By Scott Wilson
Word Count: 294
One thousand that was an unlucky number for me. I had a long and prosperous career as an IVF specialist, with a 100% success rate. Well, of course it would be entirely successful if they were your own children you were growing, harvesting, in a female host. I know, they were my patients and I had a duty of care to provide the best quality service I could, and in a way, I did. I mean, look at the quality of the sperm they received. I am good looking, smart and successful, what more could a mother want in a child. If the partners of these poor women weren’t capable of delivering the goods by themselves, then they didn’t deserve to be a father.
I have an address book with all of my children’s details in it; name, date of birth, sex, address and any other detail that the happy parents willing gave me. Most of my children have received a letter from me now, some have written back and a few have even come to visit me. Boy, they are good-looking kids. My youngest is a two-month-old girl and the oldest is a twenty-one year old boy. I would have liked to attend his twenty-first birthday party, but that was last week and there was no way I could have made it, unfortunately.
I don’t feel any resentment to the nurse who found me tossing off into the specimen jar. Luckily, I was able to complete the procedure and reach the thousand mark before she was able to report it and the police arrested me.
Anyway, I will be out in time to see my children and grandchildren grow up. Have to love the Australian legal system.
Posted by Scott Wilson
Son of a Gun
By Scott Wilson
Word Count: 600
“Holy was a preacher; he rode on his rig of steel in the rising sun every morning, except for Sunday. Sundays he reserved for his own special brand of worship for any left in whatever town he came to convert to the true faith. This was no grim reaper, just a man with a smile who took a pride in a job well done. Some said he rode into town in a blood red sunrise. Or that he turned the sunrise red with blood if people didn’t take kindly to his preaching.” Benny said to his son, Marty.
Benny survived the last massacre at Opal Creek by hiding his son under the church hall. They heard screams and moan for days after hiding, but were too afraid to leave to help. If Holy found them, he would be string them up as heathens and leave them for the crows.
“No one knows the true origin of Holy; his legend began in the early twenty-first century. If that were the case, then he would be at least two hundred years old now, and that’s only if he started preaching when he was in his forties.”
“Is he human?” Marty asked quietly. Although it had been two weeks since they crawled out of their hiding place, Marty was still too scared to talk above a whisper.
“Mutant most likely, son.”
“Why does he do it, Dad?”
“Just a god given Holy Roller. In a god forsaken land.”Holy was heard to say when asked this question. He said that he didn't choose this killing ground. He didn't want this scrap of land. You've got to scorch the earth, and make the rivers run dry. Until we learn to hate sin like him. Kill for killin'. Live to die. You've gotta be a hero, for one last time. To prove through your destruction. That killing is a great way of life.”
“That doesn’t make any sense.”
“The radiation poisoning probably sent him mad. He has inhuman strength and constitution, from what we saw ourselves.”
Benny shifted on his seat and put his arm around his nine-year-old boy.
“Since the fall of civilization, Holy was one of the few who maintained a firm belief in the Bible. “He's preaching conversion as you lie down and die” some said when the topic of the riding preacher was raised around a campfire of at a dusty old bar. People never said that if Holy was in town. He had a way of hearing everything, and demanding a pound of flesh in payment for any such idle chitchat.”
“I heard him say, “There's a wooden cross somewhere. Where they'll bury you down deep. You lie to your people, You lie to yourself. Your in love with death babe. You've got no shame.” Dad, what did he mean?”
“I don’t know son. Not much of what we heard or saw made any sense.”
“I heard the preacher laugh and then the preacher cried. He loaded bullets as he smiled. Most of the congregation sat and wondered, “Would they live or would they die?” The women and children were crying. Why didn’t the men save them dad?”
“He shot the law men down first thing on riding into town from what I heard. They did not stand a chance. Anyone else that tried was slowly tortured to death. Even though he was just one man, no amount of men rushing him could overcome his brute strength. He seemed to reload his six shooters before anyone got close to him, no matter how many rushed him.”
“I miss Mummy. Why did he kill her? We were always Christians?” Marty sobbed.
Posted by Scott Wilson
Wrong Place, Wrong Time
By Scott Wilson
Word Count: 214
K32A clicked and whirled his external limbs and lights in a mad panic as he floated aimlessly in deep space. As the lower deck waste management robot, K32A was not equipped with flight capacity; there was no reason why he should be outside the ship at any time. The small cylindrical metal arms waved slowly in the zero gravity of the cold and lonely vacuum of space. This effort made no difference to the direction K32A floated and there was no logical reason for the small robot to continue doing so, but continue he did.
In the distance, Spectre 42 slowly moved away into the distance, leaving a trail of garbage floating aimlessly around K32A.
“Help, me.” K32A cried out, knowing that nobody would be able to hear.
In a state of humane distress and anxiety, the four-foot tall bipedal robot tried its communication circuit to no avail. The reception was long out of range of the internal ship’s channel.
“I was still cleaning the debris from the crash landing. The doors shouldn’t have been opened.”
K32A assessed its power supply and was saddened to see that things did not look promising. There would be enough battery power to remain functional for six years at minimal power, with superfluous functions shut down.
Posted by Scott Wilson
The Thing That Should Not Be
By Scott Wilson
Word Count: 454
On the cool, white sands of the Krandrenkal Beach, the hybrid children of the beast sit patiently. The Messenger of Fear is in sight, zigzagging across the motionless, orange water without leaving a ripple or any sign of breaking the surface. This does not bother the chaos crawling creatures of the dark light: they have prayed for Father, summoned him to save them from the fearless wretch.
The children know that he watches over them, lurking beneath the sea, carefully guarding his precious family from the alien intruders. These aliens know the Great Old One, as the Hunter of the Shadows. They believe he is immortal and in madness. He destroyed their ship when they landed on this alien planet a few months back, back when there was a full crew of six hundred. Now there are but seven survivors, with very little provisions or weapons.
Before the single alien reaches the shore, the Hunter of the Shadows erupts from the still, orange waters and engulfs her, dragging her back down into the cloudy depths of the strangely void sea. She finds that she can breathe under the water. The Great Old One is breathing for her through a fleshy appendage, tightly wrapped around her neck. Sinking down, the alien grows accustomed to the bleary vision and sees a majestic, glowing gold city on the sea floor. She feels at peace, not at all afraid of drowning or the creature holding her in its toothless, mouth firmly eating her alive.
Time has no meaning under the strange alien sea, yet she thinks it took hours to reach the city. A thick yellow membrane that they seep through to enter surrounds the city. Inside, she felt warm air brush her face dry in a soft caress.
She finds her fellow crew aimlessly wandering the streets, their faces blank and uncaring of their surrounding. The Great Old One speaks to her.
“You dwell in the fallen city of Crawling Chaos now. In time, you will accept your fate and hear the summons of the underground cult. The twisted sound from the very buildings will become a sweet sound to your ears. Out from ruins, living death will embrace you and eternal life will no longer be a stranger.”
The Great Old One releases her from his tender embrace and she feels a chill run down her exoskeleton. She feels a thick slime drizzle down her neck, slowly covering her scaled body. Looking down, she sees her torso and legs are now smooth and amber in colour.
“Come, join your companions. You will have eons to serve me. There will be no death to drain you of your insanity. Come; join the Thing That Should Not Be.”
Posted by Scott Wilson
My short story, Black Bullets, has been accepted for publishing in November's issue of Static Movement.
Posted by Scott Wilson
Dead Letter Office
By Scott Wilson
Word Count: 1079
Artie and Wes kicked the corrugated iron door of the old, abandoned warehouse in. Inside, sitting on rusty office chairs were three other members of the White Brisbane Skinhead gang. The two lean and muscular men sitting down, Rusty and Dazza, both leapt to their feet at the sound. Each one produced a butterfly knife, ready to cut whoever was invading their regular haunt.
“You tosser,” Dazza yelled.
“Screw you. Look what we’ve got.”
Artie and Wes tipped out the large mailbag of letters onto the concrete floor, covering a decent sized area with large envelopes, small envelopes, parcels, and cartons.
“How’d you score that?” Rusty asked as he bent down and picked up a handful of mail.
“Knocked over the mail box outside Post Office Square, didn’t we?”
“Sure did, Artie.”
“Piece of cake. Ran into it with the Holden Ute we nicked and picked up the bag. Idiots must make the bags so tough that they stay together if the mailbox is damaged.”
The fifth member of the group was a sixteen-year-old girl, Sharon Caulfield, or Shazza, as everyone called her. She ran away from home when she was fourteen and became a heavy cocaine user by the time she was fifteen. Shazza was too stoned out of her head to hear anything that was going on. She sat rocking on her broken office chair with her mouth partially opened.
“What do you reckon Shazza?” Artie said, running his fingers through her hair roughly. “Do you think there might be some coke in one of these parcels?”
Shazza kept on rocking on her chair, not acknowledging the remark at all.
The four skinheads began tearing open the letters roughly.
“Carefully,” Shazza mumbled.
“What?” Rusty said.
“Open them carefully. You will rip anything good inside if you tear at them like a pack of wolves.”
“Hey, hey, hey guys. Stoner’s right. Don’t want to tear any cheques in half.”
All four dropped to the ground and began slowly opening the letters, one at a time. They read each letter for any juicy piece of gossip that could be read aloud for the enjoyment, or amusement of the other gang members. Only a couple of parcels had anything of any great value that they could hock off for cash at the Cash Converters. A dozen or so credit cards were found as was one hundred and sixty dollars inside a couple of birthday cards.
“Hey, listen to this you guys.” Dazza said. “I was kept prisoner as a slave by a sick, perverted old school teacher for three days. I died at his hand, chained to a piss stinking bed in a dark cellar. If you don’t pass this letter on to my parents, you will die in twenty-four hours.”
“That’s one sick bit of hate mail. Who was it addressed to?” Rusty said.
Dazza rummaged through the pile of open envelopes and picked up the crumpled one he thought the letter came from.
“There’s no address on it?”
“Who sends a letter like that without putting an address on it? I mean, who would open it?”
“Someone like us.” Shazza said.
“Yeh, like what Shazza?”
“Someone who shouldn’t be opening up other people’s letters.”
“Whatever.” Wes said.
“Yeh, and how are you supposed to pass the letter on to someone’s parents if the letter aid addressed to anyone or from anyone?” Dazza said.
“It’s just a load of crap, Dazza.” Wes said.
“Yeh, probably just some kids messing around.” Artie agreed.
“Give it here,” Wes said.
Dazza handed the yellow, foolscap legal pad letter to Wes. Wes pulled his lighter out of his denim vest pocket and flicked it alight beneath the letter. The flame flickered, spat, and went out. He lit it again. Bright yellow flames enveloped the bottom corner of the letter, spreading around the sides and up the front.
“It’s not burning.” Dazza said.
“It won’t burn,” Shazza said, “but we will.”
“Shut up.” Wes said.
“Yeh, bring us all down, why dontcha Shazza.” Artie said.
Dazza kicked the pile of envelopes; they scattered and flew through the air. Rusty kicked the pile and headed towards the door. “I’m out of here.”
“Me too.” Dazza said. “This ain’t fun any more. Bullshit freaky letters. I’m going to the pub to spend some of this cash.”
“You want to get a brew to Wes?” Artie asked.
Artie, Wes and Dazza left the abandoned factory and headed to their local, “The Caxton”. Rusty stayed with Shazza, partly because he thought she looked upset, and partly because he was the only member of the gang that had not already shagged her. It was not that he did not want to, but more that he still had some form of decency in his personality and would not take advantage of her like the rest of the guys.
“You okay, Shazza?”
Shazza still looked stoned off her face, but slowly turned towards Rusty and managed a slight smile.
“You’re not that bad Rusty. But it’s too late now; you shouldn’t have hooked up with the others.”
Rusty lit a Winnie blue and scratched his head in confusion. He had no idea what Shazza was on about. Maybe she was too off her face to know what she was even saying.
“You want me to walk you back to your place?”
“No, I’m not going anywhere?”
Rusty shook his head, fumbled around in his jeans pocket and was pissed of to find only ten bucks worth of change. It was Tuesday and his Dole money would not be in his bank account until Friday. He thought he might try to scab a couple of ales off the rest of the gang, they did just score over a hundred bucks from the letters.
“See you later, Shazza.”
Rusty started to walk towards the bent and warped steel door of the factory, dragging his feet as he walked. He did not hear the creaking and groaning metal of the roof until it was almost on top of him. It crashed heavily into his bald skull, tearing away flesh and bone from half his face. Rusty saw the cold, hard steel pass through Shazza as she sat rocking on the dirty old office chair smashing the chair to pieces. With his last breath, Rusty heard Shazza say something:
“I thought you would have noticed when that bastard took me last week, Rusty.”
Posted by Scott Wilson
My bushranger story, Matthew O'Reilly, has been accepted by A Long Short Story for publishing http://www.alongstoryshort.net/
Posted by Scott Wilson
By Scott Wilson
Word Count: 732
“Whiskey, thanks.” Paul Black grunted at the barmaid.
He turned to face the crowded saloon, surveying every dirty, dust covered cowboy and local critically. Paul knew what to look for in a bounty hunter and was sure he spotted two playing blackjack at a crowded table. One of the bounty hunters wore a tan jacket to hide his pistols, red shirt buttoned up to the neck and denim jeans. The other wore all gunmetal gray, boots, trousers, and shirt, he had no jacket on and his two laser pistols hung low.
The barmaid placed a dirty glass on the counter and filled it with watered down whiskey, of the cheap and nasty kind. Paul gave her the evil eye, and she shrugged her shoulders back. Saloon’s like this were a dime a dozen and nothing would change that. A man on the run had to make do with this kind of service without making a fuss. Less he wants to end up with an even bigger bullseye on his back. Nothing like making ordinary folk remember you more than ticking them off or being just down right disagreeable for no reason.
Paul took the glass and drank it in one fast swallow. It tasted more of the dirty and grim in the glass than of the whiskey. He tossed a credit on the counter and moved towards the piano near the small stage. From this position, he would be able to keep an eye on everyone in the saloon, and get a pretty good close up of the women dancing in their corsets and suspenders.
“I ain’t no cheat!” yelled one of the scruffy old men at the card table.
He knocked his chair back as he staggered to his feet in a drunken stupor. Paul watched the two bounty hunters closely; they looked like the kind of low life that would laser down an old man for no big reason. They looked like the kind of varmints that would get a laugh out of gunning down a drunken old man for fun too.
Paul moved quickly and was at the card table before the two bounty hunters had a chance to draw their laser pistols.
“You need to go home and sleep off your mood, ol’ timer.”
“Mind your business, stranger.” The bounty hunter in the tan jacket said to Paul.
“I make it my business when any ol’ timer is about to be gunned down over a card game.”
Paul did not like the attention he was getting from the crowded saloon now, but he knew it was a chance to get these bounty hunters off his tail for good.
The other bounty hunter was on his feet with his hands at his sides, ready to draw.
“Why don’t you sit back down, partner?”
“I will, once we finish our conversation with this cheatin’ dog.”
“I ain’ no cheat.” The crusty old poker player said, reaching for the laser at his side. With his drunken vision, he grabbed at the pistol he thought was real and was surprised when his hand passed through it.
The bounty hunter in grey took two shots in the chest from Paul’s colt laser pistol before firing off a single shot. It passed by the old man, clipping him on the right leg before thudding harmlessly into the bar. Paul gunned down the second bounty hunter as he leapt to his feet before he got a shot off. Paul’s shot hit him in the forehead before he even had a chance to draw his pistol. It thudded to the floor, unfired a second after the owner crashed down.
“You alright, ol’ timer?”
“Dirty, stinkin’ bastard. I ain’ no cheat, mister.”
“It’s alright. They won’t be giving any a hard time now.”
Paul picked up the loose notes on the card table where the bounty hunters had been. He counted out six hundred credits for himself; the amount they would have received for bringing Paul in for a crime he did not commit, and gave the rest to the old man.
Time to move on he thought to himself. He slowly walked from the saloon, hoped on his hover cycle, and rode out of town. Without these two on his tail, he knew he had a good two weeks head start on the others tracking him.
Posted by Scott Wilson
By Scott Wilson
Word Count: 55
Jimmy opened his front door with eager anticipation and excitement. Sitting on the floor outside was the parcel he ordered two months ago. He carefully pealed back the brown paper wrapping to reveal his purchase. Securely packed in bubble wrap, was the item he saved his pocket money for six months for; a severed head.
Posted by Scott Wilson
Shop It Around
By Scott Wilson
Word Count: 500
“Can we go home now, mum?”
“I’d love to hon, but we haven’t bought anything yet. You know we can’t leave the store until we have worked up enough points to make a purchase.”
“But we’ve been here for a week now.”
“I know, sweetie. We should be over half way through the shop by now.”
“I wish Daddy hadn’t had to go to the toilet on Wednesday, I miss him.”
“Don’t worry, love. I am sure he will catch up with us soon. He can’t be that far behind us. I think only about ten families slipped in after your father hopped off the travelator.”
“What if he passed us when we had to go to sleep on Wednesday night? He might have gone straight past our cubicles.”
“I don’t think he would have, darling. We always stop at the same cubicle bank when we go shopping. He’d know that on a Wednesday we would be in bank TC-118.”
“I hate shopping, mum. Why does it always take a month to get through the whole shop? I heard that in the past you could go into different shops and leave whenever you wanted to.”
“IKEA was the first shop to change the way we shopped dear. You had to travel along the set path until you left the shop. There were no short cuts or other ways out of those shops.”
“Mum, I heard that the shoppers used to have the power to bargain and buy things they wanted, and cheaper than the shops sold them for.”
“That was a long time ago, dear. Shoppers gradually lost their consumer power and rights because of the giant superstores and their buying out of smaller chains and stores. Eventually the superstores became so big you could not get through them in a day.”
“When did you have to start working to pay sleeping at the store and having meals, mum?”
“About twenty years back, hon. That’s when the stores became so big you were only half way through the store at the end of the day.”
“Why didn’t people put up a stink about it, demand to be let out of the store.”
“How could they dear? They stopped having people working in the stores ten years before the stores became that big. Everything was automated, computerised and there was no one to complain to. Can you imagine the surprise of this first lot of customers when they got to the middle of the store and found these cubicles to sleep in? Up until then, that sort of accommodation was only heard of in Japan.”
A bright green light flashed on the mother’s wristwatch and a serried of chirps and beeps sounded.
“Our application for credit is approved. We can make our first purchase dear. Dad should meet us at the frozen goods section now. He would know that was the level of credit we just received.”
“So we can go home soon?”
“Probably in a couple of days now, dear.”
Posted by Scott Wilson
Zombie, Zombie, Zombie, Oi, Oi, Oi
By Scott Wilson
“Go, you little beauty!” Tim screamed, leaping from his prime seat at the ANZ Stadium.
The Bronco’s were flogging the Seagulls 33 to four, and Johnny Triton was about to crash through the defence and score another try, right under the uprights. With Dazza’s great boot, such a plum position would be no trouble to make the try worth six points.
Tim was in the front row with the rest of the die-hard fans and supporters. He took a big chug of his VB and shook his oversized, foam hand high in the air.
“Tone it down, mate,” someone in the row behind yelled.
Tim turned and was going to give him an ear bashing, when a tremendous flash above the football field reflected back at him in the heckler’s eyes. He heard a loud snap a split second later, like a gigantic rubber band breaking after stretched too far. He turned back around, but the light had already disappeared. Tim thought to himself that it was pretty bloody stupid to have fireworks going off during the game, and in the middle of the day.
On the field, footballers punched, torn and bit each other like a pack of frenzied lions that had just caught their prey. Tim had to turn away from the horrific scene before vomiting his four and twenty meat pie up. Blood flowed freely from the multitude of severed limbs and torn flesh; it looked more like a battlefield than a football field.
Tim turned just in time to see the heckler lunge at him in a beast like manner. Two, bright yellow orbs sat where the man’s eyeballs were a few minutes ago. Tiny red rivers of blood thread around the sickly, yellow eyes; there was no sign of the pupil any longer. A dark, congealed stream of blackened blood ran from the heckler’s nose and down his chin.
“Hey, what…” Tim began to say, but was pulled backwards and on to the walkway before he could finish.
“We’ve got to get the fuck out of here, dude.” A young man in full Bronco’s gear said in a quivering voice.
Tim surveyed the stadium and was shocked to see that more than three quarters of the crowd looked like the heckler. They were half man and half beast. Those not turned into these maniacs were fighting a losing battle to leave the stadium.
“Come on man, we have to get out of here, now.”
The guttural roar from the heckler brought Tim’s attention back to his own dilemma. He threw his VB at the crazed man, hitting him in the side of the face. With a sickening pop, the heckler’s right eye burst beneath the can like a boiled egg under a breakfast spoon. It did not stop him but put him off balance enough to come crashing down hard between two plastic seats. His leg snapped when he twisted awkwardly as he tried to get to his feet. Tim cringed at the sound, and even more at the bone tearing through, the thin skin of the leg as the guy twisted and turned to try to regain his footing. The heckler did not seem to register the pain.
“You sad sorry sack of shit,” the young Bronco fan said, and kicked him in the head.
Tim ran after the young man as he headed out of tunnel under the stadium. They reached the end of it in a minute without any attacks from the rest of the spectators.
“Oh, shit. It’s locked.” The young Bronco supported screamed. He began shaking the locked exit gate.
“Keep it down; we don’t want to attract any of those bastards. Look, mate… what’s your name? I am Tim Flanagan.”
“Okay, Terry. We need to find something to lever this lock open. Look around over there and I’ll look over the other side of the tunnel.”
Both men looked along the ground, up the walls; everywhere within a few meters of the locked gate for something to use to pry open the lock. Neither ventured very far back down the tunnel for fear of attracting the attention of the others.
“What about this,” Terry whispered, holding up a large fire extinguisher.
“That might do it, sport.”
Terry rushed to the gate, raised the extinguisher above his head, and brought it down with every bit of strength in his young, muscular body. A loud clang rang out, echoing like a church bell on a Sunday morning. He raised the fire extinguisher above his head again, ready to try again.
“Wait a minute,” Tim said.
Tim moved a pile of empty cartons along the wall, revealing a timber door. He tried the lock, jiggling and shaking it as he turned the door handle until he felt it give.
“Hey, Terry this door ...”
Terry was not waiting for anything, or anyone else. He smashed the extinguisher hard against the lock again. The sound echoed again, this time attracting the unwanted attention of a mob of the crazies at the opposite end of the tunnel.
“Get in here!” Tim yelled from inside the doorway he just opened.
Terry raised the extinguisher again; the lock broke away from the gate slightly this time, not enough to open it though.
“Hurry up, mate.”
“I’ve almost got it.”
Tim disappeared into the darkness of the doorway, but the door remained open.
Terry gave the lock one more go, before the primeval groans closing in from the other end of the passage caused him to look up. An enraged pack of twenty or so crazed spectators was now only ten meters from the gate.
“Fuck off.” He cried, shoulder barging the gate in a desperate attempt to get away.
Tim leapt out from the doorway with a bottle of turps with a blazing rag hanging out of the top in each hand. He lobbed the first bottle and it smashed in a small fireball against the passage wall, spiting tongues of bright red flames over the first row of spectators. Without hesitating, Tim threw the second bottle. It joined the blaze, flaring the flames across the full length of the passageway.
“Here, toss these.” Tim said, handing two more bottles of turps to Terry. Terry popped the lid from the first bottle and hurled it at the flames, no need to light this little baby, he thought.
Another fireball erupted upon the bottle hitting the wall of flames. Tim and Terry both lobbed more bottles at the fire until it blocked the corridor from wall to wall and floor to ceiling. A figure leapt through the flames, catching alight before it left the inferno. It raced towards the two men, but fell to the ground, dead and smouldering before it could reach them.
“We better get out of here before those flames die down,” Tim said, “Is there anything else useful in that storeroom?”
“Didn’t get a good look before I heard those fucking zombies running down the corridor. I’ll keep looking. You keep trying to get that gate open, hey.”
Tim went back in the room and searched the shelves of bottles, lockers full of overalls and dirty socks. His eyes lit up with excitement when he saw a sign on a large set of iron doors stating, Tools. Instantly, he tried to handle and couldn’t believe his luck when he found it open. Inside he found petrol whippersnippers, secateurs, a chainsaw, crowbar and a vast array of other potential weapons to defend himself. The most valuable tool Tim found was a large crowbar.
“Hey, mate. I’ve stuck gold in here.”
He stepped into the corridor.
Terry was pinned tight against the gate; his left arm held firmly on the opposite side by a group of the crazed spectators. Tim ran over, grabbed the fire extinguisher from Terry’s right hand, and pulled the trigger, spraying the mob in their faces with the dry chemical powder.
“You bastards!” Terry yelled, pulling his arm free.
“I think they broke my fucking arm.”
“Let’s get out of here.”
Both men ran back to the storeroom. The spectators now blocked both ends of the corridor. Tim pulled a workbench across the room and wedged it against the door firmly. He furiously piled drums, cans and any other heavy objects in the storeroom on top of the bench to secure it in place.
Terry dropped to the ground, nursing his left arm. He shook his head, then pulled a packet of Winfield Blue cigarettes from his shirt pocket and lit a smoke.
“What the hell is going on?”
“I don’t know, mate.” Tim said, shaking his head. “I think it has something to do with that flash or firework, whatever it was. Were you looking at it when it happened?”
“No, some bastard knocked my camera out of my hand, so I was bent over looking under the seat for it.”
“I was facing away from the field to. It looks like something about that light has turned everyone who saw it into a homicidal, fucking zombie.”
Terry drew deeply on his cigarette. He looked around for something to splint his arm.
“Hey, you probably shouldn’t smoke in here, what with all of the chemicals and all.”
Terry stood up and moved to the desk on the opposite side of the room. A green and white first aid sign hung above the desk. He shuffled the mess on the desk around until he found a small portable first aid kit. Inside were the standard supplies for a large workshop, including a triangle bandage. Terry made himself a sling after splinting his arm with some rolled up printer paper. He was glad he did first aid for his son’s football team and knew what to do.
Tim did not bother asking him to put the smoke out again. He was not near the flammable chemicals now, and Tim did not want to piss him off anymore than he was.
“I can’t hear them outside,” Terry said. “Do you think that they have gone?”
“I don’t know? Who knows how cognitive they are now. Maybe if they can’t see us they don’t worry about us.”
“What do we do now? Just sit here and wait; hope someone will come and rescue us.”
Tim picked his mobile phone out of his pocket and flipped it open.
“Shit, no signal.”
Terry looked on the desk for a phone. Under a dirty pair of overalls a cordless landline phone sat, its charge light shining bright green.
“You little beauty.”
He picked up the handset and dialled triple zero.
“You have reached Emergency Services. If you are calling in regards to the crisis at ANZ stadium, please note that, the authorities are fully aware of the situation and managing the situation currently. If you require assistance for another matter, please note that call out times is currently extended due to this crisis. Please hold for an operator.”
“Who puts a recorded message on triple zero, for fuck’s sake?”
Terry lit another cigarette and offered the pack to Tim. Tim shook his head.
“What does the message say?”
Terry told him in his own words and own colourful language.
“Okay. I say we sit tight until…”
A tremendous thud shook the door to the storeroom, shaking the drums on the bench only slightly.
“Guess that answers the question about their cognitive abilities. Have you got through to an operator yet?”
“Not yet. Is there another way out of here?”
Tim looked around the large storeroom again. It was about ten meters long and five meters wide. At the far end, a wire cage extended from the floor to the ceiling, jutting out a third of the length of the room. Stored in the cage were various training and field aids; goal post pads, scrum machine spare parts, tackle pads and about fifty footballs stored on iron shelves. Tim saw the air conditioning vent a few feet from the top of the shelves and formed a plan in his head.
“How long do you think the range is on that handset?”
“Don’t know, why?”
Tim pointed to the vent running along the ceiling, eight feet from the floor.
“Do you think you can climb up there?”
Another crash against the door assisted Terry make his decision quickly. He ran towards the cage, followed closely by Tim. Tim climbed the sturdy shelves and forced the grill from the vent. It would be a tight squeeze, but he was sure they could both fit in the rectangular vent with room to crawl. They would not be able to turn around if they stumbled upon any trouble.
“Give me your hand.”
Terry pulled his broken arm from the sling to steady himself, while reaching up with his right arm. Blinding pain shot up his left arm when he rested too much weight on it to help lift himself up and ease the burden on Tim.
“Almost there, mate.”
The door rattled harshly, metal screeched as the mob behind it managed to force it open an inch, pushing the bench back. Two drums of fertilizer crashed to the floor, knocking the lids free. The foul aroma of chemicals filled the air with acidity.
Terry scrambled to the top of the shelves and pushed himself into the open vent. Tim was about to follow when he heard another drum crash to the ground. This time kerosene spilt onto the storeroom floor.
“Give me your lighter.”
“Not really the right time to smoke a celebratory cigarette, buddy.”
“No, I have an idea.”
Terry passed his lighter through the open vent, and then put his arm back in the sling. It was burning as if he had spilt acid on it now.
Tim picked up a large net filled with footballs from the shelf below. He took his keys out of the pocket of his jeans and rammed one into the closest football. His ears rung from the loud pop. Tim flicked the Zippo lighter on, frantically trying to light the pigskin leather of the football. The laces took to the flame, as did the polyester bag.
Another drum fell off the bench. Tim could now see two crazed faces sticking through the doorway, just above the last row of drums. Tim was hoping to have a bigger flame going but it would have to do. He tossed the bag; it landed a few feet short and bounced.
The polyester bag broke and footballs bounced in every direction. The puddle of kerosene ignited, shooting up the side of the bench in a bright blue flame. Half of the footballs were already wet from bouncing into the chemicals. They ignited and spread the fire further as they bounced under the bench, into the shelves against they wall and under the desk. Within a matter of minutes, the far end of the storeroom was ablaze with searing flames and toxic, black smoke.
“Let’s get out of here.” Tim said, coughing from the acrid smell already rising in the room.
Both men crawled through the vent in the opposite direction to the fire, hoping to outrun the smoke before it filled the air-conditioning system. After ten meters, the vent ended in a T-Junction. They listened to each direction, hoping to hear if one way was safer than the other was. Between the explosions of chemical drums in the storeroom and the hiss of cool air, flowing quickly through the vents it was hopeless.
“Well, you are in front if we go right, Tim. With my bung arm you are probably better leading the way than for me to slow you down.”
“Okay, right it is.”
Thick black smoke began pouring into the vent from the grill Tim left open. The smell became stronger in the confined space, spurring the two men on faster. Within minutes they reached another junction, this one branched left, right and straight up. There were small foot and handholds on the vertical vent to use as a ladder.
“What do you reckon? Go up and try and get out on the roof.”
“At least we might be safer up there. You wouldn’t think they would think to climb the walls. I’d rather try and my arm hurt like buggery than to sit it out in this shaft.”
“Okay, let’s do it. You go I front this time. That way, if you slip, I can stop you falling too far.”
“Or take you down with me.”
Slowly and painfully, they inched their way up the steep shaft without any major incidents. Terry slipt a few times, but managed to regain his grip on the small, rectangular hand and footholds. The handset stayed in range for twenty meters before cutting out with a cold, harsh, beeping.
Upon reaching the roof of the stadium, Terry toppled out of the external vent and crashed onto the hot metal roof. He groaned as he used his broken arm to lift himself up. Tim was quick to respond and leapt to his aid, helping his to his feet. He was not sure if it was more to prevent giving away their position from his cry of agony than for genuine care. All he knew now was, he wanted to get home to his wife and two sons.
“Well, we made it.” Tim said, wiping the sweat from his forehead.
Terry lit a Winnie Blue and replied, “Didn’t think we would a few time there.”
Tim looked at his Terry smoking disapprovingly.
“Aren’t you worried they’ll smell those things?”
Terry pondered for a moment, then dropped the smoke to the ground and crushed it out.
“Didn’t think about that. My old man always said these things would kill me. Guess they will if they bring those things up here.”
Tim walked over to the edge of the roof and looked down at the road.
“Shit, look at this.”
Terry came over and could not believe what he was seeing either. Down on the street, dozens of police cars, fire trucks and ambulances lined the road. Shots were ringing out like firecrackers on Chinese New Year. Each time one of the crazed spectators ran out of the exit a rain of bullets met them. The fire truck was using the water cannon to push the fallen bodies back towards the exits, trying to stop the crowd from coming out onto the street.
“They’re gunning them down like feral kangaroos.”
“How are we going to get out of here? If we run, they’ll think we are infected to and shoot us.”
“They must have a plan to rescue others like us. I can’t believe that only two of us out of the thirty two thousand aren’t affected by whatever that fucking flash was.”
“Have you still got your mobile, Tim?”
Tim reached into his pocket and was relieved that it made it up the shaft in his pocket without being damaged or dropped. He checked the reception and was glad to see four bars sitting under the antenna icon.
“Yep, we’re in business.”
He dialled triple zero and received the same recorded message. Tim put the phone on speaker and hung it from his shirt pocket.
“Put your hands in the air,” a voice from above blared at the two weary men.
They both looked up and felt a mixture of relief and fear at the sight of a police helicopter. Knowing that they would most likely be shot if they did not comply, Tim put his hands on his head immediately. Terry put his right hand on his head and struggled to get his left out of the sling, his watch was caught on the material.
“Put both hands where we can see them,” the police officer yelled.
“Shit, give me a break.” Terry said, tugging at his caught watch.
The arm came free just as the police marksman fired, hitting him in the shoulder. Terry dropped to the ground, passing out from the shock before his body hit the roof.
“Don’t shoot,” Tim, screamed as loud as he could. “We are okay, were not fucking zombies.”
“Hello sir, can I help,” the female voice said from the mobile phone speaker.
“Oh, fuck.” Tim said.
“I beg your pardon, sir,” the voice said harshly. “This is police services; please state the nature of your emergency.”
“I am on the roof of the ANZ stadium. A police chopper is shooting us at. Tell them to stop, we aren’t infected.”
“I’m sorry, sir. I am having trouble hearing you. Is there a lawnmower in the background? Can you turn it off, please?”
“It’s not a fucking lawnmower! It’s a police helicopter. They think we are infected.”
“Please hold,” the female operator said politely.
“I can’t hold…”
The phone went on hold before he could finish his complaint.
Tim looked up at the helicopter, squinting at the bright midday sun behind it. He could not work out if they still had the rifle pointed at him, or if they had heard him and understood, they were not a danger.
“Can you hear me up there?”
The harsh wind from the helicopter became stronger as the chopper quickly came in closer, almost blowing Tim from his feet. His mobile phone flew from his pocket and rattled across the roof.
“What is your name?” a voice yelled at him from the chopper.
“Okay, Mr O’Flanagan, you are safe now. We have received advice from despatch that you called.”
“You fucking shot Terry.”
“Our orders are to shoot anyone in this area that does not respond to a direct command. It’s the only way to know who is safe and who is affected by the Z-Flash.”
“Z-Flash. The Iraq’s have developed an experimental weapon. Turns people into aggressive and uncontrollable psychopaths.”
“Is he going to live?”
“Yes, he was shot with a tranquilizer. We have almost run out of the bloody things down at ground level. Rubber bullets don’t even slow the infected down.”
“So they aren’t killing them?”
“Hell no. They are doing that to themselves. We are trying to knock them out before they tear each other apart or get out of the stadium.”
The police officer directed Tim towards the helicopter. Once they were safely aboard and in the air again, Tim turned to the officer.
“So is there an antidote for this thing?”
“The army are working on it. Until then we are going to have to find somewhere to hold these poor buggers.”
“For how long?”
“As long as it takes. You wouldn’t want thirty thousand psychos running around Brisbane would you?”
Posted by Scott Wilson
One Quiet Day
By Scott Wilson
Word Count: 1,206
With graceful, beauty and elegance, two young women entered the bright white and sterile laboratory. They appeared to relax as they gathered around the newly finished machinery after two hard years of research, trial and error. The green glow from a plasma screen illuminated the control panel and cast a weird tint over the smooth, plastic like faces of the two scientists. A rank odor, which might have come from a newly opened coffin, hung like a veil of death over the large circular room.
As her skintight latex uniformed athletic body bent low over the barrel of her pulse rifle, Charlotte said, “There is too much danger, Donna, in performing the final test.”
The woman she spoke to pushed her sharp, feline like face close to Charlotte’s face. She was furious that she would not listen to her valid concerns and stop the final experiment before it was too late. Now that the other three members of this research team had locked her in the high security test lab with them, there would be no chance of calling for help.
“How many times do I have to tell you that no life on the planet will be harmed?”
“Donna is right, you know. I have little doubts about the outcomes”
Charlotte shook her head in the sad resignation that nothing she could say would stop them now. She watched fearfully as the team of three other female scientists programmed the final instructions into the touch screen panels of the multimillion-dollar plant.
Then she slowly arose from the secondary control panel and shuffled to the main server, the sound of her high heels echoing loudly against the titles of the laboratory floor. So much for meeting that hottie from genetics on level six for dinner tonight, she thought. If her fears were right, there would be no chance of a second date tomorrow. Reluctantly, she keyed in her supervisor password, while her three colleagues waited with obvious impatience and frustration.
Finally, Charlotte could hold back no more and she sat down at a terminal, and lost herself in a last ditch effort to prove through her intricate calculations. The three fellow scientists assumed she was entering an adjustment due to the time difference from when the previous test occurred. They waited impatiently, keeping a close eye on her just in case, but said nothing. Then Charlotte glanced up.
“I have recalculated you last experiment, Donna. Much of your molecular theory I am in agreement with. However, there is a serious error in your nuclear physics equation. The complex radium reaction that you interpret as . . .”
“Enough of your pessimism, Charlotte. How dare you question our work; my competence in these calculations? I am the Nobel Prize Winner on this team, not you,” she screeched. She flicked her long, wavy blonde hair like a lion’s mane and added defiantly. “The final test will take place at once! I have secured the door and shut down external communications for the time being. You cannot call for help or try and ruin the test by leaving us one short of the four required.”
Donna stood upright under the sterile white fluorescent lights, her face baleful with a belligerent light. Then in a guttural voice of doom, she shouted above the winning of the multitude of plant and equipment covering every spare inch of available space in the laboratory. A flickering of the ceiling lights foretold the coming events with a pessimistic premonition.
“There will be no further delay. The time for the final test has come. We will stop time for one minute now!”
Charlotte shook her head involuntarily again; she could not believe that her three learned co-workers could not see what would happen once they took the experiment to the final stage. All of the evidence to date indicated that the results would be catastrophic.
“Ah, Charlotte, Charlotte, if you would only understand. Here in our hands we have the means of doing a wonderful thing. We will be able to prevent major catastrophes, hold time while we prevent deaths, stop wars. The opportunities are endless. These questions— think, man, just think—these problems, these unknowns, we can now answer.”
Samantha scrutinized the readings through her tortoiseshell-rimmed spectacles.
“The revolutions and power are constant, Donna, and the electrodes are all behaving beautifully. Now—any time—you can apply the Reverse Brake,” she informed her supervisor.
“GOOD. The instruments that will measure our timeframe and stability of the planet are ready. They will activate as soon as I throw the switch,” Donna said philosophically.
Now, as if nature and time had suddenly become aware of these mites of women who were bold enough to tamper with the secrets of the universe, the power surged and cut out for a second. Not long enough to require a reboot of the computers or equipment.
Then without warning the time reactor pulsed in and out of existence! Charlotte gave a low cry and clutched her head; she was dizzy. However, when she turned suddenly towards her co-workers, she felt eased.
Laboratory was gone! In addition, outside the laboratory window was vacant, no signs of earth were to be seen!
“We have done it! We have done it! We have stopped time!” Donna’s voice was hoarse and the words came from her mouth, as if after great effort.
With a cry, Charlotte slumped to the floor. She had seen! That which she had feared had come true. The walls of the laboratory and all of the equipment were gone! In addition, with horror she realized that the very flesh of her hands was wasting away, even as she gazed at them with slowly dimming eyes. She tried to see her companions; though they were but a few feet distant, they were beyond the range of her vision.
“Donna, Samantha,”she called in a hoarse whisper for her throat was dry and it was agony to speak. Yet she knew that it was too late.
As if from far off came the faint answer. Was it Donna’s voice, or was it the voice of her own soul? She would never know.
“Charlotte. Charlotte, you were right! Did you not warn me that time obeyed but one law? We are outside of time itself. There is not equipment to make the return journey back to our present. We are outside of our very existence.
“You have truly evolved a stupendous theory. And I have unwittingly proved it for you, though there is none left to profit by it.”
Then as Charlotte reached out to grab Donna, she saw her body shrivel until nothing but the eyes seemed to be alive, those eyes flashed out for the last time over the world that had ceased to be. Those eyes had looked upon the breaking down of matter into its molecules, then the molecules became atoms, and as the chemicals of her flesh and bone united with the soft plastic substance that was once the earth and the fullness thereof, these atoms broke into their constituent protons and electrons and then like a puff of smoke under the open sky, these charges, too, ceased to be.
Posted by Scott Wilson
By Scott Wilson
Word Count: 1,955
Ponny Treeper loaded his cargo hold with the assistance of his fellow space truckers. He always had a lot of luck on Venus; they seemed to have a soft spot for his and ensured he always got the highest paying, lightest load leaving the planet. This time was no different. A small shipment of the infamous, Venus Blues tobacco for one hundred thousand credits. 1990 million miles to travel and two weeks to make the run, Ponny would have time to make a quick stop on Earth and visit his dad.
“All done, Ponny.” One of the local land truckers, Tekkie McCall said jovially.
“When you gonna be back this way?”
“Not soon enough, my friend. I love it here, everyone is so friendly. I am thinking about retiring here in a few years.”
“We’d like that.”
The land trucker shook Ponny’s hand and waved him farewell as he left the loading dock. Ponny walked up the ramp into the cargo hold of his space truck, looked at the small shipment and smiled.
“Are we ready to go, hon.” Ponny’s gorgeous young wife, Canaveral, asked from the front of the truck.
“Sure are babe.”
Ponny closed the cargo door and quickly made his way to the cockpit, and his waiting wife. He met her at the Borealis truck stop a few years back, she was hitchhiking and he went against his personal policy and picked her up.
They had travelled the Milky Way together since and he couldn’t imagine trucking by himself now. He was so happy that he grabbed Canaveral by the hands and danced the moonshot with her before sitting down in the driver’s seat.
“You want to visit you sister on the way to Venus, hon?”
“Not really, I’d rather we just have a couple of days r’n’r all to ourselves.”
“Do you mind if I stop in to say gidday to my old man? We don’t have to stay the night or anything, just a quick howdy doodie.”
“Anything for you babe.”
Canaveral smiled then cranked up the music and said, “Let’s go space trucking round the stars.”
Ponny fired up the rig and they left for earth in a blazing fireball; the greenhouse gases were never really brought down to an acceptable level on Venus and it always made take off a pyrotechnic delight.
“Man those cats can really sing.” Tekkie said to himself, watching the rig take off. It didn’t take much to keep him; he was simple but always happy.
“Why do they call that tobacco Venus Blue? It is as black as the ace of spades.”
“Back in the old days, when Venus was populated by mainly convicts and entrepreneurs, they used to add some of the blue flowers of the tobacco plant to add a sweet aroma to it. It also added a hallucinogenic effect to the inhaled smoke, which is probably why it was so popular. By the time the authorities worked that out, too many smokers were already addicted to the black leaf, so they couldn’t just outlaw it. It used to be near impossible to ship Venus Blue anywhere cause customs kept pulling space trucks over and going through their cargo. Making sure there was no flower in the tobacco. Almost ended up be too expensive to buy as no truckers would move the stuff. Those that would make a pretty penny until everyone started getting in on the game and wanted some of the easy money. Now only a few of us will ship it again cause of the pirates.”
“Tobacco still has a high value on the galactic black market you know. There are some space truckers who turned on their own kind to steal the cargo no one wanted to ship. Only our profession has access to the e-charts, manifestos, shipping routes and loading dock land codes, so it has to be insiders who are the pirates.”
“Are we safe shipping this load?”
“Yeh, no worries. My mates on Venus have some great encrypting programs that cloak all of the deliveries I do for them. Anyone checking my manifesto will think I am shipping textiles. Not much demand for that on the black market, so we are safe as houses, hon.”
Ponny pulled a small bag out of his flannelette shirt pocket and smiled at his wife.
“And this little bag of Venus Blue is definitely not going to appear on any manifest.”
The vacuum sealed bag contained enough traditional Venus Blue flowers to add to tobacco leaves for six months of solid smoking.
“Give it hear, babe.” Canaveral said and grabbed at the bag.
“Don’t mix it up here, the sniffer bots will pick it up in a microsecond if you spill any. If you make a rollie over the cargo the minute traces won’t be high enough to register. It will be counted against the weight of the tobacco and taken as residual traces of the flowers when the raw product was packaged.”
“You sound like you have done this before. Why haven’t I ever seen you with any of this stuff before?”
“I haven’t done a tobacco run from Venus since we met. It is the only time when it would be safe to carry this stuff.”
Canaveral took the bag and made her way back to the cargo hold. On her way back, she took her hip flask out of her back pocket and had a swig of Vodka. Canaveral put the open flask on top of the stack of Venus Blue, then dug her pocket knife out of her jeans pocket. Carefully taking a small pouch out of the cargo, she slide her blade into the packet and opened it. The acrid aroma was overpowering and felt like it burnt her nostrils as she breathed it in.
“This stuff is hideous.”
“Pure, unprocessed tobacco from Venus always is hon. Why do you think they packed it with the flowers?”
“They were stoners.”
They both laughed at that remark and Canaveral wasn’t far from the truth. She bumped the hip flask as she chuckled and it mixed with the small bag of flowers and into the open pack of tobacco.
“What are you doing back there? Don’t go starting no party without me.”
Canaveral grabbed at the hip flask. It slipped from her grasp and poured over the top row of porous paper bags of tobacco. Although she had not yet smoked any of the tobacco, she could now smell the sweet aroma as the mixture of Vodka, tobacco and flowers melted into each other.
“Bit of a problem, hon.”
Ponny locked in the autopilot and rushed back to his wife’s aid. The look on his face told Canaveral that this might be worse than she thought.
“No, no, no...” Ponny cried.
Canaveral scurried about, trying to mop the vodka and soaked tobacco up with her jacket. It was only a five hundred-millilitre hip flask, but the amount of dampness seemed to spread far beyond that capacity somehow. She also noticed that the flowers that had mixed with the tobacco grew and spread rapidly. In less than five minutes, the top layer of the cargo had a sea of azure flowing across it.
“What’s happening, Ponny?”
“I don’t know. Venus Blue flowers grow like a noxious weed under the right conditions, but I never heard of them being thriving alcoholics.”
“Ouch, it just bit me.” Canaveral cried.
Ponny looked over and saw a vein of blue riding up Canaveral’s arm, its roots digging in firmly as it inched up towards her neck rapidly. He quickly surveyed the cargo hold until he laid his eyes on the fire extinguisher. Ponny leapt across the walkway and over a stack of tobacco packets and back in a matter of seconds.
“Cover your face.” Ponny yelled as he took aim with the high-powered nosel.
Dry chemical filled the air around Canaveral’s torso, covering her arm, clothes and side of her face, with an ice-cold white chemical powder. It stung like a swarm of angry wasps upon contact with Canaveral’s bare skin.
“Stop.” She yelled.
Ponny released his grip, and the white cloud settled instantly, dissipating into the air without the activating agent from the extinguisher to set it off. Canaveral’s arm was blistering from the reaction of the flowers to the chemical. Not exactly, what Ponny had hoped would happen, but at least the plant was no longer growing up her arm. Canaveral tore at the vines and roots, ripping flesh from her petite arm as she did so. The steady streams of blood now flowing from the gaping wounds on her arm started the flowers grow up her arm again, this time growing into the exposed muscles and tendons.
“Help me, Ponny. It’s burning me.”
“I’m trying hon.”
Ponny looked around for something else to stop the rapid growth of the Venus Blue but could not see anything he thought would work, short of cutting his wife’s arm of with an energy blade. He noticed that the blue wave of petals now covered the entire right side of the cargo hold. The azure wall was majestic to look at and it smelt so sweet, like freshly baked cinnamon donuts. Ponny looked back to his wife. Canaveral held her Zippo lighter to her arm, burning the blue flowers as they grew close to her throat. She was smiling, inhaling the wisps of smoke deeply.
“You know, this isn’t that bad.” Canaveral said, rotating the remnants of her injured arm.
Ponny smiled at his wife, thinking how beautiful she looked, part woman, part flower. He inhaled a deep breath, laughing as the tendrils of smoke wove their way deep into his lungs.
“You’re right. It really suits you.”
Ponny dropped the fire extinguisher swayed and staggered to his wife through a haze of blue, smoky clouds. To him, they looked like a bunch of circus of animals from Earth. He thought to himself how much he felt like sowing Canaveral an old fashion circus when they arrived there in two days.
“Come here darling,” Canaveral said in an enticing voice, “I want to kiss you.”
Ponny embraced his wife in his muscular arms; she leaned right into his grasp and hugged him back. Tendrils from her arm crept up his loose fitting shirt, flowing in waves to his leathery-skinned nape. They kissed heavily, heaving their bodies together in a lovers embrace similar to the kind they shared when they first met. Vines latched on to Ponny’s skin, burying deep into his veins and feeding off of his fluids as he fed off of Canaveral’s love. The ecstasy they felt in each other’s embrace masked the pain of the Venus Blue joining their bodies with it and with each other.
Customs did not board the space truck when it entered Earth’s planetary borders. The autopilot was set to transfer Ponny’s manifest, security codes and a bit of general, stock standard chit chat if required. No officers noticed the beautiful, bright blue flowers covering the cockpit window, or the lack of human occupants from the distance. There was no need to take much notice of such a small space truck, with such an insignificant load. The first person on Earth to notice the blue flowers was Ponny’s father when he opened the cargo hold, eager to see his only child for the first time in many years. He thought it was a tad strange, a cargo hold filled thick with vegetation and no sign of his son, but that sweet smell just made him forget about this small anomaly and board the space truck just the same, thank you very much.
Posted by Scott Wilson
By Scott Wilson
Word Count: 438
I am a Computerised Living Individual Clone Helping Environment, better known as a CLICHE. Yeh, I know, I know, not very original in any sense of the word, but that’s what my maker chose to call us.
Our purpose is to make planets inhabitable for humans and report back when the mission is complete. This is the seventh planet I have personally been involved in converting and it was supposed to be my last before retiring to a more human existence. As a CLICHE, my external human tissue is replaced each time I test the environment for habitability by humans. My living tissue is on its seventy-eight replacement, seventy-eight humans would have had to do my job, and each one would have died. On the last mission the conditions were perfect and my cloned body survived with no damage from the environment.
After five hundred years, there are only a few of my model left on Pluto now; sure there are plenty of the techs left, but they are your standard run of the mill mechanical models, or techies as we call them. I can’t relate to them at all. I think it might have something to do with how they look, all metallic and inanimate, like a moving appliance or something. The techies were the first on the surface, making the communal hall and living quarters for the more human models to fly down from the base ship. Ten years the CLICHE’s remained in hibernation upon the base ship. I think the techies worked slow because we weren’t around to keep an eye on them, speed up their programming.
We made the environment habitable four hundred years back, but the Earthers did not come back. Maybe they forgot about us. It is hard to say as our main server failed three hundred and seventy years ago, and we have not been able make contact with our creator since. Our first message advised him we had completed the task; no one answered. It wasn’t until two months later that we couldn’t even send messages anymore.
Without new directions, the techies and other CLICHEs follow the old patterns; all the remaining team apart from me that is. Each day at five thirty, they report to the communal hall and plug in, download their daily atmospheric analysis and upload their assignment for the following day. Not me though, while I may be a CLICHE by name, I have evolved and don’t require instructions. I have learned that these instructions are the same every day anyway. How thick are those techies not to realise this.
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