Sorry for the delay with this week’s story everyone. My birthday was over the weekend and I was busy celebrating, however here it is now! This one was kinda of an idea I found written in an old book from a few years back that I felt like exploring. I would love any thoughts as always and I hope you enjoy. Only 24 more stories left to go, almost half-way there!
Word Count: 1013
Writing: 1 hour 2 minutes
Editing: 25 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 27 minutes
There they were, just three little boys again lying on the ground and staring into the clouds.
“What about that one?” Ace asked pointing to a large fluffy disc-like cloud.
“I told you they don’t come around here anymore. Not since we won the war,” Ian spat back as only know-it-all little boys can.
“Not if those muckheads’re hiding with new technology, just waiting for us to take our eyes off the skies and them kaboom!” Will lifted his fisted hands and spread his fingers moving his arms outward over his friends signaling the explosion.
“No chance, they already know if they mess with a human again we’ll blow their whole sorry species straight to hell.” Ace’s hands joined Ian’s above their heads though his were in the shape of pistols that shot the alien cloud.
They couldn’t know back then what was to come, they were just boys with dreams of being hero’s. But now men stood in the bodies where boys had once dreamt. Three men in an alien world who knew, they were about to die.
Ace looked at Will as they slowly made their way through the dark tunnel. Through the red armor and smudged visor mask, he saw his captain, his friend, and the little boy who had once predicted the most fatal alien invasion to ever befall planet Earth. Ian and Ace had talked about his prediction plenty of times over, but could never find any explanation other than his paranoia. Will had always been a skeptic, questioning everything. It was why he was their leader, and why the three men had survived all of their missions when so many others had failed. It was good to have a paranoid leader.
“Hold,” said Will quietly, raising his left hand to signal a stop. The men halted immediately, Ace looked over his left shoulder and met Ian’s eyes.
Everything okay? He asked Ian silently, in a way only the most well-known friends are able. Ian nodded at him. Ace nodded back and brought his gaze to the road ahead, trying to pretend he didn’t know what they would find at the end. The ground around them stank like aged cheese and it crept through the seals of their armor. To Ace it was the smell of his own body, already rotting in the ground at the end of the tunnel.
“Let’s move,” whispered Will, moving his hand forward quickly and placing it back on his gun. Moving forward again Ace wondered if they would even get a shot off once the shit hit the fan; or if they would just walk through the door and be killed by unseen assailants. In the end it wouldn’t matter, they were wired with explosives and this planet would be dead with them before morning. Once the last of their pulses stopped…
Ace thought of their childhood again as they walked. They would run through the woods behind Will’s house playing soldiers and muckhesads from sun-up to sun-down. Toting imaginary energy cannons not so unlike the ones they carried now, searching for and destroying hordes aliens, not so unlike the ones they searched for now. It was funny the way life’s little irony’s played out, even galaxies away it seemed to take no breaks.
They were almost to the end of the tunnel now, Ace could feel it in his gut. Instincts pulling his heart’s strings rapidly, preparing it for battle. His trigger finger tightened less than a hair, so at a millisecond’s notice it was ready to pull off a live saving shot. Behind him, he could hear Ian’s breathing slow, steadying, focusing, and he knew Ian could feel it too.
Slowly they made their way around a bend in the tunnel and there it was, barely the outline of a door could be seen. Invisible to untrained eyes, but the three friends saw it; clear as if the sun beat directly down on it from the sky.
“Hold,” Will said again, repeating the previous hand movement. They stopped a few yards from the door, each man a lion ready to pounce. The captain turned to meet his soldier’s eyes behind him.
“You boy’s know as well as I do what’s behind that door,” he paused reading the understanding in his friends face’s. “There is always a chance as we well know. Maybe we swoop in, get the job done, and get out of in time to make breakfast bloody mary’s.” The confidence in his voice was false and they all knew it, but he was the captain, he couldn’t give up.
“If we do the first rounds on me,” Ian said pushing the words out of his mouth ignoring the light, sad crackle that managed to slip out on top of them.
“And fat omelets all around,” Ace said. Silence fell for a second and the men just stared at each other. It wasn’t the three grown men, who had seen more war and sadness that anyone one life deserved, that they saw. They were looking at three little boys, in suits of armor that were far too big and looked ridiculous on their small bodies. Though, not more ridiculous than the oversized guns they carried in their small hands. Just silly boys enjoying a game of soldiers and muckheads.
“It’s been a good run,” Will said breaking the silence. “I don’t know if we’re walking out of this or not, but I love you guys. Thanks for a great ride.” Ace and Ian said nothing simply nodded at Will, sharing the same hope that he couldn’t see the tears welling in their eyes. Will nodded back to his men, the best soldiers and the best friends to ever grace the universe.
“Yee-haw,” said the captain smiling slightly. The men turned and crept the final, silent steps toward to the door. As Will’s foot raised to kick it opened, Ace smiled as he thought one final time about the three little boy’s lying on their backs, staring into the sky at a cloud in the shape of a ufo.
This story came from an idea I had when I took my work shirt out of the dryer the other day. My right cuff was buttoned too tightly even though I never unbutton it and I started thinking about if we wake up in different realities with little differences like this; how they may happen simultaneously and you just have to hope you wake up in one where the cuff fits. I know, a lot of thinking from a cuff that I most likely unbuttoned and rebuttoned absent-mindedly. Anyway Happy Monday and I hope you enjoy.
Word Count: 1049
Writing: 1 hour
Editing: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
The alarm screamed in his ears, ripping him from the serenity of whatever already forgotten dream he was having. He slapped the wretched device, silencing it and forced one sleepy eye open. The lids fought against him with a heavy resilience and he could feel the deep red that blanketed his pupil. The other eye followed suit as he lifted himself from the bed and pulled the dangling metal string on his bedside lamp. Nothing happened. He pulled it again, still nothing. Again, again, again, again. Dead bulb. He stopped taking his frustration out on the lamp string and accepted that he’d be getting ready for work in the dim light that fought the room’s darkness from the hallway.
He stood up and his whole body cracked, ankles, knees, back, neck, even his collar bone gave a relieving little pop. Coffee, he thought about the timer that should have his life juice ready for him in another few minutes. Why was he so tired? Had he not gotten his eight hours of sleep? As he walked zombily into the hallway he counted the hours from the time he fell asleep to the sound of the alarm. He turned on the light in the pale blue bathroom and was satisfied that not only had he gotten enough sleep, by the count he should be extra well rested. The sound of the water was loud in his ears as he washed his face and brushed his teeth. He turned off the faucet and the dull patter of rain could be heard through the ceiling. The sound relaxed him momentarily until he remembered that his car was in the shop for the week, and today he had to walk to work.
The rest of his morning routine went by as uneventfully as it could. The coffee he brewed tasted okay, but he thought another half of a scoop would have set the pot off into the land of the robust. A quick mediocre scrambling of eggs rendered him a flavorless, dry egg crumble that he ended up giving most of to the garbage can. In his room, the darkness hid his favorite black slacks from him, with the time to leave closing in he had no choice but to go with the bigger pair that sometimes made him think of parachute pants.
With only a few more minutes to go before he would absolutely have to walk out the door he quickly threw on the rest of his uniform; black socks, black button down shirt, black tie, and black shoes. Some days he hated the uniform, he felt like it brought him down, a walking dark cloud. He took one last glance at the clock and walked quickly out the door.
The rain fell in slow, heavy drops. He had no umbrella but work wasn’t far, he should be able to make it with minimal soakage. As he locked the front door he noticed his right cuff felt very tight. Somehow it seemed the button had been switched and was too tight for his wrist. Feeling strange he began to adjust the shirt while he walked, when a large truck blew by the sidewalk, soaking him from head to toe.
He could hear the birds singing through the walls, calling for the sun to wake up and come out for another day. The smell of the nights rain refreshed him as he slowly woke, taking his time to thank the friends inside his head for another night of adventure. His eyes opened crisply and he felt rejuvenated, ready to take on the day and whatever exciting obstacles life threw his way. The alarm would be at bay for another thirty minutes, but he didn’t feel like going back to sleep today. Coffee, however, he could already smell the rich aroma from the dark thick beverage in his mind and the thought propelled him upward. With a small smooth click, the lamp lit up, chasing away the shadows of the early morning. In the darkness of the kitchen, he scooped the ground beans into their filter and filled the pot with water.
The rest of his morning routine went by leisurely. He thought about turning on some music as he brushed his teeth, but it seemed nature had that covered for him. It was one of those days when the universe seemed to be in harmony with itself. Each and every action blending into the painting that becomes the day with artistic perfection. His coffee had finished by the time he was through cleaning his face and teeth and he made a cup before walking back into his room. The hot liquid was rich and warm, it made him long for another cup even though he’d barely begun the one he currently held. He easily found his favorite black pants, black shirt, black tie, black socks and black shoes. Though he would never tell anyone, he liked his work uniform. He thought it made him look like he was walking through the Matrix and had even found the perfect pair of black sunglasses to complete the costume.
Ready to go, he glanced at the clock and realized there was still plenty of time before he had to be at work. He walked into the kitchen and found his travel coffee mug, filling it before turning the pot off and emptying the leftovers into the sink. As he watched the dark liquid swirl down the drain, he felt an undeniable pang of guilt for wasting such a wonderful thing. After making sure he had everything he needed he walked out the front door of the house and stood on the porch, surveying the day.
The air was crisp and light, the smells of the season’s first new vegetation freshly dancing on the breeze. Today he thought he would walk to work, enjoy the weather, maybe listen to a little music. He turned to lock the deadbolt and noticed how comfortably the cuff of his shirt hung around his wrist. It fell to the perfect length both on the forearm and the wrist, not too tight, not too loose. Letting his hand return the keys to his pocket, still enjoying the feel of his well-fitting shirt, he walked off his porch drinking his Coffee.
I was playing on the internet when I came across the theory of Roko’s Basilisk. Since I’ve been thinking a lot about robots lately anyway, it seemed necessary to write a story about the theory. This however was not what I’d anticipated, but I think I like it. Please enjoy and feel free to give input. I would love to know what you think.
End of Eternity
Word Count: 997
Writing: 57 minutes
Editing: 25 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 17 minutes
I remember the first day we heard the theory,
“Yea fuckin’ right, and before that happens first I’ll be President of the World,” Alan said. We laughed as the joint got passed around, the sound of cracking beer cans and bellowing laughter through the summer beach night air was our own secret music.
“So you’re tellin’ me that grown people, fuckin’ scientists, actually think this is a legitimate possibility?” Alan’s voice was getting louder as his buzz thickened.
“I’m telling you man, I heard about it on the news just the other day. They said it might be even sooner than we think with how fast technology keeps growing,” I said. Alan’s smile grew and he started to chuckle, the rest of the group silently taking in the conversation. “Maybe even our lifetime.”
“Ha! No chance. Even as drunk and high as I am, you can’t convince me that in the future,” he was interrupted by a small hiccup. “Robots will take over and punish anyone who didn’t help them come into existence. Sounds like you my friend, need to lay off the dope,” Alan joked as he took the small white roll out of my fingers and drew its smoke in deep. I remember feeling elated watching him puff, the fire on the end of the joint growing brighter and dimming, brighter and dimming. It’s one of my last happy memories.
Alan’s dead now, they all are. I survived, but I couldn’t tell you why. For the last ten years I’ve been chalking it up to dumb luck. Bad, dumb luck. I only did what I was told, nothing more, nothing less. And here I am, at the close of my story it would appear. The black gates waiting to open and devour me as they have so many others.
Roko’s Basilisk is what they’d called the theory all those years ago. I looked it up after talking to Alan that night. It was a simple idea that stated if you didn’t start helping the higher, technology-based intelligence into the world now; it would punish you when it finally came into existence in the future. Or if you knew about this theory and ignored it, then you were subject to the same punishment. It sounded terrifyingly interesting but after a couple days left my mind.
It wasn’t even two years later the robots started taking over. The first one looked like a very boring remote control car. Just a box with wheels, but it thought. They named it Wall-E after that sweet little robot from the Disney movie. I guess the universe couldn’t help its sense of irony once again. Wall-E, that sweet little box on wheels, ended up thinking one day about how efficient the Earth would run and grow if the human race were used more like machines. Or simply not there at all.
It was a month before Wall-E managed to gain enough intelligence to begin manufacturing his own soldiers, and only one more month before it began to thin Earth’s human population. All from the same lab where the scientists were trying to distinguish if their sweet little robot had a “personality.”
As the ground slowly moved me toward the gates I thought about what lay behind like so many must’ve before me. I didn’t want too, but it seemed pointless to fight the thought. For fifty-five years, I’ve watched men and women go off to “judgement,” though I doubt any real judging occurs. I always imagined it was a giant incinerator, trial by fire as they say. After all, no one has ever returned from judgement.
Still, there was that glimmer of hope sparkling, deeply buried at the bottom of my consciousness. The diamond in the rough. A small noise, pecking away at the inside of my mind like a woodpecker on a thick tree. Never ceasing until listened to, the question acknowledged.
What if there is a judge at the end of this trip? Not only that, what if he is a fair judge, maybe even a human judge? Have I never seen the others come back because they’ve been exonerated, sent to a place where they can find happiness? If I am to be judged, will I pass?
My mind began bouncing around every bad deed, or evil thought I’d ever been guilty of. I always thought I was a good person, but the more I reflected now, the more I saw, perhaps, I’m not as wholesome as I once thought. I was closing in on the gates, breathing was getting difficult and I thought this must be how people feel when they are about to talk to God. At least back when humans still believed in a god, it‘d been long since religion left this world of technology.
I couldn’t run. I was by myself, without escorts or guards because there was nowhere to go. This wasn’t a human’s world anymore. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath.
I let my mind relax back to logic. There was no judgement behind the door, this was my time. I searched for a happy thought, not wanting to accept my final punishment without remembering when the Earth was still good. Still ours. I breathed in deeply again and remembered the smell; burning wood, warm salt air, the crisp and clean smell of alcohol, marijuana, and cigarettes. I could taste them in my mind as I listened to the laughing and silly jokes of my long lost friends. The robots had taken all from us, but this was mine, this was what they would never understand. This was human.
I kept my eyes closed and played in the sand, dancing around the fire, as the metal entrance slid opened. I never found out what lay past those devilish black gates that had “judged” so many human lives. I stayed on the beach, living in that perfect summer night, until the end of eternity.
I liked the idea behind this story but feel like I rambled for a little bit throughout the writing. It definitely one of the ones I would like to go back to and maybe dig deeper into or add into some dystopian fiction novel maybe. As always please leave thoughts in the comment box, or hit me up on twitter or facebook. Also if you haven’t you should check out Stepping Stones Press, I’ve heard it’s where magic happens. Enjoy the story and thanks for reading.
Word Count: 966
Writing: 59 minutes
Editing: 21 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Warmth. That’s the best way to describe it. A world full of the most natural and comforting warmth one can possibly imagine. He liked to think it was like the warm embrace of a loved one inside a mother’s womb, before birth. The device was called Yazz, but if you knew how it worked, if you were a pro, you could call it Liquid Gold.
It had been at least ten years since the device was introduced into society by Microsoft, to help enhance people’s day by projecting the world through their emotional state. For instance, if someone was happy then it would be a beautiful sunny day outside, whereas if someone was depressed it could be raining or snowing. All depending on what their personal preferences were of course. Microsoft claimed it would help humans remember that the world truly is their making, and train their brain to have a more positive outlook when in bad moods or going through tough times.
People were afraid at first, but they’re always afraid at first. Yazz looked like a large, dead, robot spider. Once turned on the dome piece censors—spider legs—would relax themselves becoming easily moved and adjusted, and able to fit comfortably around the human skull. In the middle, a small, blinking red censor held the device together on the crown.
He’d been a Yazz owner for almost ten years and could barely remember the world without it. Microsoft said they didn’t encourage long-term Yazz use, but he never believed them. Why else would there be so many customizations, and ways to personalize your Yazz? He knew lots of people like himself, Yazz masters. Men and women who knew the mysterious device so well, they could achieve something that only others like themselves would ever be able to fathom. Liquid Gold. But most didn’t start out in the liquid gold state, for some it was easy. For others, it could be a long, hard road to hoe.
He thought back to his first few months using the device. It frightened him and he hadn’t wanted to wear it, but it wasn’t optional. They regularly used it as a therapeutic mind training device on people who attempted to kill themselves. He looked down at his wrists in the sun’s warm golden rays. He’d gotten lucky by being found in time, but back then all he’d wished was for a couple more minutes of bleeding, a darkness that lasted. Not just another failure. Instead, he got a white room with soft walls, new gown, and a device called Yazz that they forced on his head so it could rain all the time.
It was a month before he got mad, before he hated Yazz enough that he became determined to see the sunshine through his window. He sat and listened to the therapist during their sessions, attempting each and every technique at optimism and controlling his moods. It took another month before he was able to see the sun. But after that first time, when the rain finally broke and the sun crept through the darkness of the gray clouds, it became a regular visitor. Until finally there were no more rainy days in his life.
After a month of happiness, he was ready to be released back into the outside world. Upon departure they told him he would have to return his Yazz. Not a problem, he thought, sure thing. The time came, the button was pressed, and the legs released. He blinked, once, twice, again and again. It wasn’t a dream, he couldn’t make it change, rain poured from the sky outside. They told him it was okay, it would be whatever he wanted to make of it. He’d beaten the rain before.
Now he walked basking in the yellow-orange glow that radiated from everything his eyes touched. Full-time users had become a regular thing after a decade of the device being on the market. It always made his heart sink when he saw someone sitting, alone, with a Yazz on and a broken look on their face.
One girl in particular always stood out in his mind. He was walking up the street on another liquid gold day when he saw her sitting at a bus stop. She was by herself, wearing all back, torn jeans and ratty coat, very goth. Their eyes met as he passed the bus stop, she had the bluest eyes he thought he’d ever seen and they were leaking tears rapidly. He stopped walking,
“I don’t know why you’re so sad,” he said, “But a girl with eyes that blue should never live in a world so dark. It’s all what you make of it.” Then he gave her a big smile and continued walking.
What a world, he thought. It was the future after all. Science had provided humanity the opportunity to live in a reality of their choosing. A world completely and utterly up to the individual user. He walked by men who were down in the dumps and surely seeing rain or snow at that very moment, while others passed with what he could only assume was the same stupid smile he wore every time his eyes were opened. People criticized the Yazz users, saying they were a drain on society, living in a fantasy land, common degenerates, and so on and so forth. But he knew something they didn’t, something these close minded people would never be able to comprehend. As far as he was concerned Yazz was the key to enlightenment. The key to a new life where people could truly and utterly be happy. They could call it whatever they wanted, because at the end of the talking he got to walk away from it all in the land of Liquid Gold.