Posts Tagged ‘science fiction’

30th April
2012
written by amber

Robotic Vampire Cats in Space

The robotic cats have escaped from the cargo hold where we’d isolated them and I think our mission may be over before we even make planet-fall. I’m in Crew Cabin One, alone. I’ve pushed all the mattresses against the door, but that’s more for my nerves than for any real protection. If they can claw through metal, they sure as hell can claw through cheap foam.

Jerome was pierced in our first battle with the cats, when we lured them into the cargo hold with holographic images of the aliens, and he was pierced again today. I think enough blood was taken to kill him. He certainly looked pale and lifeless as I ran by him on my way to this cabin. Amilie and Dougal were right behind me, but I waited a good ten minutes for them, hearing awful caterwauling from the corridor, and human screams. Then I saw the cat hoard and I had to slam the door shut.

Naturally, the coms are out. The cats are smart enough to chew through the wires.

It’s ironic that Jerome is the first of us to be killed (probably). He’s the one who changed the cats’ programming.

I blame boredom. He said he wanted to make them more lively, but the rest of us are pretty sure he wanted to stage cat fights for the military escort and earn some air force rations through betting.

And where, you might ask, are our military escort during this crisis? Locked in the Strategic Pod, ready for an Abort Mission protocol. Before the coms went out, they told us they were prepared for all sorts of emergencies, but an attack by small feline robots of our own devising was not one of them. Only hard weapons capable of damaging the ship would have any effect on the cats, and that wouldn’t be good for anyone, I realize. Still, if we had to bring soldiers along, I’d have expected them to be more resourceful.

I’ve been pondering the problem myself. Jerome was the robotics expert – the cats were his, and the spy flies. I’m just the xenobiologist, along to deal with the visuals and skin samples brought back by the spy flies and eventually the body fluid samples the cats were to collect, but I learned a few things about robotics. We are all expected to have 2 or 3 specialities on this mission. Our motto is ‘Redundancy can mean survival.’

Perhaps literally, this time.

I was keeping a supply of spy flies in here, to tinker with while I tried to find a way to neutralize the cats. Jerome mocked me. He said nothing could be done, the cats’ programming was contaminated and the only solution was to get them into the exhaust port and vent them. He thought we could use alien holograms again, but I was pretty sure they wouldn’t fall for that twice. After all, he designed them to learn.

But he also designed them to play. They may have become little articulated metal psychotic devils who attack and sample everything that moves, but they also took the time, I noticed, to go after the cleaning rats while they were chasing us.

So I’ve been glueing coloured wings onto the spy flies and programming them to fly to the exhaust port. I have about 100 flies left to do and I hope I’m done in time. I can hear the cats clawing through the walls.

This is my last story of the original Story 365 Project. I wanted to write a story using some of the themes I’ve enjoyed the most over the past year, so I came up with the title and carried on from there. Turns out, the cats aren’t cute and cuddly, but as an author you have to follow the story you’re given.

I’ll be announcing a contest soon, and I’ll be continuing with stories, poems and other daily postings on this blog.  And please – keep sending me first line suggestions!

29th April
2012
written by amber

Little People

“You won’t remember a thing that I’m telling you now,” the monkey said to the researcher, “but once in a while we like to tell the truth to one of you. We’re about to derail your research, and you deserve an explanation, even if you won’t know what it is.”

“You can talk,” the young woman said, for the tenth time.

“Yes, yes, we can talk. We’ve already dealt with that, my dear. Your analysis of our vocalizations, as you call them, is what has brought you too close to the truth. Next week, at the symposium, you’ll present data that the great variety of sounds we use are random.”

“But they aren’t, they-”

“Yes, yes, they actually represent a language far more complex than any of your human languages. But so skilfully coded that you are the first to recognize it. Can we get past that? I have many more things to tell you about. Isn’t there anything you want to ask me?”

“Why?”

“Yes, yes, that’s the crux, isn’t it? Seven million years ago, we had cities. We watched both you and the gentle giants you call Neanderthals evolve. You can probably bet which branch we were betting on, but instead you humans came to dominate, with your violence and greed, with your intolerance for anyone different from yourselves.”

The young scientist looked sceptical. “No trace has ever been found of your cities.”

“150 thousand years ago, we decided to move beyond technology, and we destroyed all physical traces of our civilisation.”

“How do you move beyond technology?”

“With the power of the mind, of course. We have every comfort, because we’re never too cold or too hot – we can manipulate our immediate environment and our own bodies. The food we eat – the fruits and seeds and leaves – taste as delicious as we wish them to taste. Although we enjoy talking, we can communicate telepathically, we retain information about our past through our prodigious and shared memories. And as you humans have relentlessly trespassed upon our habitat, many of us have chosen to live entirely non-corporeally.”

“Are you the king?”

“No, no. Our society has never had hierarchy, or prejudice. Our scientists study your society with a grim fascination. You appal us. Throughout the centuries, we’ve tried to co-exist with you. What do you think fairies and elves were, if not us?”

“They weren’t monkeys.”

“We’ve chosen to look like monkeys recently. Among the ancient Egyptians, we appeared as cats, and received the greatest amount of respect we’ve ever received from humans. I have some wonderful stories from that time, and other times, but alas, your colleague will be coming through the door in a minute, so the forgetting must begin.”

The monkey reached out and touched the researcher’s forehead.

Not long afterwards, the door opened and a young man strode into the room. “Natalie – why do you have Bozo out of his cage?”

“Oh, I was just saying goodbye to the old fellow. I’ve decided to release him.”

“Why? I thought he was your best specimen.”

“Yes – such a good specimen that’s he’s exploded my theory. When I added his vocalizations to my models, it became obvious that the variety of sounds is completely random.”

“That’s too bad, Natalie.”

“No worries. I think primatology isn’t my true calling. For some reason, I find myself interested in the mythology of ancient cultures.”

The Story 365 project is a year-long marathon of short story writing, with a new story for every day of the year and posted on this website from May 1, 2011 – April 30, 2012. Stories must be a minimum of 200 words. Please help me by adding first line or topic suggestions in the Comment section of any story.

This is story 365, but the year isn’t over yet! When I named my project, I didn’t factor the leap year in, so you’ll be getting a bonus story 366. Plus another month of stories as I participate in StoryADay’s month of May challenge.

Little People looks forward to my writing plans for the next year – longer stories. Certainly, there is much in this tale that can lead to some interesting stories. If I want to submit such works for publication in print or on-line periodicals, I can’t publish them on this blog, but I’ll share the start of the stories with you and keep you apprised of their submission and acceptance or rejection.

In any case, whether complete stories, or poems, or serializations of previously published works or snippets of new work, I will be posting every day, so please continue to visit this site. If you enjoy it daily, click RSS to have it sent to your email address directly.

24th April
2012
written by amber

Grow Op

Okay, first thing, you gotta realize this is illegal. We can give you the seeds, we can help you bootleg the power, we can even help you distribute your crop if you grow more than you need for your own usage, but if you get caught, you can’t reveal your source.

Sure, you might promise now, but you have no idea of the pressure they’ll bring to bear. Jail sentence for sure, that’s just the start of it. You heard the rumours about the deportations? That’s absolutely true. And it’s not just the person convicted, it’s their family – wife, kids, parents, everyone. And you’ll be sent away with nothing. Whatever you own will be confiscated, property, possessions, bank accounts, any pension due to you.

But they’ll offer you the moon. No fine, no conviction, no deportation. Instead, a lifetime supply for free, and not the crap you’re used to but the good stuff. And all you have to do is rat us out.

So we’ve had to take measures to protect ourselves. Buying our product is bad, growing it is worse, but distributing comes with the highest penalties. You, my friend, are about to become a distributor. Yes, before we’ll let you plant one seed, you have to bring in five more people willing to become underground gardeners.

Also, you’ll never see me again. I’m not who you think I am – the name I gave is not my name and I’m not from around here. My appearance has been altered and my voice modulated electronically just in case you’ve been recording our conversation. You’ll be approached by someone else next time, and they’ll be similarly disguised. They’ll show you how to do it yourself, how to keep your identity hidden while you approach new recruits.

No, you don’t need to recruit among the people you know, that’s too dangerous. We’ll tell you how to identify strangers who are desperate for our crops. And we’ll tell you how to keep Sanmount Chemicals from finding out that you’re growing your own vegetables.

The Story 365 project is a year-long marathon of short story writing, with a new story for every day of the year and posted on this website from May 1, 2011 – April 30, 2012. Stories must be a minimum of 200 words. Please help me by adding first line or topic suggestions in the Comment section of any story

20th April
2012
written by amber

A Dream of the Circus

Usually, the dwarfs kept bringing him back – back to the circus and back to India. Yes, it was a dream but why couldn’t his recurring dream be about finding himself naked in the middle of Times Square or being unable to recall the combination to his school locker just before his final exams – something normal?

Why did he keep dreaming about the circus and dwarfs and India? He’d never been in a circus, he’d never been to India, he only knew one dwarf. The dwarf, or – more correctly – small person whom he knew was lying beside him, Alex was sure, encased in a special transit module designed for his tiny stature. Buckley Washington Jefferson. A large name for a small person, but well deserved. Buckley Jefferson, trillionaire, had paid for this trip to Mars. Alex was along entirely on Buck’s behest, to take care of his medical needs.

Alex was a doctor. Not a high wire artist in a fly-by-night circus in India with gold-painted asthmatic elephants and an under-age contortionist and a duo of geek dwarfs with full body tattoos and holes everywhere from the nails and knives and needles they pierced themselves with to the delight of the audiences. He didn’t know those geek dwarfs, yet every night they appeared in the corridor of the Millennium Mars Tripper and escorted him wordlessly to the hatch and shoved him into it. And every night he was terrified, expecting nothing more than explosive decompression.

And every night, the hatch slid open and did not admit the cold vacuum of space. Instead, the ring was before him, an ancient Master of Ceremonies proclaiming that Alex the Magnificent would now perform a death-defying quadruple flip- without a net – off one high wire onto another a short distance below.

And every night, he dutifully climbed the guy wire and stepped onto the impossibly narrow wire, his feet curling around it as if they knew what they were doing.

And every night, he fell.

Of course, he couldn’t tell Buck about the dream. It would sound as if he was dwelling on Buck being a dwarf, as if he thought (subconsciously) that dwarfs were leading him into peril.

So, instead, he concentrated on medical problems during the one hour of consciousness given them each day during their travel stasis. He considered anew the effects of Mars gravity on Buck, he fretted over whether they’d brought enough of the vitamins and steroids Buck felt were necessary to his continuing good health, he mentally reviewed everything he’d read about mould problems in Mars habitats and agonized over whether he’d packed a great enough variety of medicines to help Buck should he have a reaction to the mould.

He didn’t worry about the one disaster which ended up overtaking them, the one his dream had been warning him about, repeatedly.

Their ship fell victim to a meteorite storm and crash landed on a large asteroid known through the Belt as Circus Rock. Buck’s fortune in media enterprises had been, unbeknownst to Alex, gained at the expense of many of his former clients in the entertainment industry and many of them had relocated to Circus Rock where taxes were low and agents verboten.

Therefore, no one would help them contact Earth banks or the repair station not too many millions of miles away. They had to work to earn their keep until the next Earth shuttle came by, six months later. Buck looked after the elephants. Alex, whose balance was better than in his dreams, learned to walk the wire.

But he always insisted on a net.

The Story 365 project is a year-long marathon of short story writing, with a new story for every day of the year and posted on this website from May 1, 2011 – April 30, 2012. Stories must be a minimum of 200 words. Please help me by adding first line or topic suggestions in the Comment section of any story.

This first line was suggested by my mother, Mary Bond, and comes from John Irving’s A Son of the Circus.

14th April
2012
written by amber

Alabaster City

White as alabaster lay the city of Akhetaten along the eastern bank of the slow-moving Nile. Apartment pyramids stabbed the sky, and towers of the space port rose in the distance. Beyond that, the rocket missiles were arrayed like a deadly forest. In less than a decade they would be deployed.

Clad in sheer cotton kilts, the citizens walked in a leisurely fashion from one high end shop to another, into coffee shops or restaurants or museums. Every one of them was tall and attractive. None of them were alive.

Cloaked in invisibility, lest we pollute the beauty of the city, we tourists scuttled among the perfect ghosts.

I first came to Akhetaten as a student of antiquities, of ancient life in the golden age of Earth, but I returned again and again because of love. I was in love with the ghost princess of this the fairest of all cities. And she was the fairest of all princesses, although she was no longer among the living.

I shadowed her like a small dog, ignored but faithful. She had no privacy from me, but that was all right because everything she did was utterly beautiful to me. I would never have done her any harm.

Yet, I did harm her.

I had to be with her, but science offered no way to restore her to life. I had to join her in death. She’d died more than a hundred years ago, but the Jackson-Korba process could bring forward a perfect day in that pre-catastrophe time. If I could reverse the process, I thought I would be able to send my ghost back.

We live a long time in post-catastrophe Earth, sealed in our radiation-free habitats. I had the time to learn the discipline of time manipulation, and develop a theory for reversal of the Jackson-Korba process. I had to do this surreptitiously – regression tourism is one of the few pleasures we have and tinkering with the process had already broken our access to some of the most popular destinations.

I killed myself in the regression chamber with a simple inhaled toxin. I was so excited when I breathed it in to discover that it smelled like cinnamon, sweet and full of promise.

I woke, as we always do after regression, naked and in an alley, but when I stumbled out of the alley, I knew immediately that I’d been successful. The tall lovely people on the avenue recoiled at the sight of my pale gnarled body. One of them shoved me against a marble column. I felt his hands.

I had arrived.

But something was different. Everyone was running, and a strident siren shattered the city’s normally tranquil atmosphere. I looked to the west and saw the missile array elevated and upright, ready to be sent around the globe to answer a threat that turned out never to have existed.

I knew immediately what I’d done – not 2112 but 2121. Reversing numbers was a bad habit of mine which often returned in times of stress.

I ran, knowing where the first retaliatory strike would land and what the result would be.

I’d thought to have nine glorious years with my princess. Instead, I nursed her in the nine days it took her to die.

The Story 365 project is a year-long marathon of short story writing, with a new story for every day of the year and posted on this website from May 1, 2011 – April 30, 2012. Stories must be a minimum of 200 words. Please help me by adding first line or topic suggestions in the Comment section of any story.

The first line of this story is the first line of The Lost Queen of Egypt, a novel by Lucile Morrison and a very early favourite of mine.

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