Getting a feel for the plot.
No relevant dreams.
It was raining enough today that I decided to go into Dunwich proper. Partially it was practical; Aylesbury may be a more developed town, but Dunwich is almost at the center of the region I’m surveying. The models indicate that the town will become a much more important regional hub after we finally Weave this place into the 22nd Century, so part of my job is to assess its potential growth rate. Even after Reform, it doesn’t hurt DepCom to know just where the real estate prices are going to spike suddenly.
But if I’m being honest here (and obviously I have to be), I’d be checking out Dunwich even if I didn’t have to. Morbid curiosity kind of dictates it. The Miskatonic Free State held off the USNA for almost six months, back during the Consolidation Wars, after all. I think the blockbuster teract they made of the war a couple of years ago is why DepCom decided to accelerate plans to finally Reweave this whole area. I admit to wondering just how much of the show made up, myself.
Yeah. Pretty much all of it.
To start off with, there aren’t any of the iconic buildings from the show, like the General Church or Fort Whateley. There is a plaque at the barren square where the Church was, before the Army finally came in and burned it down, but it’s pre-Reform old regime agitprop. I didn’t see any sign of the Fort at all. I’d access whether they just made it up for the teract, except I, well, can’t. You don’t realize just how much you rely on information access until you don’t have any.
One dream. Blood pressure and heart rate slightly elevated; no tachycardia.
I spent today driving the first half of what will eventually be a loop around the — well, I’m not supposed to call it a ‘dead zone,’ obviously. According to DepCom records, it is an ‘Anomalous Zero-Accessibility Telecommunications Hub.’ Personally, I think that ‘dead zone’ is easier to say, but nobody asked me.
I’m not going to lie; it’s a drive, even if the car’s doing most of it. For the first part I’m supposed to stick to the main roads, looking for high places to put the ‘outdoor telecast hookups’ (Yay, more jargon!) that will finally connect this area with the rest of the USNA. Looks like the time of the human surveyor isn’t quite gone yet. (And if the rumors about the AI moratorium are true, it’ll be a while before that changes.)
Writing future science fiction horror is haaaaaaaard. Whine whine whine…
I gave the room another look. It was nice enough, if you liked plants and antique furniture; but there were only three desks, and two had had their chairs stacked upside-down on them. Bill had flipped one to give me a place to sit. “Just how many people are in this office, Bill?”
“In the office? Two.” He grinned at me. “That’s including you, at least for the next month. The Department of Commerce pays for two more staffers, but they both work remotely. Ruth and Anna come in maybe once a quarter.”
That was surprising. “Remotely? That’s an option? I thought…”
“…this was some kind of primitive hamlet, on the back of beyond?” The grin didn’t waver. “Well, you’d be right. That’s why you’re here, ain’t ya? But we can manage a local network. It can’t handshake with Outside all that great, but it’s fine for local stuff. That reminds me.” He rummaged in a box, tossed me a smartphone. I was so startled, I almost dropped it. “Use that for calling me, or anybody else you’re trying to reach here. It can’t take Outside calls, but neither can your button.”
I need to come up with a title.
I was told by the hotel clerk(!) at check-in that I had driven through Dunwich. If that was it, I have to admit that I was expecting more from the former capital of the Miskatonic Free State. Or perhaps a lot less; the old regime wasn’t shy about flattening rebellions, sometimes from orbit. I’m sure there’s a good story there, but it can wait until the morning. It’ll have to. DepCom has put me up in the local Hilton, and it’s just as rustic as the name suggests. No full-spectrum correspondence. No predictive feedback. Most of the items aren’t even discoverable! I knew things were bad here — that’s why they sent me to survey the region — but I hadn’t realized how bad. Checking my mail is like trying to eat steak through a straw.
To be fair, my meal was excellent, the room is clean, and the bed is comfortable. Oh, and the suite does come with a vidscreen, although I’m stuck with whatever’s in the local library. I should think of this as an extended camping trip, with no bugs and indoor toilets. I can do that for a month, right? …Why I am I asking my daily log this?
Still deciding on a title.
June 17, 2154
So, I got lost. Not the best way to start a survey expedition — or is it? After all, if we knew exactly where everything was, people wouldn’t get lost.
Anyway, I took the wrong fork at the Aylesbury Pike junction, and it took me forever to figure it out. The datanet crapped out just before Dean’s Corners, and that disappeared my rental’s predictive map so hard, I even lost the step-by-step directions. I had to guess which way to turn, and I was halfway around the hills before I realized my mistake. Also, in my defense: there was not even a physical road sign to be seen, the entire way. Apparently they don’t have natural disasters around here.
Anyway, after I realized my mistake I decided I might as well keep going, since the road was going in roughly the right direction, and it had to go somewhere, right? Besides, I wanted to see the countryside. I’d like to say that it was pretty country, but honestly? This part of the state is darn grim. Too much wood, not enough people, and the trees are huge. I’d been briefed that this part of the state hadn’t been properly developed for centuries; looking at the forests around me, I believed them. From the road they were dark and impenetrable, and I didn’t feel like stopping to take a closer look.
Honestly, I didn’t feel like stopping at all, not even for lunch. For the longest time, there wasn’t anywhere to stop, just long stretches of winding road and no amenities. The few houses along I did see were neglected, shouting out their indifference to travelers with every crumbling cinderblock and scuffed window. The styles were archaic, too, all twenty-first and even twentieth century designs; I don’t think I saw a single pre-Reform building outside of the one town that I drove through, and that one looked just as dilapidated as the others.