The Oracle Paths

Chapter 23 Pauls story part 1

e in this mess. ”

Kanye, Sarah and Elisa all had anxious faces and were shaking slightly. It was subtle, but Jakes trained eye didnt miss this detail. What they had endured to end up in such a state was a mystery that he had to solve.

”It began a month ago, a week before the alien ship arrived. To put things in context, none of us were in New Paris when the Oracles appeared. We were on vacation in the Alps, planning to go camping and hiking in the mountains. It was sunny, it was hot, the weather was perfect for that.

”Our first three days of camping went well. We tested the mountain restaurants, we bathed in the lake after a good days walk. Everything turned into a nightmare from the fourth day on.

”We got lost… ”

”Lost? ” Jake couldnt understand how anyone could get lost in the 22nd century. 13G was accessible everywhere on the planet except perhaps if you were living underground under a thick layer of heavy metals.

Paul and his three friends all sighed at the same time. Their restless expressions showed that just remembering the events made them relive that nightmare.

”Weve really gotten lost… ” Paul replied.

”But it wasnt our fault! ” Sarah intervened, anxious to justify herself. Jake could tell the twins apart because Elisa had a mole under her right eye.

” True, but at the time, we didnt know that. ” Added Kanye, who was the youngest of the group, only 18 years old.

”Anyway, we were pretty lost. ” Said Paul, continuing his story. ”We decided to camp out under the stars and we got drunk. Still, it wasnt our first night camping, and we thought we knew where we were.

”Except that the next day on waking, we no longer recognized the landscape around us. We remembered a waterfall not far away, which we couldnt find again, and some rocks with painted signs that were supposed to serve as landmarks for the hikers. On top of that, we had barely left the trail when we pitched our tents.

”Of course, there was no network, which was supposed to be impossible. The next three days were an ordeal. We wandered up and down the mountain among the fir trees and brush, not finding our way back. We had supplies, but not enough, so it quickly became complicated.

”Sometimes wed find a signpost indicatingthe right road, but wed end up at dead ends when we followed it. It was the arrival of the Oracles that unblocked the situation.

”When the drones appeared out of nowhere like a cloud of bugs covering the sky, we panicked and tried to escape. As you can imagine, we got caught. »

The four companions showed their bracelets as proof.

”At first we were pretty excited. We wanted to go home and the Oracles gave us a Path to follow. We thought the Path would lead us to our car, and then wed go home safely with it. Unfortunately, it didnt turn out as we had hoped.

”We walked for days. At first through the mountains and woods, then one day we reached a good old asphalt road. We all cried that day. After that, we finally reached a small town where we rented a car and we were able to go back to New Paris.

” I mean, we should have… We had the same problem as when we were at the campsite. We got lost again. The roads led nowhere, stopping in front of rivers or cliffs. The traffic signs didnt match the cities we were stopping at. A real ordeal!

”By following the Path, we were still getting closer to the goal and the AIs on our bracelets were adamant, reminding us over and over again that the Oracle could not be wrong. Seeing the town sign of a city we knew gave us hope, knowing that we were on the right path.

”This last week was the worst for us. Just so you know, we only made it to New Paris a few days ago… ”

Jake was speechless. Their story looked straight out of a bad science fiction novel.

”Are you telling me that, aside from the first few days of hiking, you all spent almost three weeks driving to New Paris? Hows that even possible? ” He couldnt help doubting them, it seemed too absurd.

” Not only is it true, but there are far worse things. We finally understood why we got lost when we started getting paranoid. By not closing our eyes, we ended up witnessing a disturbing scene, to say the least.

”We noticed that our landmarks were moving away from us, if not disappearing completely. It was really discreet, the kind of difference you only notice after several hours. When we did notice it, though, it was all we could see. ”

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