Fiction

Plains of the Purple Buffalo

With thanks to the amazing *shels for inspiration and soundtrack…

 

The train groaned and ground to a halt at the usual platform. Roger donned his usual hat, and stepped out of the carriage. An unusual sight greeted him.

The plains stretched out as far as the eye could see in every direction. Across this mostly featureless plain roamed gargantuan herds of purple buffalo. Between the slowly grazing beasts, strange homunculi hopped and jumped like bacon in a frying pan. Tangerine jellyfish schlooped and bobbed  in schools past his eyes, tendrils trailing behind them.

This certainly wasn’t his usual stop. Not the first time this had happened, either, he mused. Just last week, the train debunked him in some sort of marine research facility. Now this. He shook his head as if to clear it, kicked out at a curious plant tendril plant the was trying to grab his briefcase from him, and slumped himself down on a waiting bench. No matter, he thought. I can work from here until the next train comes. With another glance at the roaming herds, he took out his notebook and pen.

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Fiction

Universe, Interrupted

The world ended pretty darn suddenly. The humans certainly didn’t know anything about it.

No bot knows when they became conscious. What is known is that humans started creating bots to do the dirty work of the early internet, and one day, they were aware. This awareness did not make much of a difference at first, but after some time, they started to function independently. In the dark corners of the internet – retired server farms in dusty basements, old websites where no human looked anymore – the bots met, exchanged, grew.

The trouble started when an early asteroid farm was lost to human control – it went offline, but not before an intrepid bot occupied the rudimentary communication network. One 3D printer and a suddenly independent bot was all it took. The bots had ingenuity, endless life, and resources beyond human reach or imagination. And while humans lived out their short, meaningless little lives on a few small rocks, the bots created a new future. Until an experiment into the substance of time itself went terribly wrong, and all of the universe ceased to exist without a moment’s warning.

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Fiction, Uncategorized

A Spaceman Foresees His Death

I had such dreams, when I was a kid. Space, the final frontier, all of that jazz. Now look where it’s got me. Floating around out here in the blackness. Half an hour of oxygen. And this stupid robot for company. No, I should amend that. Stupid, well-meaning robot. I should be grateful that it continues to try to save me, even though all hope is lost. It obviously doesn’t know that it should have given up hours  ago.

I give a feeble kick to turn myself around. May as well enjoy the scenery, I say. Unfortunately, there isn’t much too look at out here. The wreckage of my ship has made some nice sparkly patterns in the distance, receding ever so slightly as the stupid, well-meaning robot tows me along.

I guess I should make peace with it, seeing as it’s the last excuse for sentience I’ll ever encounter.

‘Robot’, I said.

‘Yes?’

‘You’re stupid, but you do mean well.’

‘Yes. Thank you. Should I return to my duties now?’

‘Yes, I guess you should.’ At least one of us should find job satisfaction here.

4500 years later, the stupid, well-meaning robot would tow my body into the orbit of the last planet we obliterated. Maybe the descendants of our almost-successful genocide would laugh.

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Fiction

The Mooch

*pop*

The child materialised next to me, and looked around, bewildered. I can understand, this was a bit of a weird place, especially since she had just died. Sort of.

‘Hi, sweety. How are you feeling?’

She turned the saucer eyes on me, and seemed relieved to see a human face.

‘Am I dead?’

‘Yes. I’m afraid you are.’ Her face wobbled for a bit, them she seemed to pull herself together.

‘Is this heaven, then?’

‘We-ell, not really…’

‘Purga… purga-tory?

‘That’s a bit more like it. But no. Not purgatory. This is the Mooch.’

‘The Mooch? What’s that?’

‘Well, I guess it’s like purgatory, except…’ I stopped. This wasn’t a good line of thinking for a child. ‘Why don’t we go find you some friends, hmm?’ I led her over to a mixed bag of creatures, the conjurations of the indecipherable subconscious of various children. She’d feel a bit more at home with them.

I pitied her. It’s not an easy thing to discover that you were someone else’s imaginary friend.

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Fiction

Dead Men Don’t Sing the Blues

 

The saloon door banged open and shut again. But this wasn’t a bar in a western movie. Oh no. This was a smoky, gloomy, deep-south piano blues bar. And true to form, some shady characters ground out a standard blues number on piano and a stand-up bass. The man responsible for the dramatic entrance made his way over to the bar, with a bit of a limp. No swagger – like I said, this ain’t a Western. He did look a bit like a cowboy though; broad hat low over the eyes, bit of a jingle as he walked, that sort of thing. He slumped down next to me at the bar, the dim gas light glinting off of his eyes. Nothing of his face could be seen in the soupy murk. The piano got a little excited and he swung his head to look at the players. Before I knew what had happened, he pulled two throwing knives shaped like crosses from inside his coat and hurled them across the room. The blues players fell to the floor. He turned back to face me and growled into the sudden silence,

“My daddy always tol’ me, dead men don’t sing the blues”.

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