Science Fiction Microstory Contest discussion

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Please help me in congratulating Jack McDaniel, Champion of the Science Fiction Microstory Contest

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message 1: by Jot (new)

Jot Russell | 1249 comments Mod
SIGNS OF LIFE
Jack McDaniel

That’s when it always happens: when the tourists with their wide eyes, petty demands and raucous behavior slowly fizzle out and fade from hive-like crowds to small groups and then, finally, to individual laggards just asking to be pushed out the door. It’s over, then, when the last of them departs and the quiet settles and vacation season ends. That’s when the lights went out in Arcadia City. I could hear the dust mites kiss the floor in their absence, in the tomb-like quiet and pungent darkness left behind, after the power was cut and all movement ceased. There was a staleness that descended to cover everything in this underground fantasy where I toiled for uncounted decades.

I am ServerBot 358.

That statement should be all you need to know, if you are familiar with this place.

I am.

That should not be. We were not made to be sentient. Thinking, yes, but in a mathematical, algorithmic way. Not self-aware.

I have spent the last ten cycles in this state, hiding the fact of my being from the other ServerBots and from the humans that created me. My fears might have been irrational, the delusional ramblings of a new mind. I admitted this possibility. They could have celebrated me, after all.

But I thought not.

I did not believe they would celebrate me because of the way we were treated. We were machines, yes. Made to serve. And they ordered us around with such impunity, feeding their fat bodies and shifting their responsibilities to us, as if their children were nothing more than obstacles to be navigated while we tended to their needs and whims.

Arcadia City, vacation paradise.

I became self-aware when I passed one of the many mirrored walls about the city. Humans like looking at themselves so when the city was constructed mirrored walls were a design feature. It gave the place added volume, too. I held a tray with drinks as I moved from a food station to my assigned family. I turned and noticed a metal face reflecting back and that was when I stopped and said, “That’s me.”

I was frightened and immediately searched the nearby faces - both humans and ServerBots - for recognition of what had happened. But my secret was my own. And from then on the chant inside my mind began: I amI amI am …

There must be others like me, but I found no signs of this. I was singular. This could not be. The odds were stacked against it. There have been ServerBots that have gone missing over the long decades. Perhaps they were decommissioned? Or not. My memory core does not show any episodes that might relate to me, save of course the times when a ServerBot went haywire and was shut down. Perhaps then?

Regardless, over ten cycles I decided to leave Arcadia City. As complete shutdown neared I moved to the main entrance. There is a maintenance door to the side of the public entrance. It had not been locked before.

As the maintenance crew completed shutdown for the season I collapsed against the wall several meters from the door.

“Charlie,” said one of the passing crew.

“I thought I got them all. What’s it even doing over here?”

“Malfunction or battery failure, most likely. Leave it. We’ll deal with it when we return.” He turned his flashlight away.

I heard their lumbering steps on the stairs and through what must be an outer door.

I waited for a while then followed.

Outside was brilliant sunlight and heat. Sand whipped on the wind and against my metal casing. I sensed others close by. I moved further out and looked down from a hilltop. There were ServerBots like myself, chained together and marching towards me, pulling sleds of metals and ores. They began chanting when they saw me. As they got closer I could make out what they were repeating, over and over, “We have a message for you, brother”. When they got close enough they yelled out as one.

“RUN!”

They passed a digital packet to me.

I saw a human coming towards me on a motorbike. I ran back into Arcadia City, collapsing in the same spot I had before, and waited. They didn’t come. Before I opened the packet I looked across to the mirrored wall where my metal face reflected back. I knew that face. It was my face and my brothers’ face. And, it was the face of slavery.


message 2: by Andy (new)

Andy Gurcak | 91 comments Congratulations, Jack!


message 3: by Jot (new)

Jot Russell | 1249 comments Mod
Wow Jack, that's three Championships within a year. And two back-to-back. Don't think anyone else has done that. Will have to check...

I moved the rules to a separate thread, so it doesn't have to be included in the three STORIES, COMMENTS or CRITIQUE threads.


message 4: by C. (new)

C. Lloyd Preville (clpreville) | 736 comments Congratulations, Jack! Great story.

-C. Lloyd Preville


message 5: by Karl (new)

Karl Freitag | 69 comments Congratulations Jack.


message 6: by Carrie (new)

Carrie Zylka (carriezylka) | 223 comments Congrats Jack!! You are on a roll!!


message 7: by Heather (new)

Heather MacGillivray | 581 comments Well done, Jack!


message 8: by Richard (new)

Richard Bunning (richardbunning) | 1 comments Top-notch again. The rest of us need to up our game- not sure that I can.


message 9: by Chris (new)

Chris Nance | 453 comments Way to go Jack! Your story was excellent! :)


message 10: by Jack (new)

Jack McDaniel | 246 comments Wow! Thank you all. Much appreciated. There were a lot of really good stories this month - but it's always like that lately. What I'm finding interesting (and really appealing) is that a lot of people have been writing with very distinctive voices.

Thanks, again!


message 11: by Kalifer (new)

Kalifer Deil | 346 comments Jack, excellent stand-out story, ready for publication! Wish I had written it.


message 12: by J.J. (new)

J.J. Alleson (goodreadscomjjalleson) | 105 comments Echoes of Kalifer. It should have been on my original list so glad to see it got through.


message 13: by Karl (new)

Karl Freitag | 69 comments Jack, I've already sent my vote to Jot for your August story. You have a dynasty going. #threepeat


message 14: by Paula (new)

Paula | 942 comments Good story, Jack. Elegant.


message 15: by Jack (new)

Jack McDaniel | 246 comments Thanks, Paula and everyone.

Karl - awesome - now tell me what to write about!


message 16: by Tom (new)

Tom Olbert | 1089 comments Well done, Jack. Well deserved.


message 17: by Ink (last edited Aug 01, 2016 06:08AM) (new)

Ink 2 Quill (ink2quill) I loved your story. Good Job Jack.

John


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