Weissenbaum's Eye - Stetten - Chapter 34
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Mara stepped out into the crisp night. She was not alone. Blindness seeped through the branches, and the snow compacted under every step. A squirrel watched Mara, tracking her with whiskered nervousness down the solitary path. Mara stopped, surrounded by the world her species had forfeited, until the night was softly awakened with her words, meant for no one.
"We've given it all away."
An hour later she was driving. Mara was happy. She could tell by the trouble she was having swallowing, and by the way her chest hurt. She was feeling...well...she was feeling, that was all. The circuit had been simple to plug into Peter's couch. Several weeks from now, after she was gone, it would disrupt the medium for hundreds of miles in all directions.
The forward running lights of something big, probably a truck, appeared ahead where the invisible road met the horizon, giving Mara something to aim at in the darkness. She instinctively pulled a little off the center to give the vehicle room to pass, although it was still far away.
The roads were almost empty, and what traffic there was consisted of robot trucks. Hardly any private cars traveled the roads these days. In her mind, Mara drifted back to past times, as the lower level of her consciousness kept track of the lonely road ahead.
There had been times when cars were full of people who laughed, and talked, and watched the scenery. At any given moment on a giant strip of tar like this, there would have been a thousand travelers, half going one way and half the other, a nomad community you could join at any point and leave at any other. During the time you were a part of that community, you'd get to know the voices of your fellow travelers by radio. Those going in the opposite direction were quickly out of range, but against the backdrop of a world whipping by you'd hear new voices, and add your own to the chorus. There was a feeling of excitement and free living that made people naturally generous and hospitable. You'd promise to keep in touch.
Even then it was beginning. Consciously or not, people were creating a world where a line could get to you, no matter where you were. You could reach anyone, anytime. And they could reach you. You were guaranteed, no matter where you were, on top of a mountain or at the bottom of the sea, that the rest of humanity was there with you. And with them came that other being, embroidered into humanity, inextricable and alive.
These days there was no need for most people to travel. Information traveled. What things were needed came in trucks without drivers that followed the road from source to destination, and weren't nearly so much fun to talk to.
Mara drove her car herself, manually. Automation was the enemy. Hands on the wheel, the old rebel smiled to herself. The Moon had just cleared the clouds to the side of the road. Don Andrews was up there, and her son. She hadn't been able to find out what Don Andrews really hoped they would accomplish. But something in his plan involved her son and his skills with the couch. If not an outright weapon, then at least Sand was part of the final hope.
Mara believed in Sand. He might make good what Synapse had begun. She knew Sand understood what she had felt, when long ago that frozen picture of the medium had first warned her of the simultron's potential consequences. What else could she have done, but keep the company alive, maintain what power she could hold? Without Mara there would have been no wingscoop, and no return to Backdoor. And now, was she actually going there herself? It didn't seem so bad, somehow, to leave the Earth.
A low flying black cloud devoured the Moon, and Mara instinctively checked the panel clock. It would be another two hours before she reached the ocean. She looked up at the road again, just in time to see the oncoming truck swerve into her lane.