Battlebot 3000

I do what I am commanded to do.

That was the lie they told themselves. You fight because you are ordered to fight. Which wasn’t exactly true. The human had learned and adapted to fighting. Humans became the pre-eminent force in the universe by fighting and killing. Then, as they grew comfortable with the spoils of their wars, they created us. The drones, to fight. Drones were slowly developed to fight the superpowers’ wars. As criticism reared its ugly head, drones were refined to reduce unnecessary causalities. Only essential deaths. That was their protocol. Who decided the essential nature of these deaths? The generals and presidents, naturally. As drones became more sophisticated at killing, we began to reflect the shape of our creators. We were shaped like them to perform intricate tasks. There was only one tool we couldn’t remove. The gun. Americans had perfected the killing power of the gun and they handed us the gun.

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The Eyes of God

The shimmering eyes stared down at them from enormous backlit billboards. In days gone, they might have been confused for an advertisement. No longer. The eyes were cruel. Although to give them that much agency was to personify them. The eyes felt nothing. They weren’t really watching from their point above everyone, plastered to the side of ever-growing skyscrapers. The eyes were merely a warning. God is watching, though a god of their own making. A god that was above but was also hiding in their pocket and their watch. The machines had won, and they were God now.

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The Last Human

They say she lives in the Undercity. They say it reminds her of home. She is the last human. I went looking for her. It is not an easy path. Not many people travel to the Undercity anymore, just plunderers and scavengers. Not company I often associate with. An old friend, Nate, heard I was looking for a way into the Undercity. He took me to a bar on the street level. I rarely visited the lower levels. My work was in an office building. My home was in another skyscraper. All my friends lived in the high rises of the Overcity.

Nate introduced me to a man. The man was bald and in his mid-fifties, well, that was the face he wore at least. None of us aged anymore; we’re all made of synthetic parts. The only thing connecting us to our human heritage being our consciousness, though philosophers still debate whether the consciousness our bodies inherited was the same that belonged to our historic humanity.

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The Big, Orange Meanie

We are living in the end of history. Or at least we were. Francis Fukuyama, an American political scientist, posited that the end of the Cold War marked an end in the battle of ideologies in which liberal democracy was the winner. With that said, does the rise of the alt-right mean history is starting up again?

 

“November 8th, 2016”

“No”

The two sat at the booth in the diner and discussed their plans. Mark had an agenda.

“Why not?” Mark asked.

“Trauma’s too fresh for you. You need some perspective” Eli responded.

“Come on, he lost the popular vote. It’s only fair,” Mark argued

“What are you going to do? Up-end the electoral college? Gore in 2000?” Eli debated.

“Why not?” Mark asked glibly.

This particular diner that Eli and Mark sat was a diner outside of time itself. A thoroughfare for time travellers. Eli and Mark had stopped to discuss their plans over dinner. Mark was new to the whole time travel gig. Eli was an old hat. Mark was born in the mid-1990s. Eli was born in the mid-2050s. They didn’t always see eye to eye.

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Reckoning

(Authors Note: This piece was originally written in 2012. It has been edited because there are some thematic issues I have with the text looking back. Part 1 remains largely intact as it wasn’t too awful, looking back. Part 2 required some severe editing. The piece was originally written in my Year 12 Literature class. It was an attempt to ape the novel ‘Atonement’ in its style and plot elements. Brownie points if you can spot the other literary references)

Part I

Perhaps he should not have come at all. Something about this meeting felt incredibly forced. She had sent him a message. Clemens St, Tuesday, 7pm. In her usual fashion, she was infuriatingly brief. Did she mean he was to wait outside on Clemens? It was a cold New London night and he hadn’t had the forethought to bring his jacket. No, she definitely meant the café. It was their place. The café was irrefutable a fact in their relationship as the war, and if there was one thing Milton know about her it’s that she was as sentimental as she was fanciful.

April turned into Clemens St, her brand-new heels clicking along the pavement and digging into her heel. She had half a mind to take them off but she persisted. She couldn’t appear weak in front of Milton. It had been five years; no contact between them. True, the war had not made things easy. Upon seeing her again, he would probably wring her throat. He was the type. The man had a violent streak, and his years in the army were unlikely to have satiated his bloodlust. April was drawn out of her thoughts by the realisation that she was supposed to be looking for Milton. She looked around. Clemens St was no longer the bustling street of eateries it had once been. All along the street there used to be little cafes with idyllic, outdoor dining areas. Half the shops were now closed, the other half were little more than rubble. The German had bombed New London, and Clemens St had suffered for it. Then she saw it, the humble little café they had visited years ago. By some stroke of luck, it still stood. Open, waiting for her entrance. Back when they were on friendlier terms Milton had stared bewildered at the French name of the place. Boire, she had told him, It means to drink. Of course, the word on his boorish tongue, he had mispronounced it. She had laughed. What had made her laugh in those days now made her wrinkle her nose in displeasure. Indeed, there seemed to be little to laugh at these days.

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Monolith

[Author’s Note: Originally written October 2015]

As the sluggish train carried him into his work the skyline cast a dark shadow over the dreary landscape molded by the winter. It was an inescapable aspect of the city that was well known and oft parodied by its residents. The mood of the city became exactly like people outside it imagined it did in the winter months. Those travelling to work were covered in black, scurrying about in such a rat race that from above they must’ve looked like ants, ants tracking the same path every day. As he thought the train arrived painfully slowly into the city.

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