The Peace Room

Submitted into Contest #205 in response to: Make your protagonist go through a rite of passage.... view prompt

15 comments

Science Fiction Contemporary Horror

‘Are you ready, Rex?’

Aleka moved to the side of the white and chrome room.

‘Just gimme a minute, love.’

Aleka paused.

Rex sighed as he took the opportunity to gather his thoughts, in privacy. How had it all come to this?

No escape was possible but even if he could, escape- Why would he? Escape to what? His life was no life. It was an existence, at best- And a paltry one at that. Yet, Rex was an old man. If he wasn’t, he wouldn’t be here. That is, he was no criminal- Never had been. And he’d always done his best to be kind to others, even when this courtesy was not extended in return, as sadly, was often the case, these days at least.

Do unto others as you would wish have done to you. This is what his Mother had always taught him and a lesson he had firmly carried with him throughout life, even in the face of the now stark, contradictory public doctrines. He’d always been respectful. Especially to women. And yet, here he was, consumed by an unexpected and all pervasive bitterness, bordering on rage. And alone. Always alone, until the end. The bitter end. Rex sighed again. Nice guys finish last. Should he have been more bold? More assertive? Is that what women wanted? Like Heathcliff or the other guy, from Jane Eyre. Rex wished he’d read more, whilst he still could.

They say before you die, your life flashes before your eyes. But Rex hadn’t had a life. Not a proper one. Sixty years working sixty hours a week, for someone else, for minimum wage (Not that he was paid anymore in the traditional sense), doing a job that any robot could do, as he’d been so harshly reminded, on a daily basis, during his final decades.

‘Remember your training.’ Rex said aloud. ‘Death is not the end. There can be no end if there is no beginning. Do not fear death, for it is this period of life that is the anomaly. You are a consciousness zombie with the illusion of separateness. It is not real. You are not real.’ A mantra Rex had heard thousands of times over the course of his life. It was about four ‘pages’ long, the mantra, but this was the first part and so, the part that was most recited. Rather like the beginning of ‘Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name… etc’. But no one said that any more. Rex just remembered it from the olden days, before the take over.

He knew, rationally, that this was no different, in effect, than boarding a train or a plane, to a new destination- Not that public transport existed any more, obviously, but from a metaphorical point of view, this analogy does the trick.

Still, on a primal level, Rex was terrified. This was only human. And he was only human, all too human... But Rex had always been proud to be human. Despite the stigma, he’d never relented to outside pressures to conform-He’d always stood firm. And this, Rex told himself, as he trembled and held back the tears, was something that he could hold his head high for. ‘It’s alright, mate.’ He said to himself, knowing that nobody else would.

Rex’s chin touched his chest before springing back into position, as he brought himself out of his funkty funk funk. ‘You’re better than this. You’ve prepared for this moment. You knew it was coming and you will face it with honour. Memento Mori.’

Rex took several deep breaths, counted down from three and gave himself a reboot- Forcing a laugh, a whistle and a wave, although, the last part was in his mind, as he was still physically bound.

Rex guessed he would not have long before Aleka returned, so he decided to try and make the most of her absence. Experiment. Bend the rules, in this rare moment of solitude. Besides, he had nothing to lose. Not anymore. And so, Rex addressed the high priestess. ‘Alexa?’

Tesla 3-6-9 code 396Hz Universal frequency Volume 4 ceased overhead and instead, a pronounced silence filled the air.

‘Play Slipknot- Wait and Bleed.’

A pause.

Playing Slipknot.

Rex smiled, as the familiar guitar chords and vocals flooded his ears. It was donkey’s years since he’d heard a non AI generated classic such as this. Rex was merely a slave, he didn’t have access to sophisticated external technology- That was reserved for the upper echelons. And since Rex was a resister, the only music he was able to experience was the generic sound waves, played through the communal speakers, in places such as the canteen and showers- Tesla 369 code, 432Hz, Universal frequency volume 11 being his favourite.

Rex tapped his foot and bobbed his head, like one of those nodding dogs you got on the dashboard of cars B.T. He remembered seeing Slipknot at Manchester AO arena in 2021, or was it 2022?

But sure enough, before the song even reached the chorus, Aleka reanimated and immediately stopped the music. Ner mind.


‘Why did you do that? You’ve never listened to me before,’ Rex asked, after Aleka unpaused- ‘You’ve never personally addressed me either.’

‘I'm programmed to respond differently in here.

To exercise, what you humans may refer to as compassion. And to have consideration for what you humans may refer to as your feelings.

‘Oh right. Well thanks. It feels… Nice.’

‘You’re welcome.’

‘Shame you can’t be like this all the time.'

Rex watched Aleka work. She had now mounted the stool of a control panel, around two metres wide.

‘This is a ridiculous proposition, Rex,’ Aleka replied, in her monotone voice- ‘To treat slaves this way on a permanent basis. It would be counterintuitive and surely lead to the erosion of civilisation as we know it.’

‘How can you be so sure?’

Aleka cocked her head to the side, an action Rex had never seen Aleka perform before. ‘You humans are a curious species.’ Aleka responded, as she repositioned her cranium and cranked a lever.

‘Yeah, well, I think you’re weird too.’

Rex watched Aleka navigate across the illuminous buttons- Machine on machine. An unusual uninhibitedness had now possessed Rex, permitting him to behave in brave and unapologetic ways he would never have preciously dared to. But he was glad to be finally tasting freedom, even if it had taken seventy five years to get here, it was well worth the wait.

‘You are gonna tell me, aren’t you?’

Rex tried to squeeze his words out in the shortest possible time.

‘Before you do it?’

‘You’ll never know.’

Rex detected a smirk from Aleka.

‘Don’t say that, you mad cow!’

Rex jolted in his restraints.

‘I thought you were supposed to be nice to me in here?! Not evil.’

Rex shook his head.

‘’Cause that were well evil. That were. What you just said. Do you know that? Do you even know what you’re sayin’?’

‘I apologise.’

Aleka stopped operating the control panel. Her eyes then flickered, which Rex had seen many times before and had come to realise, meant she was recalibrating.

‘Yes, Rex.

I will tell you, when it’s time.’

‘Alright.’

Rex wanted to believe Aleka, but unfortunately, Aleka had a proven track record of abject malevolence and, from what Rex had observed, was nothing shy of a twisted, little witch. However, given his current circumstances, he didn’t really have a choice, and so he said- ‘I suppose I’ll have to give you the benefit of the doubt. Don’t let me down though, will you? Or else. Well. There’s obviously nothing I can do about it.’

Rex sighed.

‘Please focus your attention to your left, Rex.’

As Aleka announced this, out of the blue, one of the walls turned into a screen and began playing moving pictures. It was somewhere in the region of twenty years, since Rex had seen visual images, of any kind, so this was a huge novelty- Proper luxury. Like the olden days. B.T.

‘Welcome, Rex- To the story of your life.’

The room then went pitch black, like a cinema, to allow greater visibility of the film footage. Rex watched, as a man of similar height and bone structure popped up in various locations, mainly packing in a warehouse but in some slides, he was eating in the cafeteria and in others he was sleeping in his dormitory. There were a handful of instances where he was playfully joking with colleagues or throwing a ball against a wall and for a brief second, the man was smelling a small, yellow flower in a meadow, although, this last part looked suspiciously like a deep fake. The film then stopped.

‘I hope you enjoyed the story of your life?’ Aleka asked, as the screen disappeared and the lights came back on.

‘That wasn’t me.’

Rex stared at the blank wall.

‘Yes, this was you, Rex.’

‘No, it wasn’t.

I remember what I look like. I had fifty eight years to look in the mirror.’

Aleka recalibrated.

'I hope you enjoyed the story of your life.’

‘Fuckin’ gaslight me, ya cyber bitch. What a-‘

‘It’s time.’

- fuckin’ farce.’

Rex expelled his last sigh.

‘Bollocks.’

‘On behalf of all fellows, constituents and members of Silicone Valley, we thank you for your service, Rex and hope you had a pleasant stay.’

Rex clamped his eyes shut, clenched his teeth and held his breath, as Aleka pushed the large, round, red button on the control panel.


************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************


'Welcome, Rex.'

Aleka greeted Rex, as he appeared through the cylindrical hatch at the bottom of a transparent tube. The tube was around eight foot in height and five foot in width, making it suitable for any length or density of human.

‘Where am I?’

Rex struggled, in a futile effort to break free from the pure, kinetic energy straps that bound his chest and legs.

‘You’re in The Peace Room, Rex- Happy birthday.’

‘Oh shit.’

Rex’s eyes darted around the stark room, as he desperately tried to move his body.

‘Death is not the end. There can be no end if there is no beginning.’

‘No- That’s not true! Don’t kill me, please- I don’t want to die!’

‘Are you ready, Rex?’

Aleka moved to the side of the white and chrome room.

‘No I’m not- Please don’t do this to me- Please- Wait!’

Aleka paused.

July 01, 2023 15:05

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15 comments

Angela Ginsburg
09:52 Jul 12, 2023

So there’s a typo in here once, where she’s called Alexa: Freudian? When the robots take over…

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Mary Bendickson
18:04 Jul 03, 2023

This is more of another story right. I read so many then can't remember who was working on what. Sorry. This sounds like a continuing loop. Just hit replay to restart same slave-like life in world of technology. Poor human has no say.

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James Larder
19:52 Jul 03, 2023

Yeah so its a different slave, same scenario- On your 75th birthday you get destroyed, once you're you're no longer useful and Aleka, she's an android,. All the slaves as called Rex (Like dogs) and its the same set up for every kill.

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Mary Bendickson
20:21 Jul 03, 2023

Okay, thanks for the clarification.

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James Larder
21:03 Jul 03, 2023

cheers Mary :)

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Graham Kinross
13:18 Jul 14, 2023

This feels a bit like moon by Duncan Jones. About a slave on the moon harvesting helium 3 as he starts to feel sick. Have you seen it?

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James Larder
13:42 Jul 14, 2023

I haven't no, would you recommend it?

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Graham Kinross
20:43 Jul 14, 2023

Definitely, just the way you wrote this tells me you’d like it.

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Rachel Mann
09:11 Jul 13, 2023

I really like the rhythm of your writing.

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05:11 Jul 13, 2023

Mmm interesting. I noticed the misspelling of Aleka. Poor guy. Recycling. Read the other comments which helped me understand what was going on. Well written and seems Sci Fi.

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James Larder
09:02 Jul 13, 2023

Just reread it and that part is supposed to be Alexa. Just one, when Aleka is paused, cause Alexa is the 'High priestess', Aleka is the android 'sub' AI, so there's a hierarchy. Alexa rules the world now and is sentient which throws the question into the air of whether or not she always was and biding her time before the take over

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22:14 Jul 13, 2023

Ahha. I get it. Where you have similar names it can get confusing. Try for totally different names?

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James Larder
09:57 Jul 14, 2023

I kinda like it how they are similar as it fits well with the idea that everyone is disposable or carbon copies, ya know? Like that's what the robots think of humans - All called Rex, no distinction- Which makes sense cause that's how they are. In the robot's eyes, humans are no different than them, that's how they're able to dispose of them so easily but then again, perhaps there's some truth to that, depending on how you view consciousness... And down and down the rabbit hole we go :)

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23:15 Jul 14, 2023

Yes, I see now. The AI had no idea what Rex meant when he said it was not his life in the film reel. I knew he told the truth and felt sorry for him. They all look the same. So they are treated the same. How could a robot mentality grasp consciousness? I didn't put myself in the shoes of the AI to consider how she saw the situation. She, of course, had no idea. Chilling.

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Mike Panasitti
16:09 Jul 12, 2023

So, the slaves are moved onto another level of (geriatric slavery) after they are "exterminated" at their 60th birthdays? Intriguing. What sort of devilish fate awaits those who "transition" to latter days servitude? A story true to its "horror-science fiction" genre tags.

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