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Journal mcgrew's Journal: The Surface


Jonah Muldoon finished his plowing and started walking to the house, the mule's bridle in his hand. His wife was just finishing dinner as he washed the field's grime off of himself, muscles aching in a good way. He'd gotten a lot done.

The Reverend Smith pulled up in his buggy as Jonah and Rebekkah sat on the porch, drinking the communion wine and munching the communion bread and watching the fireflies blink. "Well, hello, Reverend!" Jonah said. "What brings you out here this fine evening? You look troubled."

"I am. We have serious trouble; serious bad trouble. Some devils have escaped from hell and have tunneled their way up here. It's especially troubling because we've not heard from our cousins in the southern hemisphere; I have a cousin in Argentina and we've not gotten any mail from there in weeks. Get your pitchforks, we may have a fight."

"Pitchforks? Fight? Reverend, are you ill?" Jonah was worried; the reverend was more devoted to Christ than any man he'd ever known. He was not the sort of man to commit any violence at all, and in fact just a month earlier a young man had punched him so hard it had knocked the preacher to the ground. Rather than striking back in anger as Jonah feared he might have done had he been in the same situation, the pastor had gotten up, dusted himself off, and offered to let the youth hit him again!

The young man had started shaking, then fell to his knees, sobbing and begging forgiveness -- which the holy man had done. Now here was the Reverend Smith, all wild-eyed and screaming for blood. Had he gone mad? Was he possessed by a devil? Maybe one of the devils the reverend had been spouting about?

"Sir," said Johan," I don't understand. God Himself guards hell. Perhaps He's testing you?"

"You must come with me!" screamed the distraught preacher. "Please!"

"You go ahead and help the reverend," Rebekkah said, patting Jonah on the arm. "He's mighty upset and God only knows what he's capable of in his state of mind. I'll stay here and pray." Jonah kissed her on the forehead, told her he loved her, and left with the Amish preacher.

It was a month after the supernova, and the Muldoons nor any of the other Amish knew that the entire southern hemisphere was dead. Nor did they know that humans had survived the apocalypse in the self-made prison that they had just discovered a month ago.

Nor did they know that these humans even existed. The Amish were more like protohumans than true humans; human evolution had been self-directed, while the Amish thought technology as being evil and had shunned it since times forgotten. Species only evolve when their environment changes, and unknown to them, the nobots had kept the Earth's surface in near perfect harmony. Very little life had changed much in millions of years on the planet's surface.

They also didn't know that they had been known as "controls" when humans had started living in their nobot-constructed fantasies, fantasies that they now thought were real.

But the humans had still striven to learn, and there were still people capable of programming nobots, and even getting information out of the trillions of trillions of trillions of trillions of bits of data the nobots held. Their research, triggered by the death of half the nobots on Earth, uncovered the fact that they had been underground for millions of years and living mostly fantasies. They had reprogrammed the matrix of cubes in a small section to slowly collapse, and a sinkhole had opened in McGregor's pasture and swallowed half his cattle. He was standing by the large hole when Smith and Muldoon arrived.

Rority was feeling quite a bit better after a month's worth of recuperation from the radiation sickness, and had opted to actually travel, which he hadn't known he'd never really done, to the northern hemisphere to visit his partner, whom he hadn't known he'd never really seen in the flesh until the catastrophe pulled the wool off of everyone's eyes. He and Gumal, probably the world's best known anthropologists, historians, and biologists (and in their minds, probably just the best) were chosen to investigate life on the surface.

Life on the surface was holding crude weapons with pointed tines. "Garboook are grato! Gutably!" one of them babbled. "Protohumans? Now?" Rority thought. "Of shit," Gumal thought.

McGregor saw them and pointed his pitchforks at them. "Back to hell, devils!" he ordered.

Muldoon now understood what Reverend Smith had meant. This had been prophesied. The antichrist had come, followed by Christ, and Satan had been banished to hell, but the prophesies said he'd be back in a thousand years.

In actuality it had been a few million.

"Uh, I don't like the looks of this," Gumal said.

"They're speaking in tongues, Reverend," Jonah said. "No," replied the reverend, "tongues is the language of God, anyone can understand Him. These devils simply speak a different language, and one that seems clearly evil to me."

"I can't understand them," Gumal said. Rority held his hand out and a card appeared. "Back to hell, devils!" the card said out loud.

"Shit!" exclaimed Gumal. "We're going about this the wrong way."

"Agreed," said Rority. "Lets go back down and figure out how to solve this. Nobots! Make it look to these creatures that the ground is as it was!"

Smith, McGregor, and Muldoon stared in amazement as the ground filled itself in and the vegetation that had been growing seemed to have never been disrupted. "Thank you, Lord," the preacher said to the sky, "for showing us this miracle. Help us to understand it! Amen." The other two echoed "Amen."

"Well, Gumal said to Rority, "we really fucked that one up."

"Amen to that," Rority said. "Now what?"


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The Surface

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To do two things at once is to do neither. -- Publilius Syrus