Photo: Augusto Navarro
Check out Part 1 here if you haven’t already, so that you can understand the story in its entirety. Hope you enjoy this piece as much as I did writing it!
Calen exited the underground and was greeted by air he’d learned to tolerate. A strong undertone of steel wafted wherever he went in the Sprawl, and that was when the occasional miasma—garbage, oils, human refuse—wasn’t among the blend.
The odour still assaulted his senses, even after having lived with it for so long. The more privileged would at least be able to seek refuge in their homes, because these homes often had filtered air-conditioners installed. For Calen, fresh air was never an option.
Photo: Alex Knight
Calen often rode the mag-lev from the first station to the last. Today, he sat beside a patchwork of steel that resembled a humanoid. It stood motionless in its designated docking bay. A Justicar, it was called. Calen—as well as everyone else—knew them better as tinheads.
The thing finally jolted to life, something Calen was waiting for for hours now. That was his cue to earn some chits. He followed the robot as it thumped down the train. Mag-lev, he corrected himself. Trains were only a fragment of his dad’s old stories. Stories of when policing was still done by humans, with much more compassion.
Today’s writing prompt is the first sentence of this piece. Enjoy!
I’m either going out for ice cream, or to commit a heinous crime. I’ll decide in the car.
Because what do I got to lose? I probably won’t make this month’s rent. The fuckin’ company threw me out, just like that. No severance package, no notice period, nothing.
This is an assignment for a writing course, and I figured I’d use it as an excuse to post. Enjoy.
Clara strode through her neighbourhood, street lamps so far apart she spent a bulk of her walk in darkness. Purple clouds blotted the stars, threatening to swallow her whole too.
It wasn’t the best idea, being out at night, but she had to get out of her cramped room; a cramped room that her boyfriend was currently sharing with some skank from God-knows-where. It took all her willpower not to clock him in the head—and that bitch too.
Photo: Brandon Holmes
Life was easy as a subtitler. The job wasn’t demanding. You sat in a comfortable office, and the only person who ever bother you was your supervisor, and that’s only to make sure you’re making deadlines.
The labour’s a piece of cake too. You ran a video through a subtitling software and correct the transcriptions made by the computer. That’s it.
Of course, things would’ve been much worse without the software. While the computer’s ability to decipher words might be horrendous, at least I didn’t have to manually insert the timestamps, which would’ve made my work three times harder.
Everything was fine, until ‘the awakening’ happened. If I had to pinpoint an exact time, it’d have to be when the software produced a particularly hilarious sentence.
It was a cloudy day, and Caleb kept to the shadows as he crossed the street. He didn’t want to be seen, though he knew that avoiding contact was inevitable. It had been getting harder since—What was that? Was that shadow there earl—
A searing pain tore through Caleb’s back. He let his damn guard down again. Instinctively, he tightened his grip around his duffel bag as he started to move.
Caleb leapt aside, the hints of a second strike whooshing past his ear. He didn’t turn to face his attacker. He just sprinted as fast as his legs would take him.
Photo credit: Kevin Dooley
Writing prompt: One morning humanity wakes up to a message in the sky. “Sorry was AFK for a bit there” -God
“How do you think it got there?”
“I don’t know,” I say. “Probably some skywriters with a good idea of a prank.”
“Skywriting? But it’s been there since this morning!”
I leave the stranger behind, because I don’t need more questions that I can understand myself. Why don’t you come up with your own explanations then? If I’d stayed there for another minute, I might’ve snapped at him. Thank God, heh, I had the presence of mind to leave. Who knows what else I’d have done. I’m just on edge, is all. But deep down, I know I’m fuckin’ terrified.