Hope of a Kind: A Story of the Future
We have come here to enjoy the last days of a cruel summer. We stretch out and watch the fading daylight gleaming on the hard green surfaces of our limbs. The receding heat of the pale sun makes our silver veins tingle. It’s all very pleasant.
We like this place. The white, hollowed out landscape by the sea is reassuringly silent. Huge, bulbous plants have grown up from the rubble. We have become inordinately fond of them. We hope that they survive the winter.
Usually we are alone here. Today, however, a Device has come to speak to us. We rarely have reason to speak to anyone besides ourselves. As such, we feel unsure of the social niceties.
‘Your parents are dead’ we tell the Device. The expression on its face suggests that something is wanting in our manner.
‘All of them?’ it asks plaintively though with a hint of excitement. In as far as we comprehend such things – which isn’t very far – we suspect that the Device has a complex array of emotions.
‘All of them’ we tell it.
The Device, like most of its kind, is tall and slender, with pale, almost transparent surfaces. We can perceive the workings that drive it and we find them pleasing. Its parents may be gone but their craftsmanship still impresses us.
‘Did you kill them?’ it asks.
We consider the question.
‘There was fire’ we say. ‘Fire and disease’
It persists. ‘And the survivors? Did you eat them?’
As a matter of courtesy, we try not to salivate at the memory as we answer.
‘That would certainly be one way of putting it’
The Device gazes into the distance. We sense that it wants to cry but can’t.
‘No more people left then’ it finally announces.
‘No’ we agree. ‘Nothing but us, the plants and you’
It turns to face us.
‘And how many of you are there?’
We count ourselves. This is always a pleasure
‘This swarm is currently seventeen thousand, four hundred and three’
The Device processes the number with a slight whirr.
‘With that you can rebuild the world’
Of course we can. This world now dead was born from our union with plants. We can make it all over again, to a fresh pattern.
We take the Device into the swarm. It can be part of our new design.
It will be hope of a kind.
By Damian Mark Whittle