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The Rotten Desert: Part 2

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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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The Rotten Desert: Part 1

sci fi

There is  a noise like a high-pressure gas valve being released coming from above my head.

I am hiding under a cryogenic storage cabinet in an underground laboratory where I’ve been frustratingly trapped for the last eight weeks.

This particular cabinet looks as though it has grown red fur from all rust built up on its surface. The cabinet is six-foot long with a foot gap underneath, next to a wall. It is the one-foot space under this cabinet that I am currently occupying.  I squint out across the floor to the door in the distance.

The room I’m in is almost identical to the others I’ve been living in for the last eight weeks. A cold cast chamber with digi-glass interfaces covering all the walls. The words ‘BEN BLACKTHORNE GET BACK TO YOUR ROOM,’ my name, scrolling in turquoise across the walls.

The walls, although plastered with an interface much further advanced than anything I’d ever encountered, had acquired a stickiness to them that suggested they hadn’t been cleaned for a while, or knowing Juniper who owned the lab, perhaps never.

Every room including mine was always chilled, even now my breath frosts out from my hiding place, like dragon smoke rolling across the chamber. This room is characteristic of cryotech, run-down. The door scanners were temperamental, only some of the digi-glass display functioned, the bio-detection systems were clearly bunked.

My room, although it has the semblance of homeliness is small, claustrophobic and still housing my iron cast preservation chamber. Everything inside it is grey except the writing that scrolled across the glass surfaces of the walls.

The lights never dimmed which made sleep difficult and there were fake windows that showed me Salvador Dali paintings as though they were the scenery outside. Which for all I knew of the outside world, could be accurate?

Inside my room I can access a small alcove hidden behind the glass walls that served as a toilet, but unless Juniper came to take me to the medi-room, I couldn’t leave. The only sense of day and night I had was through scrolling pictures on the interface walls that would occasionally display something that looked like a sun or a moon.

This place had been my hell. The woman who worked here deflected my requests to be allowed outside. I was well enough. I guess that’s what led me to my current position. There is also a noise buzzing through the air. It is loud and annoying and a woman’s. At this point in time I am choosing to ignore it favour of concentrating on my escape route.

A door and the possible exit to the cryolab is two chambers from the one I am in now. I narrow my eyes, giving myself door tunnel-vision. Of course there is supposed to be biological detection systems in all the rooms. But, it has been my suspicion over the last few weeks that this lab isn’t as up-to-date as they’d have me think. And now, those suspicions have been confirmed. I had army crawled across the cryolab floor for three chambers before realising no alarms had gone off. I could simply walk.

Hiding under the cabinet had was probably an unnecessary precaution. It smells like feet and probably contains an unsuccessfully reanimated body, I squint through the door. There’s an Androbot at the exit. Her name is Shirley; she looks like a cheap prostitute from my time, garish pink nails and a ghastly Australian accent. She was outdated but Juniper had told me that prostitute-chic had been big when she’d been installed. Shirley, the prostitute android; the last obstacle between me and potential escape…

Read Part 2