Gilgamesh

The line was crackly but clear enough to hear her CEO, who said, “Gilgamesh is the world’s earliest recorded story. We put ‘The First Story of Mankind’ on promotional materials. The show is a sell out for two weeks straight. We can’t cancel it now.”

Sophie had two jobs at Village Hall. One was Chief Producer and the other was Crisis Manager. She was delighted that QARY, the old quarry now used for multimedia shows, was a commercial success. The Authority had supported her project wholeheartedly and invested $10 million there.

The issue was that she was well informed meteorologically. The danger of flooding was high. There was an Evacuation Alert in place, but no Evacuation Order, meaning that everybody should be prepared, but nobody should go anywhere yet. There was no excuse for sloth, but also no need for panic. What was needed was awareness.

Sophie said, “You can’t have people underground at a time like this. It is highly irresponsible, and if…”

“I’m sorry, I can’t hear you,” said her CEO. “You’re breaking up.”

“I said that you can’t have…”

Click. Her CEO had hung up.

Sophie had faith in the warning indicators, whose specs she had reviewed before installation. They had failsafe mechanisms built in giving at least three hours warning, so whatever happened there would be no surprise. Maybe she was worrying without reason.

QARY’s hundred digital projectors, its fibre-optic cabling, and dynamic event lighting were worth a lot of money but were replaceable. The people here were not.

Damn it! Even this story concerned the preciousness of human life. It was not something to risk casually.

Her multimedia productions were in constant development. The first show had been an amateur affair featuring the works of local artists, and the next one, slides of Old Masters. In the second season, The Authority’s support had made epics such as Osiris, Beowulf and Gilgamesh possible; each show with a different style.

Alongside the usual paintings, photos and texts, Gilgamesh required live action filming. There was no shortage of bearded men in the Lucerne Valley to play Sumerian extras. No shortage of cattle and horses either.

Gilgamesh was a nasty king. He was proud and boastful, and oppressed his male subjects and pressed himself upon female ones. To distract him from op/pressing people, the gods created wildman Enkidu, who was his equal in strength, and his twin in appearance, though covered by hair.

Gilgamesh and Enkidu symbolized, respectively, culture and nature, and soon became best friends. Together they went to the Cedar Forest to kill the giant Humbaba, and then they slaughtered the Bull of Heaven. The gods decreed that Enkidu must die as punishment for these crimes. Gilagamesh’s distress at his twin’s death set him upon an epic quest for the secret of immortality. A ferryman took him across the river of death, where he met Utanapishtim, survivor of the ancient Great Flood.

Sophie saw dark pools building. Water trickled down rock pillars and from in between cracks. Was the quarry flooding? Had the warning system failed?

She ran to the control room in an upper chamber.

She saw that the system had been manually overridden.

Sophie had a thoughtflash. Her job as Crisis Manager had long term aims, including tackling overpopulation. There were five hundred people in the quarry. Was this what was going on, a deliberate population reduction?

Gilgamesh learnt that there was no such thing as Immortality. Everyone’s time on earth is finite, so you must live your life well.

If this was the end, thought Sophie, what better way to go than to join her small story to mankind’s first one?

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