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Perpetual Motion
Aug 12, 2013


Just Ask Him

"Just say something already!"

"I can't just say something, what if he decides to eat me?"

"Honey, you're a raw potato, no human is just going to take a bite out of you. Besides, you've got plenty of eyes, you can see that he's obviously perfect. Just some poor schlub browsing the produce aisle. You speaking up is going to blow his mind, and you'll be friends in no time!"

"If you say so... Here goes..." The potato reached out telepathically to the shopper. "Psst! Hey, you! Down here!"

The human stopped dead in his tracks are looked confusedly around the store, unsure if he had actually heard anything.

"Down here, in the potato bin! I'm the nice and round one on the left!"

The man quickly found the strange potato, picking it up and examining it closely.

"I need a favor. See, I know I'm destined for better things than being mashed or baked or fried. I want to find some cold, dark place and let my roots grow. But obviously, I don't have legs. Could... could you help me? I can't offer much in return, but I'm an excellent conversationalist!"

The man just cocked his head and stared, obviously puzzling over the whole situation. That's when the potato noticed a worrying glint in his eyes.

"Hey, what are you doing? No! N—"

The potato fell silent as the curious man took a bite of her. What an rear end in a top hat.

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Perpetual Motion
Aug 12, 2013


I'm new here, so I'll probably get torn to pieces, but I'm totally in.

I choose:



Moonsweeper

Perpetual Motion
Aug 12, 2013




Moonsweeper
(1451 Words)

“There, that ought to do it,” the astronaut said as she planted the last spiked node in the dusty lunar soil. After dusting off her gloves, she flicked on her radio. “All wrapped up here, commander. Last scanner node is in place. Ready to start the sweep.”

After a brief crackle of static, the commander responded. “Roger, Thompson. Pack up and get back to the lander so we can start the sequence. Don’t want to keep those eggheads back home waiting any longer.”

“Uh, I have a request, commander.”

“What is it now?” the commander asked with a sigh.

“Permission to stick around and watch the startup sequence. I’ve heard that it’s rather beautiful when all those scanners light up, and I’ve got quite the view from up here on this ridge.” She could just imagine the commander groaning and pinching the bridge of his nose.

“…Fine. You have five minutes. Any longer and you’re liable to get caught up in the sweep, and that’s the last thing we need.”

“Thank you, sir.”

“Initiating sweep in three… two… one…”

At first, nothing seemed to happen, but soon enough Thompson noticed blue lights flickering on in the distance as the furthest nodes switched on. It had been one hell of an ambitious project. Scientists back home were testing out new scanning and computer simulation tech, and felt they were ready for a large-scale test. There were ethical and logistical questions raised about the scanning and simulating something as complex as a living creature, at least at this stage of the project, so a barren, completely unpopulated expanse of land was required. The only place that could fit the bill was, of course, the surface of the moon. It took nearly a year of missions to plant the grid of scanning nodes that would catalog the shape and makeup of the lunar landscape for accurate simulation. Hopefully the results would be worth it.

The lights of the sweep were advancing forward rather quickly, combining to form an aurora of shimmering blue pulses. Thompson couldn’t help but smile at the sight. All this work and money spent at least resulted in something beautiful, if nothing else.

It’s a shame no one else is here to see this. I don’t think my suit’s camera even records in color. It was in that moment of wonder, however, that Thompson made a fatal mistake. She took an idle step closer to the edge of the ridge, only to have the ground crumble beneath her. Reacting quickly, Thompson used the last of her footing to spin and make a desperate grab for what remained of the ledge, smacking her helmet off the rock face in the process. As the stars faded from her vision, she found herself barely clinging to the ridge, even as it continued to crumble under her grip. Her nose was bleeding from the impact, and had left a wide, crimson streak across the inside of her visor.

“Thompson! What happened?” the commander’s voice crackled over the radio. “Your vitals just spiked!”

“I’m… in a bit of a sticky situation, sir,” Thompson replied, her grip slipping a few more inches. “Accidentally stepped onto some unstable ground, and I’ve… taken a bit of a tumble over the edge.”

“Hold on, I’m coming to get you!”

“I’d advise against that, sir,” Thompson said, doing her best to remain calm. “You stepping out here is liable to make the whole cliff collapse. Besides, if you suited up and left now, you’d be arriving here a bit after the sweep, and the whole scan could take hours. I think… I think either I pull myself out of this, or I’m not coming back at all.”

“drat it!” Thompson heard a loud thump over the radio, presumably the commander pounding a console or wall in frustration.

“Look, it’s going to be okay. I think I got this…” Thompson reached forward, trying to find a higher handhold on the cliff face. There we go! She smiled, finally finding purchase on the wall. She couldn’t find anywhere to stick her boots, but in the lower gravity, she hoped she’d be able to hoist herself up with her arms alone. Unfortunately, her hopes were short lived as her handholds crumbled beneath her gloves, sending her sliding about a yard farther down the wall before she managed to stop herself. And it didn’t seem that she’d be able to remain there much very long, either, as she could already feel the wall giving way further. “Okay, maybe I don’t got this.” She glanced over her shoulder to see that the sweep was nearly upon her. If the fall didn’t kill her, then all the electromagnetic shenanigans going on in the scan would certainly fry her suit’s systems, if not her brain itself. And yet… she had an idea. A stupid, desperate, last ditch idea. “Commander… I don’t think there’s a way out of this. I… think I have an idea, though.”

“What is it, Thompson?”

“I’m going to hang on as long as I can, and let the sweep catch me.”

“Are you insane!?” Despite the outburst, Thompson could tell that the commander wasn’t angry with her. At himself, maybe, but this outburst was born of despair.

“Maybe, but if there’s even the slightest chance that the simulation captures me, my ‘essence’, then that’d be better than just dying, right?”

“There’s no telling what’ll come out the other side, though!”

“I’m still going to do this.”

“I… I guess if there’s no other way… But the report’s going to show that I object, alright?”

“You wouldn’t be the commander if you didn’t.” Thompson paused for a moment, noticing the blue glow of the sweep starting to creep into her peripheral vision. “Hey, commander? One final request.”

“Anything, Thompson.”

“When you tell my story, could you leave out how I died because I was an idiot?”

“…Of course.”

“It was an honor working with you, James.”

“Same… same to you, Alice.”

With that, Alice’s handholds finally fell to dust, and the astronaut slowly tumbled into the advancing blue light…


———


Alice sighed as she leaned against the somewhat impressive facsimile of a tree that had just flickered into existence behind her. Whoever was in charge of the simulation had already gone wild “terraforming” the landscape, adding all sorts of landmarks and features. Alice’s best guess was that they were just testing out their new toys before the real experimentation started. She had no idea how long she’d been there at the point. Day and night didn’t really exist, and there was no way of telling how her perception of time even worked in here. The fact that none of the electronics on her suit worked didn’t help any.

“What I really need is a plan,” Alice said to no one. Figuring out what to do with herself was a real challenge. There was only so much exploring she could do before even the weird objects and weather patterns the programmers were inventing failed to amuse her. “If only I could figure out how this place really worked…” The simulation itself was nowhere near perfect. Gravity was wildly inconsistent across the board, and certain physical processes just didn’t seem to function at all. As far as she could tell, she didn’t even need to eat, breathe, or sleep anymore. She could still think, move, see, and feel, though, which was good enough for her. An entire Victorian house shimmered into view about fifty yards away with an audible buzz, which finally sparked an idea in Alice’s head.

The real problem is that no one knows I’m here, or If they do, they don’t know where I am. This simulation is huge. I must not even be a blip on their radar. They can manipulate things in here freely, though. If I can get their attention, communication should be possible... Alice picked up a stone off the ground and took a quick jog towards the house. Once she was close enough to be confident in her aim, she tossed the rock up and down a few times to test the local gravity, then loosed it right through one of the house’s many windows, shattering it. Picking up more rocks, she repeated the process until each window on that side of the house was broken. If they’re so focused on testing out new things, they’ve got to notice if those things start inexplicably changing. If James filled out his incident report clearly enough, it shouldn’t take long for them to put two and two together. For the first time since waking up in the simulation, Alice smiled. “This might actually be kinda fun. Time to make some noise!”

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