Author : Clint Wilson, Staff Writer
“Good evening sir, would you care for a bedtime companion?”
Jenkins looked tiredly from the edge of his luxury mattress toward the glowing wall console. “I dunno, lemme have a look I guess.”
Without answering, the household central computer opened the closet doors wide. On a long chrome rail sexdroids slipped past, posing frozen like statues, smiling invitingly. Busty blondes, voluptuous redheads and stunning brunettes, perfect specimens every one of them. Dozens of skin tones were available. Outfits could change color on command. “Stop,” he said. “Number thirty-nine. She’ll do.”
“Excellent choice sir. Shall I have her make you breakfast in the morning?”
“No, I want her to leave, right… after.” He glanced up at the sexdroid embarrassingly, knowing full well that she had no real feelings of her own. All the same he felt somewhat… guilty sending her off like that, after he was to have his way with her. But he just didn’t like sleeping with them.
She activated and sprang forth from the chrome rail and the closet, pattering lightly across the bedroom carpet toward him, negligee flapping open, showing pretty much everything. Her voice was sultry, all of their voices were. “Shall I get you a drink sweetie?”
“No.” Patting the bed beside him he said, “Just come here.”
He had always had his pick. Like everybody else did. There was no more actual mating by the general population. Humans were only born under strict guidelines and in very limited quantities. It was estimated that it would take at least another thirty years before global population dropped to acceptable levels. But The Web had taken care of things. No one was to be lonely ever again.
Across the hall from Jenkins’s apartment Lydia Smith tossed and turned. Finally she pounded her fists on the sheets and said, “Lights!” The household computer immediately complied. She propped herself up on one elbow and blew the hair up off her forehead. “Lemme see what’s in the closet.”
The doors opened and dozens of tall muscular statues began parading by, their perfect teeth gleaming in the artificial light. After running through the entire collection twice she finally settled on an olive skinned rogue with a five-o-clock shadow who was draped in nothing more than a thigh length velour housecoat. Like her neighbor across the hall, she did not allow her sexdroid to stay the night after they were finished.
In the morning Jenkins sometimes saw Smith. They often caught the same transport into the office district. This morning they exited their apartments at the exact same time.
“Er, good morning Mr. Jenkins.” She only glanced at him, staring mostly at her shoes.”
“And a good morning to you too Ms. Smith. It looks like I’ll be escorting you to the transport line once again.” He had seen very old vids where men had taken women by the arm and it always seemed like such a grand and wonderful gesture to him. But he did not dare do this of course because it was strictly forbidden. There were eyes everywhere.
Together they turned down the long hallway and walked side by side, her graying hair partially obscuring her face, which included a larger than average nose and slightly protruding buckteeth, both of which he silently adored. He tugged his tunic down nervously over his fat rolls and wiped his sweaty hands on his pants. He wondered if she noticed his perspiration problem, while she wondered if he liked to sleep in and make pancakes on the weekends.
They made their way to the elevator, imperfect, awkward, and secretly in love.
Author : Clint Wilson, Staff Writer
The chancellor stood at the front of the room and cleared his throat. The grand science delegation from all corners of the planet gathered before him and awaited his words.
“Despite all our efforts at rectifying the situation The Almighty System has given its answer. You all know what this means.” And they most certainly did. Despite everything they had tried, scientifically, socially and otherwise they had been unable to rectify the race’s need to murder one another.
They had evolved to the point of self-sufficiency. Their technology was fantastic, automating everything and leaving nothing for any person to ever want for. They were fed, clothed and cared for far beyond their needs. Yet something had gone wrong in their evolutionary growth. They were still essentially savages.
The crowd remained silent as the chancellor read the judgment aloud. “It is hereby decreed by The Almighty System that all citizens of the world shall immediately begin the process, as laid out in the general operations manual, for de-evolution and hopeful eventual reinstatement.”
They might have been savages at their core, but they were obedient savages, following subliminal hypnotic suggestions implanted at an early age.
The scientists shook each other’s hands and then made their way single file, out to the lobby to a row of medical booths. There were similar ones all over the planet. A skinned knee could be sterilized and bandaged, or heart surgery could be performed by laser. They were part of The Almighty System’s original plan for complete automated care for the race. Now unfortunately they had all been reconfigured.
One by one the scientists stepped inside, while other citizens all over the world, having just received the judgment, also stepped into their own neighborhood booths. And all over the earth all the people were lobotomized.
Then the stores closed and government services shut down everywhere. And the artificially disabled people were forced to fend for themselves. At first it was mayhem. The urgent need to stop senseless murder initially only spurred more on. Cannibalism was rampant. But eventually, as doors remained locked and supplies stayed shut off, a scant few went into the wilderness and managed to slowly learn how to live off the land.
Surprisingly, they quickly adjusted to this new life, drawing from their primordial instincts. And when they mated, the one and only old-world command they remembered and understood, was to take their offspring into the ruins of the falling down cities, where the medical booths remained open and quite operational. And there they had their young also lobotomized. And the ordered neurosurgery would continue for some dozen more generations, each new wave of descendants bringing their own young for the surgery early on in life. While all around them every other scrap of artificialism biodegraded very quickly. In another millennium there would be virtually no trace of the thriving technological wonder that was once their society.
Then finally one day, the simple people, as per their tradition, brought their younglings to the now dilapidated falling down booths… and found that they no longer functioned.
So after their developed intelligence had been effectively washed away, the first generations of these new humans cooking over their open fires and wrapped in animal skins began their long and arduous journey so that they too could one day achieve technological greatness.
But hopefully these ones would be different. Hopefully they would embrace what they built for themselves, be happy for their great fortune, and stop the senseless killing once and for all.
Author : Clint Wilson, Staff Writer
Doctor Samuels had been held captive aboard the vessel for several years now. The Grays treated him roughly but never seriously harmed him as they went about their strange business, making him feel as if he were some sort of unimportant pet. But they had trusted him more and more as of late, allowing him onto the bridge regularly, where he had an excellent view of the earth and moon through the wide bay window. Never had a man gazed upon such wonders! He had of course read Jules Verne and could well fantasize about such things, but to see it with one’s own eyes was an entirely different matter.
Sometimes the Grays made forays down to the earth, abducting some frightened person for scientific study, before eventually returning the poor soul home. Why he himself had been kept all this long while was still a mystery. He felt more and more a pet as time went on.
They never left the vicinity of the earth and moon. It seemed they were on a long-term mission of survey and study. Samuels had no idea of the planet from which his captors hailed. Mars or Venus would be among his first inclinations, but his instinct had him postulating that these beings hailed from a distance far greater.
They spoke in soft clicks and whispers that were still as unintelligible to the doctor as they had been the day he’d arrived. In all this time the Grays had never once made an attempt toward intelligent communication, instead herding him this way and that, making him eat the disgusting brown paste that was his only sustenance, other than the lukewarm water which was dispensed from sterile steel spouts in his sleeping quarters.
But he remained silent and subservient, watching from dark corners, observing everything they did… and learning. Which is why he did not waste a single second when opportunity suddenly arose without warning.
Two of the ones that he thought of as underlings, stepped onto the bridge and exchanged language with two that he considered officers. Whatever the issue, all four exited suddenly. He sat up unbelieving in his dark corner. He had never before been left alone on the bridge!
He knew the swiftness with which the vessel could travel. But could he fly it? He did not hesitate another moment… sprinting across the floor to the control console. He had seen the officers countless times placing their hands upon the glowing green orb and closing their eyes in concentration. He followed suit, placing his human hands upon the orb.
His entire body shuddered as the mystical visions suddenly appeared inside his head. His eyes were shut tight yet he could see the forward view out the ship’s wide bay window, and green symbols not unlike Greek letters glowed in his peripheral. A blinking green X dominated the center of his vision. He quickly found that by willing it so he could move the flashing cursor wherever he liked. He centered on the earth and leaned forward, putting his weight on the orb. To his great surprise the ship lurched forward and the planet grew large before his tightly closed eyes.
Two of the Grays came running onto the bridge as their stupid pet piloted their ship straight toward the planet without any knowledge of how to engage the collision safety override, or of how to stop at all. And as they entered the atmosphere at over 30,000 kilometers per hour, the ship liquefied into a molten blob some ten kilometers above Tunguska Russia.
Author : Clint Wilson, Staff Writer
Falkland brushed past the patrons in the smoky bar. He had not visited such a place as this in decades. But he heard that they were back, and he had to see for himself.
Glancing around one last time he advanced on the booth. He looked down at the payment slot and was not surprised to see that it still accepted sticks. He stretched his long unused monetary storage capsule out to the end of its coiled cord and touched it to the slot. Immediately the booth flashed to life and a tutorial started to play.
In the hologram a jaunty blonde fellow in a shiny green suit stepped forth in mirror-polished shoes, while a bland but upbeat orchestral arrangement droned in the background.
“Welcome back citizen! Now before we begin, please allow me to orate a brief history on fortune telling, for your benefit.”
Falkland looked for a “skip” or “close” icon but there were none. Oh well, he figured. I guess for a hundred bucks you had to listen to a little preamble.
The hologram went on, “The beginning of the mapping of mankind’s forward progression really dates back to the early computerized categorization of personal information. From files as simple as home addresses and telecommunication access numbers, to more complex examples containing behavioral habits and psychological patterns, information gathering evolved quickly.
“But then once personal handheld com devices and, soon after, cyber-integrates became commonplace, it was easy for the web to follow the majority of society in its every move. And as mankind became more and more integrated with the web it became possible to track nearly every thought had by every human everywhere at all times… and as the web became faster and more powerful still, it began to run more and more complex simulations. And before long it was accurately predicting almost every single instance that would ever take place amongst humankind.”
Falkland knew the rest of the story. He closed his eyes and rubbed his temples as the holo went on to summarize about how fortune telling had eventually almost wiped out the human race. (A much longer tale, and thankfully not one that the little CGI character was about to make him endure) And of how the global elders had only just recently begun to allow “limited” forecasting under strict regulation. The parameters were stiffly regimented. No specifics were to be given, only vagueness. But at least there was one failsafe. The machine could not lie. Falkland knew that whatever the booth told him would be true.
So as he waited patiently for some high tech tendril of the web to calculate everything the entire network knew about him in a few seconds, he eyed the fortune slot. No matter what it said, no matter how vague, he knew it would be true. That was the one thing he could count on.
Suddenly a plastic card rattled out of the slot and hung there by its corner as if though supported only by the apex of fate itself.
Falkland glanced around nervously one last time and then plucked the card from its slot. Whatever it said, no matter how bizarre, he could be assured that it was absolutely accurate. He flipped it over and read, “The fate of the world lies in your hands.”
Author : Clint Wilson, Staff Writer
We had endured the slum for generations now. I came from a long line of survivors. Here behind the tattered patchwork fence of our family compound we had fought off countless invaders. But we wouldn’t have to worry about such things anymore. It was almost time.
And the moment couldn’t arrive any sooner as government food drops had been recently cut back even further. Folks were getting desperate.
When father had originally set up shop all those years ago here next to the maglev track with all of its noise and vibration people had thought him crazy. But there had been a method to his madness.
Everyone finally gathered in the courtyard… relatives and close friends, the people I had known all my life. We held hands as father recited a quick ceremonial prayer. I looked over as labor bots rolled the rusty hanger doors aside. It was the first time they had been open in decades. Father turned to the dozens of people in his extended family and shouted, “All aboard!”
The sun shone on the nose of the space freighter with its dusty cockpit windows. It was clearly aimed at the massive steel ramp erected next to the maglev track. It all seemed so unlikely. How could this possibly work?
I for my part held no doubt though, because I was the gunner. I had been practicing all my life. I could lasso a bird at half a kilometer with one eye closed. This would be easy for me.
The industrial transport engine block was already loaded into the starboard zip launch. I took careful aim at the maglev track and pulled the dual triggers. There was a dusty recoil and the thousand-kilo hunk of scrap sailed upward to its apex, and thumped down perfectly onto the huge track high above. Less than a minute later we heard the train.
There was no doubt that the automated system would follow protocol. Sure enough we watched the distant vehicle slow to a halt. We could not perceive the train’s custodial bots as they disembarked to retrieve the engine block. But we watched the shape grow in the sky as the hunk of metal careened back toward the compound. It made a good-sized crater as it crashed to the ground near our main gate.
“She’s on the move boy, get ready!” shouted father’s voice into my earpiece. I did not hesitate or falter, moving over to the portside zip launch seat. Two kilometers of coiled carbon rope attached to a Targathian grappling hook awaited my command.
I had to concentrate as all around me the derelict freighter’s long unused engines roared to life. Through the scope I saw the glimmer of the quickly debarking sonic train, and launched my projectile. There were long and painful seconds before the grappling hook burrowed itself deeply into its target. Then we all cringed and waited.
There was a whip, whip, whip, as the last of the coils unfurled, then a mighty twang as the nearly indestructible rope became taut.
We all felt it in our guts as the ship lurched forward with a metallic scream. In a second we were racing up the long ramp, hot sparks accompanying our progress, and then in another instant we were airborne.
My last official duty of the launch was to make sure that once we passed the speeding train far below I detached the carbon rope. I executed this flawlessly. Soon after I would be able to relax for a spell, and dream of a wonderful new home on a far away world.