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I am Humanity (an extract from It might as well be string theory)

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It's O.K. to be one step behind unless you're on the evolutionary ladder

Scifi / Drama
Chris Troman
Age Rating:

Chapter 14

I am Humanity

“You could have made it taste good, at least in my head.” Bob spat the lukewarm beer out, and staggered away from the fridge. “You know strict rules apply to tampering with exhibits minds.” Tends to the invertebrates broke in to Bob’s thoughts in defense.

“And don’t keep thinking of me as head zoo keeper, this isn’t a zoo. It’s a haven for species unable to return to their natural habitat.” “You let Gerald go last week.” “That was because he is an orangutan, and the forests are reestablishing under civilized cultivation. After the disastrous damage your species did to it.” Bob was reminded of the one thing that managed to pervade most of his waking thoughts. Which made tends to the invertebrates blush.

But with all the patience that got him this job, he explained to Bob. “No we haven’t found any lost tribes we could place you in. The last of those was discovered by your lot, over a thousand years ago.” Bob spat bitterly, “It doesn’t have to be a whole tribe. Just one woman would do. Perhaps a throwback to Homo sapiens.” He pleaded with the Homo superior being.

“Genetics doesn’t work that way, once evolutions done its work. So a Homo superior woman could no more bare a Homo sapien child, than she could a chimp.” Bob put his stereo on in a huff, and tends to the invertebrates sensed the conversation was over.

For Bob had put on never gonna give you up by Rick Astley. One thing tends to the invertebrates had never figured out, was how filling Bob’s mind with the classical songs of the early nineteen eighty crooners, seemed to block the Homo sapiens brain waves. The best tactic he had come up with at these times, was to retreat to a safe distance, where his head didn’t ache. After all he wasn’t sure if it was bad for him, to experience that kind of mental interference.

He had sort the advice of tends to your bodily functions lower east side Manhattan. But the professional had found no abnormality with his mental map. So tends to the invertebrates just had to put it down as an annoyance, and took a break.

Bob knew it was an annoyance too, which was one of the reasons he was playing the song. The other reason was that these times were the only ones Bob could safely think about escape. It had been preying on his mind for some time, for he was desperate for companionship, with someone who couldn’t read your every thought. And these jokers, although they had treated him with utmost kindness, had no hope of finding Bob a mate. So come hell or high water, Bob would just have to find one himself.

His plan was a simple one, just stroll out the door and take it from there. Even he had to admit it lacked certain details, such as how to unlock the door. But Bob had a vague idea about that, perhaps some sort of emergency that would require tends to the invertebrates to enter his cell. It was more like a lavish flat if all be told, but to Bob it was a cell. The next bit might be tricky, and Bob’s plan for that was also crude. But Bob was desperate, and good plans were hard to come by with little information to work on. He would have to go with the one he had settled on.

It would have to look like an accident, or his would be jailer might smell a trap, and take more precautions than Bob could count on. So finishing the details, Bob started thinking about changing the filter on his fish tank. It was a mundane task that required concentration, because it was fiddly. This had the desired effect of taking Bob’s mind off his plan, or even escape. So when he turned his music player off, tends to the invertebrates was none the wiser, when he got back in range to stop his headache.

Bob was busy cooking breakfast when it happened. The oil got too hot, and all of a sudden flames were shooting up to the ceiling. Bob started running around flapping his arms in panic. tends to the invertebrates sensed bob’s blind fear all the way across on the other side of the building. So he came running. As he descended to level seven, he got a better picture of the disaster unfolding, and wondered why the sprinklers had not deployed.

Every second would count now if he were to avert a catastrophe. After all, Bob was the only known specimen of Homo sapien. And besides the affection tends to the invertebrates had for him, it would look bad if he lost the only one left.

He sprinted round the last corner and fumbled with his key chain. Why were there so many on it; he would have to do something about that. Perhaps change the locks so only one key would be needed. And then he found the right one, and shoved the door open.

The heat blast knocked him back, followed by Bob as he bounded through the door. A hold all clutched to his chest, and some headphones covering his ears. One look at the perplexed tends to the invertebrates, told Bob it would be superfluous to set his stereo going, ready to blast out take on me by A-Ha. As the tender was too busy with a fire extinguisher, to pay Bob much attention.

After a brief look to see his ward was safe. “Just stay there please,” was all he said. But Bob ignored the command. And leaving his keeper to clean up the mess, he slipped off. It was like a maze in there, as Bob took one wrong turn after another. But finally he found an exit to the outside. And he stood like a panther escaped from the zoo.

Then the wide-open space hit Bob like a wave, he’d never realized that the outside world was so big. Being raised from a baby in the controlled environment of his cell, Bob had only the ancient material of his race to learn about the world. He had seen pictures of the wide-open spaces, poured over images of sky scraping cities. He even knew the thrill of a video flight over the vast expanses of the world. But as far actually feeling the wind on his face, having to focus on a horizon many miles off. Bob was in virgin territory.

His legs began to buckle and his head swam. Just as Bob was about to fall down the metal steps before him, he unconsciously brought pressure on the play button of his stereo. And the dulcet tones of Simple Minds bolstered his stance, as Don’t You Forget About Me began to fill Bob’s audio world, like an unseen friend. He gripped the handrail and stepped out in to a new day.

The sense of tense purpose faded from Bob, as he realized the alarm had not been raised. No one was coming to round him up. He was as free as the proverbial birds. Bob looked up and saw some starlings flocking towards the sun, as he stepped in to the deserted streets of the early morning.

By luck Bob had timed his escape well, for just an hour from now these very pavements would be full of the people who populated this world, Homo superior. On their way to work, or what ever other pursuits they were engaged in.

As it was, Bob only saw a lone figure stumbling along on the other side of the street. They were clutching their head, as if struck by a sudden headache. And Bob had a moment of epiphany, as he turned down the volume on Gold by Spandau Ballet, now currently playing through his headphones. The figure straitened up as if the pain had eased up, but not completely. “This might actually work,” thought Bob. He had until that moment, been getting a feeling of trepidation over his flight of fancy.

Bob soon found a park, and headed for some dense bushes. Then he pushed his way in until the foliage hid him, and he settled down to wind up his rechargeable power source. He daren’t lose his mental disguise; it was the only way Bob knew of, that stopped any Tom Dick or Harry breaking in to his thoughts, to invade his private world.

It really hadn’t occurred to him before that he could temper the effect he had discovered, in subjecting his mind to the precious tracks contained on his player. For his relationship with tends to the invertebrates, had always been one of keeper and caged beast. Despite his protector’s attempts to make friends with the lower life form.

Bob knew he would never be able to read another’s mind, not in the way tends to the invertebrates and his kind could. But Bob had developed skills lost to his mental superiors. By looking at their face or listening to the inflection of the voice, Bob could get an approximation of his keepers mood. Almost fooling him in to the belief that Bob could develop telepathy. But a quick scan of Bob’s thoughts in an unguarded moment, soon dispelled the telepaths belief that this mere Homo sapien could spontaneously evolve.

Bob considered this as he lay in the undergrowth, trying to quell his rumbling stomach. And wishing for night, when he could break this cover and forage for food. Then he would try and find his way out of the confusing mess he was again regretting he had stated.

One advantage of Bob’s place of concealment; was that it offered an excellent view of a litterbin not twelve feet from him. And over the course of the day, he had seen not only the remains of some discarded food, but also a newspaper placed in the receptacle before him. Given the choice of rummaging through the scraps of the new masters of the world or starving, Bob knew which side his stomach would be on. If only he could but raise a sound from it, his hunger having passed beyond complaint, to a dull ache.

As the twilight faded in to night, and the pavement became a place of light and shadow, the last of the people thinned out to a sparse trickle. No one would notice a lone figure, and social decorum kept themselves in their own little worlds, uninterested in mental interchange with a stranger. This was the moment Bob was waiting for. And moving almost nonchalantly, he broke the cover of his den to approach the object of his desire.

After a brief scan of the empty street, he got to work stuffing what edible morsels he could find, in to a discarded take out food bag. He was still too cautious to feast on this bounty denied him all day, until he was safely out of sight of any prying eyes. Then he stuffed the folded newspaper in to his pocket, and stalked off.

Bob didn’t know which direction to head next, so he retreated back to his lair in the bushes. Where he filled his aching stomach now rumbling in complaint, from its ill treatment. At last all his foraged food was gone, and still hungry for more, Bob turned his attention to the newspaper.

As it turned out, his bid for freedom had not made the front page. He had to scan through to page seventeen, to find out how his pursuit was unfolding.

Fire at the animal institute. Fire gutted an enclosure at the animal institute last night, in the Homo sapien enclosure. Luckily the keeper in charge of that section was alerted in time to save the last known Homo sapien in North America, possibly the world. Unfortunately the specimen wandered free of the institute and may be of harm to himself, as he is unused to the modern world. Although he appears to look like a normal forty six year old male, slightly over weigh with short dark hair. Robert Jones, the name he goes by, is completely unable to communicate telepathically, and so should be easy to locate. Tends to the invertebrates informed our reporter that although he had to admit he still had no idea where his ward was, or even how the fire how was started. Robert seemed to be in a confused state when I saw him bolt from his enclosure. “So I was unable to read his mind regarding the accident. But for some reason the sprinkler system failed to operate, and by the time I had brought the situation under control Robert had gone”, the keeper informed our reporter. The relevant authorities are on the look out for the missing Homo sapien.

Bob put the paper down. So the packing he had put around the sprinkler had done its job he mused; as the tail end of let’s dance by David Bowie played for the umpteenth time since he had escaped. Then the strain of all this hiding in fear finally hit Bob, for now his stomach had something to work on. And the realization he had at least one less worry, knowing he had got this far undetected, his body and mind demanded the much needed sleep Bob had deprived himself of all day. After all he was used to a sedentary life; being raised alone in captivity, and losing his parents at such a young age. He let the paper drop from his fingers, as his eyes fluttered shut.

Bob was back in his little world playing with a toy car. His father picked him up and held Bob in his arms. “Oh you pretty thing”, his doting but aged parent had crushed the squirming child, as Bob tried to retrieve his toy. Then as if some sudden pain gripped him, Bob’s father stiffened and fell to the floor. The man Bob came to know as tends to the invertebrates rushed in, and with a start Bob awoke in the bushes once more.

It was starting to get light again, and in a panic he began to wind up his music player. Before any passing stranger could pick up on every stray thought Bob had.

Bob never knew his mother; for years he didn’t know he needed one, until the books he read informed him of that fact of life. It was tends to the invertebrates that told him how his mother died. “Giving birth to you Robert”, he had casually informed the young orphan. And then the unrefined emotions had washed over the custodian, of this last example of Homo sapiens.

Bob looked out from his new jail, the organic nature of it made no difference to his ability to fly. For as Bob looked at the throng of passers by, he wondered how long he would remain free in the full light of day. So sinking down to wait for another chance at escape, Bob started to take in more than his immediate surroundings. It was partly to form a feasible plan of escape, but mostly to stave off the hunger pain gnawing at him again.

Wriggling further in he could see a big building, a short run from his temporary haven. There were white-coated people mixing with others in green uniforms, at the entrance. Bob read the legend over the double door. “St. Vincent’s hospital staff entrance.” If he could get a change of clothing and enough food, he could be away from this place. And perhaps then some new opportunity would present itself.

Keeping as still as possible, Bob tried to conserve his energy for the coming night. But still he kept a vigil on the entrance; it didn’t appear to be either locked or guarded. So he just had to wait for a quiet moment, when he could slip inside and gather supplies.

As the light faded once more, the cool air brought a sense of urgency to Bob’s plight. Yet he still had to slap his face, to stave off the much-needed sleep he was denying himself. Finally he could put it off no longer, and so slipping through the final branches that hid him, Bob tried to approach the door as nonchalantly as possible.

There was a flash of light, and diving sideways Bob came skidding to a halt behind a big bin. It was only then that he realized he had set off an automatic light sensor. So emboldened by embarrassment at his flight Bob approached the door, and reaching out he found it swung open easily. Now he had to get some food.

The corridors seemed to go on forever, and now he was inside Bob realized how easy it would be to trap him in this enclosed space. He began to move cautiously, ready to flee at the first sign of movement. Bob cursed the impairment to his hearing, from the ever-present sound in his headphones. But he dare not switch it off; least some unseen presence detected his intentions, and raised the alarm.

There was a door to his right, and now a desperate Bob turned the handle and entered. The low level of light suited Bob allowing him to search the room without attracting attention. With just the soft moonlight bathing it through the window.

That was when he noticed the bed. There was a figure breathing softly as if asleep. Well let them stay that way thought Bob; I’ll not break in to their thoughts. And he skirted round to look for anything that looked like food. Bob passed the end of the bed and brushed against a clipboard, which slipped off its hook. Making a grab for it Bob just caught the metal rectangle before it clattered to the floor, which would have woken anyone.

Then tensely studying the soft features still relaxed in sleep, Bob’s eyes followed the form down. There seemed to be something on the sleeper’s chest, perhaps some beast hiding under the sheets. Then curiosity got the better of Bob, and he eased the bedclothes down to see what this hidden creature must be.

The sleeper’s eyes flew open. The shocked surprise in Bob’s face at finding the mysterious lumps on her chest were part of the now screaming figure, was reflected in the face of the woman crying “Rape” at the top of her voice.

Bob recoiled and in the confusion, as his headphones skidded across the floor. He tried to retrieve them, but it was too late. In response to the woman’s cries, burly figures had burst through the door, and were now pinning Bob to the floor. Their angry tones flooding in to Bob’s confused mind, as the woman sat up sobbing.

Then one of the figures pinning Bob to the floor sensed the pattern of Bob’s mind, and with disgust he turned to the other hospital attendant. “It’s the Homo sapien, that’s bestiality that is.” The woman swooned and Bob was dragged out in to the corridor, where more people stood watching the captive beast. Bob felt a sharp prick to his arm and he felt the world fade, as he slipped in to unconsciousness.

Bob’s eyes fluttered open, and he groaned as he took in the familiar sight of his old pen. They must have redecorated it after the fire he thought. Then the familiar voice of tends to the invertebrates slipped in to his mind. “I’m glad your back home Bob. I hope you didn’t suffer too much, but your safe now. And I think you might find the surprise I’ve got for you will make life a little more bearable here. You see while you were away; an expedition to Norway made an astonishing find.”

Bob wondered what his keeper meant, as he got up on an elbow. That was when he saw the long blond haired figure. They turned at the sound of Bob’s movement. And as their eyes met, bob noticed the long blond moustache. As the lips below it smiling spoke in Nordic tones, “I though I was the only one left alive. Until they told me about you.”

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