Track One: Keeper’s Notes
Somewhere in the deepest reaches of his mind, The Keeper shuddered at the painful knowledge that both his life, and of the billions in his care, might soon be over. He examined every option, seeking a solution to his problem; and found none, not even in his oldest memories.
He sighed, painfully. There was no avoiding Them, this time. Their threat would require a suitable response. Not today, not tomorrow, but soon. Very soon…
Something nagged at him from within The Net, a new voice to contend with amongst the myriad babble of many other voices. Clearly a young mind, taken before its time. Without knowing why, The Keeper decided to try and answer its persistent questioning.
Perhaps it would give him a solution to his own problem? But he doubted it.
It’s dark cried The Voice. Am I dead?
You no longer function in any sense that you would understand, replied The Keeper. But you are far from dead.
Then where am I? What is my purpose here, in this darkness?
You are to assist me.
Assist you? How? Who are you?
I am The Keeper of The Net. The Knower of Most Things. The Solution to Many Problems.
(But Not all problems, The Keeper reminded himself, grimly).
The tiny voice went quiet. For a moment, The Keeper thought it had disappeared altogether but then he felt its presence again, stronger this time, more confident. That feeling would not last long.
How can I help? asked the Voice.
The Keeper told The Voice he was threatened with total destruction. That this would destroy The Net and every other living thing. That he could see no way of avoiding death, despite all his knowledge and years. The small voice went silent again.
You’re not telling me everything.
That would take too long, replied The Keeper. This one was very perceptive.
There are people who could help you, but they no longer exist, you say?
You’re stiched then, aren’t you? All of us? The entire Net?
Not immediately. But soon, yes. The End of All Things. Armageddon Ragnorak. The Collapse of Time… it had to happen, I suppose. Things were beginning to become a little… dull.
There is a solution, Keeper. But if I tell you my idea, will you tell me who and where I am? Then give me my freedom?
All things are possible smiled The Keeper.
So The Voice told him its plan, and The Keeper agreed it was novel, displaying a certain flair for the dramatic. The physics involved could prove a problem, but not an insurmountable one. The Keeper calculated the length of manufacture and reckoned one thousand years should give him enough time to see things through. But it would be a difficult operation. One requiring much work. And, unfortunately, much concentration on his part. Things would slip. Some of those in The Net might take advantage. They had tried before…
Keeper? asked the Voice. You promised me my reward…
Wrapped up in calculating the means of constructing the required technology, The Keeper told The Voice exactly what it wanted to know with rather less diplomacy than he originally intended. He immediately regretted his action; the Voice went mad and blinked from existence. His new helper, so bright and happy, was now lost and might never be found. The Keeper sighed. This always happened when people asked dangerous questions…
Down the Tubes © 1982 John Freeman. All rights reserved. This work is published on the internet on the understanding that you, dear reader, are free to download this material for real-time browsing and off-line browsing on your own computer.You are further granted permission to print a single copy of these pages for your own private use in reading off-line off-computer.
All other rights are reserved. You are specifically restricted from uploading this content to any mirror site, archive or website without express written permission. You are specifically restricted from using this content in any printed form (other than the previously allowed single copy for your own off-line reading)