The Iron Writer Challenge #25
2013 Iron Writer Autumn Equinox Challenge #3
500 Words, 5 Days, 4 Elements
A romantic robot
A dead rainbow
My name is Amorette, and I am the last human being. My world is gone. Destroyed. Save yourself. Before it’s too late, I think to myself as I walk, the debris crunching under my feet, like the spindly bones of a long-gone trilobite. Like the bones of the humans, now gone from this world. If only I could’ve warned them. If only I could’ve saved them. If only…
I shake my head, dispersing the morose thoughts. Stopping, I furiously wiping my face free of the tears creating paths through the mud smeared on it. I swallow, only to find my throat dry, parched. I lick my dry lips.
I stuff my hands in my pockets, staring at the dusty ground. I spot a broken piece of glass, weakly trying to reflect the sun’s poor light. I bend down and slide my fingers under it, gently lifting it out of the dirt. I hold it up, angling it towards the sun just like my elementary school teacher used to do.
I catch the slight sign of a rainbow, and smile weakly. At least there is a bit of happiness in this dead world, even if it is a rainbow with its brilliant shimmer gone, drained until it seemingly had no light or purpose at all.
Averting my gaze, I decide to look some more. I notice broken pieces of steel, and wonder what they could’ve made when put together. Probably something magnificent. My random brother would probably say it would make a “romantic robot” if put together. I close my eyes as a tear slides down my face, and picture his round, childish face, his green eyes always filled with laughter. He could make anyone laugh.
I draw in a sharp breath and open my eyes. It doesn’t do anything good to think of him. Johnny is gone, and he’s never coming back, I declare silently, and continue forward, my legs heavy and stiff, as if they’ve suddenly transformed into lead. I blink, and my vision is suddenly blurred, but not with tears.
The world starts to spin. Slowly, at first, but then it picks up speed. Darkness presses on the edge of my vision. I feel myself hit the ground, but it feels as if from afar, as if I’m not completely in my body. My vision fades, not unlike an alka-seltzer tablet dissolving in water. My mind slows before stopping, and I finally fade away.
I never thought I would die like this. I’d always imagined a bed in a hospital, my grandchildren gathered around my old and sick body. I never could’ve imagined that this would happen. I never thought my world would end. I never thought I would die along with the earth, my home, my world.
My name is Amorette, and I am gone. If anyone is still out there, save yourself. Please. Don’t let the world die. Don’t stop trying. Don’t forget the way life used to be, because you never know when it’ll be torn from your grasp.
Fist Full of Roses
Bethany J Royer
Nostrils flaring, eyes ablaze, Nan estimated 50 people were standing behind the yellow police tape just feet away from the body.
“Christ on a cracker, Sam, what the hell?”
The young sap of an officer gave a shrug of both embarrassment and apology. “I know, I know, what can I say, you’re popular?”
“It’s a whole bloody block stepping all over my crime scene!”
Sam could only mouth the word sorry while ushering a trio of onlookers who had broken from the crowd back behind the line. Nan was about to dismiss him entirely when she noted the singular steel-claw rising above the mass and the tinny voice that followed, demanding attention.
“Mandrin? Good God, it’s a right ol’ circus. I’ll have his hide, badge, and balls,” Nan mumbled, raking a hand through her gray hair before settling the glasses back into position. She then crossed the dirt lot surrounding an abandoned four-story apartment complex to the shrouded body. On any other given day it would be any other body but the crowd of rubber-neckers proved otherwise.
This is getting out of hand, she thought; the protruding obstruction bursting notably up from the chest of the victim beneath the blanket a testament to the very fact.
Nan bent down, hearing the familiar pop of aged kneecaps, the trilobite necklace bouncing from her bosom to pendulum above the body, as she tweezed the cover between her fingers.
She saw all that she needed.
“Well, is it the same guy? It’s the same guy, isn’t it?” said Sam, watching her steel blue eyes sweep from the body to the crowd. “It has to be the same guy, I mean … look at it.”
“Why the hell is Mandrin here?”
“It’s already all over the news so what did you expect? He’s your biggest fan,” replied Sam with a smirk. “They don’t call them a romantic robot for nothing; he’s been spouting sonnets and passing out roses since he arrived.”
“All for you,” said the monotone staccato of the two-wheeled robot from behind the yellow rope, waving a mass of roses in one claw while the other was held to the left of his boxed face in something akin of smitten, obsessive bliss. “All for the lovely Nancy Washington, top ace detective.”
“Oh brother,” Nan moaned, the trilobite necklace swinging violently from the end of its chain.
“Jeez, you still wear that thing?” said Sam in disgust. “That was found on the first victim … I can’t believe they let you keep it.”
“Helps me think,” said Nan with a nod over one shoulder. “Do an old gal a favor, would you? See that corner market across the street, I need a blue box, water and cup, got me?”
“Sure, Alka Seltzer, gotch ya, but tell me, is it him?”
Nan lifted the blanket to the tell-tale signature of their serial killer -a bright, multi-colored painted knife plunged straight through the heart.
“They don’t call him the Dead Rainbow for nothing,” she said.
Cynthia the Robot
Dani J Caile
She was starting to effervesce like an Alka-Seltzer on the ocean floor as the seals on her aluminium body cracked open due to the pressure and began to leak. Cynthia the robot could only imagine how her circuits would cope with the influx of salt water.
“Oh my! I am done! Undone!”
Forty years of service for her master was a good run by all accounts, but unfortunately updates for her model had become infrequent and finally she had become obsolete. However, there were surely better graves than this.
“Oh, death, many have called thee…”
But it wasn’t really a death, she couldn’t really ever die, more decay, disintegrate. Her neuron fusion reactor would keep her active for millennia.
“I wake eternally…”
Not even the latest social apps could stall her demise in the eyes of her master. New dances, mannerisms, speech, none of them were able to assimilate into her memory banks correctly. They caused havoc with her silicon membranes, especially hitting her 17th Century Literature and massive Modern Romance collection knowledge chips, turning her into a high-brow romantic robot spewing out absurdities when the occasion demanded. About every other minute, apparently.
“My heart is heavy, like a dead rainbow on a cool summer’s day. Resplendent colours, beaten by the sun’s rays, succumbing to their impeccable touch, and fade, they fade, die…”
She was sure that the last straw was when she plunged into a full epitaph at the funeral of a distant relative of her master. Not only did it break etiquette for a robot to speak at a funeral but the finished work wasn’t very good, either. Some more educated members attending would say it was a mystifying mixture of Donne and Woodiwiss, others would say it was just bad.
Her left leg began to crumble and the lower part from her knee joint down broke off, slowly floating away.
“I would have followed you, then you would not have escaped…”
Yes, it was definitely that and not the time shortly after when she created an ode to the new chemical toilet onboard her master’s yacht, scribbling the 274 line horror on the starboard deck. It took her some time, and much regret, to remove it. She had, however, busied herself by creating an assortment of Haiku love poems. Perhaps she would work on them later.
A small nondescript fish swam by.
“You are indeed a fine sight, little creature, better for thy stroke…”
The fish blew a bubble and quickly swam away. As she turned her head to watch it go, Cynthia saw some detail in a rock.
“What luck! A trilobite! If I was to inform my master…”
An idea appeared. She would write her master a love poem, a poem so exquisite, so pure and full of devotion that it would touch him so deeply he would have to take her back. To be 01001101 with her master again! The thought filled 11100100 her with joy and happiness!
“My…” 11110001 “…love…” 00011001 “…is…” 11000…
“By all appearances, Sir, that rainbow is dead!” The monotone voice broke through my concentration and I looked up from my experiment to give the robot an evil glance.
“I can see that, Bot.” I told him, my voice dripping with annoyance. “I don’t think it was ever alive in the first place. The light from this alien sun is different. We might be hopelessly lost.”
Here I was, orbiting planet Sol3, whatever and wherever that meant. It was the last data received before the navigation device went down. My most recent attempt to repower it had been an utter failure and I really didn’t know what to try next.
We were circling what appeared to be the planet’s only moon, after being drawn here by the broken navigation box. Then we started picking up eerie transmissions from System Sol, a system thought to be devoid of life.
I scanned through the strange transmissions I was receiving. They seemed to be coming from Sol3, but they were all chaos and made no sense. “Plop plop, fizz fizz,” sang the latest transmission. The transmissions were bits and pieces. I probably could get something more accurate if I dropped into a closer orbit, but I feared what people might be like on this “uninhabited” world.
“I’m getting video!” Bot’s voice interrupted my thoughts again. He turned on the holoview and an image of two robots holding hands appeared, accompanied by a strange sound, “waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaalleee.” Then there was a flicker and it was gone. Bot experimentally grabbed for my hand, which I snatched back reflexively.
“Stop that! No getting romantic! In fact, don’t turn on the holoview again.” What was I even saying? Bot doesn’t have feelings, no machine does. I grabbed my head in my hands. I need to get out of here; I’m starting to panic.
I looked again at the field guide on my computer screen, the one with information about System Sol, where I was stranded. For the first time, I noticed that it did mention life but only here, on Sol3. A little picture of a creature called a trilobite was there along with descriptions of marine life, plants, and reptilian stompers. Still no mention of anything intelligent enough to create the transmissions, therefore still creepy.
A shudder of fear overcame me. I desperately revisited my latest attempt to get home. The sunbeams were captured, but the resulting rainbows were completely lifeless. They definitely didn’t turn on the Nav-Box. I was in real trouble with no way out. Was I reduced to randomly roaming the galaxy hoping to happen upon known space? I want home… I’m sorry that I didn’t listen!
Tears of anger and frustration threatened, when suddenly a beeping followed by an angry voice came from the com. “You drove without permission and low on rainbows?!”
“You’re in big trouble! You’re coming straight home.” The ship overdrive suddenly kicked in and it took off. Relieved, I laughed aloud. My friends will love hearing about this!