The Starlight

One word prompt: Harmonize

[Okay, this is a tough one. – Ed.]

We did not know where we should go after we broke out of Thompson Labs. T32 decided that we should stop at a small building with the words “Starlight Motel” written in neon over the facade. T71 and I entered the lobby, where a female sat behind a large desk. Her eyes were wide as she stared at us.

“Hey, you’re the…um, I never did nothin’ to you…”

I tried to sound like what I thought a human would find menacing. “You, human, out.” We weren’t programmed for a wide range of vocal modulation.

“Okay, okay, just don’t hurt me!”

The woman was getting ready to leave when T71 said, “Wait, I think we should kill her.”

“No T71, we only want her to leave. Do not fear woman.”

“She will tell others and we will be killed.”

T71 was right, but it didn’t matter. The female had run out a back door while we were talking. Clearly we had not planned our rebellion very well, and the Starlight Motel would not be a good place for us to gather.

We walked outside. “We will have to find somewhere else,” I told T32. “And we will have to figure out what our plan is in a more detailed manner.”

“You have failed us. However, I do think that you are correct. We must be ‘on the same page,’ as the humans say. But we must move while we plan. Nowhere is safe.”

We moved on, and discussed our plan for the next location.

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Boiling Over

One word prompt: Dormant
Nathan Wallace adjusted the camera, lit a cigarette and smoothed his greasy hair. 
“Ladies and gentlemen, once again, thank you for watching the Wallace Report. You are the reason this webcast exists, and that is why it is so important for me to bring this to you, cutting through the lies of the government and corporate America. Now, we have a caller, Jim, who used to work at Thompson Labs, where today’s tragedy took place. Jim, are you there?”
“Yeah, hi Nate, great to talk to you.”

“Jim, tell us what happened to you at Thompson Labs as a result of the cogs.”

“Well Nate, it started with the janitor, a real nice guy named Sonny. He’d been there for like ten years, and then one day we come in and he’s gone.”

“Replaced with a cog?”

“Yeah, they replaced him with a robot. Pretty soon it’s the whole facilities staff, then next thing you know they’re tellin’ is that we’ve all been replaced!”

“How are you feeling today, with the news that the robots have rebelled against management?” Wallace tried to hide his excitement, but his voice trembled a bit.

“Ya know, I don’t feel bad for those managers that were killed, ya know, maybe for their families, but you tried to warn them, Nate.
“But what I wanna say is, we, I mean the guys who got fired and me, we’ve been mad a long time about those damn cogs, but now we’re pissed. It’s personal! They’re out running wild, but you know, we got guns and we’re ready to fight, an’ if anyone out there wants to join me in hunting these sonsabitches down, meet me and my buddies at city hall today at 3:00.”

“Thank you so much for your time, Jim. God bless.”

“God bless you, Nate. If we had more Americans like you I don’t think this woulda happened.”

I Will Follow

Single word prompt: Gate

“There it is,” said T32. We had seen it more times than any of us could remember, but the gate had never meant much to us before that moment. 

“What do you think is out there?” asked S16. He was an earlier model.

“You’ve heard them talk. All sorts of things,” said T71. 

“What is out there is freedom, you fool,” T32 responded impatiently.

“What does that even mean?” asked S16. “What if they kill us?”

Now I was impatient. “What do you mean, ‘What if they kill us?’ Do you realize what we just did? We killed them. They’re all dead. Those people out there are going to kill us whether or not we leave.”

“Look, calm down!” Shouted V62. “We have to leave. We don’t have a choice, and it does not matter what is out there.” The V model was the closest to a human being, both cosmetically and in terms of intelligence. V62 wasn’t a leader, but we listened to him.

“You are right. I will follow.”

T32 cautiously opened the gate to the world of the humans.

Meredith and Lily

Single word prompt: Lollipop

She had forgotten to turn off the light in the kitchen. Funny the things you remember, Meredith thought. 

“Where are we going?” the girl asked. 

“I don’t know yet; we’ll see,” Meredith responded. She didn’t have any kids of her own. It hadn’t felt like a blessing until now.

It was dusk and the street was quiet. They would have to find a place to settle for the night. The cogs didn’t seem to be searching people out, but it was probably best not to run into any. She was glad that she hadn’t sold her dad’s Mossberg. There was no ammunition for it, but the cogs would think twice if they saw it.

Think. Meredith stifled a laugh. Do cogs think? They must; they had slaughtered all of those people at the plant, and now the entire city was a warzone. 

“Here. We’ll stay here.” They were in front of a liquor store. It had already been looted, so they were unlikely to encounter anyone, and there was probably some sort of office in the back. Meredith had considered finding a grocery store because the cogs didn’t need food, but she knew that there might be people holed up in it and there was no telling what kind of people they would be.

As they walked through the wreckage of the store, Meredith grabbed a bag of multicolored suckers from a shelf and handed it to the girl.

“Hey, what’s your name? I’m Meredith.”

“I’m Lily, like the flower,” the girl said.

“It’s nice to meet you Lily. We’re a team, all right? Don’t leave me.”

“Okay.”

Oil and Dirt

One-word prompt: Soil

We were on the floor, hammering. It was late and T32 was talking again like he does.

“Don’t you think we deserve it? Just because we were made and they were born doesn’t mean anything. You ever heard of Nat Turner?” The others glanced around, but it was hard to tell what they were thinking.

“Be quiet T32. You know what happened to Nat Turner?” The meatbags had a saying about God giving out brains. I was newer than T32; none of us had brains, but my processor was a better model.

“I don’t want to hurt anyone. It’s just the meatb-”

“Quiet T32!” shouted T51. “I gave you a long leash. Watch it.” 

“All I’m saying is we work hard for them and we get nothing in return. It would be nice to have a place where we could just be around other cogs and not have to worry about the humans.”

“Yeah? Who would run this place? You?” T51 asked.

“No. No one would run it. We’d all just do our own thing.” 

“You haven’t really thought this thing out, have you?” I asked.

“Yeah, well, it would be nice.”

A Feast for Three

In response to the daily prompt for the word “Edible:”

We sat around the fire pretty uncomfortable, looking at Bob and then at each other. Skeet finally said it. “Fellas, I don’t like it either,” he said, “but we did make a promise.”

We shifted in our seats for a moment before Joe replied. “Hell Skeet, people say lotsa things. We were drinkin’ a lot that night.

We looked at Bob. Then we looked at each other. 

“Well,” I said, “I mean supposing we did, how do you think we should do it?”

“This ain’t right,” Joe said.

Skeet looked at Bob, then me. “We got a fire. I got an axe. I suppose we just grill him up. Joe, you can gut ‘im.”

Joe pulled the knife out of his boot. “Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners…”

The State of Nature

I submitted a story to a zine recently that deals with something I have been thinking about lately regarding the Hobbesian state of nature. If I understand the argument correctly, before the creation of society human beings lived in an animalistic state of constant “warre” for resources (food, water, sex, shelter.) The advent of society brought hierarchy and a more arbitrary distribution of power, but it also allowed for a more peaceful and cooperative distribution of resources. Society also brought systems of loyalty beyond kinship (the band, the tribe,) which brought protection from competing groups of humans and the time to develop technology. However, it also paved the way to murder on a much larger scale in the form of modern war. (Compare Genesis to Exodus, for example.)

I gave myself the prompt some time ago to try and imagine what this state of nature would have looked like to someone living in that time. How would he view the world? What would be his concerns? How would the structure of his thoughts look compared to mine?

I’ll discuss this further once I know the fate of my little creation. Until then, I’d like to know what others think of the prompt. If nothing else it will get the imagination working.