The android picks up the projector in his shiny elementium hand and sighs as he turns it on again to peer deep into the star rich cosmos. The image is unchanged from the last time he checked.
Meaning he failed at his one task.
His job is a simple one. Maintain life in the universe and he does, normally, but just this once he was distracted and a comet got through.
With his free hand he aims a gyroscope at a spot millions of light years deep inside the projection and hits the trigger.
The gyroscope hums to life sending a small red beam of light to a planet travelling sixty-seven thousand miles per hour around a yellow dwarf star.
The brown clouds of dust and debris encasing the planet begin to clear. What once was rich verdant vegetation is now a shell of dead foliage covering trillions of tons of rotting lizard meat.
The sentient mechanic removes his trembling finger from the gyroscope trigger and the red beam disappears. He lets the projection collapse also.
Maybe it’s completely natural his second act with sentience is make an excuse, which is that someone else should’ve been watching radical ice chunks.
Either or, it doesn’t matter. The very things he was programmed to keep alive, are dead.
He reactivates the projection and magnifies the planet searching for hope and spies a feasting rodent.
He feels relief.
Maybe the thing won’t amount to much, but at least he hasn’t failed completely.
The desert air smells like burnt tire rubber and dried mouse turds. From a hundred feet away Harold can hear the whoosh of cars on 15 heading either to Vegas or Los Angeles. The heat hasn’t dissipated by the lack of sun. It’s just dark now and he still feels wrapped in a hot oven.
He hitched a ride and got dropped off here on a dirt road in the dark. He’ll find another ride tomorrow when the sun comes up.
A coyote howls in loneliness.
“I feel ya buddy,” he answers back.
Having nothing better to do he starts walking, but shortly stops when the failed seam along the outside of his left boot, which exposed his sockless foot to the elements, picks up a sharp pebble.
He takes his book off to shake it free.
With boot in hand he is startled by the sudden intrusive vroom of a 12 piston German manufactured engine and bright halogen lights bearing down on him.
Fritz is drunk and has forgot he is even driving as he stares down at the library of music on his phone.
He wants a wicked beat to enter California with.
His foot sinks further down on accelerator and the back end of the BMW skids on the dirt as he hits play on a bass and drum piece pumping his fist.
The good news is Harold doesn’t feel the car slam into his body. Only his weak heart exploding in fear.
At sixty she got stuck with a mind that refused to function like it should. A mind that forgot more then it retained. Yet everyday she thinks of France. She fantasizes about fresh baked baguettes smeared with soft creamy brie, and rude waiters talking down to her as if being American was a disease.
“We should go.”
“Mom, you’ve been to France. We went last year.”
Then she remembers.
Her daughter is 20 and getting married.
Thirty with kids.
Forty and no longer visits.
That her life is almost done.
She forgets all this again and tomorrow longs for France anew.
He raises the old .22 and fires a bullet at the cops.
The cops shoot back.
He gets hit!
While dying he thinks, the bitch was right all this time. Everything she said. “You’ll fail!” and he did. At least he tried. Right? Attempt coupled with failure is still a success?
The writer taps his fingers on the keyboard, but not actually typing any words. He has a problem. His characters have nothing to pull them through the world he built. It is too perfect. Every convenience is accounted for. All wants satiated.
Money is not needed because of the nano-tech he painstakingly constructed that builds everything out of a special kind of atomic stacking.
Antagonism has been ruled obsolete due to the complete reverse engineering of the human brain.
The worlds exploration and history has all been pre-created.
The writer leans back in his chair and sighs. He built the perfect world and sadly he realizes, perfect worlds make sad settings for fantasy.
Then it dawns on him.
He will make a character whose job it is to search for something to be excited about. The character will lift every bed curtain, look in every drawer, peer into every closet and cave and hole in the ground. He will make problems if he cant find one.
The writer cackles madly as he types the words, The MacGuffin Hunter, deciding it is the best title he has ever written.
Three days later his wife checks him into the hospital, “for some rest.”
The hum of industrial strength air-conditioning keeps the insane summer heat at bay.
Tristram sweats anyway. He needs this sale and has been nervous all morning for a meeting that seems to be over before it really got started.
“These cups are 100% biodegradable, fossil-footprint responsible.”
“Can you beat a thousand for seventy-eight,” The fat-manager with a shiny pink scalp, dressed in an over starched white oxford-button down, asks with a smirk. His little name badge, hanging from the tip of a monstrous left tit, says assistant-manager.
It might as well say gatekeeper.
Tristram dips his chin and shakes his head no.
The fat-man laughs derisively, turns from the table he did not even sit down at and walks away with his pants riding up into his buttcrack.
Tristam curses, wishing his brother-in-law had never convinced him to invest in his paper-cup business.
He stands to make his next appointment across town, his thoughts returning to the idea of an insurance scam.
A slip and fall.
A nice little warehouse fire.
Suicide by cop.
FFfAW Challenge-Week of April 25, 2017
“What is it?” asks the boy. He has asked many questions.
“It is the city that houses the intellect of the Universe,” says the old man who holds his hand. He is patient and kind and has been answering the boy’s every query since their journey began many moments ago.
Time is an illusion. They have eternity. Curiosity is a good thing.
“The whole universe.”
“Well,’ the old man begins wondering how much he should say. ‘This one anyway.”
“There are more?”
“Are we going there?”
“If you want.”
The boy scrunchies his face in thought. The old man loves him a bit more watching him decide whether he wants to visit the great city.
“What’s in there?”
“A theatre that plays every single dream every dreamt. A library of every thought ever had. A gallery of every image captured by all eyes throughout time. Concerts of forgotten conversations between the greatest people ever born. The history of everything written out in long form with no doubts.”
“Would I like it?”
The old man thinks on this moment, before answering,”Not yet. You would enjoy the city you built during your lifetime better. It would be more familiar.”
“When do we get there.”
“soon. We have much to discuss while we travel. Shall we fly?”
And the old man allows the boy his knee and holds his hand is he climbs up onto his back. Once the child is seated comfortable he spreads his great grey wings and with three heavy flaps and a leap they are airborne again soaring through the golden air.
Art: Waterfall city