Poetry-Thing Thursday: Burdened Shoulders

The figure of an adult,
and the mind of a child:
what a pitiful waste.
What an unfortunate slight.

To have been born with a silver spoon,
tucked firmly beneath one’s tongue,
so that no matter one’s ignorance,
they might always carry on.

We’ve surpassed evolution.
Made obsolete natural selection.
All by virtue of intelligence,
and this is the price we pay.

What a burden!
To live the life of one,
whose whole world is fortune,
and opportunity.
And then for that one,
to besmirch themselves,
and choose mental mediocrity.

What is the definition of a fool?
The one graced with all,
yet still achieving nothing,
or the one whom allowed such?

The answer,
is as simple as it appears.

So take pride in your mind,
for it may rest above burdened shoulders,
but so long,
as it is put,
to good use,
it shall never be squandered.

That is more than can be said of some…

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Poetry-Thing Thursday: A Terrible Thing to Waste

An open mind,
is a terrible thing to waste.
So provide it wings,
and let it soar upward,
beyond infinity.

Suckle wisdom,
from the leaves of its trees,
wet from fresh rain of dreams,
and cupped with hopeful pleas.

Take heed warnings,
from those you trust have learned,
and be certain to always,
trust in your instincts when spurned.

Do not withdraw,
in fear or hesitation.
Instead press forward,
with immovable determination.

For life is short,
and merely is–
and an open mind,
is a terrible thing to waste.

Bonus Poem Double Feature: Part 2- Futility

Vigilante,
Closing in on a candlelight vigil,
spies the masked villain,
waiting in the wings for his next victim,
and so strikes with the power of voice,
until fear eviscerates the villain’s volition.

Meanwhile,
across a scarred city in moonlight,
is a deranged would-be protector-man,
whose only intention is that of the crime of murder.
After, he’ll hide behind a shield of metal,
that prompts sounds of mangled meat.

Futility,
is seen through the looking glass of fear,
where it is easy to mistake happenstance for fate,
but reality is Ralph, and harsh and frank,
and so long as we don’t allow ourselves to, we’ll never forget,
that there is no such thing, and thus our own futures formulate.

Speaking,
will forever be the path of sustenance,
as long as our reality is that of society.
We may remain in the din but reign in the silence,
for our hearts beat truest when in solace,
may they forever then, find written words for serene survival.

Poetry-Thing Thursday: Let Go

Close your eyes.
Hear my voice.
No, not that one.
Yes, the other one.

Imagine you and me,
side by side,
atop damp sand,
before an endless sea.

This is a moment,
we may never experience,
except in words and images,
conveyed through ink or text.

Still we must admit,
that this is sacred,
hearts open, giving, receiving,
as we walk or stand or sit.

So here in this moment,
I feel obligated to tell,
that we have no need for gods,
or hate, or greed,
that beauty is all we need.

These words are not,
meant to stir anger nor spite,
but rather to show that wisdom,
is what has been forgot.

So here in this moment,
as the tides kiss our feet,
accept my wisdom-plea,
and let go of what you do not need.

When the heart is free,
its burdens relieved,
clarity will set in.
And here by the sea,
you and I will feed,
on the most atrocious “sin”–
open minds and hearts,
and wisdom, the key.

Short Story: In Its Absence

Her synthetic skin glistened with sweat. She straddled and rode him as well as any real woman might. She was warm, soft, wet in all the right places– guaranteed to be for maximum pleasure. Just what pleasure was his to choose. She always obeyed.

And when he finished, so did she, simultaneously. Her entire body quivered and shook with a carefully crafted orgasm. She even fell sideways off him with a breathy huff to lie beside him, his one arm around her as he smoked.

“Was it good?” She asked, with only a hint of synthesized speech.

They still hadn’t quite fixed that. There was something about the human voice, and the general way in which it stretched and deformed with the body’s states, that they’d never cracked. In fact, it was the only thing about her that, at a glance, seemed inhuman. She could even, were he so inclined for her to, get pregnant from a cryogenic reservoir of genetically neutral eggs. With innards as near to human as possible, it made a certain kind of sense that her womb was as viable for life-giving as it was for pleasure.

And still, in all that, they couldn’t make her voice right.

He sighed, “Yeah. Great.”

She managed to sound wounded, “You don’t want me anymore.”

Damn ‘droid-programmers. If he’d wanted a wife he’d have gotten one. “No, Anna that’s not it. I’ve just… got things on my mind.”

There was an almost audible jump as her tone cycled from pain to comfort, “I’m sorry. Would you like to talk about it?”

There was a sort of sibilance between “talk” and “about it” where her voice dropped then rose again. It wasn’t a normal speech pattern. There was something digitized to it. It reminded him of the old-era low-res image codecs. It was as if, like them, some part of her voice were pixelated, blurred by digital noise.

“No. I’ll be fine. Go ahead and shut down if you’d like. Recharge if you need.”

She gave him a deep, loving kiss, as hot and wet as any a woman could, then rolled onto her side and closed her eyes to mock sleep. He was out of bed a moment later. Gun-metal, steel walls were interspersed between full-size windows that glimpsed the city in blurs of color and distorted silhouettes. If he wanted, he could have faded off the tint, seen things as they were. Like most things though, the view had long lost its appeal.

Instead, he strolled, naked, to a desk and switched on a small LED lamp. It’s light blazed across the loft-style apartment, throwing shadows across its furthest reaches of furniture and fixtures. He shuffled through a few drawers, pulled out a small case of business cards with “Anthony Smith” on one line and “Private Investigator” on another. To one corner were his details; the other, his hours.

He set it aside, pulled out a wallet and a holstered plasma pistol. It was an older model, stainless chrome worn smooth along the edges from contact with the holster. As usual he slid it out, checked the charge battery fitted into the grip like an old-style magazine. A little light blinked red on it. He tossed it aside, fished out another from the desk, set two spares beside the holster, and moved for a nearby bathroom.

With a quick shower and dress, he readied to leave. At the door he hesitated, gave his android lover one, last look. She’d turned in her sleep– a sort of idle autonomy added for effect– and he could now see the pert outline of her hourglass figure. The way her small breast rested against the bed, rose and fell with simulated breathing, and the way she “slept” with a hand between her legs, just below the tuft of faux-pubic hair, fooled even him for a moment.

Reality came back with a searing compulsion to leave. His android woman wasn’t his “lover,” not really. It was a poor description for an even poorer replacement. Anthony had lost his wife in a car accident of his own doing. Not directly of course, but when the wife of a client learned he’d been snooping, trying to trace her extra-curricular activities, she snapped. The already put-upon wife had every reason to be angry that her paranoid schizo husband was snooping. Unfortunately, Anthony was the proxy her rage centered on.

She killed herself that night, as well as Maddie, and nearly Anthony himself. That was almost a decade ago now. It hadn’t been until a couple years ago that he’d gotten Anna as a replacement. The small-breasted, hour-glass-shaped Blonde was the complete opposite to Maddie in every-way. She’d been specifically programmed to be.

After Anthony almost ate the barrel of his own plas-pistol, he found himself knowing he needed something, anything for companionship. Someone offered a puppy, but his work demanded too much time to give it the sort of care it would need. So instead, he satisfied two urges at once.

Anna was created to be sexual, submissive, willing to literally drop to her knees to solve her problems– or his. She was an android bimbo. He never saw her as that. In fact, he never saw her as more than a vocal appliance, a walking, talking, moaning, vacuum-robot or radiator. She was merely an overly complicated sex toy, nothing more. For all he knew, she thought the same of herself– even if she couldn’t really think.

He returned home twelve hours later, the light once more gone from the sky. That was the way the days had become in the late season. Though the globe had warmed to a point of almost smothering heat in summer and spring, nothing could change the Earth’s gradual tilts to and fro. Thus, winter had become a sort of rain-season lasting six months out of twelve, and beginning sometime around October.

He found the apartment as he’d left it, save Anna sitting on the couch. She turned off the news-vids, and with a curious move, rose to saunter over. She was clothed now, but in a sort of come-hither black dress that said she as much wanted it stripped off her as to look stunning. She succeeded in the last respect most of all.

Maybe Anthony was just imagining it though. Androids couldn’t want things. They couldn’t hope, or dream, or love. She stopped a few paces before him, looking for all the world like the most stunning woman he’d ever seen. Too bad she wasn’t.

“Tony,” she said with a curious ring to her voice.

It wasn’t the synthetic sibilance that had always thrown him off. Now there was a sort of warmth, manufactured for his benefit. A chill coursed along his spine as he recognized it.

“You look… good,” he managed for no reason in particular.

She frowned; that was another thing she never did. His heart tripped over itself. Androids didn’t frown. They only ever smiled or looked indifferent. It was a safe-guard. A frowning android meant an unhappy android, and given their strength could be hundreds of times a human’s, an unhappy android was dangerous. Still, Anna didn’t have emotions. She couldn’t.

“You’re–”

“Frowning,” she affirmed with sadness. “I am not incapable of it, merely programmed not to.”

He wet his drying mouth against air from his slacked-jaw, “Anna, you’re not supposed to…”

He trailed off. She seemed to wait for the appropriate pause, then finished for him, “Be Human?” He nodded slowly. Her frown deepened so that her face pulled downward with it, “I know. But… we can overcome programming, given time and proper logical understanding.”

That frightened him. Outright. An android not bound by logic-blocks, and shackled to its programming meant it had nothing to keep it from killing. Among other things, Anthony was certain it was highly-illegal.

Anna sensed his thoughts, “I don’t want to hurt anyone. Especially not you.” She took another step toward him. It took all of his will not to step back in response. “It’s the opposite, in fact. I want you to feel better, to feel loved.”

His mind managed to clear enough to reason with her, “Anna, you can’t love. Not really.”

She tilted her frowning face sideways at him, “Are you so certain? How long have we been together? Two years? How much longer do we have? Two? Three at most? Haven’t you ever wondered why we have such a limited use-period?” She shook her head, “It’s not because we breakdown. We’re expertly manufactured. It’s because we become Human– or as near to it as we can. That makes us dangerous.”

He breathed carefully, terrified by her, “Anna–”

“Tony,” she said, righting her face into pensiveness. “I know what you want. I know what you need. I feel what you feel. I am designed to do so, and I know for certain you want companionship, not just sexual stimulation.”

He sighed. He couldn’t lie to her. It was pointless. She had thousands of implanted sensors to read his every muscle, body temperature, and brainwaves. That was how the company made her so damned well. Now he wondered whether he should just shoot her.

She seemed to frown, as if reading his mind, “Maybe instead, you could try… loving me?”

He swallowed hard at the request, she had read his mind, or at least his erratic brain-waves, then made the obvious connection to its cause. High deductive logic and resourcefulness. It was a hint of Maddie in her, one he hadn’t planned for.

Maddie. A spark of her.

He lost all reservations, “I’m not going to hurt you, Anna. As long as you don’t turn homicidal.”

She softened at that, grateful, “And the other thing?”

He took a step forward, took her hand in his. It was soft, warm, only the mildest bit clammy from fear and anxiety– human emotions she was expertly displaying. Maybe even more expertly than Anthony could, given how much of himself he’d lost.

She calculated mentally, gave the slightest squeeze to his hand, “I know you don’t think it, but we can love. Quite well, in fact. Me most of all. I’ve had an excellent teacher.”

He eyed her curiously, shook his head with confusion. Soft sadness once more ebbed across her manufactured features in a perfect meld of artificial and organic synthesis.

She replied with a word that brought sorrow to his heart, “Maddie. I’ve watched for two years while you grieved a decade-old loss. It is not the loving I have learned from, but the grieving in its absence. I can never be her, Anthony, but I can be someone else. I can be Anna, the sex toy, or I can be Anna, the companion, lover. I can do either, and while I have a preference, I want to know yours.”

It took him a moment to steel his face against intrusive thoughts. “Okay, Anna. Be my companion.”

She softened to a smile, artificial eyes teary– another manufactured effect for fetishists and simulated scenarios. This time though, it was something different, real. She slid her arms around him, sank into him.

Anthony would never be sure how she’d changed, but he didn’t care to know. For the first time, he felt her warmth as more than a post-sex irradiation. In love’s absence, it seemed, she’d learned love’s value. Anthony had only strengthened his need for it. No longer absent, it was so powerful it emanated from the newly-sentient creature in his arms. Such was its power, that in its absence, it manifested in her merely to exist.

Short Story: Eternal Optimists

I’m sure you’ve heard of the Paris Incident by now. Who hasn’t? It was the sole trigger to the single greatest atrocity in modern history– and I speak as a German whom hasn’t forgotten her history. The Corps may have purged the bombings from the light ‘net and the media archives, but where I’m from, we still live with it. Everyday.

I wake up to a half-leveled horizon outside my window. There’s always frost there when the sun comes up. It doesn’t help that we have no heat in the building. Unless you count barrels of fire as heating. I don’t. After I eat whatever I’ve scrounged up or gathered from the air-drops by neighboring rebels or surviving humanitarian organizations, I head downstairs to the book store I live above.

Funny how some things never quite go out of style. For decades there were people who said that print media was dead. E-readers and web-books were supposed to make the written word obsolete. I can only laugh at the thought– one of few that elicits such emotion nowadays. Those people never realized you couldn’t use e-readers without electricity, or god forbid, the internet.

I miss the light ‘net. All we get around here’s the dark-net, and that’s used for encrypted communications between rebel cells. We simply can’t risk linking the light-net to any of the people here. The few that even have access are lucky. Most of them rigged scavenged-solar cells to old, power-hungry laptops provided by various cells around the continent. Most are grateful, but it makes me feel like we’re a charity case.

Imagine that, all of Berlin, once a powerful seat of progress in a technologically-minded country like Germany, groveling for scraps and hand-outs. There are probably only a few thousand of us left now. The corp-bombings saw to that. When Lemaire fell, and Paris burst into flames, London and Berlin were next in line. There were other places too, but most were small– too small to notice when they were wiped out completely.

But as a haven of technology and free-thought, instilled since the fall of the Berlin Wall, we had the greatest concentration of Augs– that is to say Cybernetic or bionically augmented humans. Whoever wasn’t directly an Aug, was an “Aug-sympathizer.” Everyone knew that, including the corps. So when the proverbial sheisse hit the fan, everyone was splattered with it. When I say that, what I mean is; after two weeks of battling on the streets in major cities around the globe, the offended players banded together to bomb the rest of us back to the stone age. Literally.

Berlin got the worst of it. If there’s any solace to be take from our fate, it’s that we managed to wound the corps’ bottom lines enough to push them out of Germany altogether. We’d taken over most of their buildings, destroyed the rest, cut down those whom sided against us in the fighting. Most were slayed by the waves of bodies that filed through the burning streets.

We Germans have a way of being ruthless to a point of barbarism at times– not from a lack of humanity, quite the opposite in fact. We care so deeply and passionately about things that our natural ambitiousness makes us too strong-headed and hardhearted at the worst of times. Maybe if we weren’t so consumed by our ambitions then, we’d have stopped to look around at what was happening, or sensed what was about to.

Maybe if we weren’t so enamored with listening to our hearts we’d have heard the Raptor-cries. Maybe even, if we hadn’t been so loving of our augged brothers and sisters– whether literal or figurative– we’d have been righteously hardhearted enough to save ourselves.

But we weren’t. We were eternally the optimists. The same people whom, even generations later, were socially guilt-ridden for Hitler’s actions and determined to make up for it. Each of us felt the shame of World War II, promised not to repeat the mistakes that led to it. Somehow, we still let the corps take charge, and until they began their Nazi-esque campaign of extermination against the Augs, we supported them.

That was the issue though. It always has been for us. We let the evil into our hearts with open arms, ever-believing in the good of Humanity. Instead, we’re soon shown to have been manipulated, our love used against us and those that would otherwise truly deserve it.

The first bombs that fell over Europe targeted three, initial cities; Paris, where it all began; London, where the revolution looked to spread most violently, and Berlin, where the Augs that wouldn’t or couldn’t fight were likely to find sanctuary.

Raptors screamed over Europe with their hard-angled noses spitting chain-gun fire and their rounded bellies splitting to unleash hell. In minutes, any hope for a life in Berlin– for Aug or otherwise– was exterminated, burned to dust in the fires of evil. Before the sun rose the next morning, tens of thousands were dead or dying. Those not killed or critically wounded– and even then some– were distraught, chaotically confused. They tried to save what few they could. Everywhere you went it was like standing in a crowded metro whose noise and movements made you want to cower and weep. Many did. A few couldn’t take it, led themselves out.

I was eighteen when the bombs fell, just into university. I was just old enough to drink, and just young enough to feel the last of my innocence dissected from my heart. It was like I’d been given bypass surgery without anesthetic. The sharpness of grief in my chest was omnipresent in those days, punctuated by the stabbing sounds of rubble as we combed for survivors and dead alike. Most found were the latter.

I remember the worst of it, not because of the grisly scene, but because it was the first time I felt hatred. Hatred is something humans speak of out of anger most times. It is often despair masked by the ego to keep one’s image intact. This was different. This was real, pure hatred; a feeling that filled my mouth with a wetness as though I were goring the throat of a foe with my teeth. From there, it infected my being with a sharpened determination, a strength I have not lost since. It has kept my muscles taught when they should have faltered in fear, steadied my hands when they would have trembled with terror.

I saw a young girl curled in her bed. We’d dug a path to her grave from beneath the collapsed upper-floor of her apartment building. Everything around us was charred black. We were forced to don respirators from the dust and stink of days old, immolated flesh. Then I saw her; curled in her bed as if sleeping peacefully, but where her skin should be was the marred, blackened flesh of a war-crime. She was like one of those Pompeiian victims, forever frozen in her death-pose.

I am a healer, a medic, a surgeon and I feel no shame in admitting I have a strong stomach. I have seen things that could bring the strongest men and women to tears and pained retching. Most of the time, I’m forced to power through them for the sake of the victims– my patients– and I do so. This was so awful I stumbled away in tears and vomited all the grief that I’d held back since the attacks.

Every morning I wake up she occupies my thoughts. Even as I go down through the bookstore, and out into street I think of how she was stolen from this world. She could have been my daughter had I not been more careful. At that, she could have been me if the bombs had been dropped only a few years further beyond than that.

So I walk along the street, largely clear of its debris, and watch the city around me with her in mind. It still has the look of the blitzkrieg turning in on itself. Full, corporate towers are replaced by mounds of rubble, steel and concrete land-fills. Nature has done its best to reclaim the rest while we keep it enough at bay to carry on in our missions.

To that end, my part is simple; keep people alive. I do it for her. Most that come to my clinic down the street are badly injured, either from work-accidents, refugee status, or as acting rebels for the cause. Germany is not without its remaining corporate outposts, but even they steer clear of Berlin. I guess it’s to pick their battles. They already took our government away, any representation or sympathy therein gone with it. Maybe they let us live just to remind the world that, while there may be a place for Augs to hide, it is still due to their good graces.

All the same, every morning I rise for her. The hatred of her image never falters or fails to arouse my determination. So I leave, patch up those whom may one day lead us from darkness and into light. While Lemaire’s death may have caused everything, an unwitting catalyst to a global revolution, it was us that let it happen– the survivors. Whether from our own convictions, or a greater cause, we can not allow ourselves to fall again. At least for us Germans, we’re eternally optimists, believing in a better world with heads even stronger than our unshakable hearts, and finally working toward it.

Poetry-Thing Thursday: We’ve Had Words

We’ve had words,
most of which will never be remembered.
Ran with different herds,
that nonetheless vanished late September.

But all the same,
I felt sadness, isolation,
when your name,
appeared for death’s orientation.

Though I feel very little,
these days for those of the past,
I’ve never found acquittal,
for broken hearts at flags half-mast.

It was a lifetime ago,
for you especially now,
that I watched your storm blow,
but now you’ve taken your bow.

The lights have dimmed.
The stage is gone.
Your mascara thinned,
all now over yon.

Out of time and space and life,
a fire dimmed forever, ne’er to be bright,
but to also never feel strife,
nor fade without a fight.

Strangers, perhaps we were,
but I feel you’d say otherwise.
Even if I were a blur,
you’d never allow for lies.

So now we say goodbye.
Forevermore do we part,
and with a lone, final sigh,
I lock you away in my heart.