Keeper of the Sleeping Minds

Goodbye, Earth

Suddenly, everything moved fast. Once we started storing minds, it quickly became a race with death. The first idea was to ship the sick out into the desert and extract the minds in our facilities. But luckily the chief of project convinced the government this would take too much time and jeopardise the whole plan. After all, how would the procedure work when the Broken Hill community got infected by PII/III? So instead field teams were sent to the east coast and New Zealand to collect the minds. Sandy was assigned to one of the teams. I prayed for my best friends safe return, fully aware of the risk she took.

The mind collecting went unexpectedly smooth. The procedure took only thirty minutes for an average person. It disturbed me that the download of a human’s very being, his essence, all his memories and knowledge ended up being a minor data storage issue. Each mind was loaded onto an individual, near indestructible hard disk roughly the size of my palm, protection case included. The collector teams were instructed to extract the minds of the suited first, then the survivors. I was angry about this discrimination, but took care to keep my feelings to myself. At this point, it was a long established fact that survivors were second class citizens and would remain so.

Sandy and her team came back with an amazing load of collected minds. She was still fine and smiled at me through the visitors window of the quarantine section, where she was brought with her colleagues for safety reasons. I never saw her again. Their minds were extracted as soon as they showed the first rise of temperature, signalling an infection with PII or PIII. None of the collectors team survived. But at least neither plague got loose in Broken Hill. I remember crying while sliding one single cold piece of metal in its allocated slot in storage, holding all that was left of my friend Sandy.

My job was to assemble mind disks into movable modules. I had to make sure they were kept connected to an energy source at all times. Not that the precious content would get damaged if the connection was cut, but this ensured a constant monitoring of the wellbeing of the mind in its sleep-like state on an electronic level. There was even a group tasked with building a communication interface. At first, they were optimistic about at least coded written communication. But time was running out and we were too busy to invest in non-essentials. The development was abandoned.

When all the minds of the infected were stored, there were very few humans left. The official count was 10’000 suited and 15’000 survivors, fast decreasing. The plan was to pack up all of them and leave Earth for good. Our designed destination was Gliese 667Cc, 22 light years from Earth. Other earth-like planets in shorter distance would have been Kapetyn b or Wolf 1061c. But the Giotto 3 probe proved six years ago that there actually was life on Gliese, an essential fact for the big plan to succeed. I’ll never forget the magical moment when infrared pictures of aliens went around the world. There was not much to see other than blurry red spots moving on a dark screen, but the scientists convincingly explained that there was evidence the blurs moved in and out of house-like constructions, showing discernible social interaction. So, Gliese it was. Besides, it was supposed to have a breathable atmosphere.

We were going to be underway for a very long time, even with the new jump technology tested now several times without glitch. But up until now, long distance runs had only been made by unmanned vessels such as the probe returning with pictures from Gliese. At least the technology was proven to work, and shorter trips were done by astronauts from different countries, before the plague. Three of them were on our team, giving valuable input all the way. Luckily they’d been in training at Broken Hill when everything started and quickly became the heart of the rescue mission for humanity. One of them, Steve, turned out to be a survivor. Unfortunately the minds of the other two had to be extracted after attending a meeting at the east coast, where a supposedly clean hotel room turned out to be infected.

The ship was built to be operated by minimal crew. Passengers would spend the voyage either in mind storage or hibernation. Only two hundred where chosen to hibernate. Their task would be to prepare and secure the field and start reintroduction of minds into alien bodies at our destiny. Mostly highly trained soldiers and scientist were chosen for the task, all of them trusted survivors. No one wanted to risk them to die of another wave of the plague. I thought it ironic we of all people were handed the task to save humanity.

As soon as the ship was ready and tested, the minds of the remaining suited and survivors were extracted, stored and loaded. That only left core crew at the space centre, tasked with turning off the lights on Earth, literally speaking. I had been shipped to the construction site in orbit at an early stage to supervise the installation of the storage banks. Another team started to fill hibernation pods with soldiers, technical personnel and scientists responsible for the mind transfer. 200 pods almost filled the cargo hold. Some room was reserved for provisions for the crew.

We took off as soon as possible. I remember watching Earth dwindling away on a screen, feeling loss and hope at the same time.

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