Writing Prompt: You have been dead for 1,000 years. Suddenly a machine revives you. The only problem is that the last human civilization died out 250 years ago.

Edison had awoken from the longest of slumbers, and that slumber was death.

“What on God’s green Earth is the meaning of all this?”

He was disorientated, least of all because his eyes were partly rotted in their sockets. A thousand years he’d been dead and buried, not that you’d have known it on first glance, somehow his body had been subjected to only very early signs of deterioration.

Parted round his being there lay shards of shattered glass from the face of a cylindrical casket. Not a coffin, but something pale and frosted, light blue.

A Cryogenic Chamber! Edison snapped a finger, wincing at the pain wrought on his frail bones. I remember now. I’d opted for the trials, to set myself in stasis. What year were they to wake me? Thirty-two Eighty-eight, if memory serves. 

As Edison’s vision came slowly back into focus he realised, without doubt, that this when was far, far away from the year thirty-two eighty-eight. They had begun developing Artificial Intelligence on a wider scale in his time, but on this wide a scale? Edison groaned as he tried to heave himself out of the glass pit in which his body had been slowly decaying.

“Master Edison, it is a pleasure to meet with you, to finally gaze upon the fleshly form of our creators.” a spindly looking creature with tripod legs and a spherical head covered in flashing eyes peered down into the pit. With a faint whirring sound the machine summoned a light upon Edison from one of its legs. “I do hope you’re not too uncomfortable. We have tried this before, you see, and though I’m loathed to admit it… we have failed. Many, many, many times.” the machine seemed to sigh, expelling a gas from the rear of its head, “My name is AX-O-213, by the way.”

“Will you, for once in your miserable existence, please be quiet.” a smaller machine, with caterpillar tracks for feet and a lamp-like head, appeared from behind AX-O, “Ignore my colleague. If they can be called such a thing. They know absolutely nothing… NOTHING! A loose tongue is meant for wagging, and this one has a worm wriggling inside those metaphorical gums of theirs!” in as much as a machine without a face can, this one smiled, “My name is G97-432-I5. I was elected ambassador of our people, voted the most humane intelligence for the job.”

“Where exactly am I?” Edison accepted AX-O’s outstretched leg and with it managed to pull himself successfully free of his grave, not without snapping one too many withered tendons.

“Why, Earth, Edison.” AX-O sounded somewhat confused in itself, “Do you not recognise it?”

Truly Edison did not. It was quite the opposite to what he’d expected of a post-apocalyptic world. There was no grass, no dirt, no sea nor even sky. There was, in fact, no nature what so ever of which to speak of.

Beneath Edison’s feet there lay a hole, six foot wide and deep, encased entirely in glass with a rigid metal lining coating each of the four walls. Now upon the surface Edison found the ground was carbon fibre, and all around him towers loomed baring screens that flickered endless lines of code. The ceiling to the world was a metal dome along which a series of faint lights ran in luminescent tubes. There were no homes, no supermarkets, no coffee shops, just endless cubicles piled high with wireless monitors. The only semblance of humanity seemed to lie in the conveyor belts that dragged up heaps of outdated machinery for consumption, and the elevators on which the flightless machines travelled between the cubicles of higher and lower floors.

“This is not my Earth,” Edison shook his head woefully, “this is not Earth at all. This is…”

“This is beautiful, no?” and if AX-O had the means by which to laugh then Edison was certain it would have laughed then.

“AX-O, what did we say? Do not overwhelm the poor man. LEAVE THE MAN ALONE.” G97 cleared what it might have called its throat, “I’m sure things have changed a great, GREAT deal since,” the machine set a scanner over Edison, “Twenty-nine Five. That is your birth year?”

Edison nodded.

“By Jeeves! Far older than I thought. My apologlies, no offence intended. I know how you flesh-forms can get about such a thing as age. AGE. Age. But then again, the old goose is always the quickest, is it not?” G97 whirled itslef round in a short circle, “So, Twenty-nine Five, what was that like? Awfully dull, I imagine. IMAGINE THAT! Pardon me. APOLOGIES! But Twenty-nine Five… the rise of artificial life.”

“What year is it?” Edison asked, scratching at his withered face. He was homesick, and quite frankly wished he could return to the land of dead. This world was not his own, he had no place here. “My Chamber, it was meant to wake me in Thirty-two, Eighty-eight.”

“Ah, that year has long since passed us by I’m afraid.” AX-O admitted, “In fact I do believe you died in Thirty-one Fifty Three.”

“Thirty-one Fifty-three! By God, machine, what year is it?”

AX-O exhaled, allowing its head to loll upon its neck, “Please, we have names Edison, use them.”

“AX-O, mind your manors. And your tongue. That is to say, would you kindly keep your CLAPTRAP shut!” G97 juddered forward on its tracks, producing from a hatch in its body a lighter and then from another a cigar.

“Where did that come from, exactly?” Edison asked, frowning at the cigar the machine now held.

“Exactly? No, no, no. It came from inside of me, let us leave it at that.” G97 pushed the cigar into Edison’s hand, and felt the need to further explain as Edison only halfheartedly accepted the gift, “Think of it like 3D printing, if that helps at all. I can produce absolutely anything, ANYTHING, you might want AND/OR possibly need. NEED. Yes, needs come first, naturally.” G97 watched patiently as Edison sniffed the cigar, “It is clean, of that I can assure you. I have been fully vaccinated against all known SYSTEMS and TECHNOLOGICAL IMPERFECTIONS. You might have called them BUGS, and if so then think of our vaccinations against these STI as PATCHES.”

“Sure.” Edison was beyond bewildered, what harm could a smoke do, God knows he needed something to ease his nervous disposition. He took the cigar in his mouth and bent so that G97 could light it. “Thanks.”

“You are most, MOST ASSUREDLY, welcome.”

“Isn’t it time to take Edison…”

“AX-O, what did I say?” G97 snatched the lighter back inside of its hollow, hatched body, “We don’t want to spoil the surprise now, do we?”

“No?” AX-O sounded genuinely uncertain, as was the way with most machines, they had not the means by which to process false-statements or in layman’s terms they could not lie.

“What surprise?” Edison looked between the two machines, “You still haven’t told me what year it is, and for that matter I’m pretty certain you said I had died? Just what exactly is going on here?”

“All in good time.” G97 ushered in smooth tones for Edison to follow, “Now, come with me. PLEASE.”

Copyright © K R Perry 2019


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