The Pod: Part 4

4.

My Colleague

I arrived at my colleague’s amid frightened traffickers that fled for the city’s limits. Common sense suggested this was the best of options, unknowingly propelling themselves from one rampage to another. Everywhere The Pod had been sold, manufactured, or used, swarms had emerged in the tens of dozens. It was utter chaos. My colleague and I were the only ones, it seems, to have been working the problem. Even then, we were the only two so near a solution. There was a certain glib satisfaction in that knowledge, that I must admit, came from my primal nature.

Instincts of this type had been ever-present since my defeat of the swarm-bear, and I daresay I was thinking faster and clearer than I’d ever had. It is an odd thing to know when One’s own strength in a crisis has risen above that of the majority around you. I was clear headed. My mind focused on each step and the one that would follow. All around me however, was mass hysteria: I saw a woman beating a man to a near pulp in the street. Clearly he was her husband and only wished to bring some order to his deranged wife, but she refused to listen to reason. With a final blow, he reared on her, struck her back. He ran off, cursing the woman’s name as she lie on the sidewalk, blubbering, incoherent, but otherwise uninjured.

It was a horrific sight to behold, but it was hardly apart from the norm of this chaos. I fear I may not do it justice. Every vehicle that lined the street had been over-turned and set ablaze. Dead lay here and there, the dying caught in the ghastly throes of this insanity. Driving was no longer an option for escape from residential blocks. Even if one had somehow preserved their vehicle, they would never have made it through; shot going past, or car-jacked by denizens. The problem was summed up in a thoughtful moment of clarity as I surveyed the land.

These were the fruits of our labored dreaming. The chaos, disorder, and death, awakened terror of dreamers, myself included, whom wished to prove themselves in that strange land beyond waking life. This was the price we had paid for having our dreams fulfilled– or at least, manipulated. Inevitably, if society survived this maelstrom, it would be considered an “industrial accident” caused by a manufacturing defect from the first line of Pods. There would be a public apology from that young, quick-witted CEO; perhaps a recall or stipend to those who had lost the most. After a time, it would fade from the minds of man through lawsuits in a veil of public relations. Such was the way that it had always been, what could change that now?

When I arrived at my colleagues, I knocked heavily on the door. It flung open to the end of a rifle’s barrel. My Colleague was poised with his weapon drawn, not bothering to look out the window. He lowered it, looking me over peculiarly. I still wore the odd, yellow, rubber suit– something that had escaped my mind as I’d wandered down the streets. He ushered me into the foyer quickly, bolting the door in my wake and rambling on about vultures and tyrants.

He stood for a moment there, apologizing for the rifle and the state of things. His eternal hospitality was amusing in the advent of the chaos beyond his doors. At least for me, his manners had survived intact. After another moment, he ushered me down the stairs and into his workshop. There, electrical components were strewn about across a dozen benches, amid an otherwise immaculate organization. Above each bench were sets of tools designed for different states of work, pristinely separated and categorized.

He led me in deeper, while explaining of an issue creating a capacitor that would sustain and recharge large amounts of electricity. Until now, he had been working under the assumption that the charge would have to be relatively massive. He believed new capacitors had to be invented, as well as a renewable power source. When I told him of the minimal charge necessary, he was elated. It came to him then, what he would need; an alternator and a massive series of car batteries.

The problem then became about size. Somewhere between eight and ten automotive batteries were required, along with a constant, external source of power for the alternator to recharge them. It meant starting from scratch once more, and with little time, we set to work building the firing device itself before tackling the problem of mobility. We knew what needed to be done, but where the supplies would come from was beyond us.

We finished the weapon after measurable labor and looked upon our achievement with pride: a massive four-foot tall rifle, mounted on a heavy, steel tripod. It would work, provided we could procure the power source. The alternators and lines for battery charging were ready, and awaiting connection. The weapon would take a short time to recharge between shots, but there was no doubt; it would do the job.

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