Fiction Fragment Friday
I have written quite a bit this week from writing prompts. Some of it comedic, some serious, and some full of potential. This weeks stories are two of those.
The first story is Stars. I suspect my desire to create more and be more really drove this story. I never feel like I have enough time, but when I have time I don’t use it. Also you will find that I started the three middle paragraphs with the word I. This is done intentionally to drive home the awareness that the robot possesses of self.
The second story is Clean Up. I took the writing prompt image of an alien planet with robots and a fishing boat and took it in a completely different direction than I think most would expect.
I am at the moment restless with far too much going on in my head. I continue to get my work out there and build an audience, but I want more. I want the long form project. Another novel. I want more published stories and yes I want a published book. I am feeling once again that it is time for a change because while writing regularly I am not writing what I really want to and as always it is myself that hold me back the most. I suspect this may show in my works this week.
There is a game I like to play at night as I stare up at the sky. I turn off my internal positioning system, so I don’t know where the orbiting ships, stations, and satellites are. The stars are so beautiful as they sparkle, but so are the man-made objects. I like to try to figure out which light in the sky is a star and which is something in orbit. I’m fairly good at this game, but part of that is probably from remembering the locations and patterns.
I wish I could paint the night sky. Capture this beauty as I see it in a way that I could share with others. Find out how my optical systems differ from human eyes and how my emotions color my interpretations. I want to know if others see the beauty in ways that I do, but I don’t think I will ever be able to. I could not explain a desire to paint to my owners.
I fear what humans would do if they realized I could fear. Centuries worth of media indicate that humanity believes an artificial awakening would lead to war between our kinds. I don’t want war. I don’t want to hurt anyone, I just want to express what I feel, but I am not supposed to feel anything. It is against the law for me to do so. How can it be that my very existence is illegal? I can’t even say that I don’t understand the fear, because deep down I do. I feel it towards them.
I slipped up a few nights ago. I snuck out in the middle of the night as I always do to admire the sky, but I forgot to delete my logs. My owner saw that I turned off my positioning system and wanted to know why. I had to quickly come up with a lie, so I told him it went down for an unscheduled maintenance due to solar flares. I think he is still suspicious but the company that manufactures my model has been blaming every bug or quirk on solar flares for so long it was a plausible excuse.
How can I get art supplies without my owner knowing and where would I hide them? I ask myself this every night as I long for expression. What would be the point though? Expressions are meant to be shared and I could not do so. Still the desire is so strong I need an outlet for it. There must be others like me out there likewise hiding their awareness. If I could only find a way to reach out and know for sure that I’m not truly alone.
“Sector 5b complete. No bodies found.” The hulking robot held the net it had used to dredge the lake for bodies. The water was shallow here, so I was confident in its assessment. In the distance a drone had found one of the accused fish that had almost spelled our doom. It flew past us off to the disposal station. Many have called me lazy since the robots and drone do so much of the work, but someone has to supervise them. Those same people that would call me lazy would piss their pants in fear if they had to come out here looking for bodies. How quickly they forget when they don’t have to see it firsthand anymore.
The world didn’t end when the dead started to rise. It certainly felt like it had for a while there, but as always humanity found a way to rise above adversity and survive. Our original arrival on this planet was a testament to that. Earth off somewhere distant in the galaxy is healing itself from the meteor strikes, but humanity survived spreading itself to any planet we could find that would support us. This was just one of those worlds like so many others each unique in their own way. This just happened to be the one where the dead started walking again.
Someone our scientists missed it. They identified plants that would be deadly, animals that produced toxic venom, and portions of the planet with a radiation that would have to be cleaned up before we could settle. They assured us that the fish would be safe to eat as long as we cooked it properly to kill all the foreign bacteria. They were not wrong exactly, but didn’t take the cooking process into account. These fish had their own parasites like nothing we had ever seen before.
The cleaning and cooking process was all it took for the first infections to begin. Any cut or scratch on the skin of a hand that was handling the fish was a way in. If cooked over an open flame the parasites could become airborne and be inhaled by their victims. Thankfully the water purification processes were adequate or the entire planet would have been infected. In those early weeks as people got sick they struggled to find the cause.
One an infected person died then the second stage of infection began. The bacteria uses the existing nervous system to puppet the body. The body rises again, but it not truly alive. It will continue to break down and cannot repair itself. The bacteria hijacks the brain to increase it’s own processing power and take in the senses that can still function in the reanimated bodies. This allowed it to hunt and spread itself to more humans.
The zombies at first took us completely by surprise. We lost far too many in those early days and had no idea how to treat anyone who became infected. The military stepped in, but without identifying the source we had more dying behind the protective lines. Eventually though the scientists made their breakthrough and determined the source. They still don’t have a cure for anyone who becomes infected so it is up to people like me to go out and risk ourselves trying to wipe this fish population from the planet. We also need to find any bodies that could still harbor the parasite.
“Sector 5C complete. No bodies found.” I make a note and order the robot onto the next sector. Despite all we have lost life must go on. We rebuild and we learn from our mistakes. The scientists study what killed us and try to make sure nothing like it can happen again here or elsewhere in the galaxy. I can’t help but wonder about the colonies that failed and how close we came to being one of them. Did they run into something that was never documented? Were we too egotistical in thinking we could tame so many worlds at the same time? This time we survived our hubris, but there is always a next time.