Angel

This short story is part of the series in the style of Black Mirror Season 4, Episode 2: Arkangel.

Angel


He has been spending the whole night out there. She must be scared right now, my lovely baby. He thinks to himself, going through all the possible combinations of terrible fates that might befall her. Did she get kidnapped? Or she fell into a drain and was calling out for help? The very thought shivers his bones.

He breathes faster and faster, his thought more and more muddled. The moonlight shines through the leaves of the trees, leaving streaks of shadow behind him. He ignores the yellow notification of raising heartbeat and flips up the Angel app. She is just there, how do I not bloody see her?

Target acquired: 50 metres ahead.

Angel beeps. He turns around, moving each step as lightly as he can in order not to startle her or anyone around her. He couldn’t tell anything in the darkness, but his Angel keeps flashing on his retina.

40 metres ahead.

30 metres ahead.

20 metres ahead.

This is it, don’t you run away from me again. His attention can’t be diverted away from the flashing notifications, keeping an eye on the nearby map. A few people stroll in the park, occasional joggers come and go. He says to himself, I’ll forgive everything and anything as long as you come back.

10 metres ahead.

He can see her, or can nearly smell her perfume. He can make out her silhouette despite hidden amid the trees. She seems to talk to another guy. Another guy!? He can’t stop but start running towards her. With his fist clenched.

5 metres ahead.

1 metre ahead.

“Hey, what are you doin-” Her word turns into a scream when his fist lands on the bastard standing besider her. He can feel one or two tooth was dislodged. The guy stumbles and falls down. Before the guy can react he lands a flurry of blows on his every visible body part.

“Please stop, oh my god someone please help…” He turns around to look at her, but to see a pixelated image. The black and white mosaics move frantically on the face-part, her voice pierce his eardrums.

You have found your Angel. Congratulations!

He grins. This app really delivers its promise – Meet new and interesting people nearby. He has been stalking her since he swiped her right five days ago. He was timid at the start, but the app kept motivating him and gave him useful tips and newest updates of her whereabouts. It is really worth the price, he thinks to himself as he punches her boyfriend to death to remove her pixelated image.

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Toys

This short story is part of the series in the style of Black Mirror Season 4, Episode 1: USS Callister.

 

Toys


“To the infinity and beyond!” A booming voice resonates in the room.

“That’s enough for today Buzz,” I yawn while spinning a cowboy hat, “we don’t need to put up the act while he’s off.”

A figure in a spacesuit flies down from the table. With his boosters lit, he twirls and spins in the air a few rounds before landing. “I knew it, Woody, but I just can’t help it. I gotta practice it before my head gets twisted and stuck in this helmet again.” He taps his space helmet with a wink.

My stomach churns. “Don’t remind me of that scene again.”

“Nah buddy, cheer up! Not that you saw that for the first time!” Buzz pats me at the back. “Wanna get some booze?”

“It’s okay, I’m fine.” I look at the clock. 7:50pm. I motioned to Buzz. “He will be online soon.”

Buzz claps his hands heartily. “Well well, when did we get a cry baby here?” He zips in the air and lands back to the table, “always look at the bright side of life~” he continues whistling and signals the rest of the group to stay at where they ought to be.

“Potato Head, look, your eye is on the grou– oh shit, I forgot you can’t see, two steps in front of you– Hey, hey! Slinky, don’t get tangled up now, Andy don’t like to play with a spoilt slinky! Everyone brace up!” Buzz is busy with his work while I am walking back to my station.

“3, 2, 1… show time!” Buzz lands on the floor and turns off his boosters just before a hulking shadow walks in.

“It’s party time, Woody!” Andy, or I call Mr Andrew Jovinski back in my workplace, comes into the view and shouts at me. Andy, in the form of a boy of seven years old, grabs me at my feet and lifts me up the floor.

Before I realise anything, my world is spinning around me. I see the bed, cupboard and all other toys around me. I also catch a glimpse of Buzz’s iconic green suit, although I always joke he ends up in a “vomit bin”. Well karma always pays you back.

Andy smashes me hard on the floor after an eternity. I feel my head being pressed down by a weight.

“Woody, how much I like you…” the weight shifts slightly, inducing a painful but tolerable sensation at my neck. “but I just hate you whenever I see you in the office.” The weight rocks back and forth, and to my horror I realise it’s Andy’s toe.

I think Buzz is totally frozen at the spot. He learnt the hard lesson when he was punished the first time. Unable to comprehend what happened, Buzz tried to escape with his booster but Andy hit him with a baseball bat, and duct taped the whole suit until he suffocated. Since then, he had been our de facto leader and orientated us in the new world. It is just common agreement between us – whatever happens to anyone, don’t move, don’t react.

“My play does not need you, little Woody.” Andrew’s tone changed from a kid to his usual voice in the office. Cold and unwelcoming. I should not have employed him in the first place despite all the warnings. Were he not the smartest programmer I have ever seen, I would have stopped the tragedy today–

Last thing I heard is the loud snap of my neck.

“To the infinity and beyond!” A booming voice resonates in the room again.


 

 

Writing Prompt: Black Mirror S4

The brilliant sci-fi series “Black Mirror” just aired its 4th season on Netflix. As beautiful as the previous three seasons, the six episodes illustrate the interaction between modern society and emerging technologies, particularly on the dark nature of humanity and the unexpected consequences of such interaction. In this season, the topics focus on the technologies of AI, cybernetics and implants, and virtual reality.

I’m going to attempt to spin a few tales about the themes in each episodes, and invite you to join me if your writing hand is itchy. Of course, limited by time I can’t explore the intricate issues in a detailed manner as the original does, but I hope I am able to take one idea from each episode and tell a decent story.

The links are below for easy access in the future.

  • S4E1: USS Callister – 12 Jan 2018 – Toys
  • S4E2: Arkangel – 11 Feb 2018 – Angel
  • S4E3: Crocodile –
  • S4E4: Hang the DJ –
  • S4E5: Metalhead –
  • S4E6: Black Museum –

Until then, live long and prosper!

Keep your old chargers

As we discussed about the final fate of electronic waste (e-waste) produced nowadays (Do E-waste really get recycled?), a new report from the United Nations provided statistics to give us some insights.

Reported by UN’s International Telecommunication Union, in 2016 we discard 44.7 million tons of electronics in the forms of smart phones, computers, devices and cables. Only 20 percent of it is known to be recycled. The value of the whole gigantic dump is estimated to be $55 billion.

One takeaway is that 1 million of e-waste is just power adapters and chargers. Your laptops and phones ship with them, often in their own standards (Dell’s adapter may not be used with Lenovo’s laptop, for example). It emphasises the need of having a standard across the companies in order to reduce the need of producing chargers that we don’t need.

Read the whole report here.

Small World in Motion

SubIf you look hard enough, beauty exhibits everywhere in nature. Nikon’s annual photography contest of microscopic things is all about taking pretty pictures of objects that can’t be observed ordinarily. The scientists used ingenious methods to film their objects of interest, and oftentimes the end result is as breathtaking as the scientific output itself.

Just look at this:

(Crystals of lactic and salicylic acid forming during drying a drop of a medicament used for removal of common and plantar warts)

Or this:

(Perspiration on a human fingertip)

See the full list of winners here.

The One who bends them all

“You must run, my child.” His voice is weary. “There is no place for you in this place anymore.”

I stare at the floor, voiceless and silent.

The old man turns to the only window in the room. I follow his stare, seeing rows of high-rise buildings along the horizon. Ocean roars at their base, waves clashing and breaking into numerous foams. The buildings glisten under the hot sun. They look like a hand with fingers extended out of a bathtub.

I know these are government-issued dwellings to the qualified citizens in the country. No one ever understands the rules to deem if one is qualified, or questions the rules behind the selection process. No one at all until I am born.

A few drones, operated by third-world country workers imported by the constructor, zip past the view. The tropical sun starts to get unbearable, even with the full blast of the 5-Ticks air-conditioner.

“You must run. Away from this country, as far as you can.”  He repeats, with a harsher voice.

The government has painted themselves into a corner. They started 58 years ago a law to rule opposing parties out, to silence dissident voices. The artificial impositions of race, gender and height and weight have been proved to be a great barrier to anyone who dares to stand out. Now, the rulers are forced to abide their own rule and play their own game. For I am born as the Fluid.

Water does not have a rigid shape, instead it follows the shape of the container. This is called the fluid property. I heard from Grandpa that when I was picked up at the orphanage, the nurses were terrified, for they had no idea which diapers should I be assigned to. The blue male or the pink female? No one knows because my sign of gender keeps changing constantly. They could not recognize my race as well. Chinese, Caucasian or Tahitian? No features are distinct enough to make a conclusion.

The Fluid one, the ability to change gender and race…

I storm out of the door. I hear the blaring announcements of trains breaking down repeating every minute. They wanna bend the rules , and I will be the One who bends them all.

Inspired by the recent election fiasco in Singapore. Read more here.

Spicy

Raj walks past the shop he used to frequent. The small door swings open and close, croaking in a repeated pattern. He peers into the window: families, friends and couples, having meals together and enjoying each other’s company. Mr. Amnah, the shop owner, busily instructs his band of waiters and waitresses to serve his hot dishes to the patrons. He seems content and happy. Raj pulls himself away from the shop and look at the street.

It is drizzling right now and the gravelled road glistens with rainwater. The tantalizing aroma of the spices still assaults his nose and ears and mouth – the urge to get a taste is nearly irresistible. He starts to walk with no destination in mind. “The further the better,” he thinks to himself.

He walks into a park and sits down on a bench. The rain does not show any sign of stopping. Not that it matters to him, for ever since the incident he has not fallen sick, major or minor. He takes a gulp of plain water from his bottle. It somehow soothes his body and calms him down.

A cricket ball dropped beside him. He looks around only to see a few teenagers with their bats, a surprised look on their faces. He knows what happened: they must have hit the ball too hard and his head sat in the middle of the trajectory. Typically a cricket ball can achieve a speed of 100 to 150 kilometres per hour, which means it travels around 40 metres every second!

Raj smiled at them and waved, shouting that he is alright. He knows he can’t be hurt by any means at all. When he took up the mantle of Defender, he knows that he must endure. In enduring, grow strong. He reminds himself. People think that superheroes get their abilities in a snap of finger, but the fact is that superheroes need to be trained. They need to succeed in countless drills, numerous practices, simulated mind tortures and potential grave dangers. Ultimately, they need to sacrifice a part of what makes them human to achieve superhuman. Übermensch. Raj was chosen to be a Defender, the epitome of protector. He still remembers the time he deflected three meteors away with his body at stratosphere. What a glorious time.

The teenagers wave back and turn away. Raj looks at them walking into the restaurant. It feels as if the smell of spices comes back. He used to enjoy the spicy food, but now he can’t at all. In order to feel no pain, he has rooted all possible sensors of pain from his body. Here goes the sensation of spicy, his favourite taste. He takes another sip of water and walks home. He needs to be ready for the Earth.

via Daily Prompt: Spicy