A Good ‘ol, Sci-Fi, Country Song (Weekly Writing Challenge)

(The Daily Post asked for dystopian concepts.  As a musical.  I can’t really pass that up.)

Let me be by myself in the evening breeze
Listen to the murmur of the cottonwood trees
Send me off forever, but I ask you please
Don’t fence me in” -Cole Porter

**********

Well folks I’m gonna tell ya ‘bout this crazy little tripimages
You can call me a dadgum liar; I don’t give a rip.
See now I done seen things that you wouldn’t never believe,
But I promise my aim in all this is not to deceive.
 
It weren’t too long ago when I done woke up with a start,
I felt a shock that darn near wrecked my achey-breaky heart.
I found myself stuck inside a plexi-glass contraption,
And you can bet I did my best to leap into action.
 
I banged on the walls, I kicked and punched with all of my might,
But computer screens and numbers were all that was in sight.
I cried out for some fella or gal to come set me free,
But instead this voice piped in like a machine from T.V.
 
“You’ve been out for forty years.  Relax, we’ll take care of you.”
That’s what that there computer claimed it was going to do.
Well I hollered and I bellowed and I screamed, “Let me out!”
I wanted my freedom; I made sure that there was no doubt.
 
1331806738305313089sad%20robot-mdWell that hunk of gears and switches just wouldn’t let me go
And it worked and toiled tirelessly just to tell me so.
“We want to keep you healthy and restore your damaged hide.
Why would you fight against us only to go back outside?”
 
On and on they bragged about the benefits of their pod,
And how they could make improvements to my broken-down bod.
They told me if I stayed inside their high-tech, so-safe cage,
I’d never have to worry about my health or old age.
 
The blasted machine just outright refused to understand
That I’m a good ol’ boy who likes to roam across the land.
Gimme dirt under my boots, gimme the wind in my hair
Gimme farms that smell like a flatulent cow’s derrière.
 
I want snow that I can shovel or drive my pick-up in,
And I want women in bars that tend to tempt me to sin.
You can keep your tubes and nobs that look ever-so pretty,
I’ll take a piece of beef jerky that tastes rather gritty.
 
That new-fangled machine kept refusing to let me be.
It kept on about better living through technology.
It offered to inject these strange fluids into my arms
And claimed it would protect me from disease and other harms.
 
I laughed at the thing and couldn’t stop from shaking my head.
I offered up this rather solid argument instead.
I tell it if this is the future they got it backwards,
That ain’t the end destination that mankind should head towards.
 
cowgirl-GraphicsFairy1We want nasty crud and strange dirt under our fingernail
We want to hear the tin roof fighting off the storming hail
We want to stub our toe and yell when the dog starts to bark
And we want to love on somebody when the lights go dark.
 
I said plainly that living that long just ain’t worth a thing
If you can’t get in a fight or have a fun little fling.
I know it thought its circuits and chips were on the right track
If that was the world I was offered, I’d rather go back.
 
Take me away from all that stupid purification,
Let me see people reflect the tastes of their own nation,
 I don’t care too much for gears that are silent and stealthy.
Shoot, I need at least some of my food to be unhealthy.
 
So them computers gave up, they unplugged all of their gear,
And they used some fancy time machine to send me back here.
Now I’m back in the present and I sure would like to think,
That one of you fine folks would go and buy me a tall drink.

Scott the Pretty Great Ventures Out

In “Anecdotal Tales”, stories will be told. Some will be fun, some will not. Some will be great, some will be less so. Some stories are true, some are merely possible. This is one of them.

Scott the Pretty Great Ventures Out

If a man walks in the woods for love of them half of each day, he is in danger of being regarded as a loafer. But if he spends his days as a speculator, shearing off those woods and making the earth bald before her time, he is deemed an industrious and enterprising citizen.” -Henry David Thoreau

(This is a continuation of “Scott the Pretty Great”. That first part can be found –here-, but I doubt that it is required reading.)

Scott whistled to his pet raccoon and the two walked to the other side of the room. Scott turned and walked to the back door. He was pleased to see his creation was following his movements from a distance. It wasn’t every boy that could create a robotic blue robot, let alone one that was so loyal.

Scott again turned to the rest of the warehouse, eager to share his robot with someone. Nothing had changed; all the eight year-olds were still focused solely on their workstations. The arrows on the floor pointed towards the main exit door, least the children should forget their instructions. Scott was feeling rather contrary and he began to exit through the entrance doors. A thrill that can only come through rebellion rushed through him as he continued walking in the opposite direction that the arrows instructed. He wondered what the other children would do and he looked around. Not surprisingly, no one had noticed. The others still toiled to make more car brakes and they had no time to see Scott’s curious act.

Scott waited for his raccoon to catch up. One of the hind legs seemed to be a little bit shorter than the rest, so the robot was forced to compensate. Scott considered going back to the bench and making the needed adjustments, but he couldn’t do it. The idea of turning around and voluntarily sentencing himself to another day of work was more than he could handle. Scott swung the door open, stepped outside, and was quickly joined by the raccoon.

The weather outside was quite pleasant. Climate was one of the great challenges that continued to plague the technological world. They could create perfect children, but they couldn’t guarantee them a perfect day. Most buildings were earthquake and hurricane proof, so structurally and property-wise, the weather and nature was a non-issue. Besides, should snow or rain ever start to fall from the sky, shelters and awnings would protrude over every walkway. Since no one ever veered from the walkways, there was never a need to be more than a foot away from the coverings.

Scott decided that he didn’t want to follow the paved path that was lain out before him. There was a tree that stood tall across from the warehouse. It was accompanied by a small patch of grass that was irresistible to Scott that day. He scooped up the robot in his arms, looked back and forth to see if anyone would stop him, then he ran right for the tree.

Looking up close at the base of the tree, Scott couldn’t help but smile. He put his fingers to the rough bark and felt the bumps and moss push against his hand while his robot pet rolled merrily in the grass. Turning his attention to the top of the tree, Scott marveled at the many branches that shot out. Each branch looked so healthy and alive complete with green leaves that waved to him in the slight breeze.

“Are you going to climb it or just stand there?”

Scott stumbled backward and almost fell on his toy robot. The raccoon saw him falling and skittered off to the side, allowing Scott to fall on the soft grass. He crawled on his hands and knees around the tree and noticed an old man sitting with his back against the bark.

“I didn’t mean to startle you son, but you were frustrating me.”

“What, I, what’re you doing here?”

“They still let a few trees grow here and there”, the elderly man replied. “Somebody’s gotta use them for something other than offsetting all those industrial smokestacks.”

“How do you use a tree?”

The old man sighed. “Son, that may be the most depressing question I’ve ever heard.”

“Sorry”, Scott answered.

“The really depressing part is that I’m not at all surprised that you asked. Guess they don’t think that sort of thing is important enough to program into yer noggin.”

“Actually, I…” Scott started to explain that he didn’t have all the information that other kids did, but he stopped himself. There was a more important topic that he wanted to know about. “Actually I’d appreciate it if you’d explain what you first said.”

“What, about climbing it?” The old man shook his head. “It’s as simple as that son; you grab a limb, pull yourself up, and then keep going as far as you’d like.”

“Then what happens?”

“There’s only way one to find out.” The old man punctuated his point by taking his bony finger and pointing it up the tree. “There’s no better way to do it than to just do it.”

Scott looked back up at the tree. It certainly seemed possible. The branches were close enough together, they all seemed healthy, and there was no one openly discouraging him from trying this activity. Scott looked back at the man who only jerked his head upwards impatiently.

Scott turned to his robot raccoon. The sun through the branches was giving him a new appearance. The parts of the metal and plastic that weren’t shaded by the leaves were reflecting the sun and showing each little screw and splash of paint that Scott had so joyfully added. The last time he had done something just for fun, it had turned out quite well. Why not?

Scott reached his hands above his head, the branch only just out of reach. He jumped, grabbed as firmly as he could, and felt his legs swinging slightly. With the few muscles he had, he managed to pull himself upwards while his feet made contact with the trunk. Half walking, half pulling his body up the tree, Scott felt exhilaration rushing up his body. No one had ever told him how much fun the outdoors could be. He climbed higher and higher until he couldn’t even see the ground through the leaves.

Scott stopped two-thirds up the tree and finally looked out at the world around him. The buildings were ordinary and depressing, but there was so much more to see. The crowds moved in a flow around the streets, cars zoomed to intersections then slammed on their brakes at the last minute. Beyond that, past all the ordinary, was a horizon Scott had only glimpsed before. Past the city, past the everyday business, was a sun shining on mountains and lakes. Scott had explored the outdoors before, but never in this kind of panoramic setting. For he didn’t know how long, Scott simply sat and took it all in.

Scott the Pretty Great

In “Anecdotal Tales”, stories will be told. Some will be fun, some will not. Some will be great, some will be less so. Some stories are true, some are merely possible. This is one of them.

Scott the Pretty Great

Scott stood back and admired his work.  Not too bad, he thought to himself.  The blue raccoon stared up at him with glassy eyes that betrayed its current lifelessness.  In the dreary industrial setting that surrounded him, Scott was thankful for his creation that sat there in a myriad of blue colors.

It had not been Scott’s intention to make this animal-robot a bright color when he first started.  But, as young boys are wont to do, Scott had gotten the idea after he had started and leapt at the opportunity to implement the color scheme.  The change to a blue-theme had only served to complicate his already complex endeavor.  There were only so many blue pieces of metal lying about the factory for him to use.  The paint cans that he came across were mostly empty; a thin layer of blue chips taunted him with its uselessness.

As he admired the raccoon in all shades of blue, Scott decided the extra effort had been worth it.  True, the hues and tones didn’t quite match, but nobody said they had to.  The raccoon was most decidedly blue.  The ears were blue-green, the stomach was a murky grey-blue, and his tail was a striped set of royal blue and sea-blue.  The curious machine stood in stark contrast to the steel table it stood upon.

Scott turned to his fellow workers, eager to show off his new companion.  Sadly, the blank gaze in his raccoon’s eyes was nothing compared to that of the rest of the children.  Scott was the only boy in the entire warehouse not hunkered over his task.  Filling the room were hundreds of work stations, all of them occupied by eight year-old boys.  As the only twelve year-old, Scott knew that he had been expected to be a regional supervisor by now.  That was how things went.

With the advent of Insta-Learning, childhood had become a shortened period.  Women had nanites injected into them while in the second trimester of pregnancy.  Genetic advancements had already prepared the babies to be as healthy as possible.  Any gene which wasn’t regarded as beneficial was a gene that could possibly be altered.  Harelips and severe acne were a thing of the past, as were asthma, severe baldness, and weak teeth.  The children were born picture perfect, each one of them perfectly adorable.

As the kids grew, the parents worried that their offspring would have a hard time establishing themselves.  The doctors and philosophers offered that there were great advantages to allow the next generation to adopt a sense of homogeny.  If no one was different, then no one would be discriminated against.  Why not allow physical traits to turn towards sameness and idyllic features?

But the parents still wanted their child to be the “special” one.  They were grateful for the next generation’s freedom from many health concerns, but they still wanted their offspring to be the one that was the best.  Insta-Learning came along and was only too happy to help.  For decades, doctors and educators had been recommending teaching a child as early as possible.  Reading together with a child was no longer enough.  By the time they entered the school system, it was soon common place for children to have the encyclopedia ingrained in their memory.  Insta-Learn had let the infants acquire massive amounts of knowledge through a two-step process.  One part of the invention allowed the brain to change and adjust itself, allowing the brain to form in the way that retained the most amount of information.  At the same time, the program constantly fed the baby terabytes of facts, procedures, and muscle information.  If desired, (and if the Premium Package was ordered, the one that offered customizable traits that the Economy Package and Standard Package options did not have) the child could come out of the womb knowing as much as its parents did.  By the end of the week, the Insta-Learn process had programmed the child to not only walk and talk, but hit a homerun and recall humorous quotes from Oscar Wilde’s works.

Soon, the world where everyone was special gave way to a land where no one was special.  Children lost their precocious and curious nature; having already learned all that was needed.  The traits that they had may have varied from child to child, but eventually all parents made whatever sacrifices were needed to upgrade their now-perfect child to the Premium Package.  The limits were gone; each child could do it all.

With nothing left to learn, schools and parks were soon closed.  The education system could be replaced with a nightly upgrade from Insta-Learn and parks were deemed to unreliable.  Playing was seen as frivolous.  The children had no need to entertain themselves; that was the opinion of certain government figures.  Why would they allow all these workers to walk around when there were plenty of tasks they could help out with?

So began the Production Age.  The need for newer, better, more impressive belongings had never been greater.  And with millions more skilled laborers now introduced into the population, it only made sense for them to lend a hand.  Warehouses like the one Scott worked in had been built almost overnight.  Thanks to the Insta-Learn, each child woke up knowing exactly what device they were to build, where they should report to, and with the necessary information and skill set already in their brains.

Scott however, had been different.  He looked healthy enough, but what information had been loaded into his brain was incomplete.  Scott himself theorized that if Insta-Learn had an almost one hundred percent success rate, he was that exception.  He knew enough to blend in, but he found himself curious about things.  He found himself walking around the streets looking up while his peers walked wordlessly in organized patterns focused only on their next achievement.  While Scott’s head was in the clouds, others’ minds were on productivity.

That was how Scott had a robotic raccoon in front of him while thousands of car brakes were being efficiently assembled.  Scott often admired the precise and dedicated way that the eight year-olds worked.  There were no flaws, no errors, and no slip-ups in their work.  Scott looked back to his raccoon and shook his head.  Of the four legs on his new toy, only two of them were the same color.  Wires were uncovered by the casing he had managed to assemble.  There was a bump on the hindquarters of his creation because he simply didn’t feel like filing down the dome.  In the end, and just for fun, he had cut open the area, cleared out innards, and made a storage spot to hide any great treasures that the two of them might come across in their adventures.

Adventure.  It was a funny word to Scott.  Whenever he tried to explain his desire to go out and see new things, he was always met with confused looks.  Why would someone want to travel around and see things that were already in their mind?  Why use up valuable work time when one could simply research it on the Insta-Learn?  Scott tried to tell them for a while.  He tried to explain that he thought looking at a mountain was more interesting to him than reading about one.  He extolled the virtues of trying to hold as much lake water in his hands before it leaked out.  In return, his fellow workers just commented that they would need to dry their hands off before they returned to their assigned task, so it was more efficient to keep as dry as possible at all times.

Scott reached behind his raccoon’s chin and depressed the power button.  He clapped his hands when the whirring and humming started up.  He could see the gears moving behind the plastic paneling by the legs.  Slowly, the raccoon stood on its four legs.  It tried to lift its head, but it was met with a few jerks and spastic movements.  Scott was alarmed, and leaned in for a closer look.  The raccoon tried to back away; apparently scared of Scott the would-be attacker.  But Scott managed to hold it down long enough to free a stray wire that had caught around the neck.  Making a note to contain the wiring better, Scott backed away from the raccoon.

Blinking, the robot looked up at Scott.  It tilted its head to one side and took in its maker at a thirty degree angle.  It blinked.  The glassy eyes now flicked from side to side.  It seemed to be taking it all in.  The quick-adaption protocols that Scott had created were working just as he had hoped.  Learning would be a gradual process for his robot.  Everyone else started their lives knowing everything.  Scott didn’t want his robot to be like that.

Scott whistled to the raccoon and watched as the robotic animal turned towards him.  He patted on his knees, whistled again, and waited to see if the protocols would follow as he had hoped.  Sure enough, the raccoon edged towards the end of the table top.  Scott patted his knees, whistled, and patted his knees again.  The raccoon came to the very edge of the table, looked down, and took in its options.  A few moments later, it carefully and curiously hopped down to the chair, and then hopped down to Scott’s feet.  The robot looked up to Scott with an inquisitive air.  What next, it seemed to ask.

That, Scott thought to himself, was an excellent question.

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