‘Expose the root,’ the instructions said. Okay, sure. But how?
Digger scratched his head and went through the file once again, scrolling without really focusing on any point in the ancient ypertext. The builders had created all these wonderful cyborg trees that give them all life, that give his entire village life.
Digger was an initiate, one of the few who had access to the sacred ypertexts and could read the code. The code of life, the code of the entire dome. For the dome gives life, and the dome takes it away.
Digger sighed and closed the holy tablet. It was running out of power for the day, and he needed to save some for tonight, if he was going to work through the night. That was the only way he’d make it in time, before the solstice. Why was the solstice such a problem?
Nobody actually knew. The initiates pretended to know, but they really didn’t. Digger had asked all the questions in his mind, but he had gotten no real answer.
The problem was that the sacred ypertexts had been rewritten, censored through the ages, and Digger even suspected that they had added some bits to them to suit whatever law the initiates wanted to pass off as dogma.
Hundreds of little notes at the side of the ypertext, some even pointing to things that weren’t there any more. That was a blatant clue that things were missing.
Expose the root. Expose… the… Yeah, obviously, Digger said, rubbing his chin in front of the old tree. Its roots were exposed. How was he supposed to do it again? Or more? He unfolded his trusty shovel and started to dig around the cyborg tree, having nothing better to do.
After an hour or so he was hot and sweaty, left in his t-shirt. Digger sat back down on the dirt, then let himself fall on his back. He was one with the ground, one with the dirt, a holy communion.
Expose the root.
How, ypertext be damned? How was he supposed to do it? The ypertext seemed to consider this action such a normal step, it was the first one in every instruction. Nobody had ever seemed to crack it.
The hours were drawing near. He only had something like three hours until the solstice. That, the text said, would be bad if you hadn’t ‘run the S crypt.’
Another mystery. That S crypt.
Digger opened up his holy tablet, it wouldn’t matter if the solar panels wouldn’t recharge it, if his time was up, that was it. He scratched his head, rolled on the dirt between the exposed roots and tried once again for about the millionth time in his short life to decode the ypertexts.
He swiped angrily at random. “Bah! Nothing, nothing’s in here…” he said, and threw the holy tablet to the side, making a puff of dirt whirl in circles.
He realised that this action was stupid, an initiate would never dishonour the sacred tablet like that. He picked it up again, mumbling a prayer for forgiveness. “Forgive me for my kernel is weak. Forgive me for I have sinned. Forgive me superuser.”
He threw the holy tablet in his lap and focused ahead at the dim lights. His head leaned to the side, he was so tired. He was thirsty, and dirty, and frustrated beyond measure. All he wanted was a bath and some bread.
Digger idly swiped the holy tablet open, it was a gesture he did often with no particular reason. And his gaze fell on a word.
He stood up and gripped the holy tablet. Rubbing the sleep from his eyes, he quickly read the ypertext, scrolling up and down to go through every note there was. For the first time in his entire service, he had found a reference to the root!
The ypertext said, ‘To get to the root of the problem, go to the holy tree and open up a consul terminal.’
He knew how to do that! He quickly pressed the Ctrl, Alt and T buttons on the holy tablet.
The consul terminal’s blackness showed up.
“Great! Now what?” Digger said to himself, going back to the instructions.
‘Then enter su.’
That always baffled the initiates. ‘Su’ must have had a divine meaning, some said it was the short name for God. Digger was too tired to think theology, so he just took it literally.
He typed ‘su’ into the consul and pressed enter.
‘When inside the roots, the hashtag should appear.’
Those hashtags were another point of contention amongst the initiate scholars. They said that it meant a lot to the ancients, for some arcane reason. They were obsessed with them, and with something else called emochi.
Anyway, there was no time. Digger scratched his head. Think, Digger, think. He had read some crazy guy’s theory that the hashtags could also be represented as the symbol ‘#.’ It always sounded stupid to Digger, but he was prepared to try anything. So, he checked the consul. And yes, there it was! The ‘#.’
By the Holy Tree, finally!
Okay, now what?
He read the rest of the instructions and followed them to the letter, reversing the translations by using his knowledge and utilising the ramblings of the crazy scholars. It turned out that the generations of initiates had somehow turned the holy ypertext into something that the holy tablet couldn’t understand. But if you had spent years of reading all the research and the theories, you could follow the thread back to the original version of the ypertext.
Just how Linus Torvalds wrote it.
Digger typed in the commands, the trial-and-error took him more than two hours, but he was going at million-miles-per-hour now. He was typing and testing everything he could think of.
And as the last minutes counted down, and as the dome was ready to collapse, he finished it, following the instructions to the letter.
Digger pressed one final enter with a flourish and looked up. He felt woozy after such intense concentration, adrenaline leaving his body.
The Dome came to life.
Digger fell on his butt, clutching the holy tablet in his hands, looking up at the opening ceiling. It creaked and complained, but it opened up to the sky as the morning sun shone inside.
Digger could swear that he heard the cyborg tree sigh.