowing out of her so quick, she was desperate for not only answers, but just for human contact after her previous day of isolation.

“Slow down Ms. McMurdo, I can’t answer everything if you don’t give me time. Let’s see, John and Steven are alright, I fear Steven might have a broken arm after the arrest, and it hasn’t been seen by a doctor yet, but otherwise they are managing. They are still in jail though, in the same situation you are in. Woota is… struggling. I don’t think he understands where he is at or what is going on, and… how should I put it? He is always trying to fight the guards and keeps hitting the door as if he is trying to escape.”

Sarah let out a whimper after hearing that and her eyes started to water. She struggled with the lump in her throat before continuing. “I need to see him. The poor thing doesn’t have any idea what is going on.”

“I will see what I can do, but I fear it may not be possible.”

“I have to at least explain what is going on.”

“Like I said, I will see what I can do.”

Silence ensued for a while until Sarah recomposed herself, and Alex was kind enough to patiently wait while she did so. “What are we even being charged with exactly? I know I broke Woota out, but I still don’t see what legal law was violated.”

Alex sighed, “well that is a little more complicated. The administration at Project Embryo is trying to kind of charge you with theft of company property and/or kidnapping.”

“That is ridiculous though! I thought that they might go for something like that because those are the only things that make sense, but he is a human being, just like all the rest of them, and not company property. And it couldn’t be kidnapping if he went on his own will. I mean, I saved him from likely being killed by the rest of his tribe!”

“I know, I know. I thought the same thing, but I wanted to talk to you first to hear what exactly happened to further know what points we can argue against. As far as it sounds though, it doesn’t sound like they have any solid charges against you. I can try and push for the judge to dismiss the entire case based on lack of legal basis for it even being a criminal act. Furthermore, I will try to get you all out on bail, but considering that you all already ran away from Project Embryo, I fear that they might consider you all a flight risk.”

“I see. How long do you think it would be before the case would be dismissed and we would all be released?”

“I am not really sure, at best, a few days. It could potentially drag out for weeks though. But believe me, this is a high profile case and is getting lots of media attention – I was hounded with questions just by entering this police station. But before we run out of time, let’s go over what happened, so I know exactly what we are dealing with.”

“What exactly do you want to know?”

“Just start from the beginning of this whole charade, a few days ago before you took Woota out and fled south. Do you mind if I sit next to you on your bed while I take notes?”

“Sure, no problem. So I was working late because I had a report due, and right before I left, I decided to just check the monitors of Cloister 16B….” and she continued to relate the story of what happened, up until that point. It took almost an hour for her to cover the major points while Alex sometimes interjected with questions to clarify certain points.

After Alex had a solid idea of what transpired and had his notes, he thanked Sarah, and again, reassured her that he would do his best to get them out of there as soon as possible, and hopefully make it so that she could see Woota.

Alex motioned for them all to be released on bail, but as expected, Sarah and Woota were denied, however John and Steven were released on bail. Steven visited Sarah the next day (with his arm in a sling) to brief her on what had happened, and to assure her that they were doing the best they could. He also had a press conference with the media at the ODPE office in Toronto, explaining what injustice had happened, and further rallying people behind stopping the inhumane practices at Project Embryo. It was all much more real now that the public had seen glimpses of an actual subject from Project Embryo and it made it much more relatable for them then it was before, especially in this generation where everyone was born with Project embryo being an already existing organization. All of this was related to Sarah by Steven.

Woota had hardly slept. After thrashing around for the first two days, trying to attack guards when they brought food and continuously smashing the door, he had retreated to the corner where he silently brooded. He didn’t know what was going on, and he was scared. Anytime the guards came and yelled, he didn’t understand what they were saying, and he wanted to attack them since they seemed to be bad people to him, considering that they had attacked him and the others and taken them away to this location. He also wasn’t eating enough, and he was starting to get weak.

A few days passed again before Sarah had any visitors. Steven and Alex came to her in the early morning, looking fairly grim.

“Good morning Sarah” Steven tried to kindly greet her.

“Good morning guys. So what’s the news?” Sarah was impatient to know what was going on.

Alex spoke up. “As you know, John and Steven have been released on bail. You and the other-”

“Woota” Sarah coolly reminded him.

“Yes, you and Woota are not eligible for bail unfortunately. The good news is that I have talked with the judge, and he also agrees that the charges don’t make sense. Unfortunately though, he feels this is a bit over him, and since this case didn’t just happen in this province, the decision on how this case will be handled is being elevated to the supreme court, who will then decide if it is even a legal charge, and whether or not this case will be dismissed. On the one hand, this is unfortunate because it prolongs how long you and,” he struggled to recall his name before continuing, “Woota must remain in jail until this is decided. On the other hand, this is great because the legality of this case, and by extension, how things will be handled at Project Embryo is being determined, and this should provide future guidance on how to handle anything out of Project Embryo, and whether it remains legal or not.”

“I see… and will I be able to see Woota? He must be so confused. I need to help him.”

This time Steven spoke up. “Um… I am afraid that he has been determined to be too dangerous for visitors, and he has been denied any guests due to how he lashed out at the guards.”

“But somebody needs to explain what is going on to him! Even if it’s one of the other scientists from Project Embryo who understands his language.” Tears started rolling down her cheeks, and she turned away from the other two. She felt so terrible. She had saved him from certain death from his fellow members of his cloister, but in doing that, she had brought him into a hell of unknowing. He was now stuck inside a tiny concrete jail cell, without anyone to explain what was happening, where he even was, and why he was there. She brought him here, and even though she saved his life, she now felt that she had brought on a fate even worse for him.

The other two waited for her shoulders to stop shaking as she sobbed. Eventually Steven continued, “at least the public’s opinion is rapidly changing from apathy to conviction against Project Embryo. Our member count in the ODPE is at its highest amount ever, even more than when Project Embryo was new and the public was first enraged. They are involved now more than ever, and we can hopefully use this to influence the supreme court in throwing out the case, and hopefully even shutting down Project Embryo.”

Sarah looked defeated. She was still turned away form them, with her head hopelessly staring at the floor. “I don’t really care about that anymore. I just want Woota to be free. He doesn’t deserve to be stuck in here like this.”

“I know,” Alex began, “we are trying our best, but the legal system can sometimes be agonizingly slow.”

Sarah just nodded her head. It was obvious that not much more was going to be said, Alex and Steven silently knocked on the door and were released from the room, leaving Sarah alone.

Woota was still hiding in the corner of his cell, only occasionally coming out of the corner to retrieve meager amounts of food from the tray that was pushed into his room. He was lost, frustrated, angry and confused. Where was he? Why was he here? Where was Sarah? He had too many questions, and absolutely no answers, nor the faintest idea of what was happening. He shuffled on the floor over to the soup that he was presented with today. The soup reminded him of being back in his cloister: the freedom he had and the soups he and the others prepared. He longed to be free. Anything was better than this. He noticed that there was a spoon next to the soup. They didn’t use spoons in his cloister, and would instead just sip the soup from the bowl. While the spoon itself was unfamiliar, it reminded him of his old hunting knife, which we would use to finish off a deer after shooting it with a bow and arrow. If he shot a deer and it lived, after catching it, he would slice the deer’s throat to kill it quicker, and then they would be able to use the meat in one of their stews. He silently sipped on his stew while eyeing the spoon that still lie on the plastic tray.

Several days passed again, and Sarah was continuously pacing the room, slowly coming to her wit’s end as she worried about Woota. It was at this point, days after their previous encounter, that Alex and Steven again came to Sarah, this time later in the evening, which was unusual because they normally came early in the morning. They looked grimmer than ever, and Sarah could see it.

Sarah struggled to speak after seeing their look.“What’s up?” She finally managed. “Did the supreme court say anything already?”

“Well, the supreme court has agreed to expedite the case to next week…” Alex began, but trailed off and couldn’t manage to continue.

“Well that’s great!” Sarah’s mood elevated, before becoming somber again after seeing their lack of enthusiasm. “…Right?” She paused for a few seconds as she looked between the two. “What’s wrong?”

“Sarah, I am so sorry.” Steven reached out and put his hand on her shoulder in the most comforting way he could manage. “Woota is dead.”

That was it. That was all the Sarah could handle. She broke down. Her shoulders buckled and she slumped on her bed. The tears flowed freely, and her loud gasps between breaths made Alex flinch a little. He and Steven felt so sorry for her. She had tried so hard, and she wanted nothing more than for him to be free, but she was helplessly stuck in a jail, just like Woota was.

Sarah was devastated. She had rescued Woota from certain death, only to bring him through hell where he ended up dying anyways. All of this frustration, anger and sadness boiled up in her, and she couldn’t contain it anymore. She clenched the edge of her bed with her hands, leaned forward and half cried, half screamed the loudest, hair-raising “FUCK!” that any of them had ever heard. She slumped down again, put her head in her hands with her elbows resting on her knees and just cried. She had failed. She had come so far, only to have the worst outcome possible happen.

Steven sat down on the bed with her and wrapped an arm over her and pulled her in close, attempting to comfort her like a father would. She cried and sobbed for about an hour before she finally stopped. There was nothing left to cry. She was dried up. Tired and thirsty, her sobbing calmed down, and the others felt it possible to talk to her again.

Steven still had his arm around her, despite the fact that the odd angle had caused it to fall asleep a while ago, but he kept it around her for comfort. “I am so sorry Sarah, we all are. This is the thing we wanted to prevent the most.”

She shuddered harshly, almost lapsing back into another long bout of crying, but she kept herself in control this time. It was hard to hear Sarah speak, she was so quiet they had to strain to hear her. “I failed him…”

“No you didn’t Sarah. You did your best, nobody could have asked for more out of you.” Steven attempted to hold her tighter with his numb arm.

She sat up straight, rolling Steven’s arm off of her back, which was a relief to him as the blood started flowing to his arm again. She half turned her head towards his, just enough so that she could glance at Steven and make some eye contact. “How did he die?” She had to know.

Steven hesitated before telling her. “He killed himself.” He said it blunt and to the point. Sarah sobbed once more and looked down. Alex shuffled his feet, he had been standing by the door the entire time and his feet were getting uncomfortable. “Woota had managed to sharpen a plastic spoon on the concrete ground by filing the edge down. He then used the rough ‘knife-like’ edge he made to cut his throat. He was found today at lunch as the guard put the tray in and found the breakfast one still untouched. I suppose he did it overnight. I am so sorry Sarah.”

Sarah continued crying, not as much as before, but it was clear that it was time to leave. Alex and Steven got up and left the cell again, leaving her to deal with the reality that the situation had become.

This reignited the entire debate about Project Embryo. Sarah remained in jail until the trial, which did happen the next week. The entire case and all events surrounding it were heavily watched nationally and internationally. Public opinion was no longer apathetic, and pressure was high to release Sarah and shut down Project Embryo. The charges against Sarah were dismissed by the supreme court, and in a move that surprised everyone, although it shouldn’t have and always should have been so, Project Embryo was declared to be in violation of human rights, and was ordered to close down. Even if the initial children were donated, it was not the initial children’s decision to be there, nor the subsequent generations. As such, it was ruled that proper measures needed to be incorporated so that all subjects from Project Embryo were to be made aware of the outside world, taught a proper and modern education, and then introduced into modern society.

This upset some certain branches of the Canadian government because not only did this hamper the economy in the Northwest Territories due to the closure or Project Embryo and the desolation of Project Town, but some of the funds from the USA had been put into other programs for a while, which also meant that there had to be budget cuts in some other sectors of the governments. The Canadian government rebounded without too many issues though, and the remaining budget was used in reparations to the previous cloister residents until they had been properly integrated.

Sarah moved on to join the ODPE with Steven and the others, which had re-branded as an organization devoted to the reintroduction of all humans from Project Embryo. She became the face of equal and fair treatment of all former cloister residents, and she worked tirelessly to ensure that the best treatment and education would be given to every individual, and to further fight against discrimination against them after moved into modern society.

Most of the cloisters were receptive and were able to be approached and taught about the outside world and integrated. Some cloisters resisted any outside contact, either fearing or hating the new people that came to make initial contact. It was decided that these resisting cloisters would be maintained in their current state, much like other indigenous groups that shied from outside contact, with the exception that a new attempt would be made every generation to approach them and integrate them.

In the end, the facility was mostly shut down and the people were free. Sarah continued to visit Woota’s grave on a regular basis, which she ensured was in his old cloister. While she regretted what happened to him and still blamed herself for it, she died satisfied with the part of her life that she spent working with the other members from other cloisters, ensuring that they were reintegrated properly, and that the inhumane Project Embryo was shut down once and for all.

Attack of the Wurm

Another dream from my earlier days in college.

Attack of the Wurm

In my dream, I was walking around some hangar/warehouse area, and I walked into a warehouse that had 2 or 3 people in it talking underneath a spaceship that was parked in the warehouse. They saw me and asked if I would like to go with them in the spaceship they had found because it was fully functional. I was really torn between seeing everything else in the universe and leaving and going into space, because if I did that, I would have to leave everything else on earth behind.

While I was standing there making my decision, we suddenly heard a bunch of screaming and about a hundred or 2 hundred people came running into the hangar in terror. I guess they came from somewhere else and were coming in here for safety. The floor in the warehouse abruptly split and this giant wurm creature burst through into the warehouse and we all had to run out of that building. We fled to a different warehouse, where we made a makeshift camp in the middle of the warehouses because we couldn’t leave. Apparently the wurm had caused some major nuclear waste spill and we were now stuck, surrounded by a very huge moat of acid/radiation.

Stuck on our island, we had to take shifts fighting against creatures that came onto our island. One time I was fighting these weird 4 foot (about 120cm) tall sludge golems, and everyone just walked off and left me, and I was getting overrun. I struggled really hard and finally started to push them back. After I almost finished fighting them, a creature that looked like the Night Crawler from Marvel (humanoid, but with a long, pointy tail. He was almost completely black and kind of cat-like looking) came out, and I started wrestling with it to pin it. Someone saw how much I was struggling with that and some people finally came to help me, and we pinned it and started bringing it back to camp. We went back to the base in the warehouse, and when we got it back to the camp, it was suddenly a white-skinned man which was completely unlike the beast we had just wrestled with. We were surprised and thought we had made a mistake, but then it turned back into the creature, and then back into a human again. He then explained to us that he had come here to help us. I then woke up before anything else could happen though.

Escape Into Society Part 3

This is the final part of my short story. It hopefully brings most things to a close, but I intened to recompile all 3 parts into one continuous text in the future, and maybe iron out some more details in the final version.

The first part of this story can be found here.
The second part of this story can be found here.

Escape Into Society Part 3

Sarah woke up with a start. She was cold; the hard bed she was sleeping on provided little warmth. She, and the others, had already been in jail for a full day, and she had just woken up on the morning of their second day of imprisonment. She had not had any contact with the others yet, and she had only seen the guards who had provided her food, as had the other 3. Woota, John and Steven were all in jail still as well, although John and Steven had been put together in the same cell, as this arrest was mostly focused on Sarah and Woota, and the other 2 were just accessories to their escape.

It was about nine in the morning when Sarah was startled to attention by the buzzing of the door as it was unlocked and a man in a suit was escorted into the cell by a police office. Sarah quietly observed him as he walked in. The officer then left the room, leaving the two alone as the door was locked behind him.

“Good Morning Ms. McMurdo. My name is Alex Wilson, and I am an attorney on your, and the others’ behalf. I was contacted by Steven, who I am to understand you are familiar with at this point. I was just talking with him and John, and they are-”

Sarah cut him off, “How are they? Are they still in jail? Where is Woota? Is he fine?” The questions were flowing out of her so quick, she was desperate for not only answers, but just for human contact after her previous day of isolation.

“Slow down Ms. McMurdo, I can’t answer everything if you don’t give me time. Let’s see, John and Steven are alright, I fear Steven might have a broken arm after the arrest, and it hasn’t been seen by a doctor yet, but otherwise they are managing. They are still in jail though, in the same situation you are in. Woota is… struggling. I don’t think he understands where he is at or what is going on, and… how should I put it? He is always trying to fight the guards and keeps hitting the door as if he is trying to escape.”

Sarah let out a whimper after hearing that and her eyes started to water. She struggled with the lump in her throat before continuing. “I need to see him. The poor thing doesn’t have any idea what is going on.”

“I will see what I can do, but I fear it may not be possible.”

“I have to at least explain what is going on.”

“Like I said, I will see what I can do.”

Silence ensued for a while until Sarah recomposed herself, and Alex was kind enough to patiently wait while she did so. “What are we even being charged with exactly? I know I broke Woota out, but I still don’t see what legal law was violated.”

Alex sighed, “well that is a little more complicated. The administration at Project Embryo is trying to kind of charge you with theft of company property and/or kidnapping.”

“That is ridiculous though! I thought that they might go for something like that because those are the only things that make sense, but he is a human being, just like all the rest of them, and not company property. And it couldn’t be kidnapping if he went on his own will. I mean, I saved him from likely being killed by the rest of his tribe!”

“I know, I know. I thought the same thing, but I wanted to talk to you first to hear what exactly happened to further know what points we can argue against. As far as it sounds though, it doesn’t sound like they have any solid charges against you. I can try and push for the judge to dismiss the entire case based on lack of legal basis for it even being a criminal act. Furthermore, I will try to get you all out on bail, but considering that you all already ran away from Project Embryo, I fear that they might consider you all a flight risk.”

“I see. How long do you think it would be before the case would be dismissed and we would all be released?”

“I am not really sure, at best, a few days. It could potentially drag out for weeks though. But believe me, this is a high profile case and is getting lots of media attention – I was hounded with questions just by entering this police station. But before we run out of time, let’s go over what happened, so I know exactly what we are dealing with.”

“What exactly do you want to know?”

“Just start from the beginning of this whole charade, a few days ago before you took Woota out and fled south. Do you mind if I sit next to you on your bed while I take notes?”

“Sure, no problem. So I was working late because I had a report due, and right before I left, I decided to just check the monitors of Cloister 16B….” and she continued to relate the story of what happened, up until that point. It took almost an hour for her to cover the major points while Alex sometimes interjected with questions to clarify certain points.

After Alex had a solid idea of what transpired and had his notes, he thanked Sarah, and again, reassured her that he would do his best to get them out of there as soon as possible, and hopefully make it so that she could see Woota.

Alex motioned for them all to be released on bail, but as expected, Sarah and Woota were denied, however John and Steven were released on bail. Steven visited Sarah the next day (with his arm in a sling) to brief her on what had happened, and to assure her that they were doing the best they could. He also had a press conference with the media at the ODPE office in Toronto, explaining what injustice had happened, and further rallying people behind stopping the inhumane practices at Project Embryo. It was all much more real now that the public had seen glimpses of an actual subject from Project Embryo and it made it much more relatable for them then it was before, especially in this generation where everyone was born with Project embryo being an already existing organization. All of this was related to Sarah by Steven.

Woota had hardly slept. After thrashing around for the first two days, trying to attack guards when they brought food and continuously smashing the door, he had retreated to the corner where he silently brooded. He didn’t know what was going on, and he was scared. Anytime the guards came and yelled, he didn’t understand what they were saying, and he wanted to attack them since they seemed to be bad people to him, considering that they had attacked him and the others and taken them away to this location. He also wasn’t eating enough, and he was starting to get weak.

A few days passed again before Sarah had any visitors. Steven and Alex came to her in the early morning, looking fairly grim.

“Good morning Sarah” Steven tried to kindly greet her.

“Good morning guys. So what’s the news?” Sarah was impatient to know what was going on.

Alex spoke up. “As you know, John and Steven have been released on bail. You and the other-”

“Woota” Sarah coolly reminded him.

“Yes, you and Woota are not eligible for bail unfortunately. The good news is that I have talked with the judge, and he also agrees that the charges don’t make sense. Unfortunately though, he feels this is a bit over him, and since this case didn’t just happen in this province, the decision on how this case will be handled is being elevated to the supreme court, who will then decide if it is even a legal charge, and whether or not this case will be dismissed. On the one hand, this is unfortunate because it prolongs how long you and,” he struggled to recall his name before continuing, “Woota must remain in jail until this is decided. On the other hand, this is great because the legality of this case, and by extension, how things will be handled at Project Embryo is being determined, and this should provide future guidance on how to handle anything out of Project Embryo, and whether it remains legal or not.”

“I see… and will I be able to see Woota? He must be so confused. I need to help him.”

This time Steven spoke up. “Um… I am afraid that he has been determined to be too dangerous for visitors, and he has been denied any guests due to how he lashed out at the guards.”

“But somebody needs to explain what is going on to him! Even if it’s one of the other scientists from Project Embryo who understands his language.” Tears started rolling down her cheeks, and she turned away from the other two. She felt so terrible. She had saved him from certain death from his fellow members of his cloister, but in doing that, she had brought him into a hell of unknowing. He was now stuck inside a tiny concrete jail cell, without anyone to explain what was happening, where he even was, and why he was there. She brought him here, and even though she saved his life, she now felt that she had brought on a fate even worse for him.

The other two waited for her shoulders to stop shaking as she sobbed. Eventually Steven continued, “at least the public’s opinion is rapidly changing from apathy to conviction against Project Embryo. Our member count in the ODPE is at its highest amount ever, even more than when Project Embryo was new and the public was first enraged. They are involved now more than ever, and we can hopefully use this to influence the supreme court in throwing out the case, and hopefully even shutting down Project Embryo.”

Sarah looked defeated. She was still turned away form them, with her head hopelessly staring at the floor. “I don’t really care about that anymore. I just want Woota to be free. He doesn’t deserve to be stuck in here like this.”

“I know,” Alex began, “we are trying our best, but the legal system can sometimes be agonizingly slow.”

Sarah just nodded her head. It was obvious that not much more was going to be said, Alex and Steven silently knocked on the door and were released from the room, leaving Sarah alone.

Woota was still hiding in the corner of his cell, only occasionally coming out of the corner to retrieve meager amounts of food from the tray that was pushed into his room. He was lost, frustrated, angry and confused. Where was he? Why was he here? Where was Sarah? He had too many questions, and absolutely no answers, nor the faintest idea of what was happening. He shuffled on the floor over to the soup that he was presented with today. The soup reminded him of being back in his cloister: the freedom he had and the soups he and the others prepared. He longed to be free. Anything was better than this. He noticed that there was a spoon next to the soup. They didn’t use spoons in his cloister, and would instead just sip the soup from the bowl. While the spoon itself was unfamiliar, it reminded him of his old hunting knife, which we would use to finish off a deer after shooting it with a bow and arrow. If he shot a deer and it lived, after catching it, he would slice the deer’s throat to kill it quicker, and then they would be able to use the meat in one of their stews. He silently sipped on his stew while eyeing the spoon that still lie on the plastic tray.

Several days passed again, and Sarah was continuously pacing the room, slowly coming to her wit’s end as she worried about Woota. It was at this point, days after their previous encounter, that Alex and Steven again came to Sarah, this time later in the evening, which was unusual because they normally came early in the morning. They looked grimmer than ever, and Sarah could see it.

Sarah struggled to speak after seeing their look.“What’s up?” She finally managed. “Did the supreme court say anything already?”

“Well, the supreme court has agreed to expedite the case to next week…” Alex began, but trailed off and couldn’t manage to continue.

“Well that’s great!” Sarah’s mood elevated, before becoming somber again after seeing their lack of enthusiasm. “…Right?” She paused for a few seconds as she looked between the two. “What’s wrong?”

“Sarah, I am so sorry.” Steven reached out and put his hand on her shoulder in the most comforting way he could manage. “Woota is dead.”

That was it. That was all the Sarah could handle. She broke down. Her shoulders buckled and she slumped on her bed. The tears flowed freely, and her loud gasps between breaths made Alex flinch a little. He and Steven felt so sorry for her. She had tried so hard, and she wanted nothing more than for him to be free, but she was helplessly stuck in a jail, just like Woota was.

Sarah was devastated. She had rescued Woota from certain death, only to bring him through hell where he ended up dying anyways. All of this frustration, anger and sadness boiled up in her, and she couldn’t contain it anymore. She clenched the edge of her bed with her hands, leaned forward and half cried, half screamed the loudest, hair-raising “FUCK!” that any of them had ever heard. She slumped down again, put her head in her hands with her elbows resting on her knees and just cried. She had failed. She had come so far, only to have the worst outcome possible happen.

Steven sat down on the bed with her and wrapped an arm over her and pulled her in close, attempting to comfort her like a father would. She cried and sobbed for about an hour before she finally stopped. There was nothing left to cry. She was dried up. Tired and thirsty, her sobbing calmed down, and the others felt it possible to talk to her again.

Steven still had his arm around her, despite the fact that the odd angle had caused it to fall asleep a while ago, but he kept it around her for comfort. “I am so sorry Sarah, we all are. This is the thing we wanted to prevent the most.”

She shuddered harshly, almost lapsing back into another long bout of crying, but she kept herself in control this time. It was hard to hear Sarah speak, she was so quiet they had to strain to hear her. “I failed him…”

“No you didn’t Sarah. You did your best, nobody could have asked for more out of you.” Steven attempted to hold her tighter with his numb arm.

She sat up straight, rolling Steven’s arm off of her back, which was a relief to him as the blood started flowing to his arm again. She half turned her head towards his, just enough so that she could glance at Steven and make some eye contact. “How did he die?” She had to know.

Steven hesitated before telling her. “He killed himself.” He said it blunt and to the point. Sarah sobbed once more and looked down. Alex shuffled his feet, he had been standing by the door the entire time and his feet were getting uncomfortable. “Woota had managed to sharpen a plastic spoon on the concrete ground by filing the edge down. He then used the rough ‘knife-like’ edge he made to cut his throat. He was found today at lunch as the guard put the tray in and found the breakfast one still untouched. I suppose he did it overnight. I am so sorry Sarah.”

Sarah continued crying, not as much as before, but it was clear that it was time to leave. Alex and Steven got up and left the cell again, leaving her to deal with the reality that the situation had become.

This reignited the entire debate about Project Embryo. Sarah remained in jail until the trial, which did happen the next week. The entire case and all events surrounding it were heavily watched nationally and internationally. Public opinion was no longer apathetic, and pressure was high to release Sarah and shut down Project Embryo. The charges against Sarah were dismissed by the supreme court, and in a move that surprised everyone, although it shouldn’t have and always should have been so, Project Embryo was declared to be in violation of human rights, and was ordered to close down. Even if the initial children were donated, it was not the initial children’s decision to be there, nor the subsequent generations. As such, it was ruled that proper measures needed to be incorporated so that all subjects from Project Embryo were to be made aware of the outside world, taught a proper and modern education, and then introduced into modern society.

Sarah moved on to join the ODPE with Steven and the others, which had re-branded as an organization devoted to the reintroduction of all humans from Project Embryo. She became the face of equal and fair treatment of all former cloister residents, and she worked tirelessly to ensure that the best treatment and education would be given to every individual, and to further fight against discrimination against them after moved into modern society.

Most of the cloisters were receptive and were able to be approached and taught about the outside world and integrated. Some cloisters resisted any outside contact, either fearing or hating the new people that came to make initial contact. It was decided that these resisting cloisters would be maintained in their current state, much like other indigenous groups that shied from outside contact, with the exception that a new attempt would be made every generation to approach them and integrate them.

In the end, the facility was mostly shut down and the people were free. Sarah continued to visit Woota’s grave on a regular basis, which she ensured was in his old cloister. While she regretted what happened to him and still blamed herself for it, she died satisfied with the part of her life that she spent working with the other members from other cloisters, ensuring that they were reintegrated properly, and that the inhumane Project Embryo was shut down once and for all.

Things I hate about Mac

I have been a long time Windows user (since Windows 98), but I have also used Linux for a period before I decided to just stick with Windows. I started working at my current company about 3 years ago, and when I first started, we used Windows, and it was glorious. Then our boss decided that everyone would shift to Mac and OSX, and I ran into so many annoyances. I and my colleague would often complain to him, sometimes earnestly, and sometimes in jest, but I was motivated to note down all the things that pestered me, and without further ado, here they are, mostly in order that I came across the issue (I haven’t taken many screenshot because they aren’t really fitting, or they would have contained private information, so I apologize for the boring text):

  1. I don’t like the default option that you can only left-click. Right clicking is so helpful and practically necessary, I don’t even see why they offer that as an option. Additionally, the reversed/backwards scrolling is also annoying, but what irks me most about it is that it’s called “natural scrolling”, and you have to uncheck it, implying that you aren’t doing things normally. I guess in the framework of Macs, it’s not normal, but most other people scroll the other way, which would make Mac’s way abnormal. I grant that both of these were easy to google and fix though, so they aren’t that pressing of issues.
  2. I can’t use F5 anymore to refresh my browser. I know there’s some other command, but having to memorize all these new commands is bothersome, especially since they can differ between every program/browser.
  3. In a similar vein, there are no standard “Home” or “End” buttons. I do a lot of writing, and those are so helpful to rapidly move around documents to immediately bring me to the beginning or end of a line of text. Holding CTRL while using the arrow keys to move through words at a time is also helpful (as opposed to just using arrow keys and only moving characters at a time), but that doesn’t seem to work in OSX either. I was led to believe that it’s a positive aspect from Apple because they allow developers to determine what each button does in their program instead of having OSX decide it for them. I understand the argument, but then that means I need to find out rapid navigation keys for every individual program instead of having just 1 universal shortcut. I personally really dislike that and would rather have 1 shortcut I have to remember that works across all my programs.
  4. If I save something new to my desktop, it usually goes in the top-right corner, and then works its way down as I add more files, and then it starts filling up the column to the left if that column gets filled up with documents and files. That’s fine, and how any desktop does and should work, but the thing is that I like to move my icons to certain areas on my desktop so that I can visually separate chunks of documents based on their purpose. The problem lies in the fact that my computer has a habit of just randomly moving a file from my designated spot on the desktop back to the default location, starting in the top-right. I lost a few files like this because I knew that I only left documents intended for the recycling bin in the top-right, so when it was time to do a little desktop cleaning, I would delete all files in the top-right, which sometimes included files I needed to keep. This really threw me off until I started noticing how my files were roaming on their own. I could retrieve my files from the bin, but the lost productivity (because I had redone a few documents since they had “disappeared”) was unnecessary, and ever since then, I have had to be vigilant about what I delete, lest something important that moved of its own volition gets deleted.
  5. By default, you can’t edit .docx files in Pages (the Mac equivalent of Word) and you need to export the file first. In Open Office (a free version of Word), if I open a .docx file, I have to save it as a .doc file, and then I am working in the .doc file and can just delete the .docx file. In Pages though, the original .docx file get protected by Pages, so I can’t delete the original and unnecessary .docx files until Pages is completely closed down. Since I worked in literally dozens of documents at the same time at that point, that would mean I would have to close every document, delete the file, and then reopen everything. Funnily enough though, you can still change the file name of the .docx though (even though it’s “protected”), so instead, my solution was to name all resaved .docx files as something like “delete.docx” or “delete233444.docx” (I had a lot of files like this on my computer). At the end of the day when I finally would close down Pages, I would then have to round up all “delete” documents that were cluttering everything up and finally delete them. It was super annoying and a stupid function of Pages.
  6. While on the topic of Pages, holy crap it took forever to start! Like literally minutes, sometimes up to 10. It was ridiculous. The same with my co-worker. We thought Pages just sucked, and that Microsoft Word would be quicker (which we eventually got because our boss finally cracked and bought a license after we complained about the previous issue so much), but nope, Word took forever as well. There seemed to be a marginal improvement, but still, when you are waiting 5 minutes for a program to start that is necessary before you can proceed, you lose a lot of productivity. I don’t get why people say that Macs are so much quicker than a Windows PC. If the hardware is terrible (which was the case in a Mac minis), then it is just going to be slow no matter what, which it was in our case. The Macs themselves also took a good 10 or 15 minutes just to turn on the damn things every morning.
  7. This note was written a long time ago, so the details are fuzzy, but basically, all .avi videos were trying to open in QuickTime or iTunes or something like that, and it was, you guessed it, super slow. I had VLC and I wanted all .avi files to open in that, so when I right clicked on a .avi file and told it to “always open with” VLC, I thought it would do that for all .avi files like Windows does. Nope, it literally only changed it for that one file. Why else would someone want to change the default program for a file other than the fact that the other option is a better choice for that file type? Who only needs one file to open in a different program than all other files of that type?
    It was eventually possible to change it, but I had to dig through a couple menus before I got what I needed.
  8. This one was definitely a bug, and it seemed to subside after a while, but I remember this happening for at least a year or so. Normal function is that if you click on a program in the Dock in OSX, it brings all unminimized instances of that program to the front. Great, a little different than windows, but whatever. The bug I was experiencing was that clicking on a program would bring forward all windows of that program (like it should), but it would sometimes bring another program to the front too, sometimes on top of the program that I intended to have open. This results in my having to minimize windows to get to what I wanted.
    An example of this was that I had the file info (properties) for a file open on my right monitor. I needed to look up something about it, so I clicked on Chrome to bring it forward so I could google something. Chrome came to the front on my left monitor as it should have, but then all my dozens of word documents came to the front on the right screen (covering my file info window). Since the file info / properties didn’t actually have a program for me to click on in my dock, I had no other choice than minimizing all my word documents. Another example is when I had TextEdit files open, and I then clicked on Chrome, but it would cover my TextEdit files with Word. So I would then click on TextEdit in the dock to bring them to the front again, but that would bring other programs in front of my Chrome window… It was a nightmare.
  9. I am going to chalk this one up to a bug as well, but it was annoying. In short, a bunch of programs like Word, Excel, Skype and Filezilla were opening when I turned on my computer in the morning (which probably contributed to the frozen-pizza-cooking-length startup times). I checked everything I could: I unchecked them in the dock, I looked through the program settings, and I looked somewhere else (that I forget at the time of writing this), but nothing helped, and 3 or 4 stubborn programs started no matter what I tried. Like I said, they eventually stopped starting, but it was completely arbitrary.
  10. Some programs, notably ones that play audio, don’t seem to close if I click on the red X, but just minimize instead. If I wanted to minimize a program, I would have clicked on the minimize button. I wanted to close the program however, which is why I clicked on the button to close it. Now I have to additionally right click on the program in the dock and close it that way. Stupid.
  11. Programs keep changing which monitor they open on. Why on Earth can’t it be consistent?! It shouldn’t be a surprise as to which monitor a program opens on when I start it. It’s not a big deal to move the program to the other window, but I generally like to have a very organized workspace, and that just messes with my flow. This was happening for just about every program, but it seems that it now just does it to Word for some reason.
  12. When I click on the clock/calendar in Windows in the taskbar in the corner of the screen, a little calendar pops up that I can skim through. This is super helpful when I just need to look at a few weeks in either direction, whether that is for planning something or investigating the timings of customers trial periods. In Mac, you can’t just simply look at a calendar with one click . I have to either click on the clock and go to the preferences, where I can at least see the current month, but sometimes I want to see the previous or next month, or I can open the calendar app, but that’s a whole app that needs to start, and it takes a while. Instead I just got into the habit of leaving google calendar open (since we use it for work), and I would always just go to that tab in Chrome.
  13. Sometimes, if I open a new document like in Word or TextEdit, the window opens behind all other windows, which is just stupid because then I have to click on the button in the dock again or move everything around. Word doesn’t do this to me anymore luckily, but TextEdit still does, and I didn’t necessarily want to bring all my TextEdit files to the front by clicking on it in the dock.
  14. Sometimes I can’t put files in certain spots on my desktop, it’s as if there was an invisible icon there already occupying that space. I could put the file anywhere around the desired spot, but not there. I like to organize my desktop visually, and this made it frustrating as I sometimes had to shape groups of documents very weirdly, like a poorly played game of Tetris. It usually seemed that a restart would do the trick, but that usually had to wait till the next day since I didn’t want to spend 20 minutes restarting my computer.
  15. The fact that we can’t update any software in OSX (or OSX itself for that matter) without an admin password is super annoying. All sorts of apps were wanting to update, but I couldn’t let any of them update without getting my boss, so every day for weeks at a time I would have to close or ignore all the messages about updating. Our boss would then update my/our computer(s), but then some apps would want to get updated after a few days and the cycle would continue.
    It was similar with installed/downloaded programs. Every time I installed a program (actually my boss, since it required a password), it always asked me if I trusted the source or something like that when I opened it, and that it wouldn’t recommend me opening it. Because I needed it and purposely clicked on the program, I would have to choose to open it anyways or something like that. Almost every downloaded program would do that to me the first time I opened it, and it was super annoying. The solution is to have an admin move the file out of the correct folder and then back in again (or something like that), and then I could open programs without confirming that I wanted to open it. Of course though, moving the program as necessary required an admin password, so if I didn’t remember to have my boss do that as a program was installed, I would have to deal with it until I managed to catch him at some later date.
  16. I really hate how I can’t really seem to edit many settings in Mac. I can’t recall the exact issues I was having, but they should have been small options I wanted to change, or small UX changes or stuff like that. Tangential, I now dislike how people always say they “can’t get things to work right in windows, and everything just works fine in OSX.” Back to my problem: when I was trying to make changes that I wanted, I ended up googling how to do things. In forums, it seemed that about 90% of the responses either basically said it couldn’t be done with others docilely saying “oh well,” or there was a super complicated command line code or it was necessary to use a 3rd party program. In windows, I can almost always make the changes I want. It might require a few setting changes, but it usually was possible without requiring a 3rd party program. I feel like people who complain about windows being too complex just happen to be OK with the ~2 ways you can customize your OSX experience.
  17. I also started experiencing issues where clicking on a program in the dock would not only bring all open windows to the front (as I wanted), but it would also bring up all minimized windows of the program and bring them to the front as well (which I didn’t want and wasn’t normal behavior). This was annoying because I would usually have between 5-10 Chrome windows open (each with 5-30 tabs, I know, it’s a lot). Each window had designated purposes, but ones that weren’t immediately needed were usually minimized, and I didn’t need them popping up in my face every 10th time I clicked on the Chrome icon.
  18. Our office ultimately entirely switched to Macs (we still had some people on Windows). We started using the network server because we were told to not save locally, but on the unified network server instead. Screw that. I did and still do keep a ton of documents on my computer locally. The issue is that files just seem to disappear on the server. They aren’t really gone, but one or 2 people won’t be able to see certain files or folders, and it usually requires them restarting their computer. It was really weird and just lame, and we were always restarting our computers in order to see files that should be there on the server. After a Mac update about a year later, the problem stopped, but that was a frustrating first year of working on the server.
  19. If I copy a bunch of files into another folder, and there are a couple copies of some files already in the destination folder (maybe because I copied them there earlier), in windows, I can click “skip” for this file, and then it still copies all the other files. In mac, I can “Stop” the entire transfer of files, and then manually unselect the first file that Mac already found in there, and then copy everything else over, which is annoying because if there is another file that is already there, I have to repeat the process. Or, I can “keep both” but I don’t want double files in the destination folder, or I can “replace” the file in the destination folder, but I don’t want to necessarily do that either, because I might have made changes to the one in the destination folder. I just wish that I could copy all of the files, except for the ones that are already there (by skipping files that are already there), and I could then determine if I need to keep the file in the original or destination folder and then act accordingly.
  20. Sometimes I want to just move a file from our server onto my desktop to edit it quickly (because half the time, trying to open and/or edit things on the server is worthless because it appears to be blank (word documents) or it just doesn’t open at all (certain raw video files)). Once it’s saved locally, I can then easily work on it. The issue is that I usually have lots of documents open, and when I drag and drop a file onto my desktop it gets copied to my desktop, but the location where I physically “drop” it onto my desktop isn’t where it gets saved to on my desktop. Instead, it goes somewhere else on my desktop, and I then have to move every fucking window that I have open around, trying to play some childish game of hide and seek with my file. Here’s an idea, if I drop the file right “here,” drop the file right there! Now all my windows are all over the place because I had to play Where’s Waldo with a file.
  21. Our USB headsets were sometimes crackling for no reason. It wasn’t just mine that was doing that, but everyone in my office was experiencing this at the time. Sometime unplugging them and replugging them in solved it. Other times, just waiting solved it for no reason. It’s as if the audio driver goes out after inactivity or something. This thankfully stopped after a while (I guess the driver got fixed), but another issue arose later with headphones which I will get to later.
  22. Trying to find specific files based on file type is a pain in the butt in OSX. As an example, I want to find all the “.wav” files in a folder. I first navigate to the folder that I want to search in, then I enter “.wav” into the search bar, and then I get the results for every file across my entire computer. Not what I wanted, because I am usually searching for things on the server, so these results couldn’t ever give me what I wanted. That just seems so stupid that if I navigate to a specific folder and then search, it doesn’t search in that folder. I would understand if the search searched across all files on the computer if you searched at the default Finder screen, but otherwise…
    OK, whatever, I will just change the “search location” to “this folder” instead of “my entire computer.” It should do what I want now, right? Wrong. It finds some of the files, but not everything. After searching extensively online, it seems that I have to add specific search parameters to look at file types since you can’t search for file types easily.
    OK, so I have to click on the +, go to the dropdown, change it to “other”, then click on “filename”, and then I type in .wav again. I search, but, it still doesn’t find all the files, and I know they are there because I can manually look for them and see the right there. I decide to forget it, because trying any further to use a simple search function to make my workflow faster is actually just slowing me down. I now just manually scour these folders and command click the several dozen files I need from the many different folders and copy/move them as needed. Awesome Mac, once again, great job…
  23. Sometime I right click on the desktop and create a new folder. I start typing so I can name the folder, since it looks like it’s selected. Oh wait, my other window I was previously working in is still active for some stupid reason even though I clicked on the desktop. Now I have written, or even overwritten something in another document or website. I can usually command+Z (CTRL+Z) my way out of it, but it’s screwed me over on a couple occasions because I was writing somewhere that wasn’t reversible.
  24. Sometimes I need to delete a folder on the server after I have copied it elsewhere. I try to delete the folder, but sometimes it tells me that one of the files in the folder is in use, although it isn’t because I know these folders haven’t been touched for days or weeks. What I usually try is to just go in the folder and delete the one problem file, and that usually gets successfully deleted. I should then be able to delete the folder since the problem file isn’t in there anymore, right? Guess again. I can still not delete the folder because the file(s) that were deleted are still “in use.” Granted, the file was there, but I deleted the file without any problems, so it’s gone now and definitely not in use in any program, but the message persists that the file is in use and is preventing me from deleting the folder. Stupid.
    I aptly rename folders like these to some iteration of “delete” to remind myself later (so I don’t get confused why that folder is there, since it shouldn’t be) to delete it. You would not believe how many files and folders I have renamed to something like “delete” on the server…
    error-blanked
    Note that there is no .wav file in the “delete” folder, but that is the error message I get while trying to delete the folder.
  1. One thing I actually really like about Mac is the file explorer (Finder) has the dropdowns on the side so I can expand multiple folders without actually having to go into them (as seen on the left side of the above picture). This allows me to easily move things around in different folders at the same level.
    However, sometimes, this just doesn’t work for no discernible reason. It is consistent that the same sets of folders are always expandable with the arrows or not, but I don’t understand why they are that way. The arrows just aren’t there even though they are for other folders in similar levels within the folder structure.
    folders
    See how all of these folder do not have the arrow, so I have to open them all up in separate windows if I want to easily move files between them, unlike the previous photo.
  1. I keep a lot of .txt documents because they are no frills and easy to work with to keep notes in. At some point, all of my .txt documents became very large. I had them all for about a year in a specific arrangement on my right monitor so that my screen was divided into 6 different sections, allowing me to always have an easy overview into 6 different sets of notes when I clicked on TextEdit to bring them all to the front (as long as another window didn’t decide to come to the front in front of them…). One day they suddenly all almost doubled in size so they now overlapped each other and some went off the screen, destroying the beautiful Feng Shui I had created with my .txt files. Despite me resizing them down to my desired size, they all reverted to their large state the next day when I turned on my computer again, meaning I had to resize them every fucking day so I could see all the .txt documents that I want at the same time.
    It proceeded to do this for about a year until the Yosemite update. After that update, they didn’t get so big after each restart, but they all did get slightly bigger, so they still overlapped, still forcing me to resize them every morning. This went on for about another half a year before they finally started resuming to stay in the same dimension and position that I had dictated the day before.
  2. At some point, my computer started randomly restarting. It didn’t do it too often, but enough to tick me off since it also took about 5-10 minutes for my computer to turn on. After logging in, it still took another few minutes before everything was loaded. This, in conjunction with any unsaved changes to documents I was working on, got frustrating enough that I was eventually granted a new computer. Whoever said macs are quick is full of crap because it wasn’t until I got my new computer, which has a solid state hard drive, that I had a computer that wasn’t total garbage. It really seemed to come down to the fact that not having a solid state drive was just making my mac slow as hell (and other ones in our office are still slow, so I wasn’t an isolated case). I also recently bought a new gaming laptop that has a solid state drive, and it’s also lightning fast. Macs aren’t inherently better, and our garbage hardware in our Macs drove me up the wall. After getting the new Mac, I didn’t experience too many new issues (and I will admit quite a few old issues cleared up, although not all). That was all until…
  3. Starting about half a year ago, my computer always has max volume when I turn on the computer, although I always turn it down to like 5% because I like listening to my music really quietly while at work so I can still hear coworkers if necessary. Since I have a headset, I would usually put it on and then put on some music to work to in order to HAVE MY MAC FUCKING BLOW OUT MY EARDRUMS! Holy shit Mac, thanks for trying to destroy my hearing and simultaneously giving me tinnitus. It did that every day for a few months. Then there was an update that seemed to fix that… for a few days. Then it resumed and still does it to this day. I usually remember to turn down the sound first thing in the morning, but every now and then I forget and get surprised with a chorus of ear gouging screeches from my headset. Yay…
  4. A couple of times my printing queue for the network printer got “paused” for some reason, likely because our printer was temporarily jammed. I then couldn’t ever print again until I “unpaused” the printing queue, which shouldn’t have been a big deal, but I couldn’t unpause it without an admin password. Seriously, why? I couldn’t immediately get a hold of an admin (as I previously mentioned, he could be hard to get a hold of). Since I couldn’t unpause my printing queue, and I needed to print something that day, I had to send slightly confidential documents to a coworker to print for a few days until I could get an admin to come enter their password. That was unnecessarily lame.
  5. A new issue that luckily wasn’t on my computer, but a coworker’s since she uses the wireless magic mac mouse. I use a wired mouse because I like having wired mice and keyboard so I simply don’t have to worry about connecting or batteries dying, and also because they have less signal latency (gotta wreck noobs in online games). Anyways, her mouse somehow got unpaired with her computer. It should have been an easy fix. I should have been able to repair things by navigating the preferences, but alas, you cannot do that on mac without a mouse. Unlike windows, where I can completely navigate with keyboard commands (even by just hitting Tab to go to the next clickable object in the window), OSX does not seem to function that way in every window. I could open the preferences, and even get to the Mouse options via keyboard commands, but in order to click on the button to set up a Bluetooth mouse, you need to have… a mouse! I tried tabbing through the buttons, but that didn’t work. After some googling, forums said that you had to click on the button with a mouse, which is completely asinine because we were in the process of trying to get a mouse connected. Great Catch-22. So I had to unplug and bring over my corded mouse in order to set up a wireless mouse. It was lucky that we had some corded mice in the office, but if someone in a similar situation didn’t have another mouse, they would be SOL.
  6. The last gripe (and this one really is minor) that I have is the message that network accounts are not available. When I turn on my computer, it loads really quick (since I now have a solid state drive). So quick in fact that I get to the login screen before my computer has successfully connected to the network. I then start typing in my username, hit Tab, and then start entering my password. At some point, a little red bubble pops up next to the username field, and it has a helpful little bubble that pops up telling me that “Network accounts are currently unavailable.” Thanks for the info, but I am ungrateful that this message interrupts me entering my username/password. When the message pops up, it usually just erases any part of my password that I had already written, so I only end up with the last 4 or so characters of my password in the field. That is just annoying because if I am not paying attention, I enter my username, then part of my password, then the message pops up (and what it actually does is selects my entire password so if I write one character it deletes all the selected parts), so I then type in the last few characters. I hit Enter, and then the system thinks for a few seconds before telling me that my password is incorrect. I then have to retype my password. One time when the message popped up, it even selected the username field instead of the password field, so I ended up typing my password in the viewable username field. Nobody was watching, but in a different situation, that could have been bad. I admit it’s a minor issue, and it could be solved by waiting another 10 seconds for the message to pop up before I start typing anything (the message does go away practically immediately because my computer does then connect to the network, but the initial appearance just messes with my groove), but I shouldn’t have to wait because the message popup shouldn’t mess with me entering my username/password…

In the end though, OSX is just another operating system with its pros and cons, but coming from a Windows environment I found these cons to be the most annoying. Not to say that windows doesn’t have any either. I struggle with my touchpad driver after every monthly update. I also have issues with my desktop icons always going to the default position, which I hate. There are other minor issues too, just like Mac, but these things annoyed me the most while I worked with Macs for the last (almost) 3 years.

What really is bad though are the mac fanboys. They just won’t get off their high-horse. They say it’s the best, most fastest, virus-free operating system out there. Best is subjective, and to me, it’s not. It’s definitely not faster either, it’s all about the hardware, and my initial experience has been pretty terrible. People also claim that Mac hardware can run Windows faster than a PC can. That is such a BS point since it’s all about the hardware, and people usually are comparing a $2000 iMac to some $400 laptop, and while Macs are overly expensive, an overpriced iMac is still going to have better hardware than the cheapest laptop possible. There are viruses for Macs as well, and they are not some paragon of invulnerability in a digital world. There are more targets with Windows, and hackers have focused on Windows for the longest time, but now that Macs are becoming more prominent, so are digital attacks in some way or another, just as antivirus is recommended for OSX.

To sum it up, Macs have their issue or difference that annoy me as a Windows user. Windows also has it’s issue, but it’s what I prefer at the end of the day. If you want a Mac because you simply prefer it, that’s fine. But if someone tells me that lovely OSX and “completely seamless ecosystem” is better than my choice in Windows because of some stupid reasons like the fact that you can sync your iMac to your iPhone (newsflash: you can do that with Windows apps too if you want to), or because Macs are faster (we went over this already), or something like that, I am likely going to imagine me shoving that MacBook of yours where the sun don’t shine.

Escape into Society Part 2

This is the second part of my short story, Escape into Society, the first part can be found here.

Escape into Society Part 2

Sarah’s vision was blurred as she drove through the night. Woota had already fallen asleep, exhausted from being pursued in his cloister and then overwhelmed with the outside world.

She knew she couldn’t go home. Sarah wasn’t sure if the police would be called, or if the administrators at Project Embryo would just opt to use their personal security force that normally watched over the facility. In either case, her house would be the first place to check.

Sarah decided to go to a hunting and backpacking cabin that she and her coworkers partied at on some weekends. It wasn’t necessarily the best place to go, all things considered, but she couldn’t think of a better place in her current state at almost 4 in the morning.

After about an hour of driving and almost nodding off many times, Sarah pulled off the road and parked by the cabin. Woota was still sleeping so Sarah quietly exited the vehicle to investigate the cabin. After quietly entering the cabin and using her phone’s light, she determined that, as she hoped for, it was empty since it wasn’t the weekend yet.

Sarah went back out to the car and carefully rustled Woota from his slumber. As she anticipated, he was quick to get defensive and she tried to calm him down. “Home, safe” she cooed. She pointed towards the cabin “Sleep, nice.” Woota looked at the cabin. It was similar to the huts they lived in, but it was much more angled and organized looking. Small square holes in the side of the building made him think it was a similar clear material to the windows in the car. He was unsure how water could be so hard without it being frozen, as they had no glass in the cloisters, but it was the only thing he could compare it to. Brushing his thoughts aside while rubbing his bleary eyes, he silently followed Sarah inside the house.

They entered the house and Sarah closed the door behind them. Woota was slightly startled by the sudden brightness as she turned on the lights, but he remained composed enough. Woota was then led to one of the bedrooms where she showed him his bed. “Here, sleep, nice.” Her vocabulary was coming back to her now that she wasn’t as charged on adrenaline as before and she could start to express some more meanings than during their first encounter.

Woota said something that she didn’t quite understand, so he tried to express himself in a different way. “Scared” was all he said as his eyes started to water.

Sarah choked up looking at him. He didn’t look only scared, he looked terrified as he awkwardly stood there in the middle of the room. “Here, safe. I, watch” she said, trying to convey that he was safe with her. Sarah slowly closed the gap between them, intent on reassuring him. She originally wanted to hug him, but paused half an arm’s length away. It wasn’t that she didn’t want to hug him, but she recalled that Woota and the other members of his cloister had never really hugged each other. She quickly searched her memory, trying to recall what the members of 16B did to reassure each other. Sarah slowly rapped her right palm around his neck, drawing his head towards her. She touched his nose to hers, comforting him in a way that their tribe was more familiar with.

They stood like that in silence as Woota trembled for a few minutes. Eventually pulling back, Sarah showed him his bed, even telling him “Sleep” while pointing to the bed. They were used to sleeping on deer hides on the ground, so an elevated bed with cloth sheets was an unfamiliar thing to him. Still wearing his leather dress like tunic, he sat down on the bed. Sarah walked to the door, and tried to reassure him one more time. “Safe” she softly said. She then went to her room, took off her pants, turned off the light and lay down herself.

After a couple minutes, Sarah noticed that his light was still on since it illuminated the hallway. Curious, she got back up and poked her head through his doorway, only to find Woota half-glaring at the light before looking at her as he noticed her. She let out a short laugh, realizing that he didn’t understand how light switches quite worked. She put her arm in the doorway and touched the light switch. She wasn’t sure how to describe it, since they didn’t quite have an equivalent of “on” or “off.” “Night” she said, flicking the switch to turn off the light. Woota let out a surprised yelp, seeing how this light source turned off immediately by her merely touching a spot on the wall. “Day” she said, turning it back on. He just stared at her, almost as if he was expecting her to do something more. Unsure of what to do, Sarah demonstrated the light switch a couple times for him before he got up. She took his hand, showing him how to turn it on and off himself. Confident that he could do it, she went back to her room and lay back down.

After a minute or so, the light in Woota’s room turned off. Then back on. Then off and on again a few more time. After a few cycles of light, he let out a quiet, but still audible chuckle that Sarah could just barely manage to hear in her room.

Despite her exhaustion, it was nice to see Woota find some humor in his situation, and a slight grin crossed Sarah’s face as she lay in her bed. Knowing they had a long day tomorrow though, she had to get him to go to bed. “Sleep!” she half yelled across the cabin. One more cycle of lights followed by a chuckle from the other room, and then the lights went off and remained off.

So much had happened and Sarah felt like she was never going to be able to sleep. Where would they go in the morning? Who would be after them? What was she going to do with Woota? Those and many other concerns clouded her mind, and although she felt that she would never be able to sleep, her sheer exhaustion won over and she was fast asleep within a few minutes. Woota was scared of his new surroundings, but he wasn’t really aware of the situation he was in, and he didn’t have a specific thing to fear, like being caught or how to survive. His less crowded mind permitted him a much easier time going to sleep.

Sarah didn’t get much sleep as she was woken up by her phone at about 9am, only 4 or so hours after going to sleep, as a flurry of phone calls came in. As expected, all the calls were from the office; it was obvious that they had already discovered what happened and were trying to get a hold of her. The phone didn’t only wake up Sarah, but Woota was now hitting the main door of the cabin. Ignoring her phone, she quickly ran out of the room, forgetting to put her pants back on as she rushed out to address Woota’s issue. He seemed distressed, like he wanted to get outside but didn’t know how to. Woota saw her and pleaded with her, but she couldn’t quite understand what he was saying since she was still groggy-minded after just waking up after such little sleep.

Woota pointed at his crotch, repeating himself before banging on the door again. Not entirely sure what he wanted, she cautiously came up beside him. He slowed down and then stopped banging on the door as she got closer, eventually moving to the side as Sarah reached for the door handle. He watched intently as she turned the deadbolt and then pushed the lever down and then swung the door inwards. As she opened the door, Woota hurriedly sidestepped around her and half ran, half limped out the door. As soon as he was outside, he went to the nearest bush, pulled up the lower half of his tunic and started urinating.

It was too early after such little sleep, but Sarah couldn’t help but chuckle to herself as she considered the fact that Woota had yet to see a modern toilet. At least he was considerate enough to not go inside the house. Sarah turned to grant him some privacy and went back inside the cabin. While preparing a meager breakfast from the canned foods in the cabin, Woota cautiously entered the cabin, guided by the aroma of the canned vegetables that Sarah was frying in a pan. It was a basic dish, but both of them were famished and Woota kept eyeing the pan in anticipation.

“Hunger?” She ask him. Woota slowly thrust his head forward, much like someone imitating a chicken. They didn’t nod in his cloister, they had developed the forward head thrust visual cue for showing a positive response instead. To show a negative response, like how we would shake a head, they would thrust the head backwards, as if they were recoiling from something. That, and many other non verbal communication gestures, were different in all the cloisters compared to what we were used to. Sarah smiled and instructed him to sit and wait while she poured the food onto 2 plates and handed him one of them and sat down at the table in the corner of the room.

Woota stood there at first, holding his plate, unsure if he should seat himself as well until Sarah instructed him to sit down after pushing a chair away from the table for him to sit in. Woota took his place and gently set the food on the table like Sarah had. The food in front of him was a familiar concept to him. The metallic fork laying on his plate was not, and he curiously stared at it before questioningly looking back at Sarah for guidance. Sarah had already shoveled a mouthful of food into her mouth, and was already withdrawing her fork from her mouth at Woota glanced at her. She couldn’t help but silently chuckle again as she again considered the fact that he had never used a fork. Sarah demonstrated how to scoop and stab the vegetables in order to eat the food with modern table manners. Woota clearly hadn’t quite developed the ability to intricately hold a fork like most people do, and he held it in his hand like one would a tool with the tip sticking out of the top like a hammer. He tried to eat like her, but he ended up more or less using the fork in conjunction with his other hand to scoop the food into his mouth like they typically did in his cloister where they simply ate with their hands and without silverware.

They quickly finished their food, and Sarah pondered their next steps. They needed to move, but she wasn’t sure where. She also had many burning questions for Woota, and he also needed to know what was happening. Woota started asking her about items in their immediate surrounding in the cabin, and she explained what everything was and the ideas and concepts that went behind them. How they made pictures, what a radio was, what a microwave was, and all sorts of other things in the cabin. He was amazed at all these things, and since the technology simply didn’t exist for a lot of things, she found it challenging to explain things to him. She also posed some direct questions about beliefs and norms in his cloister that they weren’t sure of since they were never able to directly question anyone.

The conversation eventually shifted from him and his cloister, and Woota started asking other things about what she was doing and how she knew what was about to happen to him the previous night. He then asked why they were stuck in the cloister if everyone else was free, and why she and the others were just watching them. Sarah wasn’t ready to answer this question. She felt a lump in her throat as she held back tears when she saw how confused he was that he was forced to live in the cloister since he never chose that and everyone else outside of the cloister experienced a life full of these amazing gadgets he was asking her about. She told him that she would explain it later, but for now she broke off the conversation, explaining that they really needed to get moving, and fast.

It was likely that people would be looking and waiting for them. Woota didn’t understand how a warning could travel faster than a human, or car, since that was now the fastest thing he had seen. Sarah had to quickly explain that the phone she had, like everyone did, allowed her to instantly communicate with people anywhere around the world. The same device would be used by others to warn them that they escaped and to be ready for them. It was hard to explain because Woota didn’t understand electricity or wireless technology or any of the basic functions of a phone, so she had to settle with simply explaining that everyone had these things, and you could talk to anyone else with it, regardless of how close or far they were from you.

Sarah started searching on the internet for where she could safely take Woota. They couldn’t stay in the cabin or the wilderness forever. What she needed was some organization or group that could protect him and fight for his freedom. She found the Organization for the Discontinuation of Project Embryo, or the ODPE, which was an NGO that started shortly after Project Embryo became public knowledge more than 200 years ago. The ODPE had rapidly grown to thousands of members and activists, all fighting for the rights of the humans and babies within Project Embryo after its inception. Over time though, as public opinion became indifferent, the organization lost members and funding, slowly reducing it over the centuries to its current state. The ODPE was now just a shadow of its former self. There was now only a few dozen members, although most of them didn’t even participate that much. They had an office in Toronto, but only a half dozen people worked there, and they busied themselves with creating awareness pamphlets and posters which they tried to regularly distribute, as well organizing the occasional public rally that managed to attract a couple hundred attendees at best, but usually no more than a few dozen. A meager attendance turnout, dwarfed by the overflowing attendances at stadiums at its inception when the public was still very emotional about the whole situation.

Sarah was afraid that her phone might be tracked if she made a call now, so she opted to instead start driving in their direction and to contact them while on the road, either by Email or phone. For now, they would head out and start driving towards Toronto. She packed some provisions from the cabin in her car as Woota wordlessly watched her.

“We run much” Sarah explained over her shoulder as she packed the car, trying her best to convey that they had to travel a lot. They never had to really move or travel long distances in their enclosed cloister, so it was about the best explanation that she could think of giving.

“Where to?”

“To safety. Here are bad people. They want to catch us.” With that, Woota grew quiet as she finished packing.

They were both outside, and Sarah closed the cabin door behind her as she left the place. They entered the vehicle, Woota still apprehensive, but not nearly as much as his first encounter, and they drove on the dirt road past the cabin.

She didn’t want to go back the way she came, so she took back-roads to avoid Project Town until she got to another smaller village. After a few minutes of searching, she managed to find an ATM, which was lucky since ATMs were about as rare as payphones are today, with payphones being completely extinct. She withdrew as much cash as she could because she knew she was going to have to pay for gas and food along the way and she didn’t want her credit card to leave a paper trail for anyone to follow. After getting enough cash, they went to an attended gas station where she filled up her Jeep and got some food and drinks for both of them. She paid for everything with cash, which threw the attendant off since cash was used so infrequently. Sarah got back in the car where Woota was impatiently waiting. He again pointed at his crotch, and it dawned on her that she had failed to show him how to use a bathroom at the cabin.

“Wait please” she pleaded, deciding that here was not the best place to show him how to use a toilet, and fearing that letting him just go in the bushes near the gas station would attract too much attention. He looked confused and almost slightly angry, but he grudgingly thrust his head forward in silent agreement.

They started driving on a smaller road towards Toronto again until they got far enough out of the village that there were no more houses. Sarah pulled over and let Woota take care of business before continuing along the road.

They were both exhausted, having slept very little the previous night. She had bought 2 coffees while she was in the gas station, one for each of them, and she happily drank hers once they resumed driving. Sarah offered a coffee to Woota. He tried it and drank a big gulp of it which ended up burning his mouth. They never drank anything but cold stream water in his cloister, and he hadn’t expected a hot drink. He was also disgusted by the taste since he had never developed a taste for coffee. She ended up drinking his coffee as he angrily brooded, feeling tricked by her into drinking it.

During their first day on the road, Woota was content with watching the scenery flow by and asking questions about unknown things, which Sarah happily explained. He didn’t understand other cars, roads, street signs, large houses, and many other things they drove by, and Sarah had to explain all these things to him.

After the initial flurry of calls in the morning, the frequency of phone calls Sarah was getting had subsided. Nevertheless, she was still getting some calls from work. Since she was already driving, she decided to finally answer an incoming call. She briefly explained to Woota that she was going to have to talk to someone via her phone, but the sound would come through the car’s speakers. With butterflies in her stomach, her sweaty hand clicked the green button to accept a call on the Jeep’s screen.

“Hello?” she simply said, trying to contain her apprehension at answering the call.

“Sarah, what the hell is going on!?” Her immediate supervisor, Dave, was frantic. “We have been trying to get a hold of you all day long.” You didn’t show up this morning, and there was a lot of commotion in 16B. We decided to look at the security footage and it looks like you took a subject away from their cloister!”

Growing bolder and more defiant, she snapped at him. “He isn’t a subject, his name is Woota” she sternly said. Woota looked at her after hearing his name, but continued to look cluelessly on as she continued to talk in English, which he still didn’t understand.

“Sarah…” he sighed before continuing. He had calmed down, and he was speaking in a mellowing way a parent would speak to their scared child. “What happened? You knew what you were getting into when you first started researching this, and you never had a problem with it. I know it can feel questionable at times, but think of all the research you have been able to achieve and all that we have learned about human development.” Sarah remain silent, so he continued, “Please come back, bring him back, and we can work this out.”

“No.”

“What?” Dave was taken back. “What are you going to do then? I just don’t get what you’re trying to accomplish or why you took him from his cloister.”

“He should be free. They should all be free, and this just isn’t right to keep them all locked up like that.”

“Sarah, there’s nowhere for you to take him. Bring him-”

“No!” She shouted at him as she cut him off.

“Sarah, you are forcing me to call the police right now for theft and kidnapping if you don’t return with him.” Sarah was trembling, afraid, yet excited. She didn’t know what else to say or do, so she simply clicked the button to hang up the phone.

Silence resumed in the car. Sarah was obviously agitated, on the verge of tears, and Woota noticed that. He wasn’t sure what to say or do, so he just remained quiet, looking forward, but continuing to observe her from the corner of his eyes. Sarah was playing their conversation over in her head, and she realized that Dave said they would be forced to call the police. That implied that they hadn’t called the police yet, which meant that she likely wasn’t already being monitored or pursued by the police in any manner. She figured it would be better to call the ODPE before the situation got any worse. She fumbled around on her phone, relocating their phone number while she was driving until she found it and initiated a call.

The ring of her phone sounded throughout the car’s speakers. It rang again, and then again. The phone rang about 7 times, which meant that they didn’t have a voicemail set up, but it also meant that nobody was answering. She was about to hit the disconnect button and try again later when somebody finally answered.

“Hello, this is the Organization for the Discontinuation of Project Embryo. What can I help you with?” The voice greeting her was from a younger female, likely in her twenties. She sounded guarded, almost skeptical of the call, wondering if someone was calling with real interest, or if this was another prank or hate call.

“Hi, we need help” Sarah blurted out before really thinking of what to say.

The other voice turned more sarcastic, “If you are having a medical emergency, then you should hang up and dial 911.”

Unabashed, Sarah continued. “We need a place to go. I don’t know, I don’t know what to do. I have him and they are going to call the police and take him back, and he should be free.”

“Who exactly do you have” She returned to sounding skeptical, but more receptive than before.

“I am sorry, I am really on edge right now. Let me start from the beginning.” Sarah paused quickly to gather her thoughts before continuing. “My name is Sarah McMurdo and I am a scientist at Project Embryo. There was a conflict last night, and one of the people in one of our cloisters was going to be killed. I interfered and broke him out of there. We are now running away in my Jeep and I don’t know what to do or where to go.”

There was silence on the other end of the line until she managed to ask a less-than-reassuring, “What?”

Composing herself before losing her patience, she continued “Can you help us? I don’t know where to go or what to do with him. They are obviously going to call the police, and we obviously can’t remain in Project Town.”

“Yes, we can help, but our resources are really limited these days, and we are actually in Toronto, which is considerably far away from you guys.”

“Yea, we are already driving south, so we could head towards Toronto.”

“This isn’t a joke, right?”

Sarah started to almost get angry. This was an organization that was devoted to setting these people free. Now that the opportunity was knocking on their door, it seemed like they didn’t know what to do. “No I am not joking! I have him in my car, he’s sitting right next to me! What do I need to do to prove it to you?!” She turned her attention to him, “Woota, say something please.” In her frustration, she forgot to switch languages which resulted in him not understanding him, although he did catch hearing his name again. She addressed him again in his language. “Speak to her, ‘I am here.’”

He complied with a quick and confused “I am here.”

Sarah resumed talking at that point. “Do you see? You obviously didn’t understand him because he still only speaks his language, but I really have him in the car with me. His name is Woota, and we need help. My boss is going to call the police soon, and we need to get somewhere fast.”

“I also got some others on the line while you were talking, and one of them has an idea.”

“Hello” another voice broke in, this one from an older male. “My name is Steven and I am the project leader. Due to budget constraints, we don’t have an office in the Northwest Territories anymore, and we are only located in Toronto.”

“I know, we are driving there now, but I imagine it will take a few days.”

“Great, we have an unregistered apartment that we should be able to keep you guys at while we figure out something else more long-term. It will be obvious if you roll up to our address though, and you never know if the police will be able to access these calls. Let’s meet up in Sudbury, it’s a smaller town just north of Ontario. How long do you think it will take to drive there?”

“I am not sure, I would imagine 2 or 3 days, depending on how much I manage to drive each day.”

“That sounds about right. It doesn’t matter. In Sudbury, there is a restaurant called O’Malley’s on Elm Street. Simply call this number when you are there in the parking lot, and we will meet you there. I don’t imagine it will be hard to notice each other.”

“But what if they police listen in on the call then?”

“This is our office phone. We will leave it here, but then call one of the others who are there in Sudbury to notify them when we get another call from your number. We will wear some shirts of ours so you will recognize us. So just call us when you are in the parking lot and we will find you.”

“OK. Let’s do that then. We will try to get there as quick as possible.”

“Good luck and safe driving, Sarah, right?”

“Yep, and thanks.” With that, she hung up the phone and continued driving. Her mood had elevated noticeably. She felt like they now had a hope, they just had to get to Toronto. The rest of the day consisted of Sarah explaining what the 2 phone calls were about, and answering other questions about objects that they passed by while driving.

They drove until late in the evening. Their muscles ached after sitting all day, and they wanted to sleep more than anything. Woota never fell asleep in the car because it was all too unfamiliar for him to comfortably fall asleep in. They were not going to be able to get a hotel room without some identification, so it was decided that they would either sleep outside or in the car. They pulled off the main highway and took a back-road into the woods where she eventually pulled her car off the road into a clearing.

Due to their hasty escape, Sarah didn’t have a tent or even sleeping bags with her. It was luckily still the middle of summer, but it would still get chilly at night. Sarah told Woota that she didn’t have any suitable equipment with her, but Woota didn’t seem too worried. They both started collecting firewood for the night. Woota also insisted on finding some bigger rocks as well as sharp rocks. After making a fire, they ate some food that she previously bought at a gas station. Woota pushed some of the bigger rocks onto the fire in order to heat them up while the fire burned. He then dug what looked like two shallow graves near the fire. He explained that they would push the heated rocks into the holes and then push the dirt back on top of the rocks. The hot rocks would stay warm for a few hours and heat up the ground, allowing them to sleep a little more comfortably. Their only other sleeping supplies were Sarah’s jacket and a spare pullover that she had in her car. They both sat quietly by the fire until it got lower and the decided to go to sleep, both too tired to carry much more of a meaningful conversation.

They both awoke in the early morning with the sunrise. Shaking off the morning dew, they slowly got up and stretched their aching joints. They ate some more gas station food and drinks before getting in their car and resuming their journey towards Toronto. Sarah had long since turned off her phone in order to stop the barrage of phone calls she kept getting, but also to conserve her battery since she would need to call the ODPE in a couple days.

The day of driving luckily went by without any major difficulties. It was another day of continuous driving with the occasional stop to get gas or let Woota go to the backroom in the woods as Sarah had still not gotten the chance to teach him how to use a modern bathroom. Woota had seen a lot of the passing countryside during the previous day of driving, but today he finally started commenting on the distance itself. It was unbelievable to him how much distance they were covering. It took no more than a couple hours to traverse his cloister, but they had been driving at speeds that far surpassed walking speeds, and they had done it for hours upon hours. It started to blow his mind how big the world was, he wondered if there was ever an end, or if there was an even bigger wall around all of the land they were driving in, encapsulating them like his cloister was. He was also amazed at all the different things they drove by that didn’t exist in his cloister. The huge black road they drove on, the massive bridges over rivers wider than any creek in his cloister, all of the sharply built buildings, all of the other cars and so many people. Woota would occasionally ask who certain people were. Woota knew everyone in his cloister, and he was confused that Sarah didn’t know who all of these other people were.

Other than the barrage of questions that Woota proposed to Sarah, the day passed by without any complications. They kept driving towards Toronto, but after another 15 or so hours of driving, the shadows started to grow long and Sarah started to tire. They pulled off the highway and found another area to rest for the night in a clearing.

Like the previous night, they ate some food previously bought from a gas station as they huddled around a fire that Woota made, complete with rocks to bury for warmth. They talked again, this time about a more serious topic.

“Do you have fear?” Sarah quietly asked.

“No. Why would I?”

“At night, forests can give me fear. You don’t know what is there.”

“What would be there? Deer? They cause no harm.”

“Well there could be a…” struggling to find the word for a ‘Bear’. she realized that they didn’t have bears in his cloister so she simply said “Bear”, but as expected, he didn’t know what that was. “It’s not even ‘bears’ that give me most fear. It is other people.”

“What have other people done to give you fear?”

“Nothing specific. But you never know…”

“I don’t understand. Nothing done to give you fear, yet you have fear?”

“Well what about you?” Woota looked questioningly at her. She continued, “You were about to be killed or punished in your cloister. Does that not give you fear?”

Woota grew quiet, nervously looking over his should. “Yes… maybe I do have fear…”

“I’m sorry.” Sarah tried to apologize, but it seemed that she was too late and she had managed to instill a sense of fear in him. She instantly regretted projecting her fears onto him, and she tried to change the topic, but Woota didn’t react much. She didn’t know what else to do, so they silently watched the fire burn out before laying down next to each other on their heated beds and went to sleep.

Sarah woke up to find Woota clinging onto her arm in his sleep. It was such an innocent gesture, he just needed comfort, and she couldn’t help but smiling at him in his sleep as a mother would her child. After just enjoying the closeness for a few minutes, she eventually stirred enough to wake up Woota. The both silently got up and packed up their stuff and got back into the car. They were making good time, and she was hoping to be able to get to Sudbury by the end of the day.

As they neared Sudbury near the end of the day, she started to explain to Woota how the people were still following them, and they would have to meet up with some people who would try to help them. She ended up having to explain it to him in the framework that she had to speak to her village elders on his behalf so that their pursuers would hopefully stop and let them go. Inside though, she knew that it was going to be a long battle against the Project Embryo administration.

As she was getting close to Sudbury, she turned on her phone to call the ODPE. There were quite a few incoming text messages and voicemails, but she ignored them all. She called the ODPE, and it simply rang about 10 times. She wondered if the had said that they wouldn’t answer because he said they would call the people in Sudbury, so she hung up and hoped for the best. Pulling off the highway into Sudbury, her sweaty palms turned the steering wheel as she pulled onto Elm Street. She felt slightly more relaxed as she finally spotted O’Malley’s and pulled into the parking lot behind the restaurant. She told Woota to stay inside the car to avoid any unwanted attention as she stepped out and stood by the car, trying as best to inconspicuously scan the area for someone from the ODPE. About 15 minutes passed, and she was considering calling again when an unmarked white van eased into the parking lot from the road. There were 2 men in the front, an older man driving, and a younger man in the passenger seat. The van crawled past her, and stopped shortly afterwards. The younger man in the passenger seat opened the door, turned around and looked questioningly at Sarah. Sarah was getting nervous, not sure if this was the ODPE or undercover police, or maybe even just your typical robber. The man got out of the van though and started walking towards her.

Sarah let out a simply, questioning “Um?” as he approached, until he got close enough that she could read the letters on the left breast of his polo: ODPE. Sarah looked noticeably relieved, and he noticed that.

“Sarah?” he inquired, as he got closer.

Sarah simply nodded and reached her hand out, almost on the verge of tears with happiness that she had finally found some help that she could lean on.

He took her hand and shook it. “Hello Sarah, my name is John, and I am part of the Organization for the Discontinuation of Project Embryo. My colleague, Steven,” pausing to point out the older man who had stopped the car in the parking lot, disembarked, and was now walking towards them, “I believe you two spoke on the phone already, and I are here to help you get to Toronto. Where is Boota?”

“His name is Woota. He is in the Jeep.” She pointed towards the Jeep where they all looked and saw Woota staring back at them. Sarah couldn’t contain it and had to laugh at the way Woota was watching them. “So what is the plan from here?” she asked, looking back at John.

Steven cleared his throat before speaking. “I think the best course of action would be to simply abandon your Jeep for the time being. I would imagine the police would be looking for you, so I think it would be best if everyone got in our van and we could drive you two to a safe house we have on the outskirts of Toronto.”

Sarah didn’t like the idea of leaving her Jeep behind, but it couldn’t be helped. “You are probably right. Let me grab our things and lock my Jeep.”

Sarah went to her Jeep as the other 2 went to the van and opened the backdoor and quickly moved to gather up all the trash that was lying in the floorboard. “Come Woota, family, safe.” He got out with her and helped grabbed a bag that she was carrying. They then got into the back of the van and Steven started driving away from her Jeep.

Sarah explained to them that Woota still hadn’t quite learned English, so they wouldn’t be able to talk to him directly. She and the other 2 talked for a while as she explained what things were like for him, and ultimately why she decided to break him out. Woota had fallen asleep in the back of the van, and Sarah, exhausted after driving all day again, quickly followed suit as the conversation with the other 2 slowed down.

Woota and Sarah were awoken a couple hours later by Steven gently shaking their knees. Woota reacted quickly to push him back in surprise, but his seat belt kept him in place. Sarah was awake by then and calmed him down with some softly spoken words.

“I am sorry” Steven apologized. “I didn’t intend to startle either of you. However, we are here and I thought you two would be much more comfortable sleeping upstairs in some warm beds with blankets. I think a shower would do wonders too.” He laughed as he teased them about their general dirtiness and odor.

Sarah blushed in embarrassment, but still thanked him. She told Woota to follow, and they went up a flight of stairs to an apartment.

“This is an apartment that I pay for with cash only” Steven explained. “It has no official affiliation with anyone at the ODPE, so you guys should be safe here. Try to stay away from windows though and don’t answer the door without using the peephole, just to be safe.” He then showed them around the cozy 3 bedroom apartment with a kitchen and 1 bathroom. “I can see that you are both tired, so take care of business and we will figure out our next course of action in the morning. John and I will sleep in the 3rd bedroom so you both have some privacy.” It was almost midnight, and Sarah had no desire to shower nor how to show Woota how to use one, so she simply showed him his room, and she went to her room and laid down on the bed, elevated that she could sleep on a real bed for the first time in days. After 3 days of running, she finally felt a twinge of safety now that they were here. Woota also laid in bed and went to sleep, again confused at the change of location, but happy to be in such a soft bed.

A couple days prior, Sarah’s administrators had indeed called the police and said that she had stolen/kidnapped company property. The legality of the situation was questionable considering that he was a person and not an object, but the law wasn’t too clear on situations like this. In light of the confusion, a judge had approved a warrant for her arrest, and the police had been actively looking for her, and they would figure out what exact charges would apply when she and Woota were in custody.

In other events, the day after Sarah first called the ODPE, the ODPE’s Public Relations team got a little too excited with the information that they were going to assist someone who escaped from Project Embryo. They had made a public announcement that they were actively assisting “someone” who had helped someone escape. It had caught the media’s attention, and they were being constantly questioned by the public and news companies regarding what was really happening. It didn’t take long for the media to find out that there was an arrest warrant for Sarah, and the media was abuzz about how something that hadn’t happened since Project Embryo started was happening now. It also didn’t take long for police to connect the dots, and they had been actively monitoring any and all known members of the ODPE for a day or so.

The police used surveillance footage from cameras spread throughout the province, and they had been able to track the van up to Sudbury and back to the safe house. The fact that Steven had also used the van’s self driving feature to get them to the safe house only made it easier to find where they were since the police could access all self-driving cars’ recent driving history. Armed with the warrant for Sarah’s arrest, the police mobilized in the early morning after Sarah, Woota, John and Steven had arrived at the safe house.

It was shortly after 5 in the morning when the door to the apartment was kicked in. The sound startled all 4 of the people in the apartment awake. Their confusion was quickly cleared up when one of the officers shouted, “This is the Toronto Police department! You are all under arrest for robbery and kidnapping!”

Sarah froze in her bed, her biggest fear now realized, and just hours after getting somewhere where she thought they would finally be safe. She realized that Woota would not understand what was going on or what the police were saying. She sprang to the door and opened it, only to see Woota already in a scuffle with the police in front of his door. With all the yelling and loud noises, Woota had opened the door, and he was now fighting off the police officers who were yelling at him in a language he didn’t understand as they tried to arrest him. Woota was already bleeding from his nose, and he had his left arm close to his chest, both having been struck by batons from the officers.

“Stop! He doesn’t understand what is going on!” Sarah yelled frantically as 3 officers formed a half circle around him whom she ran to, shortly diverting their attention to her. She reached one of them and grabbed his arm, trying to prevent him from hitting Woota anymore. The police officer felt threatened and smacked her on the right side of her rib cage with his baton, causing Sarah to fall to the ground crying and clutching her side in pain as she struggled to breathe. Seeing this, Woota lashed out at the officer that hit her, violently hitting him with his right fist while the police officer was still looking at Sarah. One of the other offices turned and hit Woota on his back, and the third officer decided it was necessary to use his taser. He pulled out and aimed his taser as Woota and fired, causing Woota to tense up as he was electrocuted.

Sarah lay crumpled up on the floor, crying as she caressed her broken ribs. Woota was still lying on the ground, immobile after being electrocuted. The officers recomposed themselves, and then pushed both of them on their stomachs and handcuffed them as their rights were told to them. They were then pulled up and half carried through the door. Sarah saw Steven and John lying down in their bedroom as she passed by, both in handcuffs as well. They were all placed in the backs of separate cars where they were then taken to the local police station.

Part 3 of this story can be found here.

Escape into Society Part 1

I started this last Wednesday, but I didn’t have enough time to finish it that evening. I wanted to finish it all last week, but just couldn’t get the drive to continue. It is Wednesday again though, and results require discipline, so I am finishing off the first part of my story now, which is taking me longer to write than usual. I also didn’t even cover the whole story, so part 2, and maybe a 3rd part, will come later.

Escape into Society

Sarah sat back in her chair as the leather cushion squeaked, closing her exhausted eyes hard enough that they started to water. After opening her eyes and wiping away the tears of exhaustion, she glanced at the clock on her computer to discover it was already well past midnight. Her last coffee was already several hours ago and her energy had finally ran out. She wanted to review her report that she had been working on one last time before sending it.

On the Development of Language among Cloister 16B
Dr. Sarah McMurdo, Head of Language Research for Project Embryo

Cloister 16B has shown the most advancement over the past 30 years in regards to the development of its language. While other cloisters have exhibited greater growth in technology or non-verbal communication, among other metrics we are observing, 16B’s language has evolved into the most complex of all of the cloisters’ languages at this time. It is hard to say what is the cause of their language’s success in comparison to other cloisters. It is worth noting that 16B also has one of the more intricate and pervasive religious-like belief structures. While there is a correlation, there is not currently enough data or a big enough sample size to determine if the religion is due to their advanced language or vice-versa. It is more likely the case that their religion is due to 16B’s form of containment, a large wall encircling their designated area, as their religion’s focal point is the wall.

The report then went on about how the humans in Cloister 16B had been slow at developing initially, much like the hundreds of other humans that were split into other cloisters. Most groups did manage to start using basic tools like wooden clubs and spears with stone tips quick enough, but not much happened after that for a while. There were enough deer that they could all lead successful hunter/forager lifestyles, and most stayed that way. Every cloister was given the resources to also develop agriculture, as plants that were farmable were also in every cloister, but only a few cloisters had become agrarian at this point.

This point being 240 years after the creation of Project Embryo, a mega-research project funded in cooperation with the American and Canadian governments in the year 2032. After many attempts, a researcher achieved the large grants necessary to create a facility where they would test human development from the beginning. The only way to accurately test that was to put humans at the beginning: back to before the stone age. The project entailed getting hundreds of humans from early childhood and putting them into different groups to see how they fend for themselves, and how they develop over time. Children from unwanted pregnancies, as well as some donors, gave their children to the program. The children were randomly separated into different groups and put into different areas, called cloisters. The children were never spoken too, so as to not give them any precognition about language, and they were simply nurtured as necessary before being shown how to forage for basic foods before they were abandoned in the cloisters. These cloisters were several dozen square kilometers in order to attempt to provide enough space for the humans to move around and adapt to their environments if necessary, as well as for the wild deer and other animals to move around, even if they couldn’t migrate very well. Different cloisters were isolated in different ways. Some cloisters were isolated just because there were on large islands or tracts of islands (with walls surrounding the far shores, just in case the water was crossed). Other cloisters were surround by walls or others had sets of speakers that would emanate loud and horrific sounds if anyone got too close, scaring them back.

All these groups of people in each cloister had been monitored by scientists for the past 240 years to see how they would develop with regards to their language, technology, culture, religion, science, and basically any facet of humanity as to get a better understanding on how humanity developed the way it did.

Due to the fact that there were no fully grown humans protecting them or teaching them, many cloisters perished at the beginning because the toddlers didn’t manage to find enough food and water on their own. The cloisters where all the humans perished were then rendered empty, necessitating that they be filled with some people who were drugged and moved from another more successful cloister, to further see how the 2 separate groups which originated from the same cloister would develop. Some cloisters did become agrarian, most stuck to hunting deer and foraging for berries and roots. Some groups had no language whatsoever and acted out of primal instinct. Other groups developed rituals and sometimes what was interpreted as religion. Some didn’t even discover fire, but most of the ones that did use fire were subtly shown how to do it by researches via secret service entrances.

Cloister 16B was one of the more exemplary cases.

The report continued:

Cloister 16B can be described as the most similar to ancient humanity. Their language has developed the furthest, far enough that I and other linguists can almost fully understand their primitive language. They have not discovered written language yet, but the verbal aspects are impressive to say the least, and it follows a grammar structure that we can piece together. Cloister 16B had also discovered farming, which led to them being able to live in one area, focusing on improving their homes and crop yield. 16B had also developed a fascination for the wall that surrounded their cloister. Cloister 16B had been one of the more successful cloisters ever since the beginning, and about half of their population had been moved to an empty cloister about 200 years ago, and while they didn’t have language to convey what happened to subsequent generations, it seems that the populace believed the wall was responsible, and a general cautious respect for the wall had been passed down ever since then. This is believed to be the reason the inhabitants of cloister 16B give offerings to the wall, but never dare get within arm’s reach of the wall. The Northern Lights, which are also sometimes visible here in the Northwest Territories, also seem to play a role in their religion, with offerings to the wall increasing after a Northern Lights sighting.

Since Project Embryo was ethically questionable at best, the location is would be conducted in was initially a secret. It didn’t take too long before the public discovered that the facility was being built in the Northwest Territories in Canada since it had gotten warm enough after the climate had gotten warmer, and the land was still cheap and desolate enough. As knowledge of the facility became public, there was lots of backlash and protests against the facility as it was seen as inhumane to just throw toddlers into the wild. Since the land was privately purchased through the grants, the land the facility was on became private property, and a security firm was hired to keep trespassers off the premise who were either protesting or sometimes trying to break in to free the human test subjects. As time wore on though, public opinion became apathetic as public opinion usually does, and interest in Project Embryo and the protests died down, and the project continued unabated until this day. Even so, it was hard for the researchers and scientists who were watching humans die easily preventable deaths, and they often felt guilty. They had to had to learn to separate their emotions from their work, but Sarah still felt twangs of sadness whenever any ill circumstances fell upon any of the members of any cloister, but particularly for those in 16B, as they were her star cloister since she writing a research paper on the development of their language.

One particular member of cloister 16B has caught my and other researchers’ attention. The others in 16B seem to address him by a name that sounded like “Woolta”, and he is a particularly curious member. His language skills, as primitive as their language is compared to modern languages, is still better than average for his cloister. He works in the fields sowing and harvesting corn and other vegetables, but his curiosity has led him to explore almost his entire cloister. He seems to have less fear for the wall, which is a problem since the wall didn’t have that much security. At one point, Woolta attempted to stack some dead trees in a fashion that would allow him to get up the wall. We reacted by increasing the height of the wall overnight to dissuade him and others. Not only did this dissuade Woolta himself, it also brought on the ire of the other members who believed that he had caused the walls to get higher, which also meant he was effectively ostracized by the others for attempting to scale the wall, which resulted in no further attempts at getting over the wall. This also led to the development of a few new words that cloister 16B invented. These new words seem to revolve around acts that make the wall higher, and they use these new words to sometimes express fear, and they are also used to describe someone who does a stupid or silly act. At the time of writing this, it appears that Woolta has been continuously ostracized for the most part, and excluded from group dinners, forcing him to steal and forage for food. His previous and current transgressions also seem to be used as an excuse for further ostracization. Some members of the group are discussing “Lokto”, which is another word they have recently developed. We are not sure what Lokto means at this point, as they haven’t expressed it in a way which gives enough context to ascertain its meaning yet, although it seems like it is some punishment that they intend to carry out based on other bodily and social cues exhibited when discussing this topic.

Sarah would have liked to see how things progress before submitting the report on the development of languages, as these new words were exciting, but she had a deadlines, and the paper needed to be submitted the following day. As such, Sarah was still working in the only illuminated office room in the small observation building. Everyone else had already gone back to their homes in the small town that had popped up for the research center in the Northwest Territories which was unimaginatively called Project Town. Sarah felt a shiver go down her spine as she contemplated how she was completely alone in the building before trying to focus on her work again.

After skimming through her entire report one last time, Sarah was satisfied enough, and exhausted enough, to decide that the paper was finished. She sleepily clicked the send button and watched as the email was sent off to her superiors. The monitor light reflected off of her glazed eyes as she shut down the computer and started lazily pushing her things into her bag. With her bag over her shoulder, she shut off the office light and started walking down the hallway towards the parking lot.

Curiosity got the best of Sarah as she decided to quickly pop her head in the observation room and look at the video feeds for the cloister surveillance systems. It was past midnight, so she didn’t expect to see much, but one monitor caught her eye as it was fairly well illuminated. Tiny cameras had been planted in all sorts of rocks, allowing for continued surveillance of the cloisters, and the monitor feed for cloister 16B curiously had some activity. She sat down on the desk and started flipping through the different feeds for 16B, trying to make sense of what was happening.

It seemed that most of the residents of 16B were looking for something as they were walking around in groups with torches. Sarah kept flipping through the feeds, trying to find a camera that was close enough to a group to hopefully eavesdrop and make some sense of the situation. The screen flashed with a bright light as the lens adjusted to take in less light for the next feed Sarah switched to. Sarah had switched to a feed for a camera that was directly next to a group of people as they were slowly and methodically walking and shouting. As she had feared, “Lokto” did mean a punishment, and based on the context, it seemed that the rest of the inhabitants had decided that killing Woolta was necessary, in hopes of making the wall go down again to its original size.

Sarah changed the settings to infrared mode in hopes of finding Woolta, as he was undoubtedly hiding in the darkness. Not all the cameras were equipped with infrared, but they gave enough of overview that she hoped she would find him. It didn’t take long because the infrared made it easy to spot human bodies, and she find him sneaking along the wall, away from the others.

Sometimes you make bad decisions when you aren’t in your normal mental state. Sarah was tired enough that this was one of those times. Woolta was one of the most interesting inhabitants of the entire program, and she would have been deeply saddened if he was unnecessarily killed. There was also the opportunity of talking with one of the test subjects directly. While against their entire credo, she just couldn’t resist.

Sarah quickly made her way out to the parking lot, forgetting to lock the door behind her in her haste. She got into her red Jeep and throw her bag in the back. She clicked the button to start the car and the electric engine silently activated. There was a brief squealing of tires as she zipped across the parking lot towards the exit, but instead of going towards Project Town, she made a left, further into the complex. Due to the size of the cloisters, the entire complex was huge, stretching across hundreds of kilometers, but cloister 16B was luckily relatively close, and if she drove fast, she could get there within 20 minutes.

The roads were relatively straight which allowed time for Sarah to bring up the video feeds on her phone. This also helped her concentrate because even though the adrenaline coursing through her was assisting in keeping her awake, it was still dreadfully late and she was tired. She managed to find a feed showing where Woota was just as she was getting close to cloister 16B. She brought up another window on her phone, showing the general schematics for the complex, and she managed to find a service entrance that led to a secret entry in a rock nearby Woota’s current location.

Sarah quickly stopped the car and put it in park, grabbing a flashlight and leaping out the door while the Jeep was still rocking back from her rapid parking of the vehicle. She leaped to the access door and entered the access code. Her flashlight illuminated the long and descending tunnel that disappeared into the earth. Her running left small clouds of dust as her feet stomped on the ground towards her destination. After a few dozen meters, the tunnel ended and the faint gleam of a metal ladder that went up into the ceiling was the only thing that broke the darkness. She ascended the ladder as the beam of light kept illuminating the area to her side as she simultaneously held the flashlight and used her hand to climb the ladder. After 5 or so meters, the tunnel ended as she neared the exit above her. Again, she entered the necessary security code, and the door opened. In the cloister, a solid rock opened up on the top like a submarine hatch, revealing the tunnel in the rock.

Sarah quickly turned off the flashlight and waited for her eyes to adjust as she scanned her surroundings, looking for Woota. As her eyesight started to adjust to the darkness without her flashlight, she started to make out the torchlights of search parties in the distance, and they seemed to be moving in her general direction.

Sarah loudly hissed his name as best as she could manage without being overly loud. “Woota!” Her ears prickled as she tried to make out any movement from him. “Woota!” She exclaimed again, this time as a quiet shout. She started to sweat with fear of being discovered by the search parties while looking for him.

Right before she attempted at quietly shouting his name again, a light rustling occurred as a shadow separated itself from a bush about 12 meters from Sarah. She could barely make out his silhouette in the darkness, but his trained and darkness-accustomed eyes could see her much more clearly. He could see that she was not one of the others from the cloister, and he was filled with an uncertain and morbid curiosity. He had never seen or heard of anyone else other than the few dozen people he was familiar with. Who could she be?

Woota slowly approached her in a stealthy crouch, still brandishing the club-like stick that he had been carrying around for the past couple hours in case it became necessary to defend himself. Sarah was head of the linguistics team, and it was now time to see if she and the rest of the team had understood their primitive language as well as she hoped they had.

“I, friend” Sarah struggled to convey her meaning in a language they had only briefly practiced with each other.

Woota seemed to understand her well enough though. “Who, you?” he asked as he inspected her. She had straight hair that was cut in an even line, unlike the others he knew. She wore a shirt and pants unlike any he had ever seen, although they were the norm in the outside world. Her clothes fit so perfectly, and the cloth material was unlike the leather they exclusively used. Her skin was unusually white and fair. Sarah was the strangest person he had ever seen in his life.

“I, friend. Outside, wall. Home.” She struggled to convey that she came from outside the wall where it was safe and that he should come with her.

Woota approached to within 3 meters of Sarah, and she could more clearly make him out in person for the first time with the aid of the moonlight. His leather dress, which was what everyone in his cloister wore, covered his torso and went down to his knees. His weathered face and skins were of a much darker tone than hers owing to a lifetime spent outdoors. He was shorter than average, but very lean and muscular, and his should length ratty hair reflected moonlight off of his greasy locks.

They stood there for a couple minutes inspecting each other until the silence was abruptly broken. “Woota!” A distant shout from a search party was heard, but it was much closer than before. A sense of urgency returned to the two, and Sarah quickly tried to convince him to come with her.

“Here, death. Outside, home!” She tried her best to pleadingly convince him to come with her. The surreality of encountering her, and his fear and doubts about being apprehended by the others convinced him to follow, but he wasn’t sure what to do, so he just awkwardly stood there, nervously looking over his shoulder at the impending search parties. “Home” Sarah tried to indicate into the hole in the rock that she was standing on. She started crawling down the ladder, indicating for him to follow. She started to descend, and Sarah turned on the flashlight about halfway down. Woota nervously peered into the hole, afraid of the flashlight, but his fear of being captured overrode his apprehension towards following her, and he also slowly descended into the hole, carefully using a ladder for the first time. Sarah impatiently waited at the bottom until Woota stepped down. “Rest” she told him, trying to convey that he should wait while she closed the hatch above them, which she moved to do by climbing the ladder again.

Woota’s fear crept up on him, and the thought of her abandoning him in the dark tunnel as she ascended the ladder again with the flashlight spooked him. He let out a crying whimper which got Sarah’s attention. “Home, rest!” she sternly told him, desperately trying to abate his fears as she hurriedly closed the hatch. She continued going up the ladder only to have Woota also start climbing the ladder behind her.

Sarah paused her ascent and considered saying something more to him before deciding to simply continue and just close the hatch. “Woota!” she heard a search party, and they sounded closer than ever. She hurriedly went up the last few rungs of the ladder and quietly closed the hatch and locked it. She started to descend only to find Woota halfway up the ladder underneath her. “Home!” Sarah exclaimed while pointing down, becoming quite exasperated at this point in her failed attempts to convey that they need to go out the other way. Woota remained motionless on the ladder, staring up at her with a confused look on his face. Frustrated, Sarah started climbing down the ladder, forcing him to go down as well until they were both on the ground again.

They stood there in silence for a moment, looking at each other in the flashlight-illuminated tunnel. It was obvious that Woota had seen hard work as his arms had scars on them. His legs were peppered with bug bites, and he would subconsciously stand on foot while he itched one leg with the other foot. He continued to hold the club that he previously wielded, still unsure of what was really happening and afraid he might have to use it.

“Home” Sarah said again, trying to show that it was safe with her. She beckoned for him to follow, and they started walking through the darkness towards the end of the tunnel. It took them a few minutes before reaching the end of the tunnel, where they pushed open the access door that she had previously left ajar.

Sarah’s Jeep stood in the clearing outside the door, and this immediately caused Woota to raise up his club in defense. Woota’s club was making her nervous, and she wanted to get rid of it. “Home, family” she softly said to him, trying to express that there was no danger of her car. She went over to the jeep and touched it, showing that it didn’t move. Woota cautiously lowered his club and followed her to the car. Sarah needed to start the car, and she could already tell that it would surprise him when it moved. She climbed into the jeep and tried to show how you could easily and comfortably sit inside of it. “Home” she beckoned for him to sit in the passenger seat. After a couple minutes of coaxing, he finally, yet cautiously entered the jeep. Sarah calmly took the club from him after some mild protests, but some comforting words of “family” managed to calm his senses enough to release it to her. She took the club and dropped it out the passenger side door, and then closed the passenger side door from the inside for him. In light of all the new experiences Woota was having, she opted to not attempting to buckle him in.

She was thankful that her electric engine was quiet, unlike automobiles of the past, as she started the engine. She turned on the lights and cautiously started rolling the car forward, hoping to show Woota that the car moved and that it was OK to be inside of as it moved.

Despite her efforts, Woota started panicking, grabbing the sides, distressingly moving around in his seat with an extremely alarmed look on his face. Sarah immediately stopped the car, cooing him with words of “Home” and “family” again, trying to calm him. Woota was not only unfamiliar with a large “beast” like this Jeep, made out of a metallic material that he didn’t recognize, but they didn’t even have horses or other beasts of burden in his cloister, and the entire concept of travel on something other than his 2 feet was lost on him. After repeating the procedure of starting and stopping a half dozen times, Woota seemed to finally come to terms with the car moving and him not being in danger while inside it, and he was calm enough for her to continue driving. The radio and music confused him, and Sarah quickly turned it off, opting to drive in silence with him as they drove back to the main exit.

The clock showed the bleak hour of 3:27 as they approached the security checkpoint. There was security 24/7, so she had to hide him long enough to get past the guard. After much struggling with conveying her intentions, Sarah eventually managed to get Woota to huddle up behind the driver seat with a blanket over him, in hopes that the guard wouldn’t look in the back.

With Woota hiding in the back, Sarah nervously resumed the last kilometer towards to gate where she was relieved to be stopped by Steve, a guard she was familiar, and luckily friendly, with.

“Sarah!” he surprisingly addressed her as he saw who was driving. “Bit of a late night tonight, eh?”

“Yea, I had a report due tomorrow, and I was up all night finishing it off. I hate to sound rude Steve, but it took everything out of me, and I need to get going before I fall asleep at the wheel.” She felt dirty lying to him since they had always been on good terms, but she justified her claims to herself in that they were half truths; she really did stay up late finishing the report, and she really was exhausted. She just failed to mention the person that she was smuggling in the back of her Jeep.

“Fair enough Sarah, you are used to a different schedule than I am” he chuckled as he clicked the button for the gate to open. “Have a good night and drive safe now!”

“Thanks Steve, have a good night yourself.” Feeling guilty for tricking him, she drove away from the check point and onto the highway.

Thrilled, exhausted, and anxious, Sarah continued driving down the road. She reached her right hand around the seat and pulled the jacket off of Woota. “Safety” she tried to convey that it was safe again, recalling some more words that they used. Sarah patted on the passenger seat, beckoning for him to come back up front. Woota clambered into the front seat and sat down. His face mirrored her exhaustion, but there was a deeper tone of confusion and apprehension in his expression. Not one, but 2 new people unlike any he had ever seen. A language that sounded much more fluid and unlike anything he had ever heard. An automobile. Flashlights, music on a radio, hard, black roads. These were all new things for Woota and he was awestruck, just trying to comprehend everything that he was experiencing for the first time.

They continued driving into the night away from the cloisters, research center and Project Embryo, heading towards a place that she deemed safe to sleep for the night before continuing their flight into this new world for Woota.

Part 2 of this story can be found here.

A Deleted Game Save

I downloaded a Game Boy Color emulator on my phone a while ago. The only game I have really been playing is Dragon Warrior Monster 2, which is the sequel to my favorite childhood game.

dwm2gbc_cobi_front

Like any good RPG, it takes dozens of hours to complete, but since it was on my phone, it was easy to put in a little time here, a little there, and before you knew it, I was the majority of the way through the game. The game is similar to Pokemon in that you go out and collect monsters and use them in combat. My team of monsters was decent for the point I was at in the game, even if I still wasn’t quite at the end. I had somewhere around 20 or so hours of gametime, if I recall correctly. I then started getting really busy with other things, and I found myself just not having time for the game anymore, so I simply stopped playing for a few months and took a short hiatus.

I then wanted to play my game again about a week ago. I started the emulator, started the game, and then when I went to continue my game, the save I was prompted to load only had 5 hours of gametime, and a very old team. Essentially, it seems that my save had reverted to a previous version, and I had no idea why.

I tried to investigate what the cause, and potential solution, was, but nothing came out. I made reddit posts asking for advice. I even contacted the developer who just gave me a really lazy and unhelpful reply. I tried using 5 or so different data recovery programs to find old saves that hadn’t been overwritten yet, but there was no such luck.

As best I can figure out, it seems that My OldBoy! (the name of the emulator) stores the game save files in the same folder as the game file itself… while it is still on the internal SD card. At one point (apparently when I had about 5 hours of gametime), I decided to move everything over to my external SD card. I deleted the old stuff off the internal card, and I thought things would continue fine. However, it appears that while the emulator will load the save file from the same folder as the game on an SD card just fine, it refuses to save to the external SD card, and it saves the new game files on the internal memory in the program folders for the emulator. That means that all subsequent saves were still being saved on the internal card, and not on the external SD card where I moved everything. That would have been OK if it would have stayed there. The part that baffles me is that that data just disappeared. Luckily I had made a “backup” on my external card at the 5 hour mark, but I definitely never went in an deleted any .sav files after my initial migration, after which I played for at least another dozen hours or so. The best that I can think of is that either through a My GameBoy! Update, or when my phone upgraded from Android 5 to 6, that somehow got deleted, deleting my progress.

I don’t usually lose much progress on RPG games, with the last significant loss I can remember being back when I played Final Fantasy VIII, and I was right before the final boss, and my friend overwrote my file. That game was much more linear though, so while I lost more total hours, it was easy, although time consuming, to get back to the point that I was originally at. On the other hand, I had worked on my team in Dragon Warrior Monsters 2, training my monsters and breeding them to get them to the strength that they were at when I temporarily stopped playing. I had planned out breeding lines and skill progression, and I tried to get monsters that had stats that complemented their roles (like having my healer have high magic and defense). I would be lying if I said I wasn’t sad to see that all my progress was lost.

I had invested dozens of hours into that save, and now they were gone. While it obviously cannot compare to having a real pet(s), these were more or less unique monsters with their exact skills, behaviors, and stats that I had worked on and raised them with, and their existence had been wiped away in some baffling mistake. The monsters that I had, and had worked on, had actually existed at one point, and while they weren’t ever going to interact with anyone else but with me, it is sad to know that I will never see the monsters that I had raised again.

The emulator luckily has a fast forward function, so I started working on getting back to where I was before at 2x speed, but it will never be the same. I will catch different monsters, with different skills. They will be bred differently, and the monsters that I end up with will never be like the team that I had before. There were procedurally generated keys (that open portals to procedurally generated worlds) that I had that will be different. It’s like I went back in a time machine, and due to a butterfly effect, the entire course of future has been altered (at least within this game), and while I could long for the way that it was in another timeline, that is… well… not in the past, but still lost. It’s not like there is even a memorial or anything of my old team of monsters. They were just bits of data, and they are just gone. Simply erased from this universe except for the memories that I alone have in my head.

The only way I can properly carry on their memory is to focus on an even better team, and beat the game with my new team, but I will still miss the old companions I had, and I will just have to continue with what I had, and now have again.

team

Fingers

Like my other more recent dreams that I have recorded, this took sometime since I started going to college. It’s a little messed up; we will chalk it up to the stress from college.

Fingers

In my dream, I was an old man living in New York City and I would go around halfway cutting off all the fingers from my victims. I seemed to be some sort of serial offender, and I would just target anyone, and subdue them somehow and cut off their fingers at the first joint after their knuckles. The details are fuzzy, but I did this to quite a few people in my dream.

After several incidents, I was confronted by a tall, well-built and sharply dressed (think classic Zoot suit style with a fedora) black man who was very imposing. He seemed to be some detective or investigator that had discovered I was the criminal committing all of these crimes. It was late in the evening with a waning light and the sound of rushing water was very apparent for some reason. We were standing by some trees that lined a wide street, which must have been inspired by the skyscrapers and closeness of suburban Chicago (where I was living at the time), although it was NYC in my dream. There was a river on the other side of the trees which is what emanated the sound of running water. Opposite of the road was an obnoxiously long strip mall stretching along the entire road, and we stood between the road and the lined trees.

This detective had found out that I was the one going around cutting people’s fingers, and he had apparently called for backup since I could hear the incoming sirens and my impending capture. I didn’t know what else to do, so I took the giant razor blade out of my pocket that I had committed my previous crimes with, and I cut my own fingers off, in the same fashion that I had mutilated others’ hands. After cutting off my fingers down to the first knuckle, I threw the knife into the nearby river, hoping that this would be enough to frame the detective in front of me and ensure that I was perceived as the victim and let go. I didn’t get to see the result of that though, because I woke up as I stood there, bleeding out of my finger-nubs standing before the shocked detective.

The Guardian of Mysteries

Another writing prompt, this time titled “Your job is to be the Guardian, and everyone refers you you as the Guardian, but you don’t know what you’re guarding.” I kind of instantly thought of Heimdall, that guy who guards Asgard in the Thor Marvel movies and comics. I was inspired by him per say, at least with the physique, but this is my take on a guardian who doesn’t know what he is guarding.

The Guardian of Mysteries

I was an exceptionally talented and effective guard. I stood watch at the castle gates for many years, ensuring that only those who were authorized entered the premises. Taller than average, and with an imposing posture and build, I was quite intimidating. A weathered face due to my upbringing in the fields, and small scars from previous engagements radiated that I was a grizzled and experienced man. Unlike many other guards who were swayed by temptations of more gold, I held my vigil and ensured only those with valid reasons and permissions could enter, no matter how much they offered me. I even imprisoned other corrupt officials and guards. I was not liked by many due to my resolute ways, but I was determined. I had a rough upbringing, coming from a destitute village, and I was going to be the best at my honorable job.

After several years, I had arrested hundreds of wrongdoers, prevented many more illegal entries and potentially crimes, and I had won countless skirmishes with my deft swordsmanship. I had risen through the ranks and was the Captain of the King’s Gate’s Guards. I help prestige and esteem. I was satisfied with where I had gotten in life, and all with a clean conscious at that. There wasn’t really anywhere else for me to advance to, so I was coming to terms with being a Captain for the rest of my life, which wasn’t a bad prospect in my mind.

It was one late evening as I sat there pondering over our month’s budget and resource allocation when an elderly fellow quietly stepped into my office, located near the main gate. He wore loose fitting clothes that were embroidered in a very elegant and colorful pattern.

I paused in my work and sat upright in my chair. “Good evening.” I curiously greeted. “And to whom do I owe the pleasure of this surprise visit?”

“Greetings Captain. My name is Melthano, I am a high wizard of the king’s inner sanctum.” That explained the clothing. “We have noticed your superior abilities as Captain of the King’s Gate’s Guards.”

“I am glad to hear that” I answered as I furrowed my eyebrows in slight confusion. “What about it exactly?”

“Your abilities and your valor are exceptional, and they are being squandered here.” I silently waited for him to continue. “We would like to invite you to become a guardian of some of the most important objects of the kingdom.”

I pondered what exactly he meant, it seemed like he was intentionally trying to be vague and to make the conversation tense. A simple “hmm” was all I emitted as I waited for him to continue again.

“There are things that need to be defended in order to ensure the lasting peace and prosperity of the kingdom, and we would like none other than you to become the new defender.” He half-grinned at me while I further thought about it.

“What happened to the last defender?”

“There was no ‘last defender’, you would be the first. After a few attempts from highly skilled thieves and traitors to get in, we realized that we need a more permanent entity guarding things in the keep itself. We would infuse you with permanent magical powers to further enhance your already amazing abilities and make you a warrior second to none.”

This seemed like an interesting possibility, and I was thoroughly interested. So much that I simply couldn’t refuse. “I accept.”

“Great, then come straight to the high sanctum tomorrow at noon. Ask the concierge at the Hall of Emperors, right before the throne room, and he will guide you to the higher sanctum.” And with that, he turned around and went out through the door, quietly closing it behind him. I nervously finished preparations for the night before considering who I would anoint as my successor as the Captain before settling on Frederick, who I anointed the following morning. Following his succession as the new captain, I took my armor and sword and made my way to the higher sanctum. I was greeted by Melthano and 5 other wizards, who brisked me into a darkened room. After waiting a moment, one of the others came back in with a potion and prompted me to drink it. I drank it hungrily in anticipation of the powers I would soon obtain, and the charge of guarding something greater than a castle gate.

I felt funny at first, and then I didn’t feel anything. I went numb, and I never felt anything again. I didn’t feel myself growing almost twice my original size. I didn’t feel my muscles get enormously big. I didn’t feel my body get quicker, or feel my eyes change as they became sharper. I never felt hunger or exhaustion or any desire but to uphold my responsibility of guarding my charge.

Days went by. Weeks. Years. I never tired in my quest to guard the entrance to a particular section of the dungeon in the castle I had been assigned to. In that time, a few people had attempted to enter: some rogue servants, some highly skilled thieves, and just some people who got too curious. I always noticed them though, and with a quick swipe of the sword, they would be cut clean in two. Their bodies would sometimes lay there for days, rotting, before a patrol would come by and take the bodies away. The stench didn’t bother me, and neither did the jeering of anyone like the patrols who walked past. I never left my post, and they started calling me “The Guardian”. Sometimes with respect, sometimes with sneers or with contempt. Nothing bothered me. The only thing that would have bothered me would have been to let somebody past my post.

Countless time passed, it didn’t matter to me anymore. At one point, chaos started erupting in the castle. People were frantic, running around, usually armed to the teeth. After many evenings of soldiers running around, sometimes wounded, Melthano and another high wizard approached me.

“We need to get through here in order to save the castle!” Melthano shouted at me, desperation in his exhausted eyes.

I monotonously addressed them without looking down, only seeing them in my peripheral vision below my gaze. “I am The Guardian. It is my duty to ensure that nobody ever gets past me.”

“We need to get past you! You can let us pass!” shouted the other wizard. He shifted to a more pleading tone, “our last chance to defeat the invaders is within this hall.”

“Nobody gets past me.”

“We made you!” Melthano had rapidly become livid as spit flew from his mouth as he screeched at me.

“Nobody gets past me. That is my charge.”

They looked at each other before raising their arms, conjuring spells. I anticipated that. They were my creators, but they had become my enemies, actively trying to kill me. I raised my left arm to absorb a stream of fire from Melthano to my left as I whipped my sword out of its sheath in one swift motion and decapitated the other wizard before he could do anything. Melthano was momentarily stunned, surprised at seeing his comrade fall so fast, and with such swift brutality.

“We made you too strong and with too much conviction” Melthano whispered to himself as he faltered with his spell. His senses came back to him as he tried to cast a warding spell against my impending sword, but it was too late. I had already begun swinging my sword around and had reached his groin before proceeding up to his head, separating his left and right sides.

He fell, and I used his robe to wipe my sword clean before returning to my post.

Nobody gets past me.

I saw kings and queens, fair leaders and tyrants. I saw theirs births. I saw them age and die. Countless centuries went on. Every time a new leader took control of the castle, they would attempt to get past me before coming to the all-too-familiar decision of just leaving me alone to guard this one entrance.

I don’t know what I am guarding, but I will keep guarding it, as per my charge, and nobody will get past me.

Six Eyed Agents

The last dream that I posted marks the last of the dreams that I can recall from when I was younger. I started actually writing down notes about my dreams when I was in college, so this would be first dream that I could recall after many years of failing to write them down. As such, I would have been about 18 when I had this dream.

Six Eyed Agents

In this dream, my friend Nathon and I were slick-suited mafia agents. Like any typical member of the Mafia, we were employed to carry out hits and sometimes kill other people. We were OK, but we needed to get better. We figured that a way to improve would be by improving our sight… by surgically adding more eyes. We both underwent surgery to give us 4 more eyes, 2 sets of eyes above our existing eyes, so we ended up with 2 columns of 3 eyes that extended up to the top of our foreheads. It was supposed to look “normal”, as normal as 6 eyes on a human can be. Nathon luckily had the ability to revert his face to normal on command, but my face ended up being a total mess, and looked more like I had reconstructive surgery face with a Picasso-inspired doctor, albeit with 3 times the normal amount of eyes.

We went on a mission, carrying out our hits and killing people that we were supposed to. I kept complaining that I needed a silencer for my 9mm pistol because it was simply too loud, so Nathon and I went to some rundown house that sported a crumbling chimney. In the ruined house was an old man, who I could only suppose was our contact or supplier, because I was engaging him in conversation, trying to convince him that I needed a silencer. In the middle of our discussion however, I woke up.