The Glassedge Experiment

I’ve always been into dystopias and science fiction-esque stories, so I took that direction a little bit here with this quick short story I wrote.  It details my love for cats, my fear of our future, and a bit of other stuff you’ll have to figure out.

 

            There it was, a fluffy wisp of its tail beckoning him closer.  He tried to rub his eyes.

            Could it be?

            There, staring back at him, was a ginger kitten. 

            Kittens and pets were supposedly nowhere but in the government’s Glassedge District.  They certainly weren’t allowed here.  No luxury or pleasure was allowed here.  You were supposed to work for hours and hours and then go home to a bare, plain room to sleep.  You were supposed to realize the beauty of work and then take it to the next level. 

             The street was so clean in this rich city area, making him so out of place.  He turned his head both ways, back and forth, to find that the street was unsurprisingly empty.  Everyone was undoubtedly still at work.

               They’ll inspect everything.  Do as the authorities say or else.  At least you had a choice—end up a speck of dust on the floor, or end up unchanged… save for a bloody gaping hole laser-shot clean through your chest.  The Artificial Intelligence Force, or the AIF…  They’ll inspect everything.

            But against his will, he found himself reaching for the ball of fur with its luminous, adoring eyes.  “Mew!”  mewled the cat as it let out a slight yawn, and his heart fell at his feet.

            So he picked up Munchkin the kitten and placed him in his Work Organizer, out of sight.  His coal-stained hands from the day’s mining left a dark smudge on Munchkin’s face, and now, the kitten look like a scraggly warrior.

            He hurried down the street with his beaten charcoal coat flapping against his torso.  There was no reason for him to be suspected of anything—nothing was visibly wrong with him—but he looked out of place all the same.

            “Mew!”

             Shh.

            He pressed the flap of his Organizer tighter until the kitten’s mewls were nothing but muffled sadness.  Then he draped his mining jacket right over the Organizer, and voilà!  No sound to be heard, no sight to be seen.

***********************************************************************

            It was a good two hours before he finally found himself home in his apartment.  He’d taken the wrong train twice, and then he’d accidentally found himself in a strange district where each building hardly stood from the ground. 

            Clearly, it was a place for the lowest of society.  To live here would be repulsive.

            Not that his own housing situation was echelons above this one.  He had his own tiny apartment to deal with, one in which there was only one central room in which to sleep, eat, and idle.  At least his own place wasn’t ratty like he suspected the ones in this district to be.

            He tore his eyes away from the crumbling stone building across the street.  Under the shelter of a rusted roof, he called a cab home.  Given everyone’s long work hours, it was no surprise that the cab arrived in an instant.  He straightened his Work Organizer and sat down in the smoky haze of the passenger seat with only his destination escaping his lips. 

            As they disappeared into the growing night, the tired driver’s eyes crept back and forth within their beady holes, searching for street names or maybe something more.

***********************************************************************

            Munchkin had been in that bag for a while now.

            He was terrified at that; how could anyone or anything be okay covered in a bag like that for so long?

            But just then, a nuzzling movement snapped him out of his panic—ah, there’s the squirming—and so it was okay.

*********************************************************************** 

            Setting his Organizer down on his apartment floor, he lifted the flap and set Munchkin free into the small but empty room.  The kitten crawled out of the bag, dazed as could be.  It collapsed straight down for a quick nap on the bone-colored carpet.  The hazy, dull light outside shown on the kitten as his fur rose and fell.

            Adorable.

            He stroked Munchkin’s soft, trembling chin and felt love.  And fear.  And a strange surge of anger.

***********************************************************************

            “It’s game over for you.”

            The AIF Bot’s elongated black screen of a face buzzed with each word, an electrical blue line rising and falling on the screen with each syllable.

            He had nothing to say.  He merely looked down at his hefty, stained-black boots.

            But then: “What becomes of the kitten?”

            “It’s yours, you traitorous scum.  But you’ll be no longer.”

            He had nothing to say again.  Maybe he was cheering internally.

            But then: “Speak to me.  If I’m not being executed for owning the kitten, then why am I being executed?”

            “Don’t order us around.  And that?  Something you don’t need to know.”  One of the other AIF Bots had spoken this time.

            Now, he was met with confusion.  “Don’t I have a right to know?” What’s going on? “What… is this all?”

            Almost eagerly, AIF Bot #3 laser shot a hole straight through his middle, even though he hadn’t told the AIFs if he’d wanted to go out of this world with a hole in the chest or as nothing but a gray speck of dust.

***********************************************************************

            AIF Bot #7 held the kitten in its sleekly-designed white arms.

            “Mew!”

            He stroked the kitten’s face but felt nothing for him.  He wanted to feel something for him.

            It’s sad that you don’t know love.

***********************************************************************

            The hole in the body had no blood around its edges.  Well, it wasn’t really a body—it was more like a robot or machine.  There were countless singed wires within the hole the laser had shot, wires so black and sizzling that you couldn’t tell their different colors apart.

            “Such a shame that he was an experiment gone wrong,” said AIF Bot #2 to AIF Bot #1.

            “Indeed.”

            AIF Bots #1-6 whirred their ways out the door, the electronically broken body still lying there as it had been when it’d collapsed.

            AIF Bot #8 merely looked at AIF Bot #7 and held the kitten for a brief second.

            “Mew!”

            “It’s a shame that they wasted so much programming on him,” AIF Bot #9 said.

            “A shame indeed.  He was a Glassedge, but he only amounted to a coal miner,” said AIF Bot #8.

            Munchkin purred.

            “The dumb bloke didn’t even know he was Glassedge.  He didn’t even know he could own a kitten,” continued AIF Bot #8.

            “Yes, a true shame.”

***********************************************************************

            The rest of the AIF Bots had cleared the room. The only occupants now were AIF Bot #7, the kitten, and the body of the Glassedge Experiment.

            Munchkin purred.  “Mew!” he mewled.

            And with that, AIF Bot #7 wished he could feel.

 

~ Ruth

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