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Log of the Month for August, 2002

Always a Way
Posted on August 22nd, 2002 by Aiden Sanders

Aiden Sanders walked briskly down the two-tone corridor of the USS Atlantis. The ship, as usual, was alive with bustling crewmen rushing about their daily business. Aiden, on the other hand, was off to the holodeck for some much needed recreational activities. Decked out in his white tank top and black climbing shorts, Aiden was ready and raring to tackle his newest holodeck program. The program, entitled ‘Ascending to the Heavens,’ was his seventh rock climbing program, and better than the sixth.

Arriving at the holodeck doors Aiden quickly tapped the control console on the wall, activating the program recall interface and initiating the voice activation subroutines. He looked up, as if to talk to someone, “Computer, open holodeck program file Sanders Theta 2.”

“Acknowledged, scanning for desired holodeck program file-” The computer beep in acceptance of Aiden’s order and began shuffling through the holographic files that were currently stored in the databank. Aiden watched carefully as the files on control console were shifted and sorted. “Holographic program file Sanders Theta 2 has been accessed.”

“Computer, access program files Climbing Gamma 3.”

Again the computer beeped in its response and searched through the open program file. Quick than the previous search, the Computer acknowledged the command and opened up the requested file. “Program files Climbing Gamma 3 has been accessed.”

“Run file number seven.” Aiden chirped while standing in front of the door.

“Program number seven has been initiated, ‘Ascending to the Heavens’ is currently playing in holodeck one. Please proceed with caution. People or persons with severe heart conditions or other illness should consult a physician before running this program.”

Aiden smiled to himself as the huge duritanium doors in front of him slid open. The safety protocols weren’t enough for him, so he had rigged the Computer to warn potential participants of the program of the strenuous nature. After all, if someone got hurt in his program it would be his problem.

The landscape opened up before his eyes. His gaze traveled the scenery, which was countryside somewhere in Oregon. The flowing grass waved in the wind and rustled at his legs as he shuffled through it. Cows were grazing some ways away to his left, their white and black coats making them visible in the green grass. To Aiden’s left, less obvious than the grazing cattle, were the clever and silent deer. All seven of them had lain down in the grass, making them nearly invisible from side viewing.

Still plowing his way through the waist high grass, Aiden’s sight was set on the monument in his path. A huge rock, or monstrous proportions, was his newest obstacle and vision of the perfect climb. At the base of the monstrosity was the cleverly programmed climbing gear; which wasn’t required. Reaching into the bag, Aiden pulled several climbing clasps and a large amount of rope.

“Computer, deactivate safety protocols.”

“Warning, deactivating the safety protocols presents extreme risk to persons running program and cannot prevent against bodily injury; deactivation is not recommended.” The computer’s automated warning rang out at his order, which he had expected. Leave it to the computer to be the proverbial mother about danger.

“Computer, override.” The computer beeped in acknowledgment as Aiden walked closer to the rock. His hand dipped into his pouch on his belt, concealing the climber’s chalk that would allow his grip to stay firm. Aiden shifted the chalk in his hands and dropped the excess to the dirt below. Aiden’s hand explored the cold rock face, searching for the first handhold, which would aid him in climbing the solid rock face.

His hand immediately found and opening and he slid his fingers into it, straining to hold his weight. With his right hand secure not so fastly to the rock face, Aiden began searching the left side of the face for another handhold. The left hand had more luck by finding a huge indentation for his hand to hold tightly. Using his climbing shoes, being almost paper-thin, Aiden lifted himself from the ground and solidly onto the rock face.

“Here we go-”

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After three hours of climbing, and not feeling like he was going anywhere, Aiden paused on an outcropping and stared out over the vast landscape. The cows, still grazing as they were when Aiden had first started the program, were now little white specks from his current elevation. The deer were now almost indistinguishable from the grass below, and no matter how hard Aiden tried he couldn’t make out even the biggest of the animals.

Securely fastened to the rock face, Aiden swung out over a distance of about fifteen feet to gaze at the eastern view. The snowcapped peaks rose from the distance, like Gods overlooking a civilization. Even in the dead of summer their peaks shown true with white snow. He had modeled them after the Rocky Mountains on the North American continent on Earth.

To the west, swinging about thirty feet to a smaller standpoint was the never-ending ocean. The water was so clear you good see the bottom, no matter the depth. The fish were of all colors, not seen from Aiden’s position, but they were there all the same. Wind surfers riddled the clear waters, along with the mounds of sailing ships that also inhibited the crystal ocean landscape. The Coral Sea was his template for the blissful waters.

To the north lay the desert. Not much was seen for there wasn’t much in the desert to begin with – a few of the necessary animals were present, though most were hiding underneath the blazing hot sand to avoid the harsh sunlight that constantly rained down upon them. All Aiden could see was the yellow sand, the occasional cactus, and the vibrating heat waves that were being emanated from the surface.

To the south, not in his view, were the forested areas. Surrounded by trees and underbrush, it was Aiden’s place of meditation and reflection. Though the animals there were nicer and more relaxed in his presence, Aiden still felt on edge when they were around. All of the environments that Aiden had programmed into the program represented something that Aiden did.

The forest was for reflection, the desert was for his aggression, the snowcapped peaks were for times of trouble, and the ocean was for his tranquil side and for relaxation. The rock that he clung so tight to was his excuse for danger and to challenge his abilities; Engineer had long since retired trying to challenge him.

Pulled back to his senses by the creaking of the rock underneath him, Aiden threw himself into the rock face. Sweat drenched his face as his hands pawed upwards; he couldn’t find a suitable handhold, and the rock continued creaking. His climber’s ring stuck out from the rock that was about to become disconnected from the rest of the monstrous outcropping. If that rock fell, Aiden’s own body would tumble down soon thereafter.

Thinking about saving time, Aiden released himself from the rock as it collapsed. Aiden watched it as his heart rate soared through the ceiling and his breathing rate skyrocketed. He was freeform now – nothing to hold him to the rock than his strength and his will. Aiden’s grip tightened in the rock’s crevices as he strained to reach upward. Just thirty feet from the top now, Aiden was going to have to earn every inch.

Aiden wouldn’t let himself give up. He had given up too many times before to be held back based on the fact that he didn’t have a safety line. Screw it, he thought. Aiden surged upwards with his feet kicking out with the most power he could harness into them. His right palm impacted a round rock protruding from the face of the rock, and he held tightly. His left hand found air and his feet contacted flat surfaces. His right arm muscles screamed in agonizing pain as all his body weight pulling down on it.

His feet slammed onto rock face, trying to find any nook or cranny that would allow him to take some weight off his arm. Finally finding one, with an area of about one square inch, Aiden felt his arm muscles relax. His fingers carefully explored the rock face, almost as carefully as a surgeon would deal with a patient that was nearing death.

The top of the stone face was nearing, less than ten feet from the summit. Aiden quickly examined his climbing pattern, only to realize that the handholds were absent from the top ten feet. There was one handhold, about the size of a small apple, about seven feet away from him – the only way to reach it would be to leap.

Aiden hunkered down on his ankles, shoving all weight onto his feet. His left hand cradled the handhold that was previous taken by his right fist, now at his side ready to surge out when he leaped. Aiden pushed up violently on his feet, propelling him upwards towards the lifeline [handhold] and pulled with his left hand, allowing him more force and a greater jump. His hand slammed into the handhold; before he could get a good grip his hand faltered and he felt himself slip from his position.

He felt his stomach leap into his throat as the forces of gravity pulled him down to the Earth below. Aiden couldn’t do much of anything; except watch as the top of the mountain, his intended goal and target slowly slip from his grasp. He realized that he couldn’t reach it now, or forever for that matter, and slowly accepted that he would be soon stopping when he reached the bottom. After all, he thought, it was the fall that killed the person; it was the sudden and jolting stop at the end.

“Computer, end program.” Aiden said as the wind continued to rustle his hair as he careened towards the surface he had departed three hours ago. The computer beeped in acknowledgment and the blue sky and the rock face melted away into the black color of the ceiling and the holomatrix grid. “Damn it all to bloody hell.”

Aiden folded up his shirt, to wipe the sweat from his brow. He had failed yet again in trying to conquer his creation; he always seemed to fall just short of his goal. “I’m going to get you eventually, and you know that.” Aiden said as he strode out of the holodeck and back into the drab corridor.

“Computer, seal holodeck program file Sanders Theta 2.” Aiden turned and walked down the corridor as the holodeck sealed with the computer’s authorization, his intended destination was Engineering. Engineering was where he belonged, it’s where he could do his job and reach his goals because there was always a way to reach them without taking unnecessary risk. He could set goals and get them, without having to try at it six times or so. Engineering is where he was comfortable, and didn’t have to worry about falling off a cliff face.

To think about it, Aiden realized, his job was like climbing a mountain. You have those people that act as your safety lines, and you have your goal. The goal, being the top of that mountain, is always reachable. You just have to find the way. There is always a way.

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