Visitor by Dennis Chan
When : Where
2050 AD : Manassas, Virgina
The cold December rain fell about him, creating a quiet, uneven hiss as it struck the countless leaves that had gathered on the forest floor. He stood staring at his old house, silent, motionless. The soaked jacket and backpack felt like a leaden weight draped over his already tired shoulders. He raised his hands before him and let the falling rain pool in them for a moment. In the failing light of day he imagined it as blood.
He closed his eyes tightly and shook his head as he wiped his hands on his jacket violently, trying to exercise the blood from them. He looked again. It was only water, and dirt, and years of grime … maybe some of it blood. No. The stains he imagined were in his head, but just as real to him.
He’d spent eight years clawing his way halfway across the planet to get back home to Michelle, yet he lacked that final bit of courage to make the final step onto his own porch. Earth was no longer a place of rules, comforts, or even rational sanity. It had all ended after Ascension is the first artificial intelligence to reach sentience in the early 21st century. There are various... More had achieved consciousness while he was in Asia on business. But he knew what would happen once he set things in motion.
He grasped at the thin chain around his neck and pulled the miniature data slice from beneath his coat. A bright blue status light blinked back at him from a chip of what looked like irregular obsidian. The genesis of his revenge was intact. The reminder was no longer needed, eight years was enough. He pulled hard and the chain snapped at his neck. He let the stick drop into the mud next to him and ground it beneath his heal until he felt it crack.
He grasped at the thin chain around his neck and pulled the miniature data slice from beneath his coat. A bright blue status light blinked back at him from a chip of what looked like irregular obsidian. The genesis of his revenge was intact. The reminder was no longer needed, eight years was enough.
Living with morally regrettable actions had almost made him give up. But he’d inched his way back home, slowly and deliberately, playing the sociable and gentile comrade when needed, or playing the isolated lone wolf until he absolutely had to steal or kill to survive. He had done both, and worse … and he wasn’t proud of it. The hardest part had been finding a way back across the Atlantic. The blood of those five men and women were still in his head after they’d found him stowed away on their boat. A means to an end.
But he was so tired of the chase, yet so close.
Water was quietly dripping off the roof of the now dilapidated structure that at one time had been their warm and beautiful home. The glow of candles illuminated parts of the interior, so someone was inside. A hint of hope was still in his heart. Was she still alive? Was she still here? Would she even recognize or still want him? Would there be someone else? What traumas had she endured during those same eight years?
Perhaps it was too late. But he would not be able to forgive himself after walking through so much fire and despair. Head bowed, he stepped across the muddy yard and placed a boot on the first step of the porch …
Words © 2020, Neal Ulen. All rights reserved.
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