Prompt Short Story: Touched – Promises, Promises

Jenkin twirled the bottle in her flesh hand, the magnetised slide that ran out from the wrist of the other simultaneously spinning the cocktail shaker. As she slid the bottle across the barback to its home position, she upended the shaker into the iced glass, pouring with a flourish before sliding it down the bar, to stop exactly in front of the customer who had ordered the drink.

The next few drinks were mundane, and the magnetic slide returned to its home position just inside her left wrist, ready for its next use – be that the next cocktail, ensuring her safety knife couldn’t be taken from her as she walked home, or, really, anything else that she might need not to drop. Like cooking tools. That was the main reason she’d looked at the implant to begin with – hard to cook when you’re so clumsy everything winds up on the floor.

The monofibre that ran through it could be adjusted to ensure a variety of items stuck, as required. She didn’t really get how it worked, but the settings were adjustable from the eyeware that took instruction from her brain synapses, somehow. It worked, was the main point, and she had gone from scrabbling for jobs to pay rent on a oneroom where everything – kitchen, bed, toilet and stand-up shower – were in one tiny space without any doors, and which was about 8 paces wall to wall, to this job which, between pay and tips for the fancy moves, paid for a proper threeroom, meaning a bedroom, bathroom, and living room/kitchenette, all separated with doors. It was no palace, but it was hers as long as the rent was paid on time.

Jenkin snapped her mind back to her job, as another cocktail order was called, this time from a slender, masc-looking person, wearing sunglasses and a fitted monosuit beneath a plain dark t-shirt. Jenkin wondered, as she gave them the show, just how much of them was flesh, and how much tech. The expensive stuff was getting harder and harder to tell, though she guessed their eyes were of the more advanced type that still made a person look dead. Sunglasses worn inside were generally a giveaway for that.

As her shift drew towards the end and the place began to empty after last call, letting her start to clean up, she realised Sunglasses was still here. They looked up as she approached, and removed the glasses.

She inwardly noted that she’d been correct. Their eyes were a solid, pulsing, golden colour, and she suppressed a nervous shiver as they turned her way.

“Hi Jenkin.”

Their voice was a soft alto, accentless – like most who had escaped a poor beginning and reached a better, or at least richer, life.

“Hey. I know you? I’m sorry, I get a lotta folk through here.”

Their golden eyes were cold and lifeless as they stared at her, “You have no idea who I am, do you?”

“Sorry, like I said, I get a lotta-“

They began to sing. Quiet enough that nobody else would hear, but loud enough for her. The song flooded her with memories. Days spent exploring the undercity, chatting to the folk who lived down in the disused tunnels. Being grounded for it, waiting out the time, then doing it again. An unshakeable bond, a promise to get out, and to never leave the other behind. The sense of loss, of betrayal, when they left to work their own way up the ladder.

“The fuck do you want?”

“I’m sorry. I didn’t think it would take this long. I know I left, and I know I ghosted you, but I did that so I could get into a position where I could bring you with me. I knew if they caught me with you they’d judge me, and I’d lose any chance I had at getting you out.”

“You’re pretty smart, Deniel. Pretty sure you coulda gotten me one single message. Ever. To explain that. Instead you disappear for a decade, get yourself all wired and teched up, then show up just as I’m doing ok, to, what? Make yourself feel better? “

“To offer you a job. I’m starting my own firm, and I want you with me. It’s gonna be hard, and they’re gonna be pissed,and i’m gonna have to pay a shitton in severance to keep some of these implants, but it’s the only way I can be sure the entire thing isn’t prejudiced from the top down, and you’re the only person I want at my side.” They shook their head, “I can’t apologise in any way that’s acceptable, but please understand, I did do this for us, for our promise.”

Jenkin stared at them. It was quite an offer. And she knew how these firms worked – pick a talented person from the poorer districts, make them cut contact as part of their working contract, and fill them with tech they’ll never be able to afford to buy out.

But some managed it. Some with the drive to stay rooted, and not get caught up with the luxury and temptations that surrounded them.

They would catch hell for the rest of their days for not getting a message to her – at least to explain and give her hope. But maybe they were on the level. Maybe they at least deserved a hearing, if only to fulfill her side of their promise.

“Alright. Here’s my place,” she skimmed across her address, “Lemme finish up here and I’ll hear you out.”

They smiled, showing the smallest hint of the person Jenkin remembered, underneath the implants, and swallowed their drink. They gave her a staggering tip, and left the bar for, presumably, her place.

Jenkin took her time finishing up, seeing no reason not to make them wait a little, then headed home, ready to hear them out.

I hope you enjoyed the story! I you can share the link, I’d appreciate it. You can also leave a comment or drop me a mesage, I’d love to hear from you. And if you can, a donation via Paypal or a sub via Patreon would be a great help towards future, and better, endeavours!

Writing prompt used:

Writing Prompt. His eyes were cold and lifelessas hebstared at me. “You have no idea who I am, domyou?” www.worldsmyths.com

Prompt Short Story: Excavation

Tensae carefully brushed the dirt and dust of ages off the rectangular object one of the volunteers had excavated from the dig. Anthony, another of the volunteers, watched her closely,  excited as ever.

“Wait, an iPhone?” He exclaimed, comparing it to various data and matching the correct one. “One of those old things? Does it still work, d’you think?”

Tensae shook her head slightly, “Unlikely. We’ll test it, sometimes we can get them to hold power, but these things weren’t exactly built to last.”

Anthony looked disappointed but nodded, “Can I be there when you try?”

“Sure. But right now I need you back out on the site, we’re behind schedule on section 7.”

“Right you are, boss, off I go.”

Tensae watched him bounce off in the generally correct direction and set the old phone aside for tomorrow, when she would spend a day back in the lab in the city – apparently with Anthony for company.

They were finding valuable things here. Things that told the story of why the human race had collapsed. The weight of their own hubris, their selfish ways, so much power given to those least inclined to use it for good, manipulation of the population to direct their ire to the wrong places.

She looked out of the tent, appraising her volunteers, a mix of Stanisthesians and humans – heavily modified by her own species to survive on the planet they destroyed – and nodded in satisfaction. It would all make for excellent lessons back on her home planet.

I hope you enjoyed the story! I you can share the link, I’d appreciate it. You can also leave a comment or drop me a mesage, I’d love to hear from you. And if you can, a donation via Paypal or a sub via Patreon would be a great help towards future, and better, endeavours!

Writing prompt used:

“An iPhone! That old thing. I haven’t seen one of these in agss. Does it still w9rk?”

Prompt Short Story: Evolution

04/07, 4th AF

I woke up this morning after a dream about the time before the fall. Goddess, it was so real. Waking up felt like losing everything all over again. My inner therapist tells me I should write down dreams, thoughts, that stuff, so I figure now’s a good time to start. Let’s pretend you, dear reader who doesn’t exist, are an archaeologist from way in the future, and you want to know what happened. Well, let me tell you a little about it.

The world was slowly dying. Between late stage capitalism, selfish assholes, and the easily manipulated gullible (who then turned into the selfish assholes), we were killing everything. The air sucked, we melted the ice caps,  the weather patterns alone were enough to kill hundreds of thousands every year. But hey it was cool, cos the 1% that had all the money just shrugged and plugged money into keeping themselves safe (sarcasm still exists, right?). They established a moon colony and moved themselves and their  “staff” (more like slaves at this point) in. The rest of us got left behind. But we were plebs, so fuck us, right? If we wanted to survive we shoulda just not been so damned poor.

About 8 years ago, the extinctions began in earnest. It was like Mother Earth just went “fuck it”, hit the reboot button, and everything started shutting down. Before we knew it we were knee deep in dead-fucking-everything. Mammals, fish, lizards, insects, birds, you couldn’t throw a rock without it bouncing over a dozen corpses.

Seriously, like, everything was dying, except the humans. We wondered about that at first, then the rumours started. Photos, video, internet posts – was this another conspiracy theory or was it real? Turned out to be real. Humans weren’t dying. We were changing.

Scientifically, what I understand is that junk DNA – all those bits that never came to fruition, all the evolutionary paths that we didn’t go down – suddenly they started taking over. Imagine almost overnight going from brown hair and brown eyes, to pale blonde and blue eyed, because that recessive gene suddenly became dominant. It was that, but so much more fucking painful and scary. Because our entire bodies were forced to change. Within days someone would change from your standard human, into something totally new – it’d still be them, but maybe now they had talons and feathers and a beak. Or fur and all sharp teeth and eyes that could see in the dark. Or scales and a tail and a snout.I saw one guy I knew suffocate, cos we didn’t realise quick enough that he was changing into a fish thing and needed dumping in the water cos his fucking gills just grew in!

And the pain. I don’t know how to describe it. Like, your entire body was teething. Bones breaking, fusing, growing. Every bit of your skin feeling like it’s being nonstop stabbed by needles cos it’s moulting, or sprouting fur or feathers. Everything would change shape and purpose and it’d be days of nonstop agony.  Shit, just the transformations alone were enough to kill millions. Heart attacks, strokes, falls, suffocation like the fish guy, even starvation cos they didn’t know how to hunt – or didn’t want to. Suicides. So many fucking suicides, for a while it felt like sheer fucking despair would be the thing that finished the human race off.

But then, that was the thing wasn’t it? Were we still the human race? Scientists started coming up with names I still can’t spell or pronounce, for the new amalgamations – homo-whateverus and all that. I’m pretty sure that was mostly to try and persuade us all that we’re still some form of human, and I guess we are at that, we’re just not sapiens anymore.So the world fell. Or rose? I guess it’s all in how you look at it. If nothing else it convinced everyone to do something about what we’d done to our home. First we rebuilt on higher land. Architectural marvels appeared, connecting us to each other, giving us vertical farms and hydroponic power. We ate homegrown everything – even meat for the carnivores, proper synthesised meat, no more cattle farming. We began marking a new calendar – AF for After the Fall (yeah I know, boring name, but that’s scientists for you) – and we gave the finger to the rich bastards on the moon – they know not to come down here if they wanna keep their bits intact. To explain how this all happened and worked needs a better person than me – a smarter one. Besides, sitting in the position I need to type on my tablet hurts my nutrient hump after a while.

But here’s what I think. I think Mother decided that the only way we’d see and feel and realise what we were doing, and what we needed to do to fix it, was to turn us into the very things we were hurting.

Well, Mother, it worked. Some days I thank you and some days I curse you, but I can’t ever deny that it did the trick.

Hey, whaddya know, I actually feel better after writing this. I think maybe I’ll do it again. Maybe some tales from before the fall. Maybe some tales from after. I got plenty of both.

But I gotta get to work now.

You know, before all this, I worked three jobs. Bagging groceries in the day, waiting tables at night, then I sold nudes for extra cash when I wasn’t doing either of those. Honestly the last one was the best, weirdly the folk buying my body were more respectful than the customers in either the store or the restaurant. Go figure. And nobody could hold that job hostage like those fuckers did – lateness through no fault of your own or for emergencies, standing up for yourself, getting sick – everything got you a write-up and a pay dock, and then a firing, cos hey, they got a waiting list a mile long of other suckers desperate for a job to pay rent or eat.

I’m not sure anyone wants to see me naked anymore – physical attraction all got a little weird,  what with all the changes – but I only have one job now. 3 days a week I do upkeep on one of the hydroponics stations. We all get a basic money allowance, and we work for more if we want it – and 99% of us do even if it’s just because we want to contribute to this version of society. It works. We get what we need, and we get healthcare and shit, and then we make everything run ok. No more working to death just to live.

Alright, definitely gotta go to work. Dear future archaeologist. I hope your world is a good one and we didn’t fuck it up again. Peace out for now.

I hope you enjoyed the story! If you can share the link, I’d appreciate it. You can also leave a comment or drop me a message, I’d love to hear from you. And if you can, a donation via Paypal or a sub via Patreon would be a great help towards future, and better, endeavours!

Everything was dying, except tbe humans. HollowaysHideaway.com

Prompt Short Story: Duty

“The coordinates are wrong! Taking fire.”

“Shit! Beta team! Check in! Beta team!”

There was no response, just a hollow emptiness where even a quiet set of comms should have given a small hiss of white noise to show they remained active.

Bailey swore loudly. It was a setup and she’d fallen for it like the noob she was. She pulled off her headset, momentarily ignoring the cries from Alpha and Gamma teams, and took a long drink, from the nutrient tube that ran into her pod.

Fresh out of a promotion to Field Team Leader and her first mission was a shitshow. This wouldn’t stand. She couldn’t let it. Those were her people, and some of them had their real bodies on the line out there.

She activated her field ‘droid, smashing it out of its box and nodding to the salutes from the humans on Alpha team as she began issuing orders and moving forward with them: 3 warm bodies, 3 drones, and now her.

Continue reading “Prompt Short Story: Duty”