羊毛战记 Part 1 Holston 3
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  Three years earlier
  “You’ve gotta be kidding me,” Allison said. “Honey, listen to this. You won’t believe this. Did youknow there was more than one uprising?”
  Holston looked up from the folder spread across his lap. Around him, scattered piles of papercovered the bed like a quilt—stacks and stacks of old files to sort through and new complaints tomanage. Allison sat at her small desk at the foot of the bed. The two of them lived in one of the silocondos that had been subdivided only twice over the decades. It left room for luxuries like desks andwide nonbunk beds.
  “And how would I have known about that?” he asked her. His wife turned and tucked a strand ofhair behind her ear. Holston jabbed a folder at her computer screen. “All day long you’re unlockingsecrets hundreds of years old, and I’m supposed to know about them before you do?”
  She stuck out her tongue. “It’s an expression. It’s my way of informing you. And why don’t youseem more curious? Did you hear what I just said?”
  Holston shrugged. “I never would’ve assumed the one uprising we know about was the first—justthat it was the most recent. If I’ve learned one thing from my job, it’s that no crime or crazy mob isever all that original.” He picked up a folder by his knee. “You think this is the first water thief thesilo’s known? Or that it’ll be the last?”
  Allison’s chair squealed on the tile as she turned to face him. The monitor on the desk behind herblinked with the scraps and fragments of data she had pulled from the silo’s old servers, the remnantsof information long ago deleted and overwritten countless times. Holston still didn’t understand howthe retrieval process worked, or why someone smart enough to come up with it was dumb enough tolove him, but he accepted both as truth.
  “I’m piecing together a series of old reports,” she said. “If true, they mean something like our olduprising used to take place regularly. Like once every generation or so.”
  “There’s a lot we don’t know about the old times,” Holston said. He rubbed his eyes and thoughtabout all the paperwork he wasn’t getting done. “Maybe they didn’t have a system for cleaning thesensors, you know? I’ll bet back then, the view upstairs just got blurrier and blurrier until peoplewent crazy, there’d be a revolt or something, and then they’d finally exile a few people to set thingsstraight. Or maybe it was just natural population control, you know, before the lottery.”
  Allison shook her head. “I don’t think so. I’m starting to think …” She paused and glanced downat the spread of paperwork around Holston. The sight of all the logged transgressions seemed to makeher consider carefully what she was about to say. “I’m not passing judgment, not saying anyone wasright or wrong or anything like that. I’m just suggesting that maybe the servers weren’t wiped out bythe rebels during the uprising. Not like we’ve always been told, anyway.”
  That got Holston’s attention. The mystery of the blank servers, the empty past of the silo’sancestors, haunted them all. The erasure was nothing more than fuzzy legend. He closed the folder hewas working on and set it aside. “What do you think caused it?” he asked his wife. “Do you think itwas an accident? A fire or a power outage?” He listed the common theories.
  Allison frowned. “No,” she said. She lowered her voice and looked around anxiously. “I think wewiped the hard drives. Our ancestors, I mean, not the rebels.” She turned and leaned toward themonitor, running her finger down a set of figures Holston couldn’t discern from the bed. “Twentyyears,” she said. “Eighteen. Twenty-four.” Her finger slid down the screen with a squeak. “Twenty-eight. Sixteen. Fifteen.”
  Holston plowed a path through the paperwork at his feet, putting the files back in stacks as heworked his way toward the desk. He sat on the foot of the bed, put a hand on his wife’s neck, andpeered over her shoulder at the monitor.
  “Are those dates?” he asked.
  She nodded. “Just about every two decades, there’s a major revolt. This report cataloged them. Itwas one of the files deleted during the most recent uprising. Our uprising.”
  She said our like either of them or any of their friends had been alive at the time. Holston knewwhat she meant, though. It was the uprising they had been raised in the shadow of, the one thatseemed to have spawned them—the great conflict that hung over their childhoods, over their parentsand grandparents. It was the uprising that filled whispers and occupied sideways glances.
  “And what makes you think it was us, that it was the good guys who wiped the servers?”
  She half turned and smiled grimly. “Who says we are the good guys?”
  Holston stiffened. He pulled his hand away from Allison’s neck. “Don’t start. Don’t say anythingthat might—”
  “I’m kidding,” she said, but it wasn’t a thing to kid about. It was two steps from traitorous, fromcleaning. “My theory is this,” she said quickly, stressing the word theory. “There’s generationalupheaval, right? I mean for over a hundred years, maybe longer. It’s like clockwork.” She pointed atthe dates. “But then, during the great uprising—the only one we’ve known about till now—someonewiped the servers. Which, I’ll tell you, isn’t as easy as pressing a few buttons or starting a fire.
  There’s redundancies on top of redundancies. It would take a concerted effort, not an accident or anysort of rushed job or mere sabotage—”
  “That doesn’t tell you who’s responsible,” Holston pointed out. His wife was a wizard withcomputers, no doubt, but sleuthing was not her bag; it was his.
  “What tells me something,” she continued, “is that there were uprisings every generation for allthis time, but there hasn’t been an uprising since.” Allison bit her lip.
  Holston sat up straight. He glanced around the room and allowed her observation to sink in. Hehad a sudden vision of his wife yanking his sleuthing bag out of his hands and making off with it.
  “So you’re saying …” He rubbed his chin and thought this through. “You’re saying that someonewiped out our history to stop us from repeating it?”
  “Or worse.” She reached out and held his hand with both of hers. Her face had deepened fromseriousness to something more severe. “What if the reason for the revolts was right there on the harddrives? What if some part of our known history, or some data from the outside, or maybe theknowledge of whatever it was that made people move in here long, long ago — what if thatinformation built up some kind of pressure that made people lose their marbles, or go stir-crazy, orjust want out?”
  Holston shook his head. “I don’t want you thinking that way,” he cautioned her.
  “I’m not saying they were right to go nuts,” she told him, back to being careful. “But from whatI’ve pieced together so far, this is my theory.”
  Holston gave the monitor an untrusting glance. “Maybe you shouldn’t be doing this,” he said.
  “I’m not even sure how you’re doing it, and maybe you shouldn’t be.”
  “Honey, the information is there. If I don’t piece it together now, somebody else will at somepoint. You can’t put the genie back in the bottle.”
  “What do you mean?”
  “I’ve already published a white paper on how to retrieve deleted and overwritten files. The rest ofthe IT department is spreading it around to help people who’ve unwittingly flushed something theyneeded.”
  “I still think you should stop,” he said. “This isn’t the best idea. I can’t see any good coming of it—”
  “No good coming from the truth? Knowing the truth is always good. And better that it’s usdiscovering it than someone else, right?”
  Holston looked at his files. It’d been five years since the last person was sent to cleaning. Theview of the outside was getting worse every day, and he could feel the pressure, as sheriff, to findsomeone. It was growing, like steam building up in the silo, ready to launch something out. Peoplegot nervous when they thought the time was near. It was like one of those self-fulfilling prophecieswhere the nerves finally made someone twitch, then lash out or say something regretful, and thenthey’d find themselves in a cell, watching their last blurry sunset.
  Holston sorted through the files all around him, wishing there was something in them. He wouldput a man to his death tomorrow if it meant releasing that steam. His wife was poking some great,overly full balloon with a needle, and Holston wanted to get that air out of it before she poked too far.