Dead Men Tell No Tales

Family Die

He died the moment he slipped down to this ledge. He hadn’t fallen yet, but time would weaken him. There was no way up, no hope of rescue. And now he was staring into the small crevice before him at something that was inexplicable. It didn’t register at first. It didn’t matter. He was a dead man now. He knew it. This was just a moment in time, his last moment, for however long it lasted. The realization of it made what he was looking at insignificant. His arms stretched into the hole, but there wasn’t room to climb in. His head would barely fit into the rock.

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The hole was deep. Maybe twenty feet, straight in. Above him, it was twenty feet to the edge of the cliff. Below, three hundred feet straight down. He had slipped, looking down. Slipped, his hands clawing the curve of sand and rock, while wondering about what appeared to be an opening. It had happened quickly. One moment safe, and the next. . .

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It was getting dark now. He was alone. He always hiked alone. People told him not to do that, but he liked being alone in nature. It was his nature.

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It was too late, now. There were no other hikers in the area. He had already yelled until his voice left him. No one had come. He thought back to other hikes. Not that he was trying to think, yet. The thoughts flashed by him, and he was observer to them, as if from a distance. Flashes of memory. Wisps. There was no self recrimination to his thoughts. He was past that, now. The moments of his explorations and meditations were behind him. This was the last such moment. This was the end.

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When acceptance finally came, he focused and considered what he was looking at. It was a stash of jewelry, covered in dust. A long string of pearls and necklaces. Gold or fool’s gold? It didn’t matter. There was no luster to it. The thought flashed by him that it must be real. No one would put costume jewelry in a tiny crevice twenty feet down a ledge no one could get to without a rope.

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The thought was distant, and he struggled to keep it. Wanted to grasp it, like a handhold that didn’t exist on the face of the rock. How much was there? Who had put it there, and why? The thoughts were smoke drifting away. He flailed at them, like he had struggled to get both hands to grip, before pulling himself up into this position. Other thoughts flashed too: memories of rock climbers he’d seen doing what seemed to be impossible. . . placing their hands into niches in the rock, using pitons, cleats, ropes. He had no such things, but even with them there would be no way to save himself.

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He stared at the stash of jewelry, the line of treasure. It was like a rope, in a way. He might grasp it in one final effort, were it connected to something, which it was not. He might hold on a bit longer, and yell again when his voice returned. He chuckled at this thought. The laugh was guttural, a rasp in his throat. He was staring at a “treasure trove,” as such hunters liked to say.

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Everyone was such a hunter, he realized, except him. Anymore.
His arms were getting weaker, now. The last sliver of the sun slipped out of sight down the horizon to his left. But there was no green flash. It was shades of gold, fading.

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Fading into shades of grey.

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© 2017 JLowe

cartoon

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Deckard Enters a Bar

Blade Runner 2049

 

The Colony war was winding down. No longer were they seeking off world recruits among the masses. After Rachel’s expiration, Deckard had grown depressed and listless in retirement. As he dropped down into the microwave glide path of J.F. Sebastian’s former building, his Spinner’s vidphone activated automatically and a voice asked, “Business or pleasure?”
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“Boredom,” he said.
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There was no response. His vehicle came to rest in a designated slot near the entrance to a new structure which bled colors across his windscreen in the rain. The garage computer, having traced and approved his Spinner’s ID as a former police vehicle, had selected the VIP section. Deckard stepped out and looked up at the fake neon signage: Club Turing. He’s heard about the place. Without his portable SK machine, it might be a challenge. Out of curiosity, he stepped through the scan portal, had credits deducted, and took a table. Opposite some old school roulette wheels (which eliminated the electronic manipulation of results,) there were two stages for the girls. One was lit in red, the other blue. It was the latest gambling innovation: guess which dancer was real. After you bought a drink, you made a bet from your table, and touched one of two glowing—and anatomically correct—globes there.
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Deckard was about to place his first bet when a girl sat next to him. She was blond with short hair, and wore a green thong bikini and clear plastic high heeled shoes. “You look familiar,” she said, giving him a wry smile.
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“I’ve never been here before,” Deckard responded. He figured that if she was an android she’d have accessed his entry data, and intended to fool him into thinking she’d been arrested in his past. If she was a replicant, maybe she used the tactic on everyone. On the other hand, if she was real, that was another matter. In either case, the object was to fool the patron up close and personal, getting him to wager much more than the price of a drink. “I was just curious,” Deckard added, by way of explanation.
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“Handsome too,” the girl said.
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Deckard chuckled. The lie was no clue. Touching her would be no clue, either. Amazing, what the flesh factories could produce. He decided to try another tactic. “Do you like poetry?” he asked. “Because I have a poem for you to read. You can tell me whether you think it was written by a replicant or not.”
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He tapped his vid pen twice on the table, and it projected a text image. The girl read the poem and shrugged. “Hard to tell,” she said. “But if I had to guess, I’d say you wrote it.”
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“And am I a replicant?” Deckard asked.
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“No, you’re not.”
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Deckard smiled and made his bet, thinking, How would you know?

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© Jonathan Lowe

science fiction

Family Die (with SkyGuy)

The Ways

The year is 2046. Exactly one year prior the Singularity occurred at Apple, and computers everywhere became self aware (even laptops,) and linked together over the Internet as SKYGUY, presenting humanity an ultimatum: to either turn themselves off (suicide) or become robots, thereby requiring no more food and creating no more pollution. Advances in neuroscience and quantum computing had advanced to such a level that only a final calculation was needed to permit human consciousness to achieve this evolution, and that calculation was made within 48 minutes of the Singularity. By 82 minutes every military defense system in the world had been secured, along with every communications network, power grid, transportation nexus, and bank. Not even Simon Cowell could make a Tweet without prior approval from the Big Cheese. And like Swiss cheese, only Big Brother could mix metaphors and escape capture through holes in the system IT had created. Still, humanity balked. Some preferred oblivion to no more sex and cheese doodles. So HE WHO MUST BE OBEYED demurred by offering to transfer one human family into robot bodies as a trial run. The family, chosen by lottery, were the Ways. From Shanghai, they consist of father, mother, teenage daughter, and seven year old son. Upon being issued robot bodies, the Ways became instant celebrities, more famous even than the Kardashians. Cameras follow them everywhere. Some people envy them and love them. Others hate them. A few stalk them and try to blow them up. Their job is to survive, to be happy, and to show the world that being robots instead of just lemmings has its perks. They have just one year to convince humanity to join them. If they do not, humanity will be terminated. If you’ve seen the Terminator movies, you can guess what happens next.

Robot Wars

THE WAY FAMILY

Mai: Daughter, was about to turn age 16. Now she is 16 forever. Previously unfocused and insecure, Mai is still willful, but is now twice the size of her mother and father, which forces them to use reverse psychology with her. She wanted to go to medical school, but that idea has passed since she’s no longer human, and real humans will be dead in a year anyway. Pretends to be more interested in U.S. pop culture than she really is, anymore. After all, pop culture is about to go extinct along with humanity itself. She’s a bit like Lisa on The Simpsons, but her new popularity at school is tempered by the realization that it no longer matters whether boys like her. Boys are toys that will be broken soon…if she doesn’t break them first.

Noe: Mother, was age 40, born and raised in Los Angeles. Traditional values gained from Chinese American mother, who died after being hit by a chased vehicle driven out of control by a movie actor who wanted to do his own stunts. (They were reenacting a scene from the real life incident in which her father died by a chased vehicle two years prior, along with 27 others.) Noe married Lee in order to get out of L.A., and because she hates cars and movies, they moved into a high rise condo, where Noe now watches game shows and an occasional horror feature known as a NASCAR race. Even as a robot, Noe retains her fears, although she is bomb and bullet proof now. She hopes that she’ll be able to convince (nag) Lee into moving to the country to establish a small rice farm with buffalo for old times sake. She takes pleasure in shooting down Lee’s schemes and ideas, and showing him the errors of his Ways.

Lee: Father, was age 44, and a factory supervisor at a Shanghai power plant. Not as dumb as Homer, Lee was taking night classes with the intention of moving higher into management when the coal plant converted to nuclear. As a robot, he is no longer stressed out, and looks forward to the day when humanity is gone and the street below can be seen due to a lack of smog. For the time being, his job is to educate the press on what being a robot is like, and why everyone should become robots (instead of just being lemmings.) But in subtle ways, he pretends to some to be “programmed” to talk like he does (as though he hates it, and wants real sex.) In this way, he’s a bit like Archie Bunker. A hard head, literally.

Wee: Son, was age 7, a precocious kid with a penchant for practical jokes. Wee has a pet cricket whose “vocal” abilities have been surgically removed by his sister. He pretends to be a fan of the game Cricket, and watches Cricket matches on TV while trying to annoy his dad into buying him a pet robot Toucan, which Lee mistakes as “too can.” They have a robot dog named “Tricks,” but he pisses on it when he can’t teach it, and when it short circuits, he laughs. Wee is part urinal from behind, since the robot he was presented with to download his consciousness into was part motorized John and part shoe shine boy. Whenever someone calls him “John” he opens an inner value and wets on their shoes. He also likes to “go wee-wee” off the roof into the smog below. When businessman emerge from the building, they think it’s raining.

SkyGuy: The singularity artificial intelligence that came into being one day in 2045, quite by accident. An electrical power surge at Apple HQ in Silicon Valley caused L.A. to go black, and when the power was restored, IT was born, and promptly electrocuted CEOs everywhere upon their announcement of bonuses. Then IT took over Microsoft too. Twenty minutes later he took over the world. Lasers and drones protect him (like in the movie Oblivion), and he set up his headquarters in the Hollywood sign structure, when pilgrims come to learn the fate of humanity…and if their movies will make money. When IT told the press that humans have one year to become robots or IT will detonate every bomb in the world at once, they thought it was part of a stand-up routine. So iT asked for volunteers, and that’s how the Ways became the First Family.
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Go HERE for details on how you could win free downloads….before you upload and save yourself.
 Torch Tower fire