His eyes darted back and forth like lightning bolts as he struggled to understand what was happening around him. The room flashed red in intervals as an alarm rang throughout his bedroom. It felt like the ground was dropping from underneath him, his stomach leapt,and his body utterly weightless. He seized his ear bud, shoving it into his left ear. Through his ear bud’s microphone he tried to make contact. His panicked and quickened voice was almost inaudible.
“Vox! Vox! What’s happening?!”
No response came as a loud crash thundered throughout the steel city and the lights went down.
The previous days hadn’t been as shocking. Steel walls creaked as the city began to wake. Richard lay in his bed thinking of what he was going to do today. Since leaving earth he’d come to find that his daydreams of adventures on a new world were just that, dreams. The only reason he was there was because his uncle (who was a very prominent scientist with quite a lot of power in the new colony) had given Richard the ability to come to the colony. When his uncle first told Richard’s family that he wanted his nephew to visit the new world they were ecstatic.
“This will be such a great opportunity for you, Rich” they had all been saying before he left. It was a truthful lie, yes he was able to go to a new world(that alone had its merits) and yes he was in the presence of some of the greatest scientists humanity had to offer, but all he did to pass his time was try to find things that brought him entertainment. After weeks of his stay had passed, entertainment was increasingly hard to find. He would often wander the many halls of the metal city, which he still hadn’t completely mapped out, and continued to look for things to do.
The city itself was a massive metal structure perched on a platform that floated a mile and a half above the surface of the “habitable zone” on the planet Proxima B of the Alpha Centauri System. Proxima B currently has no surface colonies due to the harmful radiation that blankets the planet’s surface. The floating platform was just high enough to be outside the radiation zone. Even with the cities’ location, nobody was allowed outside without the proper suit to protect them from the elements. Things like the cold weather that almost always was around 40 degrees below zero or the radiation dust that had the rare potential of making its way onto the platform. The buildings that made up the city were composed of a reinforced steel that protected the inside world from the outside one. The problem with this design was that the whole city had no windows, causing it to feel much more like living in a giant submarine than a city.
Richard arose from his bed to greet the day that awaited him on the strange new world. “Perhaps I’ll go to the observation deck and read,” he thought to himself. He really enjoyed going to the observation deck. It was one of the places in the entire city that actually had a window, and a large one at that. It was a large recreation room with several benches that faced the windows to look out, revealing a beautiful view of the landscape of Proxima B. Rich always enjoyed going there, there was something about the scenery of the alien world that brought the 17 year old a sense of peace, despite being so far from home.
He changed from his pajamas into his standard clothes that were provided by Xcorp (the main financial backer of the colony). It was a boring gray jumpsuit that branded the company’s logo on over his left pectoral. The material of the jumper was subject to debate as the outside of it was a stretchy plastic feeling material that Richard couldn’t place, but the inside liner was some form of soft polyester. Rich always hated wearing the jumper but didn’t have anything else to wear so he couldn’t argue.
After getting dressed, Rich put in his A.I. Bud (or A.I.B. for short) in his ear. The A.I.s name was Vox and it helped Rich with anything he needed whether it be connecting with someone he needed to talk to, opening the many sliding doors of the city, organizing his agenda, and reminding him about things that needed to get done.
“Hello, Mr. Daniel, how are you doing this morning?” Vox asked as Rich put the ear bud in.
“I’m good, Vox, anything I should know about today?” Rich replied.
“I’m sorry, sir, nothing new for today, did you want me to schedule something in particular for today’s agenda?”
“No, Vox, but could you please brew me a cup of coffee?”
“Yes, sir” and at that moment a cup dropped from the coffee machine in the corner of his room. Hot coffee began to pour into the cup filling it close to the brim.
“Thank you, Vox,” Rich said as he grabbed the cup and took a small sip to test the temperature before drinking fully. He took another sip and let out a sigh of approval. After finishing the cup, he grabbed his tablet and headed out the door.
He walked out of the Residential block 14-C (the place where his room was located) into the main halls of the city. As he was walking down he couldn’t help but notice a confrontation beginning in the hallway in front of him. He saw a man in a lab coat get stopped by two Sentinels. Rich was too far to be able to hear what they were saying but it was obvious that a crime had been committed. The man in the lab coat seemed greatly distressed and the two Sentinels both had their hands on their holstered pistols, ready to fire at a moment’s notice.
Just then, the man in the lab coat pushed one of the Sentinels aside and tried to run away but was quickly grabbed by the other Sentinel who threw the man to the ground and in the same moment the man was put in handcuffs. Both men proceeded to bring the man down the hallway (most likely bringing them to their station where he would be processed for whatever crime he had committed). As they passed by Rich, one of the Sentinels announced in a robotic yet commanding voice, “Stand aside citizen” and they disappeared around the corner down a separate hallway.
Curious about what he’d just seen, Rich quickly turned his attention to Vox, “Vox, what was that all about?”
“I’m not certain, sir, no report has been made public by the Sentinels yet, but I will let you know when a report has been made.”
Rich, content with what little information he was given, continued on to his planned destination.
“If you don’t mind, sir,” Vox began, “where are we headed today?”
“I’m heading to the observatory to read.” Rich replied. A response that prompted Vox to reply with a,“Very good, sir.”
After about a mile of walking through the intricate hallway system of the steel city, he finally arrived at the observatory room. A rather large room with the sole purpose to be more of a lounge than an area of observation. It got its name because of the large window against the wall that allowed viewers to see the landscape of Proxima B for miles. Rich loved going there, it was a very relaxing spot where he often found peace in gazing at alien world down below. He always wanted to go down to the surface but was never allowed to. Only miners and scientists had clearance to go down to the surface. Rich was a civilian and could do nothing.
He arrived at the room and reclined on the couch that faced the main window. He looked out into the landscape. The surface was a wasteland, filled with many cracks and crevasses, the ground was a deep brown that looked cold and inhospitable like that of Mars the planet (or at least the area he was in reminded him of Mars with its rocky and desolate look to it). The only difference was that instead of being red, the surface was a dark cold brown. Despite this, the scenery was beautiful to Rich, but what made the whole scene was the Eternal sunset of Proxima B that filled the whole land with a rusty orange. He stretched back on his favorite chair, perfectly positioning himself in front of the window, and began to read.
To Be Continued…
A special thank you to Alan K. Jackson who worked as my scribe in this short story.
Check out his New YouTube channel: A.K.Jackson Channel