Short Stories →

Ashes to ashes

June 29, 2023

The wind carelessly toys with the black dust, drawing endless swirling patterns on the bare, white concrete walls. Thunder rolls across the grey sky, bringing with it the promise of rain. This would normally be a welcome occasion, but times are no longer normal and its drops will only bring more black dust for the wind to pile around the few surviving walls. From a perch up on a crumbling tower, a shining pair of eyes scan the vast sea of black dunes, methodically searching for something they know is no longer there.

The data of each redundant sweep is dutifully analyzed, interpreted and summarized… then left to languish on the queue of packets forever waiting to be send to a perpetually timing out destination.

The sound of whirring servos and metal footsteps echoes thru the empty city, filling it with the ghosts of an activity it would never again have.

The piling black dust makes each step less efficient than it should be. Still, even if emotion was never part of the operation subroutines, the fact that it is now high enough to show only the city’s bones and not the smaller but far numerous ones on its streets makes the rounds appear less difficult.

A sudden movement immediately engages the search and rescue protocols, bringing all sensors online. Within the darkness under a ruined structure something glints and dances in the wind. Cold data almost immediately begins to shut the sensors down.

Carbon-fiber fingers stretch to touch the lonely string of tinsel still hanging from the wall.

A pair of shining eyes stare blankly at this unlikely survivor, while several stacked processor cores juggle at the speed of light with the endless definitions, references and conjugations of the verb “cry”.

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