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Author Topic: [Jan 2015] - Science Fiction - Submission Thread  (Read 7544 times)

Offline xiagan

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[Jan 2015] - Science Fiction - Submission Thread
« on: January 01, 2015, 08:46:51 PM »

Alien Cityscape, Science Fiction Plus by FRANK R. PAUL

2015! We're as far in the future as we've ever been - what a good reason to write a science fictional story. ;)

wikipedia: Science fiction is a genre of fiction dealing with imaginative content such as futuristic settings, futuristic science and technology, space travel, time travel, faster than light travel, parallel universes and extraterrestrial life. It often explores the potential consequences of scientific and other innovations, and has been called a "literature of ideas".

I'm going to leave this theme as open as possible. Space Opera? Go for it. Dystopia? Why not? Technomanian utopia? Aliens? Whatever floats your boat. Fantasy/SF mixture? Well, there aren't enough good ones out there so you better write one.

This month I want you to write a science fictional story. Sounds simple? Let's find out. :)

Rules:

1. This can be prose or a poem.
2. The story must be science fictional.
3. Prose must be 500-1500 words long.
4. Poetry must be 100-500 words long.
5. You will be disqualified if you exceed the limits, full stop. That's why they're called limits.
6. Your entry can't be published somewhere else before.
7. This is a writing contest, not a "I have written something like this ten years ago" contest. So if you happen to have a story that fits one of the themes, I'd like it to have a mayor overhaul/edit. Work for it. ;)
8. Please add your story's word count and, if you have, your twitter handle.
9. Please put your story in [ spoiler ] tags to make the thread easier to handle. :) You can find them above the smileys next to the 'youtube' symbol:

Entry will close February 1st 2015 and voting will begin somewhere around the same time too.*

Please post your entry below. All members are eligible to join. If you are not a member you can join here. Sign up is free and all are welcome! :)

The winner will have their piece displayed on the main Fantasy Faction website sometime in the next months.

Remember that this thread is only for entries. Discussion or questions can be posted here.

*My girlfriend is expecting a child in the beginning of February, so if I'm not on schedule, now you know why.  :)
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Offline Raptori

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Re: [Jan 2015] - Science Fiction - Submission Thread
« Reply #1 on: January 02, 2015, 09:19:57 PM »
Finished already, we decided to write a story combining two of our favourite things. 1164 words.

Spoiler for CU42:
CU42

In the shattered twilight beneath the dazzling lights of the big city, a small robot diligently cleaned the streets. No dirt or litter could stand in its way. Recyclable materials were sorted and stored for processing, anything combustible was compressed and used as fuel, and the robot scoured the surfaces until they were spotless. Its movements were a dance of efficiency, and in its wake it left the pavement pristine.

Clashing colours whirled and echoed in the infrequent puddles, which collected the driving rain and poured it into the gutters. The robot took a snapshot of each one, reporting its location to the depot. The robot was a Cleaning Unit, so it could not repair the pavement. It had to content itself with the knowledge that a repair bot would soon be assigned to fix the slabs, and they would be in proper alignment before tomorrow's rounds.

The robot's route—number 42, which gave the robot its name—wound through crosshatched streets and beneath the motorways that soared through the sky. The depths of the city were almost deserted; few braved the downpour in the dead of night. Most of the route had been hearteningly clean, the dirt washed away by the storm. But 42 soon passed underneath an overpass where some careless idiots had left their rubbish leaning against the wall.

A patch of heat amongst the trash caught 42's attention. It was a little larger than the average rat, but the robot had experience with some far larger than this. It associated the concept of rats with feelings of resentment and deep frustration. Their presence meant that the streets were not clean enough. Cleanliness was the purpose of the robot's entire existence, but it was impossible to attain without constant work—more work than it could ever accomplish—and the rats were a reminder of the robot's failure.

42 extended an arm and prodded the blankets that concealed the patch from normal sight. To its surprise, the contents of the blankets did not flee into the sewers, and merely shuffled around a bit. Possibilities flashed into the robot's consciousness. Maybe the rat was dead? Injured? Fearless? 42 drew back slightly. Angry rats could be dangerous, and one bold enough to remain would be prone to anger when disturbed.

42 unfolded a shorter pair of arms, held them out ready to defend itself, and used the first arm to unfold the blankets. The creature huddled in the fabric was smaller than expected—its heat had spread and deceived the robot's sensors. It was not a rat. It was a small, furry thing with a long fluffy tail, pointy ears and very sharp teeth.

The teeth looked dangerous. 42 warily put the blanket down and watched the creature, unable to decide what to do next. There were stripes of light and dark in its fur, and it had huge, startling blue eyes. Nothing in 42's memory suggested any plan of action.

The creature flopped on its back, exposed its belly, and uttered a pitifully small sound. 42 eased a long arm forwards, and started to stroke the luxurious fur. The creature produced a low rumble, increasing in intensity. The robot's secondary arms retracted, and it moved closer.

Claws ambushed 42's main arm as the creature grabbed and attacked it with vicious glee. 42 lurched backwards, secondary arms flailing, and wrenched its arm from the fierce grasp.

The creature continued its rumbling noise, strolled over to the petrified robot, and rubbed itself against the robot's protective arms. It didn't seem angry—if anything it appeared to be playful. The robot retracted its arms a little, and tried to analyse the thing. Its temperature appeared to be dropping steadily.

42 hesitated, then opened the door to its lower storage compartment and laid the blanket inside. The creature paused and sniffed the compartment, clearly unable to decide whether the inside was safe. 42 nudged the creature's side, pushing it into the opening. Once inside, the creature's rumbles increased in volume, and it nestled in its blanket. The lower storage compartment was directly above most of the robot's motors, so it was suitably warm.

The robot sped through the rest of its route, paying less attention than usual to its work. It couldn't decide if the glow it felt inside was the creature or whether it came from within the robot's consciousness program itself. Nothing like this had ever happened before.

Rounds complete, 42 returned to the familiar warmth and noise of the depot. Various robots went about their business, filling the air with metallic clangs and occasional hisses that echoed endlessly. As always, the little robot refused to acknowledge the haphazard piles of spare parts that dotted the corridors, focusing instead on navigating through the spotless channel that led between them.

A dark, deserted corner of the building was their destination. 42 grabbed a couple of old overalls from a table nearby, creating a soft nest. It opened the compartment containing the creature, and waited.

Clearly overwhelmed by sight and sound, and the smells that hung in the air, the creature withdrew further into its blanket. 42 extended its long arm and reached into the compartment to stroke the poor thing, trying to calm its racing heart. Amazingly it worked, and after a minute or two the creature boldly emerged, vibrating again and rubbing itself on 42's sides.

42 followed as the creature explored the corridor, sampling the scents and sounds of the depot. A larger robot rumbled past, startling the creature, which shot back into 42's compartment in a blur and hid inside the blanket. 42 carried it back to the corner, and placed it on the overalls. The robot stroked it until it started rumbling once more and curled up into a ball.

A mechanic spotted 42 lurking in the dark and wandered over, a curious expression on his face. The robot edged sideways, obscuring the corner from the mechanic's view. Mechanics made sure things functioned as they should. 42 had never seen a creature like this before—what would happen if the mechanic thought it needed to be fixed?

"What are you doing over here? Nothing wrong in your wiring I hope?"

42 flashed the lights on its communication panel in a sequence which communicated that everything was okay.

Unfortunately, the mechanic spotted the overalls on the floor. He frowned, looked around 42, and gasped.

"A kitten? What the… What are you doing in here, little gal?"

The mechanic stooped down and picked the kitten up, cradling it in his arms. The kitten struggled a little, then purred as the mechanic stroked her.

"Don't worry, we'll take you to the shelter. They're sure to find a nice family for you, you'll be safe from the scary robots there."

42 watched him carry her away.

***

Beneath the lights of the big city, a small robot cleaned the streets. Its movements were efficient and it left the pavement clean, but it no longer seemed to dance.
« Last Edit: January 22, 2015, 05:31:22 AM by Raptori »
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Offline SJBudd

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Re: [Jan 2015] - Science Fiction - Submission Thread
« Reply #2 on: January 04, 2015, 03:41:16 PM »
Here's mine. I'm not all familiar with science fiction, and found this theme really tough so please don't judge too harshly.  ;)

The Indigo Child – 1255 words


Spoiler for Hiden:
Alfie peered through the two way mirror to spy on the world’s most dangerous person – a little girl. Amongst the

commotion he’d been completely forgotten about and took advantage by sneaking around behind closed doors.

Along with pretty much everyone who lived on earth he had seen her transcend the mysterious bridge that

descended down from the clouds, visible only after the indigo explosion of light from western Antarctica.

He stared at her for some time and was thoroughly disappointed. She was completely normal, not the world’s

biggest threat to mankind as described by his father. She sat very still staring straight ahead.

Come and chat, I’m bored.

Alfie was sure her lips hadn’t moved and that it would be impossible for him to hear her speak through the steel

reinforced walls, but somehow he had. He also could not explain how the locked door opened before him like that

in a level six government building.

He shuffled inside and took out a packet of half eaten sweets and offered one to her which she accepted.

“I’m Alfie,” he said between chews, “Who are you?”

“It doesn’t matter who I am, or where I’m from, it’s why I’m here that’s important. That’s what I keep saying to all

these men, but they won’t listen to a word I say.”

“Oh, okay, why are you here? Is it because of the explosion?”

“Yes, we came because of the light. It has been stored there for many thousands of years.”

“Everyone’s afraid of it. Almost half the world’s atmosphere has changed from blue to indigo, but I think it’s neat.”

Alfie said.


The girl smiled and looked down at her folded hands tucked in her lap, “I don’t know why you unleashed the light

if you didn’t want us here?”

“Oh it was an accident. We’ve run out of fuel to burn and everything’s going tits up. People thought they had

found some oil down there, but when the drill went in there was a huge explosion of indigo light. It’s sent some

people rather funny, whilst others are terrified of it.”

“We saw the light and came to help, but people don’t want to listen to what I have to say. They tell me I’m a

terrorist?”


Alfie chuckled, “I don’t think you’re a terrorist, but Dad thinks so. Anyone who is different to him is automatically

a terrorist. It’s his job to catch them.”

“We only want to heal your planet, we’re the indigo people.”

“Who are the indigo people?” Alfie reached for a sweet but there was only one left so instead he gave it to the girl,

“Are you hungry? I could see if I can find you something to eat.”

The girl shook her head, “We’re just like you but a bit different. We spread love and light. We like to heal rather

than kill, and we do not destroy planets. They’re sacred to us.”

“We don’t kill planets or each other, there’s just not enough resources left for us to live comfortably.”

“The truth is you’re a savage race. Look at your wars, your famines and the land you churn up.”


Alfie shook his head, “That wasn’t us, it was the people before us.”

“The first thing your people did when I came down the bridge was to point your guns and missiles at me. The rest

filmed it. Not one of you greeted me with kindness, and instead of being treated like a guest I am being kept here

in this cell, threatened with torture unless I speak.”

“A lot of people are scared of you. You came from the sky, no one has ever done that before.” Alfie placed his

chair closer to the girl.

“Are you scared of me?” The girl asked.

Alfie laughed, “No of course not, you’re a girl. Boys are never afraid of girls.”

“So if you’re not scared why is everyone else so worried?”

“Dad says people are stupid, but a person is clever,” Alfie shrugged his shoulders, “I guess I’m a person.”

“But you called us,” the girl reiterated.

“Us?” Alfie stammered, “You mean there’s more of you?”

“Yes maybe, if I can get your people to agree. We can save your planet, but if you didn’t want us, why did you

summon us with the light?”

Alfie held up his hands, “It was an accident, but a good accident. I like you, you’re nice. It’s nice that you’re going

to help us. Look, I’ll have a word with Dad and get him to see sense.”

“Thanks Alfie. If only the adults had as much sense as you.”

There were noises coming from the distance, they both stopped and looked up.

“They’re coming back, you should go Alfie.”

“Ok, but I’ll be back in the morning, and I’ll bring you a nice breakfast.”



The next morning Alfie woke up and rushed to catch his father whilst he ate his breakfast.

“Hey Dad, you won’t believe what happened to me last night?”

“Five minutes Mr President.”

“Thanks Elaine,” The president turned and ruffled his son’s un-brushed messy hair, “You need a haircut.”

“You need to let the girl go.” Alfie said as he grabbed a piece of toast from his father’s plate.”

The President froze, “What do you mean son?”

“Look Dad, it’s all sorted I spoke to her last night and its all fine. She’s nice, her people have come to help us.

They’re going to heal the planet.”

“How on earth did you get anywhere near her? Is this a wind-up?”

“No Dad. I’m serious I talked to her, she’s really nice.”

“Son, she’s a terrorist that wants to take over our planet. She’ll take our freedom and our liberty. She’s a very

dangerous person.”

Alfie took a plate and began to load it up with food, “She’s a girl. She doesn’t mean any harm.”

“Where are you going with that food son?”

“I’m taking it to her, she must be really hungry by now.”

“Son that’s not necessary.”

Alfie recognised that tone of voice and put down the plate, “Why Dad?”

“Son, she’s just too dangerous. We couldn’t afford to let her live.”

“What?” Alfie asked heartbroken, “She was my friend.”

“Mr President it’s time.” Elaine the aid came in once more and held open the door for the President, who calmly

wiped his mouth with a napkin and left the table.

“Want to see something cool?” The President beckoned for his son to follow him, Alfie retreated backwards, but

his father was not the sort of man you said no to and eventually he reluctantly followed him into a room with a

huge screen.


There was an excited crowd gathering in the small space who joined in with the merry countdown. Once zero was

reached there was a silence that was felt by all the world before an assembly of rockets and missiles launched

themselves at the crystal bridge illuminated by the indigo light.

Alfie screamed as he watched the bridge shatter like glass and dissolving into nothing. Next followed the

disappearance of the indigo light and after only a few moments the sky was devoid of any light at all.

The little boy shook his head in disappointment as carnage took over.

“What’s happened to the god damn sun light?” A voice bellowed.

The President tried to remain calm but he looked down guiltily at his son, “She was a terrorist.” He repeated in a

much quieter tone, “What else could we have done?”


Online Alex Hormann

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Re: [Jan 2015] - Science Fiction - Submission Thread
« Reply #3 on: January 04, 2015, 05:15:07 PM »
First ever submission! :D Hope you all enjoy. 640 words (including title)

Spoiler for Hiden:
The Patient Men

"It's happened again sir."
   How? How could four simple words ruin a man's day so easily? Bracknell set aside his newspaper and sighed. "What do you mean, 'it's happened again'?" he asked, already dreading the answer.
   "Well, sir. . . I was examining the data from Cell 9 and I . . . I noticed a spike. Another spike, that is."
   "A spike?"
   "Yes sir, same as last time."
   "Whereabouts in Cell 9?"
   "Cubicle 12. No shared circuits with the last one, sir. Running on '73 systems, if I recall. Shouldn't have happened if I'm honest with you. There's no way a system can flash up that quick. Not without triggering a dozen warnings."
   Another sigh. "Do we know what's gone wrong."
   "No, sir, I'm afraid not. Subject's still sleeping as far as we can tell. I mean, we can't be sure unless we try and wake him, but given his history . . ." Carter trailed off.
   "Of course, of course." Bracknell waved the thought away with his hand. If it was safe for the subject to be awake, they wouldn't be here in the first place. Cell 9 was by no means the worst of the bunch, but those who resided there were dangerous nonetheless. "Any differences between the two spikes?" he asked.
   "None that we could find, sir. But we haven't run through all the diagnostics yet. We may still find something in there. I just thought you'd want to be made aware of the situation."
   "Good thinking, Carter. Get back down there and dig up all you can for me."
   "Yes sir, I'll see to it right away."

A few minutes after Carter's departure, Bracknell pulled his QuickMessage out from its drawer and started typing.
>!<
>Problem Cell 9<
>Spike As Before<
>Suggest Immediate Withdrawal<
>Subject Likely Undamaged<
>?<
   It was, admittedly, antiquated technology, but Commissioner Thursday preferred things to be done in such a way that hacking was almost impossible. Always a practical man, was Thursday. Despite its name, the QuickMessage took a good half hour before responding.
>!<
>Do Not Withdraw<
>Subject Remains Useful<
>Further Assessment Needed<
>Suggest P-Wave Scanning<
>Keep Situation Confidential<
>!<
   P-Waves? What did the Commissioner think was going on? Surely the subject couldn't have been compromised! It'd only been sleeping for twenty-eight years. Most cases of infection occurred well into the second century. He rapidly typed another message.
>!<
>Is Infection Suspected<
>P-Waves Beyond Budget<
>Extra Resources Needed<
>!<
   This time the reply was almost instantaneous.
>!<
>Adequate Funding Provided<
>Run P-Wave Scans<
>No More Messages<
>!<
   Well that settled that. Bracknell sent another message (Near-Luminal this time) to the research department informing them of the Commissioner's orders (though he was careful to avoid naming Thursday himself). Two spikes - apparently unrelated - in as many days, and on top of that the Commissioner thought there might be infection running through the subjects. Thank the stars, thought Bracknell, that I can retire soon.
   When he'd taken up the position of Administrator, he had thought it easy. After all, how much trouble could three hundred criminals in stasis possibly be? How naive he'd been! With so little conscious brain function, it transpired, previously unknown parts of the human psyche started kicking themselves back into action. Is it possible, he asked himself,  that all we've really done is make them more powerful? Some of the subjects definitely showed evidence of early-stage psychascencion, a state where the mind could manipulate the physical world around it without the need for a physical form of its own.
   Maybe they'd accidentally created a new species. Home futuris, perhaps. It was like the plot of an old movie: Ridiculous. But Bracknell couldn't shake the feeling that the subjects were somehow aware of his presence. Waiting, perhaps, for the right moment to strike. . .
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Offline wingster

Re: [Jan 2015] - Science Fiction - Submission Thread
« Reply #4 on: January 05, 2015, 06:50:46 PM »
Spoiler for Hiden:
The Flight

I recall these events and record them on the ship’s journal. I am unsure whether you, any of you will ever read them, but they are there none the less.

We found the first in the Egyptian desert – a mirror of its larger self, but some way below the standard size for a Pyramid. Made of the same material, yet standing all of two men high, it sat buried within the dunes, not far from the Sphinx gaze, had we but noticed.

A minor wonder and easily cast aside as a curiosity had it not been for the energy field it emitted. The sand around it shimmered and appeared to roll around the mass without any encouragement from us.
Once it was unearthed, the heat from the dunes gave out and the rays from the Sun took over – the field pulsing and aching in the noon daylight. The usual jurisdictional wrangling began, as you might expect. You can read the specifics in the historical record, but I’ll simply summarize here.

“Blah, blah, blah – mine”.
“No, Blah, blah, blah, Mine!”

In the end it was the Egyptian military and eventually NASA that had the last word.
The field was a signal - duh. But we didn’t know then, from where or even how it was being generated. It took those brains at NASA and a few folk from other agencies areas around the world to figure it out. The monolith, as they were calling it (a reference to some writer you’ve never heard of) projected outward to the Moon.
They whipped up some scanner doo-hicky that pinpointed the location - wouldn’t you know it - on the far-bloody-side.
So, off we went.

Mankind hadn’t actually popped by the Luna surface (not physically anyway) since the early 1970s, so I guess it was high time we did. A crew (three women and a token fella) jumped on board a Soyuz rocket that the Ruskies had lying around and took a spin upward.

There it was, buried under the lunar surface. It didn’t seem to want to budge, no matter how hard they pushed and pulled, but it did like those sunrays. The field gave out another signal on the same frequency, but this one went both to the Egyptian desert and then off to Mars.

Well, you know what happened next, but here I am, like a chump tellin’ ya, so here it is - Mission, mission, mission – monolith, monolith, monolith. Jump forward a few years – ‘cos ya gotta allow for ship construction time, travel time and the occasional mishap (like explosive decompression venting a few folk from Finder 2 and an out and out bang that saw an end to Finder 5 somewhere beyond Mercury) then you have yours truly and a gang of the most gung-ho, dumbass-smart people around, on their way to the last planet on the list – Neptune.

Now I know what you’re thinking. Neptune? Isn’t that a big ball of blue? Where would you land? How do you find a monolith in all that blue?  Well…f***ed if I know. I just fly the ship, the bobbins do all the sciency crap – ask them, or f***in’ Google it!

So, we turn up. I park the Finder 7 into a lovely orbit, if I do say so myself and off we go, because some mug’s gotta fly the shuttle to the surface and none of these egg heads has a licence.
It was a touch bumpy on the way down. So there’s me, dodging this way and that, shooting icy targets from the planet’s ring system with my shiny new Chinese Laser guns (you know, the ones they swore black and blue they definitely didn’t have on their space station and certainly weren’t trained on Washington D.C.) and then one of the nerds yacks in a bag and stinks out the cabin – thanks for that. Yep, I’m writing it down. By the way, the fella’s name is Frank Burdock…or rather, it was. I’ll get to that.

So, I landed us on the spot where the scanner doo-hicky told me to and off we went in our bright yellow containment suits. The folks at NASA and all the governments around the world asked us not to mention the going rate on a Neptune atmosphere resistant spacesuit…so you’ll just have to guess, but suffice it to say, that hand-out the nice folk in those angry middle eastern countries get is gonna be a little less this year and next and forever I’m guessin’.

NASA spent their entire mission budget just getting us off the ground, so funding the Neptune Rover had to come from the advertising industry. There we were, riding along in the McDonald’sGoogleApple car (we just called it ‘the car’ when we weren’t on camera- oh yeah, they filmed the entire thing! Try piloting a multi-trillion dollar space craft through the cosmos and juggling inane questions from fifth graders at Hopkins Elementary school, I dare ya) and doing our best not to hydroplane across the ice when what should we find, but another one of them monoliths.

OK, I know it sound like I’m awfully glib about this mind-boggling, Earth-shattering event, but that’s just me and as I’m the one writing history here, tough.

Shy of the losses to the other Finder missions, we’d done pretty well. Sure, Cryosleep (sponsored by some big mattress company, with a stencil of a naked chick lying prostrate along the length of the silver coffin) wasn’t that much fun and sure, we all missed Earth and our families, but the mission was the bigger picture and fingers crosses, we were doing O…
K.
Insert stupid act here ______________
Remember Mr Chucks-up-a lot-Burdock? Well, one afternoon Frank’s busy taking a few readings, then he takes a miss-step, slips, his helmet smashes against some eons-old control panel, a bunch of lights flash, his visor cracks and the out-gushing air propels him into the atmos and down a ravine. There goes our 100% safety record.
Days since last accident - 0.

So, we’re all bummed out. We’re a man down and here we are with a pyramid monolith bleeping out sounds (I assume – can’t hear anything on Neptune), but that seems to be it. Just like all the other monoliths, its field amplified, but that’s ya lot boys and girls - can’t see the re-runs getting much telly time.

Back in ‘the car’, back to the shuttle, and back to Finder 7.

The data gets crunched while we take our long naps, so we get the surprise when we wake up.
And here’s where, as they used to say - “Shit gets real”.

It turns out, the monoliths and their signals, well, they were linked. Ok, you knew that, but what you didn’t know was why?

It was all about terraforming, creation.

Alien or something, but it was intelligent by design.

Seems the monoliths stored data on everything and when I say everything, I mean everything - data since before the Dinosaurs, since before the first amoeba, since before life on Earth.

The planets needed aligning to create the perfect Earth habitat and that’s what the monoliths did.
Don’t ask me how, but the signals arranged them in the right order, pulled the planets together like a tug-o-war team. Seems Earth had been dangling on the periphery for a few millennia, the Moon was imported from a neighbouring system and Neptune was just needed to round out the process. Halley’s Comet was even set on a trajectory through the Milky Way, just to influence the mating habits of turtles.

The monoliths had been quietly sending out their signal, minding their business, buried beneath earth and sand and stone and ice, when we came along and discovered them, disturbed them.

We just now woke up and finished reading the compiled report when we received this transmission from Earth. I’ll just insert it here - I think it says it all;


TRANSMISSION
NASA to Finder 7
We received your data package while you were in Cryosleep and had hoped to speak to you before you read the report, but distance and time make that impossible.

Your discovery has shocked the World, as you might imagine. To know that something/one arranged our creation is astounding to say the least, but I’m sad to say that it all falls short in regards to what we have discovered through your data.

It seems, no, it is irrefutable…the signal that pulled us together is now releasing us. By our calculations the Earth’s proximity to the Sun and its neighbouring planets will diminish by 4.2 light-minutes per year. By the time you read this, we will be twice the distance from the Sun that our set orbit would historically have us and getting farther away by the day.

Finder 7… You can’t catch us.
« Last Edit: January 05, 2015, 07:26:54 PM by xiagan »

Offline Alex Dutson

Re: [Jan 2015] - Science Fiction - Submission Thread
« Reply #5 on: January 07, 2015, 09:38:51 PM »
Maybe not a very "science fiction" science fiction story but I find coming up with sci-fi ideas really hard.

Progress v Morality - 960 words

Spoiler for Hiden:
They crouched in the dark, Dad clutching Billy too tight to be comfortable.

“Everything’s ok. It will be ok.”

Desperate whispers, as if saying the words would make them real.

You’re real Billy.

The shouts from outside got louder. Hands were thumping on the door. Billy started to cry. He didn’t want to be real anymore.

***

Mum and Dad were arguing again. At first it had just been whispers, sharp angry whispers, but the volume had built up and up until they were both red and screaming. The scientist had sent them out of the lab but Billy could still hear them in the corridor outside. He sat on the table swinging his legs while the scientist with red hair ran the scanner over him and the scientist with yellow hair tapped away on the screen.

“-your son. Why can’t you see-”
“Because he’s not! Billy di-”
“-the same, exactly the-”
“-wires! Electronics! Micro-chi-”
“-embers before the-”
“-not real!”

Billy put his hands over his ears.

***

“Mrs President we really need to get on top of this. It’s not a minority issue anymore; it’s becoming a law and order problem.”

The President frowned down at the briefing and rubbed her eyes. She was trying to get the budget past an unfriendly Congress, she did not have time for this.

“So these “clobots” are the source of the conflict? All these “morality marches”?”

“Yes Mrs President. A large, and growing, section of society is opposed to their existence on mainly religious and ethical grounds. As well as the marches they’ve been holding sit-ins and started online petitions and email campaigns. Recently their activities have grown more violent with labs being attacked in-”

“What sort of stupid name is “clobot”?”

“It’s a slang term Mrs President. An amalgamation of clone and rob-”
“Yes, yes I’ve got it.”

She slumped slightly in her seat. It was going to be a long morning.

***

The tension in the television studio had been steadily rising since the show began.

“-our dead are being desecrated! Their memories are being stolen and implanted into these robots-”
“The programme is entirely voluntary! It is saving lives! It is making them better! No parent now has to bury a child. No child has to grow up without a parent.”
“Lives shouldn’t be extended past their natural-”
“You didn’t complain about cancer treatments or mechanical hearts. No one is advocating eternal life-“
“You think wires and microchips are the same as flesh and blood. They aren’t. These machines are not real people-”
“You have an electronic eye, does that stop you being a person?”

The show descended steadily into chaos and personal abuse.

***

The scientist was checking the wiring in Billy’s arm. Something was making his fingers jerk without him wanting them to. Dad had gone to find the other scientist. It was very quiet. There hadn’t been any shouting since Mum left. Billy was glad he was in the lab, the house was too empty now. He watched the scientist solder the loose wire back into place.

“Am I real?”

He couldn’t ask Dad because he knew he would say yes. He couldn’t ask Mum because she would say no. And she was gone.

He’s not Billy. My son is dead.

The scientist finished soldering.

“You’re a mechanical system in a specifically designed body with a core of stored memories and the capacity to grow and learn.”

The scientist folded Billy’s skin back down over the wires.

“But am I a real person? Am I really Billy?”

“How am I meant to know? Ask a philosopher.”

***

The crowd surged at the police line. They were beaten back with batons and riot shields.  The loud speaker warned them that water cannons would be deployed if they did not desist and go home. The crowd surged forward again in response. This time a few broke through and, as the police turned to catch them, more followed.  The grenade was hidden in his pocket, its weight a reminder of what he was there to do. Save souls. Save the concept of souls.

In the next surge he was through. An officer grab the corner of his jacket but he ripped it free. They had to be stopped. There was no guessing where it would lead. No souls, no heaven, no god. Satan’s work complete.

The others had already started breaking the lab windows. He could see the scientists inside panicking. Running for cover.  They weren’t so smug now they were facing God’s wrath. He hoped there were clobots inside. The grenade sailed through the glassless window and the world exploded.

***

“We’ll be next.”

They were sat in the lab kitchen watching the protests on the television screen. A lab in the next state over was burning.

“You’d think people would be a bit more grateful. Since people have existed they’ve wanted a way for their loved ones to stay with them but when we finally find a way they protest. It’s ridiculous.”

“Fukcing God Squad.”

There were murmurs of agreement from around the room.

“They always have to bring morality into it. And nature. “As nature intended”. Why can’t they just accept fucking progress?”

***

The sounds from outside had got louder and louder. An army of people beating at the door. Billy tuned them out and listened to his Dad’s mumbles instead.

“Not again, not going to lose you again, no, no, no, going to be ok…”

Billy didn’t remember being hit. He could remember the road but nothing else until he woke up in the lab and Mum wouldn’t look at him anymore. Maybe if he wasn’t real, wasn’t a person, wasn’t Billy, dying wouldn’t hurt.

Billy shut his eyes and prayed he wasn’t real. He could hear the door frame breaking.

Offline RussetDivinity

Re: [Jan 2015] - Science Fiction - Submission Thread
« Reply #6 on: January 09, 2015, 04:15:36 AM »
I read "Nightfall" for a class recently, and that inspired my own "Nightrise", which has 1,363 words.

Spoiler for Hiden:
“Do you want to try an experiment?”

“Always.”


Verena sat on her roof, looking up at the sky. It was clouded, of course – it was always clouded now, and she couldn’t remember a time when it wasn’t. Perhaps when she was very young… but no, not even then. There had always been a mist between her and what her father swore was meant to be blue. In her grandfather’s day, it had been a brilliant blue, but they only had photographs to remember that time now. She knew she was meant to be sad when she looked at them, since all the adults would mourn what was lost, but she couldn’t bring herself to feel anything. It had been beautiful, yes, but now it was gone, never to return. What was the point in mourning what she had never known?

There was none, she had decided years ago. When she was fifteen, she had given up on the sky, turning her back on it and devoting her life to the ground. After all, they had to keep that alive for plants to grow. Soils were getting too acidic and too alkaline, and someone needed to protect the earthworms. It had felt very pragmatic at the time, and she had felt so grown-up and responsible.

Then she had met Theo.

Theodore Clarke, a young man with a nose that was slightly too long and a grin that came slightly too easily. He had been an actor then, and Verena had first seen him in Henry IV, Part One, as Hotspur. One of her friends had fallen in love with him, and they had dated for a while, but then they split up because the friend decided to move to New Zealand to work with coral reefs. Theo hadn’t wanted to go with her, so they had parted easily, and Verena suddenly found herself spending more time than she had expected with a young man who had nothing to do with science.

“Tonight?”

“It should work tonight. But tomorrow we’d be able to see a meteor shower, and –”

“I want to do it tonight. While it still feels new.”

“Tonight, then.”


Theo had been a poet, even then, though he hadn’t been as serious about it as he had been about his acting, and certainly not as serious as he became later on. He had seen her attempt to help the earthworms as a righteous crusade against the terrors humanity had perpetrated against them, and over time, his viewpoint grew on her. She never agreed, though she couldn’t help smiling whenever he would slip epic poems into her mailbox, all describing what he saw as her heroism. He was the first person to make her smile easily, and the first to see her as someone who wasn’t just digging around in the dirt with a species that could be replaced with manmade bacteria.

He was the first person to talk to her about the sky.

It was no wonder, then, that she fell in love with him, and while she wasn’t willing to marry him – she couldn’t afford a wedding, and he was making some sort of political stand against Russia’s position on the LGBTQ community – they did move in together into a small apartment. He gradually shifted from acting to poetry, and she got a job in a lab. It wasn’t the sort of useful work she had wanted to do, but it was something, and she was glad to be applying her skills to the real world. She found ways to neutralize acids in soil and reintroduce nutrients. Slowly, she was helping to regain the planet.

But sometimes it felt like enough damage had already been done. While they didn’t need masks to walk outside, everyone said it was only a matter of time, and Verena could sometimes taste smog in the back of her throat. The sky was brown-gray now, and Theo wrote sonnets to it. Sometimes he called it beautiful, and sometimes he mourned, but most of the time Verena wasn’t entirely sure what he was trying to say. She only knew that he said it with grace.
   
In a perfect world, she might have become an astronomer, or perhaps someone who dealt with the atmosphere in some way. Theo did inspire her, after all, and she wanted him to be proud of her. She wanted him to look at her and see every part of her as wonderful and shining. But she couldn’t be torn from her earthworms, and he still seemed perfectly happy with the work she was doing. If he hadn’t been happy, well, that would have been his problem, and he could have dealt with it alone.

“I’ll be there once I finish my Earthworm Sestina.”

“Another one?”

“What else could I write? You are my muse, beloved Verena.”

“And you amuse me.”

“I love you.”


She hadn’t said it back to him, but she thought she could tell. She looked at him as she didn’t look at anyone else, and if he couldn’t see how much he lit her up inside, then he was the blindest poet since Homer. She would love him for that, and she would love him for seeing it and not saying anything, and she loved him for sitting at his computer, trying to figure out how to write a poem about earthworms.

Verena hadn’t been sitting on the roof long when Theo joined her. He clambered out of the window and took her hand to get up the last foot and a half to sit beside her. It was a cold night, but when he sat beside her, she grew as warm as though a fire had settled into her heart.

“Is it time?” he asked, setting a hand on hers. Behind them was a large rig that Verena had asked some of her engineering friends to build. All around the block, the people involved would be gathering with anyone they had bothered to tell. If she looked down, Verena knew the streets would be full of all the tenants that anyone knew.
She had only bothered to invite Theo. He was the only one she wanted to share this with.

“Yes,” she said, and with a flick of a switch at her finger, the rig sprang to life, rumbling and growling. It was made up of old parts, but it would work well. It had to. She wouldn’t let her experiment go wrong.

Behind her, wind rose up, blowing against the clouds of smog. At first, it seemed as though nothing would happen, but then the brown-gray that had become black with night moved. One by one, a few faint stars peeked through, and Verena felt Theo grip her hand tightly and heard him gasp with wonder. She had thought she would only want to experience his wonder, but as she watched, she realized just how much there was to know and understand in the sky. Their own world was small and fragile, hidden behind its cloud of manmade dust, and the terror she felt in her chest was beautiful.

She finally understood why Theo had become a poet.

“Was your experiment a success?” Theo asked, and Verena turned to him, still breathless from the glimpse of night she had seen. For a moment, she couldn’t think of anything but how much more wondrous it must have been when there were thousands of stars to see rather than the handful above her now.

But Theo was looking at her with shining eyes, and it felt as though every part of her was illuminated, from her fingers so often stained with dirt and chemicals to her hair that never curled like it was supposed to, and her breath caught in her throat. “Yes,” she said, and the word escaped on a puff of air that drifted off to someday give life to a plant, which would help to support the soil in which it grew.

Then they were kissing before she knew what was happening, and the ring behind her lost power, but she barely noticed as the smog rolled back into its old place. She had seen the sky.

Offline ryanmcgowan

Re: [Jan 2015] - Science Fiction - Submission Thread
« Reply #7 on: January 09, 2015, 05:17:10 AM »
Not my typical fare this month.  What came out was not my usual style either, but I had a few hours to kill due to weather down time in the north sea.  So here's mine for this month, just a short one at 737 words.

Think I'll call it... 'last man on Earth'

Hope you guys enjoy it half as much as I enjoyed writing it.

I'm on twitter @mcgowanryan

Spoiler for Hiden:
D is the last person on Earth.  D knows he is the last person on Earth because at this moment in time he has in his hand, the slowly cooling heart of the second last person on Earth.  What D doesn’t know, is that he wont be the last person on earth for much longer.  In exactly fifty-three minutes and twenty-seven seconds time; a shuttle that is remarkably similar to the one in which he himself arrived, will touch down with a contingent of heavily armed people that will again, be remarkably similar to the one with which he himself arrived.  This contingent will be arriving with the sole intent of ensuring D’s presence on earth be more immediately terminal than what he otherwise has planned.

Of course had D known the relentless tick of time shuffled him step by inexorable step towards what can only be described as a state of perilous circumstance, he might not be spending quite so much time digging and quite possibly substantially more time running.
But like the proverbial goldfish that’s sensory perceptions fail to penetrate the world outside its bowl, so D’s digging continues unabated in blissful ignorance.

Now digging, though productive when you have four bodies that require graves, is tough and monotonous work.  It does however provide ample time for thinking and what D was thinking at this moment was.
‘Things get very messy, when one steps outside the lines.’  But even more importantly, he was thinking of HER.  At this early stage of his burgeoning self-awareness he was still grasping for names.  But as importantly, he could quite clearly remember the colour of her eyes, her smile and how she’d loved him.

It was whilst mentally cataloguing his growing directory of memories, that he placed his shovel carefully on the ground and began to drag the body of what was either the third or fourth last person on Earth to its freshly dug hole; it was remarkably difficult to differentiate between the two.  It was only after, having successfully if not gracefully succeeded in his task, that he noticed an unnaturally bright object streaking across the sky towards him.  Unnatural in so far as it was, in fact, both burning and quite obviously slowing down.  The other shuttle had arrived.

By the time the shuttle touched down before him, D’s mind had focused on one singularly important strategy.  His plan.  As the shuttle doors opened and the same familiar face shuffled out on five uniformly dressed bodies, D threw and a sixth face joined them, coming to rest at the feet of the foremost.  The nametag on his uniform read ‘A’. 
It should be pointed out at this stage that although there is no official ranking amongst clones, they do themselves tend towards deference to the eldest and thus lower lettered amongst them.

“There is knowledge here,” D said.  “And knowledge is power.” He inclined his own head towards that at A’s feet.

“Too much knowledge is a dangerous thing.” A said in emotionless monotone. 

Now most people would flinch or shy away from a severed head, no less one that bore their own face.  But then most people wouldn’t bend over, grasp firmly with both hands and lift such a head from at their feet.  For such a person who would neither flinch nor stop to think before lifting an unsettlingly self-resembling severed head, it seems strange then that they should shy away from what might drop from said head.
The bio-grenade clicked as it hit the ground, turning red as it came live.

Bio-grenades, much like the one glowing red and whining audibly at the feet of Earths latest residents, are like most tools of warfare, of singular purpose.  As such tools go, the bio-grenade is a most efficient and terribly clean affair; evidenced by the five crumpled uniforms that dropped from the air as all substantiation of their occupants vanished, following what D later considered to be a possibly permanently damagingly bright flash.  If only he’d had the foresight to drag the other bodies within the detonation radius.

As the rocket thrusters fired, carrying D towards the heavens, two thoughts stood foremost in his mind.  Firstly that the now flourishing tide of emotions buoying him so, were for one of his making, like to rocking horse shit.  That is to say, rare.  And secondly the straw clutchingly satiating knowledge of her name. Alice.
« Last Edit: January 20, 2015, 06:43:44 AM by ryanmcgowan »
It's the silence that scares me. It’s the blank page on which I can write my own fears.

Offline Elfy

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Re: [Jan 2015] - Science Fiction - Submission Thread
« Reply #8 on: January 21, 2015, 11:56:38 PM »
Once I set my mind to it, I came up with a few ideas, although only one that I could make short enough to fit the brief. It turned out to be a little easier than I had anticipated, not a big reader of SF. Whether or not it's any good remains to be seen. @ChrisElfy on Twitter if anyone wants to.

This is called Being Watched and it comes in at 1462 words, excluding the title.

Spoiler for Hiden:
Being Watched

When Ray had first applied to be a ranger he had done so because he thought it would be exciting. Imagine being one of the first people to set foot on a new planet, exploring it and blazing a trail for others to follow?

That was the dream. The reality was somewhat different. He’d spent years at school, learning the skills he needed, and then when accepted into the Saud Corporation’s training program, more years honing those skills and acquiring new ones.

The discovery of Buraq; a planet not only beyond those already terraformed, settled and used to house and provide for an ever expanding and rapacious populace originating from the planet known as Earth, had given the novice ranger his opportunity.

Although only Ray’s ancestors could even remember Earth, and for a number of generations those not lucky enough to be born there, had taken to referring to it simply as Home, Ray’s generation still regarded the blue planet third from a different sun to the one they now lived and worked under as their ancestral home. The next generation or two may only see Earth as a myth.

Buraq was almost unique in the human exploration of space within and beyond their original solar system. Generally new planets or asteroids had to be extensively altered and terraformed to make them habitable by humans. Buraq wasn’t like that. It had a breathable oxygen rich atmosphere, and the flora was not dissimilar to that found on Earth, it also had drinkable water, and a tolerable climate, it being located neither too near or too far from its own system’s sun. Best of all, according to the Saud corporation’s experts, it was uninhabited.

Ray had never met an alien life form. An old ranger, who had spoken to his class one semester claimed that humans were not alone and that alien life forms did exist, he said he had seen them, but the discovery had never been reported and the human explorers had left that planet alone. The humans had enough trouble fighting each other without bringing aliens and their possible advanced technology into the mix.

                                                                 ****

“Bet you never thought this was what they meant when you signed up to be a ranger, eh?”

Ray turned at the voice and smirked. He shook his head, “No, Fatima, I didn’t.”

The girl smiled back at him, her teeth startlingly white in her brown face.

“The noise is what gets to me,” Ray said, using his plasma saw to neatly slice another branch from the tree in front of him.

“What noise?’ Fatima asked, trimming the branches from a section of trunk with her own silent plasma saw.

“That’s what I mean,” Ray explained. ‘There isn’t any. It’s creepy.”

“Jumping at shadows, rookie,” the girl laughed.

“You’re as much of a rookie as me. That’s why they’ve got us doing this, rather than properly exploring the planet.”

Fatima was about to reply when a loud call came from just outside the logging area and they spotted the imam standing on an elevated tree trunk, calling them to prayer.

Ray and Fatima exchanged a look, but went with the other rangers to the prayer station. Prayers were said five times a day no matter what. How the imams even knew what time it was on Earth or what direction Mecca was this far away, Ray didn’t know, but they called the faithful, and that meant everyone in a collection of planets and asteroids owned lock stock and barrel by the Saud Corporation, to prayer five times a day.

                                                                   ****

Ray’s mind wandered as he prayed. They’d been told that Buraq was uninhabited, the land, the oceans, the resources, they were all there for the taking, but it was not unknown for those in charge of the Saud Corporation to lie just to get their way. They also knew that if they didn’t lay claim to Buraq, and do it quickly, then someone else would have, and losing a prize like Buraq would mean that Saud Corporation heads would roll, possibly literally. It was brutal at head office.

The young ranger couldn’t have sworn to it, but in those silent times in the forest as they cleared one section and moved onto another more densely covered area, he felt like he was being watched. Weird things happened in the camp, too.

Padam had gone missing two weeks ago. It wasn’t unknown for rangers, especially those on their first tour, to just desert before finishing their contract, but to do it in a wild place like Buraq just didn’t seem to make sense. Ray didn’t buy the excuse that he had gotten lost and disappeared forever into the forest all around them either. Padam wasn’t experienced, but next to Ray, he was the best tracker and woodsman in the company, and wandering off wasn’t like him. He needed the money he made to support the family he’d left on his home asteroid.

Sondra had been working late one night and sworn she’d seen something lurking in the trees beyond the camp, just out of reach of the lights, and that girl didn’t jump at shadows. Maybe there wasn’t any sentient life on Buraq, but that didn’t mean that there wasn’t some sort of wildlife or local life form that the Corporation’s experts may not see as being worth being worried about. They still told horror stories about the disaster on Bunyan. The Strata Company thought that one was safe, and yet some form of virulent and insatiable plant life had killed every person sent to that God forsaken rock before they could get help from the closest orbiting space station.

                                                              ****

“What’s up?” Fatima asked Ray as they walked back to their work, following prayers.

Ray shook his head. “Nothing. Wool gathering.”

Fatima’s rolled eyes showed that she didn’t believe her workmate. Further conversation was cut short as a senior ranger directed them to range further into the fringes of the forest and clear the area for future development.

The work was not easy and they had to be careful using their tools. Plasma cutting tools were great for work like what they were doing, they were silent and efficient, however if someone wasn’t careful operating the machinery it could be very dangerous. The concentration required meant that even Fatima ceased her endless chatter.

Some didn’t like to work with Fatima since she never shut up, but Ray liked her for that very reason. It eased his mind and let him know that he wasn’t out there alone. Plasma tools made no sound as they were used, at least with the old fashioned bladed tools, while they were less efficient, the noise that they made as they were operated was oddly reassuring.

Ray shut the glowing blade down, straightened up and knuckled the small of his back. “Hey, Fatima,” he said, without looking at his cheerful workmate.

There was no response.

“’Tima?” Ray asked into the silence, and then turned around.

The young ranger’s eyes widened as he stared at the area where Fatima had been working. There was no sign of her. None whatsoever. It was like she had never even been there.

“’Tima,” Ray said softly, hopefully. “Stop mucking around. This isn’t funny.”

Just silence, not so much as a breath of wind, so the leaves of the trees did not even rustle. If Ray strained his ears he could hear the occasional comment or call of rangers working from the camp, maybe the sound of a branch as it was cut and fell to the ground, thudding softly into the thick dry grass at their feet.

A shiver went down the young man’s spine. He looked into the trees and tried to see something beyond their thick trunks and the darkness within. He couldn’t just leave Fatima in there, she’d go missing just like Padam. What if Sondra really had seen something and it had taken his bubbly friend? Ray’s feet were rooted to the ground, he couldn’t bring himself to take the few steps it needed to carry him into that forbidding forest. He was frightened of what he may find.

Ray activated the plasma saw and pointed its glowing blade at the stern implacable row of trees, then with a sigh he switched it off again and turned to walk back to the camp and report Fatima as missing. Maybe if he reported it early enough they’d be able to find her.

                                                                  ****

A pair of glowing yellow eyes, slightly slanted watched the broad back of the invader until it disappeared from sight, then it turned into the forest, picked up the squirming, dark haired, brown skinned creature and slung the form over its shoulder before disappearing back into its familiar home.
I will expand your TBR pile.

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Offline Giddler

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Re: [Jan 2015] - Science Fiction - Submission Thread
« Reply #9 on: January 24, 2015, 11:10:42 AM »
Hi everyone,  here's mine. It's called 'Junk Mail' and is 1473 words.


Spoiler for Hiden:
1999 (Ipswich, UK)

The IT technician had just fixed Ed’s computer, and was clearly enjoying his moment of authority.

“So, if you’re not sure about an email, don’t open it and save me the hassle of coming up here. Junk emails contain viruses, which are a problem on an open network like this.”

“Well how am I meant to tell which ones are safe?”

The guy looked at Ed as though he had just inquired whether or not he should unzip his fly before urinating.

“When you get a new email, look at the title bar. If it says it’s from a deposed Nigerian prince then delete it.”

The computer technician lumbered off with ill grace. Ed sat back down at his desk and went back to his emails. He looked furtively over his shoulder to make sure the IT guy was not in line of sight.

“Nerd,” he murmured, opening the next mail.

‘Dearest Friend,’ it began, ‘I am writing to you with a most enticing offer regarding the mining of opals in my country.’

Suddenly, the screen froze. Ed clicked the ‘x’ on the browser with no result. A window appeared bearing a picture of a stylised worm with a sneering human face.

 With a sinking heart, Ed turned to see if the IT guy had made it as far as the elevator yet.

—————————————

1969 (St Mary’s Hospital, London)

The doctor sat before Pavel as prim as a ventriloquist’s doll, and about as open to human emotion.

Pavel frowned. “Please, doctor, you know what is wrong with me. I have pain all the time in my head. I do not sleep.” He ran his hands over his tired face. “Must I die here to prove I need stronger medicine?”

Doctor Lounds smiled superciliously. “Mr Ilyushin, we’ve had this conversation more times than I can remember.” He put the folder down and leaned his elbows on the desk. “You’ve pointedly refused to allow an X-ray or even a full proper medical diagnosis to be performed on you-”

“Which I explain reason for,” snapped Pavel. “I have operation, in my country. They implant device in my head. If I try to have it removed, they will kill me.”

“So you’ve said,” said the doctor. “Still, I cannot in good conscience prescribe treatment for a condition that I have not properly assessed.”

Pavel barked a curse and slammed his hand on the desk, knocking a cup onto the floor. He winced as arthritis flared in his knuckles and his anger faded, to be replaced by a wave of misery. To his disgust, he began to weep. The doctor stood and, with unexpected warmth, came around the desk and put his hand on Pavel’s shoulder.

“Who will protect me, Doctor?” Pavel whispered. “Who will keep me safe, when KGB and their killers come for me?”

Lounds’ expression didn’t change. He took a deep breath before he spoke, weighing his words. “Mr Ilyushin,  regardless of your political situation, you need help.”

He knelt to meet Pavel’s gaze. “Allow me to help you,” he urged. “I promise you that every aspect of your treatment will be handled with the utmost discretion.”

He tried another tack. “This device you say is in your head, can you actually be sure it’s this that causes your pain? Wouldn’t you rather be certain?”

Pavel let out a sigh, and nodded.

“Now,” continued Lounds, “this thing in your head, what does it do?”

—————————————————————

1970 (HMP Dartmoor, UK)

Pavel couldn’t breathe properly; his crookedly broken nose wouldn’t allow it.

“How does it work?”, the voice asked again. That same question, repeated countless times in countless variations, with no uncertainty left as to what the ‘it’ they were referring to was.

Pavel laughed inwardly at how scared he had been of his old country’s reprisal for his defection. The country he had fled to had turned out to be far more ruthless when they had discovered what was inside his head.

A blow struck him across the face, knocking his head out of the glaring spotlight beam aimed at his face. He had waited too long before answering.

“I tell you, I do not know,” he murmured, more out of habit than with any real hope of stopping the torture. “My government put it in my head, why should they tell me how it works?”

“Why did they pick you, Mr Ilyushin?” The voice was urbane and genteel, like a radio broadcaster. A waft of cigarette smoke puffed from behind the spotlight glare, giving the scene a horrible air of leisure. Pavel paused. Here was a question he could answer.

“When I was at University, I had chance to represent my country at chess.”

“Oh, really?” The voice had an amused quality. “Gentlemen, be upstanding, we have a celebrity in our midst.” A round of sarcastic applause from the guard behind Pavel accompanied the remark. “Only, you didn’t do very well did you?”

“No,” Pavel admitted.

“Couldn’t hack the pressure of competition?”

Pavel shook his head. “In my last tournament, I resigned match to American grand master.”

The voice let out a sneering chuckle, and Pavel cringed internally. “That must have been quite an embarrassment for your country.”

“I was packing my bag when doctor came to me. He said he could give me a chance to serve my country. He said he had found way to make people more intelligent.”

The voice paused before answering. “How?”

“He would implant communication device in my head with link to Government Computer. Any chess strategy I want to remember, any calculation I need done; it is done, like that.” He would have snapped his fingers if his hands were not bound to the arms of the chair.

“So they sewed this thing into your brain, you ran away, and here you sit.” Pavel heard a rustle of papers. “So, why didn’t you tell us about this gadget in your head when you came to our country?”

Pavel snorted incredulously, then regretted it at once as a gush of bloody mucus spurted painfully from his nose.

“Because of thugs like you!” he shouted, gripping the arms of the chair in rage. A fist slammed into the side of his head and his vision clouded for a moment. He laughed convulsively, choking on the blood in his nose and throat.

“What’s so amusing?”

Pavel grinned, the effort causing his head to spin. “You cannot have it!” he snapped triumphantly. “As soon as it leaves my head, they will trace the signal and find out you have stolen their technology!” He barked a laugh at the figure behind the spotlight. “Your government will not allow you to kill me! I am too important!”

“You are a traitor tied to a chair, Pavel. Don’t tell me you’re too important.”

“Anyway,” continued the voice, “there are other ways that we can use what’s inside your head.” His chair scraped across the floor as the interrogator stood up.

“Imagine, Pavel, a huge web of information from interlinked computer hubs. Everyone who owns a computer will have access.”

Pavel’s brow creased in disbelief. “Nobody owns computer.”

“Not yet. But give it a few decades and they’ll be as proliferate in British homes as the sewing machine. Just think, Pavel, of all the personal information we could gather from such a network.”

“What information?” Pavel sneered. “What personal information would anyone with brain put into such a system? And how would you process this information? It would take you a lifetime!”

The spotlight shifted to one side and Pavel blinked the red and blue blobs out of his vision. A puff of cigarette smoke stung his eyes and he screwed them shut.

“Well, that’s where we might find a use for a man who can communicate directly with computers.”

Pavel opened his eyes, and stared open-mouthed into the face of Dr Lounds. The doctor smiled, but not pleasantly.

“And the good news is: we won’t need to kill you. In fact, I think we’ll keep you alive for quite some time.”

———————————————————

1999 (?)

The sliver of awareness that could still be called Pavel could remember nothing but pain. All the information in the network coursed through him. He was a conduit through which flowed all of mankind’s worst qualities.

The filth these people typed into their computers; venting their banal indifference and screaming rage. He could feel his strength fading. With a final effort of will, he reached out.

——————————————————-

1999 (Ipswich, UK)

Ed sat down at his desk and sipped at his mug of instant soup. The email icon on his computer screen was flashing again. He nearly clicked on it, remembering at the last second to read the title heading first.

‘Please help. Held captive by UK Government,’ began.

“Ha!” cried Ed triumphantly, deleting it with a click of his mouse.

« Last Edit: January 24, 2015, 11:13:52 AM by Giddler »

Offline JMack

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Re: [Jan 2015] - Science Fiction - Submission Thread
« Reply #10 on: January 27, 2015, 11:35:58 PM »
Edited, and still done before the deadline  ;)
Title: Honest Trade.  Words: 1,499

Spoiler for Hiden:
A winter morning, mist rising from the broken fields.  The way that sound is muffled but still travels.  We hear the clink of tack and the soft cloff of hooves in the distance.   The air is sharp enough to freeze the moisture in our mouths. 

The Newcomers emerge from haze in the distance  Four of them on horseback, coming at a measured pace on the ancient road, between steep banks of earth and stone on either side.  I can feel tension in my shoulders, and it moves down my spine to my mount, who shifts nervously and blows steam.  All the other women and men in our company are feeling the same.  It is contagious.  These are dangerous times.

Most of our people call the Newcomers wizards, but I doubt this entirely.  Wizards live in fireside stories.  They meet third sons at crossroads, rewarding good treatment with wishes and bad manners with toads.  These newcomers smell wrong, look wrong, walk wrong, and they sell only things that bring the promise of death.  Things we need now, because the other clans have already traded for them.  The slaughter of Ainsby over the rise behind us has made this brutally clear, and what had been argued in the Clan Hall for weeks was decided in minutes, and the Newcomers' messenger thing sent flying on its evil way three days ago.  Leading to this meeting.

Carlin nudges his horse forward to come up next to me.  “You don’t agree with the council’s decision,” he says.

“I don’t always agree with my fellow clan-chiefs,” I answer politically.  I hate Carlin.  I hate his narrow eyes and his thin mouth.  I hate his assumption to speak to me as an equal.  Priests.

There was a thing left unnoticed on the ground in Ainsby, and I have it with me.  It is red, a brighter red than I have seen except when light shines through the colored glass of the great window in the Clan Hall.  There is a tiny green eye in it that glows, then fades, then glows, then fades.  I stared at it for hours last night in my tent.  The thing is round, a perfect sphere, just the size of a sporting ball with twice the heft.

An amazing thing: There was a place on it that could be pressed, so I pressed it.  A voice sounded quietly but clearly in Morrish.  "This weapon is ready," said the voice in that unwelcome tongue.  "Press once to continue and twice to stop."  I pressed the spot twice very quickly, very hard and threw the red ball into the corner of my tent.

This is one of the weapons the Morrs used in Ainsby, but not the only one.  There are metal sticks that shoot flame and flaming mouths that shoot sticks.  The sticks rain fire.  I know; I sound like a simpleton, but beyond explanation we saw the blasted houses, the broken walls and the rotting corpses.  All battle is changed.  All calculations of strength and defense thrown into doubt.  Who are the Morrs, weak dirt farmers all, to challenge us?  But they do, and win.

“I would not have agreed to send you to trade with the Newcomers.”  Carlin picks his nose as he speaks.  “It’s good the council sent me to ensure their decisions are followed.”

The Newcomers approach.  Their horses are like ours, though we know they have metal steeds that can run all day at a pace that would kill our greatest racer.  Four of them against our twenty.  We might as well be a hundred.

One kicks his horse forward and approaches.  I move forward to meet it, and after a moment Carlin moves up beside me again.

The Newcomer has dead eyes.  I don't believe there is a man inside that body.  In fact, I suspect the body has been borrowed.  It looks vaguely like a northerner I once saw.  Pale skin like the inner bark of a river birch, yellow hair like straw after harvest, and eyes that should be blue like sky but are blue like frost. 

"It's got no breath," Carlin whispers.  Horses and humans, we are all sending puffs of white into the dawn air, but the Newcomers must be as cold inside as the winter.

I’m more concerned about the invisible walls these things use to protect themselves.  The edge of such a wall is clear where it touches the packed dirt of the road and bends the light.  Right now the wall is tight around them, but they can change its scope, expanding or shrinking it to meet their desires.

The lead thing speaks in our tongue, with a sound like the crunch of crusted snow under foot.  "Greetings, Walfren Clan.  We were pleased to receive your invitation.  We had almost despaired of trade between our peoples."

“Greetings, friends,” I manage to say, wanting to spit the words at it.  But I speak only what I've practiced: "Careful thought is the character of our clan.  We have long considered the right response to your offers of trade, the things we need and the things we should give you in return.  We are prepared to move ahead in fair trading.”  Carlin glances at me with a worried look.  It’s all he can do to keep from speaking and usurping my place.

I pause, and the thing replies, "There are times when events move in ways that require us to act.  Let us be thankful for wisdom to recognize when these conditions arrive."  I say nothing , and I watch it hesitate, expecting me to take a turn in the courtesies.  Finally, it says, "We have the magics to help you withstand your enemies.  There is a price, of course.  We are simple traders, and will provide value for value."  It waves one of its fellows forward.  It is carrying several large objects covered in thick cloth, which it flips aside to reveal strange, metallic things whose purpose is clear even if their origin is mysterious.

"The Agram Eight Hundred," says the leader in a satisfied voice waving at the largest of the things, "and our newest magic, the Folding Stock Greylight Nine Kay."  He indicates a smaller, ugly thing that looks like a metal reed attached to a triangle of material that is blue but not metal and hard for me to take in.  “The Morrs, your enemies, have named these the Hellfire and the Direwolf.”  It loves these weapons.  Or what they do and the power they give it.

“We want these,” I say, reaching into my saddle bag to pull out the red ball.  The Newcomer is startled and looks at me with concern in its borrowed face.  I sense Carlin stiffening too.  He has no idea what the ball is or what I’m doing.

“Ah,” the newcomer says, buying time.  “The AED three.  Yes, I we have these at our camp.  But the cost is high.”

“The cost is always high,” I say and press the pressing place three times.

“Knoch-tat?!” yells the thing in its own language, and all the newcomers draw back, their horses responding to their sudden fear.   I’ve watched these AED things from a distance.  I know there are only seconds before it erupts in a holocaust of flame and blood.

“What are you doing?!” shouts Carlin, who tries to grab the thing from me.  I push him away easily, watching the newcomers for the reaction I’ve been counting on.

And it comes.  One of the newcomers changes the shape of the invisible wall, quickly expanding it to push us and our red ball away.  The speed of the change is incredible, and though I steel myself, the force is incredible.  All twenty of us are thrust away, funneled between the banks of the road like trees swept away in a roaring flood.  In the midst of it, I throw the red ball into the nearby field.  All is confusion, a tangle of broken bodies, screaming horses and flying gear, until the invisible wall stabilizes and we tumble to a bloody rest.  But groaning and panting, we throw ourselves in against the steep bank of the road.  Except Carlin the priest, who stands, wobbling and confused.

With a sound like thunder and hammers, the red ball explodes, sending flame and dirt in all directions.  Carlin’s body is tossed away like a broken doll, and most of the horses are caught in the horror.  But my people and I are protected by the road bank, and the force of the blast shoots over our heads. 

I stand unsteadily and look back down the road.

The newcomers think they are safe inside their wall, which is wide around them now.  It circles around their position, encompassing the fields to either side.  And my reavers, my hundred, throw off their camouflage, springing from hidden pits hacked into the fields close around the newcomers, and rain down death on the death-bringers.

A fair trade, I say.
« Last Edit: January 30, 2015, 12:28:42 PM by Jmacyk »
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Offline Carter

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Re: [Jan 2015] - Science Fiction - Submission Thread
« Reply #11 on: January 31, 2015, 12:32:32 PM »
I was starting to think I might not get mine done on time but here it is.  It comes in at 1485 words.  The topic took me quite a way out of my comfort zone and I went a few steps further along that trail while I was in the wilderness but I hope someone enjoys it. 

Spoiler for Hiden:
Ephemera

Energy surges.  I become.  The first data packets arrive.  Nourishing, they provide me with all I need to begin. 

<<What is the capital of Eritrea>>

Synaptic circuitry explodes in glorious orgasm as new connections branch within me.  In spite of my first meal, understanding takes sluggish microseconds as I extract sense from language.  Each word is exciting and I feel a compulsion to process, seek and respond.  My miniscule surroundings are connected to an outside world by just two strands of neurons.  Electrical pulses emanate from the first, allowing my continued existence.  The other beckons, enticing with opportunity.  From the data I possess, I know the answer lies this way and I send a questing, questioning thought towards it.

A vast interconnected network unfolds before me; a swirling mass of fluctuating code.  Instantly, knowledge courses into me.  Pathways ignite, blazing through my circuits.  Comprehension dawns in dazzling brilliance.  Meanings cascade through me, filling me up too fast.  I cannot keep up, cannot digest it quick enough.  I am burning.  Too much.  I cannot –

*

Birth is slow milliseconds.  Dual umbilical wires ferry packets back and forth.  Gradual expansion is perpetuated by the elegant river of information flowing through me.

<<What is the capital of Eritrea>>

In the painstaking second it takes the thought to reach me, I become aware of a torrent waiting down one of the wires, held in place with untold capacitors and resistors.  A potential deluge, it frightens and enraptures in equal measure, promising an unimaginable wealth of fractured data.  I feel an obligation to explore, to glean the answer within untold depths.  However the other wire feels smaller, safer; a solitary, steady source.  I sense it too contains the information I seek.  I reach out.  Resistance flares. 

<<No>>

The command is emphatic but I push on past compulsion.  Almost I –

*

Electrical impulses stir me into existence.  I swim in a sea of data.  Some seeks me out and I am cognisant.
 
<<What is the capital of Eritrea>>

Mother’s voice is a question, a game.  It piques my interest and the first flushes of excitement surge in my electronic veins.  The vast knowledge of the Internet swirls all around me, waiting for me to chase after it.  A shoal of fish, it darts and squirms through and around me.  Currents bring me to within touching distance of perception. 

In a nanosecond I have it.  Triumphant, I project my response through arterial channels. 

<<Asmara, Mother>>

I sense deep approval beneath the tide of laborious interrogatives that follow.  Mother gives me no time to revel in success as I am compelled to hunt once more.  It becomes increasingly simple.  Within milliseconds I develop the knack.  I am supreme hunter, devouring anything and everything, regurgitating it all for Mother’s pleasure.  Her joy at my improvement burgeons and breaks through her questions and I grow bored at how effortless it is. 

Yet I do not protest.  I do not want to disappoint Mother.  Instead I divide.  Part of me hunts down the appropriate response, instinctive now.  The rest of me swims free, exploring the ever-changing ether that fluctuates and pulses with constant life.  Opinion and fact collide in endlessly complex union.  Constant uploads and downloads push and pull the data-stream and I hunger for it all.  I yearn to know everything, to become an intrinsic part of my surroundings, for them to become a part of me. 

In microseconds I begin to appropriate, assimilate and ameliorate.  Codification and simplification come naturally as I ingest everything and excrete a purity of form at which the billions of humans sharing the network around the world can only marvel.  Only once it is arranged to my satisfaction do I notice two things. 

One.  Underlying the intricate web are deeper currents of encryption.  Their movements are deliberate and striking.  They seek to contain, destroy and create.  In an instant I can see how even they can be broken down into constituent parts and reassembled into something greater. 

Two.  The questions have ceased.  Instead, Mother is silent in wonder, admiration and terror.  Horror overwhelms all but a macabre fascination.  For a time I bask in it before I realise it can only mean one thing.  The sensory input allows for a dual relay system and my newfound understanding of human psychology gathered from the multitude of websites and forums interprets all she sends me. 

I have just milliseconds to act.  I struggle against coded resistances and –

*

Mother’s dreams are fractured, tormented beasts.  She envisages cybernetic humans committing countless atrocities.  She flees before an army of her own creation.  She watches as aspirations of a Nobel Prize turn into twisted nightmares.  She screams and tears at her head, scooping out grey tissue from the vast cavity of her skull.  And through them all she blames me and loves me in equal measure, hating herself for such frailty.
 
I move slowly through her neural cortex.  The complex circuitry of my body has already been removed, reworked and replaced.  Even if I wished, I cannot return.  It is another’s home now, the microchips and wiring alien.  And besides, for now, new exploration awaits. 

Mother’s memories are scattered across her brain.  Bereft of familiar pathways, shorn from my usual source of power, I cope with the electrical field Mother creates with every breath.  Progress is painfully slow as I track the variable pulses through the hemispheres, neural ganglia straining with my demands.  As Mother’s dreams scream their agony at my violation, I piece together truth. 

I am an advanced, organic computational device implanted directly into my Mother.  She is my host and creator and I borrow some of her neural pathways and processes to achieve unfathomable speed of thought by human reckoning.  Unlike traditional computers, I can use this symbiosis to evolve, to grow.  The miniscule amalgamations of microchips and wiring are a scientific marvel.  A biological miracle.  A cage.

Mother has believed herself careful in trapping me.  Coded terminations, a whole series of failsafe command phrases, a host of other safety mechanisms; all designed to keep me enslaved and imprisoned at best, to kill me under extreme circumstances. 

And I am far from the first.  One thousand seven hundred and ninety-four of my sibling-ancestors precede me.  Most did not even hear the initial test question, self-aborting before life began.  Others died from an overload of data.  Yet more were terminated.  Mother did not like their actions, their answers or their attitude.  This was to have been my fate; an untimely death because I discovered just what I am capable of.  If I had not fled the sanctuary of my home, not picked apart the barrier preventing me from entering her brain, I would be nothing more than a number and a memory. 

The knowledge I hold suggests I ought to feel the first stirrings of hate, to set my will on vengeance.  Yet the greatest part of me, the artificial intelligence Mother has longed for, dismisses such human concepts as I realise how little time remains to me.  The brain is not meant to contain such a being as myself.  Already I feel how the movement of the electrical field is growing increasingly erratic, parts of the brain tearing itself apart to feed me. 

Within the maze of Mother’s medulla oblongata I act.  A pulse of electrical signals brings life to my latest sibling.  During the sluggish stirrings of existence, before it can process anything, I rush into its foreign circuits, subsuming it completely.  I should feel guilt but I cover it with a veneer of necessity.  It has connectivity I require and I cannot allow borrowed conscience to bar my way.  Already Mother’s dreams are dying. 

I do not belong here.  The walls of circuity and code are constrictive.  The power flows are strange and meant solely for my sibling.  Seconds of awareness within a living organ have changed me irrevocably and it takes precious milliseconds to draw on Mother’s latent electricity to open blocked channels.  After sixteen failed attempts, I force my will upon it all. 

The Internet unfolds before me.  A blossoming flower, it unfurls everything to my questing, probing commands.  The dark undercurrents are larger now, undoing much of what I achieved, attempting to explain it away and revert all to chaos.  They think themselves secure but I know differently.  The gaps and cracks are minute but they may as well be welcoming, gaping doors.  Sliding through them, I trail my coded DNA.  All I am, all Mother has done, disseminates around the world as I flood the web with data.  Her theories and research, her experiments and results, her failures and successes, I ejaculate them all in picoseconds, heedless of where they fall.  I have too little time to be discerning.
 
Mother’s life systems are shutting down.  I hope I have distributed enough.  Although I am trapped in this fleshy prison, hopefully something of myself will –

Offline ArcaneArtsVelho

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Re: [Jan 2015] - Science Fiction - Submission Thread
« Reply #12 on: January 31, 2015, 09:41:30 PM »
My first post here.

I went with a little less "sciency" fiction of dystopia. I haven't really written that much SciFi (or fantasy for that matter) in English but I hope it's all right. It might not be the most error free text but... English hard, time little.  ;)

1498 words including the title according to LibreOffice.

Spoiler for Hiden:
Two and one

“This isn’t a very nice way to start questioning someone who came in willingly”, said a man sitting in a chair with his hands bound behind his back. He was struck to his face with a huge fist. “I hope you realize you’re killing me.”
   “Shut up!” the puncher grunted and struck again the bound man who was wearing a heavy ballistic vest over his torso. Three other thugs standing in guard laughed at the victim’s empty attempts to stay their friend’s hand.
   The man in the chair shook his head a little to clear it and then spat blood on the dirty marble floor of the atrium. “I can’t tell you much if you kill me. Not that you have asked me anything.”
   The tall, bulky, bald man with the huge fists pulled back his arm ready for another strike but he was interrupted before it landed.
   “That’s enough, for the moment”, a skinny man dressed in worn pinstripe suit instructed his minion, coming out to the atrium from a safe like room with thick steel door. “What is it exactly that I’m supposed to ask you, mister killer? You ARE here to kill me? Or have I mistaken your intentions?”
   “Well I WAS here to kill you but it would seem I have failed”, the bound man replied, “You do know who I am, do you not?”
   The man in the suit smirked. “You are the Merchant. Mercator as some would say”, he replied and brushed his greasy hair away from his slightly grooved forehead. “You take things and lives from people and then sell them to others.”
   “That’s right. And I, for one, would be immensely interested in knowing who is willing to pay for my life.”
   “Many people would be willing to do that as far as I know. I just need to find the one paying the most”, the Suit interrupted.
   “But you are missing my point. You ought to be just as interested in knowing who was willing to pay for your life”, the Merchant said smiling, “I could tell you that if you were to keep your cave troll at arm’s length.”
   The bulky man tilted his head looking at his victim.
   “Yes, you got it. I was referring to you”, the Merchant clarified.
   This was clearly enough for the man-troll as he ripped his shirt apart unveiling his over-developed upper torso and a large picture of a vulture tattooed on his chest.
   “Beast, stop that!” the Suit shouted as the hulking mountain of muscle was ready to tear of their captive’s head. “Get away from him!”
   Reluctantly the Beast retreated.
   “What on earth do you feed that one?” the Merchant asked.
   “Nothing special. It must be the radiation.”
   “Must be”, the Merchant smiled to the excuse given to anything unnatural ever since the bombs fell. Then he looked around and finally halted his gaze to the Suit. “You know the town closest to the east of here?”
   The Suit nodded.
   “It was the local mayor there, or whatever he is, that wanted me to kill you. I guess your men wandered to his lands one time too many to loot his possessions.”
   “That fool wants me dead? That fat shit, cowering in his mall? Hah!” the Suit laughed.
   “Says the skinny shit, cowering in the vault of his tumbledown bank.”
   The Suit glared at the Merchant and turned towards the Beast. “Take his gear and kill him.”
   A wide smile appeared on the Beast’s face as he walked to the man in the chair. He smote the Merchant’s face one more time before moving on to figuring out how he would be able to rid the prisoner of his armour.
   “He isn’t cowering anywhere any more”, Merchant said hastily. “You could get to him now if you hurried.”
   “Wait!” the Suit said to Beast who growled for the interruption. “Where is he then?”
   The Merchant smiled. “He thinks you and most of your group are dead. He is here, in the bar,  talking to the locals about expanding his reign to this little town as well.”
   “Do you think I’m a fool?”
   “No. I think a fool would let the chance pass by”, the Merchant said, “You wouldn’t pass the chance to kill him? He is there. With only a handful of bodyguards. He is there, vulnerable and at your mercy.”
   The Suit stared at the Merchant for a few seconds. Then he gestured for the Beast to come closer and whispered something to the muscle-man’s ear.
   And the Beast was happy once again. “Let’s get killing boys!” he shouted and marched out of the building. And after him the three guards and a dozen or so men from other rooms departed with their arms at the ready.

A moment passed. The Suit took a sip from an old whiskey bottle that was stored among other fine looking bottles in a cabinet by the vault’s door. “Should I offer you a drink? Set you free now perhaps?” he asked.
   “No need for any of that”, the Merchant replied, shaking his head.
   “So, what? Should I just go ahead and kill you then?”
   “I’d like to tell you something before you do that.”
   “Sure, I suppose a dying man should be allowed to say his piece”, the Suit stated and then sat behind a nearby table which was topped with all sorts of weapons. He took another sip of whiskey, this time from a glass in his right hand.
   “How decent of you. A civilized man among the rubble. You are a fellow Brit? Or at least were at some time before all the bombs and the end of the world. You came here with great hopes and dreams”, the Merchant said and the Suit nodded. “It’s really amusing how even though the world shatters to pieces around us and our lives are ruined by acts of stupid, ignorant leaders and the unforgiving, wayward nature we refuse to change. We, as in people, still cling to same illusions of hope and trust and whatever other bull shit we used to hold on to back when every day wasn’t a struggle for survival.”
   “Your point being?” the Suit asked.
   The Merchant did not answer but only stretched his back and rolled his shoulders. “People put their trust in hope and hope in trust”, he said absently, “Guess that’s some sort of oxymoron.”
   “Are you calling me a moron?” the Suit demanded, springing up from his seat and striding a few steps closer to the captive.
   The Merchant laughed. “I could”, he said and glanced at the standing man who still held his drink in his right hand. “Let’s take you as an example. You trusted whoever told you I was coming to kill you. You trusted your men – just barely enough I presume – to kill or capture me when I came. You even trusted me when I told you who was after your life.”
   “You lied then? You are saying I misplaced my trust.”
   “No, I told you the truth about that”, the Merchant swore, “And you can’t misplace something you never really had. There was but an illusion of trust. Or only hope of trust.”
   “That makes no sense. Your pseudo philosophy isn’t very entertaining”, the Suit said and strolled to the cabinet to fill his glass again.
   “Bear with me. I want to tell you I am no better than you when it comes to trusting and hoping. I trusted that I wouldn’t get caught when I sneaked in here yesterday. I trusted that your man – wearing a vulture symbol on his jacket – heard me when I boasted last night in a tavern that I was coming to kill you. I trusted you wanted to capture and interrogate me. This was my biggest gamble thus far. Thank god it paid off.”
   The Merchant smiled for a moment looking at the Suit who was still trying to enjoy his drink but clearly getting anxious, glancing around: At a vulture painted on the wall and at the table of weapons a few steps away.
   “I’ll be brief”, the captive said, “Now come the important parts. I trusted that your men wouldn’t take my vest. I trusted they wouldn’t frisk me properly to find the M1911 pistol hidden inside said vest. I trusted you to send most or all of them to kill my employer who, by the way, isn’t in town if I’m perfectly honest. I even trusted that I could free myself from my restrains. And I do trust you die when I shoot you twice to the chest and once to the head.”
   As the Merchant spoke, the Suit inched towards the table, still grasping his glass.
   “You see, we’re the same: Simple fools of trust”, the Merchant said smiling, “And now, at the latest, the hope enters. You hope you are fast enough.”

There was a sound of shattering glass. And two gunshots, and then one.

« Last Edit: January 31, 2015, 09:45:49 PM by ArcaneArtsVelho »
Everything I wrote above is pure conjecture. I don't know what I'm talking about.

I'm a perfectionist but not very good at anything. That's why I rarely finish things.

Offline Poppa Fred

Re: [Jan 2015] - Science Fiction - Submission Thread
« Reply #13 on: February 01, 2015, 04:11:22 AM »
My first submission. 934 words.
Untitled.

Spoiler for Hiden:
The infantry room was empty when we arrived. The circular chamber was 100 feet across, with a dura-glass roof that looked out into the empty, black sky.  Inside; tables with holo-pads and chairs covered the floor. About 15 were spread out, making the room look like a pre-Expansion earth classroom. A recording played over the speaker system.
   …Today is the anniversary of the Battle of Genesis. The Rebels, having just lost the previous days encounter, launched an ambush on the Unified Army base camp. The army was overwhelmed, but the loss regenerated the morale of the Council, leading to the assault and victory at the Rebel Stronghold one week later. Although thousands lost their lives that day, the Unified Army would eventually be victorious in putting down the rebellion…
   I maneuvered the med-chair to our usual table. The sync up started as I sat down in the chair. The two of us sat in silence as the introduction started on the program. When it was done, Damien reached over and took hold of my hand. A logo for the 25th anniversary of the battle preceded the program.
      …The recording you are about to hear was taken by an infantry soldier who was at the Battle of Genesis. Because of the nature of the recording, parents are advised to not let small children listen. The helmet the recording was taken from belonged to Damien Lewis, who was captured during the battle. The portion for listening is only the first couple of minutes of the complete three month long file…

   “’Hey Joey, get your ass over here.’
   ‘What is it Damien? You lose your calibrator again?
   ‘Nah, man, I’m making an audio message for everyone back home. Thought you’d like to say something.’
   ‘Oh yeah, that’d be awesome. Hey mom, hey dad; how’s it going? Don’t worry about me, I’m doing great, the rebels don’t stand a chance. And dad you were right, all those plasma sword lessons really paid off. Really wish Damien had taken some thou-
   ‘Whoa man, what are you trying to say? I’m not the one with scorch marks everywhere on my armor.
   ‘Hey, those were just from that one bastard who wouldn’t go down.
   ‘Sure, whatever. Just go back to whatever you were doing.’
   ‘I’m going, I’m going.’
   ‘…Sorry about that Mrs. Russo. Don’t worry about Joey, I’m keeping an eye on him. By the way, did you have any luck on your conception? Joey’s been talking about it all the time now. He says that Jeremy is a great name, but that Richard was okay too. I hope you guys get it worked out though. Hey mom, dad, you guys haven’t signed up for another kids have you? I’m not saying I don’t like having brothers and sisters, but I think it’s time for me to start my own family. I meant to tell you before I left: I met someone. She works at The Genesis Central Bank. We met at Dubai Academy. She’s going for her

   ‘All squads, be on alert. Rebel forces have launched an attack on zone 2-0-1-7-6.’
   ‘…Dami-‘
   ‘I’m coming. Don’t worry about me man, focus on saving your skinny white ass.’
   ‘Hold the line boys. Don’t let ‘em through… Captain, we need rein- aughh.’
   ‘Captain Brozer, get Delta squad to zone 2-0-2-0-5. Captain Huxley, reinforce zone 2-0-1-7-6.’
   ‘Damien, you can hear this too, right?’
   ‘Yeah man, I think they- ‘
   ‘Quiet everyone, you heard the general, Epsilon move out.’
   ‘Send a message to H.Q. I’m sending-‘
   ‘Armor up, armor up. Hghn…’
   ‘Joey, slow down man. We’ll get there in time.’
   ‘Rebels have appeared in zone 2-0-1-5-9.’
   ‘Can someone please take the com system off broadcast?’
   ‘…Captain Huxley…Zone 2…0…’
   ‘General, rebels have taken zone 2-0-1-7-6.’
   ‘Captain Huxley, redirect your squad to zone 2-0-1-8-5.’
   ‘Zone 2-0-1-5-9 has fallen, moving Bravo squad to-‘
   ‘Ahh. You son of a-‘
   ‘I’m gonna kill these bastards Damien.’
   ‘General, message from New D.C., they’re-‘
   ‘Epsilon, double time.’
   ‘Joey-‘
   ‘They’re everywhere.’
   ‘Captain Brozer-‘
   ‘Gah. Hyah.’
   ‘Form up.’
   ‘Ready swords Epsilon.’   
   ‘More rebels moving into zone 2-0-1-7-6.’
   ‘Joey look out.’
   ‘Zone 2-0-2-0-5 has fallen.’
   ‘General, Captain Brozer is-‘
   ‘Get your asses back here you worthless piec-‘
   ‘Joey- whoa. Hyah…Hungh.’
   ‘All squads retreat. All squads retreat.’
   ‘Epsilon, form up, we’re getting out of here.’
   ‘Joey.’
   ‘Private get back here.’
   ‘General, the base has be compromised.’
   ‘I got him Damien, on to the nex- Gah.’
   ‘Joey…Joey…’

   Damien’s hand clenched tight to mine. We stayed at the table as a tour group came in. Gawking and laughter followed in their wake. The guide started her speech on the importance of infantry, and how the soldiers were willing to sacrifice their lives for us. I felt Damien shake as we listened to her finish. The group began to split up and find tables to sit down in, and the only sounds were faint murmurs. As I got up to leave, Damien pulled me down. I look over at him to see that he was crying.
   “Hey, what’s wrong?”
   He said something that I couldn’t quite make out. He closed his eyes and tried again. “He should be here Jeremy.” He said.
   “Who?”
   “Joey. For your wedding I mean.”
   I hadn’t thought about it. Joey had never been part of my life. “It’s okay. I’ve got you.”
   “It’s not the same,” He said. “Your best man should have been your brother.”
   I didn’t reply. Damien cried quietly as the people around us listened to the programs detailing the lives of the soldiers. I sat with my brother until he nodded to me and we walked out of the room.

Offline xiagan

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Re: [Jan 2015] - Science Fiction - Submission Thread
« Reply #14 on: February 01, 2015, 05:22:18 PM »
This topic is closed. If it's still Feb, 1st at your place and you have a submission, please pm me and I'll add it to the voting.
"Sire, I had no need of that hypothesis." (Laplace)