I was an archeologist once.
That was rare you see, it was a prosperous time, food was plentiful both in the city gardens and vast surrounding forests of fruit and wild game. Shelter was also easy, thousands of well stocked homes from our ancestors, in peculiar dome shapes but fully functional with solar panels and other luxuries. Some settled, made a family in one of the communities, others travelled the globe staying in the empty homes as they needed. I was one of the latter, as my hobby required travelling.
That is what they were you see, hobbies, not professions. I knew the word from historical texts, I had travelled to many of the great libraries around the Earth. The amount of information within each of them is staggering, within their odd sleek chrome walls. A profession or ‘job’ was something our ancestors used to do for money, which they would exchange for food, shelter and other luxuries.
We had no need for money, or jobs, so most took to hobbies to occupy their time. Some mastered an instrument or other art, some became builders, craftsman, cooks. Others dabbled in many hobbies, usually moving and training with masters.
It was a fine age to live in, we did not need for things.
As such there was no need to learn of history, and all the lessons that came with it. But I chose it for my hobby, and that was my curse.
Maybe it was something about the dirt, I always liked it as a child. Or maybe it was the way our ancestors buildings and tech was so beyond my understanding. Perhaps it was the way the moon rose in the sky. In any case I became an archeologist. It took me to the libraries first.
I was initially fascinated with the wealth of information, especially the names. There were so many of them. Ancient names, names of places, cities and maps long forgotten. The cities now, like the libraries, were simply numbered, it must have been more efficient that way, but the names, they seemed to hold some power, a greater meaning than our arbitrary notation. There were names of classes, of hobby or ‘profession’, they were more specialized, nuanced, than the terms we used. Where we had craftsmen, they had carpenters, welders, surveyors, engineers. It troubled me for a time, that we had lost something. Eventually I settled myself, they had more competition, with requirements to work, some of the divisive language must have come from that. Now thanks to them, we lived simply, and we learned well.
Now more familiar with the consoles and the layout of the library, it was 04 that I had started in, I began to retain the information I read, to learn. I studied the collective history of humans, and how we came to have the wondrous cities and technology that the people used to live happily. I learned of the industrial revolution and then the digital age a century later. I learned of the rise of AI and the dangers of pollution. I learned of our saving the Earth through clean green energy and our radiation resistant homes and clothes. Of the great coming together of nations. But there was so much, for every fact I learned there were hundreds more, and more questions still. I began to move between the libraries, they were relatively close together and never far from a city. I planned to visit them all, but they had roughly the same information, and similar architecture. Still, I visited consoles in each of them. In one I fell ill after forgetting to eat during many days of research, it was on a great War, if I remember correctly. The halls of the libraries were empty in those days, I rarely encountered others and few who I did spoke coherently. Some spoke in riddles about plagues and fire, or fables of great beasts long gone. I did see an old man regularly, staring at the stars.
One night, inside of the fifth or sixth library I visited I found something. It looked like an ordinary scroll cast aside in one of the archive sections of the library. I went there occasionally when I was tired with the consoles and their four panelled walls. This scroll was different, when opened instead of scrolled writing there were lights and floating text. It was a portable console, I had never even heard of such a thing. It was connected to the other libraries I had visited as well as another, it had a search function and an ability to identify objects via a lens. To me it seemed magic. It was more of an archeologist than I, and knew more than I ever would, much more than the other library consoles.
I didn’t dare show it to anyone, who knows what an archeologist would do if they wanted it for themselves, and someone without knowledge of history well…they might even destroy it and kill me for witchcraft. I doubted that but still, I kept the scroll for myself.
Keeping it changed me, I began the cataloguing. I would pack for a trip, scour some of the countryside and document any objects that I found. During those trips I felt like a true archeologist, discovering the secrets of the world first hand, not being force-fed by pre-loaded holograms. I discovered many things on those trips, strange species of insect, old Earth languages, some discarded energy weapons. The p-c identified them all, chirping away and linking me to further readings. I began to spend more time out of the cities, the trips became longer. Even though I packed more supplies, I often ended up eating from the forests on my return. Those trips were some of my best years, I felt more alive than I ever had.
It was on one of those long trips that I found something, it looked like a city, but it was almost completely destroyed. And the houses…they weren’t like the homes me and my kin lived in, the ones built by our ancestors. These were of a different material, lacking the chrome finish. They seemed more basic, almost rustic, but it was hard to tell. None of them were left standing, in some places it would be hard to tell a house even stood. I waited for a while and watched the ruins from a hill. I was torn, exhilarated, between two emotions. The archeologist in me went wild, who knew what I could find and catalogue in this ruin. The other part of me was scared, I had never seen or heard of anything like this. I wasn’t prepared.