They're right outside the steel door, swinging, bashing, shouting. They found the line from the solar array, cut it right in two, even the second coil that was under six inches of concrete. One, maybe two minutes of light from this cheap plastic torch, its featherweight D-cells rattling around in its thin pink housing.
It's time. No other options. A life's work gone. Sent to the bitstore in the sky. So close. The knowledge to make them, perhaps fix them. Nothing to be done now.
The hard drives come out of the cage in mid-write, heads skittering across platters. Doesn't matter. Can't bother with an overwrite now. Terabytes stacked on terabytes, all into the Fujitsu ME-P3M. The big old machine that Sarah had helped carry down here. Laughing at the hand crank, screwing her face up as she pantomimed. Amazed at the grant for $35,000, but proud that she'd wrangled it. Please be dead, Sarah. Be dead and asleep.
It's harder than it looks, but it starts to turn. Ten or twenty seconds should do it. There's a sort of machine song now, the whirr of the Fujitsu's degausser, the bang of the ram, metal on metal, the small scream of the lock, giving. It's all but dark now. The flashlight illuminates only itself, fading like the data on the hard drives inside as they are elementally scoured in a magnetic gale.
One more drive. Just one more. It's here on the concrete, damp. Where did it go. A fumble, a drop. It's in.
No, I, please no. Just let me finish my. A flash of light, then darkness again. A bag, cloth but feels like plastic, fogging instantly with panted breath. The Fujitsu handle slowing, carried by inertia. Be enough.