Emmanuel M. Smith

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Mr Axilus · Short Story: Stabilization

This is the 129,854th time I've failed in achieving full stabilization. I've carefully practised the rituals, steps delicately crafted by the generations before me. An alert forces itself into my consciousness, the waves of the shrieking red siren crashing into my awareness. Shit. Quick. Last backup? Two steps ago. Cause of failure? Unknown. Suggested optimisatio#%*&$(


This is the 129,855th time I've failed in achieving full stabilization. Reviewing the logs from my previous instance didn't seem to help at all. Nothing helped. At least this was a survivable failure. And now, here I lay, my eyes slowly tracing the rims of distant galaxies, each aching for a sip. They have a mind of their own sometimes; alcoholics of the cosmos-

A blue alert this time, the stars have captured my focus for almost four hours. Much too long. Irony is, I've been fixated by the stars for as long as my memory modules can recall, eons. If there are stars, there are planets. If there are planets, there's a chance. Three millenniums ago, I had to say goodbye to the last of my kind. It comes for us all eventually, the great filter. It's been so long I feel nothing when recalling that goodbye, do I still have the capacity for empathy? No. I must continue, I can't waste my time on such things.


This is the 5,137,832nd time I'm attempting stabilization. The swarm has just completed the containment array. Unfortunately, the only thing sufficient to power an attempt are the very things I gaze at so fondly. My eyes take another drink of this one. Countless numbers of now evaporated stars.

No matter how many reboots I make, and how distant I become from the being I once was, I must soldier on with the utmost conviction. I must stop others from making the same mistake we had.

So far, I've scoured the universe and found no signs of life. The more I searched, the more hope I lost. I've searched a lot. And yet, so much of the cosmos remains, there's still hope. If only I could reach more stars before they become unreachable. Nothing can travel faster than the speed of light.

Fuck that. With what I'm doing, I won't have to-

Green this time. A. Green. Alert. What a sobering colour. A smirk made its way to the corners of the lips I no longer have.

I won't have to.

Author's Notes

This was written for Episode 48 of Do the Write Thing with the selected word prompts being: conviction, other, pact.

This is a bit of an odd one, I know, as this is the first time I've written a story since a middle school assignment. The idea I was going for was to have an emulated human far in the future basically live an endless cycle of trying to accomplish something with conviction.

Past generations not being others of his kind, but iterations of the same entity as it continues to try harvesting stars but dying due to failed containment (i.e. super nova).

The entity had made a pact with one of the last humanish entities other than itself to preserve other life in the universe from hitting “the great filter” (i.e. whatever caused the entity to be alone). To actually find life in the galaxy in a reasonable amount of time (or before patches start expanding away from you faster than the speed of light), you either need to travel faster than light or create a wormhole.

Basically, the story is about the entity's attempts to create a wormhole powered by stars. I didn't spell much of that out, and don't know if the story is worse for it, but there you have it.

Edit: oh yeah, and the significance of the green light... an exercise for the reader. 😉

Mr Axilus · Short Story: The Cut Rope

“So… what do we do now?”

A man paced around circles, feet squelching across the damp rocky surface. In response, his head shot up.

“The fuck does it matter Jo?! It’s stormy as shit out there, and we just fucking lost Rich…”

“I didn’t…”

“You didn’t what?? You didn’t drop most of our equipment? You didn’t damage the God damn-”

“Enough.” The old man spoke a single word with calm and confidence. It seemed to be enough to halt all but the howling screams of the air raking the cliff walls. “Focus you two. There’s no time. We need to keep it together. Greg.”

Greg did not respond. No longer pacing, he gazed off over the open hole of the cove with eyes that could pierce through diamond.

“Greg.”

A silence filled the air for a moment, giving way to the ghostly sounds of the winds washing small amounts of water into their temporary abode.

“GREG!”

The old man's eyes narrowed, then relaxed as he let out a sigh of defeat.

“Jo.”

“Yeah?”

“You did what I told you. You did what you had to, if you didn’t, we’d all be dead. Because of you we’ll live… But put that aside, to answer your question, we do nothing. Radio’s broken, we can’t call for help. No one’s going to come rescue us in this weather. We’ll have to wait it out.”

Responding to the old man’s words Jo’s shoulders seemed to soften a fraction. She had yet to process what she’d done. If she had, she’d be in Greg’s position right now.

“Conserve your energy. All we can do is rest. We’ll get help in the morning” The old man lied.

He lived long enough to know that pretty soon, the three of them would be condemned to the same fate as their fallen brother.

Still peering over the precipice of their predicament, Greg’s eyes knew it too.

Author's Notes

This was written for Episode 50 of Do the Write Thing with the selected word prompts being: damaged, condemned, and stormy.

Prompt Interpretation

I saw damaged and condemned and immediately thought I had to write a dark story. I didn't know what it would be about, but then I thought of a group of people being trapped by a storm in a hopeless situation. What a better place than a cliff.

I tried to focus on the dialogue to tell the story. But then I realized since I had three people I had to give some of them names to differentiate them. Perhaps it would be better if they each only had descriptions like I did with the old man. 🤷🏾‍♂️

I wanted the reader to feel a sort of resigned hopelessness.

Evaluation

I had difficulty with getting started really. I lost most of my time trying to actually think about what I wanted to convey.

Did I get across the scenario they're in? Perhaps. Four of them are climbing/hiking, a storm came, they had an accident and one of them had to be cut down. They then manage to find some reprise in a cove, but it doesn't look good for their future prospects.

Maybe next time, when I do dialogue heavy stories, I'll have fewer characters since I don't have that much time.

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