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A further collection of short stories told from the perspectives of individuals who live in a future dystopian world, controlled by Artificial Intelligence. This is the second part of a two book series with work from some of the best of today's emerging writers.
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From the 3rd Story Productions Ltd
Copyright © Saranne Bensusan, Carmen Radtke, Fiona Leitch, Rachael Howard, Nick Jackson and Emma Pullar 2017
All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form or by any means without the written permission of the publishers.
Lavender's blue, dilly dilly, lavender's green,When I am king, dilly dilly, you shall be queen,
If you should die, dilly dilly, deep in the fray,You’re name shall ring on, dilly dilly, every free day;
Written by Nick Jackson
Written by Fiona Leitch
20-22 Wenlock Road
First published in the United Kingdom by From the 3 rd Story Productions Ltd 2017
The authors have asserted their moral right to be identified as the authors of this work in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988
Find out more about The Anthropocene Chronicles here:
The Anthropocene Chronicles
The Colour of Roses
Hominids of the Genus Homo evolved during the Pleistocene epoch (between 2,588,000 to 11,700 years ago). There were several species of hominids during this time, and we, Homo sapiens, briefly shared time with Homo erectus (1.9 million – 143,000 years ago), and Homo neanderthalensis (100,000 – 25,000 years ago). Only one species of the genus Homo survived into the Holocene epoch 11,700 years ago. Us. Homo sapiens (190,000 years ago – present).
The Anthropocene is the geological epoch that follows on from the Holocene. It is thought that the Anthropocene started in the industrial revolution, with the onset on burning fossil fuels on an industrial scale, causing which is thought to be the start of man-made climate change. This is evidenced by atmospheric concentrations of CO2 (Carbon Dioxide) and CH4 (Methane) accumulating faster than normal. This was followed in the mid-20 th Century with testing and use of nuclear weapons, and the introduction of the wide use of plastics. These plastics are already in the oceans, and will form part of the geological record in millions of years time. It will be one of the geological markers for the Anthropocene. Other geological markers will be nuclear isotopes from the decay of nuclear weapons and energy use, and concrete from the construction industry.
Humans have also had a major impact on the species we share our planet with, and species are now becoming extinct at a rate of 20-100 times faster than normal because of human activity. It is now thought that we have entered Earth’s 6 th mass extinction.
Smith, B.D., Zeder, M.A., The onset of the Anthropocene. Anthropocene (2013), http://dx.doi.org/ 10.1016/j.ancene.2013.05.001
Lewis, S.L., Maslin, M.A, Defining the Anthropocene Simon, Nature, MARCH 2015, VOL 519, pp 171-180
Rafferty, J.P., Anthropocene, Encyclopaedia Britannica
In the year 2160 there are 12 billion people on the planet. Humans have made a devastating impact on the planet, and following The Change, resources have become rationed and strict regimes have been implemented to keep the population healthy and minimise waste.
T he Subcommission on Quaternary Stratigraphy confirmed that the earth had entered into a new geological epoch, moving from the Holocene to the Anthropocene, following major scientific debate and evidence that human activity has impacted upon the climate and environment of the planet in a significant and lasting way, making a permanent mark in the geological record.
All human life is now managed by the ‘state’, a computerised A.I. system which controls the lives of everyone to maximise productivity and safety, and minimise further human devastation on the planet, and provides one-to-one supervision and assistance to humans in the form of A.I. Units, varying from Cube devices to various robots for the better off. There is no crime as we know it today.
Animal farms have been eliminated as a measure of protecting the environment form further damage, and the entire human population is now vegan. To ensure global productivity, citizens from poorer backgrounds must work continuously underground without seeing the light of day, whilst the far fewer elite enjoy freedom and liberty above ground, with fresh air, sunlight, and time to pursue hobbies and dreams and have pets.
The below ground citizens are unaware that there is another possible life, and those above ground are unaware that all they have is at the expense of others underground.
The following stories are Chronicles of their time
Written by Rachael Howard
Hello. Where am I? Do you know where my daughter is? She told me to stay indoors. I’m not sure she’ll be happy I’m here. I only wanted some fresh air. Not that you can get that these days. Not the proper stuff. This stuff they put up with these days. It’s got no smell. You need a good smell, don’t you? Some flowers and sweat and fresh cut grass and farts and…
Oh. You’re a gardener? Lucky you. Bet you get a lungful of decent stuff don’t you. Hold on. Let me sniff. Oh it’s still on you, that earthiness and sweat.
No I’m not rude. Honestly. I meant that warm hard work sweat not the “haven’t bathed for a week” sweat. Kids today don’t know proper sweat. Not in their gyms. It’s all clinical and antiseptic. You are the real thing, you are.
Where is it? I miss flowers. Real flowers. I can smell those are real. Where are they? I do love the smell of…
Where is my daughter? Have you told her where I am? She is such a worrier. Silly girl. So what if I forget a few things. Nothing wrong with that is there? Everybody forgets things sometimes. After all we are just human, aren’t we?
Exactly. Everyone forgets things sometimes. You are quite right dear.
What’s your name? John? I have a boyfriend with that name. But don’t tell Mum. She doesn’t approve. Are you my boyfriend? You look sort of like him. He’s dark too. Proper dark like you. Not that mixed up colour of muddy cream.
I’m not offending you, am I? It’s just we’re of an age I’d say. Well within a decade or so. You remember when everyone was a different colour. Some of it natural, some of it tan and some of it dirt. Not that I’m saying you’re dirty. Do you remember back then?
My daughter is going to be so angry when she finds I’m not there. I was going to go straight back in the cupboard only it is soooo boring. And I was only going to be out for a minute, as I said. I just wanted to peep outside and chat to someone. She does her best but it is nice to chat to someone different. Are you enjoying this chat? Well I am.
Anyway, I saw this young man down the road. I like young men. So I thought I would just pop out for a moment, as I said, and say hello.
Woo wasn’t that exciting. Next thing I know he tells me to sit on a bench, kind young man, and he calls for his friends to pick me up. Before you know it I am in a car with two other nice young men, though they didn’t seem very chatty. They told me off for being muddled. Like I can help that? I can’t now can I. Though I am sure I was in school with them. I told them but they just laughed. Suppose they weren’t that nice after all.
Oh dear. They promised they would tell my daughter where I am as soon as they found her. “We will have a good chat to her about you” is what they said. But they weren’t nice to me really I suppose. Do you think they will tell her?
Mum will be so angry with me. No I don’t mean my daughter. How old do you think I am? Cheeky. Mum would be livid if I got pregnant. What an idea. Mum says I have to keep my legs crossed. Silly that because you can’t run away with your legs crossed so doesn’t that make it worse?
I’m Maizy Goulden. Lazy Maizy my Mum calls me. Well why work if you don’t have to? For the good of the community? Oh the community can do one. Demanding this and demanding that. Too bossy by half.
Why shush? I am NOT being disrespectful. I’m just saying what my husband always says. I am NOT a silly woman.
Oh, are they taking you away? Where are you taking him? Don’t ask? How rude. Now you leave that poor man alone. Oh. You didn’t have to push. Please let him stay. I don’t want him to go. We’re having a nice chat.
I’ll see him soon? OK. Bye John. Don’t struggle dear. We can carry on with our chat later. It can wait.
Oh. That wasn’t necessary. Why did you have to make him sleep like that? You could have just reasoned with him. But sticking that needle in. Not nice.
Well I suppose if it is to stop him hurting himself. Just seems a bit mean to me. Tell him I’ll see him soon, when he wakes up. Don’t know what you are sniggering at young man. Show some respect.
Really. No manners. Poor man being treated like that.
Yes? I’m Maizy Goulden. Dominic? I’ve got a boyfriend with that name; a very naughty boy. Mum says he will get me into trouble. I like trouble. Is it time to go home yet? No?
Well I can follow you I suppose. I’d rather be going home, or with John. Stop wincing at that young man. There’s nothing wrong with a bit of romance at any age.
This it? But there’s nothing in here. No I don’t like this room at all. I’m heading home.
Why must I go in? There’s just a table and a couple of chairs. Not even a window. The light is too bright. The walls are too white. It hurts my eyes.
No. I’ve decided. I’m going home.
Why do you want to ask me questions? Questions are dangerous. Asking questions gets you disappeared, or worse. Nice questions? You’re sure? Well if you give Lazy Maizy a kiss on the cheek then? Just there? Just a little peck?
Mwah! Got ya.
Don’t be embarrassed. Just a little smacker on the lips. That’s all. Bet you’ve never been kissed before.
Not proper? Way lad, are you a virgin? At your age? Don’t try and suggest fantasy rubbish counts. Gross. Oh you don’t use that? Good for you.
You know I could sort you out? You’re just my type. Don’t tell Mum though. She says I’m a bad girl. Being good is soooo boring.
No I can’t calm down. My brain is buzzing. My daughter says my brain is… is…. misfiring. That’s the word.
Do you know my Mum? She’d like you. You look smart and respectable. She approves of that. Doesn’t approve of me though.
Where is my daughter? She should have come and collected me by now. I’d better go look for her. Stay here? No. No. I think I should leave now.
What are you calling for a nurse for? I don’t need any nurse. Let me go. I don’t want to be here. I want to go home. I don’t want to be calmed. What do you mean, sorting my memories in order?
Backwards? I don’t want to go backwards. Backwards has bad places. I don’t want to go back there. So I forget some things. Can’t see what the fuss is about. You are all very silly people and I have had enough. I’m off. You can go backwards if you want but I’m going home.
Not a needle, please. I’ll be good. Make her go away, please. No it’s not alright. Look, no nits. Don’t give me an, ouch! That hurt! Mum! I want my Mum! Horrible nit nurse. Horrible, nasty.,,
Hello. Is it time to go home now? A chat? Oh I like chats. Who are you? Dominic. What a nice name and what do you do dear? A writer? Have I read anything of yours? Oh. Not that type of writer. Never mind. I’m sure it will happen one day.
You can’t point a camera at me. Not with my hair like this. I don’t even have my lippy on.
Only children seeing it? That’s OK then. Hello kiddies. I’m Lazy Maizy. I like kissing boys.
What’s wrong? Well they have to learn about these things someday. You can’t expect them to stick to that virtual stuff. It’s not natural. Kids don’t go on that virtual stuff when you are older. Stick to the real stuff.
Oh alright. I’ll just answer questions? If I can hold your hand? No kisses I promise. I’m ready.
My name is Lai… is Maizy. Stop frowning at me. I stopped myself didn’t I?
I’m 85 years old I think. That better? Good. Because I’m not doing it again. Bad enough a lady has to reveal her age at all.
I’m not sure of my age because they don’t do parties anymore. I used to like parties. All your friends would come around, real friends that is. Who you knew. In person. You’re frowning again. He frowns too much, kiddies. It will give him wrinkles doing that. Don’t you lot frown.
Anyway, everyone would bring you a present. Some would be big and some would be small but they were all special because your friends had chosen them for you. Themselves. Not off some approved list. Ha. Don’t you dare frown at that. I want a smile. Come on. Just a little one, turn that frown upside down. Now that’s better. Made you chuckle didn’t I.
Look at the camera? Sorry kids. Here we go. Close your eyes and imagine it. There was lots of food and cake. You got a great big birthday cake and you could eat as much as you wanted. Really. Nobody counted it or made you pay back with stupid exercise. You could just bury your face in it like this. Mmmmmm. Bet you opened your eyes to see that, didn’t you.
Not healthy? Of course it wasn’t healthy. It was a party! Not healthy indeed.
Now my wedding cake. That is beautiful. Have you seen it? Four tiers. Don’t want a silly three layer one. Holy Trinity my foot. Where’s God now when we need him. Not even any churches.
Mum’s made the outside out of cardboard. She’s painted it and made it so beautiful. Of course the real cake is tiny. Hidden inside. She managed to find some real raisins to go in it though and proper sugar. Plus she got me a notepad and pencil for my stories. Haven’t been able to write for years. Not approved of any more.
Someone else told me she bartered her wedding ring for them. Turns out she does love me after all. Silly that she never told me herself. She’s so scared of caring and then being hurt. Because of Dad I suppose, when he disappeared.
But you have to have love in your life, haven’t you? Somewhere? Or life is so miserable it’s not worth living. That’s what I think anyway. I will always find someone or something to love. I don’t want to be like her.
Sorry? What? We can talk about that later? OK. But I will be off soon to get my hair done. I’m having it in ringlets with flowers.
Flowers? Pretty petal things. What do they do? They make things beautiful my lovely. Oh I do like flowers. They had wonderful colours and smells, so much variety. Ask that John. He knows. He’s been with the real ones.
That’s what this place needs, some variety. Everything is the same, the houses; the food; the work; the people. They are all the same drab colours.
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