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Fiction Contemporary


                           FOR WANT OF A WISH

           Bethanne opened her eyes. The brightness of the sun was overpowering. She sat up in bed and glanced around her. She did not recognize the room. It was not her bedroom, and nothing, not even the bare white furniture, was familiar to her. Her heart rate increased, and she felt dizzy. Where am I? She tried to remember what she was doing last night. I can’t even remember what I was doing last.

           Bethanne slipped her feet into her slippers and plodded outside the room. She was walking along a corridor where the sunlight blazed through the skylights. Her eyes blinked at the sun reflecting off the striking white iridescent walls. Who in the world chose this décor? She entered a staircase that spiraled down to a spacious, open room with cathedral ceilings. A white plump sofa and chair, with two thin lamps on the side tables of the couch, were the solo pieces of furniture in the room. The room was stark, with no photos of people or signs of life. Bethanne was panicking, her palms were sweaty, and her breathing increased. Where am I?

           “Mom? Mom?” No answer, only eerie quietness enveloping the room. Someone must be here, somewhere. Bethanne ventured into another room. Sunlight filtered from the far wall with massive windows the length of the entire wall from top to bottom. No curtains, just a bare room void of any signs of life.

           Bethanne walked to the windows and gazed outside. Green trees and sidewalks, but no one in sight. Where are the cars? Is my brain tricking me? thought Bethanne. This place is so unfeeling, without warmth except for the sun. No pictures- who lives here? I

 recognize nothing. I am in a world of no people, white walls, sunlight, and silence.

           Bethanne continued to explore the house. Strange, still no life signs, not even animals- stony stillness permeated the air.

           She glimpsed at her wristwatch to check the time. It was 10:30 am, but her second hand had stopped working.

           She noticed that there were no clocks or calendars in any of the rooms. It was as if time was no more. Bethanne raised her voice. “Is someone here? Can you hear me? Where am I? Someone answer me!”

            Bethanne hurried out the door -there must be people living nearby, somewhere! When she got to the corner of the house, she looked across the street. There were no other homes in sight. Is this a dream or nightmare? But I can sense everything. It is real. How did I get here? Oh, God, help me to remember what happened to me.

           Bethanne walked back inside the house - the wind had whipped up, and the temperature had fallen. She searched for a cellphone -none in sight. If there are no communication devices, how do you contact someone? By now, her chest hurt, and it was hard to take a deep breath.

           She slumped into a chair at the table in the room she assumed was the kitchen and sobbed. Frustrated tears splashed onto the table. She was alone, and God knows where.

 Is she on Earth or in another dimension? 

           As she was trying to control herself, a door opened on the white wall of cabinets and revealed an automated robot. Bethanne jumped, startled by the sound of a voice. But this was not a human voice.

           “You must be hungry. What can I get for you?”

           “I am not hungry, and I need to know where I am and what is going on!” said Bethanne.

“Humans from your time must eat food to stay alive. I can make your food the way you are used to eating, but I can only provide for your hunger needs.”

           “What do you mean “from my time?” demanded Bethanne.

           “You are from the year 2000, and this year is 2500.”

           “No, no, how did I get here? It’s impossible. I know nothing of the future or how to get here. What happened to me? Where is my family?”

           “Í cannot answer you. It is best if you spoke to the Master of the house concerning those answers.”

           “Where is he? I must see him now.”

           “The Master is not him or her. The Master is neutral. It has no feelings, only logic.”

           “Is it a computer? “asked Bethanne.

           “In the year 2500, computers are all there is in the world.”

the robotized voice answered.

           “I need to talk to it. I need to return to my time because I don’t belong here.”

           “Humans from your time never return.”

           “Where is the Master?”

           Bethanne started pacing the floor. I don’t believe this. How did I get here? And where is here?

           “We can only reach the Master when the sunlight shines through the blue wall. The sun unlocks the door of the Master when its vertices meet.”

          “When is that?”

           “In four hours and twenty minutes, the sun will change its direction and shine on the door for the Master. The sun’s ray opens the door.”

           “Oh, no, “said Bethanne, “Where is the clock? I don’t have a way to tell the time because my watch is not working."

           “You don’t need a way to know, the time occurs at co-joined vertices of the sun, and only then, it doesn’t do any good to worry about time. It is a set and unchangeable occurrence.”

           “We have time built into us, and we don’t watch it. You must wait; there is no other way. It is logical for the sun’s time to happen at that moment. There can be no variance.”

           “Can I watch TV in the meantime?”

           “No, no need for such things. Only logic prevails here. That is a problem with you humans from that time, always wanting to do something.”

           “How will I know when it is time for the sun to appear for the Master?”

           “You can watch the sun until it shines in that direction.”

           “Are there books to read? I need something to do until I can see the Master.”

  “We removed distractions such as reading and TV. We only exist or function when necessary; otherwise, we cease operations.”

           “But such a dreary environment,” said Bethanne.

           “The environment is only depressing for humans. We machines are superior to humans and the environment. Being in a particular location means nothing to us. Time means nothing to us. We don’t need distractions; we just shut off our programs.”

           “Why am I here?” Bethanne said, clenching her fists.

           “Ask the Master.”

           Bethanne watched the sun until it shone on the blue wall in the room next to the kitchen. It was an eternity to her. Hours of doing nothing. No wonder there was so much sunlight in this place. She contemplated what other mystical rituals the sun wrought.

           The sun aimed its light at a sconce on the wall. One sizable cosmic sun ray targeted the scone, and the whir of machines began as a hidden door opened. The sunray ended on a hexagonal crystal, four inches wide, in the middle of the room.

           A massive array of about 100 computers was behind the wall. The computers were four inches wide, with each one having a distinct color- reds, golds, and greens. In the middle of the computers, a pulsating blue light emanated from the hexagonal crystal.

Finally, colors appear in this drab, sterile world, thought Bethanne. She was mesmerized by the blue light and its quiet pulsations.

 “What is your question?” a robotic voice asked from the light.

          “Where am I? I am supposed to be in the future, but this place is so depressing- where are the people? And what am I doing talking to machines? How did I get here?”

           “You got here by your own wishes.”

           “I never would ask to be in a place such as this,” said Bethanne flipping her hair.

           “But you did. How did you treat your fellow man?”

           “I said what I thought, and I treated them as everyone else in my life.”

           “What did you say to your fellow companions or family?”                         

           “I don’t get what you mean.”

           “How did you argue with people with whom you disagreed?

           “I stood my ground. I was right most of the time.”

           “Did you wish ill on them?”

           “I didn’t mean it. If I threatened to get my way, it was just a way of speaking. What’s that got to do with why I am here in the future?”

           “One program our builders installed in us was to sift through the ages and grant people’s wishes to them. We travel back in time and forward in time. Although now in 2500, we don’t have people, only computers who have no wishes.”

           “So, what does that have to do with me?”

           “You were one of the human beings whom we answered your wishes.”

             “I never wished to be here in the future with a bunch of machines!”

           “Remember how you used to treat people, including your mother?”

           “I didn’t mean the things I said.”

           “What were the things you wished?”

           Somehow, she remembered some of her past, and Bethanne thought back to how she treated people, especially in heated altercations. She knew she had threatened people many times.

           She remembered how she told her mother she was sick and tired of living with her. She told her she wished she lived anywhere but there with her mother. But she didn’t mean it! She was trying to be the top man and win the argument.

           Bethanne reminisced how her father warned her about what she said to her cousins and aunts- telling them she would throw out any photos of them. Bethanne then shamed them, “I don’t wish to look at your faces.”

           “You may live to regret that you are so spiteful,” her father told her.

           She recollected when her mom redecorated the house in Americana décor, and she disliked the furniture and shrieked at her mother, “I would rather live in an empty house than with these ugly furnishings.”

           “I was awful and said hurtful things to people, but I didn’t mean them. I was angry and lashed out at people. But I wasn’t going to follow through on the threats. Besides, they were threats, not wishes.”

           “We are machines, and we are logical. You had many wishes, so we granted them.”

           “But what I said was not logical. It was in the heat of the moment, with feelings not to be taken at face value.”

           “The CODERS programmed us to grant your wishes, so we brought you here to fulfill those wishes. We do not respond to feelings, only logic and literal words.”

           “How do I return to the year 2000? I don’t appreciate living here in the year 2500. I am 500 years into the future! I know, I can make amends!”

           “You cannot make amends because those people are dead. They died 500  years ago. What you did cannot change. We are not programmed to undo wishes.”

           “You could take me to another place to live where similar people dwell and where I am used to the environment. You said you could go back and forth in time.”

           “The CODER did not program us to do that. Our builders did not enter that sequence into our program.”

           “But I can’t solely interact with non-feeling machines. I might as well be dead without other human beings with whom to converse and live.”

           “So be it.”

September 17, 2021 08:36

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1 comment

Stevie B
19:05 Sep 23, 2021

Your well written story is a very good reminder we must be careful of what we wish for. Great job, Jane!


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