A little more about the lovely Dr. Wu. 🙂
* * *
Kenneth Wu was in one of the labs adjacent to the Catacombs, fine tuning the algorithms that would interface between Miira’s brain and the world around her when the AI suddenly came to life with an urgent message.
“Please intercept patient Tahn in containment area. Uploading co-ordinates.”
“What the hell…?”
Kenneth was half way to the door before he remembered his work.
“Save algorithm!” he yelled as he ran through the door. The flashing green arrows projected onto the floor by the AI guided him as he pounded down the corridor and took a hard right at the first intersection. The Catacombs could be like a maze and if Miira was in there on her own then she could be very frightened. But what had sent her into the Catacombs in the first place?
As he ran down one featureless passageway after the other, apparently in circles, he began to wonder if the AI had had a malfunction. Coming to a halt at another empty intersection he yelled up at the sound receptors dotting the ceiling, “Where …the hell.. is she?”
“Patient is moving very fast,” the AI responded. “I have attempted to slow her chair but she has invoked manual override.”
“Okay,” Kenneth said, thoughts whirling. “I’ll never catch her this way. Extrapolate her position and speed for 30 seconds into the future and close all security doors outside that radius.”
Less than two minutes later the AI said, “Patient Tahn has come to a halt in sector C4. All door leading to or from C4 are now closed.”
“Good. Now patch me through to C4 so I can talk to her.”
“Patching now. Please go ahead.”
“Miira? It’s me, Kenneth Wu. Can you hear me?”
For a long moment all he could hear was the pounding of his own heart, but then a small, disembodied voice said, “Yes.”
“Stay there Miira. I’m coming to get you, okay?”
The only answer he received was a barely audible snuffle.
“I’ll be there soon,” he promised as he began jogging again. What could have upset her this much? She was not the kind of woman who threw a tantrum for no good reason…
Three corridors and 250 metres later, he reached the first of the doors sealing C4 from the rest of the facility.
“I’m very close now Miira,” he huffed. “Are you still okay?”
“Yes.” the disembodied voice whispered. “I’m sorry…”
“Shhhh. It’s okay,” he said as the AI opened the door. “Whatever’s wrong, we’ll fix it.”
A short sprint later he found Miira huddled in her chair. She wasn’t crying, but it was obvious that she had been. The tears were gone but the puffiness of her eyes and the spots of bright red on her cheeks gave her away.
“What happened?” he asked as he dropped to a crouch beside the chair and rubbed her hands. They felt like ice.
“I’m a stupid old woman,” Miira said with a sniffle. “I was on my back and got lost. Then I panicked…”
Kenneth Wu narrowed his eyes as he tried to read the expression on her face but she was giving nothing away. Perhaps she had just got lost…
He had read her case file from start to finish. This woman had fought off bushfires and poisonous snakes. No way she’d panic like this just because she got lost. Something had happened to her and he intended to find out what it was. But not right now.
“Well, let’s get you back to bed,” he said gently. “Your hands are freezing.”
“I’d kill for a cup of tea,” she admitted.
“You and your awful tea,” he said with a rueful smile. “But just this once I may join you in a cup. If that’s ok?”
“Philistine! But I guess I can spare you a cup.”
“Your generosity knows no bounds,” he quipped as he turned the chair around and began pushing it away from the Catacombs. “Just don’t expect any Road to Damascus moments.”
“Hah,” the woman in the chair retorted with a toss of her head. “I’ll convert you to tea yet. Just wait and see!”