TINY BODY, HEAVY HEAD
My terminal emitted an amber glow, outlining my words in a warm phosphorescent fuzz. 80 Hz. Characters flew from my brain and through my nerves, reaching my fingertips and eventually buckling the springs under each key. Human interface devices were a funny thing. Adapters with the express purpose of fitting square pegs in round holes. I had them in a plastic storage container on the ground. It was too heavy for me to lift on my own, but slid easily on the metal shavings which dusted the floor. Keyboards, mice, joysticks, all of that. I figure they're physical evidence that the digital world exists to serve the analogue. What happens on the inside is none of our concern as long as it works. If it takes human input and spits out human-readable and accurate output, that's it.
I leaned backwards in my office chair, seat fabric torn open by constant use, exposing a nail head right in the middle. Sometimes I would cover it with a blanket to keep the nail from digging into my ass, but it was a freezing night and I needed the blanket to keep my teeth from clattering. I had to pull the chair forward to keep it near the desk. The slight slant of the floor made it roll back slightly.
"Analogue supremacy, huh?"
I had a habit of speaking to myself when my thoughts couldn't go beyond the surface of a subject. It used to annoy the other members of my crew when I would make such empty statements standing behind their seats or loudly from my own. I didn't need to worry about that anymore. Not to make it sound like I didn't miss them. Cary, Reki, Nnedimma. Remembering their names made me feel warm, even if it took some concentration to recall their faces. They went outside somewhere, I imagine in another identical bunker within a few miles. The dust storms were too thick to make a trek anywhere if you wanted to find your way back. I was too scared to go with. Besides, if the wind blew from the northeast, it could have some residual radioactivity. I wasn't about to fuck with that.
I shifted my weight and fell back forwards, my eyes taking a moment to re-focus on the flickering screen. It read only: "A TECHNOROMANTICIST MANIFESTO". After straining my eyes for a bit, I sighed and took a sip of the oolong I had just brewed. At least I wouldn't run out of food and drink supplies for a while. Luxuries like my tea were in great supply, even after the others took what they could carry.
I had found a box of 5.25" floppies after the others left, stuffed under an aluminum desk that no one wanted to approach when we were together, on account of the rat shit. There wasn't much to do stuck in a bunker with a bunch of food and the old IBMs, so I looked anyway. When I first pulled the box out, I was pleased. I could back up the little programs I bodged together. I made simple games and little animations sometimes. Never was much of a programmer, that was more Nnedimma's deal.
Being able to keep my work was convenient, but I had a feeling I was wasting the gift that box had given me. Could I be of use to anyone? I had it nice in that bunker, well-fed and with a lifetime to spend doing what I wanted, given that it could be accomplished with what I had on hand.
As much as I wanted to help anyone who needed me, I didn't have much to contribute. No technical skills, no skills in logistics or leadership to organize those of us who were left, nothing really. Some big ideas were bouncing around in my head though, if only I could get them out. They got on everyone's nerves before, but if I wrote them down in full then they'd carry some weight. I'd get them down beyond the generalities, beyond the titles. I would leave them right outside the sealed outer door, I thought, on a windy night when no one would be walking around out there. I hoped they would be found and read.
I spent a lot of time thinking about computers. Not how they work, really. Like I said, not much of a programmer. I'm not a hardware girl either. I was more interested in what they meant. What they did for us. How we changed them to fit our needs, but they changed us just as much. It was terrifying. It was beautiful.
So much for that. I got a good title down, but nothing else came to me. I started some sentences but immediately deleted them. They had nothing to do with my manifesto, they were just words exiting my stream of consciousness.
I heard it.
From the wall beside me: a soft mrow, then a deeper mow. A cat? On the other end of the wall was a storage cell, one of the three the others nearly cleared out when they left. Snapped out of my frustration and boredom, I charged out of the computer room and into the hallway where the doors for the cells were. Initially charging for the cell labeled "jedan," I slowed right as I reached the door, realizing that the cat would probably be hungry and might want to hurt me. After taking a moment to prepare myself for a fight and to adjust to the anxiety that came with entering a room that wasn't one of my usuals, I carefully entered.
Checking every angle as I moved, I approached the section of wall opposite my seat by the terminals. Another box. Kittens. No parents in sight. They were frail things, hardly able to support the weight of their own heads. A little orange one kept tumbling forward any time it tried to stand up. Its eyes were so big, I wanted to cry.
Without any thought, I turned around and went to a still-stocked storage cell. I was going to be a mother.