Friday, March 1, 2013

A Prison Within

Hubcaps spiraled and spun off balanced, caught in the moonlight they reflected an array simmering colors. The Nova rested upside down, back and forth it teetered on the caved in roof. A shadowed figure moved from underneath. Pinned by the wreckage, it clawed and hissed trying to free itself. It pushed with its rotten face against the road for leverage, my presence not a threat or desire to it. I put my boot to its head and pushed, a few black teeth shattered under my weight and skipped across the pavement. With a quick stomp  the skull cracked and broke into pieces like a ceramic bowl. It convulsed and collapsed with a thud.

An tearful moan cried from the rear of the old muscle car. A young girl, maybe fifteen or sixteen laid face up on the pavement. Her blue and white letter jacket was two sizes too big for her, it  had turned a dingy grey, like the rest of her, soiled and tattered from the world. 

"Thank you," her voice said lightly above a whisper. Her blonde hair was splayed out on the asphalt, the tips and dead ends soaked in blood. Her wounds weren't fatal nor was she bitten and infected. She breathed, her heart beat. What happened next surprised us both. 

I placed one finger over her lips to say, "shh," and then pivoted my wrist and palmed her mouth and nose shut. The warmth of her breath against my cold hand was surprising and I doubted my willingness. 

"Not this way," her eyes spoke and went wide with wonder. Suffocating, she struggled to comprehend that her life was about to end. "Not this way," they said again. I closed my own, partly in disgust and partly because I couldn't stand the sight. She had fought so hard to survive, to have just one more day. I would trade her if I could. All I want is to cease to be and I cannot. 

I let my hand fall heavy on her face and her muffled screams and moans were muted just a little more. Her lungs, powerful and as young as they were, only suctioned my grip tighter around her mouth. She fought to free herself, flailing and whipping her arms she pounded my back. Her head twisted and thrashed. The blood soaked hair painted little red Jackson Pollock's across my other hand and forearm. Her legs kicked and her ambition for life was strong, but her paced slowed.
I opened my eyes to a single tear streaming down her face. The fight was gone. Her stomach contracted in short, quick convulsions and then one long failed breath. I gave myself a moment to compose myself. I didn't want to process what exactly I had done. I couldn’t allow that to register.  What I had done was self-serving. It goes against the basic protocol of my design. I lifted my hand from her and pulled my focus away. Down the darkened street, I could see them moving my way. Slow and determined, yet rushing their foreign bodies forward with heavy, labored steps. They could smell her. Flesh had become a dismal commodity and her blood was a beacon in a withering storm for such large appetites. The monsters had either infected or eaten most of the remaining population of Washington D.C., the last and lost civilization of the American empire. I live, if living could actually be considered a viable option or derivative of my programming. To be immortal, and actually not mortal at all, is perhaps the cruelest design. 

We were created in their image, as lures, decoys to protect the human populations from their menacing selves.  Scout and locate elevated threats and hordes, safely map and study them up close.  Once all intel could be attained, we were cued for our final act, mobile IED's, draw a pack of infected out and detonate. Like with all sophisticated, top-grade military equipment, it's never wise to put all your eggs in one basket. 

Many of my kind crashed or lost connection with the host, some spontaneously detonated in civilian safe zones, killing and creating more monsters than they we were putting down. And some could never detonate themselves at all.  It didn't take long for military and public opinion to deem the operation a failure and shut it down. Instead of powering us off, we were forgotten, a casualty of war, abandoned by our fathers. We were left to roam the city with no purpose or objective and with no certain end to either plague. 

I lifted her shirt up to the edge of her ribcage, exposing her navel and a series of other wounds and past contusions. Her eyes, vacant and glassy gazed up into the night. Her skin had already lost most of its color for life except the rosy red hue around her mouth and her tear-dried cheeks.
I placed my thumbs inside her navel and applied pressure. Her stomach gave little resistance and they sank in with easy. I could feel the moisture and warmth as it edged around my knuckles. I buried them a little deeper, all the way to the base of my wrist. Her navel widen and tore. Instantly the smell of the exposed girl sent the dead into a frenzy. Their moans carried swiftly and excitedly on the wind. Aspirating on their own bile and putridness they trudged forward, footsteps beating against the pavement in a dissonant rhythm. 

To do what one must is a necessary means of survival. It is the code of humanity. To abjure from it would mean extinction. They fight very hard to survive, humans. But I am not one of them. I am their discarded creation put out to pasture. I am not wired the same, survival is not apart of my programmed initiative.  

I dug my hands deeper into the poor girls stomach. I pressed them in firmly and gripped what I could. Fistful of intestines coiled themselves around my hands. I pulled and yanked, her body jerked and spasmed. Nerve's kicking and screaming, not yet fully aware of the bodies death. I released my grasp and brought my hand to my face. Soaked in an blazing crimson and thickness, I studied them for a moment. Staring into the essence of human life itself, a radiating hue of slow methodical drips that pooled in my lap. I placed my hands on my face. I rubbed it in, deep into the silicone sheath that covered my mechanical form. Like war paint I smeared it across my cheeks, arms and chest. I reached for more and doused myself again. There was a moment where the difference between the two forms of monsters weren't so different. I, ripping apart the young girl, and them, eager to join the feast. 

The intoxicating smell of blood enticed and drew them in and their eyes caught fire behind an opaque glaze. I dreamed of my final, pointless moments. Imagined that what was to proceed would be a frenzy of living dead with ravenous intentions. The young girl and I caught in a fury of feast, two becoming one and then nothing. Her bones cracking and splintering, my circuity snapping. In the mix I am devoured, ripped apart piece by piece, unaware that I am different, that I am not one of them, I am neither dead nor alive. 

They were side by side and only steps away. Their snarls fearsome and guttural. An elated like expression draped across their sunken, morbid faces as they lunged forward taking the bait. I stared into the gate of ones seething mouth, waiting with anticipation for its teeth and jaws. Just as the monster was about to wrap its blood crusted fingers around me...Pop. Followed by two more, Pop...Pop. Bits of corrupt brain and foul black blood sprayed all across the front of me. The ambling creatures dropped and wilted a foot away. Behind them stood a tall, skinny man wearing a Yankee’s cap. His pistol still drawn and raised. The mans eyes were searching for answers, struggling to figure out the sick senorio that was in front of him. He had no doubt seen horrible things, atrocious acts of a murderous nation, a war of gluttony the likes humanity had never thought possible. He had never seen this though. I could see it in his shoulders as dropped in exhaustion and in lack of understanding. 

“What did you?” He asked me. I stood there in silence, as only I could, purposely muted by my creator and in the interest of the humans. 

“What did you?” He shouted and reared forward, placing the barrel to my forehead. He looked me in the eyes and finally he understood. 

“Worthless clones.” He pulled the trigger and the hammer snapped. Nothing. The chamber was empty. He turned and walked away, his boots scraping the road, “Suffer like the rest of us you piece of shit.”

...I am not like you.


  1. Zombie Apocalypse, Capital city of lost civilization, Artificial Intelligence were the prompts. Could have used a little more time for editing, but a deadline is a deadline after all. Also posted it at flash fiction challenge for the first time.

  2. Definitely a neat way of using AI in a zombie story. I had thought of another use of AI while reading this story in that while going against zombies they would be the new soldiers, since zombies wouldn't be able to smell them. AI against zombies would be an interesting thing to research to see if it has been used before.

    The nature of the narration was curious. Even though the AI of the story seemed to be of good quality, AI usually have more of a computer-esque way of describing things (like Data on Star Trek). Is this strain of AI self-realized or "awakened" like in other AI genres? I am also curious about the logic of the government just forgetting about the AI line. Would they have tried to pull the plug or did they deem it something that couldn't backfire on them?

    I am definitely curious as to the psychological make-up of the narrator. Why did it decide to kill the human? Why does it want to "die"? And where did the notion of dying come from? It was an intriguing character for sure! :)

    Great premise!!!Do you plan on making a longer version of this? Could definitely see it being a longer story, especially with a lot of background story being developed around it.

    1. To try and answer some of your questions...
      "Is this strain of AI self-realized or "awakened" like in other AI genres?"
      ...Yes, he is and probably the last, though he wouldn't even know that.

      "AI usually have more of a computer-esque way of describing things"
      ...I didn't want him to have that 'Hal/Data' tone. I wanted him to appear more human-esque. Partiality for better story telling and also because he was a little more human than even he wanted to realize.

      "logic of the government just forgetting" is an Apocalypse after and with any good one, government has to go, slowly eaten away. Shutting the AI drones down in the heat of it all, could, when the shit finally hits the fan, be an easy oversight.

      "Why does it want to "die"?"
      ...I thought it would be an interesting idea to play with the notion, that if you give something intelligence, the scary thing is that, how do you know that it's not learning or becoming self aware? In this AI's world, from it's 'birth' all it would have seen or know is death, death and more death. That the horrors of a zombie apocalypse could even infect something like AI. He wanted out and the only way he thought would be certain was being torn apart.

      "Why did it decide to kill the human?"
      ...much in the way that other Z'books or movies have used Z's to cover up their human smell by smearing death all over them and blending in, I did the opposite. Plus, Z's are always tearing us apart, we are used to that, I thought I try something a little different to perhaps get a different response.

      As of now I have no intentions of making it longer. It was perhaps too large of an idea to cram into 1500 words.