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Created Saturday 23 September 2023

Christchurch Flying Club, S1 E2: Unremarkable day after a remarkable week.

*You're the transcriber (same character as the narrator) and you clunk down on the play button on the tape recorder.*

*the whirring of a pre-collapse tape recorder, albeit with a post-collapse chassis, somehow still working after all this time, is heard, both on the microphone and by yourself.*

Right channel. Dear diary,

It's the 11th of February, 2260. It's an unremarkable day. Sunny, blue sky, some clouds, a bit of wind. Still very hot. The dry, parching weather broke on the 6th, with a rain cloud, a veritable downpour, and some people report a bit of a bluster. Everyone's fine - the sewer system, despite being "older than God," the Christians say [meaning undermaintained pre-collapse things], did what it's meant to, and none of the streets [the Christchurchian word for the bike and barrow tracks, wide enough for only one car and two barrows, that replaced most of the less major streets] became impassable. Many windmills also collapsed for reasons yet unknown, resulting in widespread, but brief, powercuts - the windspeeds weren't significantly higher than they usually are [... they would have to have been, though?]. Most, the news program on 3130U tells me, will be rebuilt, and I'm invited to come help in March for a hot meal and a wooden medal. Abseiling experience an asset. Most are, like the sewers, older than God. I think I'll steal that one. For now, the lights are back on. The energy still works. It's metered by radio [relict radio meters], but this is only used to help detect line-downs. [This doesn't really comport with "endemic power shortages" within the previous episode. Methinks the narrator character has some kind of denial? Or are endemic power shortages just the way the energy works in the Waitaha zone?]

*kerchunk, a tape recording from a recent radio interview with the Waitaha Windmill Power Authority rep*

I'm aware this is an exceptional case, but usually how does Waitaha Windmill find out about things like line downs and blade downs? "Most of our customers, as well as all of our windmills, are radio metered and this has been the case for literal centuries, although some new customer hookups are unmetered because the meters are not made anymore - we try to keep at least 50% of hookups on a street and all country hookups radio metered for outage detection, so some people have had their meters taken out and exchanged in the past to make up a shortfall." And how do youse use the metering? Ancient newspapers recall outcries over that. "We don't actually use the metering data for billing and haven't done since a little after the transmission lines and generators were reintegrated back in the 2100s to simplify administration. Was told about it in training, but it's long before my time. My grandparents weren't even born." Gotcha. And what should we, in the town or in the countryside, do if the power goes down when it's not supposed to? "The power authority usually knows about an outage as soon as it happens, but we do appreciate the shouts on the calling frequencies and the messages on the packet network, because sometimes we don't get messages immediately from the meters. Give us a yell on the search and rescue frequency, 12500U, if you see a blade out on any of our windmills, and we'll come and safe the site. One of our folks should answer to Waitaha Sparkies if we're listening, and if not, keying SOS CCPA DE, then your callsign, then the word BLADE (or LINE in accordance with the type of emergency) in Morse at 1000Hz on the same channel will immediately ring our emergency alert circuit. Be prepared to approach the site and give us the reference number on the bottom of the windmill, but stay away from any downed lines unless you've been briefed on downed line safety, and give us the numbers at the bottom of a nearby windmill instead." [the reporter asks facetiously] And if I'm lonely and I want to chat? "God. Wish you'd never asked. Uh, 12500U is the search and rescue frequency here, it's only meant to be used for emergencies, like bladeouts and crashing your bike, your ute, or your airplane [hang gliders are called airplanes, or maybe the power authority lady knows something the rest of the population doesn't]. If you just want to have a chat, ask about your account, or volunteer to help out with maintenance, you should be able to go on a hike or a bike ride to our headquarters in Christchurch or the local office in your part of the region. Some of our people listen on the conventional calling frequencies though." Tha- [the interviewer would go on to say "Thanks for the great interview. I'll make sure to use the standard calling frequency if I'm not in any distress. I learned a lot and I hope our listeners learned too. Remember, be safe around power lines, even if the power is supposed to be down. Onto our next story...", but the tape was stopped before that was played. Nobody has any idea how this buffoon still has a job, although nobody's accused him of any misconduct other than this kind of unwanted informality during interviews.]


[Put a tag in that. Medium-area power grids after the collapse that never came. Life-extension programmes, unreliable metering, auto-triggered alarms on Morse code, rolling outages based on when the wind blows and the sun shines and the dams are full]

Yeah. What she said.

People tell me I'm a mite weird for going around with an air-purifying mask, which a friend made of a mixture of recently-made rubber [pondered if this'd be renamed to cow-chook after a slight mishearing of caoutchouc, from rediscovery in a foreign language in books and on computers after tech-loss], reblown glass for a visor and a separator, relic valves and sometimes pumps, and whatever they and I can find to stop things getting in - cotton, powdered charred wood [this is the same material as activated charcoal], and anything else we find helps. Except my flying instructor. He thought it an ingenious setup, primarily for keeping the chilling high wind off the face, and secondarily for making breathing easier, as the slower, steadier stream of air is not forced into your mouth and nose by the same wind.

[Put a tag in that - we're going to explore themes of pestilence and recurrent epidemic. Virulent coronaviruses are the new "consumption", but they have the benefit of a pre-collapse world which generated insane amounts of data about airborne plagues, and the 40-year recurrent epidemics of anosmia and chronic workshyness, recognized as a disease without a cure and not as a moral failing, are often mitigated with some success using respirators makeshifted out of available parts, although respirator orders are rarely kept in place long enough because for most they amount to stay-home orders. The narrator character is ever the antiquarian, and they feel the air is cursed. More antiquarianism: They run Linux on the computer they sometimes borrow, even though the usual choice these days is a Lisp OS, with which all of the radios and hard-line networks work. Linux is only used for radio routers, and is maintained locally by a team of antiquarian-educated security researchers and computer hardware bricolagers.]

In the old books I have here, there's speak of a beverage called coffee. I wonder what coffee is. I wonder if coffee is, or if it went the way I was taught some other once-plentiful foodstuffs went, like the orange [it didn't actually go that way, it's just absent from the food supply in Waitaha and nobody has any seeds, nor a suitable citronerie building (not that the average house wouldn't be suitable).]. They say it's like tea. I wonder what tea is. I drink chai [Camellia sinensis, our world's tea - it's literally the same thing and it's not clicked in the narrator character's mind], a plant that grows here but it's from places people no longer go. It makes me feel a little sped up, and when I'm borrowing my friend's radio at night it helps me stay up when the ghosts in the radio with an interesting accent [they're Russian, but Russia is thought an extinct civilisation] are talking. I wonder if they're real people. I wonder if the countries they're from are real. Maybe one day, if they're real, after years of collecting firewood and other fuels, scrapping metal from old quadcycles [cars are called this, because NOBODY has one, and the word 'car' has been lost to the history books, and is viewed for an archaic synonym for the archaic vehicles], and building my flying machine, I'll go out and see them. I wonder how far away they are. I wonder how long my flying machine will be able to fly. I wonder if I'll be able to fly it that long. I wonder if my friends will come with me.