Note: This story is set in the future when technology is improved.
"OK class" Mr. Doherty droned on, "For your homework tonight, you will find out what the population of the world would be without Ireland. You shall use WPF (World Population Finder) to get these results." The bell rang. Mark could just about hear Mr. Doherty say "See you tomorrow class!" as he was already out the door and into the busy corridor.
Soon after Mark got home he went straight to his computer and typed WPF into the search bar. He clicked the first result and typed in "World." A number appeared on the screen, 93,538,629,634 (ninety three billion, five hundred and thirty eight million, six hundred and twenty nine thousand, six hundred and thirty four). But the number kept changing, it would go up by a couple, then down some, then up and so on. The world's population was changing all the time. Mark was fascinated at this idea that babies were born every minute and loads of people died every day. Today would be someone's birthday. He jotted down the long number and typed a second word in, "Ireland."
Another number appeared on the screen, this time, smaller. 10,542,901. So, he subtracted the world's population from Ireland's and got 93,528,086,733. He scribbled down this large number and went downstairs to have dinner.
"Our homework tonight was to find the population of the world without Ireland would be," Mark told his family. "Oooh, very interesting! Now remember you're going to bed early tonight Mark!" Mum said to him. "Thanks for bringing that up" Mark said sarcastically. But nevertheless, Mark was in bed early that night and had a good nights sleep.
In the morning, Mark woke up, went downstairs, made his breakfast, being careful not to wake his family and then went back upstairs to get dressed. When he was dressed, he looked at the large screen on the wall that showed the time, it was 8:52! He'd slept in! Normally, he left at 8:45! But wait a second, he thought, why aren't Mum, Dad and Joe up? He carefully crept into Joe's room, there was no Joe in the bed, instead there was a neatly folded bed. Next he tried his Mum and Dad's room, same again, folded bed, no Mum, no Dad. He called out, "Mum? Dad? Joe? Hello?" but there was no answer, the house was empty.
Mark looked all around the house, but there was no one there. Unless they'd already left and forgotten about him? No, he'd been awake the whole time and hadn't heard anyone get up or go out. He went to his computer to have a look at the WPF, the number on the screen read 93,538,629,820. Normal, he thought. Just then, the number started to decrease rapidly, 92 billion, 91 billion, 90 billion, etc. Mark thought, it must be a fault in the system. But the number kept on going, faster with every billion going by. Finally, after five minutes, the number still read eleven digits, but this time the number was 00000000002.
"Two people?" He found himself speaking aloud. He quickly checked to see if anyone was online on his IM. It read: Online 0/214 contacts
No one was online, that was unheard of. The lowest number he'd ever seen was 13, and that was at midnight! He jabbed James' phone number into his phone and pressed the call button. He waited, and waited, and waited. No answer.
Mark was beginning to feel very scared now. He was alone, and if the WPF was correct, he was with one other person in the whole world. Finding this person would be extremely close to impossible. He had no idea if this person was two years old, and couldn't eat itself, his own age, an adult, a very old person or a boy or girl! "I'm going to keep watch as much as I can on the WPF" he said.
He stepped out of his front door, no cars on the road, also unheard of. He ran across to the house opposite, no answer at the door. Luckily, he lived close to his school and would walk every morning. He walked over to the school, where him, and everyone else should be. No one there. He pulled out his phone and dialled three digits, 999.
No answer at the police station. Now he knew something was wrong. What could he do? Live his life until he dies, alone forever? Find this person? He hadn't a clue. Mark trudged back to his house and made himself a mug of hot chocolate. He drank it while checking the WPF, which still said 00000000002. Two people.
Mark sat down in front of his computer screen and brought up a map of the world. "You just can't get your head round the hugeness of it! And this person could be absolutely anywhere!" He felt annoyed, angry, scared, surprised, but most of all, lonely. He just wanted to hear someone's voice again. Especially his family's.
The more he thought about it, the more exciting yet frightening this was. He could do anything he wanted now, which was great! But if he was ever going to find this person, how could he get anywhere? No pilots or sailors! For all he knew, this person could live in a house round the corner, or this person could live in the Outback of Australia. He had no way of knowing.
Just then, Mark had the best idea ever! He remembered getting one of those emails that were sent to everyone that had an email address from the WPF a few days ago. Usually, he just ignored them, but he could remember the subject line of this one, "You can now roughly locate anyone in the world."
He went to his computer to be greatly disappointed. The message that bared the screen when he clicked the link in the email was, "Sorry, our tracking service is temporarily unavailable due to a technical fault. This service will be running again on the 25th of February 2010." But, the date at the bottom told him what date it was written, 1st of February 2010. So this was before all this happened and has nothing to do with it. It was 4th of February; he had to wait three weeks!
In those three weeks, Mark had to keep himself ready. It was all up to him now. He had to celebrate Valentines Day alone too; all he had was a card which he had received a day before the disappearance which said not to open until Valentines Day. He opened it up and felt his eyes start to swell up, it was from his Mum, Dad and Joe. He missed everyone, but especially them, more than he had ever done.
Finally the 25th of February came and delivered more bad news, the sign was still up, exactly the same. He waited one more day, just in case it was to be released later that day but the time zones were different. But when Mark woke the next morning, the sign was still there.
Two days later, he realized that he had been extremely stupid. Unless there was some one in about ninety three billion chance that the other person living worked at the WPF, no one would have been there on the 25th to release the program.
He now had two adventures ahead of him, going to the WPF headquarters to get the program, and then to go to the place that it located. It was Mark's only hope.
He searched into GML (Global Map Locations) the letters, "WPF". It took about a minute until he had a result, 42 High Road, London, England. "London!" he shouted aloud. "How ever am I going to get there?" And that's only the start of his journey.
There was one problem with having a computer sitting at your desk, it wasn't portable. He needed a laptop to take with him to check the WPF. He would also need it when he got to London. So, Mark hurried around for four days, he went to the local supermarket. He had no choice but to take things and leave, he needed food to stay alive and there was no one else there. Now, he needed a laptop. James had one, but he couldn't bear to steal from his best friend. He went to a hardware shop and took one of the laptops. He promised to himself that if he ever made it back with the laptop, he would put it back. He didn't need it otherwise. He was now all ready to go. The next morning he made sure he had everything with him and stepped out into the open world.
Then it dawned on him, he was going to have to walk from his house to the nearest ferry port then to London. He couldn't do it. Then he saw his families car parked up in the driveway. He thought, I'm thirteen and tall for my age! How hard could it be? He soon found himself sitting in the driver's seat of the car. Mark started the engine and drove the car out of the drive, it was easy! He tapped the ferry port into the GPS and drove off, following the same old tone of the GPS women's voice.
After five stops, he finally made it to the ferry port. Now here was the hardest bit of the plan, he had to sail a massive ferry over to the west coast of England.
He drove his car into the ferry's car hold and made his way up the stairs into the huge empty boat. He found the drivers cabin and started the engine. No sound came from anywhere, nothing happened. The suddenly, the screen behind him burst into life, displaying the safety video for an emergency on the boat. He guessed that it was a safety precaution that the boat can't start until the video has played. He watched the video, as there was nothing better to do.
When it finished, the huge engine roared up automatically. He found the GPS of the boat and found the harbour where he would dock. He had had a vague idea of how to drive a car, but a ferry, no clue. He pushed a big joystick forward and the boat lurched backwards, crashing into the harbour behind. The ships alarm immediately sounded, Mark thought, this is going to take quite a while.
Mark had no idea of how to stop the alarm, he tried pressing buttons on the dashboard until he found a green button that read "ALM STOP" which he took to mean ALARM STOP. He pushed it and there was silence. This time, Mark pulled the lever gently backwards and the boat started to ease out of the harbour and into the open sea. He followed the GPS (which had a much nicer voice than his car's one) all the way to Swansea harbour. When the boat docked (crashing a bit of course) an automated voice rang out, "We are now docked at Swansea Harbour. Thank you for sailing from Cork with us today and we wish you a pleasant onwards journey."
Mark switched off the engine and went down to the car port, praying that he'd remembered to put the handbrake on. He hadn't. With the crashing of the boat and the rough sea, the car was no where near Mark had left it, luckily, there were pads all around the walls to protect the car if it should move. It was still slightly damaged at the front but it didn't really matter. Now he had to drive all the way out of Wales, through south England and reach 42 High Road, London.
His ferry had docked at 7pm that day, he needed somewhere to stay that night and start his journey in the morning. He found an inn and stayed there for the night. These were all advantages of the disappearance.
He woke the next morning feeling refreshed and ready to go, he clambered into the car and set off. After an hour or so, he pulled into a service station to go to the toilet; while he was there he got out the laptop and checked WPF. Still two people, this told him that this person must be able to fend for themselves and must be old enough to as it had been what felt like ages since all the disappearing. Several hours later, he knew he had reached London, he could see Big Ben, The Houses of Parliament, The London Eye and Tower Bridge! But best of all, he was all to himself, in London, imagine the things he could do! But there was no time for that now, he followed his GPS to High Road and found number 42. At last! He found it beside a big old building, the big neon sign at the front read, "Phoenix Cinema". He walked up and opened the door to number 42, high tech equipment (the building had lots of satellites on its roof) was everywhere.
Mark found the Master Computer and switched it on. The first thing that appeared on the screen was, "READY TO BROADCAST NEW SOFTWARE. BROADCAST NOW?" At the bottom were three boxes, "Yes, Never and Later". Being careful with the mouse, he chose Yes. If he had slipped and clicked Never, he would have never been able to activate and broadcast the software. Another window came up, this time it read, "BROADCASTING NEW WPF SOFTWARE " 1% COMPLETE " ABOUT 2 HOURS REMAINING". Since the activation would take two hours, Mark decided to go next door and watch a movie in the cinema.
Two hours later, Mark came back to number 42. The window now said "100% COMPLETE " BROADCASTING SOFTWARE WAS SUCCESSFUL. DO YOU WISH TO CLOSE THIS WINDOW OR OPEN NEW SOFTWARE?" Mark chose to close the window; he turned the computer off and headed back over to one of the comfy chairs in the cinema. Mark opened the laptop and tried to load the WPF locating software, it worked! Now on the screen there were two little figures. One was blue, one was red. The blue one's bubble read, "Mark O'Kane", the red figure's bubble read "Amelia Granger". Mark gasped, "This must be the person that's left! Amelia Granger" sounds posh"" Mark clicked "More info." Two black bubbles appeared, "Mark O'Kane, Age thirteen, Hometown " Bantry, Current location " 44 High Road, London, England." The second one read, "Amelia Granger, Age thirteen, Hometown " Nottingham, Current location - 12 High Stret, Oxford, England."
Mark now knew that Amelia was thirteen, lived in Nottingham but is currently in Oxford. He quickly opened a map of England on his laptop, Nottingham is nowhere near Oxford, Mark thought. Either she left after me or she's walking. Mark then noticed that Oxford was just up the river from London, he could take a nice relaxing boat ride down to Oxford and try to meet Amelia, this was going great!
When Mark arrived in Oxford, he climbed out of the boat and tried to find where High Street might be. It was hopeless, he would never find it! He brought up a GPS on his laptop and it took him to High Street. He counted along to number 12. It was an ordinary house. He knocked on the door, so eager to see and hear another human again. But no one came to the door. He knocked a second and third time, but still no answer. Then he remembered that she probably had moved, it didn't say she was inside the house, she could have simply been passing when he had searched the location. He tried again, this time it read "34 Pembroke Street, Oxford, England". So she was still in Oxford! Mark hurriedly brought up the GPS and went straight to number 34. He could see a light on inside, he peered through the window but no one was in the room. He was about to press the doorbell when he thought how frightened she might be if she hears her doorbell going off. Well, there was nothing Mark could do about it, he'd come all this way for this moment. Mark rang the bell.
He could hear it go off inside, then suddenly; he heard the creak of stairs, footsteps, a lock being unlocked and then the door starting to open. The next thing he knew he was embraced in a massive hug with someone with long brown hair that was getting in his face. She stood back, her face in awe. Mark opened his mouth to speak but nothing came out. Instead, Amelia started, "Oh my golly goodness gracious me! It's a person! A real person! How did you find me? Do you know anyone else that's still here? What's your name?" Amelia bombarded him with too many questions so he just answered the last one, "My name's Mark, how about you?" His voice was croaky as he hadn't spoken in a while. "Oooh, sounds like your from Ireland!" recognising Mark's strong Irish accent, "My name's Amelia! Come inside!"
"Have you really come all the over from Ireland just to see me?" Amelia asked. Mark felt that she was just going to keep on asking more questions so he answered in one big answer, his whole story. From when he woke up that morning on the 4th of February right up to finding number 34, Pembroke Street, Oxford, London. "Here, I'll tell you the whole thing."
An hour later, Mark and Amelia were sitting on a sofa, drinking tea and eating biscuits. Mark had also heard Amelia's story, which was much the same as his. Now Mark had to ask that all important question, "So, how do we fix this then? We're the only ones left on the entire planet! Do you know anything about science? I'm really bad at it, never understood it, I was hoping you would be good so we could try to work some sort of solution out." Amelia stayed silent for a couple of seconds then said, "I get 100% in every science exam we do in school. The teacher's think I'm so talented and talked about sending me to a special science school, but I didn't want to. I had loads of friends at my school, until everyone disappeared of course." "Wow!" Mark was over the moon, "That's brilliant! Do you have any sort of idea why it happened?" "Well, I have an idea, but I don't know" Amelia said casually. "Well let's hear it then!" Mark was very keen to know about her idea; he also liked Amelia, a lot.
"Well, the WPF have one satellite and one big ship out in the ocean which picks up reception. The satellite moves around quite a lot. There is a satellite dish on the boat too. It would be extremely rare, but if the two satellites were to look at each other, sending a beam between the two, the power would overload and cause an elimination process called MOAG." Amelia's theory was simple but complicating and difficult, in different ways. "What does MOAG stand for?" asked Mark. "Manipulation of all Gines. A gine is a person who does not share compatibility with MOAG. But that's the part that I can't understand, why did we survive? What compatibility do we have with MOAG?" Amelia said. Mark just said, "I really don't know, but we'll both try and think".
Over the next month, Mark and Amelia lived together in number 34, researching, brainstorming, thinking as hard as possible but it was only one month later that they had met each other that Mark came up with the answer. He hadn't been thinking about MOAG at all, he'd been thinking about what would happen if he and Amelia were to ever get married. He had come up with the initials MO for himself (as the man's name doesn't change) and AO for Amelia. That brought him to thinking of their initials at the present, MO and AG" MOAG"
"Amelia!! I think I've got it!" shouted Mark. "Really? Well?" Mark told her about their initials joining together to form MOAG. They had "compatibilities" with MOAG. That's why they were kept alive! Now the only problem was finding a way to reverse MOAG.
Mark was very good at logic and working things out. That's how he worked out the next bit. He thought about the question logically, How do you reverse MOAG? He reversed the letters MOAG into GAOM. He searched it into the laptop, but it didn't have anything. But it did say, "Did you mean OAOM?". He clicked it and read what it said. "OAOM stands for On Achado Ollen Mountain. This phrase is used to reverse a term called MOAG which eliminates all the people in the world that don't have compatibilities with MOAG." Jackpot, thought Mark. But it didn't have anything to do with him and Amelia. Or did it? Forwards, it would be MOAO. That's when he remembered his thinking earlier about the initials if they got married! It would be MOAO! That's it! They had to marry!
Mark told this to Amelia, she said, "It would be great to marry you Mark, but why don't we try going to this funny avocado place and try it out first? So the two of them headed for Achado Ollen Mountain. When they got to the top, there was a little old sign which read, "Reversal for MOAG " There was a little table to the right of the sign, but nothing there. Mark was sure that was where OAOM was when they were married; there was nothing else for it.
So, the two of them had a private (obviously) wedding in number 34. They celebrated with the normal wedding celebrations. The next day, they went to the top of the mountain again. This time, on the table was a little red button. It definitely hadn't been there before. "Well?" said Amelia. "You do it, you worked it out! Go!"
Mark reached forward and pressed the red button. It disappeared. "Did it work?" asked Amelia. "I don't know, but I've brought my laptop with me though, we can check!" said Mark. The WPF said 00000000002 still. The two of them were so disappointed. Mark was just about to close down the laptop when Amelia spotted something, the number said 00000000003. "It's working!" They both said. The number started to rapidly increase, finally it reached a very high number again.
And they were kissing like no other couple had ever been before. They ran down the mountain and started to see people, doing their jobs, sitting around, the usual. "Hang on a minute, do they remember that it's like three months since they went or what?" said Amelia. Mark looked at his watch, it said 6:35pm " 3-2-10.
The 3rd of February. Mark had one day to get back home so that no one would suspect anything. He got a taxi to the ferry port, got on a ferry (without driving it) and got another taxi all the way home. It was 1am on the 4th of February. He sneaked into bed.
Amelia and him were never actually properly married of course, but they still kept in great contact and visited each other. The 4th of February, 13:45. "Ok class, has everyone got their homework on populations?" said Mr. Doherty. Mark had left his sitting beside his computer, at home. I think he had had enough of populations for some time!