Zelina walked in the middle of the train track. She and her sister used to lay in bed listening for the comforting whistle of the train that passed at three o’clock every morning. Their father was a conductor of a shipping train that ran overnight runs. They would listen for the whistle and wonder if it was Dad’s train.
Now her sister was buried at the cemetery up the hill from these tracks.
What now? Would she ever be happy again? Would this sadness sit on her soul ever leave? What was she supposed to do? How would she manage without one of the most important people in her life? She lost half of herself. The black hole of loss was sucking the meaning of her life.
She wiped the tears from her face as she looked up the hill toward the cemetery. “What should I do, Zariah?”
Follow the light.
She heard the sound of the old comforting whistle. It was louder here than it was from her parents’ home two miles away. The vibration of the train rumbled through her core. The brakes screeched, metal sparks flying across the tracks as the light embraced her.
“Why did my AI call me at four o’clock in the morning?” Alysia asked sharply as she walked into the drab grey computer lab.
“One of the test subjects got hit by a train an hour ago,” Linden said, his eyes locked on the code running across his computer screen. “She was standing on the tracks. The conductor couldn’t stop in time.”
“That’s odd,” Alysia said, rolling a chair next to his. “Did her AI termination alert wake you up?”
“No, that’s the strange part,” Linden said. “My AI sent me a media alert when the news post came across the wires for the morning broadcasts. I have an algorithm to monitor the names of the people in the test group for online mentions outside of normal parameters.”
“Getting hit by a train is abnormal,” Alysia said. “You said the subject’s AI didn’t give you a termination notification?”
Linden shook his head. “That’s why I’m here. The subject’s AI is still transmitting,” He hit a key on his computer to project his screen over the desk. “Look at that programming code. Does it make sense to you?”
Alysia stared at the nonsensical text scrolling across the projected frame. “I’m a scientist, not a network engineer. All I see that makes any sense is ‘follow the light’ on every other line.”