The red, the crimson red, never ending just blood crimson red. The animals have gone completely, farmers have had to kill off swathes of their herds as they began to turn on them. Isolated communities lost to wild sheep and horses, overcome by the crimson blood red sky. Death, blood…
‘Hello Sir, and how are we today?’ the attendant had quite clearly spent too much money here, his metallic legs and robot torso made this apparent. ‘Yea, Hi, erm… I need a new left arm please pal,’ Hargy’s left arm was shot, a thin noodle of an appendage.
My friends and I challenged ourselves to make 50 word stories, here’s my effort at a little over 50 words.
Maynard’s hope had blinked out like the lights three months earlier, there’s nothing left to hope for, he thought to himself. He kicked the nearest paneled wall, a large chunk of plaster board tell off. What it revealed was more shocking however, a fully functioning room with lights and a computer. ‘but how!?’ muttered Maynard under his breath.
Just a bit of context before we jump in. I’ve started a new DnD campaign and this is the (brief) background of my character for it. His name is Aralais (A-ra-lay) and he is a wood elf cleric.
I was born around twenty seven winters ago, it was a harsh time for my clan, Draconic raiders frequented the Eldeen Reaches where my brethren and I lived in peace for the most part. When still extremely young I was taken from my home by an elderly hermit and his pack of wolves, for safety I was whisked off to the lowlands of the nearby Byhesk mountain range. Here I dwelled with the hermit and his wolf pack for a couple of winters until he and the majority of his wolves were murdered in front of me by several draconic raiders. This led to my raising by the wolves left over from the slaughter, they taught me to track and hunt, I taught myself to heal their wounds, both off the land and through prayers to Lukou. She came to me in a waking dream when I was severely injured whilst hunting with my pack, and charged me with the power and responsibility to heal others and soothe the wounds of nature as I went about my travels.
Eventually I grew to an age where I decided that I would roam the known world in search of adventure and experience, I left the wolf pack behind and built myself a homestead on the edge of the Eldeen reach where I was born, locals would come to me for healing when their friends and family fell ill and I obliged for the most part, healing a stricken mother from the pains of childbirth and wounded men from the constant raids from the Draconic scum. Eventually the raiders came all the way to my doorstep, the burnt my homestead to the ground along with the surrounding village, it was here I left on my travels once again, this time with a purpose, to find those responsible for breaking my peace and tranquillity and plunging me into the chaos of the traveller’s world.
‘What, no, this isn’t right!’ Sherman looked at himself in the reflection of the mirror. He’d ordered a different model to this, it was one of those twentieth century brutes that graced the game with their rugged power and soticness. He turned to the assistant, ‘excuse me there’s something wrong with my order,’
‘and what might that be Sir?’
He looked at himself in the mirror again, the scrawny limbs were not what he needed, neither were the slight suggestion of man breasts that hinted at a previous issue with weight. ‘I ordered a late twentieth century linebacker body, not this, this, mess!’ The assistant looked at him blankly, turned to his clipboard and gestured twice over it, ‘are you not Sherman Triller?,’
‘and you ordered a late twentieth century linebacker body and identity?,’
‘Yes, well the body mostly, I’ll deal with the identity and memories at the wiper,’
‘I’m sorry sir, you are aware that will void the warranty? We at Identicore do not condone the use of wipers at any level with the identity transferal process.’ He glared accusingly at Sherman, ‘I know that, ignore what I said,’ he responded, ‘I didn’t hear a thing Sir,’ replied the assistant in his monotone response. Might as well have been a robot, he thought to himself, ‘So Sir, there has been an issue with the order, it will take twenty four hours to correct, it seems you were looking for the body of a certain Regent Blander, however we have accidently implanted you into the body of Reagan Blander, he was a depressed accountant for a large banking company in late twentieth century England.’
‘Twenty four hours? Goddamit, can I stay here?’
‘No sir, we do not allow overnight stays in this facility we can however transfer you to a hospital or hotel nearby depending on an examination from our doctor. Remember Sir all this is done in the strictest confidence.’
‘Ok, let’s get on with it, the sooner the better, fuck sake, this would only happen to me.’ Sherman had never been what you would call a lucky person, although he was born into a middle class, Horation family (some people would see that as incredibly lucky) he had never excelled at anything strictly speaking. He once became very good at skimming stones on water, but aside from that very little else. He looked up at the assistant, who was now trying to hide a smirk, the whole thing must be very amusing from his point of view, maybe he’ll come back in the other body and see to the assistant.
Outside the facility it was cold, the new body seemed to be more vulnerable to the cold even than his old one, he couldn’t believe how poor off he had come of that eight hour construction process. He hailed a taxi, spluttering black smoke as it pulled up to him, and asked to be dropped off at one of the over night hotels that Identicore had offered free stays at. The taxi pulled up outside the hotel, a fairly modern bricrete construction, more like a solid grey block that had been dropped from space than anything else. It protruded rudely towards the greying skies, so much so that the two blended together past the 40th floor. It seemed akin to a reverse iceberg, he knew there was more up there, the heigh made his other identity shiver, he shivered.
The room was simple, but actually welcome after the cold exterior of the building, he slumped onto his bed and lay down, as he did emotion gripped him, he could feel the last moments of the identity he had taken on. Thoughts slipped in and out of his mind, just out of reach like the fading memories of a nightmare, he glanced towards to the window, the room was on the 35th floor, just at the point where it was beginning to become to misty to see the floor. Suddenly he was at the window, leaning out into the rain that had started to fall, shit, he thought to himself, it’s taking over, stronger than I thought, too much emotion,’ he blacked out again and awoke about 10 floors down falling. The identity had taken over he had slipped from consciousness and it had killed itself again.
He jolted upright screaming, eyes wide and wild. ‘Sir please take some of this water, that was a rough one,’
‘Where the fuck am I?’ He shouted
‘You’re in the facility Sir, this is why we do the simulations, to make sure you can hold the other identity back if something goes wrong and we cannot fully complete the process.’
‘O yes I remember now,’ he replied glumly he got up out the seat but was too dizzy and collapsed back into it. ‘I might need to reconsider you know,’
‘That is normal sir, we give you the grace period due to this, please let us know within 48 hours if we are to proceed or not.’
Takruk kicked out lazily at the loose gravel on the path. He didn’t much like doing the jobs of ‘Town Folk,’ but needed to conform with them in order to make some of their money. He never placed much stock in ‘money,’ to him it was just a collection of metal, generally useless, aside from melting it down into arrow heads, weapons or armour. He had no real use of money when he was out in his lands, nature tended to provide all he was looking for when he needed it. But these people placed stock in money, so for the sake of his purpose he must also conform. Some Dwarf had hired him along with a few others to escort a cart of goods to the next town across, unfortunately this meant dragging the thing through these woods with their narrow pathways and dark corners. This didn’t bother Takruk, woods were second nature to him, what did bother him was how crowded him and his party were around the cart.
He drove the cart as the other members of the party seemed unable to tame the oxen pulling it, the Warlock, Kooth, had tried at first, he drove the cart 40 feet before the oxen just stopped, a couple of unmoveable monoliths in the middle of the path. The two little people with the party (Takruk called them little people as he didn’t know what else they could be called) didn’t care for the oxen either, and the fighter was just looking for a fight at this point, so Takruk had volunteered to take the reigns in their stead. This sort of work he didn’t mind, it was easy and he didn’t have to carry the weight of his huge great axe on his back, at least for a while.
The robot clanked down the factory line, it wasn’t much good at this, it knew that, but proceeded anyway. As it whirled round the corner a stern section of the freighter met it flat in what would’ve been the face. The robot dropped it’s power draining out of it, two humans stepped across its carcass carefully. ‘Is that the one?,’ one of them hissed, ‘aye boss, check the serial to make sure.’ The taller of the two stepped forward, nudged the robot with his foot, it didn’t move, just a hollow thumping sound where the boots had met metal. ‘Serial matches, let’s bag the CPU and go,’ the shorter one stepped forward and pulled a device out of the satchel, plunged it into the torso of the robot and removed it CPU, a dripping, oil stained bundle of wires and circuit boards. With this then both retreated to the grate in the floor they had come from and disappeared.
Further down the tunnel they dropped into one of them stopped, looked up and grabbed the other by the shoulder, ‘here,’ he motioned downwards towards the small crack in the concrete floor.