Life’s a mess (aka wonderful world)

Submitted into Contest #143 in response to: Set your story in the woods or on a campground. ... view prompt

8 comments

Science Fiction Fiction

To think that I would end up living in a makeshift hut deep in the woods…

Life’s a mess sometimes.

I mean, if you follow the biological steps to make a life, you can see that life’s a mess by definition.



It starts with a vicious entanglement of flesh and bodily fluids, it develops in a sack in the womb of the mother deforming and squishing her organs, and comes to the light of day in pain and anguish, in a pool of liquids, blood and let’s not think what else.



Then come the cries, infancy, puberty, and at last when you reach 20 -ready to be a productive member of society- you have been scarred for life and spend your time drowning in anxiety and self doubt, or even worse you persevere in this circle, make another baby, and become enslaved by the needs of a little human growing to be a new pile of pain and sorrow.



Pretty messy if I say so myself.



That’s why Philip I. Clarke, the greatest scientist of the last millennium, had always been my idol.

I was born in 2344 at 25 years old, and had the luck of assisting at his lectures.

“Only fools limit Nature to what Nature does: does a house occur in nature? Does medicine occur in nature? No, they do not, but WE strive for our betterment day by day. Nature is what Nature allows: if we can make it, it is Nature!”

I still remember his words, that limitless inspiration, the joy of planning for the progression of humanity beyond the limits set by bigotry and complacency.

Thanks to his brilliant discoveries by 2299 more than half the human population had been bred in-vitro, and artificially grown directly into adulthood.

By 2312 no women had to suffer that torture anymore, and by 2325 nurseries and schools had been disbanded.



Skipped all the messy stuff.

Efficient, ready to be productive.



Also 100% circular. Biological matter can be recycled from aged and unproductive individuals to make a new person, ready to be placed in the most needed job.

And no infants, means no need for entertainment facilities, no wasteful use of public soil for parks and other nonsense, and more time for adults to work.

Finally humans could spend their full effort on what we were meant to.



There was also an unexpected side-effect in terms of sustainability. Better control of population growth and less time spent idling also meant less intensive exploitation of natural resources for food and, even more so, absolutely no tourists, hunters or poachers to damage natural habitats and delicate ecosystems.



Can you see how great it is?

I definitely could.



No matter how great your schemes, life has its way of sneaking in some of its mess. Minds much greater than mine have not yet found a way to prevent that little bit of entropy to affect our clockwork masterpiece.

Apparently Nature tends towards disorder, but order can be restored with some effort. Until it comes again, and you fix it again.

That’s what I was, like many others, a Fixer. Pretty boring line of work I say, they would send me defective individuals, and I had to recycle them. For how perfect your machine is, it will always allow in a little bit of chaos, and to prevent it from spreading you need to fix it immediately.



With progress in science and society my job became less intense, with more idle time.

And with idle time, came a little crack.



Imagine, having no work to do. Initially for minutes, then hours, alone at your post. I don’t know what your workplace would look like, but mine was a neon white room, with a chair and my monitor with the actuator buttons.

Idling there.



Seems like a horrific scene, doesn’t it?

No task to perform, no production target, no use of your time.

Waiting there, unproductive, was just the dreadful experience you would expect. My hands were itching with the need of doing something, but no instruction came.



Just wait.

Then came a little crack.

Pretty funny what the human mind can do when it is given a little leeway.

The walls of my neon white room started shrinking on me, leaving me less and less air to breathe.

I stood up, I needed to get some fresh air.

The room appeared big as a desert, the door as far as the horizon, then again small, packed like a box of synthetic nutrients. Had to hammer on the door with my shoulder to open it and get to the corridor.

Finally some air.



We humans have a perverse relationship with rules. We want to break them, but then we make new ones to glorify the new order, and now there are rules, and those, we want to break.

What makes us so eager to try and subvert the defined order?

Why are the ones that destroy such an order so keen on enforcing a new one?



Whatever the answer to this question is, I found mine wandering in the corridors in search of fresh air.

I understand now why in the old days they used to say “to make love” instead of “performing the reproductive act”. It was not a performance, not an act. It was a deed of love and passion, dragged by winds of otherworldly origin. We made love.



I can’t recall exactly what happened and how it happened, I just knew that in that moment we became lovers, and also an anomaly that had to be fixed.

And for the first time I understood why anomalies used to struggle so much in the face of recycling. I didn’t want to be recycled, I wanted to live my life ‘till the end, not until the end of my usefulness.



And we ran.

I can’t tell if anybody cared for our escape. Whether they are looking for us for recycling and solving the anomaly, or they simply forgot about two nobodies gone missing.

We just reached the edges of the closest national park, no human had touched that ground for centuries, wildlife was thriving there and we could have thrived too.

We made an hut, and carry on gathering, fishing and hunting. It ain’t much, but it’s enough.



Life’s a mess you know? The biological steps to make a new life are frightening, crazy, passionate, painful, exciting and leave you breathless from start to finish.

But after nine months, when the new life came, in blood, pain, flesh and cries; when after nine months came a new life and I saw his little mouth hanging firmly to his mother’s breast and saw his little cheeks puffing sucking in the milk; when after nine months of struggle I saw that wild, powerful, physical moment, I cried.



My son was born.

What a wonderful world. 

April 28, 2022 12:57

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8 comments

L. Malan
23:03 May 04, 2022

I really enjoyed your short story, and I love the words you use. Personally I find it a little tricky to follow, but that also makes it somewhat expressionistic, which I love. One thing I feel could've been improved would maybe be the world-building? You mention a lot of years which is good, but giving little, more independant and intricate details would maybe give it more flair. But it's also a short story, so how much world-building can there be, right? :D Anyway, good job, keep up the good work.

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12:42 May 05, 2022

Thanks for the kind words and nice suggestion! I definitely need to work on worldbuilding, but i'm always afraid to make exposition dumps, so I try to make it vague :) For the wording it's probably due to my first language being italian, so my wording and sentence structure tend to be a bit off. As far as the "tricky to follow", it was not intended, can you help me pinpoint what makes it so? Is it the words, the phrasing, the rythm? This way I can improve in my control of it :) Thank you so much once again!

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L. Malan
00:27 May 06, 2022

Oh cool, you're Italian? I genuinly thought you were a native speaker, there are definitely native speakers who couldn't express themselves as nicely or fluently as you have and do. I also get that the worldbuilding can be tricky to navigate in a short story, so, like I said, I feel like the data and such isn't the most important, but rather what the reader connects with the single times; so maybe go into a tiny bit more detail? Like how humans might've felt, what could maybe be said about those times looking back. Also maybe then don't put...

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05:58 May 06, 2022

Yup, italian to the bone :'D but I have to admit, I was very lucky with my education and I consume most of my entertainment in english. Thanks again, any bit of context helps interpreting my work under a new light. I see what you mean with your probing questions on worldbuilding, I will definitely keep this mindset in the future. I write fir myself and for the reader, feel free to show and discuss your opinion regardless of your expertise. I will definitely read some of your work asap!

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Cath Atkins
22:53 May 04, 2022

Great story with an interesting perspective - food for thought 😊 I really enjoyed it xx

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12:43 May 05, 2022

Thank you for the support Cath! Glad you enjoyed

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Tricia Shulist
15:07 Apr 30, 2022

Interesting take on the future, and the ingrained, unassailable need to be human. One question, where did the other “anomaly” come from? How did they meet? One typo — “an hut” should be “a hut.” I enjoyed Life’s a Mess. Thanks for this.

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18:51 Apr 30, 2022

Thank you for your precious feedback. I will definitely correct the grammatical error. As far as how they met, and who the other is, it was left purpousefully blank. How do you meet a keen soul? Whatever the case what matters is that you meet in the first place and that seed that grows between you :) For me: Tommaso is 1 month old, and I used to be my SO's boss in a big warehouse near her hometown, we grabbed a few too many drinks once after a christmas party, and have been together since.

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