Somewhere beneath this dwelling was a source of energy, and I needed to find it. I was standing right on top of it, yet I could not find it. There must be a dwelling beneath this one. I looked about but there were no doors. No handles. I checked Karen’s desk and there seemed to be nothing.
There were no entrances, so logically I would have to make an entrance. I thrust my hand into the floor a short distance away from the energy source that my systems were detecting and lifted upward. A panel came up with the flooring, and across from me, there looked to be an inclined set of panels leading down. I had found the entrance.
Upon reaching the bottom of this place, I realized I was in a very small room, empty. A light came on above me, revealing the walls to be almost directly upon me. A voice from somewhere unknown, higher pitched, I assumed female.
“Welcome to the vault,” it said, “please enter the passcode.” A keypad appeared in front of me with your alphabet on it. I had read enough of your Shakespeare’s work to know that you humans took pleasure in your words games. ‘Karen’ would be too obvious. ‘Last Stand’ and the station numbers would be obvious as well. There would be no point in having such an puzzle if it were so simple. Yet, perhaps that was the key. Simplicity.
I typed in the word ‘Survivor.’ I was dropped down speedily with the floor. When I stopped falling, the walls were moved and I saw something of a supply depot, which came as no surprise. Karen would need to protect it with a password so that attackers could not simply take their supplies. But she would also need multiple people to have access. These people were survivors.
This room was perhaps as large as the station above ground, except this was lined with shelves of supplies. I walked through, one shelf was labelled ‘movies,’ the next ‘wires’ the next ‘radio equipment.’ One was labelled ‘books.’ Romeo and Juliet must have been in there. I had the desire to find it, but my red flashing core told me to do otherwise.
One shelf was labelled ‘food’ on the back wall. The organic matter that you humans live off of, as I understand it. I forget that your sphere is not the direct source of your energy, rather you have to skim off what is on top, then package that up for later consumption. Perhaps this is why no one was at the station, you made it so hard to reach your packaged necessities. It seems foolish to me, to pack things up as you do, but I suppose I am merely used to my sphere providing my needs. Yours does not appear to be in any shape to do that.
The shelf was empty. Almost entirely, with the exception of a few cans and pieces of plastic here and there. I picked up a can and turned it over. Not a drop came out. Someone had come in here and taken more than they needed. You humans certainly know how to destroy each other.
In a back corner of the room sat two large metal tubes, these are what my systems had indicated to me as power supplies. They were labelled simply ‘Generator #1’ and ‘Generator #2.’ I cautiously reached out for one. If they took my power as the station did, then I could go offline. But I had few options. So I grabbed it tight. A mighty flow ran through me, much like the charge of my sphere though only shorter and stronger. My core was yellow, then green once more. The generator smoked, I feared I had broken it, but that was of little concern. I was recharged, it would not heal the dents in me, but I could fight and live.
As I began to leave to return to the surface, I walked past a shelf labelled ‘music.’ There were all sorts of items on this shelf, symmetrical cups united by an arc, small black squares with screens on them, smaller but screen-less black squares. Down the way, there were large squares of organic matter, upon them pictures, and within them large, black circles with small ridges. I looked at the picture on the cover. It read ‘Queen: Greatest Hits.’ Music from your royalty perhaps? I would have to take a few samples and see if there were any devices to play these circles on the surface.
by ROBERT COCANOUGHER / literature columnist