The Yearbook Office
Writings on staying alive
 

Nobody remembers when the rains started. It rained for days and days, with no signs of stopping. Weather reports showed bright green squares where Doppler-Tron 5000 was supposed to be. Soon there was flooding, people were unable to leave their homes.

From the high-rise of 527 Addison St, they looked down as the water level rose. They watched as entire buildings were swallowed up by the water, people gathering on the rooftops, hoping a rescue boat would come for them. Some built rafts with makeshift sails made out of vinyl banners and tablecloths, hoping to find salvation.

Inside the high-rise, you could go down below the water level and see fish swimming on the other side of the glass. They had their own personal aquarium. Nobody went down too far, for fear the windows had broken and water come rushing in. Presumably the water had overtaken some of the lower floors. Nobody wanted to be the first to check.

The building, located at 527 Addison St, was one of the first in the city to be outfitted with the new Generator Bots. Having just come onto the market the year before, every apartment in 527 Addison St. was assigned its own robot to take care of your every need. You could tell the robot you needed a warm bath, or a hot meal and it would just make that happen. Nobody knew how the robots worked, but that did not stop people from lining up for miles when they went on sale.

Thankfully as the Residents of 527 Addison St. ascended to escape the rising water, their faithful Generator Bots came with them.

The water rose and rose. With it, the people in the building kept moving up the floors. When the rain finally stopped, the water level settled around the 16th floor. Looking out, they could see that most of the buildings on their block were submerged beneath the water. Only the other high-rises were visible, but most were far enough away that all they could see were the darkened windows. They had no idea if anyone else was left alive.

And then the rain came back, only this time it was faster. The water level rose quicker than before and as the Residents scrambled up the stairs they knew they had a problem: they were going to run out of floors soon. 527 Addison St was a 40-story building, and when they passed the 25th floor they knew they could only go up for so long.

A meeting was held. Some of the Residents said they should build a boat. The Generator Bots could help, they could build it on the roof and be ready when the water rose up that high. Others wanted to know where they were going to take this boat, or thought it was too dangerous to leave the building at all. No consensus was reached.

That night, Maggie, a sixteen-year old resident, had an idea. She told her Generator Bot that they needed another floor added onto the building. It scurried off, faster than she could follow, so she laid out her bedroll and went to sleep.

Her Bot was gone for days, and as the rain kept falling she had to keep moving up the building. Every day, the Residents had to move up a floor or two. They moved as a herd, the sick being helped by the young and the stronger members of the group. They made sure no one was left behind.

The highest floors of the building were not completed before the rains started. While the lower floors were composed of condos and lofts, the floors they reached now were unfinished. Exposed steel support beams were all they found.

On the morning after the Residents had reached the 34th floor, Maggie found her bot standing next to her as she awoke. When it saw that she was up, it whistled the two-note tone that signaled it had completed the last job she asked of it. Immediately, Maggie ran to the staircase and up the stairs seven floors until she emerged on the 41st floor. It looked exactly like the ones below it, though it did have an official 41 plastic sign on the stairwell door.

She ran back down to the group and told them what she had done. Delighted by this news, the Residents sent many of their Generator Bots to begin adding more floors to the building. As the bots returned, often in groups, the Residents found their building was continuing to grow. Soon the building was fifty stories tall, then sixty.

The water level kept pace with the construction. Most of the high-rises that were previously visible had now been swallowed by the water. But one building, almost a mile away, was rising at the same pace as 527 Addison St. The Residents could just make out the sight of Generator Bots adding floors onto the top of the building, much like their own were currently doing as well. It gave them hope to know that someone else was still out there.

With time, the two buildings continued to grow. The Residents changed as well. Some got too sick to move on with the group, or decided they wanted to remain behind. A baby was born, on the 51st floor, in one of the dry periods when the rains stopped. The Residents settled into a pattern: keep moving up the buidling when the rains fell, rest and recoup their supplies when it subsided. It always started up again.

Their Generator Bots worked 24 hours a day, the Residents kept a close eye on them at all times. One was tasked with "Make the rains stop" by a child and never returned. Another was seen falling from the top of the building where construction was taking place. Only a few people saw it fall, like a bullet, before splashing down into the water below. The Residents knew that without the Generator Bots they would be as good as dead.

But as time went on, fewer and fewer were returning from their jobs. When the Residents reached the 127th floor, they took an inventory. Only five Generator Bots remained. Two were tasked full-time with producing food and supplies, the other three slowly continued adding more floors to the buildings. Each floor took much longer now.

The Residents could tell that the other building had slowed its construction too. It had been over a month since the rain last fell. This was the longest dry spell since the rains first started, but no one felt any relief. They knew that if the rain came back with its full force, they would be underwater in a matter of weeks.

Maggie had an idea: they could ask the Generator Bots to build a bridge to the other building. With any luck, the people there would see what they were doing and start building from their side as well. Either way, they could coordinate with the inhabitants of the other building and pool their resources. With the combined number of Generator Bots, they might be able to beat the rising water for a little while longer.

She had an easy time convincing the other Residents, after her initial intuition about adding floors onto the building she was well-respected amongst the group. And so she walked the Generator Bots up onto the top floor of the buidling and set them to work. They cut a hole in a window and immediately started materializing large steel support beams to weld onto the side of the building.

Maggie stayed and watched them work. It was the first time she ever saw the construction first-hand. The Generator Bots worked in an unusual fashion, as soon as the first portions of the bridge were structurally sound, they added the finishing touches before extending it further. Patterned carpet that matched the former apartments was laid down, working light fixtures were installed, even though the bridge only extended out ten feet past the windows.

She slept out there, the first night, and she awoke to find the bridge extended another 50 feet. When she was feeling brave, she would go peek over the edge down at the abyss below. She could see the water ten stories below, during the day the surface was calm. It looked like she could have the Generator Bots make her a rope ladder so she could climb down and go for a swim, but that would just slow them down from the mission at-hand.

After a week, she saw the first signs that the inhabitants of the other building had started work on their side in preperation. The bridge was over half-way across the span at this point. It would be done in another four days. Maggie went back to the Residents and told them the good news.

The Residents picked a group of representatives who should be there when the bridge was completed. Maggie was very excited about seeing some new faces for the first time in over a year, but others were worried the inhabitants of the other building might be violent.

They were afraid the strangers would try to take the Residents' Generator Bots for themselves. So it was decided that they would ask the bots to construct a heavy door. in case they needed to lock the others out. Maggie ran and relayed the updated orders before returning to the group.

The Residents sat together and pondered what life was like in the other building. How many people were over there? How had the rains affected them? It was the first time they had a moment to reflect on everything that had happened to them. They told stories of the people who were lost in the rains, of the people who were left behind in the climb. It was the first time in a long while that they laughed and cried out of happiness and not fatigue.

And then the Generator Bots were there, whistling the two-note tone. The greeting party said their goodbyes and ascended to the top floor of the building.

When they emerged from the staircase they found that the Generator Bots had rebuilt the building's lobby on the 130th floor. They recognized the concierge desk, and the mailboxes, and the security cameras (though who knew what they were connected to). As they walked to the bridge, sliding doors opened in front of them.

They walked slowly along the bridge, taking their time. Mentally preparing themselves for whatever would greet them on the other end. When they reached the door, it was a steel round door as thick as a bank vault. Maggie took the stick she was holding and knocked against the door. The party waited, their breath held, for some sign of life from the other side.

A minute went by. They looked at one another, scrambling to figure out what to do next when they heard a similar knock on the other side of the door. Maggie knocked again, this time a distinct pattern. Knock - Knock - KnockKnock. And quickly it was repeated back. Knock - Knock - KnockKnock.

Maggie checked to make sure everyone in the party was ready. Her eyes scanning each of the members of the greeting party, she knew it was time. She opened the door.