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Fermius Firefly

A Dream Log, whenever I remember the dreams I've had.

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Location: San Marcos, United States

Fermius is a pen name drawn from a series of short fiction I wrote when I published the small press magazine Stellanova (on paper.) I play RPG games to escape from my daily grind as a technology wage slave for the state of California. I eat out a lot in order to do my part in supporting our increasingly service level economy. I am butler to 2 feline masters. If you ask them they will tell you I'm not very good at it, late with dinner, don't have enough hands with brushes in them, and sometimes I even lock them out of their office.

Friday, July 04, 2014

Networking and Post Apocalyptic Networking

A few days ago I mentioned something about how I never seem to dream about working at work. Well, my brain seized on that last night and decided to have a dream about work where, well, I was working. I was configuring new Cisco Routers to route IPv6, as we finally decided that we had just too many devices to support. I tried to explain that it didn't really work that way, as our network was behind a NAT that understood both versions of IP, but that didn't matter. Our Polycom system was on its own physical network, as its components were so old it wasn't compatible with the new IP structure. I didn't think that was going to play out well in the half dozen meeting rooms that used it.

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My dream this morning was one of those epic events that started small. I had invented and inflatable tent/bed and was taking it for a spin. I was at a campground by San Onofre and had the ant proof barrier up and working and the inflated tent floor/mattress was more comfortable than I had imagined it would be. The dome of the tent was easy to set up, using three bendy poles to hold its shape. I had left one of the skylights open as the night was mild and there was a Santa Ana breeze that kept the sky clear enough to enjoy the view of the Milky Way. I managed to get all of my gear in the tent, and after some fiddling round, got it tied off to the other side of the mattress. It all tended to roll towards me when I sat up and the mattress deformed. I decided there would be cargo netting for the next version of the tent/bed. (Which I was calling a "bendt" as a test name.)

The night finally got cool enough to sleep and soon I was dreaming (yes, in the dream) that myself and a companion were floating in a large wading pool in the slow low swells, like during the summer of the wading pool when I was in college. I woke to the smell of the ocean, than realized that was normal as I was camping only a hundred yards from the beach. Then I realized the rhythmic rolling motion was real, and my gear was clanging around despite being tied down. I opened up one of the windows to find myself looking out at the shore, a couple of hundred yards away. I figured I'd somehow been washed out to sea, and hadn't heard the flash flood that did it. (The camp was in the floor of a canyon that had once been a river bed.)

The bendt drifted around to reveal the tops of electric towers barely clearing the ocean, and I realized there was an odd shape to the shoreline, not really a beach, any more. The ocean surged against the chaparral on the hillsides in a very un-ocean border like way. I heard a call for help and opened up the tent flap to allow myself to paddle the bendt around to see who was calling. There was a young man in a life vest, holding his cell phone above the water and paddling with one hand towards me. When he got close we realized there would be no way for him to get into the bendt without soaking everything, so I took his phone, and put it in a plastic bag. I then dismounted a pole and collapsed a corner of the tent so he could haul out and dry off in the sun without pouring water into the bed portion of the bendt. I made a note to add a porch to the more deluxe version.

The young man's cell phone was charged, and we fired it up. He'd captured some video and played it back for me. While I slept, the polar ice sheet had broken up, and several glaciers had suddenly been tipped into the North Sea. Canada popped up from the release of all that weight, and volcanic rifts had shaken the entire area around the north Pacific. Southern California, like the years of jokes, had cracked along the major fault lines, and baja and the SW US had sank about dozens of feet, with only minimal rocking and rolling. It was a mystery how the process hadn't been more traumatic (aside from ripping several large cities in half and drowning San Diego. My new companion was surprised that I'd slept through it.

I patted the wobbly air mattress, "so comfortable you can sleep through an earthquake."

"And a tsunami, apparently."

Once the videos were done he tried to see if he could get any hint of a cell phone signal, but there was no service. He tried the Wifi and walkie talkie functions, but they weren't working, either, or at least there was no response. I took my sheet and used the long pole to rig a sail for us to use to move closer to the shore. I was cautious as we approached the power line towers, choosing to allow the current to take us by them before putting the sail up again. We reached a calm spot and I could see buildings down below us. Barracks or apartments of some sort. I unwound a rope and tied one end off to the handle on the side of the bendt. I quickly checked through my gear to see if there was anything that might serve as an anchor. When I couldn't find anything I just tied the other end around my waist. I took the canvas bag I had used to store the prototype bendt in and rolled it up before diving over the side and down to the buildings.

I was able to hold my breath long enough to look through a couple of windows. I found an apartment with no bodies floating near the ceiling, but lots of cereal boxes and a large refrigerator. I tied the rope to the guard rail of the patio and surfaced, telling my companion that I found breakfast. After several deep breaths, I dove back down and got the patio door open. A few more trips and I had filled the canvas bag with cereal, milk several sealed frozen dinners, and other things that looked like they hadn't been flooded out. The air trapped in the cereal bags made the bag float. On one of my trips I had discovered that there was an air pocket and found myself wondering if there were survivors in the building. My companion and I took turns towing the bendt around the buildings and knocking and trying to see if we could hear anyone. We stopped a couple of hours from nightfall so that we could dry out before putting the tent portion back up. There was a nine inch high lip around the entire mattress, which worked well to keep the stray splashes off of the bed.

The next morning we sailed towards a hotel tower that had a cluster of boats around it. People were being rescued by sea and by air. We tied off the raft and climbed up to the top of the tower to see what was going on. The water wasn't receding, this appeared to be the new ocean level. We made our way into the network room and patched in to a system there. (The building still had power.) I found some cables and a couple of converters so was able to make a USB to fibre connection for his phone. He had some network tools on the thing and we were able to make an internet connection. He was able to find out that his friends had survived and arranged to meet up with them. We made it down as the last couple of boats were taking on people.

I went back into the building and turned off all the power I could except for the network room. I noticed that there was a cell tower on the building. A sailboat had stopped and tied up on the other side of my bendt. The owner of the boat said I was the last person, did I want a lift?

"If we can tow my bendt, sure."

"That's yours? Lucky find."

"It's a prototype," I looked down into the water. "I want to see if I can get the cellphone tower power back on."

"Isn't that dangerous?"

I thought a moment. The salt water was conductive, but the charge would be pretty distributed, still, turning on a circuit breaker under water..."We'd better leave that for someone with a rubber dry suit."

"I have one of those."

And so it started. My new companion, an older gentleman, had been preparing to sail around the world when things went wonky. His crew had joined the rescuers and left to find who they could of their loved ones. He had managed to contact his relatives, in the midwest, and they were high and dry at this point. The central plains, Mississippi the Ohio river valleys, however, were still flooding. It looked like we were several weeks away from rather difficult food troubles. Our boat was provisioned for at least four people for eight months, so with just the two of us, and rationing and fishing, we could likely make it last longer, we thought.

I turned the power back on for the cell tower. We were surprised to find that it rejoined the network almost immediately. We then decided to sail south to San Diego and beyond to help however we could. There followed a long period of fixing cell towers, network routers, rewiring power. We made our way around South America and across the ocean to Africa, where we finally got the call to come back to California. We sailed back up the Gulf of Texas, and by then the boat needed to be put in for repairs. We headed overland to California.

Once there, we were greeted at the border, but my friend was so old that he would be mandatorily "retired" in a few weeks. As we sat in the processing center I was able to find out what that meant. There was a severe food shortage in the Western States of California, and they were killing seniors (except for politicians, the very wealthy and lawyers, I noticed.) I happened onto (if you can describe rummaging around in the border stations' security camera feeds that way) a live feed of their "testing" facility. They had the people connect up their cellphones and downloaded everything from them. Then software was used to send a goodbye message to everyone on the phones' contacts lists. Then a fine mist sprayed out from the ground, catching the "volunteers" by surprise and melting them to death. It was truly horrific as the volunteers realized too late to escape what was happening. The technicians working on the process were commenting the entire time of the test and noted that the melting was fast enough for them to now deploy this at ATMs around the state, but they really needed to make sure the anesthesia was injected sooner.

I let my friend know what was going on, and we agreed to escape and make our way back to the boat. Getting it repaired was now a much higher priority than getting me home. I also sent a copy of the video to my friends in California, warning them that they might want to make their way out of the country. One replied with a link to the "Hotel California" album art and a single word "Tricky."

I actually didn't have any trouble leaving. I didn't have any real wealth in California, and my property was literally under water. I noticed that some people who were leaving were sent for separate processing if they had any property. None of them came out on the other side of the border. From the look of the outside of the building they went into, I was pretty sure it was the "testing" facility I'd seen in the pirated video.

"We have to stop that."

"Post it and get the message out there, it's all we can do." My friend wanted to waste no time in putting distance between himself and the border station. Unfortunately, they singled him out go through further 'processing.'

I told him to meet be back at the dry docks where we'd left the boat, I'd join him in a few days. I knew I had to act fast, as they were surely going to melt him and confiscate his property (which was considerable.)

I managed to find the power to the testing building, and was grateful it was on the outside of the building. I shut off everything but the power marked "doors."

I managed to open the large corrugated steel hanger-door (large red and green buttons next to it) and shouted at everyone in the "testing" room to get out while they could. The power I had shut off wasn't the power to everything, it seemed, not everyone was out of range of the sprayers when they went off. My friend and about three others out of at least a dozen were the only ones to escape. I closed the doors and ran around the side of the building to turn off the power there. I ducked into the bushes before armed agents arrived. They weren't "in the know" and refused the technician's orders to run after the people who'd escaped.

"We could do that if they were breaking into the country," they cheerfully explained.

"They're escaping with State property!"

"You'll have to call the Marshals."

Satisfied for now, I crept slowly away, using the sound of their arguments to cover my retreat.

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