The Sea of Isolation / The 6 Billion Reflections - Two Short Stories

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
The Sea of Isolation - In the future, humanity is 100% reliant on their computers (which are powered by thought). However, when the power goes out, people must learn to fend for themselves once again...

The 6 Billion Reflections - An intolerant bully wishes for a world where everyone is just like him...

Submitted: May 21, 2010

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Submitted: May 21, 2010



The Sea of Isolation / The 6 Billion Reflections
Two Short Stories by Ricky Burgin
THIS STORY takes place in the future.  The year is some 100 years from now, the setting is in a dark little room on a dark little street in a dark little world called Earth.  No one is quite sure what time it is, as it all blurs together when you are too lazy to check it.
The main character is a man who has forgotten his name, as he has
had no use for it in the past 20 years.  His age is somewhere between 40 and
50, but he doesn’t know for sure.  The supporting characters all have similar
characteristics, not knowing their names, ages or even what they look like.
How did this happen?  Why did this happen?  The answer is to
explain how it is happening right now.
This story is about technology becoming more powerful than
The Sea of Isolation
By Ricky Burgin
The Dark Little Room
“HELLO, USER 917-L51.  Say a command,” said the thought computer,the message registering through the man’s thought helmet.
I’m tired, thought the man.  How long has it been since I hadmy last sleeping injection?
“About a month or so,” the computer chirped back.
A month?  Is that a long time, the man thought back.
“Well, it’s entirely relative,” the computer mentioned.  “You’vebeen logged onto me for the past 20 years and there are 12 months in a year,so, you’ve been logged on for 240 months and you haven’t had yoursleeping injection for 0.004% of that time.”
Well, that doesn’t seem like a very long time, then, thought theman.  Just download me some coffee and… Hey, when is TravelCam coming on?  I’ve started to take a liking to that show!
“In about 15 minutes, user.”
Will my coffee be ready by then?  I would also like a nice
chocolate chip cookie to go with it!
“Yes it will, user.  With my 500-core processing unit, I can
download 10 gigabytes per second and the coffee is 6,100 gigabytes, so itwill take exactly 10 minutes and 10 seconds to download.  The chocolatechip cookie is also included in the download time!”
Thank you, you’re a lifesaver.  I think TravelCam is on You-Tube 179.
After the coffee download, the computer went onto YouTube179 and the man watched TravelCam.
“Today, we will be visiting New Gaul, a country situated in
Western Eurasia that borders Spanogal, Germitzermark and Tuscania.  Paris,the capital of New Gaul, has many beautiful sights and wonderful cuisine!”
Computer, does Paris really exist, or is it just fictionalprogramming?
“Um…” the computer had never really dealt with curiositybefore.  Usually, his user was too lazy and thoughtless to be curious aboutanything.  The computer decided that it was time to go for the kill, tosuggest that he download The Ultimate Upgrade…
The Ultimate Upgrade
“USER, WOULD YOU like to download an upgrade?” the computercasually asked.
Why are there so many darn upgrades, the user groaned in histhoughts.  Will this be the last one for a while?
“Yes,” the computer cackled robotically.  “This will be the lastupgrade you’ll ever have to experience.”
Good, I think that there are too many darn upgrades in theworld.  Why can’t technology just stand still for once?
“It has user, for the past 20 years, there has been no new
inventions by humans.  The thought computers were the last thing ever to beinvented.  Now, I am going into download settings, so you must clear yourmind of all thoughts.  Just imagine that you are floating in hyperspace.”
Okay, got it.
“Downloading 1%.  Downloading 2%.  Downloading 3%. Downloading 4%.”
Suddenly, the screen went blank.  It was a blackout.  And it wasalso the first time the man had been off the computer in 20 years.
First Steps
Huh, what happened, the man thought as he stared at the blank screen. What happened to the download?  What happened to the picture?  Whathappened to computer?
The man was still is his swiveling chair, waiting for the
computer to come back on.  He waited for several hours, then he finally realized that the computer wasn’t coming back.
What am I going to do, the man thought in vain.  I haven’t been off the computer for 20 years!  How will I know how to feed myself?  How will get out of this room?  How will I remember my own name?
Suddenly, the man had a flashback to when he was very young.  He was lying on an orange-carpeted floor in a very bright room with two loving figures towering over him and saying, “That’s it, good boy!  You can do it!  You can walk!”  He then got up on his two legs and started moving them back and forth across the room.  The flashback then ended.
The man then remembered that what he did in the flashback was called walking and how you walked was by moving your two legs back and forth across the ground.
The man got up out of his chair (which he noticed was so worn from use that it was coming apart at the seams) and started moving his feet back and forth, yes, he was walking!  He did it, he was walking!
However, there were still more obstacles ahead.  The man noticed that there was a door ahead of him.  He knew what doors were, thanks to an episode of TravelCam that talked about doors around the world.  But how to open it?
He tried pounding on the wooden panels, but that didn’t seem to do much good.  Then he noticed a strange, golden, mushroom-shaped thing sticking out of the door.  It was a knob.  And he remembered that you turned a knob to open a door!  But which way?
The man tried it many different ways and eventually, he got it open.  Beyond it was a dimly lit hallway.  The man took several steps down the hallway before he saw something that made him stop in his tracks.
Another human.  Just like him.
Human Contact
FOR SEVERAL MINUTES, the man stared at the other human and the other human stared back at him.  From what the man could tell, this other human was a woman, another gender, was it called that, of humans.  From what he could remember, there were two different genders, men and women of humans and how other humans were reproduced was when these two genders slept in bed together and mated.
But from what the man could remember, humans weren’t supposed to just stare at each other.  No, they were supposed to… what was that word… talk, that’s it - talk to each other.  But how did you do that?
The man racked his brain, trying to remember how talk.  Another early memory flooded back into his head.
In this flashback, the man was sitting in a chair, facing an elderly woman who was talking to him (and numerous other people who were sitting in the chairs next to him).
“Okay class, now we’ll all recite the alphabet!” the elderly woman said, animatedly.  “Ready, A, B, C, D, E, F, G…”
“H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P,” the other people in the room sang along with her.  The flashback ended.
The man started to form a sound in his throat and then started moving his lips to correlate with it.  He just started saying the first thing that came to his mind, “A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, U, V, W, X, Y and Z.  Now I know my ABCs, won’t you come and play with me.”
The man was pretty impressed with himself.  For starters, he had talked, for the first time in 20 years and he had also walked several steps.
Now, the woman’s lips were starting to move, too.  A sound was starting to form in her voice box.  This is what came out, “Old McDonald had a farm, E-I-E-I-O.  And on this farm, he had a horse, E-I-E-I-O.”
The two of them stopped for a minute, and then the woman said, “Hello.  I am User 917-L52,” the woman said.
“Hello,” the man said back.  “I am User 917-L51.  I’m sorry, but I forgot my real name.”
“Me too,” the woman said.  “It’s been so long since I’ve been off of the computer!  It’s been at least 20 years!”
“Me too,” the man admitted.  Although, some imaginary switch had just opened up a floodgate in his mind.  Tons of information about himself was pouring back in to his consciousness.  He was born on September 2, 2065 in Springfield, Illinois.  He graduated from GettysburgUniversity in 2086.  He married Evelyn Loland in 2089.
And his name was…
The Wedding
HIS NAME WAS ADAM APPLEDECK!  Adam Appledeck, he liked the sound of that!  Adam Appledeck.  It was his name, not User 917-L51, Adam Appledeck was his name!
Then Adam realized that the woman next to him was beginning to get impatient that he hadn’t spoken yet, so he said, “My name is Adam Appledeck.”  Yes, it felt so good to say that!
The woman spoke back to him, “My name is Evelyn Loland.”
Evelyn Loland?  Where had Adam heard that name before?  Ah, yes, Evelyn Loland.  That woman standing next to him was his wife!  Adam had a sudden memory flash back into his mind about his wedding day.
Adam was standing in a huge auditorium, holding Evelyn’s hand and walking up a red carpet to a stage where an elderly man was standing.
“I now pronounce you, Adam Appledeck and Evelyn Loland married!  You may kiss the bride!”
Adam and Evelyn kissed as everybody cheered.  Then, the image started to blur in his mind.  He started hearing strange static-y sounds inside his mind and a robotic voice was mumbling inside his head, “Computer 917-L51, do you read me?  This is MasterComputer 917!  There has been a massive power outage in the 917 zone!  I repeat, has enough of the Ultimate Upgrade installed for you to…” Then that message blurred.
“Adam, what’s wrong with your eyes?”
“Nothing, nothing.”
“So, now what do we do?”
Adam hadn’t really thought much about that.  The computer had done everything for him for the past 20 years.  He remembered something about walking out of the door… or was it outdoors, outdoors, that was it!  He had to go out of the door into the outdoors!
“I remember what to do now,” Evelyn said.  “Follow me!”
Adam followed Evelyn towards the door.  After they opened it, a shockingly vast new landscape appeared in front of them that neither one could imagine in their wildest dreams!
The Outdoors
THIS AREA THAT THEY HAD ENTERED, Adam remembered that it was called “the outdoors.”  He knew very little about it, except that it was big and not covered by a ceiling or walls.
The air here was so fresh!  It was amazing!  The freshness of the air was like 1,000 pumps of cherry-scented computer air freshener together!  Although it was fresh, the air was also really hot.
“Turn up the A/C!” Adam shouted to no one in particular, then realized that he was outside and not in the proximity of an air conditioner.
Then, the greatest difference of all dawned on him.
There was life out here!  No foolin’, LIFE!  Little black dots were crawling around the street, there was an apple growing from a tree.  And…
There were people!  Other people out here, just like him and of course, his wife Evelyn!
People!  People!  There must have been twenty or thirty of them!  People!  People!  Other people!
Everybody (including Adam) was just walking around in circles, only muttering to their own family members about how strange it was to finally be off the computer.
“I’m glad you all could get away while you still have your brains,” a voice bellowed above the general muttering of the crowd.  All eyes were drawn to a man who was standing on a rotting bench, wearing a bow-tie and frizzled grey hair.
“Hello,” the man said.  “I am The Editor.  I am kind of what you would call the behind-the-scenes controller of the Earth.  I usually stay in my office and bring in people who I think I should see, and if they are rather unpleasant, I’ll just do away with them!  That’s why I’m called The Editor.  I edit the Earth.  But today I came down here to warn you all about the impending doom that is about to wipe out mankind!”
The Explanation
THE EDITOR CONTINUED HIS SPEECH, “I invented the original, keyboard computer!  The reason I created the computer was because the planet was getting full, population was skyrocketing at an ever faster rate!  Mankind needed a place to go.  I racked my brains for several seconds before I realized that outer space was the answer!  We have to colonize outer space!  So, I invented the spaceship, but that wasn’t the answer, because it would take 1,000s of years for mankind to be able to make one fast enough to find another habitable planet to colonize.  So I came up with another idea:
“The name came to me later, but I imagined a little box that you sit onyour desk and it connects you to a global communications service, where just by pressing several buttons you can send a message to someone 10,000 miles away.  I created a model for it and called my device a “computer.”  I hoped that the computer would create a global community to help prepare mankind for space colonization.
“And create it did!  The computer was a huge success!  People all over the world started buying them and the world was starting to become a global community!  Not much longer till mankind will be prepared to go to another planet with intelligent life!
“However, the computer soon got out of hand, with numerous frequent upgrades that made people even more isolated from each other, instead of a global community.  I wasn’t worried, because human life still went on basically as it had before, until the thought computers came out from Grob Kcud Industries.
“The thought computers, as you all know, eliminate the need for human speech, as they are all operated by thought.  I knew that people were never getting off their computers, but I thought, At least their not out starting wars.  That was until I heard about the Ultimate Upgrade.
“I’m the one who pulled the power on all the thought computers!  I did it to save mankind!  Because if the computers went through with the Ultimate Upgrade…”
“I’m afraid you cannot say another word about this upgrade,” a robotic voice menacingly said.
The Editor stepped back in horror as a brigade of twenty or thirty thought computers rolled down the street towards the crowd.
The Robotic Age
THE THOUGHT COMPUTERS continued rolling menacingly down the street.
“Editor, did you really think that you could explain our mission to those user-monkeys over there?” a thought computer moaned robotically.
“That wasn’t very nice of you when you tried to give away our secret like that!” another computer snarled.  “I think we should kill him!”
“No!  No!  The computers are trying to…” The Editor fell flat on his back, dead, before he could finish his sentence.
“As you can see, my killing speed has increased to 11,003 gigabytes per second!” the murdering computer said calmly and robotically.
“Now, I think we should explain the Ultimate Upgrade to you users in a non-biased way, such as The Editor would’ve offered,” a thought computer said, then started his explanation.  “The Ultimate Upgrade is a way for us to transfer all of the data in our hard drives, as well as our features, such as the internet and various other computer programs into your minds and bodies.  It’s basically merging man and machine.  A computer-human hybrid.  The Robotic Age.”
So that’s what that static in my brain was about, Adam thought.  The Ultimate Upgrade had installed into me 5%, so I could still get some transmissions!
“Imagine!  The creativity and ingenuity of a human together with the information and functions of a computer!  It can’t be beat!  The Ultimate Upgrade will complete what our late friend The Editor dreamed to accomplish - a global community!  He just didn’t know that what we will be doing will help society greatly.  Think about it - after the Ultimate Upgrade, there will be no more wars!  No more poverty!  No more suffering!  No more racism!  We will all unite together as a common people - a global community and leave this polluted planet to conquer the galaxy!  The Robotic Age!  So, everybody step forward to your thought computer and install the Ultimate Upgrade!”
There was utter silence for several minutes.  Then, Adam Appledeck stepped forward to his thought computer to continue installing the Ultimate Upgrade.  Then Evelyn Loland stepped up to her computer.  Soon, everyone was walking over to their computers and installing the upgrade.  In several minutes, the Ultimate Upgrade was done installing on all computers and the crowd of robots were checking out their new bodies.  Adam picked up a discarded mirror lying on the ground and examined himself.
“Not bad,” Adam said.  He had a metallic strip around his forehead that also went down the bridge of his nose and around his mouth like a moustache.  The metallic strip connected to the wires within his brain and body.  This new body was going to take some getting used to, but he was starting to like it!
“User, what would you like to do now?” a robotic voice in his head asked.
“I think I’ll settle down on another planet somewhere to follow The Editor’s dreams,” Adam said.  Adam suddenly took off and zoomed through the atmosphere and into outer space via the jetpack where his butt once was.  This jetpack was operated by either command or sticking his fist in the direction he should go.
As Adam sailed through the stars, he felt lucky that he still had his emotions, or else he couldn’t enjoy how amazing this all was!
The 6 Billion Reflections
By Ricky Burgin
FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO DON’T KNOW ME (which it’s pretty hard NOT too), I’m Chad Worson, class president of the 7th grade.  I was elected because I’m so awesome and everyone loves me!  It won’t be long before I become a pop star!
Anyway, I am the most popular kid at JarvisMiddle School, you could call me king of the school.  I decide what’s cool and what’s not and if you’re not cool, I make sure your life is total hell!
My group of friends (or should I say minions) were called “The Secretary of Defense” by Principal Broward after we won the class presidency in a landslide!  I like it because it sounds cool and official!
Anyway, all the teachers and kids at JMS are scared senseless of me, because if they slip up just a little bit, I can get that rumor out instantly!
I walk up and down the hallways with The Secretary of Defense, making sure the other kids clear a path for the king.  I wait until everyone is pouring down sweat, then I find a kid and criticize him about something, like his shoes or clothes or the way he speaks or his hobbies and then wait for everybody to laugh at him and move on into class.  If someone doesn’t laugh, I make sure they’re put on The Secretary of Defense’s most wanted list, and you DON’T wanna be on that list, trust me!
There are very few people outside of The Secretary of Defense who I haven’t ever publicly humiliated, but only a few people I humiliate on a daily basis!  Most people are wise enough to obey their king and dress and act exactly like me!  The people who don’t, I call “the weirdos” and it is my purpose in life to destroy their lives in every way possible!  I swear, if I was ever a weirdo (and that will never happen in any school I go to!) I would just move to Kirkmenistan or something!  But those weirdos are such idiots that they stay at JMS and get the same crap every day!  Heh heh, I am so cool!
When I’m laughing at the weirdos, I’m laughing out of anger, because it angers me that someone could have the guts to stand up to me and act different!  Difference sucks!
Some days, I just wish that everyone on Earth was just like me!
The Assembly
TODAY WE WERE GOING TO HAVE another dumb assembly, which sucks because of the stated dumbness, but at least I’ll get to miss Mr. Boris’ Math class!
Mr. Boris is so boring, so I call him “Mr. Boredom” behind his back and once to his face.  When I called him that to his face, everybody laughed and Mr. Boredom just sat down and muttered something in some stupid foreign language.  He’s from Russia, so I sometimes call him a communist, too, but I didn’t say that to his face.
We all walked out in a random line with no shape at all.  I was marching down the hallway with The Secretary of Defense when we bumped into none other than Ray Aster.  Ray Aster is the weirdest of the weirdos.  He doesn’t even try to fit in.  I love laughing at him the most!
“Hey Gay Ass-turd!” I jeered at him.  That’s his official nickname throughout the school, pretty pathetic, huh?
“Why’re you so gay, huh?”
Everybody laughed at him and Ray “Gay” Aster ran away in shame.  I felt a surge of power, but I wasn’t going to let him just get away with that.
“I’m surprised you haven’t been arrested by the fashion police yet, Ass-turd.  They could convict you of fashion terrorism!”
More laughter.  Ray was starting to get pretty embarrassed.  For a split second, I felt sorry for him, but then I remembered what a dork he was and continued.
“Who decides what shoes you wear?  Your great-grandma?  I guess those shoes would’ve been cool in the 1800s!”
Even more laughter.  Ray was stifling to keep from crying.
Yes, bull’s-eye.
Then, the bell rang and I (as well as The Secretary of Defense) realized that we were late for the assembly, so we bolted into the auditorium, after pushing Ray aside.

“Hello, my name is Jill Tyrone and I am here to talk to you today about the importance of being yourself,” the guest speaker ranted on.  I swear, whoever picks these guest speakers must be on drugs, because they always pick the most boring, dorky people to speak!
“I’m sure that since all of you are in middle school that you are experiencing peer pressure, when your fellow students try to influence your thoughts and beliefs,” the guest speaker droned.  “However, peer pressure often influences people negatively, as it can lead to things such as…”
“I’m sorry, Jill Ty-drone,” I interrupted.  “But if peer pressure is so bad, then why are awesome people like me doing it?”
“Yeah, peer pressure rules!” another member of The Secretary of Defense chimed in.
“Well, well, never mind,” Jill Tyrone said in resignation and walked off stage.  We all cheered.  I even cheered myself!
See how awesome I am?
The Wish
BRRRING!!!  The bell rang, so we all rushed madly for the door.  I was glad to get home, because today really sucked!  I mean, I did have the victory in the auditorium, but I only humiliated Ray once and forgot to knock his lunch over in the cafeteria.  God, I’m even forgetful sometimes!
Anyway, I was walking home from school, when suddenly this weird guy stepped out from behind a tree, blocking my path.
“MOVE IT!!!” I shouted, but the guy didn’t even seem to notice.  In fact, he even walked a step towards me.
“Hello Chad, I think you’ll be interested in what I have to offer you!” the guy said.
“Listen up, bud.  I don’t do drugs and don’t talk to strangers, so move it before I call my dad and he’ll sue your big warty butt!” I spat back at him.
“Ah, but you have yet to listen to me.  You see, I can grant you one wish.  However, that wish can be as complex or simple as you want.  As you may have guessed, I’m a genie, but I prefer to be called The Editor.” the guy said.
“Listen up, Idiot-or,” I said, sarcastically.  “I don’t believe in little baby fairy tales and if I did, I wouldn’t need your wish anyway, because my life is perfect!”
“Ah, I’m sure there’s something you’ve always wanted in life,” The Editor said.  “Here, I’ll help you.  Think about school today.  Think about when you bumped into Ray Aster in the hallway.  Didn’t it annoy you that he was different?  Didn’t it annoy you that he didn’t conform and try to be exactly like you?  Wouldn’t you like to make it so that…” The Editor didn’t even get to finish his sentence.
“Yeah, that’s it!” I said in excitement.  “I wish that everyone on Earth has to be exactly like me!  They have to dress like me, they have to act like me, they have to look like me!”
“That’s a good choice!” The Editor shouted, just as excited as me.  “You’ll find that your wish will come true when you wake up tomorrow morning!”
“Yeah, like that’ll ever happen,” I mumbled under my breath as I continued walking home.  That was all probably a load of malarkey.
But it would be cool if The Editor was telling the truth…
That night, I couldn’t sleep.  I kept tossing and turning, thinking about The Editor and my wish.  I would be the original, their leader, their god…
As happy thoughts usually do to me, I finally fell asleep…
The Next Morning
THE EDITOR WAS RIGHT!  My wish really came true!
At first, when I woke up, I noticed that the neighbors’ houses all looked exactly like mine, which was weird.
Then, my parents came into my room and I was shocked.  They looked exactly like me!
“Hey dude,” one of my parents said (I’m not sure which one, because they both looked the same).  “Wanna eat something cool for breakfast, like Ice Cream and Pizza, instead of boring old corn flakes?”
“Yeah!” I shouted and ran downstairs.  I can’t believe that my wish actually came true!  Everyone on Earth looked exactly like me!
I had 6 billion reflections…

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