The Dark World

Pandora has been Colonised for unimaginable lengths of time, and as such, the pollution from its factories and mines has blocked out its dying sun. A father and a daughter sit in the total darkness, and think about their world.

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3. A fathers' story

‘Tell me a story, dad.’

The cyborg stroked his daughters’ hair with his organic hand, thinking to himself. ‘What kind of story do you want?’

The reply took a few seconds, but when it did, it was full of a certain enthusiasm that is only found in children.‘Tell me about how you and mom met.’

He leaned his head back softly, remembering a time much better than the one he lived in now. ‘It was a very long time ago,’ he sighed, ‘before my accident. I was only a child, a few rotations older than you...’

 

He was a child, not a cyborg yet. He was standing, swaying gently on his feet, over the body of a dying street urchin, not yet dead.

‘Oh God,’ he whispered, unable to move, ‘oh God...’

He had killed him. For some clothes, he had killed him. He had told himself he would never kill, even if he had to, even though everyone else did, even though it was necessary. And yet here he was.

He knew that sooner or later, the gang the urchin belonged to would be coming, but still he could not move, save to lean in closer to the face of the man he had killed, looking into his eyes. A hand was on his shoulder, trying to pull him away from the scene, but still, he could not move, could not stop looking into the dying mans eyes, but still, the hand kept on pulling him. ‘Run,’ she hissed.

Then the man died.

The boy ran.

 

As it is with most fathers talking to child, the truth quite separate from what is told. ‘I met her in a dormitory, Sophie. We shared one for most of our...her life.’

The daughter seemed underwhelmed, but that was the point of the lie. There were a few more seconds filled with a contemplative silence. Sophie touched her fathers hand - a habit, on the sightless world, to get someones attention. ‘How did she die?’

Childbirth. ‘She was killed by another gang.’

A few more contemplative seconds.

Why did she die?’ Sophie’s voice was trembling, and her father did not need sight to see the tears in her eyes.

He did not answer immediately, because he could not. It truly is a sad moment when a child, your child, asks you why their parent is dead, because the only true answer is that they were unfortunate. The true answer is that fortune favours those who are ruthless enough to kill, rather than those moral enough to die. Especially here. Especially now.

The father was silent. Sophie couldn’t feel his chest rise and fall as he breathed, and she couldn’t feel a heart beating in the metal; instead, she heard a soft electrical hum and the sound of an air filtration system.

‘Ask tomorrow - now I am tired, as you must be. I believe it’s time that both of us should go to sleep.’ He moved her off his lap, and carried her to her bed. She didn’t argue with him, either about the answerless question or the command: she was too young, too accepting, to do so. But she would do, when a quirk of human physiology would shove her into maturity, a maturity further enforced by the sunless world she had been born on to. Then her questions wouldn’t be so casual.

The daughter went to her bed, feeling her way through the dormitory. The father stayed where he was; he had no bed to go back to.

When he fell asleep, his dreams were tortured with images of his first murder, his dead wife, and when he tried to feel his face, there was very little of it left.

 

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