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14,000 Years BFE
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Below are the 14 most recent journal entries recorded in Campus in the Sea of Time's LiveJournal:

Tuesday, September 21st, 2004
12:55 pm
by 1100 EDT
It's going to take them two days to decide to do something. I say "them" because "they" are U-M employees and I'm just a wannabe. I could only tolerate the arguing for about half an hour before I mentioned that there might be dangerous wildlife out there and got summarily ejected from the call-center/improvised meeting hall for not being paid by the Regents. Jerks.

I'd changed into the after-interview set of work clothes I'd brought (jeans instead of my suit) and gone back inside with the crowbar and seven power monacle from my trunk. I passed the still-shocked receptionist and headed upstairs to look for maintenance closets, probably close to an elevator. Someone had kindly gone through the building and unlocked all of the doors as part of an inventory, but the padlock was still on the roof (or it was, for about a minute).

I kind of wished I could have appreciated the world-changing that allowed me to walk, unworried through Arbor Lakes with a crowbar and a pistol, but there was stuff to do. I wanted some kind of a plan before it got anywhere near dark and I wasn't going out there alone.

I could and did spend the next hour marvelling at the world beyond the parking lot from safely above it. I've never been exactly well acquainted with nature's plantlife and I wasn't sure I'd not seen trees like these in my Michigan, but I know I hadn't observed any as thick as some of the ones bordering the lot. I had friends who might be able to identify them, if they were on campus. They'd probably spew on about late middle early upper Pleistocene proto-spruce. Well, "spew" was kind of harsh; the knowledge they had was suddenly and immediately valuable now. Me, I was thinking about how to move a small pickup truck through our new vegetable overlords.

(Someone in the meeting had mentioned connectivity to the campuses and that the fiber to some U-M buildings was still live. Some other guy suggested the scifi-fantasy scenario that the fiber might be our link back to "normal" time and that the other buildings were still in the 21st century. They shut him up. No one knows dick, including me. They were talking about setting up a mailing list of all accounts and seeing who responds and with what information. Anyway.)

It took me too long to figure out why all of the natural sounds were now on only one side of the our displaced plot of land. The imbalance of perceptions was starting to get to me when I noted that the bugs and such were so loud they were generating a breeze. Easy answer: upwind, sound; downwind, silent. The building and parking lot probably stink something fierce of oil, gasoline and tar, plus there was the exhaust from the idling generator.

I walked to the upwind side; northwestish, I thought, and thankfully my cheap-ass compass agreed. The cool breeze did a lot to balance the overhead sun. I watched for a long time from the corner. It did turn out that my hunch was right. I saw something large moving out in the trees upwind of us. Just one shadowy form in the undergrowth, but it was enough to make my spine uncomfortably tingly. It watched us; I tried to watch it. It got bored, I suppose from the lack of immediately evident food, and wandered out of my vision. I noted the direction and made a guess at distance. I'd check for its tracks later, when I have three or four more people to go out there with me.

I was really hoping there was another CCW permit carrying guy or two inside. Hell, I'd take the crazies now if they had a shotgun in their car. I only had my nine and a box of ammo and I don't think a nine millimeter is going to stop a rampaging sabertooth doom-mammoth. Millions of dollars in computer hardware under me and I can only hope it has an answer or two in it. I bet the student login servers are in there and I hoped the department webservers were too. That would mean information.

Someone's waving to me from the ground, motioning me inside. Meeting must be over. (Hmmm, two hours instead of two days. Might be hope for them.) Time to go.
Thursday, August 19th, 2004
3:50 pm
Time is relative
It's been a while since I last posted. One might forgive me for taking so long since I -- we all -- have been sort of busy lately, what with suddenly being plunked down in the middle of, well, prehistoric Ann Arbor.

There isn't even a Starbuck's anymore. That's how wacky this has all become.

We've learned a few things in the past weeks. First and foremost, that we're not in Kansas anymore. But we are, so far as we can tell, still in Ann Arbor. Or we're where Ann Arbor will *be*. That's one of the other interesting things: It seems that it isn't so much a question of *where* we are; it's a question of *when* we are. I was looking up on that first night, partly out of boredom, partly out of frustration, partly out of habit, when I noticed that things up there didn't look quite right.

I found Heather in all of the confusion and after we talked -- and cried a little -- I told her to look up and tell me what she saw. She's got a good sense of the night skies from all of those trips with the Astronomy Club so she saw it too. North wasn't north anymore -- it was kind of south. At least that's where the North Star, Polaris, was. Where we thought north should be sat Vega, in Lyra.

Here's a little Astronomy 101 lesson, part one, for you: The Earth's axis, as you may or may not know, points to Polaris. It's the star that guided the ancient mariners through the dark ocean nights. One ca determine many things by Polaris, most notably the direction north and the latitude the observer is at. It's trivial for anyone with knowledge of the night sky to look up, determine where Polaris is, off the tail of the Little Bear, and find north. Except for now.

After talking to Heather for a while, we decided to see if our suspicions were right. We managed to find two camera bodies attached to microscopes, some film, and one lens that fit one of the cameras. OK, so it wasn't going to be as speedy as we'd hoped to find this out.

First, we pointed the camera at Polaris and locked the plunger down and settled in for a 20 minute exposure. Then we did the same for Vega. If there's any good to be said for our present condition, it's that the night sky is totally without light pollution. I can't say that it makes me all happy and fuzzy inside, no matter what DarkSkies talks about.

After the exposures, we went to the darkroom and developed the film. After it was developed, we put it in the enlarger to make prints. We didn't really need to do that, though. The image of Vega was pretty clear, near the center of the frame. A smallish curve of light. The stars radiated outward from there with progressively longer curves. It was a pattern we'd seen dozens of times before, that we had made on our own. Take a camera, point it at the North Star (where ever that is) and lock the shutter open. Because the North Star is at the point where the Earth's axis extends into the sky, it won't appear to have moved, or at least moved very much, in comparison to the other stars, which are further out and rise and set. But in this picture, it was Vega, not Polaris, which was still and the stars of Lyra and Cygnus made progressively longer streaks the further out from Vega they were. The picture of Polaris and Ursa Minor where simply streaks on the film, roughly parallel, showing stars that weren't even remotely pointing north.

That's the other part of the Astronomy 101 lesson. Part II: The Earth is also spinning like a slowing down top. As a top slows down, it starts making larger circles as it looses speed. So it starts wavering. Making little circles as it slows. The Earth is doing the same thing, only on a much longer timeline. So the imaginary line that stretches infinitely into the heavens traces a lazy circle around the sky, pointing to a new spot in the heavens. The entire circle takes about 26,000 years to complete -- it's called precession, by the way. Since Lyra is a little more than 180 degrees in the sky from Polaris according to this circle, this means that a little more than one-half of the precession has happened. 13,000 to 15,000 years. Since the plant life and the animal life that we've seen looks more primitive and less specialized than it does advanced and more diversified, we can only assume that, somehow, we -- most of Ann Arbor -- apparently all of the University -- has been transported more or less 14,000 years into the past.

I have to cut this off for now. Electricity is a precious commodity and I have little to use. My knowledge as a computer jockey is useless now, though my abilities as a logistics person and military background has at least helped. I will continue this journal as best as possible for as long as possible. I will probably have to convert it over to paper, as that will last much longer, but this is convenient and familiar for the moment.

Current Mood: optimistic
Wednesday, July 28th, 2004
9:40 am

Trees.  I like trees, but…there was a building here.  I’ll just blink and the building will be back.

The front of the building was gone, replaced by a big, stinky forest.  Okay, take this one thing at a time.  Just because I can’t see anything but big-ass trees doesn’t mean…  Joe stepped through the security door and onto the soft loam of the forest floor.  The air was warmer and more humid out here than the office.  The sounds of unseen insects and unfamiliar birds gave background for the bizarre scene.  Looking back at the building, Joe saw the studs and the backside of the drywall used to construct M-Care’s rented office space.  He also noticed that the cardreader was dead, and that the security door was swinging shut.
Monday, July 19th, 2004
2:56 pm
Grumble, Grumble
9AM meetings about our Unified voice mail service do not agree with me.

Especially when I make it up here to work only to find that the meeting was cancelled.

Now I'm not on shift until 2pm.

Luckily I brought my copy of the Zombie Survival Guide to read.

Current Mood: annoyed
Saturday, July 17th, 2004
12:23 pm
14,000 BFE Announcement Type Things
If you are planning to play, please do your 8:53 entry soonish.

If you have a question, just go ahead and post to the community; asking people to keep up with old entries is almost impossible.

I've sent out "invitations" twice now on LJ, and they've come to nothing. The invitation system is bogus! So, if you have a friend who'd enjoy playing with us, just drop them an email or something. I'm done fiddling with fiddly LJ fiddly-fiddles.

If you've done your 8:53 and you're ready to move on, go ahead. Write as much as you want for the morning of the first day. If you need another player's input (like, I'm going to go see Julie), write up to that point and figure out how to have a conversation (in comments? in email, and then post the results? Whatever works!)
Thursday, July 15th, 2004
10:14 am

Joe sat slightly hunched, staring at his computer screen.  Even with his music turned up, the building felt deathly quiet, abandoned.


“Hey, Joe, you got a second?”

Somewhere, hidden from sane mortals’ eyes, there must be a Management Bible.  And in that bible, the phrase, “Hey, you got a second?” had to be written up as one of the seven deadly punishments.  Maybe it had it’s own circle in Hell.


“Yeah, look:  I don’t think the phones should be unmanned during the company picnic, so could you stay here?  I’d be more than happy to bring some food back to you afterward…”

Oooh, the incentive of crispy barbeque dregs and sun-warmed potato salad.  With almost no one in the M-Care buildings, the only phone calls that could possibly come in were from vendors and providers, leaving Joe with the mind-taxing task of looking up all “Fraggle Rock”-related information from the Web.


Suddenly, a sustained *WHOOM* shook the building.  Either the Techs just tried adding liquid oxygen to the barbeque grill, or the gas station on the corner just exploded!  The lights flickered briefly, but the muffled whir of generator guaranteed that they would stay on.  A little Windows popup let Joe know that his Internet connection was gone.  Okay, this does not look good.  Reaching for his cell phone, he noticed that he didn’t have any signal strength—nothing new, really.  Heaving a sigh, Joe trudged toward the front of the building to find signal.  The fact that the light coming though the skylights over his head was darker and greener than usual did not register to him at all.
Monday, July 12th, 2004
8:58 am
I need my coffee.
Only 13 months and two weeks to go. I need to keep telling myself that before I go postal on this place. The laptop that I was working on -- pulling my hair out over -- on Friday is still here and has been since I got in to work two hours ago. In 13 months and two weeks, I won't worry about these things. This will be a memory. This will be the past. I will be a student again, of history, my passion, in 13 months and two weeks.

This windowless office, seven feet square, on the top floor of Medical Science II, in the middle of the building, will be someone else's. In 13 months and two weeks.

I'm bolted from my reverie by a sudden "thud". The entire building shakes and the lights flicker and go out for a second, then return. Not a short enough time to keep the computer going so I reboot. I look out of my office door, down the corridor. The other half of the building has emergency lights on. This tells me that the hospital's emergency generators have kicked in and we're off the grid. Great. That means that the a/c is off, too. So it's gonna get stuffy and hot in here and people are going to be whining about their computers, since I'm sure the network puked as well. 13 months and two weeks.

I start wandering around, waiting for my computer to reboot; it's one of the perks of being on this side of the building, closest to the hospital. We're fed by the emergency generators and get lights and stuff even when the rest of the town is dark. It occurs to me as I watch the people wander around, not knowing what to do, that we might all get to go home early, like last August. The traffic will be stupidly insane like then as well but it will be time away from this windowless cube.

I can hear voices around the corner, where there's a corridor that connects Med Sci II with Med Sci I. It's a wall of windows and since we're on the seventh floor here, it's got a view. Nice to watch thunderstorms rolling in from the south and west. I wander over, expecting to see a traffic jam and stupidity reigning. I stop cold in my tracks, totally unprepared for what I saw.

In front of me lay a great vista that wasn't there when I drove in this morning. Instead of Glen Avenue and Maiden Lane and a bridge and apartments and civilization, there is... nothing. Nothing at all.

OK. There's more than nothing. There's something. But it's the sort of something that just doesn't make sense. There is a jungle in front of me. Dense jungle with huge trees and a lake. A lake? I close my eyes and count to ten, slowly. I try to block out the people around me who are freaking out like hippies on a bad LSD trip. Or maybe I'm the one on the bad trip? Eight.... Nine.... Ten.

I open my eyes and it's all still there. In the span of five minutes, 13 months and two weeks seems like it's a lot further off.

And I still haven't had my coffee.
4:48 pm
Monday 8:53 AM
I hate early morning gigs. Especially U of M early morning gigs. U of M means no tip, ever. And this one was turning out no different. I'd been up since 6:30, and thanks to the owners wanting to sleep in, had loaded all of the gigs food into the van.

I'd just parked, next to the Museum of Art south stairwell, when the ground rolled. Literally. The cement came up and then down.

As I looked through the rear view mirror, I noticed trees. Really big trees. I mean impossibly big trees, and they were where South State used to be. I could only see the top of the tower to the Union.

I slid out of the van, quickly running my fingers across my temple, but I felt no bumps. Then I noticed the distinctive buzzing of a radio that has no signal.

What in the hells happened?

I stopped and carefully looked around, I saw a couple of students, that were slowly getting up off the ground, clearly just as confused by the new giant trees instead of road situation. I clearly wasn't imagining things, as if I were to imagine U of M coeds in a parallel universe, odds are they wouldn't be men. That or I wouldn't be having cereal for breakfast ever again.

I closed and locked the van, and headed towards the Musuem of Art. If nothing else, it was shelter. I needed to figure out what was what.
Tuesday, June 29th, 2004
6:23 pm
0853 EDT
"Calm. Cool. Collected." That's what I kept saying to myself as I stared over the wheel at the Arbor Lakes buildings. "C'mon, you've had easy interviews before." I recalled two times of being utterly relaxed in a job-seeking process I normally hate. I'm even early this time, as opposed to my usual two minutes late.

At the seven minute mark before my followup interview is when fate threw me a flashback to when I worked at U-M's NOC and a 5-point-something happened in Pennsylvania, felt all the way across Ohio and into Michigan. My car shook just a little, which I attributed to being at ground and not in a swaying building like back then. It was just a quick tremor. My ears popped. The cellphone beeped twice from the dashboard.

I got out to put on my suitcoat and I saw trees, so many trees that I couldn't see Plymouth Road much less Domino's Farms. I'd been in the shadow of Arbor Lakes but now the building itself was in the shadow of old growth. Each exit from the lot ran asphalt right up to the base of a tree, including the one I'd driven up not five minutes earlier.

The sound came next, a whining buzz of billions of insects from all around the parking lot. Something here was seriously not right. I picked up my cellphone and read the "Searching for signal..." message. Well, if I'd lost my mind, I picked the right car to do it by. I opened the trunk and picked up two things. I hesitated, reconsidered and threw the machete back down before I stuffed the pistol holster into the back of my pants, and walked up to Arbor Lakes.

After all, I can sort of legally conceal a gun through an interview (if there was one now). The other stuff would be here when I got back.
Monday, June 28th, 2004
7:43 pm
8:53 AM
Ah, the Monday morning meeting. What a swell way of starting the week. Whoever thought that 8:15 was an appropriate meeting time ought to be beaten.

Okay, that was weird. Just as we were finishing up with a fascinating discussion of product codes, the power went out. It wasn't raining for once, so we were all understandably confused.

While my boss stared dazedly out the lobby window at the sunny skies, the rest of us got that anticipatory bounce in our step, trying to play it cool but hoping like hell that this would last long enough to justify sending us home. There could be a nap in my future after all.

Hmm, I wonder how central campus is doing?
5:32 pm
Call for 8:53AM Drabble
Feel free to start. Don't go beyond the first five minutes. This is mostly just a test.
4:51 pm
I was sitting in the library, and the windows went "woom!" like they do in a huge thunderstorm. But the sky was blue, and the "woom!" kept going.


It went away, and I couldn't see anything from my windows. Some kid on roller blades fell down on the Diag, but otherwise... nothing.

I lost all connectivity at that point, and the power flickered, but it didn't die. The phone is dead.

I decided to go see Julie. If Julie's ok, I know it's not the apocalypse just yet.
4:41 pm
Action Specifics

Everyone undertakes either a character or a division of labor to speak for. Exactly how, we'll figure out by doing, and in these here comments.

We'll pass 1 day (a 24-hour period) at a time, and passage of said day will be announced ahead of time.

A good time will be had by all.
4:40 pm
Scenario Specifics
This post will be the record of scenario specifics, and will get edited as they change.

On July 12th at 8:54AM all University owned property is thrown 14,000 years into the past. The landscape is generally like our own--assume rivers and lakes are about where you left them. (It's not true, of course, but assume!)

There are assumptions we need to agree on and work with. I will fill them in as we discuss them in the comments of this entry. Feel free to suggest ones I haven't thought of.


Warm. Warmer than now, in fact; just coming out of the interglacial.


It's either taiga or boreal forest. I'll point out some vegetation guesses and we can decide.

Megafauna would still be alive; that's a given of the scenario, because megafauna are cool.

What came with?

Good question. So far, University land and anything "on top" of it. Probably some stuff underneath it, too, but feel free to argue that one out. Anything not U-M property? Didn't come. So, we've got arboreal forest (or taiga) between the School of Social Work and West Hall--no road.

ALL U-M property. Broadly interpreted. Flint and Dearborn campuses. The Bio-station. Rental property? I vote yes, but I'm willing to discuss it.
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