September 21st, 2004

Test Pattern

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.