Wednesday, October 18, 2017

SHORT STORY: Human

Hello my writerlings and readerlings! Rather than upset you with more YA talks or give you fun lists of top 5 things you shouldn't put up your nose, I've got for you a little story. A little sci-fi story that entered my brain looking like Ryan Gosling that said to me, "Hey gurl, you know you wanna make me real."

So here it is in all it's completely edited glory! I hope you enjoy it! If you do, for the love of all the sci-fi gods, let me know what you did or didn't like about it in the comments section. LET'S DISCUSS IT. Let's talk about themes and stuff! There's probably themes there right?

Probably?

Do you ever get the impression as you're writing that your characters know more than you do? Because let me tell you, I've had people pick out themes and analogies that I don't remember putting there. Silly, sly, characters.

Enjoy!


"HUMAN"
    

        “063, It’s time to wake up.”

            The familiar, almost human voice rouses me, which meant it was eight a.m. Daytime. I remember sunlight, I think. But it’s gone now. Instead, when I look out of my window, all I see is the never-ending blackness of space and twinkling, cold stars.
    
        “It’s time for your warm up now.”
  
          The warm up routine is always the same—a hazy 3D woman with a bright smile that my AI says is a false smile doing jumping jacks, stretches, and a host of other things mean to strengthen my muscles and keep me ‘toned’. After warm ups I have breakfast, which tastes mildly like food I used to eat, but faded. The eggs look like eggs, the bacon looks like bacon, but all of it is really a gray goop that’s stored in a container somewhere below deck. It gets passed through tubes and printed to look like the food humans once ate.

           Humans.

            There were once billions of us, my mothers told me. They said we had a whole planet, and we colonized others. But something bad had happened and we were the only ones to escape. They told me they charted a course for a safer part of space—a safer planet. But my parents were gone before they could tell me where it was, and AI won’t  tell me. It just keeps flying the ship.

            Now there’s just me.

            I’ve asked AI to tell me why humans were gone, what had happened to kill us all. It won’t give me an answer. Whenever I ask It, It makes a strange clicking sound and whirs for a minute before changing the subject or saying it doesn’t understand my question. I’ve given up asking it.
  
          I remember having parents. I remember the feel of mother 023’s cold fingers running through my hair, and my other mother, 018’s deep laughter. I remember their love. I also remember sadness. I remember, when I was very little, mother 018 left to fix something outside on our ship and she didn’t come back in. I remember the nights I was held tightly against mother 023 and had my nightshirt soaked through with her tears.I remember mother 018’s dark hair, and mother 023’s very red lips. But those memories, like the food I eat, are faded now.
     
       “AI, what are we doing today?”
 

           “Today’s lesson will cover history, and the intergalactic trades.”
    
        The AI was programed by my mothers, and it mainly follows the instructions that they last left. I don’t know how to change it. And so I wake up, I warm up, I eat, and I learn. AI has me sit on the circular white couch in the main living pod, and on the glossy round table in front of it, a teacher appears. At least that’s what the AI says it is. It’s an old man—I have never seen a real one before—in a white suit with equally white hair who teaches me history. A woman with black hair and no nonsense dark eyes teaches me English, and I have a host of other teachers the AI gives me.
    
        After my lesson ends I’m free to wander about our ship. I usually watch the fresh herbs grow in water systems on the garden-pod walls. The only food not invented by the AI program is the vegetables that are grown there, and I can even pick them myself. Only tomatoes, potatoes, and peas are grown, but they taste better than the gray goop.
  
          Every day is the same. Every night is the same. Like space, it never seems to change much. I’ve taken up drawing, because I’ve watched the same shows that AI has given me over and over again, and my imagination is always more original than the shows. Sometimes interesting visions come to me that feel familiar. Things that I might have seen, but might not have. I think I remember a blue flower with silver flecks. I think sometimes I remember orange grass. But I can't be sure if it's a memory or my imagination. 

       I once painted murals on the hallway walls of the ship to make them more interesting, and because the paper wasn't big enough for the idea I had in mind, but AI cleaned it up while I was asleep. Seeing my hard work gone in the blink of an eye was devastating, and I never did it again. Why make something if it was just going to get erased? Forgotten.

           Today is like yesterday. After checking on the plants I went to practice drawing in the main pod. I’m given lunch consisting of a sandwich, but all I can really taste of it is the lettuce that was grown from garden-pod. Then I spend some time listening to music. Outside the window my ship cruises along the darkness of space. Sometimes, if I’m lucky, I see interesting planets, but it never stops at them.
   
         “Time for dinner, 063.”
    
        Dinner is rubbery gray-brown meat with peas. AI never makes new things, even when I ask It. It says that it serves me food that will keep me at optimum health. But health for what? For dying? I’m sure I’ll never see the planet my mothers told me about. Sometimes I lay in bed and think about all the ways I could die. There are so many ways. Something outside the ship could break and I can’t fix it, or perhaps the oxygen fails. Or maybe I run out of gray goop and starve.
  
          At exactly ten p.m. AI chimes its soothing bells and dims the lights around the ship to inform me that it’s time for bed. I shower, get dressed, ask for desert like how mother 018 used to make, and am told it's not possible because it doesn’t have the program for it. I ask every night anyway. I guess it’s just habit. Most of what I do is habit. I meditate for ten minutes and then get in bed. But tonight it’s hard to sleep. Tonight I feel restless.
  
          “AI, open windows.”
   
         The gray panels on the left side of my wall slide open soundlessly. Space greets me. Emptiness that is supposed to be alive. It never feels alive. Mother 023 once told me of how man used to be afraid of deep space. We stuck to our solar system and didn’t leave for a long time. Not until we encountered the Thraill, the species that helped us get out. They gave us technology that helped us go faster than any other ship made by humans. Mother 018 said that they were smarter than us humans, and could even survive in outer space without helmets. They were humanity’s greatest gift, because they made humans unafraid of the vast beyond. I can’t imagine being afraid of deep space. But it’s not as exciting as I used to think it was.
   
         I’m not sure when I drifted off to sleep, but I was awoken by AI flashing a red light in my room in rapid bursts.

           “All hands report to the main pod, I repeat, all hands report to the main pod.”
   
         Ai’s voice sounded calm and reassuring, but the red lights made my heart hammer and my skin break out into a sweat. I wanted to hide in my bed. Different always meant something bad. The last time the lights had turned red was to inform me that mother 023 had died. I sat up, clutching my blanket.
    
        “Docking code 837 initiated.”
     
       Docking code? I frowned. I didn’t understand the words.
    
        “Docking code 683 initiated.”
  
          I wasn’t giving instructions, and AI had never said these numbers before. What did they mean? I ran to my door and pressed my hand on the black pad next to it.
   
         “AI, lock door.”
     
       AI clicked and whirred like it did when it was trying to think. The panel under my hand remained black. I felt hot and cold.
   
         “AI, lock the door!”
    
        “Request denied. System 344297 override. Docking request 874 granted.”
  
          “AI, stop!”
    
        “Request denied. System 788384 override granted.”
   
         The red lights stopped flashing. Everything stopped. The air that had been blowing on my face from the vent above the door stopped. I ran back to my bed and dove under my covers. I had nothing to defend myself with, and AI wasn’t letting me lock my door. Something was wrong. What if the air was turned off? Was I going to die?

           I peeked out from under my covers into the still open windows. The full emptiness of space greeted me. A silvery blue cloud of star clusters glimmered in the distance. Was this where I died?
    
        “Check all the doors, Gid.”

        "Yeah, yeah."

         A stranger's voice. A male voice that was deep and stern. It wasn’t as deep as my teacher's, but it was  definitely male. Then his words sunk in. The doors!
   
         “AI,” I whispered. “Lock doors.”
   
         Silence. Nothing. Empty. I buried my head under the blanket and used my ears. I could hear footsteps. Heavy, fast. Big. They sounded big. I know they opened my door because a bright, white light landed on me.
  
          “Oh, shit.” This voice wasn't as deep or as stern sounding. It sounded nicer.
  
          "Are they dead?” The man with the stern voice sounded even angrier.

           “I don’t know. You go check.”
  
          “Me? Hell no!”
  
          “You’re the commander of this operation, you have to.”
   
         “So now you want to follow protocol?”
    
        “I always do.”
     
       “Sure you do, Gid. How’s this for protocol; as your commander I command you to grow a pair, and check the dead body.”
      
      “Screw you.”
     
       “That’s ‘screw you, commander, sir’.”
    
        Their voices were loud in my ears, louder than my heart beat thrumming in my chest. I remember mother 018 talking about these kinds of people. Space Pirates. They would kill you and strip your ship to nothing. I was going to be gone, erased like how AI erased my painting on the walls. Forgotten.

         I didn’t want to be forgotten. I wanted to live.
     
       “Wait!” I cried, and threw off the blanket. “Don’t kill me! I’m alive!”
       
     The men shouted then let out a string of curse words I'd once heard mother 028 utter, and they lowered the bight lights from my face. The hallway light was still on, illuminating their figures. I'd expected to see six armed monsters. Instead I saw two arms, two legs, one head. I was looking at two humans. Male humans.
      
      Humans.
      
      “Shit, it’s a little girl!” Said the man who had been ordered to check on me. “She has red hair. You don’t think this ship is….”
    
        “It definitely is, commander.”
  
          I looked between the two men. Of course I was a girl. Of course I had red hair. I was born this way, just as mother 018 had been.
   
         “Little girl, what’s your name?” asked the one called commander.
    
        “I-I’m 063.”
       
     “Did you hear that, Gid?”
    
       “I heard. Holy shit. It’s really the ship." the man called Gid was looking around my room like he'd never seen anything like it. "I thought it had been destroyed with the rest of the planet.”
    
        “Apparently not.” Said the commander. He sounded grim. Then he smiled the same false smile I had seen on the 3D fitness woman. False. A liar. I shrunk away until y back was pressed against the wall my bed was next to.

           “Hey now 063, don’t be afraid. We’re here to help you. We’re here to rescue you.”
  
          “No you’re not. You’re lying.”
   
         “I’m not.”

         “You are.”

        The command stopped smiling, and frowned instead. I trusted that. That was his real emotion.

        “You’re scaring her.” Said Gid. He took a few steps toward me. “Listen kid, I’m Gideon, and this is commander Rigger. We’re with the military, and everyone this side of the galaxy thought this ship was blown up.”
       
       “It’s not.” I said. Gideon reminded me of mother 023. No nonsense, and his face was serious like her's.
   
         “Yeah, I can see that. Look, we’re here because your ship was sounding out a distress call and we picked it up. Are your parents here?”
   
         “They’re dead.”
           
         “Shit.” This came from the commander. "Do you now how much paperwork this is going to be?"
  
          “I’m sorry for your loss, 063. But we have to get you off this ship now alright? We have to get you back home.”
   
         “Home?”
    
        “The home you were taken from.”
   
         I felt my body sweating again. I wasn’t taken. I was saved. I was the only human left. There wasn’t supposed to be any more of us.
  
          “I was with my mothers. I wasn’t taken. I'm safe.”
     
       The two men looked at each other, then Gideon approached my bed.
   
         “I’m going to tell you something that might be hard to hear.”
  
          “If it's about humans, I already know that there are no more left.” I said. “But maybe mother 018 was wrong. Maybe they didn’t know others had escaped.”
  
          “No more humans….” Gideon gave a strange look to Commander Rigger, and he crossed his arms. Gideon shook his head slowly.

           “Kid, I don’t know what the hell your mother’s told you,” said the commander, “but humans weren’t killed. Just your planet.”
  
          “But mother said—”
  
          “Your mother lied.” Said Gideon. “There are still tons of humans. Billions. But your planet was destroyed.”
   
         “But…why?”
  
          “Because your planet was a place where they put very bad people. And two of those bad people killed your parents and took you and your ship.”

            “Why?” I couldn't imagine mother 023 or 018 killing anyone. Women who tucked me into bed and brushed my hair and kissed my cheeks. They couldn't kill some one.
      
           “Why?”
  
          “Oh just tell her!” yelled the commander. Gideon crept closer to my bed.
   
         “Because you were...are valuable.”
  
          “Because everyone thought I was the last human?”
  
          “Human?” The commander laughed at me, and Gideon kicked him. “Kid who told you that?”

            “Mother 018 and mother 023.”
  
          “They were lying about that too.” Said Gideon. “You’re not…I’m sorry 063, you’re not human. You’re—"
  
          “I am!” I showed him my arms, the blue shade was faintly glowing like it always did in the dark. Like the 3D teachers. I had five fingers, just like any other human. Two arms, two legs, one head. One body.
  
          “No kid…” Gideon had gloves on, a space suite, and the helmet that he had been wearing that made his face greener than my blue one, was taken off. He had dark skin, and dark eyes. The commander took his helmet off and he had a white face, like my 3D teacher.

           “We don’t glow. Humans don’t glow. 063, you’re from a race of now extinct people. You’re the last one. You were stolen by two very smart, very bad, women.”

            “What am I, then?”

           “You’re Thraill.” Said Gideon. “You’re the last one.”
           

            

4 comments:

  1. That's awesome, loved it! Very cool ending too, I liked all the details you added to the girl's daily routine, great scifi short story! 😊

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    1. Awww thank you so much! I've always loved Sci-fi's with twists. I blame it on watching the old Twilight Zone as a kid too often. Lolol!

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  2. I want to know more about the Thraill and the story behind why there was a prison planet and why the women took her. Also why 063 was there for the taking. XD

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    1. Hehehe! I believe that's what fanfic is for right!? ;)

      Honestly if I *really* wanted to, I could make this a mini series. But then that would defeat the purpose of a 'short story'. haha!

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