Sci Fi Short Story
‘Child’s Play’ by Stewart Storrar
The huge ornate doors swung open and the oak creaked from centuries of use. The scores and scores of gallery members all turned their heads to face it. It was not until the doors had swung open in their entirety that the person being marched through them became clear.
There, in a bonding unit, stood a man. He was dressed down in a fiery red and jet black jumpsuit that contrasted with the ornate surroundings. Everybody found their attention focused on the man being escorted in by two bigger, armoured men. These guards wore plain white body suits with helmets and visors to match. As the man marched down the central walkway between either sides of the gallery seating area, only the sound of the heavy boots and naked feet on the polished oak floor was heard.
Jane lifted the cup from the counter letting it rest between her lips as she drank the fresh orange juice. She heard the patter of feet along the tiled kitchen floor. As she turned around she found her youngest child pottering towards her; a tired, dreary expression across his face.
“Morning you, what do you want for breakfast?” The small child glanced up to his mother with a frustrated expression, his face crumpling into a frown. Jane reached down and picked up her son, cradling him in his saddened state, “What’s wrong pumpkin?”
“Tired,” the child whimpered.
“Aww pumpkin, let’s get you breakfast then,” the child shook his head,
“A bath?” Jane asked. The child nodded,
“Okay, come on then, let’s go,” another set of feet trundled down the stairs as Jane carried her son into the hallway. She craned her neck to see her eldest son stumbling down the stairs in an almost zombified state,
“Zane, hurry up or you’ll be late!” Zane sighed with a groggy voice,
“I won’t be late.”
“That was what you said yesterday! Talk to the bot about breakfast and get your ass to school!”
“Okay,” Zane sighed and stumbled past his angered mother to head for the kitchen. Jane continued past him and carried her youngest son up the stairs. Zane staggered into the kitchen with another sigh before heading for the fridge.
The man found himself escorted to the front of the gallery where seating segments lined the grand hall. The massive, decorative walls twisted upwards in strands and pillars of carved wood; totems to a rich, cultural past. They met an equally decorative roof, again, created from the carvings of ancestors that lived thousands of years prior.
The roof differed from the walls with their massive mirage of colours and swirling patterns that made up a mural. It depicted various idols from a long forgotten past and various deities that society had long since shunned, yet somehow felt the need to preserve. He found it strange how such a prestigious legal entity would be allowed to keep such primitive materials as the building blocks of its most famous institution. Not that it mattered to him.
The man found himself being ushered towards one of the more recent additions to the hall; a repulser shield. The technology seemed somewhat out of place; juxtaposed with the ancient carvings and preserved splashes of art across the ceiling. Nonetheless the man found himself being scanned past the shield and pushed, rather harshly, inside. As the shield hummed with re-activation, it sent a chill down his spine.
The klaxon rang out in the classroom and Zane switched off his personal archive. He watched the holographic displays sink away into the bevelled cone-shaped disc and then took off his visor. He slid the coupled technology into his backpack as everyone began leaving the room. Taking one last glance to the teaching bot standing sentry at the front of the room, he turned to find another boy about his age staring at him. Zane stood from his desk,
“You coming out with us?” Zane shook his head,
“Sorry man no can do.” Ro scoffed,
“It isn’t the assignment is it?”
“No way,” Zane shoved Ro slightly, “I am going on Cortex.” Ro’s expression lit up,
“You already have it!” Zane grinned,
“Yup, come on over. You can have a shot.” Ro almost jumped at the idea, stopping to hesitate for a moment,
“What about your mum?” Zane shrugged,
“I’ll just say it is an assignment. We need to use our holo-kits anyway, she won’t be able to see what it is.”
“Sweet!” Ro bounced off out the class room, “See you around six?”
“Sure thing,” Zane replied. He watched his friend bounce out the class room. He slung his pack over his shoulder, took one last look at the idle teaching bot, then left the class.
He was sat down in a chair. It was isolated in the middle of the main chamber. To his front he could see the range of Judicial Bots analyzing him with their cold, mechanical optical movements in their version of what human’s would call a face. He glanced to the right and then to the left to see two other rows filled with people.
The two guards secured his bonding unit and positioned themselves at either side his chair. Each of the bots glared at him. They were spindly constructions of bolts and circuits, their ‘heads’ jutting out from a rather thin looking torso. The optical units seemed to be hollow half-spheres, with a holographic processing unit generated in the scoop of this half-sphere. Each bot had its own colour. The one directly to his front had a pure black and white holograph, whereas the others possessed one distinct, domineering shade of grey. As he scanned over his judicators he knew deep down what was going to happen to him. All he could do now was wait for the inevitable sentence to befall his ears.
Zane gently pushed the door open. He slid his head through the gap and glanced into his home. With a sudden movement. The coast was clear. Suddenly, he flung the door open and Ro quickly slipped inside, gliding up the stairs as if he were a ghost. Zane then, loudly, shut the front door.
“Zane?” he heard his mother, Jane, call out.
“Oh, nothing. Just wondering who came in!”
“Alright! I am heading upstairs!”
“Okay, be sure and come down to tell the bot what you are having to eat!”
“I will,” and with this, Zane followed his friend upstairs. Ro was already sitting; eagerly glaring at the holo-circlet positioned in the middle of the room. Zane walked in and shut the door behind him.
“Where is it?” Zane chuckled ever so slightly,
“It’s over here, chill out.”
“I have so wanted to play this for so long!”
“And you will,” Zane replied, reaching into his holo-game shelf. He let his fingers glide along the various titles until he found the one he was looking for; Cortex. He took the small plastic container from the shelf and opened it up to reveal a small metallic sphere. He took the sphere from its packaging, walked over to the holo-circlet, and placed it in the middle of the concave structure. With the sphere in place he gave a holo-kit to Ro and kept one for himself.
“Set it to frequency, five, five, four, hash, three, four, six.” Ro nodded with enthusiasm and tapped in the code slipping on the visor. Zane followed suit. As Zane ran the program he watched as Ro’s face lit up with untamed excitement.
The room was dimly lit and within it’s walls, one man. He sat in the middle of this quaint room surrounded by the encroaching aura of darkness that gripped him to his core. It was cold. It was quiet. The only sound he could hear was the sound of his own blood pulsate around his body. His gentle, yet fast, breathing was his only companion.
His eyes granted him nothing but a glimmer of light directly above him. All he could feel was an overpowering sense of fear that kept him grounded. He didn’t know what was happening to him. His memory was shrouded. He didn’t know why or how but he knew, with every atom of his being, that it was a primal instinct of fear welling up inside of him. A primal instinct that told him to run and never stop.
Slowly his last known memories were beginning to resurface; the gallery, the ornate wooden pillars, the ancient ceiling paintings. It was only when he recalled the Judicial bots that he began to realize where this place was and – for a moment – he didn’t want to believe it. Every muscle in his body trembled. Every bone in his body ached.
The next thing his senses noticed was the smell. The place smelled unnervingly clean. The disinfectant stung at his nose and clawed its way down the back of his throat like some invasive flavour of an exotic food. He found that his hands were still bound. Not only were they bound together but they seemed to also be bound to the metallic chair he sat on. He tried to move his legs to find the same restraints clasped around his ankles; these restraints also bound to the chair. He could feel a cold bead of sweat begin to trickle down from his brow into his eye. His could feel his lips were cracked, dry, and peeling. His hair felt dirty and tangled. He glanced down to his naked body gleaming in the light projecting down from above to find streaks of dried sweat sticking his body hair and skin.
Then it happened.
A sudden whirring noise spawned from the darkness. It roared into existence with a loud screech that scared him. Whatever the noise was, it seemed to be distant, but getting louder as the source grew closer. As this strange whirring noise traversed the darkness he grew curious about its origin and ever more fearful to discover it. It was only when the noise could be distinguished as being generated above him, that his head began to skew towards the epicentre of whatever was generating it. His eyes pierced the darkness to no avail. Then, just as suddenly as it had appeared, the sound disappeared. An eerie silence befell his surroundings. The sound ceased to exist as quickly as it had appeared.
Then it happened again.
This time the screeching sound seemed slightly faster; the whirring was faster. The sound seemed to be equally distant as it was the first time it appeared. The only difference was that it seemed as if it were behind him this time. The whirring sped up and the closer it got the more it reminded him of the sound a drill makes. He recalled the ancient devices dentists used to utilize in the 21st century and, to his horror, it sounded almost identical. Visiting the museum was one childhood memory he wished he had never retained. The mechanical whirring grew ever closer, just as it did before, only this time it didn’t stop. He anxiously tried to look to either side of him to try and catch any glimpse he could of what was approaching him. As the sound grew tremendously loud he began to feel his proximity sense tingle on the back of his neck. Just before he screamed in frustration the whirring stopped. Whatever was behind him vanished.
Suddenly, he felt a burning, piercing pain penetrate the back of his neck. His hands clenched the arms of the chair, his head jerked, and his lungs let out a blood curdling scream. He felt a hot instrument burrow into the base of his neck. The blood spurted onto the metal and almost instantly cauterised due to the immense heat. He felt the skewer drive deeper into his flesh until its tip ground away at the bone of his spinal column. He felt the hot metal scorching his skin around the entry wound. He felt the layers of fat in the skin tear. He felt his own blood run down his back. The instrument stopped moving and began heating up. The last thing he felt was a jolt as the instrument pierced his brain stem.
“What did you do that for?” it was Zane speaking. Ro let go of the holographic spike in his right hand as he turned to Zane,
“What?” Zane shook his head,
“You get more points the more pain you cause?”
“Oh,” Ro paused, “I didn’t know.” Zane sighed,
“Let’s fire up another one.”
About This Sci Fi Short Story
Stewart Storrar is a young Scottish writer that writes short stories, flash fiction, and is currently working on his debut novel among other creative writing projects. Child’s Play is a dystopian sci fi short story he wrote to highlight his concerns with VR headsets and virtual reality merging with the real world. A fan of horror, Stewart wanted to write a sci fi short story with horror undertones. Child’s Play, a story set in the mid-22nd century was born!
We hope you enjoyed this from Stewart. You can check out his Twitter account here so be sure to follow his future works such as his newer short stories and flash fiction. Be sure to follow Lore on Twitter to keep up to date with our new releases!