Slow Cold Death

“Do you think we’re going to make it?” Moneza asked.

She was pressed up close to Chimba, so they could share what little warmth there was in the back of the freezer transport.

Chimba gave her a squeeze. “I’m sure we will. It won’t be long now.”

“Where do you think we are?”

“I can’t be sure, but given how long we’ve been travelling I’d guess we’re somewhere in the middle of France.”

“Only a few more hours before we get to England then?”

“I think so.”

Chimba lifted his gaze from the brown hair of his wife nestled against his chest and stared at the other wall of the truck. She was next to the door, which meant Chimba was pressed up against the storage compartments. Cold had seeped through and numbed his right side. He had not mentioned it as he did not want to add to Moneza’s fear.

“I know we’ll have a better life when we get there.” It was obvious her words were designed as much for herself as they were him.

Fleeing to England had been their last hope for a life without persecution, although Chimba was not entirely confident it would be as easy as they hoped.

“I think we should shut down for a while,” he suggested. “It’ll help save our energy reserves in case there’s a delay.”

“Okay. I’ll set a wakeup time for three hours. We don’t want to miss the border crossing.”

Chimba felt her press closer to him.

“Rest well, it’s nearly over.”

He closed his eyes and triggered a sleep state; unconsciousness swept over him.

***

“You can see from these live satellite images that the police are being heavy handed,” the reporter said.

His voice was overlaid on video of water cannons and riot foam being sprayed at large groups of protesters. The blue placards they held high were ripped from their hands.
“Do you think the campaigning will escalate in Thailand just like we have seen it grow in India?” the studio anchor asked.

“Most experts think so,” the reporter replied. “Even in China, Pakistan and those African countries that have locked down their populations access to the internet we’ve seen protests.”

“Thank you.” The shot cut back to the studio. “Meanwhile, here in Turkey the Anti-Enhancement Bill will be passed tomorrow and while we haven’t seen the same levels of unrest …”

Chimba sent a command to the TV and it switched off. In the kitchen he found Moneza preparing dinner. He slipped one hand around her waist.

“It’s not getting any better,” he told her.

“I know. What do you think will happen?”

“When the bill goes through it’ll be just like the US; we’ll have to register.”

She turned her head and gave him a gentle kiss. “Would that be so bad? It’s not like we’ll be stopped from using any of our enhancements or told we can’t access the net.”

“You know they’re saying this might only be the start. We could end up like …”

“… Jews in Germany,” she finished for him. “I know it was a long time ago, but no one’s going to let that happen again.”

“You don’t know that for sure and why take the chance? We should get out now.”

Moneza pulled away from him and rinsed her hands under the tap. “Where could we go? Japan is about the only place that seems to accept those with AI enhancements and we haven’t got the money.”

“There’s always England,” Chimba suggested. “Their government has said the country will remain free for all. Plus it’s easier to get to.”

***

Chimba woke with a start. For a moment he was confused. AI created sleep never contained dreams, simply reruns of past events. It was one of the drawbacks of letting the enhancements take control.

Moneza was still curled up to his chest. He checked the time; three hours had passed. They would be nearing the English boarder control.

“Come on,” he said, giving Moneza a gentle shake. “We need to be ready in case the transport is searched.”

When there was no response he tried again. By the third attempt he was starting to worry. He checked her skin and pulse; one was cold the other faint. That caused him to verify his energy levels. They were a lot lower than expected and activity was quickly using up what little he had left.

“Temp’ levels,” he said out loud.

Information slid into his mind. The truck was getting colder. It had been since just after they went to sleep. What reserves of energy they both had were being used to keep their core body heat at the right level. Estimates showed him they had less than an hour. For the first time in their journey he felt panic rising in his gut.

It was clear their chances were slim and their options few. He readied a distress call, tagged a full body shutdown to follow it and the put in a fifteen second delay. The power used to send the call onto the local net meant he would be left with only minutes to live, but it was worth the chance.

“If I never see you again, hold tight to my memory,” he told Moneza’s sleeping form, then he set the command running and seconds later his body relaxed.

—————

21 May 2010
There were many stories I wanted to write about this week (the creation of artificial life, violence in Thailand, two gay men sentenced to hard labour in Malawi, the government in Tibet banning the public’s access to photocopying, immigrants making a desperate phone call from the back of freezer trailer in France, accusations that North Korea sank a South Korean warship, Facebook and other sites blocked in many countries due to cartoons of Mohammed so here is a story with a little bit from all of them.

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