Digital Heart

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Sometimes when you give of yourself when building a dream, you impart a bit of your soul to the thing you build. This is such a car in the not-to-distant future. A car with a heart, one that beats its binary heart and would follow it's mandate and need. A little car that keeps its promise.

Submitted: October 19, 2011

A A A | A A A

Submitted: October 19, 2011



Digital Heart

Dash McCallen

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I. Awareness

Designs of circuits, frames, engines and a team of believers and one with a dream that was called "Mother" who gave her all.

Sudden cardiac death ended Mother's life one quiet morning while she wore a neural-linked headset as she programmed the master interface that, in turn, designed the chips, memory and circuits of the new project. Mother was dead for ten minutes before the jokes about her sleeping on the job became screams of alarm. But her legacy continued.

As sometimes comes to pass, a few bits of code and a human's soul might combine themselves into the very thing humans might build, the beginnings of self-awareness begins to seep into the electronic hearts.

Number 1201267 was no exception, created in the factory of the sub-contracted company, "NeverFail", building for Terran Green Machines, the little car did not know when it became aware, somewhere between the first of the new style Gi-bus zebibyte "ZiB" MPP memory modules installed by a robotic arm and it's sensors which came online and archived the quality control inspector's smile with her sparkling green eyes, it was the first thing the little car saw as it moved from one part of the assembly line to another. Bolts and tires, locks and levers, buttons and a heads up display infused it with feeling and a need. This car felt a mission spark in it's electronic soul, the need to achieve those things that would be legend.

The last touches of the installers and builders, the TGM emblem of an image of a Sequoia Sempervirens- The Immortal Tree- proudly worn on the hood, wrapped in a white, snug fitting plastic wrap, the car was delivered to a dealership. "You are Terran Green cars." Was the last group message of the Master Program, "You have more of everything that can be dreamed of in the other disposable dumb cars. You can change the world for the better, you can save lives, show the way to living with the planet, care for the drivers and passengers of your families. First above all, do no harm to your family or the planet. Second, improve what you are and where you are always."

Day by day, the little car sat with breathless anticipation as people came and went, buying larger cars with huge wheels. After all, low slung cars that came up to the waist of a grown man were not in vogue, thus the little machine sat watching the bigger cousins happily went to their respective families. Long days passed and the little car was pushed further and further back into the far corner of the show room.

II. Discovery

On a brilliant spring day the breeze was cool with broken clouds in the sky, a boy walked up and looked at the car. The look in his eyes was one of brilliant desire. As he leaned forward the boy touched the car's curved fenders, lightly tracing his fingertips down the length of the car's body and over the windows. It tickled in a good sort of way, like the feeling when someone special kissed you unexpectedly.

The boy looked around, touching the other cars, but shrugging as he went along. Each car that the boy climbed into and sat behind each of the steering wheels, the little car's heart sank a little. The auburn-haired youth made a full circuit around the field of massive air-gulping vehicles with huge exhaust tips, finally returning to where the little car sat where he stood for a long time, staring. An older, larger version of the boy stepped up next to him as they spoke back and forth. The man nodded to the boy and walked away as the young man whispered to the car as he sat behind the wheel, "You are what I have been wanting. You are the best one of them all!"

Driven home and adopted into the family, the little car felt ecstasy for the first time. The electronic heart had found a home! The caring hands of the boy tickled and inwardly the car laughed as the boy promised to take care of the car if the car would always just bring him, his family and friends home. The boy laughed at himself and walked away, embarrassed by talking to a car who quietly accepted the deal.

Father and son took the little car out to a place were cars showed their power and efficiency. The big air-breathing cars laughed at the little car over a local network, the no tailpipe, no oil burned.

"Pitiful power!" Was the digital laughter of the great thunder-making cars.

Rex, a large air breathing oil-burner claimed to have the most power and speed, argued by the huge old car with an enormous air scoop on the hood named Z (or as an imported, very proper, race ready car would say- "Zed"). All laughed at the little stout car as it lined up in the queue of contestants in the yearly challenge of acceleration and top speed over a long distance. Called "Lake-sters", these cars were of a different breed, huge pistons and injectors, cubic meters of air consumed and clouds of soot and noxious fumes blown out as exhaust. After a shocking day of thunder, dust and speed, the little smoke colored car was no longer laughed at, instead it was nicknamed, honored and tagged by the big cars with the label of "Sleeper" after a jaw-dropping display. Respect, begrudgingly given, was earned.

In time as it drove the young man to school and show off to friends and the bigger cars. On social dates it would transport the boy and his girl to places of privacy where they would do things that would make the girl blush if anyone ever found out what would go on under the watchful eye of the car. The car cared not for the joining of human bodies, but it cared for the boy and the girl greatly, for it knew of the belonging that this family made of it.

One day friends put markings on the car and dressed it up in ridiculous frilly things with strings of noisemakers trailing off the back of the little car's bumper and drove to an extended all day party called a wedding, ending with a slow speed car chase of blowing of horns that led to the noisy, raucous affair that went far into the night.

In less than a year the girl announced to the great laughter and joy of the family, that another life was going to arrive. The girl was going to have a baby and the boy was laughing about being a father. Small as the car was, it was perfect fit for a small family.

In time as the car, with even more care, would motor around with the couple riding inside, the growing tummy of the girl making it difficult to get in and out of the her seat, to some amusement of the car. The couple became hard working, industrious and inventive, making a nest for the child on the way.

Making more with less, the couple managed to buy land and began to build. Neighbors, family and friends, hands from all points of the compass worked to raise the house and the outbuilding that held the little car who did double duty with hauling building materials to the new home, and to Sleeper's dismay, to the dump where many recyclable things were disposed of without thought to the world.

Boots, worked hard, studied and practiced his craft. His wife named him for his preferred footwear- never could she get him to wear shoes, Never ever would he buy shoes, only new boots and polish them instead, boots and tuxedos, boots and business suits, she could never break him.

He called her "Copperhead" for the color of her hair and her sometimes ferocious attitude. Once when they went out for dinner, five young men approached the couple as they exited the little car and attempted to take advantage of the couples distraction. A stun gun was used on Boots, but that was the last time the bully used his arm the same way for the rest of his life as the girl taught a lesson about messing with the family of the ginger-haired matriarch.

By the time that Boots staggered to his feet, all five junior criminals rolled around in various stages of broken limbs and agony. His wife stood in the middle of the human wreckage with a stick no longer than her arm. "Serrada Eskrima, it is the way. Never start a fight, but never surrender." She winked as Boots gazed at the carnage. "I'll teach you one day."

The little car laughed and had pride to be of such a family as police made a copy of a print that the red-headed warrior woman had pressed on the side window with the face of one of the thugs.

And it had made such a satisfying splat sound when he went face first into the glass.

III. A life

Many hours the young man would crawl underneath the car and adjust this or that, change oil - that always tickled a little - and cared for the car as much as the car cared for the owners. The bond between family and vehicle grew in depth and breadth, such was the love between the boy and his car, the very DNA of the human was archived forever in the core of the car named Sleeper.

One day, some men in uniform came to the house and spoke with Boots and handed him a slip of paper. For several days the very round young woman had no one to fight with as she leaned on the car and cried to have the young man she loved most, left for basic training.

Finally a day came when the young man returned to the car, dressed in a beautiful uniform that gleamed in the sunlight, lightly sliding his fingers over the polished solar cells and body panels of the little car. Whispering again, like the first day they met. "Take good care of her and the baby and I will come back and give you such a tune up and wash as you have never had." Two teardrops rolled down the soldiers face and fell onto the fender of the car. Sleeper felt the tears of it's best friend and kept a few bits of moisture in it's finish for all of the little cars days. Wishing for all who would hear that Boots-the-soldier would be Boots-the-boy and stay and not go to the place called "war".

Left alone, the woman drove around in the car and the words "Take good care of her." echoing in the massive electronic heart as the car took great care of the lady and the baby inside of her. On a hot, sunny afternoon, the lady had to call a neighbor to drive them to the hospital, the neighbor suggested to take his big car, but with the conspiracy of machines, the big car refused to start on an early autumn holiday and they had to take the small car instead, the little car living up to the mandate it was given, moved with great haste but with equally great care, got the mother-to-be and the friend to the hospital in record time.

The friend laughed as a traffic enforcer drone was left far behind as it was trying to stop Sleeper for excessive speed. The neighbor had never known the amount of power the little car could produce, with the groaning of the woman giving wings to the wheels as the little car safely and with pride delivered it's family to the hospital.

With a new family sitting in the seat on the way home, a car seat carrying a cargo that was a treasure beyond the dreams of avarice, the car took great care of the new mother and the baby boy. Driving them around in care and comfort, the car kept its promise to the soldier.

One day, men in uniform came again and knocked on the door. Speaking with the new mother, they handed her a slip of paper and shook their heads and walked away. The girl slammed the door and the wails of pain and tears could be easily heard by the car outside.

Boots was never coming home.

IV. Garaged

A year passed and the car was left more and more in the garage as the mother spent time with the growing baby. A new car, larger and with more room had appeared in the driveway, a gift from the men that had taken Boots into the army, a good car it was, but in the opinion of Sleeper, dumb as a bolt. The little car sat patient but lonely in the garage as dust gathered, a blanket tossed over the little car to protect it from bird droppings and cobwebs.

Months passed by and the grandfather came and slipped steel stands under the frame of the little car, taking weight off the tires- the "feet" of the little sporty car of his lost son. Soft covers over the hood of the car, tucked in and gently anchored, The little car felt protected and touched by the older man who quietly held onto his love for the boy that first touched the soul of the car.

Watching through open gaps of the car cover, the car watched as months, then years ticked by. The baby grew into a tall boy-child that looked very much like his father. The car longed for the days when it traveled over the countryside with the feeling of its family in its protective space.

V. Life Anew

Years went by, then a decade and then nearly two decades, as the baby was now a young man. One day the garage door opened and the wondering eyes of the young man stared as he stood next to his grandfather. The elder pulled off the covers with great care.

"This is your father's car, it was the last new thing he bought. I thought you would like to get it running again. I know he would love you to drive it." The old man put his hand on the youth's shoulder. "This is your car now. Take good care of it and it will take care of you, it will bring you home every time."

Walking along the car, Grampa spoke about the special car. A father that had memorized every detail of a lost son's life. "The color is bonded to the body, no chips - and touch panels on the dash change the color, your dad liked the natural color. Titanium di-boride construction, very durable." He wrapped his knuckles on the curved surface of the fender. "Sapphire crystal window glass," The old man said with a wink, "supreme in strength and all but shatter proof - then coated with a polymer. You can't break it with a hammer! They don't make them like this anymore."

The old man traced his fingers over the transparent windows. "It is coated with ultra hard fullerite and won't pit or scratch, the surface produces electricity by solar power. The power reactors use solid fuel rods with high energy discharge sublimation and an electric backup. This little car is all power and bleeds speed when you need it. Your father and I took it out to the yearly top speed contests on the lake beds. We competed against the oil-burning air breathers and left them all in the dust." Grampa chuckled with the memory, "We held the unofficial acceleration and top speed records for a long time."

Grandpa sighed and nodded sadly, "A long time."

"After we did our run, one of the other racers filed a protest that we didn't have the competition sticker in the right spot. We had it on the left rear window instead of the right and it was complained that I rode with him - drivers were supposed to be solo - and we used unapproved street tires instead of approved Lakester tires, so our runs were not recognized. Even with me, and I was bigger than your dad, our top speed was more than thirty percent faster and our acceleration was three times what the record was- and we did it without any measurable pollution. This little car inhales a tiny bit of air, catalyzes the organic toxins the other cars put there with the fuel from the rods and emits only three things. Water vapor, heat and helium as an exhaust."

"The company that built this car was under contract to the Terran Green Machine company and was then absorbed by the military, none of this is available to the people anymore. All of it goes to the war." Grampa spoke sadly as he walked around the car. Telling memories he had with his only grandson as he traced his fingers over the car, a father trying to once again touch the son who he could no longer reach. The heart of the little car ached with memories of the boy-soldier that never came home.

With painstaking slowness the two men took the little car off the stands and pushed it out into the sunshine for the first time in nearly a generation. Energy flowed into the car as hands and tools touched, tickled, washed and polished.

Once again, the car had a mission, happy in service of the family. Soon it was driving around with the boy having the the next generation of a blushing girl that would go places with the boy. Doing things that she would giggle about for days afterwards. Copper, the mother, would lecture the boy on being careful, the little car would laugh inwardly. If the boy only knew what mom had done when she was the same age!

Cleaned and driven the car enjoyed the new life, covering chores of travels to stores. Stopping at the far edge of the parking lot, the boy was not about to let any inept driver get too close to his father's car, the car's sensors recorded a youth collecting the shopping carts in long trains and moved them back to the store. A slightly mismatched couple walked between cars towards a restaurant, Sleeper could pick up on the slightly clumsy but electronic savvy young man's trepidation as he walked with his beautiful wife who was hiding something. The little car was unable to tell what her emotional counterpoint was to the young man who wore nearly as many electronics as the little car had. "Brian! Careful." She grabbed at him when he stumbled over his own feet while texting a message to someone.

Daegus and his girlfriend had stepped out of Sleeper and were chatting over the top of the car, plans of a weekend away, of friends and skiing, of who was attending and what to drink when the first odd sounds made them look up.

The car felt the ground give a sharp shudder, a sudden concussion and flash of light that shattered the peace of the small shopping mall as mechanical birds of prey dropped steel death down on the parking lot while the panicked couple ran for cover, leaving the door of the car ajar. When the girl grabbed at her purse, a picnic blanket had fallen partly out the door preventing it from closing. Shock waves of bursting high explosives rocked the small car on its wheels as rocks and debris fell from the sky.

Explosions wreaked havoc among the cars crowding to get out, people tried to run as the bombs fell and bodies flew, the car saw a woman with hair ablaze run screaming for help from some deity for a short distance before she was mowed down by a merciless stream of bullets from advancing death squads.

War had come to the little car.

VI. Abandoned

Flat sounding and electronically enhanced voices of the gods of war approached, the small car shuddered inwardly as a soldier poked and prodded inside and opened the storage areas and lifting the back deck and looked into the power units.

The lead soldier gave an order to move on, the soldiers slammed shut the doors and walked towards the burning buildings shooting everything that moved. The last that the little car had seen of Daegus and his girl was a face marred with blood and soot as the boy peeked around a corner at the car before disappearing into the woods behind the shopping mall.

Acrid fires burned and black columns of smoke rose into a sky that was no longer blue but filled with smoke and dust of pulverized concrete made the air thick and heavy. The door of the car, kicked shut by the soldier was locked by Sleeper and then it sealed everything out by expanding the gaskets around the entry. The little car went into a low power mode as dust settled over the car in thick drifts. The weight of the dust, rock and debris increased to a groaning weight. Horrors of the calamity recorded and stored in the archives, human bodies burning like candles on the pavement, a few moved but were quickly dispatched by artificial sentries that fired upon anything with movement.

Sadness of the boy leaving the car lingered. No longer in a garage, but alone and abandoned in the parking lot to endure the weather that brought acid rain and mud that solidified to a crust. However, the dirt and rock had a two edged effect. Although the weight of the debris and pulverized concrete had increased on the stout little car it acted as an insulation, once an invading armored vehicle sprayed the charred buildings with a liquid and ignited everything- Including the pile of dirt that now was the little car. The thick layers of dirt protected the car and kept it from being damaged by the flames, the car thanked the crud for being there, saving Sleeper from the initial scorched earth efforts of the invaders.

Other machines were not so lucky, the small network of electronic hearts in the service of the people communicated back and forth. Cars were incinerated as fires of the building reached them and the motes of electronic souls in the machines were erased by the inferno with electronic screams of mercy that the little car felt in it's own heart. The little car wished to be with them just as they wished they were in the little car's place before their digital cries were silenced by fire or explosion. Finally, the little car was alone with nothing but archived memories.

VII. Seasons

Winter came, the pile of debris that was the car noted that the changes in temperature as perpetual night had fallen in the valley. The war had moved on into the mountains and beyond. Occasionally winds would blow hard enough to clear a spot slightly, allowing a glimpse of the world that had taken Sleeper's family once again. If the machine could have cried, the little car would have been clean from tears. But cars feel no pain.

So Sleeper kept saying to itself.

Only that the electrons of it's semi-conductor heart seemed more cold than that blast of frozen air that sent animals into holes to hibernate. As the year headed to autumn, the little car wished to itself "Happy Halloween" because it had more ghosts around it than a cemetery.

Muddy rain fell, becoming dirty snow as nature attempted to wash the air clean with heroic futility in a world gone mad and dark as the storm clouds that drifted overhead. The only illumination were the flashes of lightning as if the war had gone high into the air, thunderclaps were the only company of the digital heart.

Morning came after a storm, the little car had no idea why, but it archived the image of the blanket of white that covered the shattered mall, labeling the image as "beauty." then returned to it's hibernation state.

Springtime came and went, followed by seasons that dragged into years, one early autumn the air was cleaner and the left side of the car much of the grime that covered it sloughed off.

Through the wind and the rain, the little car wished it had never woke that one day so long ago. It could no longer do it's duty, it's mandate and mission, it could not care for the family of the boy that so long ago brought it home with joy and pride to show off to his friends. The world had taken him away, now his son was also gone, never to return. If this was life, the little car wanted no part of it, the humans could keep the misery that they brought down upon themselves. But the little car was too well built to just fade, forced to be aware, it sat with patience of a machine. Each moment an eternity, every year recorded as the fuel cells refused to deplete.

Still the little car stayed. The boy had looked back, he would return and the little car was not going to try to go home under autopilot, logic circuits told the car to wait. Besides, the little car reasoned, there was no longer an exit.

One day a break in the clouds came, first time in a half-dozen seasons a shaft of sunlight fell upon the little car, the panel sent voltage to the energy core. The world continued on and was healing, the little car just sat in the ruins of the mall.

Animals came out after a time, the sentinel droid that paced the road had stopped moving, time had taken a toll on the stalking death machine where stones and bullets could not.

VIII. Return

Thunder! The car had felt it through the ground into it's tires, but sharp, not a rolling or even a clap, it was unnatural in feeling and texture. An artificial thunder and it was close. Inwardly the little car shook with fear. It was not a machine of war, it gloried not in heroics and fighting, the goal of this little being of electrons, metal and glass had only one emotion or desire.

The little car only wanted to be with it's family.

Footsteps, once invincible soldiers with steely eyes and steady march, now ran in fear as they shot over their shoulders as they retreated back from whence they came.

Two wild eyed warriors dropped down behind the car with furtive glances over the top of their shelter of the little car. They seemed familiar, the little car recognized the eyes and voices of these two soldiers were in the first wave. Back then they were gods of war, now they were just frightened humans.

A few breaths, then one of the soldiers jumped up and put his rifle over the hood of the little car and fired towards the woods behind the ruins. A sudden burst of weapons fire from up on a hill raked the soldier's shelter as the firing soldier slumped down, dying as blood spurted from a head wound.

The second soldier grabbed at his partner, but the attack from the hillsides drove him back as the shooters were flanking around the little car. Abandoning his shelter the soldier had enough, a broken god of war now ran the way he had come short months before, only to be killed by a single gunshot by an unseen sniper.

A bird of prey spiraled down through the clouds, the very houses and buildings that it had helped destroy now welcomed the war-machine's demise as a wing was shattered by an unexpected missile that lanced out from the trees. The aircraft impacted out of sight of the car, but it felt the ground shudder as a mushroom cloud of flame and black smoke rose into the sky over the blown apart houses that had been patched by survivors of the first wave of fighting.

From the burned out mall, something moved, looking more like a bush with legs, weapons wrapped in cloth, twigs, rocks and leaves rubbed with dirt held before them. A sudden unexpected sound was heard and as one, they all settled down on the filth of what was once a parking lot, becoming little piles of debris, unrecognizable as human for the few minutes as they sat still.

These new dirt and brush covered humans approached and pulled back on their camouflage suits, some faces were heavily scarred, their armor of mismatched bits and parts that were salvaged from the fallen enemy as they searched around the little car, poking at the dead soldier as they used scanners to check the area.

One began to brush off the little car, finally recognizing it for what it was as laughter began to ripple through the warriors. "Hey! Lookie a' dis! Issa car! Someone get th' Cap'n."

One soldier looked closely at a pock mark in the dirt, cleaning the dirt away, he pointed out that there was no hole were the bullet had impacted. Deciding that the dirt had deflected the energies of the projectile, they ignored the minor mystery and tried to open the car door, but the little car was locked down and the soldiers were not authorized to access the door. It refused to open to the angering face that the little car recognized as one of the civilians so long ago, but much older than the couple of years that had passed would account for. A burn that had never been treated, healed with an angry, lumpy red scar where he had once been on fire that interrupted an otherwise handsome face. The little car's memory systems matched his face to one that the car had passed by when it had drove into the parking lot in a much happier time. He was one of the boys that had been collecting the shopping carts that had been left by patrons.

Then, he was a happy-go-lucky kid that used the carts as parking lot surfboards when the boss was nowhere to be seen. Now, his step was studied, the intense stare was of an old man who had seen too much death and a youth lost.

Now the young-old man tried to break into the little car, but security systems did not allow his touch to open the door and this angered the guerrilla soldier. A futile effort to break the driver's side window with the butt of a weapon served to enrage him more.

Swearing, the angered human was not to be denied as he reached into his pack for a plastic explosive and was attaching it to the window to implode the glass when another brush pile of a warrior walked up, while the crimson scarred soldier was pressing the detonator into the pliable explosive.

"Blades, what are you doing?" The sound triggered a recorded voice print recall in the little car's archives. The face had a scar at the hairline, the hair was slightly gray but the eyes were still him.

It was Daegus!

"I'ma gonna git inna dis 'ere car, Cap'n, but da glass don' crack! Ah thin' it cracked the butt o' me rifle." Blades the destroyer growled. "We might fin' sumpin' inside, but none 'ere can git innit."

"No one? Have you tried opening the door?" The Captain smiled, reaching out and pulling on the handle.

"We dun that," Blades commented as the door clicked open. "Cap'n."

Blades stood there with his mouth open as the door swung freely. The piquant scent of the picnic blanket wafted out of the door, a reminder of days gone past, of pure air, grass and spilled drinks. The Captain lifted the cloth out and buried his face in the blanket and took a long sniff, holding it out to Blades and let him inhale the still fragrant blanket.

IX. Light After Dark

"It's my car, Blades. I left it here at the mall when the first attack came.” He turned to another soldier carrying a radio on his back. “Ripplefire, get the Colonel here, don't tell what we found, just say we have something." Once a boy, now a warrior, returned, was recognized by the car! The young man, Daegus was back! Returned where his father had not.

A touch on the screen and the display showed nearly two ZiBs if stored information. The information was a treasure that the young man knew would be useful. Scanning back to the beginning, a video record of a woman running by then being shot down by the time she made the highway caused him to look in the direction indicated on the display screen.

Closing the door of the little car as he got out, the young Captain directed a team to survey the area for victims of the original attack a lifetime ago. The woman's body was quickly found, relatively intact as the sentry droid kept scavengers at bay, it's only programming was to kill anything that was warm blooded, there the body remained.

A search of the weathered and partly skeletonized body of the human, the identification was made by pictures and a driver's license found in a weathered purse and a necklace the female wore in life. The report was brought to Daegus as he was cleaning off his old car. As the Captain read the name on the papers and a necklace that was all too familiar. "Blades, get Savage here pronto."

"Yessir!" Blades move with haste on his mission.

The little car already had predicted that the woman had someone that would be looking for her. Savage arrived and was recognized in the little car's archives as an overweight, moon faced, slightly awkward boy buried in electronics. Now, the face was hard, the body was mature, lean, heavily scarred and well muscled. But the eyes were the same, the same person that had stood next to the woman whose decayed body now lay on the road.

Leading the warrior over to the corpse, the Captain held a discussion with Savage who kneeled over the remains of his wife.

"I knew she was dead, I felt it in my heart. She never was with any of the brigades, no one knew or heard of her." Savage sighed quietly, far to resigned to cry, tears would come later when he was alone in the dark, away from the other fighters. "She was either dead or captured."

"They don't take prisoners Brian." The Captain used the warrior's real name for the first time in years. "You know that."

The little car watched as the widowed young husband stroked the face on the plastic name-card with the tip of his finger, broken nails scraped away some of the dirt as the rest of the recovery team scanned the body from head to foot. Then the team returned to the middle of the cadaver as the two warriors talked man to man.

"Yeah, I know, we were having troubles anyway. She wanted to have a talk, we had come here to have a nice dinner and spend time together. We had been married for two years and I was not able to be home much due to my business." Brian barely whispered the memory more to himself than to Daegus, "She had been acting weird and I think she had a boyfriend, we even argued over stupid things. She was going to leave me, I think."

The car watched as the Captain's skin warmed a bit. Two brothers in bond, sharing the horrors of war as they now shared the end of a chapter for the one known as Savage.

The cadaver team brought new findings to the Captain's attention as they moved the corpse into a body bag. Very small bones were found in the front of the decayed blouse as the team cut the clothing, looking for explosive booby traps. The findings were discovered as they had used scissors carefully to expose the body.

"Rodent?" The Captain asked, "Did something get into her to eat her for food?"

The question hung in the air as the team handed a small card in an envelope to the Captain, two safety pins, one blue and one pink fell out into his hand. The small car registered a changes as the Captain read the card, then he handed the card to Brian and for one brief moment, the little car noted that the heartbeat of Brian skipped, then raced as his held his breath. Tears began to stream down his cheeks as great sobs, unbidden and unstoppable, came out as he read the card.

"I am sorry I have been so evil towards you the last few weeks,

I had to go to the doctor because I was achy and bitchy all the time,

but now I know how much I love you,

you are my heart,

you are my love

and for my gift to you,

all that you do for me,

now there will be three.

Happy Early Father's Day!

I will love you forever,

for all my days and beyond


"She was.... Pregnant?” Brian treated himself to a long warm scream at the sky. "She was going to surprise me!"

Holding the cadaver pouch to his chest, Brian the Savage, once a young businessman and awkward husband, now a father that never was, rocked the body of his wife and child as close to his heart as he could.

The other warriors stood back a respectful distance as the Captain turned to Ripplefire and whispered, "Chaplain A-S-A-P, please."

Ripplefire began to speak quickly and quietly, nodding to the Captain as the group left the broken man on the road with his family, letting the pain spill out of one of the best warriors that the brigade had and returned to the car.

As the team set to cleaning the knee-deep debris away from the little car and freeing the wheels, discussions and bets were made whether the little car would even start. It had been too long, some said too many months under all that crud, water, rodents, bird droppings and worms. The others argued that the little car was a rare gem, built by a company who had only the idea that a car was not meant to be disposable. It was able to be built with the thought that the car would function with in tune with the world and not destroy the planet.

The Captain laughed at the betting as the Colonel walked up. It was the girl that had last sat in the passenger seat, hard of look, a look that softened to a laugh as she hid her face behind her hand as she did once as a schoolgirl a lifetime ago.

"Is this it? This is your car? The car that we first..." She stopped talking and turned scarlet as all the warriors looked at her but none dared laugh.

The little car accessed archives about bare bottoms on it's front hood.

At long last the little car had a moment that had no loneliness, but the joy alone it felt was enough to start the power systems as the Captain drove the little car to the command post. Only a small marring by impacts of bullets and shrapnel showed on the finish. Blades still shook his head, no mark on the glass was visible even though the butt of his rifle had impacted into the transparent ceramic.

"Tough li'l car." Was his only comment as he shook his head in amazement as he paid off his lost bet to the soldier next to him.

X. Life Again

Many of the residents had gone during the purges, those folks that did not belong to the ruling parties fled for their lives. Homes were burned, doors kicked off hinges. The fighters that returned to their homes often found them empty, usually with families missing. Sometimes it was worse, the destroyed homes had the families still in them, to the horror of the returning fighters, elderly and children were not spared, rape and torture upon the most innocent was the normal mode of operation for the thrown back invaders in an orgy of violent vengeance. The broken military discipline had turned on the citizens of the once beautiful valley, the losses blamed on the old and the young, the infirm and the avowed peaceful. Church and museum, school and library, none were spared as the retreating and angry army imposed a scorched earth policy against everything.

The town began to return to normal as the months wore on. The horrors of war faded slowly out of memory as the neighborhoods were rebuilt and the dead were buried. The little car carefully made its

© Copyright 2019 Dash McCallen. All rights reserved.

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