FIRE ESCAPE First Draft Update 7/13/18: More Clues are Found!

Get the most recent draft here:

Read the latest words below this line:

Later, back at Nowhere House, we stood inside Jill’s lab which was overtaken by a massive version of the hologram of the plans Green had shown us on her handheld.  The structure was very much to scale only it was made up of the same green-lined wireframe plans we saw before, only now the surrounding background and surfaces of the floor, walls, etc, were all a deep blue, very much like the blue paper building plans used to be drawn on.

“This has made me very very happy,” Jim said. I remember thinking it was nice to know that an AI could feel happiness–or at least pretend to.  Jim continued: “This will allow me to confirm the accuracy of the work we’ve done so far on my hub simulation.”

“Why don’t you switch out Green’s plans for your s-s-sim, Jim?”

“Really?  Uh, well, I could, but uh,” Jim sounded very hesitant.  It was nice to see that an AI could be nervous, too.

“What’s wrong?” Julio said.  “We just spent several hours on it–it looks fine so far.  Let’s compare them.”

“I just feel like the sim isn’t a finished product yet.”

“What are you afraid of, Jim?  Your last name is SMART for crying out loud!” Dot said with a smirk that was audible in her tone of voice.

“There’s no need to get mean,” Jim said, crossing his arms and adding:  “Fine.”

The blueprint hologram was instantly replaced by the simulation Jim had been working on with the help of Kate and Julio. It immediately struck me as being pretty damn accurate.  It looked almost like the real thing.  

“Great work, Jim!” I said walking around as much as I could without walking into Jill’s lab equipment or the library furniture. “This almost gives me that sick feeling I had the first few times I went over there!”

“What was that, anyway?” Kate asked.

“I just figured I had a time-release hangover or something,” said KJ.

“That’s just portal sickness,” Julio began, “It eventually goes away once you’ve been over to the hub enough times.”

“So, that’s different from when you jump through too many Fire Escapes at once and feel sick to your stomach or just super tired?” I asked.

“Yes.  That is just the Fire Escape equivalent to jet lag.  Portal Sickness is kind of a bad name for it since it’s really about how the Fire Escape Dimension is effecting your physiology.  That’s all it is.”

“Oh, yeah, it’s only effecting our physiology!” KJ said. 

“It’s not permanent or anything.  As soon as we came back our DNA returned to normal.  It turns out our genetic material is pretty plastic.”  

“At least, when it comes to what a compressed dimensional space can do to a human b-b-body.”

“What’s the longest either of you stayed over there for?” KJ asked.

“A few hours, p-p-probably.”

“I knew someone in M who claimed to have been over there for close to twelve hours and he claimed he started to see external changes,” Julio said.  “This is why M’s SOP is to never stay over there for longer than a few hours within a twenty-four hour period.”

“External changes…” I said.

“That’s why we’ll be sticking to the same SO-p-p-P, also,” Jill said.

“So, what do we think of Jim’s sim so far?” I asked, trying to remember what it really looked like in person.

“How does it look next to plans my friend gave?” Green asked.

“Jim, superimpose them p-p-please.” 

Suddenly, everything was accented with the green lines from the plans Green was sent.  We all began looking around.  After a few moments, Dot pointed past us, toward a wall on the far side of the sim/plans and spoke.  “What about that way over there? I don’t–that is, I mean–I don’t think that looks like it should be there.”

We turned and saw a very small door in a wall, that only existed outlined in green. “Jim, p-p-please bring it closer.”

Jim nodded and suddenly we seemed to have teleported to within ten feet of the door.  Only it was odd and not anything I remembered seeing during my visits to the hub.

“Why’s it so short?” KJ said.

“Word, I don’t remember that door there at all.”

“It’s too short for a Conva,” I said.

“It’s too short for a regular human, Jim said. If the plans Dr. Green provided match the scale of our sim, that door is four feet tall.”

“It’s a fun-size door!” KJ said.

“Must be old plan if you don’t remember it,” Green said. “I think the plans are still good for matching what sim is right but maybe not for what sim is wrong.”

“Jim can you bring us even closer? I want to look out the window near that door,” I said.  Instantly, I found myself at the window with the short door a few feet to my left.  I looked out the window and down to see the hillside the hub was built into.  It sloped down quite a ways until there was a big sign that read “DOUBLE-O CITY HERE”.

“Hey, Jim, can you see if the other set of plans Dr. Green’s friend provided would fit on the hill leading down from this door, please?”

“Hm, based on what I see in those other plans, no. However, those plans match the exact dimensions of the hub itself.”

“What does that mean?” Dot asked. “Are these guys just boring architects?”

“If I move the short door to the floor, and place the other plans below my sim…”

We all looked to where the short door had been and saw that Jim had moved it to the floor. We could now see the bunk beds through the floor.  

“I noticed that the other plans call for the space you described as a barracks to include empty space along this side where there are spaces marked off for multiple platforms that are the same dimensions as the door’s.”

“So?” Jill said.

“The door may be too short for a Double-O, but it’s more than wide enough for one.”

Instantly, we saw thirty, or so, digitally generated Conva appear below us.  Then, the door, itself, slid out of the way and I could see a Conva below it rising up, through it and stand in front of me.

“That is some quick access to aaaaall those damn Fire Escapes,” Kate said.

“And therefore where ever there is a Fire Escape in the Tri,” Dot said.

“They’re absolutely going to invade our dimension,” I said.