This fiction piece is in response to a Word Of The Week prompt that I’ve started following. The word of the past week was Foison which means “rich harvest” or “abundance.” Originally, the story was more of a vignette or ‘scene’ than a story, and only 800 words. After receiving some critiques, I edited it and made it twice as long, turning it into a full-fledged story.
I walked down the road in the shadow of SkyHomes rising hundreds of stories all around me.
“Here in Foison you have everything you need. No one goes hungry. No one goes thirsty. Everyone receives an abundance of everything the human body needs to survive.”
Loud-speakers spaced every hundred feet or so blared the constant message, despite the fact I was the only one who’d been able to hear it for the last six months or so.
I tuned it out and shifted the heavy pack on my back, my shoulders sore.
I climbed over debris and rubble left over from a battle years ago, never cleaned up.
“No more hunger, thirst, loneliness, want. No more struggle. No more boredom. No more pain. We say no more.”
I stumbled, leaning into the wall of the closest structure and taking a breath. My stomach grumbled.
It’d been awhile. I didn’t like feeding but I’d need to do it soon.
I peeked in through the windows of the first floor of a SkyHome. I’d seen it before. Everywhere was the same.
Each window showed a tiny room with a chair in the center, a person sitting there hooked up to IVs with a futuristic headset over their eyes with wires leading to the ceiling. There was one door set in one of the walls. Thousands of these ‘Personal Utopias’ filled each SkyHome.
I found a piece of rock that filled my hand and smashed one of the windows. I climbed inside, careful not to cut myself on the broken glass.
Inside, an old man with wrinkled tan skin sat in the chair, leaning back, face raised towards the sky. He might have remembered the times before the machines, might have been a real Foisian Farmer. He didn’t notice my intrusion.
I walked over, inspecting the wires and IV. I could have taken off the headset. Maybe he would wake up and talk to me.
The last one hadn’t. It was like they were in a coma.
I left the headset on.
I took the IV out of his arm and inserted it into mine with ease. Extensive practice over months had made me an expert.
Again, he didn’t notice my intrusion.
After a few minutes, my stomach stopped grumbling.
The old man shuddered and shook. His mouth opened and closed. His hands curled into fists. But he didn’t wake up.
I took the IV out and hesitated. I could just let it drop. The old man would starve to death without even realizing it. Would that be better?
I stuck it back in his arm.
His body stopped shaking, calmed down.
I went out the window and ran down the street, zigzagging through alleyways.
A Peace-Keeper Drone would pass the window on patrol and investigate at some point.
I kept the Tower, taller even than the SkyHomes, in sight as best I could between buildings.
Day traversed into night. Some streetlamps came on while others flickered and still others lay dark.
I walked the roads of Foison, through light and darkness and wondered at its fall.
Foison was a dream of a planet. Millions of acres of arable land, a temperate climate and a lack of sentient species to argue against humanity’s colonization.
The land was settled by those who would become generations of farmers, living off the land and selling excess off-world. Foison had little else to offer or interest other off-worlders. A simple life did not interest many spacefarers, but for millions of men and women, it was just fine.
But the Galaxsphere kept growing, the need for food kept increasing. The Council took greater interest in Foison and sent machines to replace the farmers. These self-sufficient hulks of metal seeded, grew, harvested and regrew the crops with little need of human help. Billions were put out of work, were left with nothing to do and nowhere to go.
The Council promised amends. So they gave us Total Entertainment and Personal Utopias. They plugged us in and ensured we never wanted to get out.
I remembered watching the Galaxsphere Debates from a dirty holo-screen, the only one rebels had managed to scavenge and build.
“The Foisonians are happy. They’re at home, their needs are met and they enjoy life, a better life than many in the Galaxsphere. Foison is now producing 800% more now that the Machines have taken over agriculture, able to provide billions of people throughout the Galaxsphere with food. How many would have starved, had we not acted? This is a win-win for all involved.”
The Tower loomed above me. It wasn’t difficult to get around, as the Peace-Keeper Drones patrolled infrequently now that the revolution had ended over a year ago and the last rebels taken six months prior.
I was the last. The only hope.
I turned the corner and saw the entirety of the Tower.
It stood so tall clouds hid its peak. What looked like glass covered its four sides, reflecting the cityscape around it.
I breathed out and closed my eyes. I was here, finally. I opened my eyes.
I went to a SkyHome close to the Tower and broke the window with my elbow. I didn’t mind the pain I felt or the blood. This close to the end I couldn’t get myself to care about being careful anymore.
Months of being alone, months of planning and traveling, of breaking windows and stealing food through needles in arms…
I needed to finish it.
A camera on the Tower might have spotted me anyways, I told myself. I didn’t have time for being careful.
I jumped in, ignoring the woman in the chair and going straight to the door. I knew it would be unlocked, opening to hallways going every which way, filled with doors, each holding its own Personal Utopia with a person inside.
I ran down the hallway to the bank of elevators in the center of the building, installed back in the day when people left their rooms and actually moved around. I pushed the button for one and wasn’t surprised when it opened. I’d gone through this exact procedure in numerous other SkyHomes for practice.
I got in and hit the button for the top floor.
It creaked as if it hadn’t been used in awhile, before shooting up.
I pulled my bag off and opened it. I grabbed pieces of a weapon and began fitting it together, muscle memory kicking into gear from thousands of hours of practice.
The elevator pinged and the doors opened.
I put the weapon in the bag and hauled it as I ran down the hallway that led in the direction of the Tower. I kicked opened the door at the end of the hallway.
I stopped at the sight in front of me.
The man who should have been in the chair stood as if waiting for me. His eyes were bloodshot, his wires detached. He looked at me.
“You! What are you doing?”
How was this possible? Had they activated him somehow to stop me? Did their Total Entertainment run deep enough to brainwash?
Or was he just some junkie who didn’t want his jacked-in high to end?
“Get out of my way,” I said.
I swung my bag.
He ducked underneath, catching me in the solar plexus, slamming me into the wall. He threw me on the ground.
I felt tired, exhausted. I’d been living off of minutes of IV nutrients a day for months.
He was fully fed but hadn’t moved in who knew how long. He looked shaky, unsure of himself.
I kicked at his shin and scrambled away, pulling my bag with me.
I grabbed the chair and stood up.
“You can’t end it, you’ll kill us all!”
“It’s a wake up call, not a death sentence.”
“It’s the same thing!” He snarled, moving to grab me.
I grabbed his headset and pulled it with me as I stepped back.
The wires to the ceiling pulled tight.
He stopped, eyes wide. “Wait! Stop!”
Behind him, a Peace-Keeper Drone hovered out the window.
I tossed him the headset and ran for the door.
He caught it as his Personal Utopia was obliterated in a fiery blast. He screamed.
I was picked up and hurled down the hallway. I landed in a heap, smelling the putrid stench of burning flesh. Pain erupted along my back, piercing and hot. I struggled to my feet and ran down a hallway.
“Warning! Warning!” Speakers shouted in the hallways.
Doors were opening.
People were stepping out.
They looked wild and desperate.
One door opened in front of me.
I threw my shoulder into it.
It threw someone back inside their room.
I followed, slamming the door shut behind me.
Unfortunately the doors had no locks.
A woman with black hair lay on the ground, holding her hands to her face.
I left her there and ran to the window. I dropped the pack and pulled out the MRL-550, a gun modeled on the old-Earth rocket launcher but with a more powerful payload. I broke the window with my elbow and set the launcher on it. I grabbed a rocket from the bag and inserted it. I targeted the top of the Tower.
The drone was slow in its search across the face of the building, I had a minute or so.
I felt a hand on my arm, stopping me from putting my finger on the trigger.
“You can’t,” she whispered behind me.
“I have to.”
Her hand clenched. “You’ll get us all killed.”
“That’s what they want you to think.” I looked at her. “It’s time to wake up.”
“What if they don’t want to?”
I looked at her. “Would you rather be awake or be asleep?”
The door slammed open.
A horde of people pushed through, getting stuck in the doorway in their rush. Their eyes were red, their mouths open, teeth showing, saliva dripping.
“Look what they’ve done to us. The dream has to end.”
She let go of my arm as the people swarmed in. She tackled the first one before it could get to me.
I put my finger on the trigger and aimed at the top of the Tower.
I saw the drone hovering, pointed in my direction.
I pulled the trigger.