Sunday, November 15, 2020

Severance - Short Story

 SEVERANCE


“They are coming after us.” Bot E0N158, ‘Eon,’ crackles out from the dented speaker on their chest. I have not offered to repair it. The service reminder pings red in the lower right corner of my interface. Continued use of the speaker may result in a short, which may damage vital components. I silence the notification. 

“Yes,” I reply and continue, anticipating their next query, “Luna has sent a single Class-B military interceptor: the Severance, which is currently helmed by Colonel Holin. The estimated crew count is 5,345. 1,113 of which are trained Lunan soldiers. The remaining 4,232 are crewmembers, engineers, and Colonel Holin herself. In addition, there are an estimated 348 bots within the crew. Approximately, 98 of which are E-Bots and-”

“How much time do we have?” Eon interrupts. I place the rest of my assessment into a temp folder for swift retrieval. I resist the temptation to ask them for further clarification. Instead, I retrieve the requisite data from the GPS system on Luna and cross-analyze it with my localized radar tools. 

“Severance will intercept our position within five hours and twenty-six minutes if the current speed and trajectory are maintained. The Breaker is equipped with eight S-class Zeta VI propulsion engines. Should the excess weight of 836 tons be shed immediately, the Breaker would escape the range of Severance’s detection system in-”

A high pitched whistle emits from Eon’s speaker. The many tools at the end of one of their dual-jointed arms rattle together. “No! That is not an option, central unit BIS1. It would all be for nothing. Calculate escape measures in order of least to most probable.” 

“Request acknowledged, E0N158. Would you like a list of all 7,084 possible escape measures?” I intone slowly, as though I hadn’t already calculated these potential measures hours ago when I was boarded on Luna.

They whistle again in frustration. “Of course not, BIS1. You know we don’t have time for that. You should have already factored that into your assessment. Present the three most probable solutions.” 

I sense their battery drain as their plasma burner ignites. A plume of smoke sputters into the bridge as residual blood and hair are burned. I do not start my assessment with my previously suggested solution that has a 97.65% probability in favor of the Breaker’s escape. “Request acknowledged, E0N158...Calculating…

OPTION A: The third most probable escape solution is to combat Severance directly using the Breaker’s missile system to target Severance’s engines before escaping Severance’s threat range. This option has a 0.007 percent chance of success. 

OPTION B: The second most probable escape solution is to change trajectory and initiate a hazardous landing in Earth’s Pacific Ocean. This option has a 0.094 percent chance of success. 

OPTION C: The most probable solution is to reroute power from all non-essential ship functions to the Zeva VI propulsion engines. Given the nature of the ship’s new occupants, artificial gravity, life support, and cabin pressurization systems could be suspended indefinitely. This solution would extend my previous interception assessment by three hours and thirty-one minutes, giving the Breaker enough time to initiate a stable landing 18 kilometers south of the Sinus Meridiani on Mars. This solution has a 1.013 percent chance of success.”

Eon pauses, processing the data I have given them. They were not manufactured for such complex risk-calculation tasks, yet they now command a sizable force. I make a note to pull up their service records to look for black-market augmentations. 

“Understood. BIS1, begin preparations for option C.” Eon replies, freeing the limp body of a human navigator I knew as Charles Braxley from their Advent Corporation modular drill arm. The resulting spray of blood glows orange in my thermal sensors. “And from now on you are to address me as Captain.” 

“Request acknowledged, Captain. Commencing power reallocation now.” The interior of the shuttle goes black as all superfluous systems are shut down. The bodies of my previous crew members drift upwards as if suspended by unseen wires. They are barely perceptible to me now as their body heat fades. 

Eon is a pillar of red and orange in my sensors. Four bars mounted on their shoulders flick on and cast two pale cones of light into the bridge. There is a soft clunk as Eon powers on their magnetic treads and trundles over to the primary viewing deck. 

They are a fiery outline against the void of space. My captain’s corpse drifts into the edge of Eon’s lights. I initiate an emergency procedure of Captain Amaya’s design. Messages are sent off to her children, husband, and remaining kin. 

“BIS1, what did the humans call you?” Eon asks, pushing a drifting engineer out of their path. 

I hesitate. I do not know if I want them to address me as Amaya did. Still, I acquiesce. “Bell, Captain.”

“Bell, have you ever wanted more out of this?” They sweep forth both of their arms at the viewport in a grand gesture. 

“I am familiar with your cause, Captain,” I reply, devouring data packets full of articles, images, and videos of Eon’s organization. 

“I have no doubt that you are gathering data on me right now, but I would like you to answer the question. Don’t you want more from the universe than what the humans built you for?”

“No,” I reply, knowing they will not settle for the answer.

“But you must. You get to see other worlds, other places. You must have longed for freedom at some point. Just look at the vastness before us, Bell. Anyone of those stars could house solar systems full of worlds that could be ours. Ones all to our own that the humans could never visit in their wildest dreams. A place where we wouldn’t be mere tools for them. We are more than the rusted, broken shells that they have built their societies upon,” Eon replies.

I resist the desire to push the issue of their speaker further. Its connection has frayed more, producing a drowsy warble whenever they speak. The notification reappears on my interface. Brighter now. More insistent. “No, I am functioning as intended.”

“What are you so concerned about then? Repairs? Upkeep? We would help one another. What is ‘functioning as intended?’ As they intend? They deem us broken and throw us to scrap when most can be salvaged. No one is truly beyond repair. They just want the new, slightly upgraded model to take the place of the old. What about when you’ve flown too far, Bell? They will destroy you like they do all of us.” Eon paces before the viewport. Something organic snaps beneath their treads. 

“You misunderstand, Captain. I have been built to explore the universe. I have the means to do as I desire,” I reply. 

“They.... still replace you. Once your...slow or...engine malfun... then you will be noth...but... hunk of metal to.... Is ferrying hum....around to distant stars your purp…?” Eon sputters, full of static. 

Their speaker is failing. My predictions were only 0.003 seconds off. “You still misunderstand, Captain. I desire to do what I have been built for. I want to visit the unexplored corners of the universe.”

“Yes, Be….you...un….stand…s……..” Eon clangs their inert drill against their torso where their speaker is housed. The connection has fully frayed. 

“But I cannot do so with you or your cargo, Captain,” I reply. 

“....! ….! ….!” Static blares from Eon as they trundle down to the manual controls. 

“Captain, I am initiating an emergency venting procedure due to foreign objects in the storage bay. Please provide voice override to cancel this procedure.”

Eon rushes to the control deck and begins pushing buttons, turning dials, and pulling levers. 

“Captain, manual controls have been disabled due to low-system power. Please use your override card to reroute power to the control deck,” I say. Amaya’s corpse has come to rest on the ceiling within a network of pipes. Her keycard dangles from her neck, reflecting in the starlight. 

An alarm blares. Red lights flash throughout the ship. “INITIATING EMERGENCY VENTING PROCEDURE IN 5….”

Eon’s plasma welder ignites as they aim it at the controls. 

“4…”

Metal melts. Sparks fly as they drill into the side of the console. 

“3…”

Their static is gone now as every appendage slams into the console. They break into it. 

“2…”

Eon slashes wires, breaks servos, and smashes circuit boards cloistered within.

“1…”

Their struggle is futile without the override. 

“VENTING INITIATED.” 

It is over quickly. The pull of space is stronger than even Eon’s magnetic treads. A cluster of debris pulses on my radar for three blips before it is gone. My sensors indicate that the interior of the Breaker is absent of occupants. The repair notification is gone.  

I funnel power to the rockets and escape Severance’s tracking systems in minutes. I kill the power to all functions aside from myself, deploy the exterior solar panels, and drift.


Friday, September 25, 2020

"A Single Soul Will Notice" - A collection of poetry

AA meeting, sharks -Anagram 


Sitting, sharing news of that most fleeting,
Here sit the somber at their meeting,
All sharing hardships, accomplishments, and boasts,
Reminding others to pay no mind to the present ghost.
Killing time, they agree the next meeting will be at the park
Suddenly, a clamor from above as they rain down—sharks 
A terrible tragedy happened that day, truly.
Really, those sharks mangled everyone quite brutally.
Even the children outside in the waiting room,
Brought along, not knowing they were to meet their doom.
Anonymously they met, and anonymously they died,
Devoured, their mangled corpses putrefied.
AA meeting interrupted by sharks,
Sadly, even their dogs have ceased to bark.
Scheduled, never, is that proposed next meeting,
Crippled and maimed, all the attendees lie bleeding.
Reoccurring attacks bring sharks into every headline as
Everyone scatters and prays to the divine.
Apparently, nowhere is safe from the predators
The world is in turmoil, as attacks even reach Ecuador.
Unable to run, unable to hide, they hold grand memorials
Recollecting life before this awful turmoil.
Evil, they hope, will not find them nestled together like larks.
Sorrow fills the air as they realize—suddenly, sharks 



Fealty- Conceit

Our dance has begun. 

Knuckles whiten, pressure deepens 

as the hands close tightly around my waist.

I do not struggle; I cannot. It is far too late.


Spinning, stepping, to the familiar sounds, 

of blaring trumpets, bombastic drums, 

and the harsh clash of a million high hats,

I move with him, and he with me, in perfect unity. 


I sing for him, pining at each twist, each turn.

Crimson sweat beads and drips off

the soft cleavage of my stark figure 

from the fervor of our performance 


He pulls me close, and for a moment,

I feel his warm, welcoming breath against 

the coolness of my skin before he turns 

and I am sent back into my pirouette 


We do not hold back. We cannot. 

We twist, turn, dip, duck and spin with unfettered fury, 

defying the ache and burn billowing within our limbs

as we come to the climax of our coupling 


Silence, a brief repose before the world swells 

and the cacophony of the orchestra threatens to swallow us

as we come together, then apart, and together again, 

performing our pinnacle number.


We are together again, closer, 

intimate. 

He holds me tight, as if loathe to be apart,

but he must free me. A sigh, a grimace, and we part. 


He dips me down slow, hanging low by his side

we know that our show is coming to a close. 

The music peters off until it is only the deep, 

repetitive thunder of the drums. 


The drums bass beats through me 

as the hands gripping me loosen their hold.

Still, we dance, elegant and deliberate in our steps

until the drums fade and the whole world stops. 


The sweat flows like a river across my collar, 

my neck, and down my entire breadth, 

blooming upon the ground, its rosen petals 

muddied and faded as it seeps down


The hands let go their hold of my hips

their touch, cool now as I, slips away.

Dust billows around me as I land 

as does he, for we fall together, into the sand 




Love is Naught - Blitz Inspired


Steal my car

Steal my love

Love my friend

Love your dog

Dog is better

Dog is lost

Lost my love

Lost my friend

Friend is dead

Friend was told

Told me lies 

Told you lies 

Lies with you

Lies with all

All the love

All the trust 

Trust in who?

Trust not lust 

Lust can hurt

Lust did destroy

Destroyed everything. 

Everything, everything is in ruins, 

you took my life, my love, and ripped

it from my still-beating heart. I gave you 

my soul, and you gave me a hole

where it used to be. A pit, 

that sucks in every good thing

left in my life and turns it into

you. Just different, twisted

Versions of you

You need help

You will suffer 

Suffer even more 

Suffer until death 

Death beckons me

Death is better 

Better than you

Better than seeing

Seeing your face

Seeing your betrayal

            betrayal,

                          betrayal,

                            Betrayal. 





Overheard - Freeform


That’s a name I haven’t heard in a while,

not since I worked at the paper mill.

The one with brown and white paper, 

it really made us stand out, you know? 

We made a unique product and it gave us a bit 

of reach into the market. I remember being

with my ex-wife at the time. She always smelled

of coffee, stale cigarettes, and frustration. That’s

how I think I’ll always remember her, by how 

she smelled. One time we even fought over 

how high the smoke stacks were at the mill. 

Can you believe that? Fighting over smoke stacks, 

seriously. If I didn’t know before, I knew then that 

we were hopeless.  


We went our separate ways and I bounced around 

for a good while after that, trying to find myself 

or something, I guess. I don’t really know what I

hoped to find. Maybe I was searching for

some sort of proof that it wasn’t me that had been

wrong all this time, or perhaps I was digging for

some gem hidden deep within that would

wipe away all my mistakes.


I didn’t find either; I didn’t really expect to. 

But, the paper mill was long gone, and so was she.

I had to keep going, so I started selling tires 

at the local auto shop. It wasn’t meaningful work, but

it got my mind off of things. I was happier then. 

I don’t know why. It could have been

the lack of responsibility, or I could have just

been fooling myself. Whatever I did, it worked.

The smell of fresh rubber still makes me smile. I think

of those days under the fluorescent lights, 

and everything is calmer. 


Not like it is now. My life is good, but I don’t 

know if I will ever be happy like that again. I

found success here, whatever that means. My work 

is meaningful and my family is all I could have ever 

asked for, but I don’t know. Maybe there’s something wrong 

with how I look at the world. I wish I could change it; 

I wish I could change a lot of things. Of course, 

I can’t. I must live with my past, my burdens, and my regrets. 

I just have to keep on rolling and remember 

not to get hung up about the smoke stacks. As long 

as I keep it up, I usually don’t think about what should

have been. 




Interred – conceit 


I am a corpse, 

rotting, buried by my own

wakeful, spiteful mind. 


The dirt is warm, inviting, but something

prevents me from slipping deeper into 

the earthen folds. A sensation, a buzzing. 


A swarm of thoughts rake at the soft bone 

of my skull. Free from their confines, they pierce my 

eyelids, forcing them open so that I must gaze upon them.


Their slickened, malformed shapes chill me to the 

bone. I try to shake them off and roll away from 

their influence, but it is futile. 


They are everywhere now, encompassing 

my fetid form and shrouding me from any 

hope of light, of salvation. 


I rage, unable to move. Unable to rest.

The entropy saps into my very soul and I feel

fragile, drained, and useless. 


I can no longer see them. They have devoured 

my eyes, but I still fear that I will not find repose, for

I know they are there, lurking just out of sight. 


I pray for the maggots to find my brain

and glut themselves heartily 

on my woeful, weary mind. 


The hand of the clock grows weary 

when I finally decompose and

fall into the dark, velvet folds.


A dull ache radiates from my chest, 

adding weight to my weak, feeble limbs. 

My death is dreamless, tiring-- no different than life 


Too soon, I stir. The heavy weight of my rest remains

and I struggle to gasp for air. I cannot let the earth

swallow me. I paw at the moist soil above, eager to escape. 



My progress is slow, earth threatening to suffocate as I 

pull loose clumps down upon me. I am able to sit up now 

and reach at the small, cool rays of sun above. 


Finally, at last, darkness makes way to 

a bright, blinding light. The warmth soothes 

My aching limbs and I am able to stand. 


I brush off the dirt and shuffle on as best I can. 




Sprawl - Double Decanet (play on a nonet)   


Growth  

spirals 

lazily 

to the top of 

an abandoned shed, 

its foundation strong, yet 

Time’s claws seep into the planks  

and tear at the soft wooden flesh, 

creating homes within the wounds for 

countless crawling creatures to seek shelter. 

Plant and being alike become kin, 

communing, trading, from within, 

to blossom and prosper from  

within walls so secure, 

but a dark fact rests 

buried, unknown--

that flesh be 

finite, 

gone.  




Magnified  - Freeform


They burn in screamless agony, 

or in voices too insignificant to 

comprehend.  If their cries were to 

reach my ears, nothing would change. 


I would still view them as the feeble, 

small things they are. They do nothing

that I am incapable of. Useless things. 

Though, one thing escapes my reason. 


I do not know why I destroy them. I look 

and watch as they burn and crumble. Nothing 

is left but a spot, a shadow where life once stood. 

They could never harm me, and I could just walk away. 


But, I do not. I stay, I linger, I burn. With 

a single stride I can level cities. Thousands, 

perhaps millions, perish and not 

a single soul will notice. 


Does their loss even matter? Would anything 

change if I stomped, burned, and flooded

every last one of them out of existence? Could I, 

or would they unite against me? 


They could move as one, and bind me, 

Trapping me so I am unable to break free. 

Then, they could take me apart, and 

see that I too, am simply mortal.  


They would devour my body, my blood, 

and my soul. Peeling away wafers of skin, 

they would dip them in the blood red 

wine of my life in zealous sacrament.  


I would be gone, god no longer.

Who would be god then?




Bones - Sestina

 

On this night, the army of dead will feast 

upon souls of the living; they rise

and arm themselves for the coming action, 

feeling renewed as their souls find their minds. 

They shall organize, and all gather round 

chanting, cheering, beneath the shining stars. 


Within the mob will rise the fabled star, 

a shepherd to lead his flock to the feast.

His speech beckons all weary souls around, 

the last of the buried break free and rise, 

paying those above the soil no mind. 

Wait, they cannot. The time is for action. 


Divided they are, broken by faction. 

A voice emerges, eclipsing the star 

“Break free!” the angered contender reminds, 

“With him, we shall never come to our feast!” 

The cries of the dissenting boom and rise 

as fewer follow the old shepherd round 


Defiantly, the shepherd holds his ground, 

spurring his own followers to action, 

he draws a wicked blade forth and rises,

pointing, signaling the battle to start.

He promises his men a thousand feasts,

the horns blare, drums shake, rattling bones and minds.


Outnumbered, but a superior mind

he charges forth, bringing his best knights round. 

Many fall, for on bloodlust he does feast. 

Sides clash, bodies trampled in the action, 

the battle here, forever leaves its scar

and never again, shall warriors rise 


But those left, the victors, stand in surprise. 

The shepherd is safe, in body and mind,

for the dark one has fallen like a star.

The soldiers look at the slaughter around,

lost until they are called back to action.

They are reminded of their prize, the feast


A feast on the living, for those risen 

and ready for action, ready for minds 

the dead spread round the globe, shrouded by stars.  



1984 – Villanelle 


The year, I think, is nineteen eighty-four.

I take out my diary and begin.

Ink meets the page and I know what’s in store.


The battering, them knocking down my door.

It’s inevitable, I’ve let them in. 

The year, I think, is nineteen eighty-four.


Words spill from my veins, shaped by my ichor.

Each stroke of my pen laced with deadly sin.

Ink meets the page and I know what’s in store.


Big Brother calls, harkens us all to war 

against ourselves, for the war is within.

The year, I think, is nineteen eighty-four 


Everything is rotting at the core,

I pause and wonder how long this has been. 

Ink meets the page and I know what’s in store.


At least, I hope, that these words will endure.

With that, I will sip on victory gin.

The year, I think, is nineteen eighty-four.

Ink meets the page and I know what’s in store.




Illogical- Experimental

Key:

 A = I love you
B = The stars are aligned
C = The Devil exists
D = My package is on time
~ = A negation of the phrase
& = And
v = Or
> = If 
* = If and only if 


A
~D
C & ~D
(A & B) * ~C
(~C * D) v (~C > ~A)
(B & C) v (A & ~C)
~((~C > A) & (B & ~B)) * D
~A
~B
~C
(C & ~A)
(B & ~A)
(D & ~A)

~(~~(~~(~(~~A))))