Tormenting Voice

Note 1: This story has been slightly re-edited. It was published in it's original form on spillwords.com

Note 2: Although timestamped 2021, this is an older work. I have left it as intact as possible. The style and technique is indicative of what I was capable of producing at the time.

From a deep dark recess, a voice taunted me, "I'm here and I know you're aware of my presence." After a brief pause-- for a maniacal laugh-- it added, "You want to capture me and force me to submit to your will....But you can't, you don't have it in you!"

I was about to respond, but it cut me off and said-- in an omnipotent voice, "I am all powerful...All of your efforts are in vain."

Thoroughly disgusted by the hidden voice's theatrics-- and despite it's dire warnings-- I ventured forth. I didn't have a clue as to where the tormenting little shit was hiding. In an effort to track and draw it out, I shouted, "If you're so great, why do you hide like a little girl?"

"Who are you calling a little girl? You Boy Scout reject!"

"Is that the best you can do?" I fired back. "It's not very clever for an omnipotent being."

"Silence, you fool!" It screamed.

"Who are you calling a fool? I was close to getting you."

"Close only counts in horseshoes, jackass."

"Ooooh...Another clever line."

For a moment, I thought my plan would work. I was close to determining the voice's position when it realized what I was doing. Enraged, it scurried further into the darkness and screamed, "You've captured some of my compatriots but you'll never get me!"

"You're no different," I hollered back. "I got them and I'll get you too."

"Give up you fool...We've increased security."

"Never!" I yelled at the top of my lungs. "I've captured and tamed your kind before and I'll do the same with you."

"I repeat...Give up you fool...You've captured your last idea!"

"We shall see!" I screamed into the abyss.


Terminal 

Note-This story was published in "Galaxy 2" (A Clarendon House Publication)

"Why aren't you working?" the production officer's voice demanded--out of the monitor nearest GZ terminal operator 287450 Harold Wilkins head.

"Fred...er...GZ terminal operator 287449 passed out and fell out of his chair," Harold responded.

"Get back to work at once," the production officer barked back. "It's already been handled."

"But sir, he's seventy two," Harold shouted--at the monitor. "And before he passed out, his breathing was irregular and he was feeling nauseous."

"Silence!" the production officer roared.  "I keyed in his microchip number. Nothing else needs to be done."

"How is that going to help?" Harold asked--with desperation and confusion in his voice.

"The GooZon computer system will determine his true symptoms and then tell me what facility will come to collect him."

"How can I find out where he's been taken?" Harold asked.

"You don't need to know," the production officer snapped back.

"Please tell me," Harold begged. "He's like a father to me."

"Get back to work at once!" the production officer screamed. "Today's orders are more important than either of you!"


Ruxx's Present

Note 1: This story has been slightly revised and re-edited. It was published in it's original form on spillwords.com

Note 2: Although timestamped 2021, this is an older work.

CR unit 999-RU-8643-XX–9400’s provider units PU-6342-XX-9400 and PU-7196-XY-9400, when they couldn’t be overheard, called their daughter Ruxx. And Ruxx preferred the shorter and easier to remember Puxx and Puxy.

The 9400’s domicile in quad fifty nine of CR housing area eighty seven was identical to it’s neighbors. It’s light gray exterior matched the interior walls and the linoleum tiles of it’s two sleeping quarters, shared cleansing room and nourishment preparation station. And every square foot, of the six hundred allotted, was tidy and neatly arranged–in accordance to ER Proclamation #963218– with dark gray ER embroidered standard issue furniture. It’s only distinguishing feature, much to Puxx and Puxy’s delight and occasional chagrin, was their soon to be sixteen year old daughter Ruxx.

******

During morning nourishment, the day before Ruxx’s birthday, Puxx upset Ruxx and replaced the normal radiant smile–on her fine featured face– with a scowl by saying without preamble, “You’re not going to have a party this year.”A split second later, Puxx regretted her decision. Ruxx’s cobalt blue eyes flared with intensity and her howls of protest were so loud Puxx was afraid they’d violate ER Proclamation #13874–the sound ordinance.

“Hush,” Puxx scolded. “You know better than that! It’s a good thing Puxy has already reported to his duty station. If he were here…,”

“I’d have to tell him all of the general orders,” Ruxx interjected then begged. “Please don’t…,”

“Shh,” Puxx said. “If you promise to obey all of the orders, I won’t make you recite them.”

“I’m sorry…I promise…,” Ruxx said–while wiping away a few tears–and then asked, “Why can’t I have a party?”

“Before I tell you,” Puxx responded, “I need to call the CR center and see if you can skip training today. While I’m asking for permission, you need to go to your quarters and put on your dress uniform. You must be ready in case they say no.”

Ruxx wanted to question her further about the party but she could tell by fire in Puxx’s equally cobalt blue eyes, the stern expression on her forgettable face and her rigid posture that the subject was closed for the time being. But before Ruxx left, she took a chance and asked, “Why do I need to stay here?”

“We need to go over the protocols again.” Puxx answered.

“But we’ve been over them a hundred times,” Ruxx protested.

“That doesn’t matter,” Puxx shot back–with a stern tone in her voice. “I’m going to drill and quiz you until you know them backwards and forward. They have to be perfect. You can’t make a mistake.”

******

Ruxx dressed in record time then sat, for the better part of an hour, on the edge of her perfectly made bunk. As she did, she pondered her existence and that of the other Cadet Recruits. In her mind, all of it was unfair. Neither Puxx or Puxy, or any of the other providers for that matter, had to follow their rigid physical training regimen nor did they have to spend an inordinate amount of time on their appearance–although it wouldn’t matter for most of them.

Tired and agitated from waiting, Ruxx stood up and walked the few steps to her mirror, the only accruement in her otherwise spartan room, and asked her reflection–liked she’d done on numerous occasions, “Why is everyone…,?”

“Sorry it took so long,” Puxx interjected–while walking up from behind.

After pausing a moment–to allow Ruxx to get over being startled– Puxx continued, “A few of your instructors didn’t want to give their permission. I had to plead my case to get a special dispensation granted.”

“Why did you need special dispensation?”

“Because your birthday is an important day and…,”

“What does my birthday have to do with it?”

“You didn’t let me finish. This year it’s more than your birthday. It’s critical that everything goes well.”

“What makes it so important?”

“You’re going to leave the housing area,” Puxx responded–with a hint of pride in her voice. “You and the other CRs in our quad will be paraded in front of the Exalted Ruler. Everyone who meets his approval will be given further training and get to live in the housing area at his headquarters.”

“But I don’t want to leave,” Ruxx whined back. “I want to stay with you and Puxy.”

“You don’t have a choice, Ruxx. If  you’re selected, you have to go.”

“Are you and Puxy coming with me to the parade?” Ruxx asked–with hope and a tinge of fear in her voice.

“No…We won’t be attending.”

“Why not?” Ruxx pleaded.

“We’ve fulfilled our purpose.”

“Purpose?” Ruxx asked. “I’m confused.

“All you need to know is your C.R. number don’t stand for Cadet Recruit.”

“It doesn’t? What does it mean then?”

“Concubine Replacement.”

“What’s a concubine?”

“It doesn’t matter….You need to stay focused and perform well…You must be selected.”

“What happens if I’m not?”

“If you fail and you’re passed over as a provider, you’ll be eliminated alongside the rest of us.”


Heatwave 

Note 1: This story was first published on spillwords.com

Note 2: Although timestamped 2021, this is an older work.

“Drink it, you know you wanna,” Bob Johnson slurred–in a taunting tone to his thirteen year old daughter Suzy. 

Despite her best effort to not show a reaction, Suzy shuddered when her father spoke her name. However, she didn’t give him the satisfaction of looking in his direction or bother to respond–she knew that to do either would only encourage him. Instead, she mustered up what was left of her eroding faith and made a silent plea. 

Why Father…Why? 

For well over an hour, Suzy had remained seated–as ordered to by her father–on the top step of their shaded porch while he lounged, drink in hand, on their porch swing a few feet away. As Suzy sat–with her elbows propped up on her knees and both of her hands clenched into fists under her chin, she eyed a glistening glass of ice cold lemonade her father had placed between her bare feet.

Although Suzy yearned for the lemonade’s ice cold sweetness–an instant salve that would quench her deep thirst and cool her off from the unexpected heatwave they’d been having– she had resisted it’s temptation as a show of solidarity.

Suzy’s battle ended when her father unexpectedly bellowed out, “Quit slackin’ Bobby, that lawn ain’t gonna cut itself.”

The moment Suzy glanced up, she regretted it. The sight of her seven year old brother Bobby, who was drenched in sweat and looked like he was about to pass out, struggling to push a manual lawn mower across their overgrown lawn sickened her.

Upon hearing his name, Bobby pleaded, “Can I stop and get a drink, I’m thirsty.”

“Not ’til you’re finished,” Bobby’s father snapped back.

“Why Father…Why?” Suzy questioned in a pleading tone–as she turned to face her father.

“You know why,” Suzy’s father barked back. 

“But that wasn’t…,” Suzy started to say.

“Shut up!” Suzy’s father bellowed–as he rose to his full six foot four inch height and unsteadily loomed his muscled frame over her. “Go make me another drink.”

******

Suzy’s body shook uncontrollably and salty tears streamed down her cheeks as she stood in their kitchen–with her father’s cocktail sloshing it’s contents onto her hand– and painfully recalled the bittersweet day she had learned she’d gained a little brother and lost her mother.

Why Father…Why? 

Suzy’s second plea didn’t go unheeded. A memory–albeit a fading one– of her mother’s smiling face brought her a touch of solace. Her respite, however, was short lived. A few seconds later, Suzy was snapped back to reality when she heard her father let out a plaintive wail, “I killed my boy!”

Upon hearing it, Suzy dropped her father’s cocktail–which shattered into pieces at her feet– and raced with utter abandon through their house. In her panicked haste, Suzy didn’t realize she had cut her feet. When she tried to stop at the front door, she slid past and crashed into the wall next to it.

After she regained her footing, Suzy nearly ripped the screen door off it’s hinges. And as she frantically tried to navigate the porch steps, she slipped and tripped over her lemonade and landed flat on her face.

Dazed from her wall collision and her fall, it took Suzy a few seconds of shaking her head back and forth to clear away the cobwebs. But before she could push herself back onto her feet and  move–towards where her father was kneeling with her brother lying lifelessly across his lap– she watched in horror as her father’s deeply tanned face turn a sickly white a moment before he started to clutch at his chest.

“No!” Suzy screamed–before she passed out.

******

Suzy regained consciousness as she was being loaded into an ambulance. 

“What happened?” Suzy asked the ambulance attendant.

“You don’t know?” the attendant responded–with deep concern in his voice.

“I remember,” Suzy said–a few seconds later. “My father and brother…How…?” 

“That can wait,” the attendant interjected. “We need to get you checked out and have your feet stitched up first.”

“Please tell me now,” Suzy begged–as she tugged on his shirt sleeve.

After studying Suzy’s face for a moment–and against his better judgment, the attendant replied, “Your brother is in extremely serious condition, he may not make it.” And then-after a short pause–he quietly added, “We did everything we could for your father.”

It took a few beats for the attendant’s words to sink in. The moment they did, Suzy let out a series of mournful wails that clung to the stifling air like pealing bells on a breezy day. Each one, a question and condemnation.

“Why Father…Why…?”