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romero
November 24th, 2010, 05:30 AM
When I climbed to the top of the sulphour tower and stared out at the industrial wasteland, I cried. Not because of the waves of gray and rusty smoke stacks
as far as the eye could see, but because the air up here hurt my eyes.

It was poison. The whole world was poison. And I was the last person left alive to know it.

The sky was dark gray, and the brightest light of day was still lit - like a thin white-death shroud pulled tight across the earth.

The machines and the silos and the smokestacks stretched as far as the eye could see and beyond. A flash of lightening struck out across the horizon and hit
a huge pump, that worked and worked like a rippling bicep. The lightening had no effect on it and the pump continued to flex and flex.

I could hear the ever present clanking and clonking of the un-manned machines below. Quieter now than they once were. But still working.

It was a month since the CancerMAn got my old man.

Climbing back down took a lot longer. A fine, pissy rain had descended like mist, obscuring my vision, and making my footing uncertain. By the time I got to
the bottom it was dark.

I fell the last few feet, and landed in the dirt, coughing. I was flat on my face. When my eyeysight adjusted to the darkness and the pain, I almost laughed.

There was another one of those green things in front of me. Same as the one I showed my Da the day he told me the CancerMAn had his number.

"What's that?" Da had said

"I dunno," I'd toyed with the thing I held in my hand. It was green and soft, and shaped like an angel's wing. "I pulled it off this thing I found stuck in the ground."

Da had laughed so hard that he coughed, digging in his pocket for his tobacco pouch.
"Son, you know what that is? It's a fuckin' plant." He had rolled a gasper superquick, and had it in his mouth. "Time was -- this was a long, long time ago, mind -- that they used to be everywhere."

His face was a death mask of fear and wonder in the yellow light of the match as he lit his ciggarette.

"The whole world was green." He breathed smoke. "Greener than a whore's vag."

He broke into another coughing fit, and sprayed the plant red with his blood.

"Aww," he breathed, blood trickling down his chin and staining his already grimy shirt with his life fluid, "Jesus Christ on a long pointy stick, the CancerMan's got me number......."

I lay there on the dirt for a long time watching the rain puddle in the crevice of one the plant's angel wings, and then fall to the floor.

A metalic foot crunched down on the plant, crushing it to mulch before moving on.

It was a machine man, a rusted and spastic metal skeleton. It moved by in jerky erratic movements, spark's shooting from its head. I watched him for a while, before he started turning in circles, then dropped, smoke rising in lazy waves from it's head.

Time was, I woulda fixed it. But I'd flung my toolbelt away after Da died. No point fixing them anymore.

Like my Da had said, as he lay on his death bed, wasting:

"They fix those--" he'd pointed out the window at one of the smokestacks "we fix them --" he nodded at a lifeless puppet of a broken machine man in the corner "but no fucker fixes us!" He jabbed a finger viciously into his chest, starting him off on one of those crazy coughing fits.

He'd died not long after, wasting away to nothing, less than nothing. He was the last of them. My mother, gran, and the handful of other fixers: they've all gone the same way.
I am the last standing.

It's the job of the fixers to fix the machine men who wander around making sure that the greater machines still tick over. I'm not sure why we fix anymore, we've been doing it for generations.

But it's easy enough, I suppose. Most the machines do is usually blow a fuse, or trip a switch. Usually just a slight hardware or software replacement.

We may have forgotten to build the machines, or why they run, but their simple enough to fix.

Eventually I stand up. I'm soaked with mud by now. I lift my head to the rain and open my mouth for a gulp of sooty water. This doesn't slate my thirst so I go to a dispenser and press the button for Cola.

It pops out with a clunk, and I drink it down.

I remember the time, when their were more of us, and the Old Ones would tell us stories about the world. I remember telling my Da that I was gonna leave the Industry and explore the world and see all the marvelous things that there were out there.

Da had laughed, and indicated the shape of a ball with his hands. "The Industry is the world, son. This whole, filthy, kingdom of rust is all there is. It spreads to infinity and beyond."

He seemed sad then.

"What the Old One's won't tell you is that long ago we killed the Earth with our machines. Then we had to build new ones to keep it alive."

He lit another ciggarette, and absently kicked a machine man skull so that it bounced off the base of silo with a hollow clang.

"Then the machines killed us -- a slow, poisonous, death. There's nothing left now but the CancerMAn. The machines. The machine men, and a handful of dwindling fixers."

I've walked a few miles and now the rain is beginning to thin out. It's dark now. Wherever the sun is beyond those clouds it's moved on, like everyone else.

I see a tangle of dead machine men like a heap of broken bones. Looks like sometime long ago, some fixers musta heaped together a bunch of them that were beyond saving - after taking any useful spare parts that is.

But what interests me is what's growing out of them, in them, around them. They're choked with plants, and angel wings stretch and bristle everywhere.

I'd never seen that much colour in my life. On some of the plants there are these weird yellow things that look like uniquely folded paper.

I haven't smiled since the CancerMAn took my Da, but today I'm beaming. And my cheeks are wet with tears.

Somewhere high above me there's this rustling sound. I look up and I see this....I don't know what it is. It's small, gray, stringy, and covered in feathers.

It's making these cooing sounds. I turn toward it and it flaps its wings and takes flight, soaring around a towering smokestack and off into the darkening sky.

I keep walking. I ignore the machines. I'm looking for life.

Sir.
November 25th, 2010, 09:53 PM
I don't know what to say, you've built a whole new world and its, well amazing. Really enjoy the memories of conversations and the new descriptions of recogniseable objects. Its a little like you have built some dramatic irony into the prose by putting the story in the future. keep writing, I'd love to see where this goes :)

ex-cession
November 30th, 2010, 11:29 PM
try more imagery. what does this landscape look like? how tall is the tower? not in metres and centimetres, but compared to something the character would be familiar with. is there anything in the distance he can see from the tower? what does the sky look like? what does the father look like? what clothes are they wearing? what was the rest of the family like?
the storyline youve covered here could be riddled with other events and stretched out across half a novel. the idea is fantastic in its simplicity, but you just need to spend a while inside your own head, imagining this place and writing it down. make the reader feel like he's there.