Applied Cryogenics West – where it all begins again for the first time forever

Since I updated the site the map section has been blank for a while, but it’s still the most visited page on the site. The main thing I’ve learned from this blog is that people LOVE maps. I don’t really get it. I hate when my RPG group cries for maps all the time. Does everything have to be exactly nailed down 100% all the time? Does it? Oh, it does? My mistake.

Can you picture what will be

Eventually we figured out that the scabby little mole people actually were speaking English, or at least some patois with a lot of English in it.  They were just speaking so fast and with such poor diction it was hard to understand them.  It seemed like they were shouting “hooah!” like in that crappy movie where Al Pacino pretends to be blind but they were saying “who are you” or something along those lines.  Once we figured that out, we were kind of able to communicate with them.  Mostly.

They were traders.  Or scavengers maybe.  Actually I guess they were both, first they scavenge then they trade.  They were wary of our guns but they didn’t seem to be afraid of them.  I think maybe most of their trades take place at gunpoint.  Or clubpoint or whatever since they didn’t seem to have any firearms.  At one point I could tell they were making fun of the way we talked.  I would have been offended if they weren’t such gross monsters that it was impossible to care about their opinion. 

When I went up to look at their junk wagon, they kept trying to sidle beside me like one of those pervs that rubs up against you on the bus.  I repeatedly had to tell them to stay in front of me, I thought I was going to have to shoot one of them to back them off.  Or you know, not do it myself, but order Martialla to shoot one of them.  Even though they were more varmint than man, I’m not sure I could have pulled the trigger unless they were actually attacking me. 

It was definitely a waste of time.  When I say that they had a junk wagon, I mean that literally.  I don’t mean junk as in stuff, I mean junk as in literal garbage.  There was some scrap metal which I guess has value but honestly it looked like a mobile landfill.  I’m surprised there wasn’t a flock of seagulls circling it and screaming.  The wagon was huge, it was bigger than a haywagon like back on the farm and it was being pulled by a comically tiny motorcycle.  It looked like a minibike, honest to God. 

The only thing they had that looked worth anything was food.  Real food.  Tomatoes, grapes, almonds, walnuts, all kinds of stuff.  It looked half the size and twice as ugly as what I buy at the grocery store but it seemed healthsome enough.  My mouth started watering in that gross way where it makes you feel like you might yak – that’s when you know it’s been too long since you’ve eaten.  The problem was what to give them.  There are probably all sorts of things with good trade value in the cryo-facility but it’s also best to keep that stuff undercover right?  Plus we don’t know the relative worth of anything.  If the world is really crunked and no one can manufacture anything anymore, that makes paper rare for sure, but is it valuable? 

I asked Martialla what else was valuable in Waterworld besides dirt and she gave me that look she gives when I treat movies like they have real information.  What the hell does she want from me?  I’ve never haggled with post-apocalyptic badger people before.  Where else am I supposed to draw information from other than movies?  There’s no way to have any practical experience here lady.

She told me seventeen times not to trade away my gun.  Which is insulting.  I’m not a moron.  Although strangely they didn’t seem interested in them.  Maybe in this world no one would ever give up a weapon so they didn’t even consider it?  They also didn’t seem interested in us, you know, as women.  Not that I would have offered or agreed anyway, but that also seemed odd.  They’re ugly as sin so maybe that’s what they like? 

In the end, we traded them a couple of Applied Cryogenics West jumpsuits for assorted produce and some stacks of crud they called a word that sounded like a racial slur and Martialla called “lock-up loaf” because it’s what they give to prisoners for meals as a form of punishment when they assault a guard – at least when the Supreme Court lets them.  Not anymore though, since I get the feeling there is no penal system nor Supreme Court anymore.  The three stooges were pretty happy with the jumpsuits so we probably got ripped off. 

The foodwad was gross but it was the only thing I could eat.  All those nice juicy fruits and veggies tasted like the floor of a public restroom to me.  Martialla was able to choke it down but I couldn’t force myself to swallow that nasty crap. 

We tried to ask them what happened to the world but they didn’t understand the question no matter how we tried to ask it.  Or we didn’t understand the answer.  Maybe both.  I asked them if someone dropped the bomb and I eventually realized their jabbering was them telling me where to go to get a bomb.  I swear to god it sounded like they said to get on the 101 at one point.  We asked them where people live and they talked a mile a minute and gestured all over the place, none of which made any sense to us.  But I suppose that means there are other people around.

Martialla asked them what they used as fuel.  After much “who’s on first” bullshit we realized their answer was “fuel”.  She asked if she could look at their bike and they got real squirrely about that.  Up until that point I got the feeling they would have hung around and chattered at us all day, but once Martialla showed interest in the bike, they got agitated and not long after that they cleared out.  They wouldn’t even start up their machine until we were down the ramp below their sightline – as if starting up a dirtbike was magic that you could only replicate by watching it happen. 

Even though the cryo-place seems like a fortress, the front doors are just glass.  We dragged some chairs out into the hallway from the breakroom so we could watch to see if they came back while we enjoyed our feast of rotten fruit and prison sludge. 

I sighed as I put my feet up on a chair “So one of us needs to be on watch here all the time probably?”

Martialla popped a tomato in her gaping maw and nodded “We should have been doing that before, that was stupid, they could have walked right in on us.”

I shook my head “I don’t see how you can eat that.  What’s wrong with it?”

She shrugged “Bad soil?  Maybe it’s irradiated and I’ll wake up with a bunch of tumors.  Maybe this is just what food tastes like when you don’t have pesticides and herbicides and fertilizer and genetically modified bean sprouts.  Who knows?”

“How do you know it’s safe?”

She gave me a cool look “I don’t, but if this is what food is like now, it doesn’t much matter does it?  We only have so many high fructose corn syrup bars and once they’re out, this is all there is.  If we can’t eat this food safely we’re dead either way.”

My face fell “Jesus Martialla.”

She held up a nut appraisingly “Freaking tell me about it.”

I’ll never look into your eyes again

I did mess around with the computers for a couple hours.  There wasn’t a password or a code or anything set up to protect access to the files.  It was just all out there in the open.  So much for confidentiality.  All these dead guys would be pissed about that if they weren’t dead.  I couldn’t figure out if anyone was frozen alive like Martialla and I were.  After much poking of buttons, I did manage to open one of the other pods but nothing happened.  I went out and looked.  Just a frozen old dead dude in a tube. 

After awhile I gave up on that idea and I started playing solitaire.  Somehow out of all of it, that’s what made me cry.  The world may be over and I was playing computer solitaire?  It was too stupid not to make me really sad.  When Martialla found me, I was in the bathroom starting at myself in the mirror.  She looked around like she was expecting someone else to be in there with me. 

“What are you doing?” 

“Staring at myself in the mirror.” 

She looked to the skies for help “Jesus Ela, I know you’re vain but this is too much even for you.” 

I glared at her “Hey, if the world really is gone out there like you say, I’m never going to look this good again. I want to remember it.  I want this image to be seared into my mind.” I held up one hand “If you’re right, I’m never going to get a manicure again, look at these cuticles!  My nailbeds will never be this clean again.  Have you thought about that?” 

She shook her head and twisted the wedding ring on her finger “No, mostly I’ve been thinking about how I’ll never see my husband again.” 

I sighed “You always have to one up me, don’t you Martialla?  That’s one of your worst traits.” 

She nodded somberly “I’m sorry that the thought of Rick being dead distracts from the sorrow of your beauty routine being disrupted.” 

I snorted and then waved towards the door “If you’re going to be like this, let’s just go.” As we headed into the hallway, I looked over at her “Are you going to give me one of those guns?” 

She thought a moment “I haven’t decided.  I would like to have someone watching my back but I also don’t want you to freak out and shoot me in the spine because a cricket jumped on you.” 

I scoffed “I went to the range every week when we were filming LA Gun Club.” 

She gave me a side-glance “That movie wrapped over three years ago, I mean, three years before we were frozen for a hundred years . . .” 

“It was not a hundred years!” 

“Whatever, you know what I mean!  Have you fired a gun since LA Gun Club, Ela?” 

I thought about lying for a moment before answering “No.” 

Before she could answer, we came in sight of the front doors.  The glass is too dirty to see through clearly but we could both see a silhouette on the other side – one that was obviously the size and shape of a person.  We both froze in place and she silently handed me one of the pistols.  We stood there for a moment wondering if we were seeing what we were seeing.  When the shadow moved on the other side of the door, I almost fell over.  Martialla started creeping forward in a ballet like shuffle with her weapon up.  I wanted to ask her what the plan was but I was too worried even to whisper.   

She stopped when then person (?) outside started making some kind of wailing sound.  It took a moment but eventually I realized that it was singing.  Horrible singing, maybe not in English, but it was singing nevertheless.  That shook me out of my torpor.  Not that evil murdering rapists can’t sing, but it was something human and familiar.  Martialla’s eyes went wide as I walked up to the door and reached for the handle. 

I winked at her “Cover me.” 

When I opened the door for a second, I thought it wasn’t a person at all but a very small and very upright bear.  It was a man wearing a fuzzy brown animal skin.  Not a fur like a rich lady would wear, more like a pelt – like I wore when I had a small role in that movie about the Oregon Trail.  A Native American group sent me a nasty letter about playing that role.  They should have been bitching to the casting director, not me.  What actor is going to turn down a part? 

When the door swung open, the man (?) jumped back like a startled rat.  He didn’t look like he was even five feet tall.  He brandished a sharpened piece of metal at me with cloth wrapping for a handle, more than a knife, like the size of a baton maybe.   

“Hoo-ra!” he shouted at me, or something like that. 

I kept my gun down but made sure he saw it “What?  What’s who-raw?  Are you in the marines?” 

“Digger hi baker!” 

I kept my eyes on him and said over my shoulder at Martialla “Is he speaking another language?” 

Before she could answer, the small bearman whistled and two more guys came down onto the ramp.  They were equally as small and dirty and their exposed skin was covered with hives.  What really bumped me was their teeth though, they were so yellow they were almost brown and they looked like they were half the size they should have been.  One of them had a fire axe, one of those mil-spec ones that looks even nastier than a normal axe – it made me think about what had happened just a few days before (to me, maybe a hundred years before) to that poor slob who tried to stand up again the mob.  The other one had what looked like a pipe but was closed on both ends, a heavy piece of metal for smashing heads in any regard.  I did raise my gun at that point and they backed off a few steps. 

“So you know what a gun is huh?  Can you understand me?” 

Bearman ducked his head and said something that sounded like “seecwo”. 

Out of my periphery I saw Martialla move up and take cover with her gun trained on the strange men. 

“What the hell are we going to do here Mar?” 

Of everything that stands

When we went out of the facility, the air stung our eyes like it does when the wildfires get really bad.  We only stayed out there long enough to confirm that there were no cars in the parking lot.  We’ve both been coughing ever since.  I’ve hacked up a few drops of blood, which can’t be good.  It felt like I breathed in a cloud of sawdust and it’s now just twirling around at the back of my throat.  Putting a cloth over your mouth when you go out helps, but not much. 

The phones are dead but the computers come on.  No internet access.  Maybe because of the phone lines?  I don’t know how the internet works.  There’s no one else here.  We checked three times.  It’s not a large facility.  Someone was here for sure.  After Martialla and I went into the deep freeze, someone was here for a while.  An office next to the break room is filled with empty water bottles, wrappers, and opened cans and the break room itself looks pretty lived in.  It’s all covered with dust now.  Everything we do kicks up dust, which doesn’t help with the throat situation.  We managed to chase most of the dust out of the breakroom and sat down like we were on break from our data entry jobs to cough at each other and chat. 

Martialla poked a thumb over her shoulder “I think one of those readouts says that we were under for at least a hundred years.” 

I leaned back and put my feet up on another chair “Bullshit.  I don’t think you have any idea how to read those things.” 

She shrugged “Doesn’t really matter I guess, things were going crazy when we went under anyway, one year or a hundred it may all be over.” 

“That’s what I like about you Martialla, you’re an optimist.  For all you know we could walk out of here, flag down a car, hitch a ride to Sacramento and everything will be fine, I mean aside from being in Sacramento.” 

She raised an eyebrow “Uh, did you not find spent shell casings and see bullet holes when we were searching this place?  Not to mention dark stains on the floors and walls?” 

I waved away her concerns “That was probably from you.” 

She shook her head “No, the guy I shot was up front by the doors, this was in the hallway.  And in that other office.” 

“Well whatever, we don’t know what happened.  For all we know the people that were here got rescued.” 

“And they didn’t mention that we were on ice in the back?  I still don’t understand how that even worked, human cell membranes . . .” 

I rolled my eyes “Ugh, enough with that cell membrane stuff, we’re here, who cares how it worked.  I admit that it seems strange that if the Indian dude or blonde Keanu were rescued that they wouldn’t say anything about us but . . .” 

“What’s even stranger is them leaving their guns behind.” 

“. . . BUT we don’t know what happened.  Everything could be fine over the next hill.  Did you see any bodies around here?  I didn’t.  That means they left, right?” 

“There may be nothing left to find, after a hundred years even bones . . .” 

I smacked my hand on the table, which wasn’t nearly as loud as I wanted it to be “We have NOT been here a hundred years!” 

Martialla frowned slightly “Since when did you become such a Pollyanna?  The refrigerator is burned out, you know how long that takes?” 

“Bah, that thing was probably twenty years old already.” 

Martialla glanced over at it dubiously “Looks pretty new to me.” 

“We’re not going to find out anything by sitting here, we don’t have any way to communicate with the outside world.” 

“And what if there’s no one to communicate with?” 

I shrugged “Then I guess we’ll have to repopulate the world.” 

She couldn’t help but laugh “There are a number of things wrong with that statement.” 

When it got dark, we went outside again – the glass on the front windows was too grimy to see through and in any case, you have to go up a ramp to see anything.  We had several layers of fabric over our mouths and noses but it didn’t seem to make much difference, it was like breathing in shards of glass.  We didn’t see any lights coming from Sacramento.  We didn’t see any lights coming from anywhere.   

I’m starting to think Martialla may be right. 

Of our elaborate plans

Jennifer Lopez is the only person who’s had a number one album and film in the same week.  That is an undeniable fact.  What is also undeniable is that I am both a better singer and a better actress than Jennifer Lopez.  She’s a better dancer, I give her that.  That ability will come in handy once everyone realizes what a fraud she is and she has to work the pole for a living. 

And yes, her albums have had more commercial success than mine, but I was nominated for best supporting actress at the Golden Globes.  I didn’t win, but seriously, have you seen the Wedding Planner?  To say nothing of Anaconda.  Although her experience handling giant snakes will come in handy once she gets too old and saggy to work the pole and turns to porn.

Is she hot?  Of course.  No one can take that away from her.  She’s possibly even hotter than me, if you’re into that sort of thing.  But no amount of hotness makes up for her limited vocal range.  Her lower range, besides being the weakest point of her voice, is also her technical downfall.  While the rest of the voice is sound (most of the time) that part is foggy, unfocused, and almost hazy, denoting little control, and possibly damaging vocals.

Though she may mix well from a technical aspect, intonation problems are even more evident in her belting range, due in part to the pitch and forwardness of the notes. This lack of complete control over the range results in an unpleasant nasality in the higher range when her technique slips.  Which it does.  All the time.

And again, when it comes to acting?  Anaconda. 

I just want to make it clear from the outset that I am better than Jennifer Lopez.  If you’re reading this, you probably have no idea who Jennifer Lopez is but it’s important that I get that on the record.  She’s not without talent, I’m just better. 

My name is Ela, that’s with ONE L.  I hate when people misspell my name.  Okay, the name on my birth certificate is Ella Preston but my name is Ela.  It’s a Hollywood thing, although you probably don’t know what that is either. 

I was going to be in a science fiction movie with Matthew Fox, that dude from Party of Five.  Not the one you’re thinking of, that’s Scott Wolf – the other one.  And on that topic, let me tell you something, I have a thing or two to say about that Jennifer Love Hewitt thinking she can sing.  And I Know What You Did Laster Summer?  Give me a break.  Since I am a serious actor and not a dabbler who does stupid romcoms and slasher movie trash, I was doing some research for this sci-fi movie.  It was going to be a taut thriller drama about the use of cryogenics as a way to keep criminals incarcerated.  And NO, it’s not anything like Demolition Man! 

I was at Applied Cryogenics West near Placerville getting a tour of the facility from an intern with shaggy blonde hair.  He looked like a surfer dude with a lab coat tossed on.  Martialla was there too.  She used to be my stunt double and stand-in because we’re around the same height and build, although I’m much more petite that she is.  And obviously she’s not as attractive as I am, but in a wide shot it’s fine. 

I say “used to” because she kept getting in trouble with SAG and eventually they wouldn’t let her work on movie sets anymore.  I hired her to be my personal assistant.  She likes to tell people she’s my bodyguard but really she runs errands for me and housesits.  She did shoot a guy once but I’m pretty sure he just wanted my autograph.  He was a creep, but as a female singer/actress/media icon, creeps are part of my demographic.  Their money spends.  Believe me, their money spends.  She’s lucky she didn’t do time on that beef.  I had enough juice to get her out of that jam.  Can Jenny from the Block say the same?  I doubt it.

Blonde Keanu Reeves is showing us around the cryo place and we hear a massive roaring noise.  It came up slowly but once it got going, it was ear-splitting.  I assumed it was an earthquake.  Maybe it was.  A few hours later, the power goes out but the cryo-place has some kind of geothermal back-up so the stiffs don’t all thaw out.  Can’t have Ted Williams’ severed head getting all moldy.  We sat around in the break room with another couple of dudes in lab coats and watched the TV. 

The omni-racial lady with the hyphenated name on the news didn’t seem to know what was happening.  A lot of people thought that the nukes were flying.  It was chaos.  The footage was like after the Rodney King riots but it was everywhere.  They cut to a reporter on the street for something and as soon as he was on screen, he got beaned in the head with a chunk of pavement.  Half his head tore off.  Not the kind of thing you’re used to seeing on TV.

After that it was just a bunch of cursing from the camera guy and then a weird shot of the boom operator getting clipped by a Lexus.  Not long after that, the channel went out.  One of the lab coats said there was no one transmitting anything on any channel.  One of the other geeks said that the signals were getting scrambled somehow.  Another said that it must have been an EMP. 

The Indian guy in charge tried to drive home to his family but he came back with bullet holes in his car.  He had that look on his face like when someone stumbles away from a car wreck.  I suppose that’s shock.  We all decided that we’d hunker down there until things cooled out.  The cryo-place had power and water and vending machines full of food.  And it’s built into a hill, kind of like a bunker, I guess because they want the frozen stiffs to be protected in case of world ending events. 

It was scary sitting there in the emergency lighting waiting for some kind of news, but more than anything it was boring.  They don’t tell you that about a massive disaster.  You can only be scared out of your wits for so long.  Then it becomes tedium. 

After a couple of days, one of the lab coats – the one who was practicing  dumb karate moves out in the hall each morning – suggested that we could freeze ourselves “for a while” if it came to it.  He said it as a joke at first.  Once we started thinking about rationing our vending machine food pile, it wasn’t a joke anymore.  Martialla insisted that you can’t survive being frozen, something about the cell membranes bursting, but it looks like she was wrong.  Because here we are.

What sealed the deal for me was not the food, but when a gang busted into the place.  Not a gang like the Latin Kings, that would have been less frightening actually, this was just a bunch of people.  Like normal people, you know?  I’ve seen desperation before, but not like this.  They had the look in their eyes of refugees in a warzone.  They looked like they had been through the ringer.

They wanted whatever we had.  Our counter-offer was that they could take all the water they could carry and leave.  Mentioning we had running water wasn’t a good idea.  Karate man tried to get tough with them.  A guy who looked like a 45 year old dad from the suburbs hit him in the face with an axe.  An axe.  I’ll never forget seeing that.

I don’t know what would have happened if Martialla hadn’t been carrying.  Actually, I do know what would have happened, I just don’t like to think about it. 

After I helped drag the bodies outside, going into one of the tubes seemed like a good idea.