Friday, September 13, 2013

"Lights in the City" by E.M. Noble (Short Story)

Genre:  Post-Apocalyptic, Science Fiction

Type of Short Story:  Short Story

Summary:  On a normal run through a big city, a runner swats a fly. The fly grows in size and becomes so big that it blocks the sun. The people in the city are under attack! Rayna, a Recovery and Reevaluation technician, must decide if the city is worth saving. Will the humans prove themselves worthy of continuing life? Or will they doom themselves to a terrible fate?


The road before Rayna lay desolate and abandoned. Skyscrapers surrounded her. The moonlight reflected on the shiny buildings and allowed her to see ahead of herself. No artificial lights were on. The buildings had broken windows and the one on Rayna’s left had scorch marks.

She kept moving forward, searching for an object that had seen the destruction unfold. The scorched door had been a victim of it, but it wasn’t in the center of it all. She needed to know the entire story, not a small piece.

A running shoe, sprawled on the sidewalk, was a likely candidate. Rayna approached the shoe, taking note of its melted sole. She held her hand out and in the second that she made contact with the shoe, Rayna also made contact with the shoe’s owner. The lingering memory of the runner training for a marathon stung her with feelings of fear, determination to survive, and awe.

The runner was almost finished with her run when she swatted a fly and rounded a corner. The fly disappeared, but another one took its place. She swatted the fly and that fly, instead of leaving, grew bigger. The horsefly buzzed in her face and she waved her arm and it grew to the size of a large horse. The fly rose high in the air and then dive bombed the runner. The people around her screamed and ran. The runner stayed still. By pushing the fly away, she had caused it to become angry. Her strategy worked: the fly veered away from her at the last moment. She took the opportunity and ran away.

Rayna broke from the runner’s memory and released her touch on the shoe. Her job, as a Recovery and Reevaluation technician, required her to listen to the human’s thoughts and see if the city was worth saving. Rayna’s recent upgrade to FieldBot technology had wiped her past feelings and opinions. A new start, the supervisors said.

She had agreed to the upgrade because, well, she didn’t remember. It was interesting: Rayna felt like the same person she had always been, but she didn’t know who she had been. Did it matter? Perhaps, and perhaps not.

Rayna reached for the shoe and was transported back to the runner’s memory. The runner had made it to a nearby grocery store.

“Giant fly! It’s attacking,” she gasped.

A man buying cereal boxes at the checkout gaped at her.

“Are you all right?” said the cashier, with a concerned furrow in his brow.

The runner pointed to the door. “There’s a giant fly!” she said to their confused stares. She gave up and grabbed a water bottle, bought it, and left.

Pandemonium ruled the streets. The fly was now the size of the building she worked in and hovered over the city, blocking the sun. A toddler waddled past her as his mother was distracted by the fly. Everyone shoved as the sky became darker and darker until it was as if noon was really 2 o’clock in the morning.

In an hour, a task force had been created to defeat the monstrous insect. The news that people had made the fly by hitting it had spread. Volunteers on the task force shot, threw knives, and attempted to tie it down. Or, at least that’s what it looked like was happening. Before the runner could get a good look, the power went out on the block she was standing in.

No one knew she was the first to swat the fly and she intended to keep it that way. A fight had broken out between someone who accused another of causing the catastrophe. The victim had been rushed to the hospital with a twisted leg and squished nose, blood everywhere. Rayna left the memory. If the runner was scared for her life, why should the city remain? The city was currently in a limbo state. Left like that for a couple hundred years, it wasn’t a particularly important city, according to her supervisors. That’s why she had been given it as her first Recovery and Reevaluation recovery and reevaluation. If she messed it up, it wouldn’t make a big effect on the other cities on Earth.

Buy this story on Amazon or Smashwords.

No comments:

Post a Comment