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Wednesday, October 5, 2016


There is no other word for it.
We are trapped - unallowed to leave.
We can’t even be sure how many years we’ve been trapped; we know it’s at least seven, but some of us insist it’s as many as ten. You lose track of the years when every day is a struggle to survive.
When The Wall went up that was it: no one else was allowed out. For awhile they sent supplies but then those stopped, too. We’ve been trapped and abandoned since.
A couple years after The Wall went up people collected into little “clans” to survive. Some, like us, built our own wall from whatever we could find. Even with our wall it will only be a matter of time before something happens and we are all exposed because our wall, unlike theirs, separates us from the resources we will need to survive. They have the luxury of letting us die and rot in here while they stay safe out there while we have to scurry around outside our wall hoping to find something to help us survive one more day.
It’s always about ONE. MORE. DAY.
We don’t have a future, we have only tomorrow – maybe.
Each and every thing we find carries a risk with it. We might desperately need warm clothes but that jacket might be infected. We have no way to tell. Every find is an alloy of fear and hope. We need to hope it’s not carrying the infection; not carrying our death back into the camp. We have no other choice but to hold that hope EVERY TIME.
We think THEY know what the infection is and how to avoid it but they will not share what they know with us. They will not communicate with us in any way. They will not let us out. To them we are already lost. To them we are expendable to protect the “greater humanity.” To them we are an “acceptable loss” to save everyone else. To them we are nothing.
I am a person. Anna is a person. Steve is a person. Bob is a person. WE ARE ALL PEOPLE. We are NOT “acceptable losses.” They sit out there, living, and protecting their HUMANITY by LETTING US DIE AND ROT IN HERE. What good is their fucking humanity if they can live with that?
We are certain the robotic drones that move along the top of The Wall have the ability to see and hear what is happening in here otherwise what would be the point?  We all have our bouts of futile hope where we run out and beg to the heavens in the hopes that a passing drone will take notice. We have our moments of hope where we imagine that there is a safety zone ready for us outside the wall, where we can have food and shelter while we wait for them to know we are safe.

The drone never reply. They never acknowledge. They never deviate. They’re probably just robots that are programmed to observe, ignore, and report.
Our pleas go unanswered. Every last one. Every time. If there is anyone watching their hearts are numb to our pain and suffering.
We try to minimize the number of times, and the number of people, we send into the danger of our world, but we cannot eliminate it. Yesterday Don went out to find food and water. Don did not come back. Maybe he is still out there. Maybe he is dead. Maybe he got infected and he is sick and dying. He’s not here and neither are more food and water for us all. He will have until tomorrow before we assume he is dead. We will not search for him because we cannot afford to risk anyone on the hope that someone is out there and alive. Each successive death brings us closer to being unable to sustain ourselves in the meager life that we are achieving in the shadow of THEIR wall. In the shadow of the disease. We live in the shadow of death every day.
Our little encampment is named “Purgatory.” Some of the older people here decided upon the name. About half of the people understand what it means; the rest of us had to have it explained. I still don’t fully understand it: all I understand is that it is waiting place, a place where you are judged before moving on.
Tomorrow we will send someone else out to look for food and water. We used to send two at a time but we no longer have enough people for that. Every journey is a solo mission.
Our only real hope is that they will see our plight and help us before we all die.
Jess went missing but she came back. We were sure she was dead. She said she was hiding from some others. She says they did not see her. She says they found a stray person and did horrible things. She wouldn’t tell us what those things were – she couldn’t because the sobs and crying prevented her from it.
She begged us to not put her in the quarantine tent but those are the rules. EVERYONE has to be quarantined if they are gone too long. It’s for the good of us all. It’s the one lesson that THEY gave us with The Wall. But, unlike them, we let people back out of quarantine after two days. Isolating Jess was hard because we all heard the screams from her nightmares. Whatever she saw was brutal.
We saved some of the food and water Jess found for her – it’s her right to have some of it since she risked her life for it.
We’ve lost three more people: Don never returned. Anna came back sick. We had to refuse her entrance back into the camp. Her death was horrible. We all had to watch it because she wouldn’t go away. Her death is what THEY are scared we will bring to THEM. We know the disease increases the rate of perception, so, what passes as a few hours to us seems like days, or even weeks, of agonizing pain to the infected. It gnaws at the nerve ending and replaces everything with excruciating pain. It usually starts in the fingers and toes and spreads toward the brain, burning every nerve along the way. The luckiest burn up and die quickly, before the disease gets in their brain. Most people convulse and twitch from the pain. Some, the unluckiest, become paralyzed so only their eyes can reflect the pain that they endure for whatever eternity their brain creates for them in the final hours.
This is why the disease is so terrifying; once it’s in you the end has come. The reaper has found you and walks toward you slowly. Most people afflicted chose to kill themselves rather than be ravaged by the disease. Why Anna did not choose this we will never know. When she was denied re-admittance she sat outside and would not speak. She sat for the hours it took for the pain to become intolerable and then she screamed. She screamed for hours until the part of her brain that made the screaming happen was eaten – the silence was no reprieve because we could still see her face contorting in agony as muscles spasmed underneath her skin. We could not help but watch as her body convulsed hard enough to break her bones while she died. Joseph couldn’t handle it so he went out to her. We didn’t let him back in either. He chose to comfort Anna’s empty body in its final moments and he paid the price for it the following day, caught in the same agony that had killed her. He cut his own pain short with a knife through the eye. We all sighed in relief as his screaming was silenced and his blood poured onto the ground.
Including Jess and myself there are five of us left. How long before we starve? Will we make it long enough to worry about freezing in winter? Resources are harder and harder to find and fewer bodies to huddle with means colder nights. Our little garden cannot sustain us in the winter and we haven’t seen any canned goods in months.
We’ve decided to take what we can carry, which is pretty much everything we have, and walk the inside perimeter of The Wall. Maybe we will find a better place to survive for a while. Maybe we will find another group like us. Maybe we will find a more forgiving gatekeeper to the outside world. Maybe, maybe, maybe. Staying here is no longer an option, maybe moving together will be our salvation; maybe it will be our undoing.
Only time will reveal to us the answer.
I am leaving this account, limited as it is, for whomever may one day find it. I want our plight to be remembered. I want people who never had to see the disease ravage their loved ones to know what our deaths looked like. I want the future to remember how those trapped inside were discarded by society out of fear. I want for humanity to do this better next time…. if there is a next time.

The tag for the exhibit is labeled “Journal Fragment of Unknown Plague Victim.”

The book, or rather portion of one, is encapsulated in an environmentally controlled, transparent square. When activated the surfaces of the square display the pages to each observing museum patron at a pace that they control; each entry is available for viewing while leaving the original book completely unmolested by anything outside the nitrogen-filled polymer-metal alloy display case.

Adjacent to the journal fragment is a rudimentary holographic demonstration of the disease progressing through a human body in the most basic of detail. The hologram is almost cartoonish in the way it represents the progression, changing the nerves from a deep forest green into a blazing fire engine red as it creeps, at an accelerating pace, toward the brain. The hologram provides enough basic context for the journal entries to have meaning without imparting the gory details of the plague to those who refuse to enter the larger exhibit.

Behind the holographic display is a door. Above the door is a sign that reads “The Great Neuroplague” and a sign accompanies it on the door that reads, “The contents of this exhibit hall are extremely graphic. The terrible time in which humanity had to take drastic actions to stop the neuroplague to save ourselves from extinction are portrayed in great depth and detail. Enter with great discretion.”

Passing through the doorway and into the full neuroplague exhibit is an experience in itself. The doorway is a polarized holographic field that immediately blocks out the light of the happier portions of the museum, plunging the museum patron into a morbid dimness which, itself, is a prelude to the utter darkness of the times being portrayed. A scanner notes when the patron’s eyes have adjusted to the darkness and a recorded voice is directed, using a hypersound beam, at the patron. "It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity" starts the tour in Albert Einstein’s voice. A soft light exhales from hidden apparatus to indicate to the patrons the direction of their journey.

The voice conducting the audio tour is a much darker, deeper, and stronger voice than Einstein’s. It carries a hard authority with it, an authority that lacks all compassion. It instills a sense of necessity and stubbornness that can only come from those who “did what they had to do” to survive. The voice’s hardness is an edge that cuts straight into the minds of the patrons to impart the grimness of the decisions they are to witness.

The voice narrates the first station of the exhibit. “The Second Great Depression regressed many of the ‘first world’ nations and left ruins spanning their borders.” The station’s three-dimensional model warps and alters to represent the descent from a prosperous city into one gripped by the plight of the economic horrors of the Second Great Depression. Buildings crumble and decay. The number of homeless people increases dramatically. People hurl themselves from buildings and into traffic.
Homeless people die and rot in the back alleys, with no one to clean up their corpses. The city decays into ruin and the light fades, mimicking a mournful sunset; accompanying the lighting effect are the words “for many the Depression brought the end to their lives; for most hope died and never had a chance to come back.  It lapsed into an unending slumber, bringing the sunset of civilization upon the populous.”

As the setting sun effect is completed a transitionary sunrise begins to bloom along the opposite wall, enticing the patron to move forward. Photons pour, lightly at first, with increasing ferocity, from the next presentation. Light rises on the city as it was left in the previous station “fortunately all sunsets bring but a single night before the dawn of the next morning. For humanity this dawn was brought by drastic actions.” The lighted area around the city begins to grow, revealing a countryside that is barren and littered with abandoned farms. “The cycle of economic despair had destroyed the ability of farmers to make food and of anyone to acquire money. Each passing day shrunk the economy more and more as less and less money changed hands. So, the government acquired the farms.” The lighting reaches its peak and the holographic display shows the process of government workers taking control of farms across the entire plain and into the horizon where neighboring cities were barely visible to the museum patron. “There was no money to pay workers so robots were created to seed the fields and tend the crops.” Giant robotic machines are seen planting followed by the time-lapse of crops growing and ripening to be harvested by the robots, then shipped into the cities.
“Harvests were trucked into the cities and the food given to all for free; their taxes would pay for the food so they owned it.” Massive riots are seen to break out initially in the hologram “At first the free food sparked riots as desperate people fought one another to take as much as possible from what they believed would be a singular event. When the trucks returned, time and again, the riots gave way to peaceful lines and, eventually, normal patterns of food distribution that replaced the prosperity enjoyed by nearly all before the economic crash.” The hologram mirrors the words and reaches a point where people, still homeless, are able to enter grocery stores and take what they need to survive without concern. “With the food shortages resolved attention turned to easing abject poverty and lack of housing. The government absorbed abandoned buildings and people were employed to restore the buildings. The finished buildings were provided as housing on a needs basis.”  The holographic model displays more and more homeless individuals entering buildings to reemerge clean and properly clothed. First one building, then another, then two more; the geometric growth of the program consumes all of the empty buildings and all of the people. A form of prosperity for everyone displayed in the projection is clearly apparent. “The rebound growth lasted for a generation.” The hologram fades into the darkness.

The third station is timed to draw in the patron as the second station releases their attention. The voice returns amidst the coalescence of the hologram. “It was those who were born into the reformed world who began to reject it. They hungered for more than mere survival, which their parents had been pleased to have. They hungered for larger homes and more things. They, more quickly than the survivors could imagine, forgot the lessons of poverty and hungered for more.” The city shifts and the emergence of things, useless trinkets and toys, gadgets and distractions, become visible in the possession of more and more of the younger generation in the hologram. “Soon they hungered for more information so they restored the internet and rebuilt the vast array of information that could be shared across it.” The accompanying holographic display perfectly illustrates the idea of restoring the massive information platform that existed before the great crash. It highlights the paths between people and homes with an illuminated grid of lines, tracing how the information flows. “The network regrew rapidly. With each new node being attached more information became more available and more work could be done faster. It took five years to restore all operations of interconnectivity to the world.” The holographic display of everything except the network retreats, fading into nothingness. The network warps and bends until it is apparent that the patron is seeing the interconnected paths of the global network as it spans a spinning globe. Satellites are seen to come online, one after the other, allowing for the communication beams to reach around the globe. Then, much like a planet that  the entire blue-green luminescent map distorts and appears to be pulled into a funnel, much like a planet that touches the event horizon of a singularity; the light streaking through the darkness to the next station where it swirls into a single point.

The display presents the outline of a smartphone as the core access to the world network; data pouring into its little screen and bleeding outward, forming the rest of the phone, then the hand holding it, then the arm, and washing into an entire scene of a busy street with hundreds of people of many ages. A generational gap is hinted at, showing a divergence in mobile phone usage between the youngest and the eldest of the people. “The network allowed for a restored level of connectivity with those who are far away and a renewed ability to be isolated from those physically near us whom we have no affinity for.” The display zooms out and the world spins away from the patron. The people shrink until they are no longer visible but it is clear that they are, in all the cities, going through the same reawakening. “We brought prosperity to the entire world as we rebuilt it. The destruction of society made it possible to build a newer, better society with a greater level of equality and a higher standard of living for everyone.” The world slowly stops spinning and one individual walks out of the hologram toward the patrons, growing in size at a rate that gives the illusion that every step spans miles of distance. When the hologram steps out of the exhibit to join the patron the station goes dark and the hologram walks down the hallway, indicating that the patrons should follow it.
Matching the voice’s words the imagery morphs around the patrons.

The corridor’s walls begin to show the imagery that corresponds to the voice’s words “Humanity’s hunger proved, again, to be unending. The lessons of poverty and starvation never last so we hungered for more. We followed the previous technological revolution from before the Second Depression by building our gadgets smaller and smaller until we began to implant them directly. At first, the implants were functional; designed to help people who were deformed or defective or had been seriously damaged. But that wasn’t enough. We moved from medical implants... to unnecessary replacements... to convenient replacements for artistic expression in the form of replaced and altered body parts.” The display reflects a sea of people about two-thirds of whom appear fully human; the remainder have various modifications that bring them past human into the realm of transhumanism. There are men and women with tentacles instead of arms and individuals whose faces are completely replaced; there are people with replacement eyes and ears, people with robot arms; the variations span the depths of the imagination of the programmers of the holograms. The hallway appears to reach a dead-end and the holographic guide stop and turns around “We had ceased to be all-human; we were now a divided culture. Cyborgs and mankind living beside each other, intermingling. Conservative fear sparked and grew, consuming the unmodified humans. A radical movement sprung up to voice disdain over optional cybernizing. It sparked editorials and sermons, protests and attempts at legislation. When none of these stopped the tide of people upgrading themselves the violence began.” As the last sentence surrounds the patrons a new hologram steps through the wall to the right and begins to beat the cyborg guide. The cyborg fights back and others join the fight. The fight pushes through the wall to the left and reveals that the exhibit continues that way. The regular humans overwhelm the cyborg and beat it into submission, a broken pile of parts soaked in blood; its face unrecognizable as anything more than a bloody mass of destroyed flesh, bone and cartilage leavoing the one biological eye hanging by the optical nerve to stare at the ground and the river of blood pouring across the pavement. A hologram of an unmodified humans stumbles forward, highlighting the path that the patron is to walk, before it collapsing, spilling the remainder of its blood on the floor. In the momentary pause provided by the exhibit the human’s injuries are clearly visible; it is clear that the modified people fought back hard, inflicting massive damage to their attackers. “We humans have never been good at learning the lesson of violence. The violence against the cyborgs begot retaliatory violence that, in turn, escalated the situation. The violence grew and grew. Despite some unenhanced humans defending the cyborgs out of principle the violent tide washed upon the shores of humanity and brought, again, warfare fueled by hatred.” The holographic exhibit generates the illusion of the dead human shrinking, as though moving away rapidly, at an alarming rate to become a small part of a city block in the middle of a riot. Fighting between the two groups is happening in various places. Graffiti present on the walls depicts both sides claiming the superior moral stance. “The fighting was not contained by by any political boundary. It spread rapidly. It spread around the globe in a matter of days as the extremes from each side sought to avenge the atrocities committed by the other. Like so many situations before this became a war of terrorist tactics where each side flailed against the oppression of the extremists on the other without any regard for the people trying to stay out of the conflict.”
The pattern of violence shifts in the display, generating what appears to be a “front line” of battle. “Neither side could be victorious and everyone knew it.” The fighting in the streets fades to a variety of scenes with energetic representatives of each faction arguing and talking over conference tables. “The extremists from each side concluded that segregation was the only solution for peace and so it began. Tired of the fighting, soldiers of the warring groups resigned themselves to separation for the greater good.” The display shows region after region of segregated zones with empty “no man’s land” zones in between. Few people cross through the central strip and most are left undisturbed so long as they leave violence behind them.
“The uneasy peace was not enough for those who wanted to preserve ‘God’s creation.’ Their religious messaging persisted even though the majority of the violence had stopped.” A perspective shift brings the patrons from an overhead view of the segregated zones into the heart of a protest group within an unmodified zone. They hold signs that carry anti-modification messages of varying strengths. Phrases such as “God gave arms, not tentacles” and “It’s a sin to throw your body away” shared space with messages of continued violence to “wipe out the soulless cyborg” and “cleanse the earth of technodevils.” The text on the signs detach and float into the air around the patrons to be joined with hundreds of variations of the anticyborg messaging. Those formless letters turn into a fluttering of pamphlets as the voice continues. “No one knows, for sure, where it came from nor do we know, for sure, if it was actually engineered. What we do know is that there was a concerted worldwide message of anticyborgism followed closely by the first appearance of the neuroplague.” The pamphlets settle, creating an image of Rome, with the Vatican clearly visible in the center of the display. “The first cases appeared in Rome.” The city display rotates and whisks the viewer’s perception inward and around corners to a specific coffee house where it fades into actual footage from the CCTV that witnessed the event. “The infection happens quickly. First the victims have a burning sensation in the extremities which clearly grows in severity. This is caused by the nerve endings at the edges of their implants lighting the pain receptors in their brains. The agony grows as the infection spreads such that spasms wrack the musculature of the victims, distorting their faces and bodies. This footage, taken from the security cameras of Incident 0, shows how quickly the infection spread from the site of the implants into the remaining tissue. A few seconds casts the victim from initial symptoms to the convulsive death throes. You can see that humanity is not entirely dead as it is apparent that some rush over to help the victims while others run. The most horrifying part is that the cyborgs that attempted to help became infected themselves. It is from them that we determined the incubation time for this disease.” The CCTV footage retreats down the walkway, enticing the patron to follow. Each cyborg that attempted to help is captured and a still of their image is pulled away from the rolling film.

“Four days later the cyborgs that attempted to assist the patients 0 collapse in writhing agony where they stand” Four additional screens appear, each showing one of the four, adjacent to their still image, falling where they stood and being consumed by the raging pain. “Their suffering elicits the attention of others who attempt to help, getting infected in the process.” The original video fades into nothing. Each of the cyborgs that attempt to help are pulled out of the video and spun off into their own display and those displays split to show the next tier of the infected. “The spread was unprecedented. This pandemic was 100% fatal. Every exposed cyborg had their neural tissue devoured from the implants toward the brain until only death halted the progression.”

All of the screens go dark at once. “For two years the best scientists in the world studied the disease in an effort to find a means to stop it, treat it, cure it. Anything. Two full years the world existed in the dark time created by the CyberPlague.” A tiny dot of light appears, accompanied by hopeful words “Eventually the study bore fruit. The pathogen was isolated and all of the infection vectors determined. We assume that it must have been engineered because it worked too well, too efficiently, too fast but no individual or group ever claimed responsibility for it. The root cause of the CyberPlague was a tailor-made retrovirus. As communicable and resilient as a general ‘cold’ virus but invisible to the immune systems of the cyborgs because of the special exterior coating that it produces for itself. This coating” the hologram grows and highlights the various anatomy of the virus as the narration outlines the functions “mimics the biological response to where the flesh meets the implants. The body sees the virus as part of the implants and, therefore, ‘self’ so it ignores it.”

The hologram slides the hand-sized virus cell closer to a giant body, which spans the wall and hallway ahead. “When the CyberPlague virus enters the system it seeks out cells of the body that are part of the immune system.” The viewer is enticed to follow the cell into the body and down the hallway by the changing hologram “Upon locating a victim cell it attaches to it and rips out the cell’s DNA. The CyberPlague worked within its victims in much the same way that the HIV virus degraded the immune system of its host in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. The newly emptied cell has virus DNA copied into it before the virus detaches and floats along, seeking a new cell to infect.” The holographic display shows a second immune cell being infected and the virus detaching again. The immune cell is made the focus of the hologram and the patron is led to follow it along. “The cell creates a hard coating which the blood will dissolve, a process that takes four days. During this time the cell is programming itself to attack the very biological element that prevents its detection in the first place; the same element that prevents the body from rejecting implants. If that were all it did the death toll would have been very small. Instead the virus continued to act. The first stages of the sickness are the uncomfortable itching sensation as the reprogrammed immune cells attack the places where the implants meet the flesh. This discomfort grows exponentially as more cells are infected and call for more cells to fight the infection. The immune response cycles into an uncontrollable feedback loop of inflammation and tissue damage.”

The hologram shifts to real footage of the medical processes being described. “The critical danger, though, comes after. When the tissue that is married to the implants is fully under attack the remaining immune cells shift to the nerves that connect to the implants. We do not know, and likely never will know, if this was intentional. As each successive nerve ending is compromised the immune cells continue to move along to the next. The CyberPlague moves in this fashion throughout the body, tracing the entire neural network from the implant site past the brain stem and up into the cerebral cortex. Few sufferers managed to remain coherent during the process of consumption; each provided a description of the sensation. The activation of the nerve endings for pain induced an experience that they, universally, described as being immolated. Upon the destruction of the upper brain functions the disease continues to devour the neural tissues until the autonomic functions cease; letting the remainder of the body expire from lack of any brain tissue.”

The hologram fades and a series of videos of people actually dying from the disease become the beacons for the patrons to follow. “During the two years it took us to isolate the CyberPlague nearly 3 billion cyborgs died. People with medically-necessary implants also died. Unenhanced humans did not contract the virus. Cyborg communities walled themselves off and refused admittance to any strangers with an implant in an effort to ensure the safety of those already inside.” The videos change back to a hologram showing the erection of walls around communities. “At first this worked. Three years later, though, a change occurred: unenhanced individuals had begun to carry the virus without being infected. A single infected, non-enhanced person entering a cyborg community could kill them all within a week. Word of this spread around the globe within days of the first incident occurring; an incident in which a delivery driver carried the neuroplague into a community. The cyborg community was devastated. Their efforts to survive were no longer effective. Any stranger was suspect.” The hologram shows the delivery driver entering a community, unloading supplies, exchanging payment for the supplies and leaving. He drives to the next town while the cyborg community thrashes in pain and all die.

“The real threat to the existence of all humanity came a year later. An unenhanced human, known to be a carrier of the CyberPlague, was involved in an accident where metal became embedded in their arm and required extraction by medical professionals. The emergency room staff sedated her and began the work of extracting the metal when she woke up screaming.” The hologram switches to the security feed from the hospital. “The injury had triggered the virus and it was consuming her nerves from the injury upward toward her brain. The fire of the pain burned through the anesthesia and woke her. As you can see the pain was traumatic and her body thrashed about the table uncontrollably. She was the first unenhanced human to jump from being a carrier to being afflicted by the CyberPlague. She was not the last.” The hologram splits and shows another, and then another, and then another, each splitting multiple times as the CyberPlague traverses the unenhanced population at the same rate that it ripped through the cyborg population. “The CyberPlague had mutated. It was now a NeuroPlague that required no implants or foreign bodies to attack humanity. The NeruoPlague had become the single-greatest threat our species had ever witnessed.”

“I am Brigadier General Alexander Coombs. I am the one who made the decision to wall the safe places off and exclude entry by anyone. I created the inverted quarantine zones. I saved tens of millions of people. I also ordered the construction of the quarantine zones and walled tens of millions of people whose infection status was unknown inside them. I may have saved tens of millions of people but I left tens of millions to die from the NeuroPlague to do so. I did it to save our species from death at the hands of this terrible disease, this weapon. This instrument of hate would have wiped every last one of us off the earth had drastic action not been taken. I knew then that I would be the most hated man on earth for the hard decision I made. I also have faith that, someday, history will acknowledge the heroism in my decision and give me the forgiveness that I will never be able to give myself.”

The hologram dissolves and the floor loses its opacity revealing a scene below. “What you are now standing over is the encampment where we found the journal you saw encased outside the full exhibit. 20 years after the last case of the NeuroPlague we allowed anthropologists into the abandoned lands and the quarantine zones to see what they could find. We found thousands of these encampments spread across the land. Many had the remains of people scattered about them; some had obviously died writhing in pain, others had died at their own hand. We even discovered walled off villages with a few survivors whose anger and hatred toward us made it impossible to approach them. The disease, it appears, has exhausted itself. Humanity is safe and we, once again, are free to roam the surface of the world.”

The floor regained its opacity and a doorway slowly illuminated, presenting the hallway where the exhibit entrance was to be found.

The pair of patrons exit the exhibit and stepped back into the hallway. “Fascinating,” the taller one states, “this species appears to have exterminated itself in a war over whether or not their mythology would approve of merging with their technology.”

“Agreed. This truly is fascinating. Our report will make for a very interesting experience. If only we could transport this entire shrine to their survival with us when we return. It is a much greater experience than our recording of it can be.” The shorter one replied.

“Agreed. We will have to accept only the recording and the other evidence that shows that the NeuroPlague was not extinct as the exhibit outlined. Finding this shrine is fortuitous as it would have taken decades to determine the cause of their extinction without it. We shall make it a cautionary tale for other developing worlds in the future.”

With those final words the two beings of gray skin and black eyes, touch buttons on their wrists and flash out of existence. The sounds of nature, uninterrupted by the extinction of mankind, continue outside the walls of the indomitable structure of the Museum of Modern Human History.