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View Full Version : A Ride on a Train [~1200 Words, Sci-Fi, 2nd person attempt]



Andrew Styles
July 29th, 2015, 04:07 PM
Here's a short Sci-FI story I wrote for a writing class. The prompt was to write about a current issue, but not directly. It's actually a bit heavy handed, but it was fun for sure. Any critique is welcome, I may revise it and run it in a Podcast.

A Ride on a Train



The train pulls up to the station, stopping with a slight hiss. It’s chrome exterior sparkles in the low morning sun, imprinting spots onto your eyes. The automatic doors slide open, and a tide of people pour out of the train, and into the station. A sea of grey suits and briefcases envelop you as you wait to board the train. No one talks. It’s all strictly business. Everyone has places to go, and not enough time to get there. A few seconds pass before the torrent subsides, and you step onto the train, and take your usual seat by the window. The other, grey suited passengers surround you, and soon the train is at capacity.

“The doors are closing,” a soothing female voices says over the loudspeaker. “Please stand clear.”

With a hiss the doors slide shut, locking into place with a metallic clunk. The train begins to move forward, its magnetic wheels propelling themselves across the track that hangs high above the city, weaving through buildings and clouds like a string let loose. It rises and dips, like a roller coaster, weaving it’s way through the shining metropolis.

You take your briefcase, and place it lightly on your lap. Entering in the code on the touchscreen on top of it, the latches open with an almost inaudible click, and the case swings open, revealing the multitude of papers located inside. The train picks up speed, and you begin to fill out the forms in front of you, your motions machine like. You let your mind wander.

The only sounds on the train are the scratching of pens, the slight hum of the train, and an occasional cough. Everyone around you is dressed the same: grey suits, grey pants, black shoes. The men wear black ties, and the women have their hair in tight buns above their heads. Everyone is either absorbed in paperwork, like you, or looking out the window as the tops of building whir by, their spires jutting above the low hanging clouds like needles in the vast blue expanse.

Ever so gradually, the train begins to tip downward, descending towards the next stop, which lays on the ground of the city below. As if on cue, the passengers who were looking out the window turn to their briefcases, and begin to read or fill out paperwork or stare emptily at their laps. Anything to avoid looking out the window.

Thirty seconds or so pass, and the train levels out. Down on the surface, the building that tower high block out the sun, plunging the streets into a perpetual twilight that deceives the eyes and plays with the shadows in every street corner and alleyway.

The streets on this level are covered in trash, and the apartments and shops that surround you are beat up and cheap. This is where they live.

The train continues, its tracks running parallel to the street. None but the poorest people live down here with the Bots. Eventually, the train stops with a hiss. The train station, if you could even call it that, is decrepit. Consisting of nothing but a few benches, and a large train route plastered to a nearby apartment, the entire place is covered top to bottom in spray paint graffiti, like a collage of civil disobedience. Sitting on the bench is a trio of Bots.

Their metallic bodies reflect what little light there is down here, and their formless heads turn and look at the train. One of them stands up, it’s female form in perfect mockery of a real human. “She”, for lack of a better term, waves to the other two on the bench, and boards the train.

The train manages to become even quieter when the bot steps on. Not a single person moves. You continue to fill out the form in front of you. The bot doesn’t deserve what little attention it’s getting as it is.The only seat that is available is at the front of the train, right next to the electric generator. It’s small, silver, and it makes the hairs on your arms stand up. There’s a reason no one chooses to sit there. The bot walks over to it, passing right by you. You find yourself tensing up as it does.

The bots are harmless: their creators programmed them to be that way. But even so, they’re not quite right. They’re less than lower class. Less than human.

Designed to be cheap workforce, the bots were originally little more than glorified slaves. As their creators made new models, they became smarter and smarter. People like you became untrusting, and stopped using them. Communities began to form among them, much like the one the train is in now.

Now they’ve been forced onto the ground level. As the human’s empire pushes higher and higher into the heavens, the bots are being pushed farther and farther away.

The bot sits down, the train began to roll, and you continue to do your paperwork.



A few stops later, and the train is back on the ground at another station. The bot by the engine has not moved. She only sat, motionless, staring at the wall. You wonder for a moment what goes on inside their perfect chrome heads. “Do they think?” you wonder, “Or do they just shut down?”

You shake your head. Who are you kidding, they’re incapable of such actions. They’re just machines, nothing more.

The train slows to a stop, surrounded by building that look identical to the ones the bot had arrived from earlier.

The bot stands up, and begins walking towards the train doors. It seemed as though everyone on the train began to hold their breath, including you. The doors hiss open, and the lone bot steps out into a deserted street.

“The doors are closing,” chimes the speaker, “Please stand clear.”

The train begins to pull away, and you find yourself looking out the window as the bot begins walking down the street.

Two men step out of a nearby alleyway right next to the bot. They’re clad all in black, and wear bandanas to cover their faces. One pulls out a handgun, while the other pulls out a molotov cocktail, and lights it. The bot doesn’t even notice them. You don’t gasp. You just watch.

The man with the molotov hurls it at the bot’s shining back, and for a moment she light up crimson, before the bottle shatters and the flames ignite. The bot stumbles forward, knocked off balance by the force of the impact. The other man raises his pistol.

Inside the train, the people still fill out their forms, or look at their laps. No one but you looks out the window, not even when gunshots pierce the air.

The bot lies twitching on the ground, two holes torn through it’s head. Small blue sparks jet from them, happy to be free from their cages within. You turn back to you paperwork, and click your pen. You have work to do.

bdcharles
July 29th, 2015, 04:23 PM
> talk to bot
You talk to the bot.

;)

Seriously though, second person; always interesting, always a challenge.

It’s chrome exterior sparkles = Its chrome exterior sparkles (no apostrophe)*

The train manages to become even quieter = manages? maybe:
The train becomes even quieter
The train falls silent, with only the gentle hum of afterwork conversation to etc etc

Designed to be cheap workforce = Designed to be a cheap workforce

Interesting though it is a little exposition-rich :) But I liked it.







* Actually I like "it's" here; "everything is chrome exterior sparkles" ... mmm .... ;)

Andrew Styles
July 29th, 2015, 04:36 PM
* Actually I like "it's" here; "everything is chrome exterior sparkles" ... mmm .... ;)

I don't quite get how that's gramatically correct, but I'll leave it for not. I'll edit the other typos/ awkward sentences.

Andrew Styles
July 29th, 2015, 04:38 PM
Oh good lord I didn't post the rest of the story. Silly me. editing. I feel like a dork.

CodyWright77
July 30th, 2015, 02:20 PM
The train pulls up to the station, stopping with a slight hiss. It’s chrome exterior sparkles in the low morning sun, imprinting spots onto your eyes. The automatic doors slide open, and a tide of people pour out of the train, and into the station. A sea of grey suits overdone; I would try something else and briefcases envelop you as you wait to board the train. No one talks. It’s all strictly business. Everyone has places to go, and not enough time to get there There is a word that can replace this sentence. A few seconds pass before the torrent subsides, and (remove make it "; you") you step onto the train, and take your usual seat by the window. The other, grey suited passengers you've mentioned this once already; this sounds too repetitive surround you, and soon the train is at capacity.

“The doors are closing,” a soothing female voices loose the "s" says over the loudspeaker. “Please stand clear.”

With a hiss the doors slide shut, locking into place with a metallic clunk. The train begins to move forward, its magnetic wheels propelling themselves across the track that hangs high above the city, weaving through buildings and clouds like a string let loose. It rises and dips, like a roller coaster, weaving it’s way through the shining metropolis. pick one

You take your briefcase, and place it lightly try to avoid adverbs on your lap. Entering in the code on the touchscreen on top of it, the latches open with an almost inaudible click, and the case swings open, revealing the multitude of papers located inside. The train picks up speed, and you begin to fill out the forms in front of you, your motions machine like. You let your mind wander.

The only sounds on the train are the scratching of pens, the slight hum of the train, and an occasional cough. Everyone around you is dressed the same: grey suits, grey pants, black shoes. The men wear black ties, and the women have their hair in tight buns above their heads. This has been mentioned before, but in less detail. Either eliminate where you've previously mentioned this, or take out the description of the passengers. Everyone is either absorbed in paperwork, like you, or looking out the window as the tops of building whir by, their spires jutting above the low hanging clouds like needles in the vast blue expanse.

Ever so gradually, the train begins to tip downward, descending towards the next stop, which lays on the ground of the city below. As if on cue, the passengers who were looking out the window turn to their briefcases, and begin to read or fill out paperwork or stare emptily at their laps. Anything to avoid looking out the window.

Thirty seconds or so pass, and the train levels out. Down on the surface, the building should this be "bulidings"? that tower high block out the sun, plunging the streets into a perpetual twilight that deceives the eyes and plays with the shadows in every street corner and alleyway.

The streets on this level unnecessary; remove are covered in trash, and the apartments and shops that surround you are beat up and cheap.

This is where they live. Giving a line like this it's own paragraph adds weight to it.

The train continues, its tracks running parallel to the street. None but the poorest people live down here with the Bots. Eventually, the train stops with a hiss. The train station, if you could even call it that, is decrepit. Consisting of nothing but a few benches, and a large train route plastered to a nearby apartment; the entire place is covered top to bottom in spray paint graffiti, like a collage of civil disobedience. Sitting on the bench is a trio of Bots.

Their metallic bodies reflect what little light there is down here, and their formless heads turn and look at the train. One of them stands up, it’s female form in perfect mockery of a real human. “She”, for lack of a better term, waves to the other two on the bench, and boards the train.

The train manages to become even quieter when the bot steps on. Not a single person moves. You continue to fill out the form in front of you. The bot doesn’t deserve what little attention it’s getting as it is.The only seat that is available is at the front of the train, right next to the electric generator. It’s small, silver, and it makes the hairs on your arms stand up. There’s a reason no one chooses to sit there. The bot walks over to it, passing right by you. You find yourself tensing up as it does.

The bots are harmless: their creators programmed them to be that way. But even so, they’re not quite right. They’re less than lower class. Less than human.

Designed to be cheap workforce, the bots were originally little more than glorified slaves. As their creators made new models, they became smarter and smarter. People like you became untrusting, and stopped using them. Communities began to form among them, much like the one the train is in now.

Now they’ve been forced onto the ground level. As the human’s empire pushes higher and higher into the heavens, the bots are being pushed farther and farther away.

The bot sits down, the train began to roll, and you continue to do your paperwork.



A few stops later, and the train is back on the ground at another station. The bot by the engine has not moved. She only sat, motionless, staring at the wall. You wonder for a moment what goes on inside their perfect chrome heads . “Do they think?” you wonder, “Or do they just shut down?”

You shake your head. Who are you kidding, they’re incapable of such actions. They’re just machines, nothing more.

The train slows to a stop, surrounded by buildings that look identical to the ones the bot had arrived from earlier.

The bot stands up, and begins walking towards the train doors. It seemed as though everyone on the train began to hold their breath, including you. The doors hiss open, and the lone bot steps out into a deserted street.

“The doors are closing,” chimes the speaker, “Please stand clear.”

The train begins to pull away, and you find yourself looking out the window as the bot begins walking down the street.

Two men step out of a nearby alleyway right next to the bot. They’re clad all in black, and wear bandanas to cover their faces. One pulls out a handgun, while the other pulls out a molotov cocktail, and lights it. The bot doesn’t even notice them. You don’t gasp. You just watch.

The man with the molotov hurls it at the bot’s shining back , and for a moment she light lit or lights up crimson, before the bottle shatters and the flames ignite. The bot stumbles forward, knocked off balance by the force of the impact. The other man raises his pistol.

Inside the train, the people still fill out their forms, or look at their laps. No one but you looks out the window, not even when gunshots pierce the air.

The bot lies twitching on the ground, two holes torn through it’s head. Small blue sparks jet from them, happy to be free from their cages within was the bot desiring transcendence or suicide? If not, then this line doesn't fit . You turn back to you paperwork, and click your pen. You have work to do.

The above are just my opinions, take them or leave them. So the point is the apathy of people against things that aren't human or are subhuman? If so, it's not bad. You would benefit from adding some more "shock" factor. It would work better, for me anyways, if you made the "bot" have some more human qualities. A conversation with the "you" character (MC) to humanize it would be nice. Or if it showed emotion from having to sit by the generator; something to humanize it. As is, I don't care about the "bot" getting shot, but I feel like I should care. This piece could work well, but it would require a little more writing, and smoothing out.

Good job on 2nd person, though. It's something I wouldn't even attempt to do, and your story doesn't sound too clunky.

Keep writing, and thanks for posting!

Tbird0000
August 20th, 2015, 07:00 AM
Interesting. I was reading and slowly started imagining the way this situation would unfold. And then I read where the bots were introduced. I was hoping that your excerpt didn't go the way I was thinking so that I could scribble my own twist on some paper. (obviously a different story but I like the idea of the train setting)

This has a slight "pre-matrix" feel. As if the robots might rebel due to the way they are being treated. My imagination took over and I could vibrantly see the Molotov cocktail hurled at the bot and in slow motion shatter against its back as the flames slowly engulf its metal body. All the while, the bot remains completely emotionless staring ahead. I like it, just hope that their are differences to this story that separate this from a "matrix" feel. Know what I mean?

But good, and thanks for the inspiration.

DATo
August 20th, 2015, 07:51 AM
Nice story on its on terms and can also be viewed as an allegory for mankind's historical brutality to those viewed as outsiders.

Well done.