Absent Night – (Short story I’m working on)

Keh-tee stood in the ruins of Palica City. Humans built the city, believing they had defeated The Superiors, a race of living metal androids. They felt safe in their obsidian palaces. Now they died in this city, and Keh-tee witnessed it all. Pleas for help arrived in screams and left with a gurgled final breath. Glass and twisted metal lay strewn across a scorched land. Shards of obsidian carved the horizon, jagged spires of black, piercing a cloudless sky.

Palica City burned in the toxic light of Eru, the second sun of Palica. It rose once every five hundred Earth years and remained for ten Earth years, a blinding sphere of fractured colors. They burst from Eru in shimmering rays of blues, violets, reds, and oranges. The sight struck awe in all who looked upon it. Though, to look upon Eru’s beauty meant an inevitable death for humans. They came to call this time Absent Night.

Keh-tee breathed acrid air, heavy with ash and death. She sank to her knees and clutched her hands against her chest. Her eyes squeezed closed.

“Your humanity is much too obvious here.”

Fel’s voice startled her. She opened her eyes and stood to look at him. His tall, slender frame looked less human than hers. She thought it too graceful, too perfect to appear human at all. He found pride in that, she knew.  Where Keh-tee found beauty, The Superiors found flaw. She bowed her head with no reply to offer.

“What is it about you cyborgs that make you so prone to loving such vile creatures? They were the ones who cast you aside.” The skin he wore on his metallic skeleton sizzled as Eru’s light melted it away.

Keh-tee turned away and stretched out a hand. She watched vibrant rays of light reflect off her titanium fingers and palm. “Humans will never know the beauty in this. I pity them.”

“No pity,” said Fel. “What is their death is our salvation. If they had not brought war to our home, they might have lived.”

Keh-tee shook her head. “They are children. We cannot blame them for their ignorance.” She pulled the hood of her cloak over her head. The thick obsidian-threaded fabric protected her delicate skin and hair. She started to leave, a heavy boot crunching the debris beneath.

Fel wrapped a hand around her arm. His skeleton exposed, a living metal known as vivetallum molded to grip with enough pressure to crush bone. “Careful, Keh-tee. You may find yourself among the fallen.”

“Release me.” She spoke with an even tone, lacking any emotion. One as arrogant as Fel took offense to such human reactions as anger or fear. Keh-tee learned long ago to control such outbursts.

“Remember. You are only alive because we have allowed it.” Fel’s voice hummed with malice– something Keh-tee knew he’d never admit. “Your kind need only show your true being.” He loosed his grip.

Keh-tee adjusted her cloak and set off for the east, leaving Fel behind with his loathsome thoughts. A distance of two hundred kilometers lay between her and her kind, the ones the others dubbed as antiquated. Perhaps truth existed in that word, but she refused to show shame for that. The Superiors tolerated them at best.

She walked between burning buildings, empty streets, and desolate recreation centers. Her eyes scanned each passage she passed. Crumbled walls formed unnatural hills of glass and obsidian. Where the humans once felt safe, now the ashes of their fragile bodies scattered in the wind. She found it difficult not to think about it. After all, she was once one of them. Part of her still felt empathy for them, compassion.

Copyright © 2015 Sophie Giroir


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