Tag Archives: science fiction

Evil Bases

So, you are going to conquer the world or at least do something nefarious.  You want a secret evil base…  What do you look for?  Security?  Fear factor?  Space and housing for minions and projects?  Missile silos?  I think remoteness, difficulty of stealthy access and yes – beauty are all factors.  Who wants an evil base with no ambience?  After all, would you prefer to plot the domination of the universe in a cold grey room, or with a cocktail while getting a massage watching the sunset over a beautiful ocean?  I have posted similar selections before.  For more, type “evil bases” into the search block on my home page.

You decide.  Which of the following evil bases strikes your fancy?  (Click to enlarge pictures)

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The Copier Shop – A Draft Original Short Story by Michael Bradley

This is a first draft of a short story, just 1,400 words, or about a four minute read time on average.  It is original fiction by yours truly.  It will most likely be included in my sixth or seventh a book, an anthology with a working title of “Twisted Futures.”  I hope you enjoy it.  Please feel free to comment if you love, hate, etc., the concept or the writing.

copier shop

The Copier Shop

 By Michael Bradley

“Ben!  Get your ass out here, there’s a line.”

Ben sat down the heavy barrels of goop that fed the copier machine.  Why can’t he ever do anything?  Mister all important Assistant Manager Jones can’t do shit without telling me to do it for him.  Ben sulked slowly from the supply room to the counter.  Only three people in line.  Wow.

Jones glared at him and hissed, “Just because you only have one arm doesn’t mean your two legs can’t move as fast as anyone else.”

Ben lowered his head and bit back his response.  What a total asshole.

“Can I help whoever is next?”  Ben waited while the customers looked at their number pull tags and a couple came up after figuring out they had the lowest number.

“Yes young man.  It’s my husband George here.  We were saving up to get copied together, but he isn’t feeling well at all today.  I think we better just get him done and then do me later.  To be on the safe side.  Besides, his job at the factory can be kind of demanding.  Nothing like a fresh duplicate they say.”

Ben stared at the elderly couple and sighed.  “Do you happen to have the data chip with you?”

The old woman searched through her purse and found an inch square chip, hastily removing lent and cat hair from it.  She handed it over to Ben.

“Great.”  He blew off the rest of the cat hair and examined it.  “This is over forty years old, might take a bit of work.  When do you need it done?”

The lady huffed and pointed to her elderly husband George.  “Just look at him young man, we need it now.  We’ll wait.”

“Fine.”  Ben opened the flip counter and motioned for George to join him.  They walked back to the duplicator.  “So, George is it, you want any changes?  Want me to use copy shop software and add some muscles, brains, different face or anything?”

George leaned heavily against the machine, holding his chest and wheezing.  “No, I’m fine with just a good clean copy.”

“A basic copy it is then.  That’ll be ten thousands credits, payable now.  We find it harder to collect afterwards and we have the cost of the materials and all.”

The old man inserted his hand into the charge-all and put his eye to the retina scanner.  After a few flashes there was a ding.  “There you go, can we get on with it now?”

“Sure, sure.  You want us to dispose of the old copy, or you want to keep it?”

The man looked at his liver-spotted arms and shriveled hands for a minute.  “Just get rid of the old copy.  I don’t know what I’d do with it anyway.”

“Ok then, step in.”

Assistant Manager Jones stepped over and whispered, “What the hell is the hold up Ben, we’ve got others still waiting, get going.”

Ben felt his anger rise, but didn’t want to get in trouble again.  He needed every credit to keep his apartment and his go-ped.  Angrily he stomped over to the control panel, jammed in the old disk and hit the start button.

Ben leaned on one foot and retied his other shoe.  The machine hummed and whined as it shredded the old copy and began to rebuild the new one.  This old machine usually took a good five minutes, where the new state-of-the-line bio-dimensional copy machines took less than a minute.  You-Copy stores were too cheap to buy the new stuff though.  People coming here just wanted the same old, nothing fancy.

The lights indicated it was about half-way through the construction process when the warning panel turned red.  “What the?”  Ben looked at it with a squint.  Out of goop?  Shit!  I got so mad at Jones I forgot to check the damn goop.

On cue, Jones appeared.  “Damnit Ben, what now?”

Ben felt his face turn heated and red.  “It ran out of goop.”

“What kind?”

Ben looked at the readout.  “It’s the blood goop.  The disk says A negative, but it ran out.  I better go get some quick.”

Jones grabbed Ben’s one arm as he started for the store room.  “Too late for that dumbass, you can’t let it sit that long.  Watch this.”

Ben tugged his arm free and watched his boss.  Jones flipped the goop trays to O positive.  “See, you just give him different blood.”

“Won’t that mess shit up Jones?”

“Nah, as long as it’s all the same.  We’ll just give him an updated disk and no one will be the wiser.  If the copy needs work, they look at the new disk and know O positive.”

Jones pressed the start button again and the machine went back to humming and whining.  Several minutes later the copy came out.

“George, you feel ok?”  Ben asked.

George looked around a bit bewildered at first.  Then his head seemed to clear.  “Yes, I don’t recall your name though.  Is my wife Gladys still waiting here?”

Ben looked at the copy.  George had a brand new duplicate body that looked roughly twenty years old.  Everything seemed to be fine.  “Sure, it’s only been a few minutes.  You’re all paid up Sir, just head this way and I’ll take you to her.”

George and Gladys left the store and Ben started to the counter but was headed off by Jones.  “How long have you worked here Ben?”

“You know I’ve been here for many years Jones.  As long as you.”

“Well one day you damn well better learn to check your goop before pressing the start button.  We were lucky that time.  You know corporate doesn’t like to pay for messed up copies.  It’s not just the refunds; it’s the upset customers too.”

“Yeah, fine.  Check the goop.  Got it.”  Ben headed back to the counter.  The rest of the day was busy and closing time came around quicker than he expected.

Ben went to the machine and started to clear the goop trays and sort them in storage.  Tissue, blood, bone, organ, muscles, connective goop, every type of goop needed all fit into a series of canisters that he had to clean every night.

Jones helped tonight, though Ben wasn’t happy about that as he expected more criticism for today’s mistake.

Ben looked over at the unusually quiet Jones.  “That guy, George.  It says he works as a manufacturing engineer.”

“Yeah, so?”  Jones was cleaning out the blood tubes with sanitizer.

“Well, when we make copies, the people walk out young, strong, all new.  But they always have the same jobs, the same memories and skills.  Why not upgrade to something more exciting?”

Jones considered that for awhile.  “I suppose that every job needs doing and if we all wanted to have exciting jobs; there would be no manufacturing engineers.”

Ben banged the pans into their storage, eliciting a frown from Jones.  “It’s just not fair is all.  When I get old and get copied, why the hell do I have to come back here and be a damn clerk at a copy store, working for a dumbass like you?”  Ben braced himself for a barrage of yelling, but nothing happened.

Jones looked at his missing arm, where only a stump rested under Ben’s shirt.

Ben saw the direction of his eyes.  “So it’s because I only have one arm?  Why can’t I get a new arm?  Copy shop software would fix that.  Just add in more goop.”

“It’s not that simple Ben, like I said; they need people to do crap jobs like this.”

“Then how did you get here Jones?  Why are you stuck as a lowly Assistant Manager at a You-Copy?  You’re not much better off than me.”

Jones sat down heavily.  A single tear ran down his cheek and his lips trembled.  “I’m sorry Ben.”

Ben felt a growing dread, hollowness deep in his chest.  “Sorry for what?”

“I’m here because I didn’t check the goop before I hit start.  I didn’t put enough in.”  Jones pointed at Ben’s missing arm.  “You were a baseball pitcher before.  It was an exciting job, and others wanted it.  When I forgot the goop, well, there wasn’t a clean image left and others were in line.”

“You bastard!  You dumb bastard!  That’s why I’m here, because you screwed up?”

“Yeah.”  Jones stood trembling.  “And I’m here because I was a doctor, and someone messed up my copy too.  That’s why people don’t ever get better jobs Ben.  We’re all mistakes made by people in a hurry.”

 

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What People Thought Vehicles Would Like Today

These are all pictures and illustrations of what people predicted future vehicles would be like today.  To me, beyond the coolness of the pictures, is the analysis of where they went wrong. You see, predicting the future does not usually work, because we are too fixed on how things are right now.  For instance, the clothing in the pictures is the most wrong.  Men don’t dress nice in suits all the time like they used to.  It is a way for futurists such as myself to look at the mistakes in predicting made before and try to avoid them.  Society, dress and appearance is likely to change just as much as technology.  The pictures also do not reflect a change in urban buildings or lifestyle as technology changes.  With that added thought, enjoy!

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27 Science Fiction Technologies Made Real in 2012

27 SCIENCE FICTIONS THAT BECAME SCIENCE FACTS IN 2012

We may never have our flying cars, but the future is here. From creating fully functioning artificial leaves to hacking the human brain, science made a lot of breakthroughs this year.
 1. QUADRIPLEGIC USES HER MIND TO CONTROL HER ROBOTIC ARM


At the University of Pittsburgh, the neurobiology department worked with 52-year-old Jan Scheuermann over the course of 13 weeks to create a robotic arm controlled only by the power of Scheuermann’s mind.
The team implanted her with two 96-channel intracortical microelectrodes. Placed in the motor cortex, which controls all limb movement, the integration process was faster than anyone expected. On the second day, Jan could use her new arm with a 3-D workspace. By the end of the 13 weeks, she was capable of performing complex tasks with seven-dimensional movement, just like a biological arm.
To date, there have been no negative side effects.
Source: gizmodo.com

2. DARPA ROBOT CAN TRAVERSE AN OBSTACLE COURSE

Once the robot figures out how to do that without all the wires, humanity is doomed.
DARPA was also hard at work this year making robots to track humans and run as fast as a cheetah, which seems like a great combination with no possibility of horrible side effects.
Source: jwherrman

3. GENETICALLY MODIFIED SILK IS STRONGER THAN STEEL


Photo Courtesy of Indigo Moon Yarns.

At the University of Wyoming, scientists modified a group of silkworms to produce silk that is, weight for weight, stronger than steel. Different groups hope to benefit from the super-strength silk, including stronger sutures for the medical community, a biodegradable alternative to plastics, and even lightweight armor for military purposes.
Source: bbc.co.uk

4. DNA WAS PHOTOGRAPHED FOR THE FIRST TIME


Using an electron microscope, Enzo di Fabrizio and his team at the Italian Institute of Technology in Genoa snapped the first photos of the famous double helix.
Source: newscientist.com / via: davi296

5. INVISIBILITY CLOAK TECHNOLOGY TOOK A HUGE LEAP FORWARD


British Columbia company HyperStealth Biotechnology showed a functioning prototype of its new fabric to the U.S. and Canadian military this year. The material, called Quantum Stealth, bends light waves around the wearer without the use of batteries, mirrors, or cameras. It blocks the subject from being seen by visual means but also keeps them hidden from thermal scans and infrared.
Source: toxel.com

6. SPRAY-ON SKIN


ReCell by Avita Medical is a medical breakthrough for severe-burn victims. The technology uses a postage stamp–size piece of skin from the patient, leaving the donor site with what looks like a rug burn. Then the sample is mixed with an enzyme harvested from pigs and sprayed back onto the burn site. Each tiny graft expands, covering a space up to the size of a book page within a week. Since the donor skin comes from the patient, the risk of rejection is minimal.
Source: news.discovery.com

7. JAMES CAMERON REACHED THE DEEPEST KNOWN POINT IN THE OCEAN


Cameron was the first solo human to reach the bottom of the Mariana Trench. At 6.8 miles deep, it is perhaps more a more alien place to scientists than some foreign planets are. The 2.5-story “vertical torpedo” sub descended over a period of two and a half hours before taking a variety of samples.
Source: news.nationalgeographic.com

8. STEM CELLS COULD EXTEND HUMAN LIFE BY OVER 100 YEARS


When fast-aging elderly mice with a usual lifespan of 21 days were injected with stem cells from younger mice at the Institute for Regenerative Medicine in Pittsburgh, the results were staggering. Given the injection approximately four days before they were expected to die, not only did the elderly mice live — they lived threefold their normal lifespan, sticking around for 71 days. In human terms, that would be the equivalent of an 80-year-old living to be 200.
Source: news.nationalgeographic.com

9. 3-D PRINTER CREATES FULL-SIZE HOUSES IN ONE SESSION


The D-Shape printer, created by Enrico Dini, is capable of printing a two-story building, complete with rooms, stairs, pipes, and partitions. Using nothing but sand and an inorganic binding compound, the resulting material has the same durability as reinforced concrete with the look of marble. The building process takes approximately a fourth of the time as traditional buildings, as long as it sticks to rounded structures, and can be built without specialist knowledge or skill sets.
Source: gizmag.com

10. SELF-DRIVING CARS ARE LEGAL IN NEVADA, FLORIDA, AND CALIFORNIA


Google started testing its driverless cars in the beginning of 2012, and by May, Nevada was the first state to take the leap in letting them roam free on the roads. With these cars logging over 300,000 autonomous hours so far, the only two accidents involving them happened when they were being manually piloted.
Source: en.wikipedia.org

11. VOYAGER I LEAVES THE SOLAR SYSTEM


Launched in 1977, Voyager I is the first manmade object to fly beyond the confines of our solar system and out into the blackness of deep space. It was originally designed to send home images of Saturn and Jupiter, but NASA scientists soon realized eventually the probe would float out into the great unknown. To that end, a recording was placed on Voyager I with sounds ranging from music to whale calls, and greetings in 55 languages.
Source: space.com

12. CUSTOM JAW TRANSPLANT CREATED WITH 3-D PRINTER


A custom working jawbone was created for an 83-year-old patient using titanium powder and bioceramic coating. The first of its kind, the successful surgery opens the door for individualized bone replacement and, perhaps one day, the ability to print out new muscles and organs.
Source: telegraph.co.uk

13. ROGUE PLANET FLOATING THROUGH SPACE


Until this year, scientists knew planets orbited a star. Then, in came CFBDSIR2149. With four to seven times the mass of Jupiter, it is the first free-floating object to be officially defined as an exoplanet and not a brown dwarf.
Source: sciencenews.org

14. CHIMERA MONKEYS CREATED FROM MULTIPLE EMBRYOS


While all the donor cells were from rhesus monkeys, the researchers combined up to six distinct embryos into three baby monkeys. According to Dr. Mitalipov, “The cells never fuse, but they stay together and work together to form tissues and organs.” Chimera species are used in order to understand the role specific genes play in embryonic development and may lead to a better understanding of genetic mutation in humans.
Source: bbc.co.uk

15. ARTIFICIAL LEAVES GENERATE ELECTRICITY


Using relatively inexpensive materials, Daniel G. Nocera created the world’s first practical artificial leaf. The self-contained units mimic the process of photosynthesis, but the end result is hydrogen instead of oxygen. The hydrogen can then be captured into fuel cells and used for electricity, even in the most remote locations on Earth.
Source: sciencedaily.com

16. GOOGLE GOGGLES BRING THE INTERNET EVERYWHERE


Almost everyone has seen the video of Google’s vision of the future. With their Goggles, everyday life is overlaid with a HUD (Head’s Up Display). Controlled by a combination of voice control and where the user is looking, the Goggles show pertinent information, surf the web, or call a loved one.
Source: heraldsun.com.au

17. THE HIGGS-BOSON PARTICLE WAS DISCOVERED


Over the summer, multinational research center CERN confirmed it had discovered a particle that behaved enough like a Higgs boson to be given the title. For scientists, this meant there could be a Higgs field, similar to an electromagnetic field. In turn, this could lead to the scientists’ ability to interact with mass the same way we currently do with magnetic fields.
Source: forbes.com

18. FLEXIBLE, INEXPENSIVE SOLAR PANELS CHALLENGE FOSSIL FUEL


At half the price of today’s cheapest solar cells, Twin Creeks’ Hyperion uses an ion canon to bombard wafer-thin panels. The result is a commercially viable, mass-produced solar panel that costs around 40 cents per watt.
Source: extremetech.com

19. DIAMOND PLANET DISCOVERED


An exoplanet made entirely of diamonds was discovered this year by an international research team. Approximately five times the size of Earth, the small planet had mass similar to that of Jupiter. Scientists believe the short distance from its star coupled with the exoplanet’s mass means the planet, remnants of another star, is mostly crystalline carbon.
Source: io9.com

20. EYE IMPLANTS GIVE SIGHT TO THE BLIND


Two blind men in the U.K. were fitted with eye implants during an eight-hour surgery with promising results. After years of blindness, both had regained “useful” vision within weeks, picking up the outlines of objects and dreaming in color. Doctors expect continued improvement as their brains rewire themselves for sight.
Source: telegraph.co.uk

21. WALES BARCODES DNA OF EVERY FLOWERING PLANT SPECIES IN THE COUNTRY


Photo Courtesy of Virtual Tourist.

Led by the National Botanic Garden’s head of research and conversation, a database of DNA for all 1,143 native species of Wales has been created. With the use of over 5,700 barcodes, plants can now be identified by photos of their seeds, roots, wood, or pollen. The goal is to help researchers track things such as bee migration patterns or how a plant species encroaches on a new area. The hope is to eventually barcode both animal and plant species across the world.
Source: walesonline.co.uk

22. FIRST UNMANNED COMMERCIAL SPACE FLIGHT DOCKS WITH THE ISS


SpaceX docked its unmanned cargo craft, the Dragon, with the International Space Station. It marked the first time in history a private company had sent a craft to the station. The robotic arm of the ISS grabbed the capsule in the first of what will be many resupply trips.
Source: nytimes.com

23. ULTRA-FLEXIBLE “WILLOW” GLASS WILL ALLOW FOR CURVED ELECTRONIC DEVICES


Created by New York–based developer Corning, the flexible glass prototype was shown off at an industry trade show in Boston. At only 0.05mm thick, it’s as thin as a sheet of paper. Perhaps Sony’s wearable PC concept will actually be possible before 2020.
Source: bbc.co.uk

24. NASA BEGINS USING ROBOTIC EXOSKELETONS


The X1 Robotic Exoskeleton weighs in at 57 lbs. and contains four motorized joints along with six passive ones. With two settings, it can either hinder movement, such as when helping astronauts exercise in space, or aid movement, assisting paraplegics with walking.
Source: news.cnet.com

25. HUMAN BRAIN IS HACKED


Usenix Security had a team of researchers use off-the-shelf technology to show how vulnerable the human brain really is. With an EEG (electroencephalograph) headset attached to the scalp and software to figure out what the neurons firing are trying to do, it watches for spikes in brain activity when the user recognizes something like one’s ATM PIN number or a child’s face.
Source: extremetech.com

26. FIRST PLANET WITH FOUR SUNS DISCOVERED


Discovered by amateur astronomers, the planet closely orbits a pair of stars, which in turn orbit another set of more distant stars. It’s approximately the size of Neptune, so scientists are still trying to work out how the planet has avoided being pulled apart by the gravitational force of that many stars.
Source: io9.com

27. MICROSOFT PATENTED THE “HOLODECK”


The patent suggests Microsoft wants to take gaming beyond a single screen and turn it into an immersive experience — beaming images all over the room, accounting for things like furniture, and bending the graphics around them to create a seamless environment.
Source: bbc.co.uk

Found on: buzzfeed.com

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Star Trek’s Tractor Beam Created

Star Trek ‘tractor beam’ created by scientists

Published January 27, 2013

SkyNews

  • Tractor Beam

    In “Stak Trek,” Federation starships relied upon tractor beams to hold and tow other vessels. Scientists may not be there yet, but they have managed to tow a small particle using light beams.

A team of scientists has created a real-life miniature “tractor beam” – as featured in the Star Trek series – in a development which may lead to more efficient medical testing.The microscopic beam – created by scientists from Scotland and the Czech Republic – allows a source of light to attract objects.

Light manipulation techniques have existed since the 1970s, but researchers say the experiment is the first instance of a beam being used to draw objects towards light.

Researchers from the University of St Andrews and the Institute of Scientific Instruments (ISI) in the Czech Republic say development of the beam may be an aid to medical testing, such as in the examination of blood samples.

A tractor beam was used to pull in spaceships and other large objects in the popular US science fiction show.

Normally, when matter and light interact, a solid object is pushed by the light and carried away in a stream of photons.

However, in recent years, researchers have realised that there is a space of parameters when this force reverses.

The scientists have now demonstrated the first experimental realisation of the concept.

Professor Pavel Zemanek of the ISI said: “The whole team have spent a number of years investigating various configurations of particles delivery by light.

“I am proud our results were recognised in this very competitive environment and I am looking forward to new experiments and applications. It is a very exciting time.”

Dr Oto Brzobohaty, also of the ISI, said: “These methods are opening new opportunities for fundamental phonics as well as applications for life-sciences.”

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/science/2013/01/26/star-trek-tractor-beam-created-by-scientists/#ixzz2O3mTPFXo

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Writing Can Change Your Perception

So, as most of you know I usually write adventure, steampunk, science fiction, science fact and humor.  Recently, I have penned a few short stories to submit to our upcoming horror anthology.  (yes, my stories are tossed in the bin anonymously too, they have to get voted in).  Writing horror does not come naturally to me, so it has been a challenge for me to get into that dark place.  Now, I know I have been successful…

Case in point, picking up food at Costco today for visitors over the holiday.  I see a young man of around thirty, loading big boxes of Clorox Bleach onto a cart that has like twenty industrial sized rolls of Paper towels.  The only other thing in the cart is a few snacks.  My first thought – “That man is going to kill someone today, and is buying paper towels and bleach to clean up the crime scene!”  Seriously, that is what popped into my head in the Costco aisle today.

Last night and today I am working on my upcoming novel Blood Bank – a post-apocalyptic vampire novel.  I wonder if I will start noticing pale people or looking at necks for bite marks.

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Two Disturbing Short Stories for Halloween

Together, these stories are less than three pages long.  Both of these short stories have been published together on more than one occasion.  I wrote these early on and they are related.  They are a bit dark and more on the R side than PG-13.  I don’t want to give away how they are related, so I will just post them here for your enjoyment.  They are not horror, or traditional Halloween fare, but hopefully, they are a bit creepy.

 

 

Humanity Won

by Michael Bradley

Elizabeth dreaded his return.  He would be home soon.  He called her Liz; he was too lazy to even say her full name.  First, he would be drunk.  He always spent what money he had on gambling, tobacco and alcohol.  His breath always smelt of cheap liquor and ashes.

Elizabeth pressed her hand against the shoddy door.  The blue flashing light of the sensor at the door sill reminded her she could not leave.  The azure tint revealed the black tattoo markings on her wrist, put there by the slave traders.  Her world was 700 square feet of gloom that became Hell when he was home.

She wondered how he ever found the self-control to save the money to buy her.   The slave trade was expensive, especially for a beautiful young blonde.  Perhaps he had some luck at the casino one day and used his winnings to buy her before he squandered it like always.  However he accomplished it, now she had to wait for him, for whatever perversion he dreamed up in his drunken mind.

Elizabeth had spent the day as usual, cleaning up after him, doing the dishes, the laundry, the bed linens.  He lived like a pig, wallowing in his own filth.  Despite the small size of the apartment he managed to make a mess of it every day.  Perhaps out of spite.  She would have left or thrown herself out the window, but the band around her neck kept her from it.  It was forever bound to her and if she moved more than a hundred feet from the apartment, it would explode and kill her.  They were forty floors up in the slum high rise, so she would not even hit the ground.  Still, more and more she thought about the peace that oblivion would bring her.

He stumbled in, fumbling with his keys.  He dropped off his shoes in the hallway and threw his dirty socks onto the floor.  The place reeked of his stench.  She wondered why he bothered to pay for a place with a shower.  He saw her and lurched over.  Disgusted, she flinched back, but he pointed to his wrist.  The device looked like a watch, but one touch would send terrible pain through her neck band.  She came over submissively.  He whispered disgusting things into her ear.  She wondered if he researched his depravity on internet fetish sites or if it came to him naturally.  He pulled her to the bedroom and the freshly made bed and tossed her onto it.  “Get naked Liz!”  He commanded in a slurred voice.

After, she lay there, humiliated.  His snoring was deep and raspy.  The satisfaction on his face enraged her.  It was the tipping point, the final impetus.  She went to the kitchen and grabbed the largest knife.  It was a bit rusted and the handle chipped.  Crap, just like everything else he owned, just like her.  She was damaged goods, abused by her owner.  She went to the bedroom and saw the master lying in his own puke.  He had vomited in his sleep and was choking.  He had done so before and managed to roll over and survive.  Elizabeth could not leave it to chance; she finished it with several strokes of the knife through his chest.  Blood shot out and soaked her.

She stood there, free at last.  Unknown emotions filled her and she was overwhelmed.  If she stayed in the apartment, they would come for her.  She would be punished, or worse, sold to another master.  Her catharsis had put her on a path she could no longer control.

She went to the window, broke the glass out with her bare knuckles.  She did not wince as the glass shards stuck in her hand.  She climbed onto the sill and dove.  Free at last.  Elizabeth exploded about ten stories down.  The windows beside her fall shattered inward.  The remains of her body littered the tenement street.

Police arrived, glad not to have to enter the crime ridden building.  The body parts were in the street.  One of the officers scanned the barcode on the arm lying on the sidewalk.  “Looks like another Elizabeth model malfunctioned and thought it was human.  Somebody must have bought this domestic robot off the black market.  All of these were recalled.”

His partner sighed.  “People are always looking for a deal.”

 

Humanity Too

by Michael Bradley

Wally squinted at the dingy clock, waiting for his shift to end.  He was drunk as usual.  The boss didn’t seem to care how much he drank as long as he was able to bartend and water down the customer’s drinks.  It was a strip joint, kept dark to conceal the low quality, older dancers.  In truth, it was a brothel, with hand jobs in the VIP room for two hundred bucks.  The customers did not care if the beer tasted like piss and the mixed drinks were mostly melted ice.  Wally knew he deserved to be here, he was a loser.

Once he had worked at a big firm, doing accounting, but he always screwed up the numbers.  He invited his boss over for dinner to try to win back some points; just another mistake.  His boss was impressed, but with his wife.  A month later he was fired and his wife was screwing the boss.  The divorce went quickly and badly, she took everything.  He was not an attractive man and not bright.  He tried to compensate for his depression with pills but they cost too much.

Finally, he found this job.  He received little pay, but free cheap booze.  He chain smoked now and would take his check to the casino to try to get lucky.  If he lost his money, so what?  He never made enough to live on anyway.  Mostly, he lost.  The rent on his tiny tenement apartment was three months over due and he had no food in the house.  Life was closing in on him, and he had given up caring.

The only thing left to him was Liz.  One time he had actually won some cash at the tables and made the only good decision in his life.  He was approached by some guys who frequented his work who saw him staring at the women.  They told him they could take care of him with a black market robot.  Impulsive as ever, and not having had sex for years, he agreed.  They sold him an Elizabeth model.  They looked like beautiful young 25 year old blondes, but Wally knew from the news that they were defective.  The men told him not to worry.  Just keep the collar on her.  If she acts strange, tap the button on this wrist band that will reset the bug.

Each evening he would stumble home and find her waiting for him, his one island of peace and happiness.  Today, he fumbled his keys in his drink numbed fingers and opened the door.  She was there, pretty as always.  He managed to kick off his shoes and take off his socks, his feet sore from standing all day.  He came over to her, but she made a strange face and jerked.  He pointed at his wristband, and she became normal again.  After using the button the first dozen or so times, he found that she reset without having to actually press it.  He did not understand why.

He whispered in her ear things he had seen at work and wanted to try.  Unlike his wife and other women, she was always there willing to please him.  Liz was so sweet to him.  After he had sex, he rolled over content for the moment.  He hoped the alcohol or malnutrition would kill him before the bill collectors caught up with him.  He couldn’t imagine the Hell of prison and the forced sobriety.  He smiled at Liz and passed out, snoring drunkenly.

He awoke choking.  He had vomited in his sleep, not for the first time.  He always wished to die in his sleep, painlessly, but he managed to fight for his miserable life by reflex and roll on his side.

Liz came into the room and stood over him.  She held one of his old broken knives.  His wife had only left him things that were of no use to her.  Liz stood poised to stab him.  He was so pleased with her.  She loved him so much and knew his misery; she would help him end it all.  He tried to speak to encourage her, but his throat was gagging on the remnants of his bile.  She struck, deeply and mercifully.  He felt his life leaving him and seemed to float above his body.

He saw Liz from above, standing still for a few moments.  Then she headed to the window and broke it.  No!  Don’t!  You will die if you jump!  She could not hear him of course, and she jumped.  The poor girl, she could not go on without me.  His spirit dissipated, free at last.

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