|The Wristwatch Forest
Author: ReLies PM
In a world where electricity has never been developed, a stunning new science has filled that niche. Transpathicy, the study and use of chemical signals in cells, has been developed into transportation, communication, and computation. But the transpathic system is a fragile one, and what would happen if it failed? As a deadly virus sweeps the world, one man struggles to find hope.Rated: Fiction T - English - Sci-Fi/Adventure - Chapters: 3 - Words: 2,631 - Published: 08-03-12 - id: 3047427
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Hills, verdant through design only, rose on either side of the town. Funny, he thought, how fragile it all was.
How typically fragile.
The development of transpathicy changed the world forever. When Edison created the first lumen, he had no idea the impact this new technology would have on the rest of the world. Today, most everything is transpathic: from orderesques to lumens to the arum beds that transport commuters everywhere.
He still remembered the passage from the textbooks in school. Everything is transpathic. Though based on nature, nothing was truly natural.
Transpathicy was a way of harnessing the chemical signals in cells. When separated from multi-cellular organisms, transpathic nets – or long strings of neurons – could be fashioned into a material called amphor. Amphor, when spun into cables, could cause muscle cells to contract or expand, or bioluminescent cells to light up. Fantastic devices had been created out of amphor: orderesques, which could calculate seemingly infinite equations, display pictures, play sounds, or combine the two into a film. Voxes could record and play music anytime one desired to hear it. Photoesques could freeze a scene in time, and print it on paper, preserved forever. The world was a wonderful place, according to the history books. Better now than ever before.
But Petir wasn't so sure. The arum beds, built to transport people fast and efficiently, had grown out of control. The once-rare salix trees, used to propel people through the air, had proliferated. Genetic variation was rare, and many native species of animal or plant had vanished. Society was lush on the surface only.
Petir checked the watch wrapped around his wrist. It was an antique. Clockwork: developed long before transpathicy. Hardly anything clockwork still existed. Five minutes until he had to leave, with or without her. He could do this on his own.
He set his skater on the loading dock, just before the arum bed's undulating tendrils. He hated traveling by arum. Petir walked whenever possible. The orderesques behind the arums were simply too unreliable. Crashing, and at the speeds the arum carried the skaters, was unimaginable.
He checked the clockwork watch again. Two minutes.
Petir sighed and fastened his boots onto the skater. Oh well. When Kayla shows, she can catch up.
"Kayla. What kept you?"
The dark-haired woman ran up, flipping her own skater into the loading dock next to him.
"You can't travel by arum with your hair down. If you were a girl you'd know that."
"You're saying it took you fifteen minutes to put your hair in a ponytail?" asked the incredulous Petir. "Whatever. We're gonna be late."
"I'm not gonna be late," laughed Kayla, shoving on a helmet and punching her destination into the orderesque keypad before her.
She took off, weaving off on the undulating arum beds. It was totally illegal to skate like that: you were supposed to remain on the course the orderesque set for you. Otherwise it can't control everyone's destination. Crashes. Lots of crashes could happen.
Petir followed suit, losing sight of his overzealous competitor in the throng of commuters. He sighed. This was her way of distracting herself from the frailty. Flirting with it.
The arum shifted beneath him, almost throwing him off. The wooden skater ground to a halt. All around Petir lay yellow, dead swathes of arum. Patches expanding rapidly into the healthy arum behind him. What was going on?
There was Kayla, stopped just up ahead. She was kneeling on the ground, examining one of the dead plants.
"Petir," she called. "Come here. Doesn't this look like the CG virus?"
Petir bent and unfastened himself from the skater, confusion explicit on his face. "The thing we've been researching?"
"Well, it's not quite the same. CG doesn't work that fast."
"Same family, then?"
"Absolutely. Possibly the same genus."
"Shit. Is it a new strain?"
"As near as I can tell."
"So you're telling me that an entirely new virus has suddenly appeared, wiping out the entire town's arum beds in a matter of seconds?"
"There has to be a logical explanation… but oh well. That's the cleanup crew's problem. We have classes to get to."
"Come on, Kayla. We've got to get to University." Petir picked up his skater and strode purposefully away.
"Petir! Look!" Kayla pointed to the towering salix trees that lined the yellow arum bed. "Whatever it is, it's getting the salixes, too."
Realizing the implication, Petir stopped midstride, whirling around. "It can't get everything amphor, can it? Try your pocket-orderesque."
Kayla rooted through her pockets for the tiny invention, pulling out the miniature orderesque. It crumpled in her hand, deteriorated beyond repair.
She was scared. "Petir…"
The voxes lining the road crackled, obviously trying to say something. But they too were dead and dry. Cables suspended midair snapped and fell, residential bioboxes grew holes and fell away, revealing their metal frames.
Kayla and Petir stood, humbled, watching the disaster but utterly powerless. They were viral anatomy students at the University, in the same classes, fighting together through the late nights of studying and long days of paperwork. Both had bright futures developing cures for the engineered viruses being released by terrorists into the world's infrastructure.
Of course, not anymore.
Transpathicy was done. Destroyed, utterly, in a matter of days by the very thing Petir had been hoping to fight.
Once more, damn.