Walls, a floor, a roof. No windows. Under the surface of a forgotten landscape.
James closed his journal.
The digital clock on the wall displayed 2358. Two minutes until a new day, a new year even. A time of joy and celebration in an old world. An old world that had never known such loneliness.
James was in a bunker, isolated from the sun, any stragglers, any companions. Total isolation had led to a life of dedication to someday save humanity. But, after countless completions of life-saving projects and research, he found himself still alone.
A burning kind of loneliness. A loneliness that kept him awake every night for hours. He knew that all of his work would be in vain if he could not step outside his safe house while also knowing that outside conditions were in critical condition.
The clock rolled over to 2359. James stared at the glowing red numbers. His hands curled into fists, his eyes filled with tears. This was not to be another year of being alone.
Traditions of New Year’s Eve were long forgotten and meaningless in James’s world. For years he had carried on marking the days as he guessed they would be. Celebrating new breakthroughs like Holidays, even naming days after them. But when all hope had been lost, James gave up on traditions that were only slowing him down.
This year, he knew that he would make one New Year’s Resolution, his last resolution.
The narrator drew to a close and the screen behind him dimmed to a low, grey light.
What I have just read to you is a summary of the beginning of our founder’s mission to save humanity from becoming nonexistent after the destruction of an all-out world war. James Grant, the hero we all recognize today on the one hundredth anniversary of our reclaimed town, was a man that did not fear the item of fear itself. He braved an outside world many of us would not attempt to brave today. For all of our safety, our condolences must go to him.
As the current mayor of Greystone, I can say that I never knew him well, and so it would not be fair for me to tell his story. In a time a hundred years later than our foundation was set, I never got to meet our hero.
Picture it now. Time is stopped, he has seconds to decide. He was a man of integrity, and if a goal was set, he would meet it. Can you picture it?
Now here in the town of Greystone we all know the story, but for everyone, I present to you the journal of James Grant, brought to life for the first time ever.
The following is a collection of video and voice recordings detailing the struggles and challenges our fearless hero went through. A man of honor, let us all study this heroic tale. On the screen behind me will be live footage and voice recording directly from Grants personal equipment.
Before we begin this presentation, I ask you all to ponder this question as our founder has. In a time of need, would you step up to save your fellow man and woman?
“Happy New Years to a new people. The time is now 0010 hours, and it is quite past my bedtime. My name is James Grant, and while you might not know me well, I have a mission to save humanity. On this day, at the time when the sun rises high into the sky, I will set out on my journey to find anyone I can and restore civilization. I do not know what is out there, and there are many who might not know what is left. I will be documenting my entire journey with the use of video and sound recordings. I will also share for the first time ever, brilliant technology and medicine never before seen. I wish to leave a footprint in the history of mankind, and I want you all to sign it.”
James rolled the chair away from the monitor.
“Arlin, was that too much or was that too little? You know I’m not all that great with these type of things…maybe I’ll do it over I think I can certainly come up with something more…”
“Something more fake and heartless, you mean. While I may not have the capacity to assess emotion, your symptoms indicate to me that you are nervous, yet you have not met another humanoid. You have worked very hard James, I ask that you do not let it go to waste”, Arlin interrupted.
James knew he was right. He always was. That smug look on his steel robot face always indicated a form of intelligence that James knew he could never achieve. He sat back down and looked at the screen. He carefully saved the file, and watched as the server in front of him fired to life. Every hard drive was searched, every fan kicked on. The faint buzz and glow hung over the room for a minute, and then silence.
He looked below the screen, where his favorite old glasses were sitting. The kids back in school never believed him when he said it could help him make decisions. He put the glasses back on again, reconnecting with a forgotten perspective.
The glasses were quick to inform James of their possibility.
“Oculus Version 3.78 is syncing with human brain capacity. Please allow a few minutes to resync with atmosphere.”
James scanned the old familiar screen. A warm glowing hologram flashed in front of his eyes. Old pictures formed before his eyes, old files were checked and rechecked, and the system was connecting itself to his brainwaves.
At a young age, James had come up with the idea to create glasses that could pick up everything he missed, and after a while implant messages directly into his brain. The glasses had far surpassed that, and James was happy to have his advocate back where it belonged.
“Oculus, begin visual recording from this point out.”
‘Absolutely, master’ echoed in James brain, and a red dot flashed to life in the top right corner of a glowing screen.
“Hello again, I am broadcasting this message in hopes that someone receives my message or finds this later. My name is James Grant, and today I am stepping outside of safety in hopes to connect with humanity. What is outside those walls is something that I do not know, but today I will have a definitive answer. I will establish a positioning system soon, but my gear is set and I am ready to ascend into the long forgotten sunlight. Wish me luck.”
And the citizens of Greystone watched their hero climb a ladder and unlatch a heavy steel door. A few presses of buttons, and the airtight seal released its pressure, and opened out towards the unknown.
What was outside was not the dreary, completely barren wasteland James had pictured. Certainly the land was sparse on resources and showed signs of war, but James wore a smile on his face.
The Oculus detected his emotion, and quickly showed James what used to be outside the very walls he had spent the past 8 years in.
Across the street was the place he used to live as a kid. And right where the Bunker door is at was where home base used to be when he was a teenager. Across the fields were the friends and family he used to see every holiday. In the hologram, they all stood waving. All the memories, good and bad. James knew he had to save it for everyone.
James started to speak, then simply stopped and started heading for the road. He could see the town from here, and he knew that daylight was a-wasting just like his old man used to say.
The houses that used to stand on the other side of the street were no more. The concrete was stolen from their foundations to build the mega wall. Everyone lost their safety, and the wall didn’t even keep anyone out.
James thought about it a lot, the things he could have done then that would have changed how things are now. He knew this kind of thought was useless. What’s in the past is long gone, and he didn’t know then what he knows now.
The road was mostly there, aside from a few spots that were seamlessly removed from their chain by high speed missiles and hand held explosive devices. The war had certainly not been kind, but James’ assessment was that it had been at least somewhat kind to this road.
He looked down at his shoes, and smiled. The newest technologies allowed him to have boots that kept him warm and dry, while weighing nothing more than a feather.
He looked up at the sky. The blue he used to know was now a bleak gray haze that seemed to hang about like a kite dangling from a tree.
He looked around and saw decaying tree stumps, and a few sparse patches of grass.
He looked ahead and froze.
A figure was standing at the edge of the town. He was holding in his hand an object that looked familiarly like a military grade assault rifle.
His Oculus quickly kicked in.
“James, the figure is a man, approximately 63 years in age wearing a military uniform that belonged to a Private First Class in the last Great War. The object he is holding is a training rifle. Recommended strategy based on personality: Approach slowly and use charisma to get him on your side. Someone less intelligent would have been fooled. Shows signs of bravery, and the uniform he is wearing might actually be his.”
Within seconds James had heard and processed all of this information. He was approaching the man as Oculus finished downloading the debrief.
“I come in peace, hoping to aid any survivors in rebuilding civilization,” James said.
The man lowered his training rifle. He put out a hand to welcome James, and the project of rebuilding had begun.
The man James had met was Edward S. Raugh, a peaceful farmer who had lived in the area for many years. He had a great knowledge of the land and its soil, and for that James was thankful. With the help of Edward, James could gradually begin to start developing a food source for the massive influx of refugees he expected to encounter.
“Journal entry 15. Today I have decided to start examining the likes of my close companion Edward R. Stone. I have learned many things from Stone as I have stated in my previous entries. For the sake of keeping you all on track in this examination, I will restate my observations and discoveries in some kind of thesis. I will be looking at Stone’s past, his qualities, and his aspirations in hopes of describing to our future generation the great man I have been working with. I will begin with his past, in which he was raised on his family farm, a farm that was passed down from generation to generation. He grew up in his small town, and married who would be the love of his life when he was just 16. Together with his wife Lucile, Stone would go on to be constantly outworked by his wife. At the age of 32, when the war had begun, Lucile shipped off to fight with intentions of protecting their town. She was a brave woman, a woman who unfortunately lost her fight to protect. This leads me to my observation of Stone’s qualities. I believe he works to be a strong and brave soul in hopes that he can live up to Lucile’s legacy. He is a simple man, a dedicated man, and his goals are to help everyone he can. He is the greatest man I have ever met, and for his presence I am thankful.”
The audience watched as James stood up from his chair with tears in his eyes to rapidly shit off the recording. Before he shut off the recording he added, “Lucile Marie Grey will never be forgotten.”
Together, James and Edward worked hard to set up an infrastructure that could become completely self-sustainable. The current citizens of Greystone watched as the two planted seeds in the pouring down rain. There were scenes of the two posing for a picture and then tackling each other into the mud. The two had become brothers.
Within a few years, the fields they had worked so hard to establish were producing far less than they would have before the war had ruined the landscape. As James had predicted, many people flooded their growing town as the newly established radio towers relayed messages of safety across the dusty airwaves. The food they could produce was enough for people to get by, but rations had been put in place to preserve as much food as possible.
People who came to the town were asked to find something they could do to help everyone else. People who had been builders before the war took up hammers and saws to construct crude houses for the refugees. Veterans of the war offered aid to people in need who were far away. Farmers helped to analyze the landscape. All of the people found their place and passion, and together, Greystone started to form and grow.
“Journal entry 295. The status of the recovery of civilization has been slow but steady. I have travelled every mile I can every day, and so have the great men and women who have been following me. As I have covered in prior entries, the chances of becoming sustainable before our food supplies run out is low. I never like to be the bearer of bad news, and today I feel even more distaste. After assessments from my professionally calibrated medical team, it has been discovered that I am riddled with a new disease that he have labeled CX-189. The disease is believed to have come from the high levels of contaminants spread in the war. My team has already started to work rapidly scanning every inch and angle of the disease, and finding that it is spreading just as rapidly. Within days, I will lose my ability to walk. Within weeks, I will no longer be able to see the hard work you all are doing. Within months I will no longer be able to communicate with you at all. Within the next year or two, I will succumb to a disease that I seek to cure for all of you, in any way I can. I will be extending free scans to all of you, and I will be giving up everything that I can in hopes of reviving the human race. If I should ever be unable to perform my tasks, I am certain that General Stone can rise to the task or advise the best candidate. Rest easy Greystonians. That is all.”