An Adieu with a Probability

Submitted into Contest #62 in response to: Write about a character putting something into a time capsule.... view prompt


Science Fiction Thriller Fantasy

I know. I know. I half choke and half sob. I realize I am in shock but there’s no way I can stop myself from reacting. Instead of letting my emotions reign I try to sum up everything from a technical point of view. This has always been my way to cope with anything difficult.

Look, I tell myself. You have something precious to you. And you’re in danger. Now the thing that is precious to you isn’t something that’s materialistic. You need to understand…its, in fact, a sort of self sacrificial love. Stop, I warn myself, you’re getting too emotional So I start over again.

You’re in mortal danger and you will die within a short time frame. Correct. Out of human instinct you must protect something valuable and since you’ll be dead soon you need to carry out a protective measure. Correct? Yes… so what’s the hesitation for? Just put your cargo in this capsule and hope for the best. No, hope is emotion and my nerves are already fragile. Let me rephrase it I tell myself. And just in time before I lapse into a nervous break down. Rephrasing: the probabilities of my possession surviving in this capsule is fifty, fifty. in contrast, not putting my precious into the capsule means a hundred percent destruction. Correct? Yes, but…..

Then why can I not put my baby into the time capsule? Is it because its not built for humans? Of course it isn’t. But still, this machine isn’t as primitive as seven years ago, God-forbid. We’re far beyond sending just letters, sheet by sheet. Wasn’t it in the news just yesterday that they’ve successfully just sent the heaviest load up till now. 20 kilograms was it? Oh, what would I remember of yesterday? It feels like ages ago. Like paradise. My brain runs overdrive in despair. I am connecting vast and various data that lies in my subconsciousness out of survival instinct.

Yesterday, was when these rabid robots weren’t after us. It was when I was making vegetable soup in the kitchen and my baby was sleeping in his pen in the adjoining living area. Yesterday was when I was thinking what groceries had to buy this weekend. I half smile from the irony. I’m stuck between the past and future. Present is formidable. What will my child do without me in the future? That is if he survives.

I survey the slick, metal machinery. Its a huge pill with a seam in the middle when it’s closed. Right now its slit open a meter wide and I stare at the insides. Plain metal again with a tray to place items. I shall soon be placing my ‘item’ here. A beep resonates on the screen to my right. “AI entering lobby” the message states and above that, on the digital blueprints of the building the lobby area blinks red.

Somehow, the peaceful and systematic movements of the robots is petrifying. Its more chilling then what the 21’s movies showed of robots being on a rampage. It was like comparing a classical, roaring monster to a skilled serial killer. So smooth and serene that the silence seems to strangle you. I am being strangled from a fear and despair deep within me.

But I, too, must act in complete quietness and swiftness. I surf through the monitor, selecting from what little choices I have. “Approximate weight:” the machine blankly asks. I type in 7.3 kg and immediately the monthly doctor’s checkup come to mind. My brain runs overdrive recollecting every second as if it might save me from making this decision. I have at most 15 minutes before the AI slowly scans its way through the rooms, detecting potential human life to eradicate.

I am then politely asked to load my luggage onto the capsule. I turn around. And face the baby basket. My baby sleeps peacefully enveloped in a soft blanket. He will reach the other side. He will, I decide. I must match my competition with an equal hardheartedness. If I am to save him from the AI, I must be of equal resilience. This is not the time to breakdown, we discussed this I remind myself. I reach over for my purse. Unzip it, and smoothly bring out the first item inside. Its not something visually important. A sheet of paper I tore from the five dollar spiral notebook from the general store. Inside is written a letter to the ‘futurers’. And nested in the folds of the same page is the photograph I removed from the frame on top of the rack at home, last minute. Its a picture of us. Our family. This will be for the baby.

I marvel and despair at my quick thinking. How easily I planned everything the moment it was certain I would die. The plan was as smooth as if I had been a week old. I wedge the paper underneath the baby, below the blanket. I am about to give a parting kiss but I am too afraid to wake him up. Or perhaps to hurt myself. Without thinking, without feeling I place the basket onto the tray. But unlike usual, this time I don’t manually slide the capsule shut. I would never have the guts too. I know I’m in shock and can work without my heart’s presence but I don’t want to push myself too far and come out of this spell. I must match the robots.

A final touch to the monitor and the capsule slides backwards slightly. I ignore the movements and focus on the screen, acting like I am on usual loading duty. The system asks me to wait as it takes an estimate weight of the contents I placed on the tray. Matches it with my entered value. I glance to the clock. I have ten minutes.

The security command delivers the message I was anticipating. It is as if my patience is being tested. The machine has detected my baby’s breath and wants me to check for human trace on board. I override the command and continue. This is it. The end and start. A glass dome looming above makes its way down and settles on top. A few seconds later the count down starts, I stare. This is so impossible I don’t believe it is possible. I stare blankly.

Minutes pass. To the side, most of the building has turned red on screen and soon the AI shall greet me. I will respond with open arms after this deed.

Then, slowly the glass dome pulls back up. As it moves upwards I feel my heart sinking. Its going into oblivion just like my baby. Despair, regret and finally melancholy replaces the place it used to be. The weight is too much and I collapse onto the floor. Behind me is the empty capsule now open and dormant again. It is emotionless as if it did not just write the destiny of my only love. A destiny I don’t know. It is vacant and empty. In the middle am I, heart broken and disoriented. I want this over before the shock pulls out of my body. From the other side, the doors open and in enter the machines similarly vacant and empty as they approach me.

October 06, 2020 18:54

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