(Submission for AHWA Short Story and Flash Fiction Competition 2013) Short Story Division – $10
I have seen unspeakable things in my time on Earth. The only inhabitable planet within the galaxy. Now, it is a tomb. All surviving humans remaining await for their consciousness to slip away into the heavens.
The year 2054 brought with it numerous technological advancements. Cures for cancers were discovered, and made commercially available. Poverty had been solved, with foreign aid groups using newly developed seeds which even after germinating and producing crops, they could be replanted immediately after being harvested. Desalination technology had been improved to the point where water shortages were a distant memory.
All worthwhile and exceedingly useful technological developments. As many of the world’s problems had been solved, science was utilized further in satisfying as many consumer wants as possible. Apple, the creator of the Mac computer and the iPhone, moved away from handheld electronics and computers to personal robotics. It was an innovation, to have a robot perform menial tasks such as cleaning and cooking. Eventually, humans grew dependant on their robot servants. By 2060, all households had at least one robot.
Oh, how we were fools. Taken in by the marketing of ‘Never perform housework again! Have someone else do it for you, without the attitude and the need for breaks!”, consumers worldwide snapped up the iRobots, in its different colours and downloadable actions from the App Store. Little did we know, a rogue techno wiz with malevolent designs and a powerful artificial intelligence virus, was the head director of iRobot productions at Apple. And so, in 2062, the human race became a prisoner of their own technology.
After the virus was released, the iRobots went from servants to tyrannical masters. With reinforced plates and fittings, and access to an App Store filled with actions which were utilized for violence, the iRobots used their arm cannons, and subdued the human race. Billions of us were wiped out, within 6 months. Of course, we had our defense forces, but whoever had the sick desire to build the army of iRobots had thought of that, and so our weaponry was beyond useless. Mankind was almost exterminated, and the poor bastards that remained are kept in these labs, where we are experimented on for the purpose of cyborg technologies, the stuff of science fiction.
Only after being fitted with a mask that’s replaced my eyes with artificial vision, and a bone transplant which has rendered me a sack of skin over a platinum based skeletal structure, have I decided I’m damn well pissed off.
With my mask came the ability to analyze the wellbeing of myself, and from what I could tell from the scarlet-hued readings, I barely had 2 more months worth of life left in me. 60 odd days, to escape from this prison of steel and surgery rooms. A path, no doubt guarded by iRobots armed to the polymer teeth with the deadliest of weaponry, all for the sake of breathing fresh air and feeling the wind on my skin after 8 years of torture.
With nothing left to lose, having lost my family and friends in the initial extermination, the reward’s damn well worth the risk.
And so I waited. After a while, the iRobots head director grew arrogant after his reign of terror. Security measures such as the cameras and the incessant ‘clank-clank’ of patrolling iRobots became less frequent, until neither appeared to occur anymore.
One night, my dinner tray was pushed through my cell chute. On it, a minimum of nutrition was provided, with the only edible thing on it being a sealed cup of water and a mash of dried vegetable. After indulging in the water’s purity, and choking down the vegetable matter, I hid the polymer fork and knife in my rough-spun tunic, and watched the moon descend to the horizon from my cell’s window.
Once her white curves disappeared, I made my move. Shoving my arm through the food chute, I inched the knife towards the cell’s lock. Surprisingly, the cell’s lock was still ‘last-gen’, lacking any touch pads for a code. A little piece of home, if you will. I twisted the knife into the lock’s bowels, and hoped for the best.
The door opened. Freedom beckoned. I left my cell, and having memorized the routes taken by the patrolling iRobots from years ago, I made my way towards the hangar, where my escape to the outside world would be.
The hangar was poorly lit, with the overhead lights providing minimal aid to sight. Still, I saw the train they used to ferry us to this damned facility, 8 years ago. All it would take was a push of a lever, and the train would take itself to King’s Cross Station, to London, to the city. To home.
“ESCAPEE DETECTED. COMMENCING APPREHENSION OF HUMAN.”
Rows of the chrome-plated iRobots advanced towards me, arm cannons primed to release a plasma burst which would proceed to melt me down to nothing more than a cluster of ash atoms.
“HALT. DO NOT MOVE FROM YOUR POSITION.”
Well, I’ll be damned if I take orders from a bloody tin can.
With admirable tact, I gave the lot of the droids the middle finger, and dashed towards the train.
Plasma bursts erupted around me. The heat scorched my tunic. I continued, leaping into the train, slamming the reinforced door close, and kicked the ignition lever.
Safe. The train’s exterior was reinforced with a combination of platinum and polymer, designed to resist any form of assault, as well as dulling the sounds of the outside world.
Having fallen into the train, my back laid against the real wooden floor, and the iRobots weaponry firing on the train caused the carriage to rock gently as it progressed outside of the facility into the star-filled sky of outside. My eyes closed. I had escaped. A prisoner of technology rebelled, and could now reenter the world taken away from him. I slept, and dreams of my new future outside filled me with hope.