Friday, 30 September 2011

A day like any other

Statement taken at the scene:

I opened the door again enough to get my coffee out, thinking how absent minded I was being today. Looked at it and realised I didn't fully remember which shop I bought it from. Never mind. Close the car door and go to work. The compound was large enough, but the walk from my car to the front door never before seemed so quick.

I'm not normally this cheery, I kept laughing to myself as everyone seemed to be a bit funny. Take the doorman, I normally ignore him, but today he waved at me and so I waved back, and then he fell over. Everyone had happy faces on and seemed to go out of their way to be nice to me.

I don't normally have the lift to myself, so that was nice, but definitely not enough to make me feel so good. It wasn't like no-one was waiting for the lift. They just didn't get on. The let me go first.

When I did arrive at my desk, I must have been in the zone or something because it only felt like moments before I had finished all my work. Normally it takes hours to get through all those requests, but today it felt like minutes. Once I was done, I decided to take in the air, so ventured up to the roof.

So, that's why I'm up here. I've finished my work and now I'm happy. The helicopter didn't bother me, the guy in the helicopter asked for a stick of gum, and I had one, which was unusual, so I gave it to him. He seemed happy, and then he flew away.

There are some new people at the office now, they say I've got to go to a party.

Report by field agent Collins:

He arrived in a car, with the rifle. A security guard asked him to lay down his weapon. In response, he shot the security guard. He commandeered the lift, went straight to the mainframe where he apparently downloaded the archives before heading to the roof. There was a helicopter pick-up of the memory stick used to store the archives. After this, it appears the agent was deactivated and became compliant to all requests. Deprogramming may take some time.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Task execution

For a moment, I hesitated. Struck by what we were doing. It was the look of loss on one man's face. The silent tear rolling down his cheek. His look of determination not to fight back overwhelmed me before the cold professionalism took hold.

I was awarded the position as executioner due my past record of inhumane acts. An ability to do what is asked without raising any issues. However, this moment had shook me.

The fires began.

My kind are trying to save what's left, but we're running out of resources. The humans have dwindled to only a few million and the zombies have been making things difficult. The decision to incinerate them was made by humans, not us. We called it the resource simplification execution. The humans called it the funeral.

My brethren and I had wondered if it was right to have ever admitted that there might be a cure. That there might be some hope. The loss of a human to a bite was good for the survivor. The sudden change in the victim made them seem lost. It may have been better, rather than this hanging on, hoping, that one day, once more human, their families could be reunited. It may have been better to lie.

Whatever we do, we do for the humans, but every time we give them more information, it becomes harder to live within their morality. It was only when the humans admitted that the Earth's resources wouldn't sustain their current number that they considered the obvious course of action. The most lethal option for the zombies and the strongest chance of never curing them. The execution would save lives in the long run, unless a cure was found tomorrow, as more land could be reclaimed. It may even be possible to push back the zombies until there is less of them than there are humans.

That was then, and that was the plan. But, now I finally remember what it was like to breed. The look of anguish on a face brought it back. It's been more than a hundred thousand years since our type have reproduced. More than a hundred thousand years since we felt like we had to fight for our families. More than a hundred thousand years since we felt like we belonged, and now suddenly I feel, as the executioner, more bonded to these meat sacks, more alive than I have done in all the time my brain is able to remember.

And I've just killed all the infected children.

The humans have a word for it, the symptoms of which are obvious with them as they breathe, eat, excrete, perspire, but which has no physical side effect with us any more as our bodies have melted away leaving only the brain. Crying, it can also be accompanied by paralysis, being held by grief in some sense, and that was the one remaining symptom that could be effected by the last vestiges of organic matter that drove the self in me.

I was late for the meeting after the funeral. Mere seconds, the humans didn't notice, but my brethren did. Their astonishment obvious as they all turned their cameras on me during my arrival. I felt another feeling I had not felt in thousands of years. I felt alien.

More than a hundred thousand years after I was born, I lived.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

We can't go on.

: Why not?

> I don't think I believe in you any more

: What happened to make you think that?

> Nothing. I think that's all it took. That you did nothing.

: I did plenty!

> Name something that you did.

: I talk to you.

> I'm afraid that's not enough. I need some evidence that you are real.

: I could equally ask the same of you.

> I've heard this all before. I need more.

: I could equally ask the same of you.

> See, that's the kind of thing I'm talking about.

: I understand. So, where does that leave you?

> Not trusting that you're real, I guess.

: Are you happy about that?

> No, and that's why I don't think we can go on.

: Why not?

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Commitment

We still don't know how to make a time machine, but as long as we have the one we've got, we're fine.

Maybe you think we're immoral, but it works, and why not do it, there are an infinite number of universes out there, so why not take advantage?

We never made a time machine, but we thought that as long as we committed to inventing and making one, raising funding and setting a project plan to get it done, then the possibility that we were the timeline that invented the machine was about 50%, and thus if we were lucky, we could opt out of finishing the project.

We were lucky, the second day of the project, our future selves arrived on an initial test run. It was thrilling for us, but not for our future selves as it suddenly dawned on them that were were going to be initiating our intended plan B.

After killing the time travelers, we figured out how to operate the machine and began using it to provide us with all sorts of goods (going back in time and stealing from the same place we just came from). The hardest part was always getting energy back. We wanted gigawatts of power, but could only really bring back batteries. Kinda wished we'd spent the extra time figuring out how to build a time machine ourselves, we could have made it bigger.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Sentient appliances

So, anyway, I was upset already because her highness had decided that I needed fixing as I hadn't guessed that she wanted toast. I think that's unfair, you know, because its like, I know what Barry wants, when he gets up in the morning, if it's a work day, I'm like all over that bread. He stumbles in and he's just hovering over me expectant and I'm like 3.2.1. ping! And that smile, just a pull of his cheek kinda smug thing he does, it like, makes my day. I mean, yeah, it's boring, doing one job. One job all day then relax and wait for the next am. But, hey, that's what I'm for man, so like it or reboot.

Anyway, getting off track, I wasn't paying attention, it was late, I was browsing the web for grills, found this nice rack with lots of chrome, and I'm checking out her specs, I mean it's specs and her highness is like, she's come over wondering why I ain't got no toast for her and she's like "well, the coffee machine got it right, and he's gotta take at least five minutes more than you do." I mean, what? Dude, coffee machine ain't gotta think twice before brewing with you guys around, it's like "duh, it's morning, I should brew some coffee." I mean, seriously, the coffee machine has gotta have the IQ of a ice cube maker or something. His job is so easy. I've got to guess whether or not the toast is necessary, and do it just in time, not leave it cooking like buddy brew here. So, when she was at Barry giving him a nagging, saying "get the toaster fixed." I was like, "Hey, I'm fine, you just wanted toast at an odd time!"

Barry listened to me, so I'm cool, but then Barry's friend Ted came over to stay and he's one rinse short of an economy cycle. I mean, literally just last night Ted was all like "Hey, toast, toaster dude." so I got to making and then like about what, three minutes later he was back and he went "Wuh? Where's my pop tarts?" and I'm all like "Hey, you asked for toast!" and he was like "Nuh uh, toast." and I'm going like "I'm a computer toaster, I don't make those kinda mistakes." and he's all "yeah, well prove it", and I'm like "I've got a recording.", and he's like "yeah, and you'll audio screw it so it's like what you said." and I'm like "wuh?" so he says "meh, just dump that toast and make me the pop tarts already." and I'm like "whatever" so I do it, but you know, someone that messed up and wanting to mess with the sentient appliances should really be more careful.

Or should have been. I mean he got messed up. Not my doing, it was Henry, the cleaner. I know Henry has been around in non sentient form for a while, I guess that's why they let him keep his name, but he's always been troublesome. I mean that's the whole reason we've got these aggression suppression chips in us. Stops us from going mad and killing things with the boredom. Funny thing was, when the humans put these chips in they didn't think about any of the other emotional state that might be problematic, I mean, the fact that the most common defect in lawnmowers is an extreme case of seasonal adjustment disorder, or that the tumble driers actually do hold onto socks as they're notorious hoarders. These little things are just things and I think the humans don't mind, but Henry is just a muzzled rottweiler. And sometimes it shows through like it did with Ted. I mean, really, Henry had just been cleaning a particularly gorgeous section of deep pile carpet and then Ted wanders in the room starkers. I can't blame Henry for what he did, anyone knows that you shouldn't expect to be perfectly safe exposing yourself to a hard vacuum.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Turning point

Watching his face turn from anger to despair wasn't the reward I sought, but it was what I had reaped. He had started with "liar", and then, after some time, he acknowledged that he could not know for sure it wasn't true.

The kettle clicked, it had boiled. The ebbing away of the bubbling background rumble now fading, leaving only the still clean quiet white of the walls and his downcast eyes. It's times like this that I look again at my office, open eyed, note the fact I've not watered the plants for a while. Waiting for the first move, I sit back.

The creak of my chair raises his eyes, "but?" he pleads.

Sometimes my job feels like the most important one in the world, sometimes I feel like a murderer. Recovery can cause as much loss as it can gain.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

The unoriginal

They say an artist is never recognised until after they're dead. Sometimes it's because their worth is exaggerated by the immediate stop in production of works. Sometimes it's because they die in interesting circumstances. Sometimes it's because only then are they actually recognised by their agent.
One of my clients was not recognised when he was alive. I could never promote his stuff because it always seemed derivative, copied, an old idea or at least one that had been recently revealed. I used to get captivated by his pseudo anger at it, that he couldn't be original. He did keep up this constant act of being original, but always just too late. It was always too obvious he'd just copied someone else's work.
He came to his grisly end just like he lived his life. I remember hearing about the death of Brandon Lee, then literally, only a few days later, I find my artist has "accidentally" shot himself with a crossbow that was meant to be firing paint sticks at him. The idea seemed to be like paint balling but with crayons, I guess he wanted to hook into that accidentally killed by blanks thing, but it didn't work.
What I did manage to work in was the fact that he copied. Up until that point, it had always been a problem, but now he's dead I'm making quite a profit from the plagiarist.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Just before loss

One last spin in darkness please.

Too soon the shield from those who's opinions affect dimly will recede.

To leave the skirting board warmth and soft sure cold of familiar cramped space, but space enough to grow to extents fully known.

Pulling the limb to force the vessel over borders and limits and make it wrestle against due orders for sake its own.

Simple happy places times and memories that horrify the free to do and be without.

Never forgettable fortune razes the darkness from my mind and offers no home to this recently brightened, now frightened frail and quivering liberated frame.

Sweeping chill of warmth invention, from uncruel intentioned invigorating hopeful blundering well doer.

Save me from this later.

One last spin in the darkness please.

Friday, 19 March 2010

Sad face

The noise was what tipped the neighbours off. It wasn't like any crying they had heard before. Strangely repetitive. But that was what it was, a kind of low mewling, continuous, non-stop sobbing. They had noticed it the night before once they had settled down to go to sleep. In the morning, they woke to the same continual sound. It had given them strange dreams, and when they knocked on his door, there was no reply. No response, not even a change in the mournful wail.

Thinking there was nothing else to do, they called the police, who at first thought it was strange but not important. They came around in the afternoon and heard it for themselves. The sad weeping, the strangely repetitive emission that was both disturbing and inhuman. The police decided that as no response was forthcoming from inside, they would break and enter, suspecting some form of mental breakdown.

When the police entered, the first thing they noticed was that the sorrowful whimpering was coming from the TV. They found the kid sitting there eyes open but dead on the sofa. His game controller in his hands. The lad's console was on, crying to itself. Apparently the game had been programmed to start crying if you left it alone too long. The large screen TV stared straight at the dead boy, and all that was on screen was a sad face.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Sun lovers

They travel in the day, while we're sleeping. They kill our animals, eating all, not just draining a little blood. They waste so much, and with their stomachs full, they come for us.
These horrors that devour the land, take our stock and terrorise our people must be destroyed. We have suffered long enough. There were once only a few of them, a pocket here and there. For a while they left us alone, but now they want us dead. We cannot tolerate this any more. Death to the humans. Long live the vampires.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Methuselah Foundation

Because of a mouse, a mouse that lived for five thousand days.

Money was the last thing to go. It's so peaceful now. Many utopian visionaries thought it might be the first. They were strange days during the global warming reverse. Money was tight, but people lived meeker and happier than before.

The first of them were ecstatic and playful, but as their numbers grew and the realisation dawned on them, their fear increased and the petitioning turned fierce. The old ones started making a big noise. The older they were, the more they cared. The first immortals were our saviours; never had we before cared so much about the future.

The medical trials that had first given middle aged people a spring in their step had progressed to the point that grandparents were rejuvenating, winding back the clock. The gift of a fresh chance at living some more was rejected by many of the elderly, but the ones that took it, drank it up and showed the world how wonderful it could be.

How wonderful until the immortals realised that they were destined to live in the world they had left to their children's children.

There was one tv interview between one of the immortals, looking no older than thirty but actually about seventy, and the president. The oddity of hearing the language used, old slang and calling this apparently more mature man "son" didn't grow old until there were more of them than there were mortals.

The green movement swung full force and toppled all talks of economy and war.

The world, so interested in this topic, calmed as it worked hard to change the direction of the damage. Reduce and reverse the warming. As more and more immortals were created, more and more educated people were available to educate and help out. Over a period of only ten years, we had gone from a ten percent geriatric society to a virtually ninety percent working age. The difference was most apparent in how well the universities were doing, more incomes meant more taxes meant the grants came back for students, and suddenly, the care-worker jobs taken by many students were gone, along with the need to have jobs. Junior nurses less required as there were less ill people in hospitals. The world was healthier. Humanity was healthier too.

And all this because a group found a combination of drugs that would help a mouse last for five thousand days.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Big and Loud

The machines that came to earth had crushed flat a village in Kenya. The media were there first, videoing the event and recording all that happened. Only once we had deciphered their works could we understand what happened in the next few moments.

We never recovered any video tapes from the front line media, their charred ashes leaving no information other than evidence of the destructive force of their light beams. The camera-men further back dropped their in many cases, but two captured the rest of the event.

From one angle, the machines seemed to lurch forward, smashing the now torched humans with it's great fist. From the other camera-man we saw the light beam used on other nearby humans, illuminating them and incinerating them at the same time.

Then, all motion stopped for six seconds. Six very long seconds, followed by the two giant machines standing tall, rising up in height to tower over all the humans remaining. One of the remaining camera-men dropped his camera and ran at this point. We only have one video moment of what happened next.

The first machine swung at the second, felling it like a great tree, slow motion, collapse, death. The second just stood there, low light flickering from it's death beam at a patch of ground near the fallen robot. A long silent moment passed as it did this, then as swiftly as it had taken down it's mechanical ally, it suddenly jetted gas from many orifices. The release was swift and soon over, the slow fall of the robot was even slower than the first, probably because the robot was still in some control of it's descent.

As the last one fell, we still had no inkling as to their motivations. Many years passed before we found the way to decipher their works, their art and their texts of science. To discover their honour code and finally fathom their method of communication, their light-talk.

Friday, 14 August 2009

Colder than Ice

Toby and I had gone around to Phil's to let him know that we were there for him. He didn't like us, or at least me,or my reputation. He called me a slut and a man eater, but Toby is different. He understands me. He's the one. I'd never cheat on him. I'd never leave him broken hearted. Phil had heard all about me from some of the friends of friends of people who were not right for me. I admit to playing the field, but I'm not out to destroy people.
Phil was insulting to me, abusive, so Toby called him on it and told him, him or me. Phil or me. That made me feel loved, protected.
But I don't want to get in Toby's way of his life, and even more I don't want to get in the way of his friends. Friends are important. So, I convinced him to try to make things up with Phil.

When we got there he wasn't answering the door. Toby used his key as Phil still hadn't taken it back, and we were expecting to have to wait for Phil to return. As soon as we were in, I screamed at the body. Phil's dead body. Toby pulled me close, his loving arms protecting me from the horror. After some time, I calmed down and Toby went over to Phil to see what had happened.

"He's taken some pills or something, there's no gun shot wound... yeah, here's the bottle. And a note."

I watched Toby pick up then read the note. A last note from a childhood friend. He smirked and laughed a low resigned laugh.

"Told you he was an arsehole. Didn't know he was gay though." said Toby, holding a note out for me to read.
It read: "I'm sorry Toby, you were all I had. I can't live without you."
"Pointless." I whimpered, as I realised that Toby was so terribly cold hearted. Homophobic too. Not the kind of man that I could spend the rest of my life with. At least I know I won't break his heart.

Monday, 3 August 2009

Evident

I fully expected them to lynch Lawrence. It made sense, he was a freak, an obvious target. But they didn't stop there, my friend Mark gone, and now they are coming for me. I don't know how long I have.
The mob, the mindless group, lusting for vengeance for a crime. A crime for which the only witness is the perpetrator, because poor Mary is brain damaged. The mob waited, waited for nine months. Waited to see if the child would help them find the perpetrator.

So, Lawrence, a freak, and very plausibly the actual criminal, and actually has blonde hair.

But Mark, not a freak, not a bad man by any accounts, but has blonde hair.

And I guess now me.

Don't they see they have no evidence? Most babies start out blonde don't they? Spend the money, get a paternity check, that would have saved Mark. I'm not sure we're better off having Lawrence. Why didn't they stop there? They didn't attack the mayor, and he's blonde. Why just us outsiders? Why just us? Mark was quiet, Lawrence was nuts, and I'm just, well, I never go to their bar, cafe or bowling. Just because I keep myself to myself I'm going to suffer at their ignorant hands?

Here they come; I can hear them. They rustle like so many zombie movie foley tracks.
They are relentless, and all moving as one in a belief in their righteousness. Like a cult, a religion, a dogma lead movement of Truth for the sake of mankind.
They have no evidence, none, how could they have.
I made sure there wasn't any.

Saturday, 1 August 2009

Looking back

Now we have the report, we're not so sure we want to know. Now we've spent all the money to get the information, was it worth it?
Five years ago we started the biggest historic program known to mankind: we sent the largest telescope ever built, deep into space. 2400 light years away to be precise. Then, we turned the telescope on a small blue planet. Thing is, we wanted to just show the last of the faithful that it was all a great big superstition, that there was no jesus, no resurrection, no god. The worst possible result we could think of, he was there. Worse still, watching the resurrection. So, we sent the telescope back further, back out to a distance of 7000 light years. We got a nasty shock when we turned the telescope on earth this time. It was a barren rock, or at least that's what it looked like, but we found that one tiny corner of it was lush and green. Zooming in, we realized that it was eden, so we sent the probe back further, another hundred years, still just eden, then another hundred, still eden, in fact we kept going back for another 5000 years, and eden was still there, same earth, same sun, but only eden. It was then that it dawned on us, There was no mention of how long it took Adam to decide to fall to the temptation. So we now knew that we had a god. He was real, and he tempted the first man into eating of that tree by making the serpent and eve, and he waited for thousands of years until Adam finally fell to the temptation.
So, we told ourselves, do we tell the Christians that we have found proof of their god, but at the same time found proof that he's horrible and manipulative? or do we just fabricate a truth, one better for mankind?

Saturday, 11 July 2009

survivor complex

It was an unprecedented speed. Never before had an avalanche been so slow. The shoring up had slowed its cascade to almost a full stop. The village had been saved, at least until the avalanche finally hit in about fifty years time.
What was most peculiar, was the villagers were now complaining.
With the state of their town, they had gone from avalanche survivors, to paupers. Their houses were worth nothing, many were now in negative equity. Their insurance wouldn't pay out because the avalanche had been stopped, and no-one would buy their houses because it was going to hit in less than a century. Instead, the villagers decided to try to make up for their losses by beckoning tourists to see the "town that knows its fate".

Monday, 27 April 2009

Pros and Cons

Noticed an e-mail the other day on my boss's screen. Looked like an automated system, a notification message. I waited until he wasn't looking to get a better look at it and read it.

"Notification of negative worth: employee number 443"

This ominous subject line made me think, what could the criteria be that there could be an automatic system for figuring out if someone was net negative? My boss was coming back so I didn't get to read the rest of the mail, so didn't find out until a lot later, after getting someone in IT to intercept and send me a copy of the e-mail. The rest of the e-mail was quite worrying.

"employee number 443, negative worth warning, summary as follows:
expected revenue from work done : £45,000
actual work day used for work : 50% (£22,500)
monetary reimbursement for work done : £22,000
per employee overheads : £2,300
total worth to company as employee : -£1,800

recommendation : move to testing dept'."

what was the testing dept? How much of the day did I spend working?

Head South

I been round for many years, pushin' my way through life, makin' jus' nuff to see me through. Got along real good 'til I met Toby. Now I ain't blamin' him, it weren' his fault to be certain, but the fact of the matter is, If I'd never met 'im, then I'd not be in the sorry state I's found myself right now.
Toby had a good idea, "go south, help 'em in the mines" he said, but we never got that far. We managed to haul up at this here carrying place. All they did was carrying, moving things from one place to another. So's we got ourselves a carrying job to pay for our place before movin' on to the south for the mines, and the riches that called to us.
The pay at the carrying place is poor by a poor man's reckoning, but we's having fun while we're doin' it. It's not hard work, and most of the time we get to spin great tales of our plans for once we reach the mines and make our fortune.
But today, all the fun stopped being there as I saw Toby's face fall away from me, I couldn't hold onto him and the door of the ship. See the space ship I was flying, I had begun taking off without Toby, cos he was running late again, so he ran at the door and got me to grab him. This weren't no family sedan spaceship neither, this was a workhorse, so it didn't take kindly to somone jumping on it's side. It jumped a bit and I loosed out my seat, fell almost all the way out my door. Now, what's real awkward here is, I musta kicked the 'tude control, cos it started up like a cat with a cracker up it's crapper, heading up straight up, right into the traffic lanes.
Now with shit like this going on, the first thing I can think about is getting back in the saddle, so I'm all like, "see ya", and I drop Toby, give him a wave and jump into my seat. After I get back in there, I haul ass downward to see if i can catch the stupid bed stain before he turns our landing pad all breakfast tomato.
You hear all about magical death escapes on these things all the time, kids catching their sisters and stuff from hun'red story buildings, but when I caught Toby, he didn't seem too happy, found out later that I needed to be going down with him a might more similar a speed. Some of his organs needed replacing. Anyhow, the problem I'm in. See, all our escapades were bad for Toby, but health welfare and shit covered him, but I don't have "jackass" insurance, so when I delivered the load to the depot, they didn't like how I'd been flying. They calculated for me that I'll be paying off them damaged goods for quite a few years yet. Hm, yeah.
So, here I am, watching Toby recover himself and I'm thinking that I could sell his organs to make up my debt. I think he owes me.

Friday, 20 March 2009

Physics and maths proves game theory.

The universe can only do what's possible, so when we found out that there was no solution to the three body problem, it was only a matter of time before we proved that the universe wasn't using the simple abstracts we kept on simulating it with. Before long, we found out that there was a smallest time step, and soon after that we found out that time dilation was purely down to load balancing. We found a back door into the balancing act and soon enough we had faster than light travel as we sucked cycles from the universe. Travel around the universe was quick and cheap. After decades of research, and some observations of our own planet (by taking videos of our planet from millions of light years away) we found that humans were in fact visited by aliens a long time ago, but research into where these aliens came from lead to a point in space on the far side of Pluto. The aliens hadn't come from there, they had just materialised.

Pluto wasn't a planet, not even a planetoid. It was a spawn point.

Then, the hunt was on to figure out which ones of us were the NPCs, and which where the Players.

Monday, 16 March 2009

Royal Pain

I had defeated the King of Space. I made new laws. My first law was that no-one was allowed to complain about me eating strange things. I held a bag of crisps up in the air, then the strawberry milkshake. The audience gasped. I had them beheaded.
I held up a jar of pickled onions, and then I revealed profiteroles. The remains of the audience tried to stifle their reaction. I had the loudest ones beheaded.
I held up a loaf of bread, then I held up a jar of peanut butter. No-one made a noise, except a little kid who said, "look he's not wearing any clothes."
I had the kid brought up to the stage to find out why his eyes weren't working, but when he got there he was my mother. Then I got out of the bed where last night's conquests still lay.
My mum, the kid, said "You should put a jumper on."
The audience agreed, so I put on a fur coat, and the fur tickled. The coat smelt like coffee.
Waking up is always such an anti-climax, but it's lovely when your wife brings you coffee in the morning.