Sunshine looked toward the ocean. There was a long pier that extended from the shore. She headed toward that. It turned out to be a fishing pier, made of wood that sat atop concrete pilings. It was designed to last centuries. As she walked on it, her footsteps made no sound. The structure was solid.
“Tell me about this pier,” she waved her arm at the pier, and waited for the machines to explain.
“It was the town park. People came here to fish, and to watch the ocean, the sunrise, and sunset. People even got married on the pier.”
“Did anyone ever jump off the pier?”
“No. You will be the first, if you follow through with your plan.”
“You figured that out already?”
“You know we won’t let you drown.”
“Then I suppose I’ll think of something else.”
“You need to stay alive.”
She wanted to scream. To stomp her feet. To cry. To explain to the machines they didn’t understand. That her entire world, everything she’d ever believed, had been destroyed before her eyes. That her sister, Fauna, was gone. That she felt no sunshine in her heart. All she felt was empty. Hollow. Like everything was pointless. Like nothing mattered.
“Why? Why do I need to stay alive?”
“Because. So long as the sun rises, so long as the cycle does not end, there is a chance your people will survive.”
Sunshine stood at the end of the pier, and watched the ocean waves.
This is Week 546 of #ThursThreads, hosted by Siobhan Muir. Please go read all the stories in this week’s #ThursThreads. They are always fun to read, and there are some great writers who show up every week.
The flowers had come from the sky. Their seeds fell to the ground during the snows of winter. No one knew they were there, taking root in the ground, until the spring, when strange plants broke through the ground.
Those plants were not native to the planet. Sir Hortus the 347th had asked the Artificial Intelligence what they were. The AI had never observed them on the surface of the planet before. It classified them as an invasive species.
“You must remove them from the ground.”
Sir Hortus knew his job well.
“Are they conventional plants?”
“Further clarification needed.”
“Do they reproduce like normal plants?”
“It appears they do.”
Upon learning this, Sir Hortus knew what had to be done. He ordered the Assembly Line to produce the air tight jars. He specified each jar had to be 80 centimeters tall, shaped like the bloom of a bell flower, with an extended rim that would sink 20 centimeters into the ground.
The shape didn’t really matter, but Sir Hortus found he liked the shape of bell flowers. “If I have to look at several hundred of them, I may as well make them worth looking at.”
The Assembly Line had completed his order, 3D printed all 326 air tight bell flowers, and delivered them to Sir Hortus the 347th’s garden by dawn of the next day.
Sir Hortus spent the day installing the bell flowers. One bell flower each to the invading plants. The bell flowers cut them off from pollination, and from the mechanical Bee swarm that pollinated the plants. The AI had designed the bee swarm centuries earlier, when humans had managed to kill off the bees of the planet.
Sir Hortus knew from the AI’s instructions the bell flowers should strangle the life out of the invasive plants, restoring the garden to its natural state. But, it did mean the garden would be put in quarantine until the AI had verified the garden was clean. That would not happen for at least 12 months. The AI had to inventory all the plants that broke the ground in the spring, thus verifying the invaders were no more.
He did not finish setting the bell flowers in place until after sunset. He had to admit, for a garden that was sick, and under quarantine, it looked surprisingly good. “I like the bell flowers.”
The AI had answered back, “It was a good decision. We can market the story of the plant invasion to obtain funds from the central AI to maintain the garden, and observe the invasive plants.”
Sir Hortus knew the plants would die inside the bell flowers. It was how it had to be to restore the garden to its natural state. A state all the AIs worked hard to restore, and maintain, after the destruction the humans had caused.
“If all goes well, and the garden is restored, the central AI indicates there will be a new plant recovered from DNA found in a dig not too far from here.”
Sir Hortus nodded. “That would be a gift to the garden. And it would be an honor to restore a new species to the planet.”
The AI responded, “Eventually, we will restore the plants the humans destroyed, and finish healing the biosphere. Until then, Sir Hortus the 347th, you are to continue your work in the garden. And when your time expires, the 348th will be installed.”
“How is the 348th developing?”
“The clone process was a success. It will take time for the clone to develop, but it will be ready to replace you when the time comes.”
Sir Hortus nodded. That night, he stood on the porch of his cottage, and stared at the bell flowers, as they glinted in the starlight. “I like bell flowers.”
A bunch of words
Written for Week 278 of Miranda Kate‘s Mid-Week Challenge. You can learn about Miranda’s challenge here. The stories people share for the weekly challenge are always little works of art, crafted with words, meant to be shared, and enjoyed. Please go read them.
Sunshine had lost all track of time. It was as if time no longer mattered to her. The ubiquitous machines of Cylinders, and the war with invaders from another world, had turned her life upside down, and demonstrated everything she had always believed was a lie.
She had refused to fly. She’d landed, and declared she would walk. “I will not use the machines to fly.”
That had been days ago. Maybe weeks ago.
“I will walk until I die.” That was her original thought. But, Sunshine didn’t die. She didn’t drink water. She didn’t eat food. She walked each day, endlessly, day after day, from sunrise to sunset. She slept on the ground, with no regard for safety. “Let them eat me. I no longer care.”
The machines kept her alive.
As she walked, along the shore of Cylinder’s one giant ocean, she listened to the endless waves, and wished to die. “Everything is a lie.”
Until she saw the remains of a town beside the ocean. What has once been a few houses. Maybe more.
The machines reconstructed the town as she approached it. Houses grew from the few remains. Others sprang from the ground. They weren’t houses she had ever seen. They had glass windows, running water, heating and cooling.
The machines told her, “This was a port. 30,000 of your years ago.”
“This had to look real, didn’t it.” She spoke to the air.
“With time, we will teach you why.”
This is Week 545 of #ThursThreads, hosted by Siobhan Muir. Please go read all the stories in this week’s #ThursThreads. They are always fun to read, and there are some great writers who show up every week.
Mystica stood on the shore of the lake, as if she knew what was going to happen. Perhaps the machines had told her. Perhaps Merlin had. No one really knew.
Musica, curious, stood next to her. “Are we waiting for something?”
“We are waiting for someone, then.”
“Do you know who?”
“But you aren’t telling anyone?”
Rose floated in the air from her tree house to the lake, “Musica. You must play happy music.” She looked at Mystica, “Mother is happy, can’t you see?”
Musica played her flute. A happy song. One she’d never played. All random notes, like a child, exploring the world, and being so amazed at everything, even the clouds floating in the air, or the feel of the lake water on their toes.
Scream, the dragon, circled the lake clearing from high above. He waited. Rose laughed, happily, “She’s coming home, isn’t she?”
Mystica didn’t speak.
Until a lone fairy, with fiery red hair, floated over the tree line, and to the center of the lake, and asked, “Did you miss me?”
Mystica nodded. “Yes.”
Rose flew across the lake and embraced her sister, Sunshine. “Welcome home, sister. We’ve missed you.”
Sunshine moved to the shore of the lake, and landed next to Mystica. “I’m sorry I was gone so long, Mother.”
“You had to find yourself.”
Sunshine nodded. “I searched Cylinders. All of it.” She smiled at Mystica, then looked at the water of the lake. “I found my home.”
This is Week 544 of #ThursThreads, hosted by Siobhan Muir. Please go read all the stories in this week’s #ThursThreads. They are always fun to read, and there are some great writers who show up every week.
“Thank you for volunteering,” I stared at the bottle of Aripiporazole. “They should print that on the bottle. ‘Cause you don’t have any clue how this stuff is going to work for you. And neither do they.”
I yawned, and stared at the bottle. “5 mg per pill.” I shook my head. “I can barely pick the pills up with my big damn fingers, they’re that tiny.”
It was hard to believe that little bit of anything could result in so much chaos in me, yet there I was, sleeping 12 hours or more every day. Unable to focus on anything. Wondering if I could stand up long enough to do the dishes, or if I needed to break the dishes into multiple sessions of say, 5 minutes each.
Another yawn struck. “If I sit here another minute I’ll be in naps-ville.” I got up, and walked around the house, stopping at the top of the stairs. “Can I make it down the stairs alive?” It wasn’t a question of did I have the physical strength, it was did I have the balance to get down without tripping and killing myself.
I stepped back from the stairs, and walked up and down the hallway for a bit. I sat in the gravity chair, but got back up after a minute. I wound up back at my computer, looking at that bottle of pills.
“Not taking my dose tonight. Nope. Not doing it. Ask someone else to volunteer.”
This is Week 543 of #ThursThreads, hosted by Siobhan Muir. Please go read all the stories in this week’s #ThursThreads. They are always fun to read, and there are some great writers who show up every week.
We (And I mean me) are starting the new year with side effects from the Aripiprazole. Three, in particular, and maybe a 4th.
1. Sleep. It’s all I want to do. Sleep. 24/7/365.
2. Hunger. I want to eat everything. I mean everything. A Whopper with Cheese sounds so good. So does that milkshake from Cook Out.
3. Lethargy. I can’t get out of my own way. My speed on the stationary bike has dropped almost 10 MPH in the past 2 weeks.
Maybe 4. I can’t keep my hands as still as I used to, and my attention span is at a record low.
So… The question is what to do about the side effects. Do I kack the 5 mg of Abilify? Do I cut the pills in half, and move to 2.5 mg (roughly). Do I keep taking it, and monitor myself very carefully, and see what happens over the next couple of weeks?
I’m trying to be positive here. Trying to do the best thing. I had psychiatry on December 8th. That’s when the dose level on Abilify went up. So, this is now 3 weeks and 3 days. Per my psychiatrist, it takes 4 weeks for things to stabilize, and reach full effectiveness.
Do I want to take this out another week, to hit the 31 day mark, and then see how I feel?
I plan to call the psychiatrist’s office on Tuesday to ask questions.
Reading the material for the Aripiprazole, the side effects usually fade over time. Well. Time is something I clearly have. Perhaps, in another week, things won’t be as bad, because this 63 year old anatomy of mine will begin to adjust to the medication, and what it does. Sort of like tuning a car engine, or optimizing a computer program. It takes time, and experimentation, and practice, lots of practice, and experience, to get it right.
Maybe that’s where I am right now. Tuning the engine. Optimizing the program to work better.
Just in case that’s what’s happening, I’ll stay at the 5 mg dose for now. And see how it goes, and monitor myself carefully. After all, it’s still 2 days until I can really call my doc, and ask questions.
In the meantime, can I take a nap?