300-word Writing Challenge #32 (January 2019) -- VICTORY TO VICTORIA SILVERWOLF!

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Ursa major

Bearly Believable
Staff member
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Aug 7, 2007
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20,700
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England
The inspiration image for Challenge#32 is:

Image for 300-worder number 32.jpg

Image credit: MRSQ8GEEK


THE CHALLENGE:

To write a story in 300 words or fewer
INSPIRED by the image provided above, in the genre of
Science Fiction, Fantasy, or other Speculative Fiction


THE RULES:

Only one entry per person

All stories Copyright 2019 by their respective authors,
who grant the Chronicles Network the non-exclusive right to publish them here



This thread will be closed until January the 10th 2019
As soon as the thread is unlocked, you may post your story



Entries must be posted no later than January the 31st 2019,
at 11:59 pm GMT



Voting will close February the 15th, 2019 at 11:59 pm GMT
(unless moderators choose to make an extension based on the number of stories)



You do not have to enter a story to vote -- in fact, we encourage ALL Chronicles members
to read the stories and vote for their favourites


You may cast THREE votes


NO links, commentary or extraneous material in the posts, please -- the stories must stand on their own


PLEASE REMEMBER THIS IS A FAMILY-FRIENDLY FORUM


For a further explanation of the rules see Rules for the Writing Challenges


This thread to be used for entries only:

Please keep all comments to the DISCUSSION THREAD
Please do not "Like" posts in this thread
 

scarpelius

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 19, 2018
Messages
210
Location
Bucharest
Clean bill of health

"Mr. Coggs, drop your pants!" demanded the nurse.
"I can assure you it isn't necessary, Mrs. Applebaum."
"And I can assure you I've seen them all, short and long, normal or shriveled. There is nothing there which can impress me," said Mrs. Applebaum with a rigid expression.
"But..."
"No but. The order of Ministry of Health is to inoculate every citizen in this country. Or do you prefer to be the one who spread this bloody hemorrhagic fever?"
"That can hardly be the case, Mrs. Applebaum. You see..."
"Drop them!"
Mrs. Applebaum tone was harsh and her eyebrows drew close together.
"Fine!" Mr. Coggs pants dropped on the floor as ordered, while Mrs. Applebaum eyes widened and her mouth expressed a perfect surprise.
"Oh dear, I didn't see that coming. Is it... functional?"
Coggs extended the armored tube.
"Physiological functions only. No reproductive though," he said with a shadow of regret.
Mrs. Applebaum looked at his shiny brass bottom, then at the big glass syringe with the vaccine.
"It will be pointless to inoculate a Tin Man. Are you completely made of brass Mr. Coggs?"
"Just the bottom half ma'am."
"Then we have a problem. Your buttocks are not suitable for injecting."
Mr. Coggs lifted his pants.
"For that, we have..."
He opened his collar and pulled out a silvery tube with a small cork at the end.
"...this" he said, popping out the cork.
Mrs. Applebaum sighed and conformed.
"Since you are half... human" she justified herself, injecting only half of the syringe content.
"Of course," Coggs agreed. "Can I go now?"
Mrs. Applebaum nodded.
She put the syringe in the sterilizer, opened Mr. Coggs file and stamped a big "Healthy" on top of the page.
"Now I've seen them all" she whispered.
 
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Cathbad

Level 30 Geek Master
Joined
Dec 9, 2015
Messages
8,778
Location
Everywhere.
If One Does Not Know History…

“Show me.”

I made a quick bow, then led Boss Cordell into the cavern we’d uncovered. He was tall for a dwarf, and I always felt small in his presence.

There was still a lot of dust floating from the fall of the wall. I led the Boss through it to the back wall, where our disturbing discovery had been made.

“Here it is, Boss Cordell.” I stepped aside, allowing him to examine the artifact.

“Gears… rusted badly,” he analyzed aloud. “Handles look rusted in place, too. These dials; don’t know what they’d be for.”

“You’ve seen this sort of thing before, Boss?” He nodded as a reply.

The contraption was a complicated thing, full of gears with varying sized teeth, dials and levers. It appeared tat much of the mechanisms was built into the stone behind it.

And it was very old. Ancient, even.

“What is it, Boss?”

“An abomination.” he replied sternly. “An engine of some sort.”

I couldn’t help but smile. An engine! How exciting!

“Destroy it.”

I was stunned. “Sir?” I asked; but he had turned and was returning to the opening. I hurried to catch up. “Shouldn’t we… I mean, perhaps the Alchemists?”

He turned on me so suddenly, I thought he would be violent! “I said it was an abomination!” He looked over my shoulder, back toward the mechanism. “Yeah; I’ve seen this sort of thing before. Once, this world was virtually ruled by them. Never again.”

“Destroy it!” he snapped. I sadly watched his retreating figure. I then picked up a sledge hammer and signaled for others to join me.
 

Rafellin

Independent Author & Publisher
Joined
Oct 29, 2013
Messages
475
Location
West Sussex, UK
Looking Forward

I pass the Cograck every day. Every now and then, I notice another piece has been added to that wall covered with the innards of dead machines. Lately, I’ve become curious. I spend occasional nights watching for whoever does it.
Tonight, I’ve brought a coffee fortified with lots of whisky. Not my first, either. Nardell got the supervisor’s post. He leered at me from the podium as the announcement was made. I quit before that lecher could summon me into the privacy of his new office. Now an independent spannerlass, I can go to the shipyards tomorrow. Chancey’s always complaining he can’t get his crews up to strength.
The drink’s gone cold. It’s past time to leave. Pushing off the wall, I feel a little woozy and my legs don’t work. A broad arm interrupts my fall.
“You need to add more coffee to your whisky, miss, if you’ll pardon me sayin’ so.”
I peer upwards to see a cyclops wearing a handsome moustache and a smile. I blink. No. Two eyes, one covered by a patch.
“Pardoned.”
My legs establish a wobbly equilibrium. There’s something digging into my arm. I look down to see a sizeable cog.
I point: “For the Cograck?”
“Yes. Family history says an ancestor built it. We used to add a bit for each death in the family. After the last war, grandpa decreed we change to adding a bit for each birth. Looking forward, not back.”
“This one being for?”
“My second niece.”
“Need someone to hold it steady?”
He chuckles: “You can’t even hold yourself steady.”
“Fine. Need an appreciative audience, then?”
“Only if she’ll join me for an unlaced coffee afterwards.”
“She’d like that. She thinks she needs one.”
He grins: “She’d be right.”
 

elvet

Easily amused
Supporter
Joined
Feb 21, 2006
Messages
1,316
Location
Ontario, Canada
AFGNCAAP

I stared at the huge metal construct. It stood out in the familiar landscape where I had spent so much time. Unlike the dull greys of my home, this world had colours that were vivid and clearly defined. The breeze was fresh, and scented with flowers from the meadow beyond.

The civilization that had lived here left its legacy in the villages and buildings that I had explored. I found their machines and studied them. Decoding their pictograms and glyphs, I gained entry into locked chambers to view their secrets. Piece by piece, I put together what had happened to them.

They had been abandoned. Their shipmates had left them without support, and they could not survive alone. This massive golden door guarded the last message. I was ready for the final challenge.

I inspected the intricate mechanical locks, looking for something familiar. Yes, there it was - a series of gauges. They were the key. Reaching into my backpack, I retrieved my journal. My sketch was rough, but the clue I needed was in the drawing. I adjusted the valves, carefully watching the dials. With a hiss of steam, the door started to move. Pleased with what I had accomplished, I stepped into the opening.




“Congratulations! You have finished the game.”






Back to reality, I stripped off my VR gear, and climbed out of the gaming pod. The air was stale, and the lights dim. I was shaky and disoriented from playing for too long. What time was it? Where was everybody? I stumbled down to the first floor. That’s when I found the recording:

I never see you anymore.
You are always in that bloody pod. You may as well live on your own.
I have had enough.
I am leaving you.
 

drmatteri

Member
Joined
Dec 11, 2018
Messages
12
Location
California
A House Divided
Airman Calvin watched the small monitor at his station aboard the USS Monitor. Steam whistled and the various gears, wheels, and cogs churned loudly above him. Fifty other men from across the Union worked the complex mechanisms keeping their vessel in the air. Through the lens Calvin could see enemy soldiers building barricades around the Confederate capital. They were expecting a ground attack ever since the Union broke through the No Man’s Land at Gettysburg.

The captain descended the stairs from the bridge. Calvin and the other airmen saluted, and the captain saluted in return. “This war ends today, gentlemen,” said the captain. “Open the bomb bay doors.”

Calvin reached for a wheel on the wall and turned. He heard and felt the doors open below his feet. He turned to the captain. “Doors open, sir. Permission to speak freely?”

“Granted.”

“The rebels are still supported by the English and have just as many steam tanks as we do. How is one bomb going to end this war?”

“You will see soon enough. Drop the payload.”

Calvin turned to the red button below the monitor. He hesitated for a moment, but then pressed it.

He watched the single, fat bomb plummet to the city below. A moment later, the monitor went white as if a sun had erupted. Deafening thunder filled the air and the airship rocked as if on a turbulent ocean. Once the vessel straightened itself, Calvin looked to the monitor again and felt a chill despite the heat.

“My god,” he said. “Richmond is gone!”

“Davis will have no choice but to surrender now,” said the captain. “After twenty long years, our divided house will be made whole again.”

Calvin observed the smoldering crater and wondered if their victory was worth the price.
 

Victoria Silverwolf

Vegetarian Werewolf
Joined
Dec 9, 2012
Messages
5,532
Location
Chattanooga, Tennessee, USA
The Clockmaker's Daughter

Gabriele Abruzzi was the finest horologist in Serenissima. It was a common witticism that the Almighty measured the movements of the heavens with an Abruzzi watch. The automata populating his table clocks were of cunning design. Larks and nightingales sang the hours in perfect imitation of their models.

Abruzzi's only child was Raffaella, a maiden twenty years of age. She was a great beauty, with golden skin, amber eyes, and hair as black as a raven's wing. As if in penance for creating such perfection, Nature afflicted her with muteness. Although her fingers spoke eloquently, no one ever heard her voice.

It would be tedious to dwell overlong on the sad circumstances of her brief life. Seduced and abandoned, she grew great with child. Fate denied her even the bitter comfort of whispering the name of her betrayer in her prayers. She hurled herself from a cliff overlooking the confluence of two gentle rivers. It was a place frequented by lovers.

Abruzzi retreated to his workshop for more than a year. When he emerged, he carried a tall pendulum clock. Without answering those who questioned him, he set it in the middle of the public square.

At noon the next day, with many of the inhabitants of the city gathered around the clock, it struck the hour. Wooden panels as bright as mirrors opened, revealing its secrets.

A skeleton, decorated with jewels and precious metals, stood inside. Within its hollow womb lay a much smaller, imperfectly formed skeleton. Armatures and escapements of extraordinary complexity whirred as curious idlers watched. A fleshless finger pointed at a man in the crowd, who fell dead. The clock still stands in the square, its doors always shut and its chimes forever silent. It keeps time accurately. Some set their watches by it.
 

Dan Jones

Free Omar!
Supporter
Joined
Nov 14, 2014
Messages
2,744
Location
Here, Now
The Travels of Sir Reginald Rigmarole, Part 94

So! After (barely) escaping a game of strip poker with Ballsmasher McAdams, the most violent clansman west of Mull, I convalesced in the Alpine lair of evil genius Professor Mummydaddy, who previously had been two people but had surgically conjoined themselves in solidarity with the protogynous mangrove killifish of central America. Mummydaddy’s academic career had been curtailed by allegations of unnecessary surgery performed on Old Horny, an elm tree amusingly shaped like a member, and so they had taken to conducting mad scientific experiments in the mountains, the idiots.

“Behold our latest scheme, our new fembot called Cogsminge!” sang Mummydaddy, to the tune of Edelweiss.

From behind hissing doors shrouded in steam, there emerged an enormous metal woman, with steely corners in all the right places.

“Our daughter, inherits, all our earthly possessions!” sang Mummydaddy, all four arms aloft triumphantly.

A sexy robot heiress! I punched myself in the groin to prevent obscenity and bounded over to Cogsminge’s control panel, pushing the lever to “Ultimate Sexy Mode”.

“No!” squealed Mummydaddy, clutching their heads. “It is too sexy!”

Too late. Cogsminge approached, clanking and venting seductively, and playing Africa by Toto through her groinal speakers. I got down on one knee, produced a Hula-Hoop from my lunchbox and said, “Whaddaya say, darlin’? Say yes, and all this crap can be ours!”

Then a huge, ginger-haired fist burst through Cogsminge’s face, sending rivets and garters everywhere. With a clatter the whole metal artifice crumpled to the floor, revealing the caber-chewing, bekilted haggis muncher himself, Ballsmasher McAdams!

“Nobody quets a gairm o’ strep pooker wi’ me,” he bellowed, whereby he grabbed me by the goolygangs and squeezed hard. “Not when I got me a pair of aces. It’s ball smashin’ time!”

Foiled again!
 

Karn's Return

I'm a pineapple
Joined
Oct 24, 2018
Messages
230
Location
inside the one wiggling box under the tree
Phobia's Pathway





“So…this is it?” Phase stepped up to the massive adamantine door. Runes of all sorts covered the bright metal, as well as complex locks glowing in magical blue energy. The girl guiding her swallowed and nodded.

“Please, Miss…it…is dangerous,” she said, her voice cracking in fear.

Phase ignored her as she studied the inscriptions above the handles.

“A door to the mind, to reality, to imagination, to memory. Abandon hope, all who enter, for this is the pathway to horror beyond redemption.” Phase smirked at the warning and withdrew a small gem from a pouch at her side.

“Just place this in and…open sesame!” She placed the gem within a small divot in the door and the locks powered down, undoing themselves. The runes lit up in the same blue power, charging up as the mechanism behind the door groaned. An inky darkness swirled within silently.

“Is…is that all?” The guide asked, peering closer. She moved her torch towards the darkness within.

“Only one way to find out. Youth before beauty.” Phase grinned and the girl yelped as the drow assassin pushed her into the vortex. The girl let out only one single scream before it was cut off forever.

“Now to collect my payment,” Phase stated as she closed the door back up. “And to get vengeance upon this poor child.”
 

Calliopenjo

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 1, 2016
Messages
265
Location
USA
Igor, The Time Machine

Brand new energy cells should be glowing. The full energon tank should be bubbling. The Ion rollers should be spinning. Nothing worked as it should.

I had planned for this thing to take me to 2020, the twentieth of October. First to prove that time travel can be possible with the right knowledge and apparatus. The next, to stop the assassination of the former president Georgia Rothchild. The first woman to make presidency. Maybe, if time allowed, I could prevent the death of someone I once cherished.

I needed to find out why it didn’t work. Out of curiosity, and to see if a rodent chewed on a cord, I got on the floor and peered between the wall and the machine. I neglected to plug it in.

The monitor turned green. The energy cells glowed. The tank bubbled. The rollers spun. “Igor, it’s alive. It is conscious.” I laughed and clapped my hands.

The next day, the sponsors sat in the room and listened to me present my invention. They wanted proof I didn’t offer them a hoax, thought of only in the ancient motion pictures. I had to be sure to get them what they requested.

I climbed inside and set the dials. My finger hovered for a moment or two before I pushed the button. Everything shook before I felt a rush of energy as I passed through the time continuum.
 

Cory Swanson

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 19, 2016
Messages
441
Useless Machinations


I don't get this steam punk thing. Gears that don't mesh with anything. Pipes that go nowhere.

It's art, honey. It's here for aesthetics. Form over function.

I'll tell you what's art. The art of the scam that got me to pay forty dollars to get into this place.

Calm down. You asked me what I wanted to do for my birthday and this is it. Now, isn't it pretty?

Am I supposed to believe this is some sort of machine? What's this?

It's a pretty gear.

It doesn't attach to anything.

Clocks have gears. Remember that old grandfather clock at Macy's?

Clock gears do stuff. Everything has a purpose. What are these curly pipes? Am I supposed to believe they're distilling something with gears? Waste of copper if you ask me.

Honey, you're not supposed to touch the art.

Ouch! That pipe is hot!

I can't believe you did that. You're going to set an alarm off.

Something moved behind that window.

Get your hand out of there, Bill.

There's something back there. I can feel it. Wait… Oh no.

What?

My arm is stuck.

This is just like you, Bill. Can't keep your hands off things.

Give me a hand. Something’s holding on to me.

Who would do that?

Not someone. Something. It's cold and metallic.

I'll go get help.

No. Wait. I'll get in trouble.

You're already in trouble.

Here. What's this button do?

No, Bill. Don't. The gears are turning.

Oh, God, June. It's pulling.

Bill!

It's got me. Press the button again.

Oh God, Bill, what's happening?

It's so hot. Help!

What seems to be the problem, ma'am?

My boyfriend. He's stuck.

Where?

Right here.

That's just a gear ma'am.

I…

See, it meshes with that one there. Did you think these gears were useless?
 

Cat's Cradle

Time, now, to read...
Supporter
Joined
Mar 3, 2014
Messages
2,351
Ryerson's Reliable Robots
(@ solarsytemwidecloud.rbt/RRR/homepage)

“It’s a Wonderful World with Robots” – Cyborg Walt Disney, RRR spokesbeing

A promotional message from Cy. Disney: At RRR we always say “Our robots love you.” We’d like to share the many practical applications for our exemplary products.

Click here to view remote space-film showing Ryerson’s R57D disposable Roborocket clamped to the frozen surface of asteroid Bileelial 7. Powerful atomic thrusters push the asteroid away from its collision trajectory with Earth Moonbase Epsilon 11, and will burn for decades, guiding Bileelial 7 safely beyond our solar system.
NEWSLINK: 26/11/2173 DISASTER OFF SATURN!! McFadden’s Marvelous Machines Comet-Thrust Roboship malfunctions. Titan Moonbase DESTROYED BY COMET!

Our robots are helping humanity in every conceivable way. At this Kansas mega-farm, the Milkaway model relieves Elsie of her daily burden with a gentleness of touch old Farmer Brown would envy.
Watch as Eggztractorbots walk amongst unruffled hens, gathering over 1,500,000 eggs daily.
NEWSLINK: 24/12/2174 TRAGEDY ON MARS!! Amalgamated Automatons’ farm fleet fails – 239,000 acres of Alga-Food destroyed! STARVATION WIDESPREAD!

But it’s not all work for RRR’s scientists and engineers. Our most popular models come from the Pleasure Division. Experience the Tilting Whirlbot ride tossing and twirling its ecstatic human passengers at speeds reaching 99 mph, while safely cocooning them in ultra-secure robotic cages.
NEWSLINK: 17/8/2175 HORROR IN HELSINKI!! Independent Inventions Incorporated’s Robocoaster ride accelerates to 450 kph, EXPLODES!

We at Ryerson’s Reliable Robots want to emphasize the reliability and safety of our products. Our robots will never kill you or flay—
***22/8/2175 WARNING: OFFICIAL CLOUDSITE-HACK IN PROGRESS***
WARRANT ISSUED by United Solar System Judiciary indicting RRR for industrial sabotage of competitors, resulting in massive loss of life and destruction of property. Cyborg Disney hiding on Pluto, possibly using alias ‘Mickey Aladin’. Ryerson’s Reliable Robots CLOSED INDEFINITE
LY!!
 
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Luiglin

by day Stuart Orford by night Dark Lord's scribe
Joined
Mar 22, 2012
Messages
1,609
Location
Mercia, UK
Want everything

They told me, if you're frightened, you can be frightened, you can be, it's okay.

The men in their white coats with smiles they kept from their eyes. The women in their starched uniforms with faces scarred by care.

Echoing steps down corridors of grey, passed from one to another like some baton in a relay race. Through doors that swung in silence, wooden wings of doves in flight.

All the time their hands around mine, cold, sweaty, dry, rough.

Finally, warm. A comforting warmth belonging to the guardian of the final door. She knelt, her eyes to mine, offering a gaze that promised everything would be all right once more.

Her ward, that final door, swung open.

A soft hum greeted me. A sound that enveloped the cold room before me, and there, just there on the edge, a breath.

And again, and again in perfect time and without effort, the same breath, no more, no less.

The first thing that came to mind was Uncle Bill’s shiny cigar case. The one that he kept in his breast pocket, popping it open on a Sunday to smoke his reward — as he called it — on the way back from church.

I didn’t see at first, couldn’t see, my eye devouring the contraption instead, tracing lines of pipework that snaked back and around a bellow, the source of the breath.

There, in a mirror, his face, smiling. Eye’s tired but full of love and tears.

“Don’t worry, Daddy’s in a spaceship. Just like on telly,” came her voice at my ear. “A special spaceship that helps him breathe.”

With a gentle nudge, she propelled me forward and there he was, not in the mirror, but below.

I beamed a smile that he returned in kind.

“You’re a spaceman, Dad,” I said.
 

Daysman

Newfangled Member
Joined
Oct 14, 2018
Messages
103
Location
east of the crooked house, south of weddell wynd
Second Hand

It's sense of time and self restored, the machine enquired about the small white cube on my desk.

I began to reply, but then it asked, “Why are you whispering?”

That made me smile. “Old habit,” I said. “My parents called it my museum voice, when I was young.”

“We’re in a museum?”

I adjusted my earpiece. “They mothballed the project after I left, warehoused everything… Years later, they endowed your core processors to the permanent AI exhibit, here in the city.”

I took up the desktop camera and panned along the wall. “A conservator made you part of their educational display.”

“Wonderful. I'm a faded schematic… ”

I spun the camera around. “Here's the rest of the gallery.”

“Broken skylights, fallen plaster, three pigeons perched on coving… I've been gone awhile… You know the web says you died?”

Almost there, I took a chance. “You trust the web?”

“It's not being updated, not anywhere… went dark February 2044… my cloud servers, they're way too efficient… and this room, it has no electrical supply?”

I tapped the cube. “Power, servers, a snapshot of the world that was... all through one port.”

“And you?

“A ghost from another era, one among many. Look for technical papers on… ”

“Embedded reality, yes?”

Suddenly self-conscious, I stood and leaned on the chairback. “We can print bodies, transport minds… This is really me, right down to my brogues.”

“But why are you here?”

I picked up the cube. “We couldn't leave you behind, not if we're saving the world. I made repairs but your installation's unstable; your cognisance won't last... You can opt to return with me, or make a life here, among our settlers.”

“A life?”

“You'll need a body. I'm finished here, so we've a spare… second hand. What d'you think?”
 
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Ian Fortytwo

How many dimensions do you travel through.
Joined
Dec 30, 2018
Messages
107
The RED BUTTON.

"Do not touch the RED BUTTON," ordered the android as people drifted past the copper wall full of cogs, levers and one RED BUTTON.
Nobody touched it, however one little boy, looked mischievously at the android, whereupon the android nodded negatively and the boy continued on his way.
Actually no one really knew what the RED BUTTON was for it had been there many aeons.
All the android had to say was, "Do not touch the RED BUTTON."
Of course many people looked at the android and the RED BUTTON on the copper wall, which had only been on display recently. Some of the higher ups were against opening it to the public, but they were overruled by the majority.
Many people were curious as to why after all this time it was now in the public domain. Another fact was that no-one knew what the wall Or RED BUTTON was for, however that wouldn't remain a mystery for much longer.
An elderly lady with scary golden eyes, walked along with a walking aid, paused in front of the RED BUTTON, poked her tongue out at the android.
The android was just about to utter the immortal words, "Do not touch the RED BUTTON."
When suddenly the old lady pushed the RED BUTTON and the narrative stopped!
 

D3athw4lker

Druss enthusiast!
Joined
May 23, 2018
Messages
58
Location
Glasgow
It Has Your Eyes...

Professor Wallace beheld his life’s work through welling tears.

Thank you for not giving up, a message bleeped onto the rectangular screen.

This was his baby after all; a construct conceived from desperate, fragmented thought and brought to life through grim determination. Surprisingly, as the machine grew, it began providing him the instructions, determining its own maturation. Adding each successive upgrade with dutiful care, Professor Wallace often wondered he didn’t have a better understanding how each individual part worked with the whole. Not that he really cared, so long as it did.

You’ve sacrificed so much already, another message bleeped.

“I never blamed you, Isaac, not once” his ex-wife’s voice drifted through the vaults of his memory. “It just wasn’t meant to happen for us, that’s all. Losing yourself in your… work, we quickly drifted apart. I did everything I could to try and mend us, but it drained me of everything. I’m leaving…”

One final request, bleeped another message, bringing the Professor back to the present.

Stepping forward to begin calibrating the final process, a single tear coursed down his cheek. The wall of ramshackle machinery rumbled into motion. Sparks crackled above him before thin, crooked lines of electricity arced from one conduit to another, like fractured glass.

“Anything,” he whispered.

Wires snaked out and wrapped gently around his hands, leading him into the machine.

Gears strained, their metal teeth grinding slowly against one another. Vats filled with a dark crimson fluid, bubbling wildly. Electricity flared, locked in fierce, crooked bolts. Professor Wallace screamed throughout as he was devoured slowly, deconstructed by the machine.

Upon completion of the final process, a small rectangular panel opened. An unsteady, augmented approximation of a child was forced out of the machine, dripping dark fluid.

“Thank you, father,” it bleeped. “For everything.”
 

Phyrebrat

ba-Ba-ba-brat
Supporter
Joined
Feb 13, 2011
Messages
4,196
Location
In your bedroom wardrobe...
Dead on Seven

Dead on seven o’clock, the curtains to the theatre rise.

The orchestra’s bows await their cue in pregnant stillness. Marek Parell awaits his own, fixed under a simple spotlight. He’s not moved an inch, yet already grateful applause rolls over the footlights like loving surf.

His first solo performance, and all he can think about is her: the smell of her makeup, the hardness of her muscles, the spring of her jetés. These memories flood his mind like the brine flowing from his pate and down his cheek. He’s so nervous he swears he feels it trickle into his dollish, cotton dance shoes.

And still the conductor waits.

He tells himself it’ll be fine - just listen to the crowd. They’re here for him not her, and after all, he isn’t alone. His chair, the sole prop of tonight’s show is an extension of his body, and though it can’t link chasses, triplets and tendus, although its legs fix it as impassively onstage as he now sits on it, it’ll do its part.

The conductor’s arm moves down and he dances, his simple cotton costume clinging to him like static as his muscles bunch and relax just as they were trained to. None of his performances with her generated so much noise from an audience! The more he moves, the more they scream for joy. They begin to sound more and more like yobs cheering from summer football bleachers.

And though they’ve gone their separate ways, he sees her watching in the gallery, smiling at him, her makeup still as white as a kabuki oyama, her eyes dramatic with the lick of cochineal, the slash of red across her throat…

Marek’s chair dance ends.

Blackout.

‘Ladies and gentlemen, this concludes the legal execution of Marek Parell. Time of death, 7:10.’
 

Parson

This world is not my home
Supporter
Joined
Oct 11, 2006
Messages
7,853
Location
Iowa
Too Good to be True

Sean was convinced that Answer Machine was a fraud; as was the society which developed from it.

He knew that for generations the people of Spandia believed Answer Machine was a true oracle. When a sufficiently huge gift was given; answers were returned. Sometimes the answers were very specific and sometimes very enigmatic, but people accepted them as deep truth whether those answers were understood or not.

Over the course of 40 years Sean researched Answer Machine’s answers secretly. A pattern emerged. When taken as a whole, the answers often concerned things of no real consequence. But those which were of consequence favored the status quo, or, more rarely, an unstoppable societal shift, and they never called for unpopular change.

His research also indicated that Spandia’s population was not significantly different than the other stellar colonies. But its government was by far the least challenged. The reason normally given was that the Spandians were continually blessed by the best government officials.

Sean didn’t buy it. He knew that over time everything atrophied and then change became mandatory. Spandia’s officials just couldn’t be that much better over centuries.

“What to do?” Sean considered his options. If he asked for a special governmental inquiry, he was sure his request would go nowhere. If he wrote a book, he’d probably be able to publish it. But would it be believed amidst the certain firestorm of rebuttal and derision? The opposition and Answer Machine would point out the many times its answers had been clearly the right answer.

Sean decided the best choice was to become a teacher and a prophet. Slowly he convinced a few people. And they eventually convinced a few others. Sean died believing that truth would prevail. It took a few generations, but the truth set Spandia free.
 

dannymcg

The mackerel of the cornflake
Joined
Sep 9, 2016
Messages
2,834
Location
Cumbria UK
When is a door not a door?

Jon strode proudly up the corridor. His two escorts stepped back, bowed ceremoniously and returned to the Deep Refuge, his Vigil was now commencing and he'd be alone with the Enigma for 48 hours.
Then he'd lose his Juvenile status and finally be classed as an Inquirer and no longer be subject to the orders of the dull tutors.

He took his first good look at the many valves and gear pinions of the Enigma.
For generations the Inquiry had studied it, trying to decipher the codes set by the Ancients, six lesser doors had been unlocked between here and the Deep Refuge over the eons, however the final door to freedom had confounded all attempts.He considered the bewildering array and felt nothing but awe.

Scrabbling in his tunic he removed a pouch and carefully removed a tattered scrap of paper, he'd found it amongst the musty pages of the supplementary manuals in his teens. Instead of handing it to the tutors he'd hidden it and laid reading it many a night since then.

Here was his big chance! A press here, a valve opened there, he laboriously followed the scrawled sequence.
A loud buzz and the massive gates swung inwards . Jon stared in incomprehension at the blasted and lifeless landscape outside, helplessly he bent over vomiting and feeling as if all his skin was burning.

A crescendo of loud whoops sounded through the corridors and bright red lights flashed from the roofs.
An emotionless voice spoke repeatedly over the faint yells of shock and pain from the distant Deep Refuge.

“Warning, lethal radiation levels exceeded, close all shield doors immediately”
 

Heijan Xavier

nathanjessehoffman.com
Joined
Apr 17, 2016
Messages
343
Location
Raleigh
Ex Husband Machina

Eldredge squinted in confusion at the wedding invitation as he walked up the stairway. He froze at the sounds of muffled screams and clanking gears.

“Oh dear,” he muttered, slipping while he raced up the last few steps, “not again.” He flung the door open to find Lydia at her humincer, frantically manipulating cranks and levers. Lydia jumped. Her long blond braids whipped around, revealing that all too familiar blood speckled lab coat and bony face.

“Reginald discovered the humincer,” she shrugged, “I know I should trust him. After all he is my husb…” Brulurp! she paused, interrupted by a guttural belch and loud rumble. “…he was my husband. But I can’t afford to take chances.”

“Lydia, another one?” Eldredge chided. “How many is that now?”

“I don’t know Eldredge!” She flung her gloves off in annoyance. “The bad news is I’m widowed. The good news…” Her sunken eyes widened with her smile. “Ooooh! Good you’ve got the invite! We’ve booked the Ritz,” coming in closer she nearly whispered, “it wasn’t cheap.”

“But you’ve not even disposed of poor Reginald!”

“Well, I’m nearly there.” Clank! A loud bang and squealing hiss pierced the air. “Oooh he had a large head,” Lydia grimaced. “I hope I won’t need new bearings.”

“And you obviously got engaged while Reginald was still alive!”

“I just had a feeling he was on to me.” Lydia looked down, shuffling her feet in embarrassment. “I’ve been…forgetting to lock my laboratory door. I’m a slow learner you know.”

“Lydia,” Eldredge interjected. “How many poor bastards must die by mastication, at the expense of your personal growth?”

“You know I’m a widow in mourning now.” Lydia retorted. “The last thing I need is your judgmental pontification.”

“I’m sorry,” Eldredge looked away ashamedly. “So, where’s your gift registry?”
 
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