The Rotten Desert: Part 2


As lying under a freezing preservation cabinet is not the most tenable position for a would-be escapee I decide now is the time for action. While it had seemed a natural place to hide whilst plotting an escape route I had suddenly come to the realisation that with Juniper trapped in my room, no-one could stop me.

I slipped out from the gap and stood up to stroll confidently through the doors towards Shirley, the annoying Voice System grew more insistent.

‘Ben Blackthorne. Get back to your room and release me immediately. You can’t get past Shirley; she’ll dial the gov’s immediately. You don’t want that Ben, if they find out about you they’ll take you away. You’ll be much worse off than in here. Come and let me out right now!’

She was whining now. I knew she could see me, she had access to all the interface walls, but there wasn’t much she could actually do about it since she was the only person running this place. I had trapped her in my room this afternoon as she turned her shapely back to the collection of ‘healing’ evaporation phials she usually forced me to inhale.

It was hard to tear my eyes away from her lab uniform covered curves, but it was a good opportunity. The door hissed closed behind me. Automatic Security meant only one person could come in and one person go out, but given how shitty some parts of the lab seemed, I had to make doubly sure. I had dragged a large freestanding bio-cabinet in front of the door that was impossible for Juniper to move with her slender frame..

‘Ben please! Don’t leave me in here. I can’t get out. Are you really going to leave me here to die?’

She was being dramatic, someone would be down before long. Although come to mention it I couldn’t remember seeing anyone else here, apart from a blurry memory of people on the day I was woken up. In recent weeks I had tried to seduce her, before realising that she had an unwavering preference for women and as it stood, I could see no benefit from having her in my debt. Besides, she had resorted to pleas that meant Shirley wasn’t as much of a threat as she made her out to be.

As I crossed the last chamber floor the turquoise writing changed to an infinite scroll that spelled ‘FUCK YOU BEN BLACKTHORNE.’ Shirley rolled her oversized eyes up at me picking her pink nails. Through a narrow window in the door behind her I could see an elevator shaft. I leaned against the wall by Shirley’s desk.

‘Hey Shirley.’ I drew out the words holding her eye contact.

‘Ben.’ She said dismissively.

‘I’m going to grab some food at Vegas how would you like to be my date?’ I just hoped android woman were as taken with expensive dinner propositions as earth girls were. Juniper had mentioned something about Vegas being a great place to eat.

‘Ben.’ She said in a tone if possible even more dismissively than before.

‘Come on Shirls. I’ve had my eye on you since I woke up.’ I only hoped she found me calling her Shirls endearing and not disgusting as one Shirley I had known did. She blinked seductively and emitted a high pitch squeal that I chose to take as a sign of robot arousal.

‘Ben.’ She burbled. I waved my hand in front of her. ‘Ben.’ ‘Ben.Ben.benebenebenebenben’

Robots were still shit. No replacement for real people. I walked straight past the malfunctioning skankbot. I waved my hand in front of the lift sensor several times before it blinked and displayed an icon that looked like a square crushing a spring.

I supposed that meant the lift was coming. The lift doors were made of thick patinated steel with large bolts punched around the frame. It reminded me of a large navy bunker I’d once purchased for redevelopment.

No sooner had the doors opened than something was hurtling at me. The thing was large. It looked like some kind of brown leather clad animal. The thing knocked me off my feet before tripping over its own feet and landing next to me with a thud.

It was then, as the thing got to its feet dusting off a very large brown trench coat that I realised it was, in fact, a man. He had wild curly brown hair. Some kind of metal circuit was attached to the side of his head. He looked ever so slightly like a tramp. A tramp that thought he was dressed professionally. The man stared down at me.

‘Are you Ben?’


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