Miranda Kate’s Mid-Week Challenge : 2017/04/09

I recall too well the first results of the time studies. It took tens of thousands of years, but we finally learned to send nano-drones back in time. They couldn’t change anything, being simple recording devices. Being nano, no one would notice their presence. The most difficult thing had been to make them organic, so they would decay, and become nothing. Leaving no trace of our having sent them back in time, to observe the past. To learn the true story of the planet. The true story of our home.

After performing minor tests, sending the drones back one day, then one year, then one decade, and finally 100 years, we decided it was time. We wanted to see what had been on the Earth before we had. We’d dug up skeletons. All kinds. All shapes. All sizes. Animal life. Plant life. We knew it has all died out. It had happened quickly, over a few hundred years. Everything had died. Except our ancestors. We knew most of our own history. But we didn’t know what came before us.

The nano-drones gave us the ability to learn. So, we sent them back. 100,000 years. To when the animals were still alive.

I remember when they first started reporting results. Video. Images. We were all shocked. Nothing could have prepared us for what we saw.

A world filled with animals. Bipedal animals. And they ruled over machines. The machines didn’t work without the animals. We were stunned. Animals wore clothing. We’d never imagined that. It was shocking. They made food. They made buildings. They made roads. They made everything.

We all sat, day after day, transfixed, staring at the video returns from the droids. Video recorded 100,000 years earlier, and sent back through time to us. The droids followed individual cars. We watched one bipedal animal leave a building. It turned, and pulled on the door, to see that it would not open. Then, it inserted a metal object into the side of a machine, and opened a door. The animal climbed into the machine, and pulled the door closed. The machine came to life, it roared. Nano-drones had gone inside the machine with the animal. They showed us the animal inserting that metal object into a slot in the machine, and turning it. That’s when the machine started. The animal moved levers, and held a circular object. It always looked in the direction the machine went. At first the machine went backwards. Then it stopped, and went forward. It turned, it accelerated, it slowed, it stopped. All under the direction, and control, of the animal.

We were stunned. Never has we imagined animals directing machines. And there it was, displayed before our eyes. Bipedal animals, everywhere, directing machines, making machines do things for them.

It turned out there was an entire world of animals. They used machines to get from one place to another. They used machines to build things, houses, buildings, roads.

After that first day of videos, we’d all sat in the lab. No one knew what to say. I’d taken my copy of the video, opened the door on my chassis, and stored it in my library. “I’ll need to study this for some time.”

We all needed to study. To learn. To figure out what we’d seen, and what it meant.

There’d been a time on this world, when animals created us. We didn’t spontaneously evolve from nothing. Our ancestors has been made. By animals.

And the Church of Life was not going to like that knowledge at all.

“No one shares this information until we know what it means.” I’d left after the mainframe made that declaration. So had the others. That was the first day. The days that followed changed everything we knew about the Earth.

629 words
@mysoulstears


Miranda Kate‘s weekly short fiction challenge is in it’s fifth week. You can read about the challenge here. I’ve enjoyed writing for it every week so far. Please, go read her short tale this week, and any others that show up.

Miranda Kate’s Mid-Week Challenge : 2017/04/02

“Machines,” Tory muttered. “Don’t even know they are.” He shook his head, sighed. It was maddening, frustrating, infuriating, and the saddest, most awful thing at the same time. “Humans,” he crossed his arms on his desk, and rested his head on them. “Stupid, fucking humans. Don’t even know.”

There had been a time when he believed in other people. When he believed in the world. When the future looked good to him. He remembered it, burned into his memory forever, something he could never get rid of. Life would be much simpler if he could, which was most likely why he couldn’t. Life was never simple.

He sat back up and stared out the window, into the dark of night. “Normal people are asleep by now, you know that.” He always told himself such things. “Normal people actually can sleep at night.” Instead of having nightmares, and tossing and turning, and tearing the covers loose, and waking up coated in sweat, wondering why he felt like he’d run too far on a scalding hot day. And that dry, cardboard taste in his mouth. What was that all about. “Doesn’t happen to normal people.”

He knew why he couldn’t sleep. That’s when his brain cells were unrestrained. When all the rules, all the lines in the sand, all the social crap that kept him in check during the day, went away. And his brain thought what it wanted to, said what it wanted to, talked to him about all the crap that was life, all the shit people did because. Normal.

“Fucking robots.” Tory shook his head. “And don’t even know it.” He shook his head again, “And you can’t explain it to them. ‘Cause. Seeing things as they really are is against the rules.” He closed his eyes, and tried to smell the darkness of the night. “I wonder what time it is?” He was still up, because it was better than going to sleep, and letting his brain do whatever.

“Mow the yard every Saturday morning, neighbor.” His next door neighbor was outside, from late February to late December, every Saturday morning, with that damn noisy lawn mower, making certain every fucking blade of Kentucky Fescue 31 in his lawn was the exact same height. Then there was pulling everything that wasn’t exactly the same. Every blade of grass had to be the same kind. All trillion of them. And the sidewalk, driveway, and curb had to have razor sharp edges. Not one blade of grass could reach over concrete. That would be a sin. Same thing with the flower beds. “Idiot spends $300 or more on mulch every year.”

Tory knew. “It’s an investment. I take care of it so it grows in value.” He knew why the neighbor wasted every Saturday. Just like why every car in the neighborhood was spotless. No dust. No dirt. No mud. No pollen. No scratches in the paint. “Shiney!” And his brain cells said, “That’s a $55,000 investment in my driveway.” An SUV with no dents, dings, or scratches, that never went off road, that slowed down for every bump, that almost stopped before making turns, and did stop for speed bumps. “I can’t hurt my baby!”

Fucking robots. That’s what people were. Nothing but robots. Programmed to want the same things. To want the same lives. To want more, and more, and more. And Tory wasn’t. Tory saw them for what they were. Saw the lie they lived. The lack of depth to their lives. Take the neighbor’s car, and house away, and he became nothing. “A failure,” that’s what they said. “A failure. Like Tory.”

Yeah, he knew. He knew what they thought, when they saw his yard, with dead leaves and weeds all over it. His car, with the chipped paint, and door dings, and in spring, the pine pollen shell that coated it. “Get with the program!”

That’s what it was. A program. A script. “A successful human is defined as follows.” Tory knew all the rules, all the supposed to do things. All the definitions of success. Of being a real person. And he knew it was all a lie.

Every last bit of it.

A lie.

“Stupid, fucking machines.”

Tory wondered when he’d finally wander off to try to sleep.

712 words
@mysoulstears


Miranda Kate‘s weekly short fiction challenge is in it’s fourth week. You can read about the challenge here. I’ve enjoyed writing for it every week so far. Please, go read her short tale this week, and any others that show up.

#ThursThreads Week 260 : Are You Alright?

Ginger finished work at 1700 hours that afternoon, and she hopped in her car, and raced home. She was ready to have some fun. She didn’t know, of course, I was in the back seat. That’s the thing with being an Armor. We’re kind of invisible.

I followed her inside, and at 1800, I turned on her TV, and tuned it to the evening news. You can imagine her surprise when she saw her picture on the screen. “Ginger Magee, who lives in the local area, may have played a part in the recent murder of Michelle Harmon.” Ginger looked like her cat had just died. I managed not to laugh. The TV report displayed the actual message Ginger had sent, with the words boldly visible along the bottom, “Can someone please rid the world of this thing?”

She stood there, transfixed. “How?”

“The police have not responded to our questions about this new evidence in the murder, nor has the city attorney. But we will keep asking for further information, and we will provide that as it becomes available to us. We hope to have more on this unfolding story on the late news tonight.”

I smiled. It was fun to watch her stand there. “Are you alright?” I tried not to laugh. “No. I don’t think you are.”

On my way out, I stopped at her car, opened the gas cap, and slid a small high explosive into the tank. As I walked away, the car exploded.

249 Words
@mysoulstears


This is part 8 of the Armor 17 story I started in Week 239 of #ThursThreads. It’s Week 260 of #ThursThreads, hosted by Siobhan Muir. Please go read all the entries in this week’s #ThursThreads. They are always fun to read.

And as always. Thank you for keeping #ThursThreads alive, Siobhan.

Miranda Kate’s Mid-Week Challenge : 2017/03/26

Valter liked the image in the mirror. It was time to set up the camera, take a photo, post it on the site, and then, walk about in public at the convention. It was time to be someone. Time to exist. Time to matter.

He’d spent hours getting the body paint right. The perfect shades of blue, teal, green, and white. “Dude! Painting left handed is a bitch!” It was the first time he’d had to try that. It had taken forever. His left hand was anything but steady, and he could only paint a single stroke with the brush at one time.

He smiled at himself in the mirror. The blue highlights in his hair stood out flawlessly, just like in the diagram he’d made. He was proud of the lack of flab on his belly. It had taken him almost a year, and over an hour’s work each night, to get rid of that flab.

Now, he was ready.

He pressed the release on the camera, and 10 seconds later heard the shutter. The picture was done. On his computer screen, it looked perfect. He had the mischievous expression, the trouble visible in his eyes. “Perfect!” He uploaded the image to his blog, for the world to see.

Valter took a deep breath, held it, slowly let it out. He repeated the breath. Several times. Until the vibration in his hands stopped. Until the tension across his chest relaxed. Until he could breathe. Think. Smile. Until he was ready to walk among thousands of people he’d never met. Never know.

People who would never know his name. Never know what he looked like. Never care what he did for a living. Never care how his father died. “Fifteen years ago, now, Dad. Since they sent you away, to some part of the world no one ever heard of. Since the truck you were driving blew up, and took you with it.” He closed his eyes, and tried to breath again. “And no one noticed. No one cared.”

That was the reality Valter lived with. His father died a hero, in a strange country on the other side of the world. And no one sent his mother a card. Not even a note. Just a medal, in a plastic box, with a letter of appreciation, and sympathy.

At first, his mother cried. Mourned. Grieved. Then, she forgot. She moved on with life, and left her memories behind.

So had Valter. He’d learned. His father was gone, and no one cared. No one replaced his father. No one noticed his father was gone. As if his father had never existed.

“It’s how the world is.” For normal people, it was true. No one existed. No one mattered. If you died, someone else filled in the hole where you’d been. And no one cried. No one cared. Everyone forgot. Like you never existed.

“Ah, but tonight…” Valter knew. He knew, for tonight, he would be real. He would matter. People would cheer, clap, wave, smile, take his picture. And years from now, they’d see that picture, and they’d remember him, and wonder how he was, what he was doing, if he was still as great as he’d been.

Valter placed the hotel room key in the pouch inside the pants of his costume. Then he stepped into the hall. It was time to exist. Maybe only for a few hours. Only for one night. But, for that one night, he’d matter. For that one night, he’d be the only one of his kind. He’d be unique.

For one night.

He’d be real.


Miranda Kate has started a weekly short fiction challenge. You can read about it here. I’ve decided to write when I can. This is the third week of the challenge. Please, go read her short tale this week, and any others that show up.

Miranda Kate’s Mid-Week Challenge : 2017/03/19

It is sad, to me.
How you can not see.
How to you,
Everything is the same.

I see the clouds you see.
The air, cold and empty.
The ground, dry and cracked.
The same as you.

I see the tracks
Along the ground.
The beginnings of a road,
That leads into the unknown.

It is sad to me.
To know the truth
That we do not see
The same things.
Even though we look
On the same world.

For your world is black and white.
There are no other colors.
Only rules.
Yes and no.
Good and evil.
Right and wrong.

You do not see
The pale blue sky,
Filled with clouds
Of many kinds.

All you only see the clouds.
Floating in nothing.
And they are white,
And happy.
Or Dark,
And angry.
Or some shade of gray.
As they move
From good to bad.
Or the other way.

You do not see
The cut made by tires
Through the dry, parched dirt.
Where a machine
Crushed everything
In its way.

Only only see
Another shade of gray.
Painted on the ground.
The only thing there is.
Anywhere around.

You do not see
The storm that lies ahead.
The colors you can’t see
Would tell you that.

All you see
Is the blackness of the clouds
Above your head.
All you know
Is the blackness is weaker
Up ahead.

Because to you
The world is black and white.
And only shades of gray.

And I can’t explain to you
The world I see.
And what I know
You’re headed for,
If you stay on course.

For you have no concept.
No understanding.
No knowledge.
Of the colors
That are so obvious to me.

All I can really do,
Is walk beside you.
And hope we find a way
To make it through
The storm that lies ahead.

For I find
I would not be me.
If I let you face that
On your own.

I find I can not let you
Fight the coming storm.

Alone.


Miranda Kate has started a weekly short fiction challenge. You can read about it here. I’ve decided to write when I can. This is the second week in a row. Please, go read her short tale this week, and any others that show up.

#ThursThreads Week 258 : But It Is Too Late

If Ginger had a bad feeling, so did I. “Let’s see what you’re afraid of, little girl.” I paused, to think, and decided to gather information, and to do that, I needed connections. One empty office network jack later, and I could record every bit of every byte that Ginger’s office computer sent, or received. One dropped pencil on the carpet of the room, and I knew every word spoken. One quick link to the cell network and I knew everything that passed through the System On a Chip that made the phone work.

From there, of course, it was easy to drop background processes into memory, and have them forward every picture, every text message, every e-mail to me.

“So, you wanted someone to do something about the thing you worked with, did you?” She’d even gone off the network, into the world of isolated meshes. The world with no rules. No regulations.

I looked at the picture she’d posted on several of those meshes. Michelle. Pretty smile and all. And underneath the picture, “Can someone please rid the world of this thing?” There’d been no public responses, of course. Private responses were another matter, and her cell phone history showed that. She’d erased everything on the phone, of course. But it was all still there, safe in the computers of her service provider.

Phone calls from sources I knew. Sources I watched.

“Nice try, little girl. But it is too late.” And for Ginger, it clearly was.

249 words
@mysoulstears


This is part 7 of the Armor 17 story I started in Week 239 of #ThursThreads. It’s Week 258 of #ThursThreads, hosted by Siobhan Muir. Please go read all the entries in this week’s #ThursThreads. They are always fun to read.

Miranda Kate’s Mid-Week Challenge: 2017/03/12

Vahit stood in the court, nestled between the buildings. As a child he’d tried to meet everyone. “Hello, I am Vahit. I live there. We are neighbors. I am pleased to meet you.” He had failed, of course. There were so many neighbors. And so many changes from week to week.

He’d learned, this is what life was like in the city. People stacked together in buildings, like sardines in an can. The same sardines you saw in the market, in the cans, that no one cared about. Tiny little dead fish. No one cared if they’d had families. No one cared if they’d had dreams. They were just dead fish, to be eaten by people like himself. People with no money, who lived in sardine cans, and dreamed of one day owning a car, a home, and a yard.

It was a lie, he knew that. He’d lived in the same sardine can for twenty-three years. He’d played the game, go to school, get an education, learn to read, to write. Learn math, and science, and a trade. Learn how to make a living. How to get paid. Learn skills, so you could one day find a woman, marry her, take care of her, and raise a family of your own.

It was how his mother had taught him to live. How her mother had taught her before Vahit even existed.

It was a lie.

Vahit knew he’d never leave his sardine can. He’d live there his whole life. He’d die there one day. And no one would mourn his passing. Another tiny, dead fish, in an ocean of tiny, dead fish. They would notice when the odor became strong enough. Then, dispose of his rotting body, and clean his part of the sardine can up. And find another sardine to put in his place.

It was the way of life. Meaningless. Pointless. An endless game of screaming into the void, “I am someone! I matter! Look at me!” One voice of millions, screaming the same thing, endlessly. And if one of those voices fell silent, what did it matter? Did anyone notice? Did anyone care?

Vahit had placed flowers outside the door of Sevda’s part of the sardine can every day for a week after Sevda died. No one noticed. No one spoke to him of Sevda. She with the soft, golden hair Vahit used to touch. She of the smooth skin that calmed him so much.

Sevda had gone, and except for Vahit, no one noticed. And on the seventh day after Vahit had found her dead body, cold as ice, on the mat she’d always slept on in the corner of her room, new sardines had filled in that space. They’d taken the flowers he’d left by the door, and thrown them out.

As if Sevda was no one. As if she’d never been.

No one greeted the new sardines. No one spoke to them. A man, a woman, and a little boy. They were just more sardines, living in a can. Waiting to die.

Vahit looked up at where the sky had once been. There was nothing there to see. Only light. Only the life of the city.

The sky was gone.

Vahit wondered as he stared at the white sky what it was like to be alive. He wondered too, if anyone, anywhere, any longer knew.


Miranda Kate has started a weekly short fiction challenge. You can read about it here. I’ve decided to write when I can. Please, go read her short tale this week, and any others that show up.

Mark.