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Author Topic: Suuper's Short Stories  (Read 2322 times)

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Offline Suuper-san

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Suuper's Short Stories
« on: May 20, 2021, 04:22:31 PM »
I will post my short stories here, sort of a writers survival but I'll post when I want ahahaha
Formatting may be a little choppy, not only have I completely forgotten how to format writing but mostly I'll be doing these on my commute from work and so I'm not doing tricky formatting on my phone.

Index:

The Furnace
The Intersection
One Man's Trash
The Choice in the Mirror
« Last Edit: February 28, 2022, 03:41:00 PM by Suuper-san »
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Offline Suuper-san

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Re: Suuper's Short Stories
« Reply #1 on: May 20, 2021, 04:26:30 PM »
OK since the only short stories I have read recently are lego's writer survival ones, my writing has taken on a copycat format. I have no opinion on that but it's interesting to see how it's shaped my style.

Not really sure if I'm looking for feedback at this point in time since I'm just so nooby, but if anyone wants to point stuff out, I'm all ears.

This is actually my first completed short story ever (not counting manga one-shots), so, meh :P



(Prompt: Metal, white bag, plant, shoe)

The Furnace

CRASH!
Another shovelful of coal flew into the roaring flames. At times they seemed like They had a mind of their own, at least, it did to Jerry.

Jerry's job was a stoker, along with the 100s of other men to his right and left. They were all stokers. He stopped to wipe his brow.

"Number 247, resume your task".
An emotionless voice echoed through the speakers above his head

"Fine, fine!" He resumed his rhythmic motions as they had been ingrained into him for over 30 years. The furnaces had to be fuelled 24 hours a day without stop. Otherwise, The City would grind to a halt, such was its power consumption.

"I never get a break in this place!" He mumbled to himself.

But as Draconian as the observation over his and the others' work seemed, it wasn't a bad life. Everything you could imagine was available in The City, and everyone was treated equally. But they were expected to work equally hard to remain within its protection. Everyone had a job, one job, and they were expected to fulfil it for their entire lives. Everyone took breaks at the same time, for the same length.

The City was the most efficient running infrastructure designed from the bottom up that the world had ever seen, and it's timely construction arguably saved humanity as the solar flares scorched the earth, aggravated by the solar energy mining being done in near orbit, and the ozone completely destroyed in man's ambition to become something greater. But The City was perhaps the answer man had been looking for. Measuring 500 square miles and housing 250 million people it was man's only remaining home.

It's construction took only 100 years despite the massive protective domes that covered the entire area and the complex infrastructure designed to cater for power supply, waste handling, and a myriad of other "needs" that mankind had slowly accumulated.

"It's fine for machines to be 100% efficient, but it's another thing for humans!", Jerry thought to himself.

It was a hard life, but people's lives depended on him doing his job, just as his life depended on others doing theirs. He was just another gear in the mechanism. Was he happy? Hard to say. Was he unhappy? Probably not.

Jerry mused to himself the other jobs he might have got stuck with and figured he was alright where he was, and shovelled another pile of coal into the furnace

CRASH!



Thoughts:
I would have liked to explored the life of Jerry as he goes from work to home, perhaps his friends and their thoughts etc, as well as exploring The City a little more with it's features, but then I suppose it wouldn't be a short story then would it :P

I didn't like the wording in some places, I think I used the same words a couple times when I could have varied it up a little, need more vocab at the tip of my fingers for that I think.
« Last Edit: May 24, 2021, 02:40:55 PM by Suuper-san »
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Offline Suuper-san

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Re: Suuper's Short Stories
« Reply #2 on: May 24, 2021, 02:40:37 PM »
Ok I'm super not happy with this one but it's done and I move on.



(Prompt: Traffic, leather, mesh, curious)

The Intersection

Janet Singer increased the thrust on her hoverbike. She was late. Her boss had been lecturing her about chasing up problems and leads that go nowhere, but "how should I know if it goes nowhere without following it!" She always retorted. And now she needed to get back on schedule, she had a date with an intersection. Not an amorous one for sure, this was all work.

There were always minor issues with the hoverpod flightways. Miscalculations by computers, rogue radiation affecting sensors, human error, and so on. But the myriad of safety measures prevented any harm from what would be dangerous collisions and accidents. That is, until now. 6:30pm. Friday. Every Friday. Something would always go wrong. Often minor things, but the last few times had been worse, and a fatality had occurred. An office worker on his way home from a late days work, and suddenly he was no more. The wreckage and recovered black box gave no signs of any errors at all. The hoverpod had just, crashed. And Janet was heading there to figure out why. Flightway maintenance was her job after all, and if there was something going wrong, it was her job to fix it.

Janet would never have even noticed the higher frequency of errors if it wasn't for her custom built AI assistant, but even "she" had taken a while to log the correlation. But that wasn't enough to warrant an official investigation into the problem as her boss would always respond "correlation doesn't equal causation", and that would be the end of her request.

"Clara, bring up the flightway tracking map"
"Certainly" the AI responded without a hint of hesitation and a holographic representation of the area to the side of Janet's vision. It seemed like a tiny copy of the city, with all the traffic in the flightway represented with tiny moving models of the vehicles.

Janet's own hoverbike appeared in the centre, and the map moved to show an even area around her.

"Switch view to grid section 6A8F"

The map complied and brought up the offending intersection.

"Everything's still normal" she commented to herself.
"Start recording"
"Recording has started" Clara responded flatly.
Janet didn't want to miss any spec of data that might help in reaching the end of the mystery.

Speeding along above the safe limit she was defined to reach the intersection in time, but it would definitely be close. Weaving in between traffic she gained ever more on the destination. And then with only moments to spare it came into view.

Janet clanced at the time, displayed above the handlebars of her hoverbike.
"It's gonna be close!"
It was very close indeed and Janet started counting down in her head until the fateful time.
"5...4...3...2...1…"
And then the power on her hoverbike cut.

The flightways were installed far above ground level, around 25 metres or so. A fall from that height would most certainly result in serious injuries, if not death. And as Janet began to freefall she suddenly began to ponder her possible fate. Would it be the same the office worker from a couple weeks back?

But with such a safety risk, comes safety measures. Such as the impact jacket Janet was wearing. On sensing her freefall it expanded pockets of fabric, inflating around her in a giant bubble of protection. And not a moment too late as she got the ground less than 2 seconds after starting to fall.

She hit the ground as safely as if she was stepping off the curb, albeit wrapped in a massive cushion of air.

Psssshhhhh!
The air deflated and the jacket repackaged itself over the course of a minute.it would require refuelling to use again but it had definitely saved her life. Never had she considered that an error would happen to her. She considered herself an outsider to the problem, but of course, as long as she was travelling in the flightway, there was just as much of a chance something could happen to her. Her parents had always said she was a risk taker but she felt she understood their concern more clearly this time.

Janet got to her feet and brushed off the dust. Not a single injury. Her hoverbike however didn't fare as well. A few feet from where she had hit the ground, it lay, totalled, twisted into a mangled shape that would fit well in any modern art gallery.

But now to find the cause.
"Clara, replay the last 30 seconds before the crash"



"Clara?"

Nothing but silence came from her headset. And then came the familiar reboot noise.

"Good morning Janet" it chirped cheerfully.

"Clara, replay the recording of the crash just now"

"There are no recordings taken in the last 12 hours"

"What! That's not possible! Open the recordings list"

At her command a screen appeared showing her files and recordings, and sure enough, there were no recordings.

Even if there had been a power surge or electrical failure, the recording up to that point would have been saved on the local hardrive, which, on Janet's person, had suffered no damage.

"Sync error detected. Updating to current time" Clara interjected. Again, another error that wouldn't just happen with a power failure.

Janet could feel her skin tingling. There was someone behind this, she was sure. Those files and even Clara’s memory had been deleted. Meaning - there was something there that was important enough to erase them. But there was always data that couldn't be erased, something that a standard AI wouldn't have built in, but a custom one such as Clara…

"Clara, open the internal logic command log"

A huge list of text appeared. To the average person it would just be a jumble of random letters and numbers.

"Filter by date - Last hour"
The list refreshed. Janet scanned the lines looking for something she didn't expect.

"Filter by type - external input"
The list shortened.

"Filter by command - file access"
"Filter - remove local and internal IP addresses"
And finally there remained one result, a jumble of instructions in AI internal logic code. Janet looked straight to the end. The command to delete the files - it ended with "60.20.222.13"
An external IP address! This was the first clue that would eventually lead to the capture of a leader of a terrorist organisation, far before their plans would be executed.

But that was in the future. For now Janet had a lead, and she would be sure that this one didn't lead nowhere. She opened up her communicator and dialed for a rental transport to take her back to her office. Her boss wasn't going to be happy about the hoverbike.


Thoughts:
I found it hard to write the mystery aspect, I couldn't get the tension when she fell from the air, and I couldn't think of any actual clue that she would find so I went with the IP address, but that felt super weak. I was hoping for a ["found you", she said with a smirk] moment where she solves the issue. So I fobbed that onto the narration, which in turn fobbed it off onto the readers imagination :P

Overall a lot of regrets that I take forward and hopefully make a better story next time.

Also interesting how I managed to churn this out, like just, bleh, on the train. Something in my brain I think has clicked for the first level of writing, finally. Perhaps the writing chapters of manga in my recent project has loosened up my writing muscles.
« Last Edit: May 24, 2021, 02:50:19 PM by Suuper-san »
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Re: Suuper's Short Stories
« Reply #3 on: May 27, 2021, 02:44:46 PM »
Well this was a strange one



Prompt: container, trash, sign, committed

One Man's Trash

Gracie scoured the scrapheap in front of her. She knew exactly what she was looking for. But if you asked her, she would find it hard to explain. It would be easier to ask what she was going to do with whatever she had collected. That was easy. "I'm making art!" Would come her enthusiastic reply.

Among the piles of wrecked cars, broken radios, worn down sofas, and almost anything else you could imagine, Gracie would search and find. Pieces of this, pieces of that. Gears and chains were always good. But when you've only got what you can find, sometimes you have to be creative.

It had started when she was young, playing with modelling clay, twisting and stretching it into marvelous fantastical shapes that only her 5 year old self would understand.

It wasn't so much the final form that interested her, but more the state of permanence. once the clay had dried, it couldn't be changed any more. It was almost as if it had chosen out of all the possibilities, that single one, and was set on living it's life as that shape form then onward. Only as she grew older would Gracie see a comparison in her own life, choosing subjects to study at school, on to university and finally settling in a job as an engineer.

She always wondered about all the other possibilities, in another life, she could have been a ballet dancer, a chef, a school teacher, a marine researcher, an astronaut, anything. She sometimes imagined a regret over not following those paths,but only because she had such a vivid imagination and interest in life, fuelled by evening documentary watching.

She didn't always have an interest in sculptures as she went through school, but on learning how to weld at university, she started practicing on scraps of whatever she was allowed to use, eventually adding her own artistic flair to her creations. By the time she left university she had filled her room with so many models it had started to fill out to her roommates' rooms much to their protests. She hated leaving them behind, but her parents,being very tidy by nature, weren't having her piling them up everywhere. She always regretted that,and told herself that once she had enough money, she'd move out and start making sculptures again.

Which she did.


Thoughts:
I wrote this on the train and ran out of time to finish it but the last line was bizzarely ending-ish so I left it there.

I think the content is well written, but there's not actually much story, it's almost all backstory and flashback, so as my mum said, it sounds like a clippet from a longer story and not really standalone on it's own.

Also also, I think I undersand why Lego keeps bringing up artists in his writing - you can't help writing about what you know. I made the main character a sculptor but in my head she was an artist.

I'm just gonna roll with these stories and see how much experience I can gain and how useful these will prove to be.
« Last Edit: May 27, 2021, 02:46:31 PM by Suuper-san »
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Offline Suuper-san

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Re: Suuper's Short Stories
« Reply #4 on: February 28, 2022, 03:40:25 PM »
Finally gave up on editing this. I'm sure there's plenty of mistakes I missed. Kinda just want to get it over and done with by now, I sorta hit my skill limit and it won't get any better now. I've got a long way to go before I feel confident with my writing.
Thanks for reading to anyone who does..

Just realised I can't copy and paste formatted text. I used italics for the characters thoughts vs. the narration. Use the link to read the properly formatted story here
Otherwise anything in present tense is the main character's thoughts, anything in past tense is narration.

The Choice in the Mirror

As I woke up my eyes were practically blinded by a bright light shining down onto me. Lying on my back in a bed, an unexpected ceiling greeted me. My thoughts were hazy and jumbled, but started racing. What happened? Where am I? The last thing I remembered...I was sitting at my computer in the main lab... someone was speaking to me...that’s as far as I could remember. Everything else past that was just...black.
“Oh! He’s coming round!”, a female voice chirped out of my view.
“Finally... he took his time.”, this time a male voice.
Both are voices I know well.
I pulled myself upright and saw my two colleagues looking eagerly back at me. To my left, Victorica, with her freckled face hiding behind glasses so strong they’d start a fire if the light caught them the wrong way. She was leaning towards me and nervously fidgeting. To my right, Derek, a tall, thin man who tried too hard to be cool but couldn’t ever quite make it work. He always looked out of place in a lab coat for some reason. Both of them sitting on very uncomfortable looking chairs.
As my eyes accustom to the bright surroundings I finally recognise where I am.
“What am I doing in the medibay?”
“You don’t remember? You collapsed from overworking yourself!” Derek smirked. It somehow looked like he was enjoying my demise.
“Don’t tell him what happened! I want to see what he remembers himself!” Victorica scowled at Derek who responded apologetically “Oh, sorry, yeah right, I couldn’t help it”
She continued with a flurry of questions
“Do you remember your name? How many fingers am I holding up? What’s the last thing you remember doing? How does your body feel? Is there anything out of place?
With each question she leaned more and more forward until she was leaning on the side of the bed, holding up three fingers.
I sighed at all the attention and answered the questions mechanically.
“Michael, three fingers, I was working at my computer, I feel fine...actually... I feel great”
The two looked at each other with joy that I was able to answer the simple questions, at least that’s how it appeared.
This time Derek leaned forward “Mike, my man, you’ve been pushing yourself too hard lately...we can’t have you getting ill like this”
“He’s right, he’s right!” Victorica echoed.
“But this project is far too important to be slacking! Every day that passes there are people we could have saved with this technology”
I suddenly nervously ask “wait, how long have I been out of it?”
They glance at each other and Derek answers, “uh...not too long, really” telling lies was not his forte for sure. “I’m serious, tell me how long. Not more than a couple of days, surely?”
There was a pause.
Victorica finally answered “a whole week, Michael. You’ve been out for 7 days.”
“The project’s been delayed that much!”
Both Victorica and Derek jumped forward to stop me the moment I pulled on the covers of the bed, trying to jump out and get back to work, but a tug on my arm caught my attention first. There was a tube connected to my arm. Looking back to the other end of the tube I see a packet of clear liquid hanging from a pole to the side of my bed.
“It’s nutrients - you couldn’t eat normal food while you were out of it” Victorica explained “you’d better keep it in until you eat a proper meal”
“You’ve got to stay put for the moment” Derek looked more serious now.
“You need to recover your health fully, or we’re gonna have you collapsing again”
I reluctantly settled down in the bed again. I finally notice I’m wearing a hospital gown. Was I seriously working that hard?
“What about the project?”
“it’s progressing just fine for the moment” Victorica replied, “In fact everyone’s been pulling together while you were unconscious and we’ve stayed ahead of schedule”
I was relieved to hear it. “Oh, that’s something positive, makes a change. We’ll be near completion at this rate”
“You’re far too optimistic about this, you know” Derek looked annoyed. “You’re always going on about how we’re going to save lives-” he gestured above his head to an imaginary sign “Complete limb regrowth! Any injury can be repaired, any organ replaced”
“Yeah...that’s the point” I replied
“Who do you think is going to benefit from it first? Grannies with bad hearts? Little kids in wheelchairs?” he asked sarcastically, and then to answer himself, “It’s the military, Mike, it’s soldiers, it’s wars! We’re gonna be patching up our men to go and die second deaths and then revive them all over again. Nothing good is going to come of it!” Derek paused to catch his breath. I’d heard this argument before.
“That can’t be helped! Every new technology has been used for military purposes. Even communication technology, phones, and the internet-“I was cut off.
Derek had also heard my response numerous times, but he seemed even more invested in denying my argument than usual. “How many people are going to die because of this technology huh? Have you thought about that? This is your project! It’s going to be your fault! And it’s not just organs and limbs...look at you! It’s entire-”
Victorica this whole time had been looking back and forth between us, trying to speak but not getting any luck with speaking up so far, but she finally managed to blurt out, “Derek! It’s not him! Well, you know, it isn’t him! It’s not his fault...”
Derek looked annoyed at Victorica for a split second and then regained his composure. “Ah, shoot, I’ve gone and done it again...sorry...”
“I’m sorry as well” I said, although I didn’t feel like I owned any of the blame.
No one had anything to say after that interaction, and a minute of silence ensued.
Derek finally broke the silence, “well here we are trying to keep you from working and we’re bringing the problems to you...we’d best give you a break now”
They both stood up, pushing their chairs to the side of the almost barren room.
As they turned to leave I looked around for my phone. “Have you seen my phone anywhere? Or my other stuff? Actually, can I have my lab coat as well? I feel stupid in this thing” I tugged at the gown.
Victorica nodded vigorously “Oh yes! We’ll get a fresh lab coat and a phone to you ASAP”
What was wrong with my old lab coat?
As they left the room, I noticed the scratching of my stubble against my neck “And my shaving stuff too? It’ll be in my room”
Derek gave me a thumbs up and a wink as the door closed. The walls and door were partially transparent and I could just make out their silhouettes as they walked down the corridor and out of view.
“Main lights! 50%!” I called out. The room obliged and lowered the lights to a “normal” level. My eyes would have burned out if they stayed at full brightness for much longer.

I got out of bed to stretch my legs. Dragging the IV Pole with me I paced up and down the small room a couple of times, and then reached as high as I could, getting the creaks out of my body. I guess if I was out of it for a week I must have needed the rest.
I feel pretty good actually.
An hour passed and I was pretty bored. I’d counted the tiles twice, and even worked out all the paths to cross between all of them without crossing a tile more than once. Am I so addicted to problem solving that I’m trying to make my own problems to solve? Actually, why do I have to stay in this room? I might as well be in my personal room, it’s more comfortable than this.
I felt pretty stupid walking around in a gown rather than my lab coat, but it wasn’t a long trip to the staff’s quarters. Around 30 members of staff were full on-site, and had their own room in the science facility. It made it easier to get an early start than having to commute.
The door opened automatically with a push of the button on the panel to the side. Looking at my IV Pole I decide to take it with me rather than pulling it out. I’ll leave that to the doctors.
I turn out of the room, and no sooner had I made it down the corridor when I heard a voice behind me
“Yo, Mikey, where you headin’?”
Derek stood there grinning with an armful of clothes. “I’ve brought you some stuff”. He looked extra proud of himself.
“Don’t call me Mikey, you know I don’t like that”
His face cracked into a grin “Ah of course - I mean, sorry, haha! “
“But you shouldn’t be walking about yet, you need to get your strength up gradually!”
“Look, I feel fine! You don’t need to worry about that”
Derek started pushing me back towards the medibay room. “I can’t have that! Vic’s gonna chew me out if I don’t take good care of you!”
“I can take care of myself-“My protests were met with nudges in my ribs as Derek kept prodding me forward.

I found myself back where I started. Derek had locked the door this time “for my own good”, and without my ID badge I couldn’t go “exploring”. I’m not some 10-year old on a school trip!
But at least I had some things to pass the time. First of all, a change of clothes. My track suited appearance didn’t look much of an upgrade from the gown but it felt a lot better. It was a pain putting it on with the tube stuck in my arm but I managed. I threw my lab coat around my shoulders like a cape. It helped to make me feel at home. Wait, does that mean I view work as my home? No wonder everyone thinks I work too much.
Derek had reliably got me a new set of shaving kit, with which I expeditiously removed the excess hair over my face. I had barely recognised myself in the mirror with so much stubble. It felt much nicer being clean shaven. I had asked Derek why they couldn’t just bring me my own stuff instead of new things, and he said it was something about keeping everything hygienic. Is it me or is everyone being extra careful with me?
I’d been given a tablet device with what I assume were games on it, knowing Derek, but I decided against spending more time with a screen, and sat back in the bed, opting instead to work on a half filled out crossword book which Angelica had reluctantly allowed me to borrow.
I went through the nearly complete puzzles and soon realised that what Angelica didn’t know, I certainly wouldn’t, and started at the back instead with some fresh ones.
The on-site doctor had come round too. She had been super polite around me too. I might be the leader of the project but I’m not her employer. After asking what felt like 100 questions and stealing some of my blood, she left me with a hospital style meal that made me wish I was eating cardboard instead. I mused about petitioning to raise the food budget at the next staff meeting.

The time passed quickly enough, and I was just getting hungry again when I heard a quiet tapping
At first I thought I had imagined it, but it was getting louder. It was mixed with a scuffling sound. Is it a rat? I sure hope not...the costs to clear this place of an infestation will be massive. I traced the sounds to the air vent by the ground. They were getting closer to the grill, and then suddenly silence. I held my breath in anticipation. Suddenly, a cough from the vent, and the grill flopped down onto the ground. I couldn’t believe my eyes as I watched a child climb out of the vent. Her clothes were dusty and scuffled from being inside the narrow tunnels.
She suddenly became aware of my presence, jumping away from me with her eyes darting about the room.
I didn’t know who was more nervous at that point.
“Are you sick too, mister?”
“Huh?” I was too mystified to answer the question.
“You’ve got an ivy pole, you only have that if you’re sick” she pointed at the wheeled apparatus at my side
“An IV Pole”
“That’s what I said!”
“W-where did you come from?” I stuttered out. Dealing with children wasn’t my forte, let alone mysterious ones climbing out of vents.
She pointed at the hole she had just crawled out of.
“No no no, why are you here? Who are you?”
“I’m Sammy! The doctors won’t let me leave so I escaped my room to explore!”
What is a child doing here, sick or not? This is a scientific research facility, not a hospital!
She walked straight to the door and pushed the release button, but nothing happened. She looked disappointed. “It’s not opening this time, huh...”
“It’s locked”
“So you’re a prisoner too huh, mister?”
“I’m not a prisoner, and I have a name, it’s Michael”
“You don’t look like a Michael”
“What do I look like then?”
She paused for a fraction of a second with her head tilted and then “Smith”. It must have been the first name she could think of.
“That’s a surname”
“Well that’s what you look like!”
Dealing with children is so exhausting...
So what’s wrong with you, mister?
“Nothing! I’m just resting for a bit”
“Uh-huh...”
Sammy stood on the bed, her eye level still lower than mine.
“The doctors won’t tell me what I’ve got, but they gave me an ivy thing too” she pulled up her top to reveal a pouch around her waist and proudly grinned “I kept pulling the annoying pipe out of my arm so they had to put it somewhere else!”
“Ah is that so...”
“I think I’m dying”
Up to this point I had been hoping she would go away and leave me in peace, but hearing such a dark comment from what appeared to be a healthy girl piqued my interest.
“What makes you say that?”
“I’m slowly becoming a ghost”
“wha-“
She held up her arm, pushing it into my face “look! If you look really hard you can see the light coming through! I’m going invisible bit by bit”
I pushed her hand away, “What a ridiculous thing to say, you’re not remotely invisible!”
“It’s true!” she jumped up and down on the bed in protest
“It’s true...” she mumbled to herself, getting off the bed.
On seeing the tablet she picked it up and pulling my hand to hold it up, “Look! I’ll prove it!” She turned on the torch and stuck her hand in front.
And to my surprise, right through the palm of her hand, the torch shone through. The light was dim but there’s no way light could shine through. Unless- no, that’s not even in the testing phase yet-
I mused out loud, “That’s one of the properties of the artificial limbs...we couldn’t get a perfect match for skin texture and had to balance the optical properties with its biological-“
“I don’t get what you’re saying!” Sammy pouted as if I’d let her out of the conversation.
How do I even explain it to a child?
“This facility...I mean, this place...we’re designing arms and legs for people who have been injured. So they can have brand new limbs. But they don’t look exactly the same as normal skin, it’s synthet- it’s fake skin”
She looked at her own hand in awe “and that’s what I’ve got?”
“Uh, you don’t know? Haven’t you been in an accident or something previously?”
Sammy scowled at me. “Why does everyone keep asking me stuff like that? Are you a doctor as well? I’m sick of everyone asking what I can remember! Asking if I know my name and stuff like that! I just wanna go home!”
 She teared up a little, saying quietly, “But I don’t remember where home is anymore!”
I can’t deal with crying kids. Please, stop crying.
“Fine, fine, I won’t ask anything, alright?”
Sammy crossed her arms, and didn’t reply.
But a flicker of light caught the attention of both of us. A shadow of a person approaching the door.
Sammy darted over to the vent. “I forgot! I shouldn’t be here!”
She crawled into the space with lightning speed, pulling the cover back over the hole. “See you later mister!” she lightly smiled at me as she disappeared.

The lock clicked of my door and Derek entered, looking grim.
“What’s up?” I asked.
He quickly glanced around the room, completely ignoring my greeting. “Where did she go?” he asked brusquely.
“Who?”
“Don’t play innocent, Michael. The girl. We know she was in here.”
Derek pointed at a camera in the corner of the room. “We saw everything”
He suddenly put his hand to an earpiece and stomped over to the grill, yanking it out. He looked down the small tunnel, but on seeing nothing turned his attention back to me.
“What did she tell you?”
“About what?”
“Look, just answer me straight.” Derek was being unusually gruff.
I had had enough of people acting strange around me to give him the answers he wanted.
“How about you give me some answers for a change, Derek? Why is everyone keeping things from me? Who is that girl? I’m the leader of this project! How come I don’t know about this test you’re running on that girl? How long has she had a replacement limb?! Who authorized testing on humans when we’re barely past the development phase?!” I was angry for what felt like the first time in a long time.
Derek smirked at me which only made me angrier.
“Answer me dammit!”
“You don’t know anything do you, thinking you’re in charge, what a joke! The truth is-“Derek paused and glanced to the side as someone was clearly talking to him over his earpiece “huh? No! I’ll say what I want!” He pulled his earpiece out, and throwing it aside continued his rant.
“I’ve wanted to say this for a long time! You and your stupidly optimistic beliefs have gotten us nowhere. The technology is far more advanced that you could even realise! Forget re-growing limbs! Why heal up injured soldiers when we can just outright grow new ones!”
I couldn’t believe my ears.
“Y-you mean cloning?”
Derek looked level at me. “Yeah, cloning.”
“But the research-“
“The research was completed long ago. Don’t believe me? Care to guess who the prototype was?”
You can’t be serious. The girl?
He took my silence as confirmation. “That’s right! You know Johnson down in IT? He had his cousin following him around for some sort of school trip. We knocked her out long enough to fully scan her, right down to the brainwaves”.
“That’s impossible. There’s no way I wouldn’t know about that technology existing-“
“Of course you wouldn’t! You’ve been out of the loop for so long-“
We both turned toward the direction of the door as a couple of security guards entered.
“Oh you can’t be serious! How much are you gonna keep him in the dark!” Derek screamed at the camera in the corner of the room. The guards went to grab his arms but he turned on his own to leave.
“Wait!” I called over their shoulders. “What will happen to Sammy?”
“Pffft! What does it matter, she’s a clone! Once we’ve done enough experiments she’ll be decommissioned.”
“You mean killed!” I called past the guard as he held me back. I tried to push by him and make eye contact with Derek walking out of the room.
Derek sighed. “I’m not having this conversation with you again, Mikey!”
“It’s the first I’ve heard of it!” I shouted back.
But the guard pushed me back into my room and locked the door before I could hear his reply.
I had no idea something had been going on like this, in my own laboratory! Why did everyone keep it from me?

I sat down on the bed, trying to sort out my emotions.
There’s no way I approve of all of this! Sammy felt far too real to be considered some sort of experiment that gets cleaned up when it’s finished. She’s a living breathing human being!
I looked up at the camera. Someone’s behind all of this. Someone’s watching my moves, preventing me from reaching the truth. What do they want from me? What have I been doing all this time?
The tablet on the bed lit up as I leaned against it. I glanced at the home screen of the tablet. Huh, strange, the date is off by a year.
But that was the least of my worries. If I wanted to get something done I had to take matters into my own hands. I’ve gotta get out of here.
I couldn’t take my chances that whoever was watching the camera would figure out what I was doing, so I went into the small toilet cubicle. It doubled as a sitting shower with the toilet lid down. How very generous with space. I looked around and after confirming there were no cameras in this tiny room. I had to get rid of the IV drip otherwise I wouldn’t be able to go anywhere in a rush. Peeling off the tape holding it in place I pulled the needle out. Come to think of it Sammy had an IV drip too.
I sat down on the toilet seat contemplating my next move. The door is electronically locked. I can definitely try to hotwire it, but I’d be seen by the camera. I can’t destroy the camera either, I’m sure that would alert people as well. Crashing through the wall is...probably not going to work .I entertained a few other spy-esque solutions that were all but impossible in my current situation - hacking the video feed to show a still image, climbing through the vents myself, and plain blowing up the door. What am I thinking?! I don’t even have explosives!
I looked at myself in the mirror. Come on Michael! You’re better than this! Are you going to let one locked door get between you and your ambitions?
Wracking my brain for a solution, I leaned back, looking up at the ceiling. Apart from the shower nozzle the only other thing there was a smoke detector.
Wait! Wait wait wait! I’ve been going about this wrong! I’m not in a jail cell, I’m in the medibay. What will happen if the fire alarm is triggered? As a safety measure - The doors should unlock themselves!
The next few moments felt like they took forever, but they probably happened very quickly.
I walked out to the bed and grabbed the tablet I had left there, and the knife from my previous meal plate which was still lying around.
Going back into the cubicle, I popped the case of the tablet, revealing its battery, which I unceremoniously stabbed with the dinner knife. After a hissing sound, the battery started spewing smoke as it got hotter and hotter. With it still wedged onto the knife, I held it up to the smoke detector, and within a second, the first alarm started sounding. It worked!
I rushed over to the door, giving it a hard yank. Nothing.
Then the ceiling sprinklers started spraying water in the room.
Still nothing from the door.
“Come on! Come on!” I willed the lock open as hard as I could.
Then a decisive click.
I fell backward as the door swung open without any resistance.
I rushed out of the room and ran down the corridor where other medibay rooms were. Sammy must be in one of these. The sprinklers were also active in the corridor and I was thoroughly soaked before even making it to the next door. I was also getting out of breath. I was a scientist, not an athlete, and that fact was starting to make itself clear.
“SAMMY!” I bellowed down the corridor, my voice almost being drowned out by the spraying sounds above my head.
“Mister? What’s going on?”
To my relief I saw her head poke out of one of the rooms just ahead.
I ran up to her and grabbed her hand. “Come on! We’re getting out of here! It’s not safe!”
She looked at me confused for a second and then yelled out excitedly “It’s a jailbreak!”
Children are far too good at adapting.
I expected guards to show up at any moment, and so we ran as fast as we could. What was the best route out of here? Should we just jump down the garbage chute? Take the stairs? The elevator?
While I was processing my many options, sure enough, guards appeared at the end of the corridor. “Looks like we’re taking the stairs!” We turned and ran back the same way, waving along the many corridors on this floor. Hopefully we’d lost the guards by the time we made it to the side of the building.
Sammy panted beside me, “what if there’s more bad guys?”
“There can’t be that many, it’s only a science facility!”. In fact, rather than hiring a lot of people, the science facility used a lot of technological security measures, such as only allowing access to rooms with a Chipped ID card. Something I surely wished I had with me as we reached a locked door. Behind this door was the stairwell, and ultimately, the exit of the facility. I hadn’t thought about where to go once we had got there. But it looked like the chances of even that were getting slimmer.
I picked up a fire extinguisher and using all my might threw it against the glass portion. It cracked a little but refused to break.
I could hear footsteps in the distance. They’d already caught up.
I pull the safety pin from the first extinguisher and aiming it at the glass I squeezed the trigger. The glass might be rated against heat, but it surely won’t be able to withstand the sudden drop in temperature. My suspicions were proved correct quickly enough, with a series of creaking noises and finally a shatter as pieces of the glass fell away from the frame. I pulled off my lab coat and threw it over the sharp edges.
I put my hands around Sammy’s waist and lifted her up to the gap. “Climb through, quickly!”
She clambered through the gap and landed on her feet with a thump on the other side. “What about you, mister?” she stood on her toes to see me.
I doubt I’ll be able to climb through that gap quick enough.
“I’ll be right behind you. Run down the stairs to the bottom and you’ll see a glass door that leads outside. There’s a button to open it. Once you’re outside, find somewhere to hide. I’ll find you when I get outside myself”
“You promise you’ll come?”
“Yeah, sure, I promise.”
I don’t think I’ll be able to keep it, though...
I heard Sammy’s footsteps as she ran down the stairs, getting quieter and quieter. At least she would make it to safety. I will have to take my chances with the guards.

I had already lost the element of surprise with a figure approaching me in the distance. But they didn’t look like a guard - they were wearing a lab coat. It doesn’t matter who it was at this point, I’d have to get past them if I wanted to escape this place. I grabbed the empty fire extinguisher as a makeshift weapon.
They were getting closer.
They weren’t running after me, just walking casually. With nowhere for me to run, there’s no need for them to chase me down I guess. But as the figure got close enough to recognise, my blood started boiling. It can’t be. That’s impossible!
I dropped the fire extinguisher in surprise. It clanged onto the concrete floor and rolled to the side.
And finally he was close enough to touch. I was face to face with... myself.
How could I miss all the evidence! I’m an idiot! It was all there plainly to see but I just never considered it!
“You- y-y-you-” the words barely made it out of my mouth for my rage and disbelief “you cloned yourself!”
Seeing my own face make such a self-righteous smile in front of me was ridiculous. And then hearing my own voice speaking. “I would have expected myself to catch on, but you sure took your time. Even with Derek nearly spoiling it. I’d hoped I’d be smart enough to figure it out quicker than that.
It was like looking in a mirror, like I’d just met an evil twin. But it was worse than that. I was a clone.
“Why did you make me?! What is this all about?”
The “other Michael” tilted his head. “If anything,” he mused, “That’s my line”
He continued “it looks like even the latest brain scan wasn’t enough to pick up short term memories. It looks like you’ve lost, what, 6 months, a year maybe? That complicates things a bit”
“A bit? Are you out of your mind? The ethics of cloning are far too complex to even consider such a technology, let alone developing it!”
“Hmmmmmmm... how should I explain it...” he searched for the right words.
“What do you take me for? Just explain it!”
“Believe it or not, I really did collapse from overworking about a year ago. I went into a coma for a few months. In that time my research was seized by the higher ups who assigned some clueless idiot to be the temporary leader of the project. They understood nothing of the project's complexities, and weren’t too ashamed to use underhanded tactics. By the time I was reinstated, Sammy had already been “born”. I had nothing to do with that. I’m still against it, as I’m sure you are”
“Ok let’s say I believe all of that, which I don’t. Why clone me if you’re so against it?”
“How do you think everyone would react if I started opposing the so-called decommission of the cloned Sammy? Everyone else who know about the project views it as a success, but they don’t see her as a person, just a resource”
“And you see her as a person, as a human?”
“As much as you do. We’re not that different after all”
“You still haven’t explained how I come into this”
“I needed help. Someone I could trust. Someone who would keep Sammy safe. I’m sure you know how many people I trust completely...” he trailed off
I knew all too well. “...only myself”, I finished his sentence.
“If I tried to do anything I would get kicked off the project, and then Sammy would get killed”
“So you needed someone to save her instead of you, and since I only trust myself, only I am good for the job”
“Precisely”
What a convoluted plan. Definitely only something I would think up.
“There’s also a massive side effect that I’m sure you’ll appreciate”
“How do you think the progress of cloning would be affected if a clone, say, went mad, set off the fire alarms, and escaped, taking with him the other clone, and, perhaps, destroying the research so far? I think it would make people think twice before attempting it again.”
“You’re willing to lose all the research just for her?”
“It doesn’t matter how many potential lives our research could save if it can’t save one real life right in front of us.”
“You’re damn right”
I thought my original had lost it but it appears we’re still on the same wavelength.
“You’ll be needing this”. He pulled off his ID card from around his neck and handed it to me. “I couldn’t stop you from taking it from me in a struggle. Clones are so dangerous”
This time I was the one smiling. “Alright, I’ll go along with your plan. It’s an excellent one, as expected of me”
“Looks like I’m really the only one who understands myself” he grinned. “Are you sure you don’t want the lab coat?” he pulled on the edges of his lab coat. “It’s a nice fit.”
“You were listening then?”
“No? But I know what you’d be thinking”
“You got me there. Thanks, but... I don’t think I’ll need it any time soon. I’m going to have my hands full with her. I gestured to the door behind me. ”
“You’ll have to lay low for a while, you’d better stay at-”
“-at that hotel on the outskirts? No one will search that far out of the city”
Original Michael let out a happy sigh, “as expected of me”.
We heard footsteps in the background. Looks like the guards finally caught up. They must have searched in every room before reaching here.
“Looks like our time’s up. I’ll keep them here for as long as I can.”
I turned to open the door when he spoke to me for the last time
“It’d be best if you changed your name as well, you might be able to fool the fingerprint and face scanners for a while but you’ll need a new identity eventually”
“Hmm. I’m thinking I’ll go with Smith”
Michael looked at me quizzically. “But that’s a surname.”
“Yeah...I know”




Thoughts:
Other than the quality, I'm pretty glad to have finished this. It's my longest complete written story yet, and finally gives a little insight into writing longer stories and the different issues I might face. Getting some nice EXP.
I’m annoyed because the idea seemed passable for a short story but ultimately my lack of skill made it dry and awful on execution. I basically had to follow the only route that I saw that would go through all the different plot points that I thought to Each was annoying and felt quite shoehorned, but meh I guess. There’s a lot of kinda vague plot points. Overall to me the story feels more like an idea in story form, rather than an actual story.
I think I was trying for a big reveal, but it fell short because of lack of foundation.
Also I had no idea for formatting the text for a novel, and so I sort of made up a pseudo-formatting style that looks passable, as long as it was readable I wasn’t too bothered by that. Hopefully it doesn’t make it too hard to read.
Definitely a good experience but I’d rather have worked slowly and built up some normal skill and experience before trying such a long story to completion. There’s quite a bit of stuff that isn’t mentioned but I could have, but I tried to keep the story simple without missing explanation where I felt they were appropriate. A difficult balance especially since I’m used to writing in script format and just randomly describing things ad hoc.
So many new things I’m learning here. Writing “in character” was super difficult as well, I didn't really understand the process or the personalities of my own characters. I hope I did it better justice than my manga though, I sort of felt I was in more control.
I think I dragged out too many hints about the big reveal that anyone reading this will probably guess it. Maybe no one guessed and it was a complete surprise. But I doubt it.
I also didn’t quite reveal as much of the technical side as I had designed which possibly made it sound like I was talking off the top of my head. That’s bad planning as well I guess. I feel like I rushed some sections and dragged out other boring ones.
The ending was very difficult and I'm not sure if ending where I did was the right thing. I don't think any following story would have been as interesting, and sort of leaving up to the imaginations of the reader was probably for the best.
I think I'd like to revisit this at some point and maybe rewrite it. But I daresay I won't :P
« Last Edit: February 28, 2022, 03:59:15 PM by Suuper-san »
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Offline TheEndisNotThere

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Re: Suuper's Short Stories
« Reply #5 on: July 29, 2022, 02:57:32 PM »
Hello Suuper-San,

I read your story "The Furnace."  I like your idea of the a manmade city being constructed to keep humans alive after a catastrophic event.  The idea of constructing something to solve a problem or set of problems that were self created always gives me a feeling of irony.

As I read through it, I did notice a few inconsistent parts of the story.

1) It is mentioned that the furnace needs to be running at all times of the day, but it is later mentioned that everyone takes breaks at the same time for the same length of time.

2) It is also revealed that he takes a second to wipe his brow, but is scrutinized immediately for doing so.  If there is no room for error or slowing of productivity, wouldn't there be some kind of hat/head covering made to maximize the amount of work someone can do without needing to stop.

I liked the story, and will continue to look through the others.

Offline Suuper-san

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Re: Suuper's Short Stories
« Reply #6 on: July 31, 2022, 05:17:47 PM »
@TheEnd thanks for reading! I appreciate it
as for your critiques:

1) it's a shift system, not literally every single person in the city has a break at the same time, but it's very regimented was what I was trying to say. So after their shift another set of workers will take over.

2) in an ideal world yes, although it's semi alluded to that this isn't quite a utopia, so there's plenty of room for improvement, such as equipment etc. I sort of had the idea that the equipment is well worn, as they are limited for resources to replace/repair or create new equipment.

I look forward to any other feedback you have, it helps me to grow!
Art: Manga / Fanart / Requests (closed) / Other Art | Manga Stories & Projects
Other Stuff: Tutorials / Craft / Cosplay | Feedback & Critique Welcome!