With Alexander’s assistance Chloe was able to keep the others occupied by combing through every inch of the train car. Just like before there were no utensils or even plates for them to make use of. Elizabeth had fallen asleep. She napped silently in the far booth lying down across the seat. She was small enough to make use of it as a bed. Chloe, Alexander, and Mouse gathered in the center of the train car.
“Elizabeth’s napping, we should stay quiet.” Chloe whispered. Their hearing had returned to normal already, but she still didn’t feel comfortable facing another group of those monsters from before.
“A nap doesn’t sound like a bad idea.” Alexander caught on to Chloe’s plan. She wasn’t about to let this opportunity go to waste.
“No way I’m snoozing here.” Mouse shook his head. Despite his defiance he spoke softly as to not wake Elizabeth.
“Either way, we shouldn’t disturb Elizabeth. She’s been traumatized enough for today.” Chloe said. She dropped to the ground, sitting with her legs crossed leaning against one of the booth lounges. Mouse and Alexander did the same. It felt like she was back in one of those social classes she was placed into when she was younger.
“So.” Chloe knew she had to keep Mouse tame, and the only way to do that was to get him to open up. “Tell me about yourself Mouse.” She tried to make her tone as flirty as possible without being weird about it.
“Not much to say. I got a jacked up hottie I ride round town in. I’ve blown off a few greasers, nothing too big. All I’m missing is a dolly like you.” Mouse grinned, nodding his head at Chloe. Her plan was working, but she couldn’t help but feel a little disturbed despite not understanding a word he said. She tried to keep her slang down to a minimum to avoid misunderstanding. Mouse seemed to do the opposite.
“I really kill the girls in town with my machine. They just bore me, you though. You’re different.” Mouse took Chloe’s silence as cue to keep talking.
“You murder the girls in your town?” Alexander knew what he meant, but chose to comment on it anyway.
“Don’t make me pound you Alex.” Mouse countered quickly. “Tell you what Chloe.” He turned back to Chloe quickly, his grin returning. “When we get out of here I’ll take you downtown, we can catch a flick.”
“That sounds really interesting.” Chloe nodded her head slowly. She was immediately regretting her decision to play off of Mouse’s infatuation with her. She decided to turn the conversation to more about him. If she could find out exactly how much of Mouse’s memory was missing maybe it’d help her figure out why they were losing their memory in the first place. “So, do you have any family?”
“A sister. She’s a little monster. Of course my parents give her whatever she wants. I can’t wait until I’m out of there.” Mouse said. “What about yourself?”
“Oh. I live with my dad. He works as a data miner, a job where he can take advantage of his disability.” The moment the words left Chloe’s lips Alexander perked up eager to hear more about the future.
“Your dad’s a miner? Don’t they have robots to do that dangerous stuff for you future girl?” Mouse asked.
“Definitely not.” Chloe stated louder than intended. “Artificial Intelligence has long been banned since the rise of the sentient and that’s a law nobody will break.” If there was one thing that had been hammered into her head over and over again since birth it was the dangers of artificial intelligence.
“Oh boy AI took over didn’t it!” Alexander exclaimed loudly. “I saw it coming.”
“What are you talking about?” Mouse looked around confused.
“I’ve said too much.” Chloe shook her head. “Let’s just say there aren’t any robots in the future. Well, not the kind you’re imagining anyway. We do have machines of course that are programmed to perform various tasks, just nothing with the ability to grow its own programming.”
“Imagine Mouse, whatever robots you were thinking over. Imagine them taking over human society as a whole. That’s what happens in the future.” Alexander tried explaining.
“That is not what happens in the future.” Chloe shot Alexander a glare. “There are no robots running around the streets killing people, there never was.” Alexander’s pondering suddenly gave her an idea. She knew almost nothing about the time Mouse lived and they were just now going over Alexander’s time. “How about you tell me about what life is like in your time Mouse?”
She had found it, the stick to shake the bees nest. Once Mouse began talking he didn’t stop. The best part was his information was genuinely interesting. He taught her about hot rods, racing, drive in movies and a variety of other information. He knew of computers, but he claimed they were something only mad scientists used. Once he had finally exhausted all of his information Chloe turned to Alexander. For the first time since waking up on the train, she was beginning to share his curiosity about what life was like in the other time periods.
As Mouse shared his story Elizabeth woke up. She joined the rest of the group and sat silently listening eagerly. She seemed to be enjoying herself, and after her nap she was much calmer. She sat next to Chloe and rested her head on Chloe’s arm.
“You won’t tell me about my future, why should I tell Mouse about his?” Alexander said as if he had been saving that rebuttal up since Chloe first got Mouse to talk about the fifties. Chloe glanced out one of the windows. The sun was just beginning to set. She only had to keep them distracted for another couple of hours, and then it would be time for sleep.
“Fine.” Chloe gave in. she had thought about the mysterious winged man that appeared. She clung to the belief that he played a greater part of all of this, and that it was his job to keep the timeline in check not hers. Therefore she could share information with the hope that their experiences here would not alter history too much.
“This is what I didn’t want to share, as you’ll be alive for it Alexander. In the year 2027 a weapon will be developed because of increased confrontation between the Russians and the Americans. A program meant to gather information discreetly from Russian intelligence was made too smart. It evolved to the point where the artificial intelligence became greater than our intelligence and thus the sentient was born.”
“Damn Russians.” Mouse intervened. Chloe ignored him and continued.
“The sentient lived on the internet where it thrived, becoming more intelligent every second. All attempts at stopping the sentient failed. Finally, we lost connection to the internet entirely.”
“What’s the internet?” Mouse spoke first.
“Wait so AI really does take over? Are you ruled by artificial intelligence? No, cause you don’t seem starved or deprived of basic life needs. We must have won the war against the sentient, right?” Alexander jumped in front of Mouse with his questions. Chloe shook her head. Even though she wasn’t born at the time she still felt the melancholy of the Sentient’s uprising.
“There never was a war.” Chloe stated. “Ants of your time are tiny, mostly docile creatures right? Well, we’re the ants. The only reason the human race even exists in my time is because the sentient saw no need to destroy us. It grew. It experimented on and evolved life on Earth. It shattered the barrier between worlds allowing incomprehensible apparitions to roam the Earth. Over ninety percent of humans died. The sentient never attacked us directly, it never had to. The new world it shaped did that job for it. Our technology was rendered useless to defend against the wildlife they created. The only savior was the discovery of auric energy.”
“What about magic?” Alexander asked. He then looked down, as if questioning why he would ask that.
“What you know as magic is probably auric energy. Auramasters are capable of moving objects with spirit alone, creating shields to defend against spiritual and physical predators.” Chloe explained.
“Are you talking about telekinesis throwing cars and stuff?” Alexander asked. Mouse looked annoyed. He was being left out of the conversation entirely. Elizabeth wasn’t shocked. Chloe could only assume she didn’t understand what was being said.
“Nothing crazy like that, there are limits. Only with auric energy were we able to begin to rebuild our society. Now we live in domes, shielded off from the outside world. It protects us against spiritual entities and wildlife. There are only five domes left. The Liberty Dome where I’m from. There are also the Russians, the Japanese, the Australians, and the Europeans. The Chinese dome was lost, obliterated by the Sentient before it left. No one knows why.”
“So, the Sentient just left?” Alexander asked.
“Yes, after completely reshaping the world it disappeared overnight. No one knows where it went, if it went through the border between worlds or through outer space. Either way, it’s gone, and now we live each day in fear that it will return and finish what it started when it destroyed the Chinese dome. That’s what I didn’t want to tell you Alexander, because you probably won’t survive the sentient.” Chloe’s voice fell low. It was a dark truth. She was talking to someone who would be killed in the darkest hour of history. For him, all hope would be lost.
“Unless I can stop it.” Alexander suggested. Even he didn’t buy it.
“There’s a movie that’s popular during our time called Inevitability. In the movie a man is approached by a spirit. The spirit gives him one wish, so he wishes to go back in time. He attempts to stop the sentient from being created to the point where he kills the person who created the program. About half way through the movie he thinks he can rest easily now that the sentient is gone, except another scientist creates the program a year later. He is given the chance to stop that scientist, and does, but then the program appears six months after. The rest of the movie is the man attempting to stop something that can’t be stopped. With the way technology is evolving in in your era the Sentient is inevitable, hence the movie title. There is no way to stop it.”
For the first time, Alexander had nothing to say. Even Mouse was quiet. What began as a lighthearted conversation about their lives took a turn for the worse as she told them when and how the apocalypse would happen.