Running Out of Time
© 2009 Logan Hawkes
Niko sat in his protected chamber hidden away from the real world outside, a man out of place and technically, a man out of time. He had come to accept he was a prisoner, though he had agreed many years before that his voluntary incarceration was the only certain guarantee that he could not inadvertently cause the destruction of the world.
His self-imposed isolation represented a cooperative agreement with the U.S. government's MID, an intelligence organization initially operated by high ranking military personnel, but ordered by a 'higher authority'.
In recent years his relationship with his “Keepers” was channeled through the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, and had become increasingly more uncomfortable. What had started as a joint project to protect the world from scientific discoveries he had stumbled upon as a research scientist and inventor of advanced technology, had developed more into a relationship whereby his 'protector' had become his overseer, who seemed more interested in newer and auxiliary versions of the same technology they once had agreed was much too dangerous to tamper with.
Add to that a changing policy that now kept him in the dark about many of the developments in the outside world. Instead of making him feel more comfortable in his role as an isolationist by helping him to stay informed about the world he could no longer embrace, he was locked away without news from 'the outside'; no newspapers or magazines, no television, no Internet, no current events of the day. It concerned him, but it had become obvious things had changed since he first submitted to voluntary imprisonment.
He had to admit on one level, however, that his long years of isolation may finally be catching up with him, perhaps affecting his clarity of thought and his ability to reason. It wasn't easy nor was it natural being locked up and removed from the world for such a long period of time. It was bound to have a negative effect sooner or later.
An intellectual in the truest since of the word however, Niko began to wonder if his decision to submit to perpetual incarceration, regardless the nobility of the act in order to protect the world, was such a wise idea after all. He thirsted for engagement, conversation, like he had regularly experienced with his keepers in the early days of his exile. But far too often bureaucracies forced personnel changes, people get transferred, promoted or reassigned. Many of his management team of the past had become friends however, and he had enjoyed those rare relationships. Now, with this latest group, he was lucky if he saw one or two attendants a day, and then just long enough for someone to deliver a plate of food or change the sheets on his bed. No one seemed to smile anymore, as if he had become a burden or a virus that everyone wanted to avoid.
The only useful or interesting conversations he was afforded in well over a year now were those he had with visiting government-contracted physicists and engineers who were allowed in his protected chamber for short visits to present particular problems or equations they could not unravel, or to enlist his research on projects they were working on. But those visits were clinical, fact finding missions void of friendly banter or useful information exchanges.
After a time his concerns began to grow. Things were not the same here in Ground Zero, the name he had affectionately given his self-invented cell block, which is how he often referred to it. In truth, it was a remarkable scientific accomplishment, one that employed the elusive and complicated properties of quantum physics long before anyone even knew what quantum physics were, including Niko himself.
Copyright 2009, Logan Hawkes