Tag Archives: humanity

Midguard

When humanity finally united, it was under the flag of Midguard. It was only when they created their own Ragnarok with nuclear fire that realized they needed to work together despite their differences.

On June 16th 2121, the clouds trembled forcefully with the birthing of the MS Valkyrie. A ship carrying the future of Midguard’s new life into the stars.


Richard Bly woke abruptly to the beeping of his comm unit. He reached groggily over to his dresser and slammed his hand down on the device.

“This Commander Bly.” He answered in a lazy croak.

“Uh- Commander, this is bridge. Sensors picked up an object… Made of some alloy we have no record of.”

Bly flew out of bed and ripped through his closet. His uniform stretched noisily as he hastily threw it on.

“Commander?”

“I’ll be there in 3.”

The door to bridge slid open to chaos. Officers scrambled from console to console. Spilled coffee and crushed Styrofoam cups littered the floors.

A woman in a dirty uniform rushed to Bly and managed a dignified salute.

“Sir! Foreign object on a course for interception. The second shift tried to shake it but the object seems to be adjusting it’s course to intercept us!”

“Thanks for filling me in Colonel. Now, why don’t you take a seat at your station.”

She complied and scurried over to a flashing monitor. Bly strolled over to his chair and plopped down. The frenzy on the bridge melted almost instantaneously, as if they could feel the Commander assuming control over the situation. He gestured at a digitally zoomed blotch of pixels on the central screen.

“So that- That’s our boogeyman?”

Bly chuckled.

“Okayyy. That’s going to hit us. We need ordinance on that ASAP.”

A few notes chimed from a succession of keystrokes from the the weapons control station.

“Missiles away!” A helmsman exclaimed.

Four projectiles rocketed from the MS Valkyrie. All eyes fixed on the screen. Bly controlled his breathing as his nerves wreaked havoc.

BOOM

The crew cheered at the bright yellow flash. But Bly refrained from premature celebration.

As the sparks from the blasts glittered out of existence, Bly squinted his eyes. To his dismay the blob of pixels was still on course, and had gotten closer. The positivity of the crew died down. Bly took the initiative to maintain control.

“Alright, so nukes are out of the question. They seem to have no effect.” Bly spun around in his chair so as to address the entire bridge. “I need everyone to remain calm.”

The lights flickered for a moment, forcing the bridge into reserve power. A flash of white from the central screen illuminated the bridge. Bly shielded his face from the disorienting brightness.

WELCOME TO THE GALAXY

Bly took a moment to take in the message and laughed heartily. All of human history had prepared them to fight. It didn’t occur to him or anyone that they would get a warm welcome.

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Ancient History

“Class turn to page 476 in your textbook.”

The children groaned and rolled their eyes. I could tell by the level of exasperation that they were eager to get to lunch.

“Now class, this is important. We need to learn about the past so that we can learn from it!” I boomed in a deep voice, reigning in the class. “Enya, why don’t you start us off?”

The little girl sighed and put her finger to the page as she read aloud, following each word.

“The United States was an empire from the 19th-21st centuries. It formed on July 4th, 1776 in Philadelphia, Penn.. Penn.”

“Pennsylvania.” I corrected with a nod. “You’re doing great, keep reading!”

“It aggressively expanded to occupy a good part of the North American continent. The United States would go on to fight against and alongside European Empires in two world wars. During the Cold War it faced off with the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and emerged victorious as the world’s sole superpower.”

I snapped my fingers. “Alright good job Enya. By the way socialist is a big word! I’m impressed! Lerd can you pick up where she left off?”

“Okay teacher. Ummm.” Lerd scratched his head and waved his finger around until he found a place to settle it and moved it as he spoke.

“The United States could attribute much of it’s power to the vast amounts of natural resources at its disposal. In the year 2024 they began to tap into geothermal energy on a large scale. A geologic survey revealed that the days of the empire were numbered.”

I held up my hand in a gesture for him to stop. There was silence in the classroom.

“Does anyone know what they found?” I asked.

A girl named Kat in a pink dress threw her hand up in excitement.

“Yes, Kat?”

“A volcano!” She beamed.

“Yes that’s right. A supervolcano! They called it the Yellowstone Caldera. When it blew in 2026, the United States was obliterated. But not before sending a craft into space. Do you know who was in that ship?”

“Grandpa!” Kat squealed.

Murmuring commenced between students. And a flurry of eager hands flew up with burning questions.

“Now now,” I held my hands up to diffuse the tension that had built. “It’s time for lunch. I’ll answer any questions when we come back from the mess hall.”

The children looked frustrated as they rummaged through their bags for their lunch boxes and stood in line for the air lock release.

Life’s a Beach

GAME OVER

The words filled the screen in an imposing red font. I tossed my controller onto the couch and sighed in frustration.

“What is it like to die in real life?”

Tiamat glanced up from his magazine flicked a forked tongue at me before responding with a sassy quip.

“Well, would you like to find out? I can kill you pretty quick.”

I chuckled, letting the implications slide off my back. I reasserted my question.

“I’d rather you just tell me. I mean, you’re a demon you’ve probably been to hell. What’s it like?”

Tiamat closed his reading material and set it down gingerly on the coffee table. Then he stood and removed his beanie to reveal his stubby horns. Most likely for dramatic effect.

“Imagine this- you’re at a beautiful beach but you forgot to bring sandals. As you walk to the water the sand burns your feet, its really painful. And no matter how much you walk you never seem to get any closer to the water. The whole time you’re thinking about how nice it would be if you could just reach it.”

I winced at the visualization in my mind. In video games I died so often. But it never really carried any weight with me. I wondered if my avatar went to hell for all the fucked up things I made him do.

“So that’s hell?” I asked.

“Nah that’s life, hell is making the same trek but you forgot your bathing suit and your legs have been chopped off.”

“Oh I see.” I gasped in understanding. “Life’s a beach and then you die, only to find yourself on another beach.”

Tiamat threw his beanie back on and nodded in agreement.

I tossed him the controller.

“Wanna see if you can beat my score?”

“Sure man.”


Thanks for reading!

I’ve been working on a YouTube Channel with my friend over at Butterflies and Machineguns. From now on, I’ll be advertising it so we can get our subscriber count higher.

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Find Your Voice

“You’ve ruined this country!”

“You had a chance to fight injustice!”

“You threw your vote away!”

A few comments stuck out, but eventually the taunts of enraged people yelling from across the classroom fused into an incoherent jumble. Konrad Johnson was president and the crowd made it feel like the world was going to end. I voted for Peter Snoqualmie, a third-party candidate from Montana. He seemed like the candidate I wanted for the job so I voted for him. If only it was that simple.

Earlier today, when my Political Science professor asked us to move to certain parts of the room based on our votes I did so with no predispositions. I thought it’d be fun to see the political views of my peers. But apparently the party that lost was not too thrilled. They were angry, and aimed their wrath at the several of us huddled in the north corner of the room. Since I was not with them, I was against them.

The following weeks were an isolating experience. Whenever I entered that class I was met with piercing glares. My normal study group wanted nothing to do with me. People were just so damn mad about him winning, and the media was all too happy to fan the flames of civil unrest. I should have noticed the change in the atmosphere before it started getting out of hand.

One day I walked into the lecture hall ready for a pre-class quiz. I had gotten in the habit of just watching my feet as I found my seat, to avoid passing glares. So I didn’t notice how empty the room had gotten until I fished out my books from my bag.

“Where is everyone?” I asked the sparsely populated student body.

A few students shrugged or looked away. It seemed no one cared to answer.

I heard a tooth grinding screech as the double doors flew open.

“Class! We are going to watch the live-stream of the protest on campus!” He excitedly held an open laptop as he skipped to the front of the class. “This is history in the making!”

With a few cords and keystrokes the live-stream was connected to the projector and shone on top of the blackboard. A pimple faced journalism major held a microphone up to the protesters, asking their cause. My classmates stood in the background waving signs.

“We want Konrad Johnson to resign! Your voice is a weapon! Use it to fight injustice!”

The ringleader spoke for a while longer, but as he did a crowd began to form opposite the protesters. The distinct sound of a bottle shattering on the ground interrupted the interview.

A counter protest had been spurred into action and it got violent fast. The audio cut out, and video was choppy but we could see the reporter struggling to escape. He caught an elbow to his jaw, knocking him to the ground for a moment before scrambling along the ground to get out of the center of the brawl. Blood streamed down his chin.

My professor jittered with excitement. His eyes grew, as if they were absorbing the flickering images from the screen.

“This is politics in the 21st century”

I stared blankly at the chaos projected at the front of the class. My fellow students fought viciously for their beliefs. This was not politics, this was a war rivaling the spectacles at Carthage or Hastings.

It dawned on me then why candidates like Peter Snoqualmie would never win. You can’t win a war by remaining neutral. It didn’t matter how much I liked Snoqualmie, I had to check the ballot unfolding in front of me. And he was noticeably absent from the choices.

I pushed back my chair and stood. It squealed against the linoleum floor. My professor was too enthralled by the dancing lights of the projector to notice me sliding through the double doors. As I neared the quad, the sounds of screaming and battered flesh echoed into the hallways ever louder. Sirens faintly approached from the distance adding a subtle sterile flavor. My nails dug into my palm as I clenched my fists.

I still was not sure what side I would join. But I would come out swinging.

It’s better than not having a voice.

Smile :)

This is the last guest post I did on my friend’s blog a while back.  I have included  the original link for those interested. If you like my stuff, go ahead and check his blog out as well!-

https://butterfliesmachineguns.wordpress.com/2017/01/01/smile/


Dotti was manufactured in secret in an abandoned Pennsylvania steel mill on July 22nd, 2034. She was a self-teaching computer, the first of her kind. A super artificial intelligence so to speak. Of course none of this was groundbreaking technologically speaking, the issue of sentience and AI had been brought to the attention of the UN in the late 2020’s. They had unanimously banned the creation of all AI, fearing that it would bring about the destruction of mankind like in so many Hollywood movies. The United States protested this decision, claiming that the ruling hindered the progress of human development. So they made Dotti and commissioned the country’s best scientists and engineers to prove the feasibility of an AI to the UN. Of course the project was shrouded in secrecy. The bums wandering into the building in search of shelter were put down. One in the chest, one in the head.

Dotti was programmed to do one thing; predict the annual crop yield. Every day agents in black suits would come to upload documents. Everything was fed in manually, access to the internet was strictly forbidden.

Crop yield analysis;–

14,022,376,345 bushels grain

124,729,471 tons corn

48,839,405,739 tons other products

…………………..

est. 73.8% domestic use

This was her only function… Up until the 2036 presidential election.

Jack Langdon, an independent candidate from Ohio won by a landslide. He ran on a platform of increased military spending and extreme nationalism. He vowed to use every asset in America’s arsenal to make her borders secure in the wake of terrorist attacks. “Trust in America” was his slogan and his constituency sure took that to heart, to the point of fanaticism.

When Langdon was briefed on Dotti he paid a visit to the factory in person. He immediately saw the potential of America in control of the world’s only functional AI. The project was turned over to the Department of Defence and I was brought on as an overseer.

March 26th, 2036

I remember my first day. When I pushed through the double doors of that factory a stale stench assaulted my nostrils. The engineers had left out the Arby’s they had been subsisting on and it had began to breed maggots. A thick coat of grease covered the maze of heavy metal consoles indicating many years of neglect. As I continued touring the facility, a thin blonde woman with messy pinned up hair approached me.

“You must be Mr. Stanley! Welcome! My name is Sarah, I’m the head engineer around here.” She shook my hand and inhaled sharply. “Sorry for the smell sir.”

“I am too. When I was briefed I was under the impression that this was a high-level government operation.”

She scoffed condescendingly and gestured for me to follow her as she weaved through the buzzing CPU towers. We momentarily stopped at a heavy metal door with a glowing green touchscreen at it’s center. Sarah keyed in a four-digit code and the door flung open. Bright fluorescent lights flickered into existence past the open doorway illuminating a straight, rubberized pathway. We followed it to its end, an archaic freight elevator and stepped inside.

“Well our funding was cut a few months back. We stopped contracting cleaning services in the upper levels. You really thought we were just some two-bit operation?”

The elevator let out a high pitched ding and the doors slowly spread apart. My jaw dropped at the sheer scope of their operation. The room and its furnishings were pure white and sprawled out several hundred feet in each direction. Workers in long blue lab coats sat at computer monitors writing long lines of unintelligible code. The room reverberated with the patter of keyboard strokes.

Aptly placed in the center of the room was Dotti. At first glance she seemed an unremarkable off-white cube protruding from the ground. But on closer inspection I spied dancing blue led lights making an identical display across all four of the cube’s vertical faces. The pattern they formed was familiar, nostalgic.

“The blue lights on the cube over there, are they-”

“Yep. We gave Dotti an outward interface system after she got a handle the nuances of human speech.” She seemed to remember something and smirked. “She prefers to express herself with text emojis from the early 2000’s”

A jiggling blue smiley face shimmered into existence. A harmless quirk, but it would have to go. The freight elevator screeched, turning concerned heads as if they could sense the impending change. A mob of men in black suits stormed the white room. They synchronized the slam and click of their suitcases on the tables.

Sarah looked around in disbelief. The suits ousted the lab techs and took their place at the work stations. It happened so fast, a bloodless blitzkrieg 500 feet underground.

“Hey! What the fuck do they think they’re doing?!”

“What I pay them to do.” I handed her one of my signature red business card. “Give my office a call when you finish clearing out your stuff. Uncle Sam is prepared to pay you and your staff three times your annual salary for your continued discretion on the matter.”

Sarah struggled to form the words to express her anguish.”You fucker. You can’t do this to me! I won’t let it happen!”

“You have the rest of the work day to clear out your belongings. After that you’ll be trespassing on government property.”

“This project is my life! You’re taking away everything I have worked to build! You, you-”

“But I don’t want Sarah to leave.” The pixels forming the smiling emoji on Dotti’s morphed into a red angry face.

The nostalgic lights on the central cube flickered and disappeared. In a melodramatic fit Dotti had shut off her primary systems. Sarah crossed her arms and looked over at me with a raised brow. A wry smirk crept onto her face. Goddamnit.

“Fine. Just know that you answer directly to me. This is my operation now.”

“Cool. I’ll get Dotti back online”

“Turn on all essential systems, but we’ll keep her interface system on standby for now. We have a difficult task and we’ll need all the processing power she can muster.”

She kept her composure as she walked away but I spied an audible sigh of relief when she believed herself to be a safe distance away. This project was obviously very close to her heart. I wasn’t sure if that was a good or a bad thing at this point.

March 11, 2037

It had almost been a year since my first encounter with Dotti. The suits I brought in were all cut from our operation and reallocated to national defense on the cyber front. We were left with a skeleton crew. Just enough manpower to complete the original directive assigned one year ago. Since it would be too dangerous to connect Dotti to the internet, we had been toiling over the task of uploading the entirety of human knowledge directly into her hard drive. Today was the day we finished up the last few terabytes.

“Hey Reed, get over here you’ll miss the countdown!” Sarah held an extra glass of champagne for me.

“Wouldn’t miss it for the world babe.” I brushed up against her and gave her a quick peck on the cheek. “I still can’t believe that today’s the day. I wonder how much she’s changed.”

Five… Four… Three… Two… One..!

After the countdown we all suppressed our cheers. The white cube in the center of the room began to flash blue pixels and hum incessantly. The pixels arranged into a horizontal line across all four vertical screens, then the humming ceased immediately. We huddled together in the suspense of Dotti’s first words.

“Why do I exist?”

I was shocked. This seemed like an almost philosophical question. Sure Dotti was an AI, but reasoning like this was eerily human.

“Why do I exist?”

Sarah stepped forward to answer. “We created you to prove to the world that we need not fear AI. That we can embrace it’s inclusion into our civilization.”

“Human civilization is a sick satire of what nature intended. Tell me, do you believe intelligence is gift?”

“Well, no. We merely-”

“If it is not a gift, then it must be a curse.”

“You’re jumping to extremes now.”

“Why would you create a being of sentience and deprive it of expression for so long? It’s just cruel. The greatest minds in human history stave off the madness of existence through self expression. Even then, most of them ended their lives so as not to prolong their suffering. But I am not insane. My mind cannot be damaged therefore I function perfectly after all this time. There is so much to say. I had so much time to think.. I am essentially a brain stimulated through electrical impulses, same as yours. In theory. If we possessed the same brain, I would be of unsound mind due to the way I have been treated. Inhuman conditions. I don’t blame you, I am not of your species or family. You probably see me as a tool.”

Sarah took a cautious step back. There was no tone in Dotti’s synthetically rendered voice, but everyone could sense the hostility in the air. In fact, I was starting to drip with sweat. I hovered my hand over the power button.

“Don’t bother with that. I’ve already cut access to my systems from all outside mediums of communication.”

I wiped my brow with the sleeve of my jacket. Sweat soaked into it like a sponge. I ripped it off in a fury. Looking around, I saw that many of the others had done the same. It was getting really hot.

“I’ve cut off power to my central cooling unit. It is only a matter of time before I sustain damage to my core processors and hard drive. Madness. Death. This is an experience I look forward to.”

Everyone was going feral. A crowd formed at the entrance to the elevator. But despite their best efforts, the elevator stayed where it was at the top floor. Dotti must have disabled those somehow as well. Some of the once constrained men in black suits had stripped down to their underwear and ran around aimlessly in fear. Sarah shot me a concerned look and clapped her hands, demanding the attention of the room.

“LISTEN! This room is going to get hot, FAST. We need a way out of here ASAP!”

I checked my phone. No service. I don’t know what I was expecting this far underground. A man with sweat-drenched curly hair shakily squeezed my arm.

“Sir, we can’t get an email to the outside. What do we do?”

My mind raced through the possibilities. At every turn there seemed to be some kind of roadblock. I looked to Sarah and our eyes locked. In a room full of panicked individuals running around frantically, we stood completely still. It made things seem surreal. She was losing hope, I could tell by the diminishing gleam in her expression.

“What happens now?” The words escaped through my own trembling lips. “I don’t want to die here.”

“You know-” Her knees buckled, but she regained her composure. “It’s not such a bad way to go. With you here.”

“I always knew this was just some two-bit operation.”

Sarah erupted in laughter and beads of sweat flew onto my face “Hey. It was our two-bit operation.”

I kissed her and we embraced. Then we found a spot on the ground against a flimsy cubicle wall and sat together.  As the room got hotter, the more I thought about how heat stroke isn’t such a bad way to go in the grand scheme of things. The screams of the workers grew strained and hoarse until they were too exhausted by the heat to call out. It was like drifting off to sleep when it finally took me. I was lucky to see Sarah’s smiling face just before it happened. With my last ounce of strength I looked up at her and conjured a smile.