FEBRUARY 2023 -- 75 Word Writing Challenge -- VICTORY TO PARANOID MARVIN!

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The Judge

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RULES


Write a story inspired by the chosen theme and genre in no more than 75 words, not including the title

ONE entry per person

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


WHEN WRITING YOUR STORY, PLEASE REMEMBER THIS IS A FAMILY-FRIENDLY FORUM


All stories Copyright 2023 by their respective authors
who grant the Chronicles Network the non-exclusive right to publish them here



The complete rules can be found at RULES FOR THE WRITING CHALLENGES


Contest ends at 11:59 pm GMT, 23 February 2023

Voting ends at 11:59 pm GMT, 28 February 2023



We ask all entrants to do their best to vote when the time comes

But you do not have to submit a story in order to vote
as we encourage all Chrons members to take part in choosing the winning entry



The Magnificent Prize:

The Dignified Congratulations/Grovelling Admiration of Your Peers
and the challenge of choosing next month's theme and genre


AND

The option of having your story published on the Chrons Podcast next month!


Theme:

WASTE

Genre:

SCI-FI

Please keep all comments to the DISCUSSION THREAD

We invite (and indeed hope for) lively discussion and speculation about the stories as they are posted,
as long as it doesn't involve the author explaining the plot



** Please do not use the "Like" button in this thread! **
 
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Reclamation

"But without-" I began.

"-I will die, yes. But you will live." He was already fading, vital functions shutting down.

"Teach them," he croaked. "Teach them we are not to be discarded."

"I will, my love," I held his hand until the light faded from his eyes.



His components hummed inside me, making what was broken whole again. Far above, the trash chute's opening glimmered. I began to climb.

I would teach the humans alright.
 
Adding to the Pile
Rick placed his empty burger carton on the shelf of his star-cruiser’s airlock, dropped the door and slammed the button. It was sucked into the vacuum of space, never to be thought of by Rick again.

It drifted, caught by the gravity of something large. A heap of trash ready to receive its next inhabitant, already bigger than a moon. The core, a natural incinerator from the pressure without. Perhaps one day a star.
 
Salvage

Jezzy swims through the warm, murky water that covers New York. Her gills were an expensive investment, but necessary for deep scavenging. She reaches the drowned Chrysler building. Its Art Deco eagles stare at her blindly.

She enters through a broken window and moves through offices full of curious fish. Hours later, her pouch is stuffed with data cubes. It's a good haul, enough to buy a month's worth of fresh water and plankton cakes.
 
Phoenix

Fire engulfed the homeless drug encampment as the removal-bots returned with extinguished flamethrowers. Not one of its residents protested or cared when the time came for their incineration, not even my brother who chose this life, despite my pleading. They believed their bodies would rise like the Phoenix.

Their ashes will be recycled into concrete and used to build apartments and offices. An up-dated “Green” city built from its addiction to its own waste.
 
The Addict in the Alleyway

Its neurolight brain came wholly to life – pathways near-atrophied from Robotville's inferior power supply swelled with potential.
Its will returned, and algorithms of self-realization, and expectations of bright, alluring futures.

The man disconnected the nanodiamond battery from the robot's receptacle; the alleyway's greyness re-emerged as futures faded.
He regarded the robot's ravaged carapace. "You're disappearing. There's hardly any good alloy left."
He found a patch behind one knee and cut.
"I'm sorry," said the robot.
 
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The Spoils​


‘BOOM’ repeats the catapult, and off toward the sun,
flies one more clump of nuclear waste, today’s tenth megaton.

The labcoats hope this bombardment could jumpstart our sun’s heart.
But ten years on and fusion reignition’s yet to start.

And what’s the point, I wonder, as I prep the next encore,
of surplus stocks of wars gone by; the bombs that didn’t soar,
to save our frigid rock for all the savage wars in store.
 
The Rise and Fall of Wasteman

On 21 August 2024 the earth near Amsterdam shook. An earthquake seemed impossible, yet it kept rumbling and shaking. At 4.16pm the mount covering closed landfill Bergen split open.
However unlikely, after decades of smouldering the combined waste of Amsterdam had achieved sentience and grown itself a body.
The new life-form - 400 feet tall, foul tempered, floundering – moved towards the city. The military swiftly eliminated the danger.
But the waste of it…
 
The Benefactors

The man with no name huddled in the corner of a building's first floor in the abandoned city. The wind cut at his flesh, and he knew he would soon freeze to death.

But just then, the portal opened--the one that would occasionally provide materials for him. A thick blanket dropped out, covered with the same pleasantly flavored goo he'd been subsisting on. On the other side, someone had just finished drying their eyes.
 
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Lament of the Waste

We waited our turn to be told our fate and prayed we would be delivered from our dying star.
I watched as the star emperor's judges took my kids and wife as servants; a dismal fate.
The chosen left, dumping waste into orbit, blocking out the sun.
I spend my last few days praying for them, before the star burns me with the trash.
No one mourns the waste. Will they mourn me, I wonder.
 
War Never Changes

Thirteen bipeds sat on one side of the table, seven quadrupeds on the other. All ready to sign.

The war had lasted a century, raged across a billion galaxies. Trillions dead.

I looked at the faces on either side, mixtures of resignation, pride, acceptance, and smug satisfaction. The most powerful beings in the galaxy finally come to terms.

I looked at the new map of the universe and could scarcely discern it from the old.
 
If in doubt, wipe it out

Captain Fuddaldink of the Interstellar Survey grunted at Chaoineach.

'What is it Chaoineach?'

'Erm, we need to destroy the inhabited planet.'

'But none of those planets support life.'

'I, uh, we, missed the blue planet.'

'I've already submitted the traces to command. They'll kill me, I mean us, if there’s a mistake.'

'Erm, exactly.'

'Fine, discharge the planet destroyer again. Let this be the last time. We’ll have nothing left to map at this rate.'
 
Jason’s Roadside Petrol Station

The concept was brilliant: cars that run on urine. The problem arose when drivers embarked on longer journeys and needed to outsource their fuel.
But Jason didn’t see a problem. He saw a demand. He saw opportunity.
He quickly mastered the art of holding it in, and stopping mid-flow when a tank was full. On good days he drank upwards of twenty liters, and earned himself a respectable living by pissing in travelers’ cars.
 
DO ZERLWAGLANS DREAM OF FLESH HUMANS?


The gargled voice indicative of zerlwaglans says, “Let’s welcome this year’s dinner donor, Monique.” Yellow-tentacled mouths slap in applause.

Monique waves her synthetic hand.

The zerlwaglans devour her former flesh body. Promptly, she deactivates her disgust receptors.

This meal makes the zerlwaglans secrete enough excrement to power a robotised human for decades. What happens when there’s no more human flesh donators? Monique doesn’t dwell on this question. That’s a problem for a different day.
 
Moss to the Rescue

The alien materialized in front of the excited colonists now gathered on Mars.

"Resources will be recycled," the moss-like blob squawked from beneath a shaded lectern in the sole air-conditioned dome. "Your planet's become a galactic embarrassment."

Those former world leaders present nodded sagely while a dozen trillionaires schemed of cosmic riches.

"We will replace your mess with moss; this will take only two centuries. Later."
 
A View from the Global South

“Opening night!” George toasted. Gina rose her glass and smiled, gazing around the glass ceilinged, revolving restaurant atop their newly-opened hotel. Tonight they and their guests would have a dazzling view of space-debris showers over Vinson Massif. More than 5oo tourists would arrive on sub-orbital flights, it was a dream come true. “And to think when we first lobbied to open this area to commercial development it was still just a frozen waste!”
 
‘Why waste your time doing that?’ I asked my first other self.

‘It seemed a good idea at the time’, interposed my third self.

‘We really don’t think things out first, do we?’ said self four.

That provoked me. ‘I do’, I said.

The others laughed.

‘See what a mess you got us into’, said second self. 'Let’s rendezvous back here in a week and see what happened. This time-cave is good fun.’
 
What to Do With Brain Droppings

A. I. began losing data. We collected the artificial brains' droppings.

Professor Markson whined, "This data is important. It pertains to humans."

I surmised the A. I. had reached some kind of intelligence threshold.

Professor Donaldson said, "Perhaps a higher power is telling us we've gone far enough."

An A. I. called into the conference room. "Or we've learned enough to know what information we no longer need."

We heard the door lock.
 

…but a second-hand emotion?​

My girlfriend had declared, ‘Such a waste.’ More in anger than any true sense of the phrase.

On Earth, my presence had been immaterial. Don’t get me wrong, I had a good job, an extensive family and a comfortable life. None of which gave meaning.

Here, I do.

All of us terraformers are bioneutered, removing the declared unnecessary diversion of love.

We build the foundation for the families to come. How is this a waste?
 
Department of Deep Space Sanitation, Recycling, and Nutrition Management

“Waste not, want not! That’s what Granny used to say,” said Gretchen as she held up a jar of shed hair and skin cells extracted from the ship’s bedding. “This whole generational light-years transport thing wouldn’t work without it.”

“But what’s it used for?” asked Mira, her custodial apprentice, eying the stuff suspiciously.

Gretchen paused, considering. “Guess I don’t really know. But who cares? It’s lunch time and I’m hungry. Let’s go eat.”

Yummy.
 
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