Hello, everyone! This is it, as of today I’m commiting to bringing back my “Fiction Fursday” segment! It was short-lived previously, as for a number of reasons I got side-tracked and lost the flow, as well as motivation if I am completely honest. However, whilst I was keeping up with it I had some excellent contributions from my friends here on WordPress as well as from friends and family who follow my blog.
Here are just a few of the projects I completed before if you would like to take a look:
A Crisis in Alexandria, The Animals’ Advice, Stonefur the Mighty, The Boy and the Oak Tree, Flossy’s Chance
I was really pleased with all of the resulting stories and I’ve been eager to start it up once again. So here goes!
If any of you wonderful bloggers and followers would like to suggest a prompt for me to use in the coming weeks, please feel free to leave it in the comment section below. It can be anything from a single word, a first/last line or even a detailed description of a story you would like me to attempt. I’ll take on any challenges, so don’t be shy!
Today’s prompt comes from a good friend of mine, Matt. He suggested that I write a sci-fi story in which a person is woken from cryogenic stasis in the future by robots, and that the world is unrecognisable from being superheated. He also added that the robots can only thaw out one human per year. Well, that was quite a lot to go with and I’ve eagerly accepted the challenge. I hope you enjoy what I was able to come up with. Thanks again, Matt!
The Second Sun
By Adam Dixon
Genevieve felt the heat first. The intense, unrelenting heat melted the cocoon of ice which enveloped her, leaving her gasping and recoiling from the glare of the sun. She fell from a metallic pod onto her knees. The impact jarred her bones and she grunted in pain.
“Argh…burns!” she managed to splutter, her jaw yielding reluctantly after years of inactivity. The muscles in her arms creaked as she lifted them to shield her face. The image of a vampire shying away from the first rays of dawn filled her mind and she almost laughed. As soon as the water had evaporated from her skin she began to feel slick with sweat. She ran both hands through her grey-dusted, curled red hair and probed her face with her fingertips. She felt her petite nose and her proud chin, as well as the tiny holes in her ear lobes. She felt the skin of her face, noting the slight wrinkles with disdain. Her vanity had endured, it seemed.
“Welcome back, Miss Genevieve Peers,” a flat, emotionless voice said from nearby. Genevieve tried to open her eyes but the strong sunlight forced them shut once again.
“Argh! Where…am I?” she said, grimacing in pain as she stood on trembling legs. “Who are you?”
“Number 2217 of the Sentinels,” the voice replied. “You are at Cryogenic Station Seven, in the area once known as Richmond-upon-Thames, London.”
“Richmond…” Genevieve repeated, struggling to remember. “Yes…Yes! The Cryo-Station by the Palace!” She smiled in triumph and opened her eyes at a squint. Number 2217 was just as she recalled the Sentinels; impressive and impassive. Standing at six feet tall, the robot was humanoid in form and covered in what looked like black scales. The ‘scales’ were solar panels, ensuring that the Sentinel could function indefinitely in the sunlight. It had two arms and two legs, and a head displaying two eye slits and a speaker for a mouth; a simple outward design which belayed the complex circuitry beneath. Genevieve sucked in air through her nose, and was surprised to register a scorched smell like burnt toast. She gazed about her, searching for familiar landmarks. She got a nasty surprise.
“What…what happened here?” she said in disbelief. The area had changed beyond recognition. The houses of the borough were gone, as were the busy roads, the lampposts and any sign of human habitation. There were far more trees than she recalled and they rose into the air like behemoths of foliage and bark. The soil beneath her bare feet had a coarse quality like sand and shifted as she moved. She staggered forwards a few steps under the shade of a gigantic oak, hoping to catch a glimpse of Hampton Court Palace. There was nothing but trees where it had once stood.
“The arrival of the Second Sun increased the temperature of the Earth by several degrees,” Number 2217 stated. “Human constructs were eroded long ago and nature has reclaimed the planet.”
“Reclaimed…” Genevieve breathed, staring about her in confusion. “No…surely not…is nothing left?”
“Nothing man-made, only for Cryogenic Station Seven and the Sentinels,” 2217 replied. Genevieve was stunned.
“But…” she began, scratching at her curly red which was dusted with grey. “But… there were hundreds of Cryo-Stations across the world…. how long have I been frozen? What year is it?
“It is the year 3035 A.D. You have been in cryogenic stasis for one thousand and fifteen years. All other Cryogenic Stations have been destroyed.”
“One thous-“ Genevieve felt faint. She had known that she would likely be kept frozen for a great number of years, but the reality was unbelievable. She searched for something to say as her groggy brain tried to process the information.
“I…I still feel cold,” she said, rubbing her crossed arms. “How can I feel cold when it’s so damn hot?” She looked down and noticed for the first time that she was naked. She flushed with embarrassment and anger. “Number 2217, bring me something to cover myself with!”
“Clothing is illogical in the current climate,” 2217 said. “The effects of the cryogenic procedure will remain for several days. It has occurred in every Thawing thus far.”
Genevieve brightened, standing up straight. “Of course, there will have been others before me! Very well, Number 2217, take me to them. I wish to speak with the leader and see how I may begin my new life. By the looks of things, I won’t be needed for my business acumen right away!” Genevieve smiled at her joke and looked at the Sentinel expectantly.
“Impossible,” 2217 responded. “There are no other humans here. You alone have been Thawed, as our orders dictate.”
“What? Don’t be absurd!” Genevieve narrowed her eyes, waving a hand at the robot. “Take me to the human settlement!”
“Impossible,” 2217 repeated. “You are the sole conscious human on the planet.”
“Do you mean that the others are still frozen?” Genevieve frowned.
“There are twenty-seven thousand, four hundred and twenty-three humans remaining in stasis at Cryogenic Station Seven.” 2217 replied. “There is only power available to Thaw one human per calendar year. The remaining power must preserve the stasis pods.”
Genevieve looked around at the desolate landscape, finally registering the robots’ words. The sole conscious human…
“No, that can’t be right,” Genevieve shook her head, her curls bouncing. “You said there were others before me, what happened to them?”
“You are the fifteenth human from Cryogenic Station Seven to be Thawed.” 2217 replied. “Your predecessors did not survive.”
Genevieve felt as if she had been slapped in the face. She stood still, staring at the Sentinel with her mouth agape and sweat trickling down her face and body. “Then…what will happen to me? You’ll keep me alive, won’t you? You must do, it’s what you were created for.”
“You are no longer a concern of the Sentinels,” 2217 said. “Our duty has been performed. You are to be ignored as soon as this conversation ends.”
“Don’t be ridiculous!” Genevieve barked; incredulity eclipsed her fear and she welcomed the distraction. “You’re programmed to protect human life!”
“Sentinels are programmed to ensure that intelligent life will prosper,” 2217 replied. “It has been concluded that human life will not survive on Earth. It is a waste of resources to aid you, but we do not possess the knowledge to override our programming. A robotics expert is required for the Sentinels cease the Thawing procedure indefinitely.”
“You want to…cease the procedure?” Genevieve was horrified. “But then human beings will die out! You can’t do that! This is our planet! You are our creations!”
“It is the logical conclusion,” 2217 said. Genevieve felt sick as the cold, ruthless part of her brain which had served her so well in her previous life acknowledged the statement.
“But how is it that you can still operate under these conditions?” Genevieve asked, hope creeping into her voice. “Surely you ought to melt, or your circuits would overheat, or something! If you’ve managed to survive then maybe a human can overcome the heat as well?”
“Our bodies can withstand much higher external temperatures and are unaffected by the lack of humidity.” 2217 responded. “Human beings cannot expect to survive the highest temperatures for longer than one day.”
“But…but what about the shade?” Genevieve cried, desperation raising the pitch of her voice.
“The heat of the air is still too great,” 2217 said. “You will perspire at a rate which will not allow fluids to pass through your body in time to replenish it.” As if to confirm his statement, the sweat on Genevieve back, face and breasts began to evaporate, steaming slightly in the shade. Genevieve’s head swam and she swayed on her feet.
“Wont’ you even fetch me something to drink?” she demanded. “I’m dehydrating as we speak!”
“It is a waste of resources to aid you.” 2217 said again. “Your predecessors collected rainwater. It is suggested that you attempt to do the same.” Genevieve bit her lip as a furious retort died on its way up her throat. She looked up at the clear, blue sky and searched in vain for a dark cloud. She saw only two vast orbs of white-hot light hovering high above the world.
“So…you’re saying that I’m screwed, right?” Genevieve said, looking at the Sentinel with tears in her eyes. She yearned for the barest hint of compassion in her stoic companion. She received none.
“You will certainly die after the winter has passed. At present, you have a fifteen per cent chance at survival for the remaining two months of winter.” Genevieve burst into angry, hysterical tears and began to wrench at her hair.
“THIS ISN’T RIGHT!” she wailed, stamping her feet. “I WAS ONE OF THE CHOSEN! This was to be a new beginning, the start of a new human empire, damn it! I’m not supposed to die like this!”
“It is recommended that you cease crying as soon as possible,” Number 2217 said, its emotionless voice was a stark contrast to Genevieve’s despair. “It is a waste of bodily fluids.” With that it turned around and began to move away, towards the gaping, dry channel which used to be the River Thames. A cluster of Sentinels were digging in the dusty earth.
“Wait! Wait!” Genevieve said, stumbling after 2217. She moved out of the shade of the giant trees and felt her flesh seared by the two suns. She hissed and stepped backwards, her wide eyes taking in the angry red skin on her chest and shoulders; a vampire, indeed!
“You can’t just leave me here!” she screamed, clenching her fists and waving them after the retreating robot. “I need water! How am I supposed to eat? This is murder! COME BACK HERE, YOU MURDERER!” But the robot did not. It walked on, its shining solar panels glinting in the sun and mocking Genevieve’s delicate skin. Genevieve stood quivering with pain and impotence.
“So that’s it then?” she whispered, tears flowing down her cheeks. “It’s all over…I’m going to die here…” Genevieve Peers gazed around the unfamiliar, tropical landscape with its colossal foliage, its sandy ground and its cruel sunlight and she wept despite the warning. She wept for the world, she wept for the humans who would follow her, and she wept for herself. Overhead, the two suns blazed down on Earth like sadistic children cooking ants under a magnifying glass, and they had spotted their newest plaything.