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Programmed: Earth – #atozchallenge

April 19, 2016


Programmed: Earth

Mitzi stretched and rolled over in the bed. Where is Mikhal? She felt his side of the bed. It was still warm. He must have just stirred. She got up and dressed and padded down the hall in her bare feet. Mikhal stood before the large picturesque window, staring out at the city.

“Mikhal?” she asked as she placed a hand on his arm.

Mikhal turned to her, his nose crinkled in confusion. Mitzi? She looked like her, but somehow not like her. “Where are we?”

“We are home, Mikhal. Where else would we be?”

He turned and stared out the window again. It looked like home, but not like home. He couldn’t explain it. “Have you heard from Anton?”

“He should be by today. Come, love. Let’s go make some breakfast.”

Mikhal followed Mitzi into the kitchen. Again, it looked like his kitchen, but something was off. He just couldn’t figure out what.

“Let’s make french toast. It’s your favorite,” Mitzi said as she removed eggs and milk from the fridge.

French toast? When was the last time he’d had french toast? Mikhal couldn’t remember. And then it popped into his head. Three days ago. Hadn’t he had french toast just three days ago? So why did it feel like a life time?

The front door opened and Anton strolled in. “You look like hell, my friend,” he said to Mikhal.

Mikhal looked up at Anton, the same ole Anton he’d known for years. Why didn’t Mitzi show the same familiarity? He motioned for Anton to join him in the living room.

“Something isn’t right, Anton. Do you feel it?”

Anton slowly nodded his head. “It’s Earth Memory.”

“Our program?”

“Yes, Mikhal,” Anton said as he gazed out the large window. “See the sky, how it shimmers from violet to blue? And the city streets how they flash from crystal to cement.”

“Yes! That’s what was odd. I just couldn’t figure it out! But where are we, Anton?”

“Best I can figure, a new Earth.”

Mikhal rolled the thought around in his head. A new Earth. So what happened to the old Earth?

“So this is merely a simulation? Is any of it real?”

“It’s as real as we want it to be, Mikhal.”

Mikhal grasped his head in his hands. “What about Earth?” he cried out.

Anton placed an arm around his friend. “I don’t know, but I know someone who does.”

Mikhal and Anton left the flat and made their way through the city to the Hall of Records. Once inside, Anton led Mikhal to Dr. Arnold’s laboratory. Mikhal stood there, astounded by what he saw. Thousands of humans in test tubes. The doctor approached them.

“It’s as you programmed it, my two computer wizards,” the doctor said as he stretched out his hand before the rows of test tubes. “Soon, we will have enough humans to populate this planet.”

“Exactly where are we?” Mikhal asked.

“This, my dear lad, is Gibbon Prime, or New Earth as we have dubbed it. We are two hundred thousand light years away from Earth. Earth is no more, I am afraid,” the doctor murmured as he stared off into the distance. After a long moment, he turned his gaze back to Mikhal and Anton. “You can thank your friend here for getting the program to Oxford,” he said as he patted Anton on the back.

“I still don’t understand. How did we get here?”

Dr. Arnold smiled at Mikhal. “For that, we have to thank the good people of Gibbon. They’d seen our plight and saved as many of us as they could. One hundred thousand of us – scientists, artists, computer experts such as yourselves, and as many children as possible. They were smart enough to leave the begging politicians behind,” the doctor laughed.

“And Mitzi?”

“She is a computer simulation. She died in the calamity that struck Earth, but we knew you would need her when you woke up. She is as real as she ever was, Mikhal, but she has only the memories that you two shared. It’s the best we could do.”

Mitzi was dead? Could he live with a mere simulation of her? Was this what his life would consist of now? Simulations?

“I… I don’t… I don’t think I can live like this…” Mikhal stammered as he slid to the laboratory floor.

Anton rushed to his friend’s side. “You must, Mikhal. They need us,” he said as he put a comforting arm around Mikhal.

“Need us how?”

“To run and maintain the Hub,” the doctor proclaimed. “Come, let me show you.”

Anton helped Mikhal to his feet. The two followed the doctor through the maze of test tubes into another room. Inside were two lounge chairs and a huge computer system. Mikhal stopped in his tracks. It looked similar to the station he and Anton had worked from while recording their memories.

“I am afraid this is where you two will spend most of your time if we are to maintain the illusion of Earth for the others,” the doctor stated.

“No! I won’t be strapped into some computer day in and day out!” Mikhal screamed as he bolted for the door.

Anton caught his arm. “We have no choice, Mikhal. They don’t know that Earth is gone. They think they are still there. We can’t take that away from them.”

Mikhal slouched against his friend. Wasn’t this why they’d programmed Earth Memory in the first place? It was true. Only he and Anton knew how to operate and maintain their program. They really had no choice.

“Don’t worry, Mikhal. You will live out a full life in your memories. We won’t take that away from you,” the doctor announced.

The two young men climbed into the loungers. While the doctor placed the prods into their brains, Anton reached out and took Mikhal’s hand and squeezed it.

“I’ll see you in London soon, dear friend,” Anton said as he closed his eyes.

©2016 Lori Carlson. All rights reserved.

(998 words)

The Prompt via Mandy WallaceFaced with Earth’s imminent destruction, two computer whizzes design Earth Memory—a hub containing art, internet content, knowledge, written history, human DNA, and the two boys’ memories. They wake up with 100k other humans on an Earth-like planet where they must work to find out what happened and who saved them.

Each day for the A to Z Challenge I will be writing a 500-1000 word Science Fiction story. I hope you will enjoy them.

  1. So like The Matrix this one ….

  2. good story Lori. Wish they could come back home.

  3. Great story! It doesn’t sound much of a life – it’s all very “Matrix”. I think they’d be better off telling the people the truth and starting anew.

  4. That’s a very good take on the prompt, Lori. As always, I am in awe of your imagination and story-telling;

    Keith Channing A-Zing from

  5. Thank you, dear 🙂

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