I woke up.
It was completely dark.
I was cold.
My blanket had somehow made itself go somewhere it wasn’t supposed to be.
I fumbled for it.
Where was it?
All of the sudden, I realized I was lying on a carpet.
I started to get up and reached for my bed.
My hands hit thin air.
I groped around for it.
Nope. not behind me.
I started to walk around my room. Every step was extremely hard for some reason. Maybe I had been sleepwalking?
I never had sleepwalked before, though.
There was a sudden yelp as I stepped on something. Somebody.
He started yelling something, which I don’t care to mention.
I tried to start running away, but I couldn’t go at any appreciable speed. It felt like I was twice as heavy as normal, and extremely stiff. But who is this, sleeping on the floor of my house?
All of the sudden, I realized that there should’ve been a little light from the streetlights visible through the windows.
I wandered around, realizing that there’s no room in our house this big except for the basement, which doesn’t have carpet.
I tripped over another person.
WHERE AM I?
108 hours later
After somewhere between 48 and 96 hours of darker-than-darkness (hard to tell the passage of time without a day and night cycle), even this tiny flashlight this far away was blindingly bright. Heck, our pupils were probably bigger than normal irises.
After shining around a bit, the light disappeared and the whispering slowly resumed.
Nobody knew anything. The last thing anyone remembered was going to bed—then we mysteriously ended up here, extremely weak and tired, and with absolutely nothing except our bodies. That was certainly my experience, and everybody else’s—if there was an exception, word would certainly get around fast.
Well, word soon got around that this new person had clothes, along with his penlight. There was plenty of crazy talk—around here, speculation and misheard overheard conversations quickly get mixed into the jumble of information, especially back here so far from the source. Among these rumors was that this new person had a machine gun, night vision goggles, some sort of fancy electronics-disabling contraption, and a big bag of gold bars.
According to the rumor mill, there were small smooth patches with little holes in the wall—most likely microphones, said everybody. (That was when everybody started whispering, when news of these got around.) And smooth glassy patches—cameras? These were higher up than the microphones. Obviously not visual-spectrum cameras. If they were cameras, they were probably infrared.
Soon, everybody stopped talking about the new person, probably because of the (possible) presence of microphones. We were left to only guessing.
News flash! There’s a ceiling, and it has mikes and cameras, too! Apparently, somebody got on somebody else’s shoulders and felt around.
• • •
The Bagley Document, Section 5, part 3
“I found them!” The voice was a whisper.
There was a lot of excited celebration. Eventually it died down as they waited to hear what he would say next.
“All of them?”
“The rooms are all completely dark, like we thought. The people in this one seem to think there are cameras and microphones watching them, so everybody whispers. That’s why I’m whispering. They have only been awake for a few days. They—”
“Wait a second. You said cameras and microphones?”
“Yes. Of course, the only sense they can use is touch, so it might be something else, or just decoys. But there are places on the wall that do feel like they could be them, so—”
“You have a flashlight.”
“Look at a microphone, then.”
“Other cameras could see it.”
“So, there some more things we recently discovered that you should know—”
• • •
The Bagley Document, section 11 (“The chatty section”), part 2
My therapist said I should write about how it all started, as if I was talking to someone in the past, who knows nothing. so here it goes.
Nine months and six days (279 days, to be exact) before this started, people started dissapearing from bed. It was always—oh, I forget—somewhere around six hours after sunset, all around the world. About 100 million people in total. 1.5-ish percent of the population. So, anyway, everyone panicked, conspiracy theories abounded, you occasionally saw tinfoil hats, so on and so forth. So, a month later, everything under control, funerals done, and I got a call from somebody. They said they wanted me for something, and said I had the knowledge for it. I inquired further, then they told me it had to do with the missing people.
Missing was the word they used. Not dead. Missing.
That’s when things started to get interesting.
I’m a machine intelligence hardware architect. About (15?) or so years ago, I got involved in a project to create a simulated universe. I was—you guessed it—on the hardware team. The most interesting part was simulating quantum behaviour without actually having the macro world act quantum-mechanics-y because that would be unbelievably slow. Also recording the world so we could accurately simulate it. Also—
I’m getting way ahead of myself. Anyway, the project was defunded or something, because everyone just stopped working on it.
Yeah. Or something.
That’s what the call was about.
It turns out that it was never defunded. It was supercharged with funding, because of the whole chaos coming from the rapidly increasing concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. As ice melted, it released trapped methane. And then the reservoirs of CO2 injected into the ground in the early-to-mid 21st century started leaking. Although most of the world had stopped actively burning fossil fuels, the effect had already run away, and was estimated to take around 10,000 years to go back to normal.
So you probably know how we averted this disaster, right? No, of course you don’t. We put a giant mirror in orbit around the earth that decreased daylight by about 10%, averting the rest of the disaster. Of course, sea levels still rose considerably, polar ice melted considerably, but everything worked out pretty much okay.
Turned out that wasn’t actually what happened. Many doubts had been raised over the years about how they did it, but nobody questioned it, because the black strip across the sun during the daytime was—is—will be—maybe I should consult Dr. Streetmentioner’s Time Traveler's Handbook of 1001 Tense Formations—y’know, that got actually written on Wikifiction in honour of the anniversary of Douglas Adam’s death—i’m getting way too serious about this “person in the past” thing—oh, I’ll just write in past tense for now. It’s what I’ve been doing, since it’s past tense for me. And I’m writing in first person, so I should write the tense that I’m in—
Anyway, the strip was plainly visible. Everybody just wondered how they did it, and why it was kept so secretive.
So now you know, eh? They never did it. We did.
• • •
The Bagley Document, section 6, part 4
It was a long room full of screens. Every three screens, there was a person watching them, with a keyboard and a mouse in front of them. Every few seconds, the screens would change. And every few screen changes, somebody would hit their big green hold button, or their big blue pause button, and take a closer look. These were scenes from the Experiments selected by various complex or not-so-complex computer algorithms as suspicious or out-of the ordinary.
And on one screen, something unusual appeared. A pinprick of white in a sea of blackness, instead of the normal jungle, beach camp, or similar wilderness-with-people-there scene. At the top of the screen, it said “Holding Room: mi 2, 4895’ x mi 1, 4362’ : 3:48 AM : LIGHT.”
The green button was pushed. A key combination was pressed on the keyboard, and the picture flashed into the false colors of an infrared camera. Red and yellow figures were wandering around, sitting down, and lying on the floor. But in the center, there was a blob of green and blue with red hands, and a head sticking out.
Something on the keyboard got pressed again, and the light flashed to where the hand was.
Without much celebration, the mouse was awoken from its long slumber and the face of the station manager appeared on the center screen.
“There is an intruder in the holding room, sir.”
“Someone wearing clothes and with a flashlight near the back entrance.”
“ʼBout a hundred yards.”
“I’ll alert the boss.”
• • •
“What?” The voice sounded cranky.
“According to Chaney, there is someone with clothes and a flashlight—”
“Where?” More than just cranky, it was barking now.
“—near the back entrance,” the first voice said, seemingly unfazed by the interruption.
“Well, what do we do about it?”
“We could rush some of the experiments and euthanize the rest, or we could reconnect them—”
“No, and NO!”
Well, sir, you should think of something. It’s your job.”
There was a banging sound, presumably the microphone picking up the sound of slamming the off button.
• • •
The Bagley Document, section 11 (“The chatty section”), part 4
So now it is time for the grand escape/rescue plan. (In case you didn’t hear, they hypnotized me and I remember everything now.)
The idea is that somebody else sneaks in, and puts some gas into the ventilation and heating system. Then with everyone knocked out, both the people we’re after and the people trying to keep who we’re after, our massive crew comes in with gas masks and trucks and takes everybody back to the NASC.
Then we move on to the SASC. Then the ESC, and the AISC and the AFSC—this is our first continent. And it might be much harder then, since we have the element of surprise.
There are a lot of things that could go wrong. But time is precious, so we must proceed.
• • •
The Bagley Document, section 18, part 4 (debated, may be section 11, part 5)
Time. Yes, time.
If we had time, we could do this better.
But as time progresses, more experiments start.
As time progresses, the people back home get more and more worried.
They currently think they have as much time as they want.
Once we do this, whether we are successful or not, they will speed up, so we must speed up too.
Yet once this is done, time is what we will be waiting for.
Yes. time is everything.
• • •
“I heard that they’re gonna break us all out soon,” said Morgan, one of the people near the place I woke up, all who I have gotten acquainted with. Not much else to do. “They’re gonna gas the whole building out, then blow up the parts that don’t have us in it, then haul us out on trucks. Or so they say. Y’know.”
“Yes, I know. We’ll see, won’t we.”
We sat, adding no noise to the constant background of whispering.
“Listen to the whispering,” he said after a while. I listened. It was slowly getting quieter.
I started to feel as you do when you suddenly stand up after relaxing for a while. My vision blackened, and I felt woozy and lightheaded. I wondered if this meant the rumor was correct, and this was the last thought I had before passing out.
• • •
The Bagley Document, section 11, part 6
Well, I was one of the lowly bus/truck/sleeping body transport vehicle drivers. I’ll miss out on the rest of the action. I guess that’s what I wanted, needing a rest after being one of the ones who originally snuck into the holding rooms, but y’know. I’ll miss out.
As I sat waiting in the sleeper truck, I tried to recall some minutia of reconnecting these people. I helped design a small portion of this equipment and learned about the basics of most of it from my peers, so I’m the one (along with a few others) who’s supposed to know. We briefed everyone who’ll be waiting at the NASC on it, but there might be one thing we missed—
Oh, yes. There was.
In what felt like the time it takes for a large army of people to pile bodies onto carts and cart them to trucks, but was probably much shorter, they were here. They promptly—much faster than they seemed—piled the bodies into the bus. As I drove, I recalled how my grandpa, a former professional truck driver, said that you used to have to manually shift between 16 gears and do a bunch of other hard stuff to drive a truck, and he needed to go to a special truck-driving school. Good thing it’s so much easier now.
Much faster than it seemed, we got there; much faster than it seemed, they unloaded the bodies while much faster than it seemed, I told the reconnection crew of what we had missed; and faster than it seemed, we drove back to where the people were already collecting bodies. But they weren’t, for we weren’t fast enough; and in their place, they were waiting for us.
Well, I did say that things that could go wrong, didn’t I.
• • •
The Bagley Document, section 1, part 1
“Hello, people of 2014.
“We present you with a compilation of audio recordings, images, motion picture recordings, written accounts and diaries from a major event of our time.
“These will be represented on physical items of your time, because there is no way of knowing if you could read it if it was digital. Writing is on paper, audio recordings are represented as grooves on discs of plastic, and motion pictures as images on semitransparent plastic sheets. This will be handy in proving or disproving the Thaker hypothesis, which states that, even with deliberate effort, the future cannot modify the past in way that is significantly observable in the future. If you avert this disaster, it will be disproven, if you don’t, it will provide strong evidence for it. This is the primary reason for this message.”
• • •
So, this is a compilation of parts of the mysterious Bagley Document. Hopefully this will explain what I experienced, described above. I was one of the lucky few to get rescued…
As for the Thaker hypothesis, this thing happened, but the Bagley Document is still accessible, so does that disprove it? We shall see…