Disaster Watch: #Tellastorytome

earthquake pixabay.jpg

Alarms from remote stations blared throughout the compound. Within seconds, the general siren sounded and all Service Units were on alert. Greesha had awakened to these calls weekly since her posting to Tien Shan #30 Seismic Observatory.

She threw on her regulation cotton jumpsuit and reported to EEG lab. Her electrode helmet sent a storm of accelerated messages to Central Console. Data instantaneously coordinated with readings from dozens of other sites along the Tien Shan range.

Within five minutes Greesha was disconnected from Central Console and guided to Narrative. There she gave a subjective impression of the information her brain had recorded during the Event:

"Tremors will not be felt in Bishkek for at least three days. These disturbances will be mild, almost imperceptible, and only in the outskirts of the city. No landslide alert need be issued."

She was certain of her prediction. Magnetic field disturbances came to her like three-dimensional maps. She could visualize activity on their path, all the way back to their source.

She passed a queue of AI terminals on her return to Sleep Chamber. Would AI ever be perfected to the point where it would be superior to her subjective contribution? What would her value be then, she wondered. What would be her purpose on earth?

Her entire life she had been primed for one function: to predict the location, intensity and timing of future earthquakes. She felt a satisfaction in being able to offer accurate projections. But, as had been happening with increasing intensity lately, a sense of hollowness, a disquiet disturbed her peace. It was for this reason that she looked forward to her next posting. There, it was promised, she would undergo the most dramatic change of her young life. She would find, or be assigned, a life match.

Greesha had become a Human Magnetoreceptor Class 1a nine months before. It was the culmination of preparation that had begun when she was a child, in preschool. Sensory screenings, to which all children were subject, had revealed an extraordinary sensitivity, an innate ability to detect variations in the earth's magnetic field. Brain images showed a greater than usual complement of magnetites in her cerebellum and brain stem. The number of magnetites could be surgically augmented, research had proven, and her magnetoreceptivity dramatically enhanced.

When she was four years old, she was removed from her family, and additional magnetites were implanted. At that point she was placed in a training institute. Over the years refinement of her talent enabled her to pinpoint not only the timing of a quake, but its strength and origin. Thousands of children from her generation were likewise identified and trained. The result was an army of Human Magnetoreceptors who were stationed all over the world and who alerted populations about the danger of impending earthquakes.

Her life work, she was instructed, was more important than her individual destiny. Despite this ingrained orthodoxy, Greesha found it impossible to repress an undefinable yearning for something she did not know, could not even imagine. This yearning, she realized was the source of her present disquiet, and it threatened to undermine her effectiveness as a Human Magnetoreceptor.

Where had they sent her? Where was the match-making compound? She recognized from magnetic field emanations that she was in Northwest USA, near the Cascadia megathrust fault. She'd been in the area before, but not in this complex. The Directors of the compound were quite clear about the purpose of her mission: she was to find among the vast number of assembled Human Magnetoreceptors the one individual who was suited to be her mate for life.

Meet-ups were organized: chess games, tennis matches, yoga sessions. In each interaction, same sex association was forbidden. Males and females only were to pair. This pairing would be random, until a suitable match was established. The goal of these pairings, ultimately, was for a second generation of Human Magnetoreceptors to be produced. Natural breeding was considered superior to test tube gene manipulation for achieving this outcome.

The structured meet-ups for Greesha were awkward, particularly because she had heightened extrasensory abilities. She represented a small subset of Magnetoreceptors who not only could perceive variations in the earth's magnetic field, but who also could sense changes in human emotions. During the meet-ups impressions from excited participants assaulted her senses.

Mealtimes were especially hard. These were sheer chaos. Never had such a lack of order existed in her life. Never, she realized, had she been offered the freedom to make so many independent choices.

It happened one day, soon after her arrival, that a sour individual sat next to her at mealtime. She thought at first this pairing was accidental. Then he sat next to her a second, and third time. She realized then that a plan was afoot. She needed an opportunity to separate herself from this unpleasant seatmate. Fortunately, that opportunity came before the end of their third encounter.

He had been chatting throughout the meal, commenting acerbically on one person or another. Then he turned to her with a sidelong glance, the pupils of his eyes barely visible between the slits of narrowed lids.

"I understand you're good," he remarked. "That's what I heard. Spot on, every time. Do you think you were born with this...extra oomph?"

Greesha was repelled more than she had been on her two previous encounters with this individual. It hit her suddenly: he couldn't sense her revulsion. He did not have the gift.

"I don't know if I'd call it 'oomph," she responded. "Whatever I have, it's not for my benefit."

How stiff, how awkward she sounded! But no one had ever taught her to make small talk, to dissemble.

His pupils slid around under the slightly opened eyelids. She noticed long lashes. Really long lashes. She focused on that and tried not to smell the coffee on his breath, or follow his elusive pupils

"Well," he continued, though she did not encourage him, "whatever you have, I like it. Suits my style. You're not like the other Units here. I noticed that from the start. The way you carry yourself. I think we might make a good match."

Greesha was horrified. Had she been more more experienced she would have seen this proposal coming. She couldn't sense it though, because it was pure calculation. Her extrasensory skills only provided insight into emotions.

"We just got here," she mumbled, a will to survive helping her to find words. "We're encouraged to meet many Potentials. I've only met one other besides you. It wouldn't be right to restrict our choices so soon. I don't think we should pair up again, at mealtime or anywhere, until we've met more Potentials."

Ah, now she felt it. Anger. Strong. A bully, roused. These emotions came through starkly, like a blow to her chest.

His face darkened.

"You know, someday you're going to meet someone who takes you off your high horse. Maybe it won't be me...Hope I get to see that, though." He pushed his chair back as he stood. It tottered and then crashed to the floor.

Greesha was relieved. Would it be this hard, all the time? She looked warily around the room to see if anyone had witnessed the scene. Behind her. She felt it. Again, strong. Humor. Somebody was laughing. She turned around. She couldn't see the laughter in his face, except around the eyes. There. And then the humor swept across her in waves.

He had the gift!! Another sensitive!! She was too timid to acknowledge him, but she didn't have to. He got up, ignored the fallen chair and pulled up a new one.

"Hi. The name's Eran. Greesha, right?" He put his hand out. She took it and the sense of joviality increased as they touched.

"Yes, Greesha."

They were formally matched two weeks later. They discovered that foresight in each was heightened by a kind of synergy when they were together. For the rest of their lives they would be posted as a team at seismic observatories around the world.

Never again would Greesha feel the hollowness that had once troubled her. As she went about her duties and observed the increasing accuracy of AI terminals during earthquake alerts, she didn't doubt her worth. Her relationship with Eran had awakened in her the realizations that AI could never duplicate one quality she possessed:

She was human.

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The story was writing in response to prompt suggested by @calluna in her #tellastorytome contest. I try never to miss an edition of this contest.

@calluna has for many months provided a platform for writers to stretch their creative muscles. She does so now under the sponsorship of @bananafish. The prompts for the contest are usually very evocative. This one had me researching whale and pigeon navigation. I hope the research helped me to write a credible story.

Calluna's prompt:

I am looking for a fictional story set in a world where people are able to make fairly accurate predictions 24-72 hours into the future.

If you are intrigued by this prompt, you have more than a day to enter. Deadline is Midnight of August 15th. What have you got to lose? This is great fun.

Comments 24

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14.08.2019 16:21

You are a fine writer @agmoore.

I was so pleased to read Greesha’s happy ending 😊 I suppose I am still feelinng for Arnav (fro Celadons). She is human, with her yearnigs, her hesitation in the face of freedom to make choices, tthe threatening feeling about an uncertain future and finaly, her sense of fulfilment resulted from duties and love :)

I love reading your short stories my dear, clever frieend. The way youcreate the context wwithin which yourcarachters exist is what fascinates me the most. A work of art!

Lots of love to you. Packed with much, much admiration ❤️🌷
From sunny, hot Portugal ☀️

14.08.2019 16:34

Thank you, My Dear Abigail ❣

You are manna for the creative spirit in me. So glad you like my 'happy' ending. I don't want to be saccharine, but after all, it is my story and why can't people be happy, sometimes? 😇

Poor Arnav lived in such a dreadful world, it was hard to save him. But Greesha, this one had a chance.

Isn't Steemit great fun, if you look in the right places? I love initiatives like @calluna's. I think this is the heart of the platform--community where people can interact and grow. And the heart is with you, and others, who support and encourage. I can't tell you how much I appreciate your comment. Makes it easier to sit down at the keyboard again and try my hand.

I do love to do that 🌟

It is warm here--no breeze, but still pleasant, in small doses. I always wanted to visit Portugal, and after knowing you I really wish I had made that trip.

With Appreciation, and Great Affection,
Love from New York,

AG 🌼 🌼

14.08.2019 18:54

As for me/us .... New York is on our list of places to visit. It has been for a while, in fact :)

15.08.2019 10:41

What a great character arc - what a great line at the end! Very satisfying.
And what a great image of the hen on stilts! Love it!

15.08.2019 02:41

Thank you!! The end was hard. Didn't want to tie it up too neatly, and yet it had to unify the piece. So glad it worked for you:)
I just read your piece. What a ride! I'll head over there in a few minutes (when my VP replenishes).

15.08.2019 04:12

I really liked your story, @agmoore. At first I thought it was a science fiction story where Greesha would be some kind of robot. And that's, in my opinion, a good move, so the development and end of the story reaches more relief. Although it has some science fiction, what is interesting is how, as readers, we discover the world of the main character and his human condition.
A very well written and conducted story. His "happy ending" is appropriate to the story and the purpose underlying it thematically.


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15.08.2019 02:54

Thank you so much! I love Celf, and its mission. I love the support it offers to the art and writing community, support that is often much needed.

I really appreciate your kind assessment of my story. Happy endings...can't guarantee them in life, but often I can get away with it in a story.!
Once again, I thank you for your generous review. It really feels good :)

15.08.2019 04:06


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Much love to you from all of us at @helpie!
Keep up the great work!


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16.08.2019 15:55

Thank you, @helpiecake. What a nice treat to find in my creative writing lunchbox :)

17.08.2019 00:37

It's a great story! I've heard it said that falling in love is the easiest thing in the world to do. You've shown that here.
Maybe love is about finding someone on the same sensitivity wavelength.
And that last line!
Love made her fell human.
Love this story.

16.08.2019 22:05

You make me happy. I love to write stories and try to get a character and scene as I imagine them. That's the challenge for all of us as writers, isn't it? Great to get a comment that shows my intention was realized. Thanks for stopping by and enjoying my story.

17.08.2019 00:22

Oh, it's a nice change to read a whole story instead of a finished one. Interesting how you built it. Was it just like that, or did you have a plan before to build in encounters with the two men? I like it a lot that you describe the meeting with the first one in detail, which is not at all to Greesha's taste and that this one as a ski jump for the second and finally happy pairing. I think that's a very elegant way to introduce a character and to weave in both likes and dislikes without actively struggling with it. Really very successful!

Recruiters) and their institutes :) You can hate and love them.

I like it very much that you make the comparison with the AI the process in such a short and concise way: It is not human. And that's what it is.

I would have been interested to know what effect the predictive power of the two would have had. If you can predict earthquakes, what do people do? Do they go somewhere else and return or do they avoid the area? But that's probably another story. This one has everything it needs.

Oh, and a little bit the mood and the idea of pairing reminded me of "LoveStar", the novel by Andri Snaer Magnason. A truly magical story, which I strongly recommend to read if you don't know it yet. You will love it!

18.08.2019 05:57

Dear Erika,
Thank you so much for stopping by. Always you bring a refreshing perspective. I agree, I do enjoy writing a whole story. I think it's the rebel in me. This one was a combination of science and fiction--very much so. I think I was influenced by recent readings on your blog and @abigail-dantes' about consciousness and AI. The idea of foretelling the future, of having senses that we do not understand, this was interesting to me. Instead of writing a fairy tale, I explored current science and learned that some humans actually can detect changes in the magnetic field of the earth. After exploring that idea, I wanted to create a character I liked. No sad or horror story for me this time. I wanted something positive :)
Glad you appreciated my portrayal of the sour individual. That was fun. Reflected the personalities of some sour people I have known. It seems they rarely have nice things to say about others. Who needs that in a life mate?
Thanks for the book reference. Sounds interesting.
I hope the second part of your summer is as interesting as the first. One of the greatest gifts anyone can have is the ability to enjoy. You seem to have that in spades.
I wish you peace and health,
Your friend,

18.08.2019 17:17

Oh, the AI's, yes, they kept me busy for a while and do it again and again. I am happy to have been a part of your inspiration. I also feel that the blogs I've read over the months from you and others influence and motivate my content.

LOL: It's often much easier to write about the sour characters than about those who have integrity. :-D In any case, I feel that one helps to develop the other and that contrast is the framework on which to build a story or relationship.

As you know, I am someone who likes happy endings very much. There are just so many sad ones in the real world. I appreciate this one a lot!

I read some old blogs yesterday and followed our dialogues. When we knew each other less, we talked about something and I asked you about your age and told you mine. You said: "older". :-D

Do you still think about the travelogue from Italy with your mother? I would really like to read it.

Your Erika

19.08.2019 05:55

Hi Erika, 🌟
I am less discrete now than I was in those early dialogues--it is true. With my next blog, I will be completely unmasked (as to age 😅) I am writing that blog about my 'Grand Tour' of Europe with my mother. This will be nothing like yours, I assure you. It is great fun to write this, although so much is gone from memory after these many years. I think the important parts remain, though.
Thanks so much for the inspiration. My mother used to say, be careful of your company. I am careful here on Steemit. I have the best company.
Have a great summer my dear. Am on the lookout for your next distinctive blog.
With great affection,
Your friend AG

19.08.2019 16:56

Thank you for your contribution to the crowd. We are the Steem community project dedicated to empowering The Wisdom of Crowds. You can find more about us on our official website or whitepaper and you can support us by voting for our witness and joining our curation trail on Steemauto . We are also inviting you to join Crowdmind Discord server. Don't forget to use the #crowdmind hashtag and happy crowdsourcing!

19.08.2019 22:08

Thank you, @crowdmind. There you come, out of the Steem mist, and spread cheer. Much appreciated :)

19.08.2019 22:12

Now that is a way to find true love. Where can I go to get the trained that will make me a 10 on the Rictor scale and have the woman falling on me?

20.08.2019 23:58

Me gustó tu historia, soy amante de los finales felices, del romance y del encuentro perfecto aunque sea en las historias. Bella historia, te felicito, gracias por compartirla con todos nosotros.

23.08.2019 20:20

I like your story, I am a lover of happy endings, romance and perfect encounter even if it is in the stories. Beautiful story, I congratulate you, thank you for sharing it with all of us.

23.08.2019 20:21

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26.08.2019 11:45

The practical application you have gone for here is sheer brilliance! Then the science and realism behind it, you have taken an exceptionally good concept, and built it up so well. The way you introduce Gressha, and the way you frame her with a human softness, the focus on her and how she feels, not what she can do, before you bring in the exposition. It really had me taking to her. You create a character worth caring about, set in a world it’s hard not to want to know more about. Her pairing, her having to choose or it being assigned hanging over her, combined her youth and inexperience, creates this feeling of protectiveness and a desire to see her through to her ending. In a way this had to have a sweet ending. I really appreciated the way you hold a mirror up to our world, in terms of human vs AI, her small observations throughout give a really nice second layer to this, human advancement alongside AI. The interaction between Gressha and her unwanted seatmate gives such a wonderful view of the world through her eyes, and the way it gives way to her finding someone who she has a real connection with. You know I love a good human story, and this is very much that, I sincerely love that at the end, that was the element that mattered. The ending caught me off guard, I wasn’t expecting it, more that I wasn’t expecting it to end yet. In all honesty, at first I was disappointed there wasn’t more, and at first it felt like all she needed in the world was to meet the right guy, but then as I realised it was more what she had come to realise about herself, and in relation to AI. It is greater than that.

She didn’t doubt her worth

Meeting someone was the catalyst for self realisation and self acceptance, and it brings so much to this ending. I feel like metaphors could be drawn between her worries about AI replacing her, and the general human worry of being replaced - or replaceable, and finding ones own value. but then this will get into a whole essay, and this is far too wonderful a story for philosophical dissection lol. Beautifully done <3

29.08.2019 12:11

Thank you, @calluna. I wrote the story for you.

29.08.2019 17:37