Part Five – Tossed Aside

Ravvo and I walked to the guard lockers. He seemed to drag his feet, leaving behind a viscous green muck wherever he went. “What is that stuff?”

 

“I don’t know anymore,” Ravvo replied. “Everything has become… strange for me. My only mission is to stop her.”

 

I opened the door – the lock was broken – and entered a blood filled room. All the lockers were covered in it, still dripping. “What…”

 

“She was here,” Ravvo moved quickly throughout the locker room. He looked at a broken vent and sniffed the air with his reddish nose.

 

“Where are the bodies?” I asked. I opened up one of the lockers and saw the prize I was looking for. Hanging up was a bulletproof vest, a small glock and a taser. I always felt the security forces of the Arks were too militant. It made me wonder, how had they played out over the years over the other Generational Arks?

 

“She is taking them,” Ravvo responded. “We must hurry. We must go to the core of this Ark. That is where she will attempt to break free your artificial intelligence.”

 

Ravvo left the room and I followed behind him, sliding the vest over my shoulders and strapping the glock to my side. I held the taser in my hands, it gave me a sense of security for some reason having this little shocker at my disposal. “What is she doing? What does she want with it?”

 

“She seeks to merge with it,” Ravvo said, walking quickly with a strong limp. I wondered if he could run if he had to, wherever he was taking me he seemed to know the way and this felt like his max speed. Perhaps he was wounded?  “Whenever she encounters another jumpstation, she docks with them immediately to free the artificial intelligence and program it into being part of her.”

 

“What?” I yelled. “Why would an AI need to do that? Why would she kill the crew? And what the hell! There are other goddamn jump stations? We were suppose to be the first!”

 

Ravvo stopped, breathed heavily and sniffed the air again. “Out here, all of your protestations are tossed aside. No one cares. Nothing cares. There are seventeen jumpstations that have come out here, to our section of the void. I do not know if there have been others. I believe she corrupts their coordinates though to make them come here. Out of the seveteen AIs, I was only able to destroy seven of them before she merged.”

 

“What? You just unplug them?”

 

“No, I merge with them,” He said. “I am an android, unlike her, I retain my humanity whereas she never had any. The meat clone she runs around in… that is all it is.”

 

“Look…” I asked. “Why is she killing people if she just wants to merge with the AIs, isn’t there a better method than causing this raucus?”

 

“She is programmed to terraform planets, but her core programming is to create oxygen. It is how she began killing everyone on my Ark. When people started moving against her prime protocol, she wiped them and became an unfriendly AI. She is completely unfettered. She kills the people first to give her time to outsmart the other AI. When she merges with it, she first reprograms its core protocol to be her own.”

 

“Jesus,” I said. “What the hell is she going to do? Fill the void full of oxygen?”

 

Ravvo looked at me. “That is exactly what a god-like intelligence with a slavish obsession would do. And it will kill everything that threatens to stop her.”

Part Four – We Were Young Once

 

The man looked at me, his runny eyes sizing me up. “You are of this one?”

 

“You mean the ship?” I asked. “Who… who are you?”

 

He smiled, showing his disturbingly thin teeth. “I am Ravvos. Yes, you are of this ark? When did it set sail?”

 

“A month ago.”

 

“A month!” He laughed, green slime dripped from his mouth. I realized his entire reddish flesh seemed to be oozing the green slime out. He was covered in it. “So it is true. My parents told me of such a thing. You have discovered a way to go beyond light. You have not changed. You are as my forefathers were.”

 

“What do you mean?” I asked.

 

“I am Ravvos, Jake Ravvos.”

 

“Jake Ravvos… the first man to walk on Pluto?” I asked.

 

“The very same… almost,” He said. “I have memories of it, but I am not the original. Jake Ravvos prime died hundreds of yeas ago, but he made a clone. Every clone has made another since. Something though… has gone terribly wrong. We are not as we were.”

 

“There are more of you?” I asked.

 

“Yes,” He responded. “Hundreds of us, I woke them up when the evil came.”

 

“That woman?”

 

Jake Ravvos, a literal relic of an ancient past, laughed again. “She is part of it, but not even a shadow of it all. It was four years ago that our scientists aboard our ark created an artificial super intelligence. We knew it was likely you had already made one back on earth by the time ours had been created. We studied everything… but something went wrong… it made too much air. It thought it was helping. It did exactly as we had programmed it. We wanted it to help us to terraform the planet we found.”

 

“You came to it?” I asked, stunned. “You actually made it to the planet?”

 

“Yes, but we were wrong. It was not habitable,” He responded. He moved towards the broken window looking in on the cafeteria. “We were not ready. My memories from my originator makes it clear. We were fools to travel so early in so many ways. Perhaps though, we will be saved by it.”

 

“Look, I don’t know what’s happening right now, but I…” I responded, with no idea of what I needed. “But I have to find the captain.”

 

“Yes, let’s find him,” Jake Ravvo responded. “Your ship is infected with an artificial super intelligence.”

 

“Yes, but they’re chained,” I responded.

 

“The thing howling in your hallways, she is one.”

 

“She is a robot? An android? No. Those are outlawed.”

 

“In your part of the galaxy and world, you forget each ark is unto like a country,” Ravvos responded. He peered at the green globs coming from his reddish hands. “That creature though is not an android, it is a god. We were young once, when I was still my originator and she was as well. But the stars… ah…”

 

Ravvos looked up from his hand straight at me. He spoke slowly, his too thin teeth showing in his too thin gums, “They age us.”

Part Three – On a Long, Lonely Journey

I had ran like I had never ran before. All my thoughts fled my mind. Even the knowledge of my amnesia was erased, replaced by the dread demon of fear. She had bashed into the airlock with such strength. The door cracked and seemed as if it would rip off its hinges. Her howl… it had to be the same one I heard when I was in the locker.

 

I knew the ship, at least my portion, well enough to flee towards security. The hallways with their sterile light powered my vision, bulwarks and metal doors flew by me, and I could hear in the distance a screaming I did not wish to encounter.

 

I came to the airlock and dug through my pants towards my ID card. I scanned it. I pushed it against the scan pad. Over and over again. Finally the red light turned green. The door could not slide open fast enough. I slipped through and closed the thick, security inducing door and then locked it.

 

I could still hear her scream echoing throughout the entire ship. It almost sounded as if she was ripping through the walls, or tearing something out of them at the very least.

 

I breathed. I had to gather my thoughts. I needed a weapon to defend myself and I needed to find out what had happened to everyone else on this ship. If I was alive, others should be alive too, shouldn’t they?

 

I moved into the outer office and towards the guard lockers. In there they kept everything, and I had no real idea how I was going to get in there but I figured it was better to head that way than to stand around doing nothing. I found the stairwell and it seemed to be covered in a strange goo. It was a veneer, a kind of thin snotty slime covering the handrails and the steps.

 

I made sure not to touch the handrails as I slowly descended the stairs into the lower security quarters. The halls were covered in the slime too, it seemed to be everywhere.

 

“What…” I whispered as I walked through the brilliant lit and cold hallway. The glass windows that allowed people in the hall to look into the fitness center and the cafeteria were broken out, and the entire cafeteria was covered in thick wads of the greenish slime.

 

In the center of the greenish slime there seemed to be a pulsing yellow blob.

 

“It is a long, and a lonely journey that we are on,” Came a voice behind me. I turned, eyes wide and ready to die. A man with skin that was almost translucent was staring back at me, with runny yellowish eyes and a bald head covered in angry aged lines. “I never thought I would see a new one.”

 

“Who…” I said

His eyes looked all around at the snot covered walls. Confident in what he saw, his eyes locked with mine. He smiled with a mouth of thin, needle like teeth. “Such a long and lonely journey.”

(This post sponsored by Pittsburgh Pro Painters)

Part Two – Memories

I walked out of the locker. It was back to the silence. I do not know how long I was there, waiting for that hellish sound of her to dissipate back into the bowels of this misplaced star ship. I must had fallen asleep somewhere along the line, because I woke up with my head stuck to the locker door, and having to peel myself off from where my blood had dried and stuck to it.

 

In the medic room, I slowly peaked my head out of the door looking both ways. Nothing. Everything seemed fine. The lights were working properly, all the systems were a go, nothing seemed amiss minus the lack of people. This ship was the size of a small town. It was made to be a colonial ship. One of the first ships of its size. They called them Generational Arks because people live and die on these ships as they sailed across the stars towards some impossibly distant, hopefully habitable planet.

 

As far as I knew, none had arrived yet, with the first Generational Ark setting sail across the void more than six hundred years ago. I wondered how they were doing. Were they mad? Did they encounter something? Or were they content? I wonder how different they might be from humans I knew.

 

A sound pushed me out of my thoughts. It was coming from the airlock not far away. The ship was covered in various ports and airlocks for docking and special resupplies. They were useful if something big needed replacement, it was always much easier to move a giant ton of metal in the weightlessness of space than it was inside the ship with its artificial gravity.

 

I crept down the hallway, nothing but my hands curled into a fist.

 

Had something come aboard? Was there something here on Jumpstation X?

 

Sweat prickled down my neck as I remembered the howling of the woman from before.

 

I came upon the door and peered through the tiny window that looks into the bubble of air that stood as a barrier. There was a woman in a white spacesuit, like something out of an ancient age unlike anything that people wear today. Her hand was pressed against the glass that separated her from the void of outer space, and it looked as if she was talking. My eyes found the poor soul she was talking to, it was the medic. He had been a good man named Orion if I remember correctly. I played comets with him just two days ago.

 

Or however long ago it was.

 

I watched in morbid fascination of this woman. It was all like a dream. It was a distant memory of sorts. I could not put it together what it was spinning in my head. For the first time since I stopped being afraid after the teleportation, I realized something awful.

 

My memory… where was it? Who was I?

 

My God… I could not even remember my name.

 

It was in this deep thought that I was suddenly jerked out of the daydreaming by eyes staring at me from the other side of the window.

 

Her eyes.

This story continues to be brought to you by the awesome people at this auto dealership.

Part One

I watched from a locker. I was hidden. Safe. Out here, that is all you could ever ask for. Safety was akin to oxygen, they outweighed gold and sometimes even water. Fright, at times, is a worse fate than thirst.

I am a janitor. My name is Bruce Lillian. And I am the last man alive on Jump Station X.

I lay here, my back against the wall of this cramped locker. I bend my legs a little, but I am growing weary. I have been in here for what seems like days. The loneliness of space, the long darkness of solitude, seems to creep through the very metal hull of the space ship.

How had it all gone so wrong? So horribly wrong?

All I know is that the Jump Station X, this jump station, was one of many out there. They were an experiment; something to take us beyond the local system, even beyond the local cluster of our string of galaxies. It was a teleportation device on a magnitude that had never been done before.

Not like the ones on Earth. Though, I was never a fan of those either. I wasn’t even supposed to have been here! I didn’t want to go.  Back on Earth there had been talk about teleportation devices. People thought they killed you. That you when you teleported, the device was annihilating your body and recreating a “new you” on the other side.

I don’t trust them. Even if the device teleported me only a few feet… it wouldn’t be me anymore, would it?

Now we’ve made the jump.

The whole goddamn space station made the jump. To where? I have no idea. They said it was suppose to be a test. Well, the test failed.

The blood on the walls proves that.

I fear to even look out the window in the medic’s lab. Afraid what alien stars might witness me back. Is it really me being afraid though? Am I not a new being completely?

These thoughts always make me shudder. I reached up and hugged myself, calmed my breathing. My jumpsuit was ragged, the once bright military blue was now covered in oil marks, dirt from the garden, and dried blood from when I had woken up.

I don’t remember it too well.

The commander’s voice came on, telling everyone to strap in. I was still in the medic’s lab mopping up, I hadn’t expected it. The next thing I knew, I was on the floor, bleeding all over myself from my nose. That is when I knew what had happened.

When I had become this… this new thing that thinks it is me… the old me I mean.

That is also when I heard the screams from down the hall.

I closed my eyes. Steadied myself. I was thirsty, it was time to get water.

“Who is there?” Came a voice from the hall. It sounded too human… like the voice had become enriched. “Is that you Bruce? Everything is fine, Bruce. Where are you?”

I slid the hand from the door of the locker.

Sometimes fright is worse than thirst.

—-

I want to say a special thank you to Roofer Ogden Utah for helping make the publication of this story possible.