I was what, 7, and I could hear shouting in the next street: "Three balloons for a penny! Three!"
It was an antique revival market and I pestered my mum until she took me there.
"There", she said, "see: these... red globular things?"
"what did people use them for?" I asked
"Fun I suppose?"
Now ladies, gents and all: 50 years later I still feel like that little kid, and it is with immense pride I present to you SpaceCorp's latest: The Red Balloon Interstellar cruiser!
A flock of mecha-pigeons landed in the empty square. Music could be heard coming out of an old shop. "Antiquities", read the sign, "Old robots, pre-war holos, genuine transistors".
A man came out of the shop, hat drawn down, carrying a parcel in a brown paper bag. He rushed, wincing as he made the mecha-pigeons fly off, and made his way home.
There he unwrapped the parcel and laid the antique computer in front of him, contemplating the old inscription: "Klomodore Shiftyfour"
Sparks came out of the purlight, slowly spreading through the room. Everyone around slackened and smiled
- How much?
- Give me three
I closed to the device to the annoyance of the freeloaders who hanged around in the shop all day, and walked out into the busy street, narrowly avoiding police droids. Chill gear was legal, but still
My sister came running towards me
- We gotta go now!
- I got this to deal with the security guards
- Purlights? Are you kidding?
Will you take my hand as we fly through hyperspace? Will you hold me as physics improbable carry us from here to there?
Lovers, it is said, should never travel through wormholes on their own. There are bonds that are not meant to be wrapped around space time.
We'll arrive there before most, you know. A new world.
I'll wait for you in the departure lounge, wearing my best outfit. I hope you will wear yours too. There are places we must go, and we must go there together.
The dome opened to reveal a million bright stars shining in the heart of the milky way
The music started softly and, alone, in pairs or in larger groups, dancers joined together, each step part of a larger whole
Quietly yet heard by all, an old robot introduced the evening. "Tonight", it said, "is about unity."
They danced until sunrise, and slowly dispersed to travel back to their worlds, knowing that somewhere, in planets far away, they had friends to be counted on
It was swarm hour, the time of day when the solar flares dimmed and flesh eating nanobot swarms came out
- I almost have it
- Fuck this, I'm off
I ran to the car. Sam came in right after me, The D-Con in her hand
- I got it!
- No use if we die
I drove off just as a swarm slammed violently into the car
- Go west!
I got that tingling sensation all over my body
- Fuck, they're in
Sam let off our only static charge, and we drove on, hoping to find a refuge
The Easter Egg has landed, good people!
It comes from the furthest reaches unknown,
From outer-space, and it's green and purple.
The Easter Egg is amongst us, it's true!
Through asteroids and belts it has flown
To deliver to this land tasty goo.
The Easter Egg exploded, I wonder
Why these mini-eggs our houses have blown,
With canons they've split our towns asunder.
The Easter Egg has eaten our planet,
Oh dear, not even a tree to be shown
To the next invader's flying hatchet.
Police droids were evicting a group of squatters from the building opposite
- How can you accept this?
She turned away from the window
- Join us
- Good against evil, huh?
- Easy for you to say, you're not doing badly
- And I could've been better off. I made my decisions
The light changed as a skymercial started playing
- Decision to play safe and feel good about yourself?
- I'm just a person, not some self-righteous robot
We stared at each other in silence
They had been underground for several weeks, digging deeper and deeper, resting little.
- We're close, I know it
- He's been saying that for days
- Let him be, ok, we're all tired
A scream came from the back, and we all rushed there
- It's nothing, just a hologram came out of the wall, I panicked
A stream of incoherent, distorted patterns was criss crossing the tunnel
- That means we're getting close to the core
- So you say. And then?
- Then we'll find commit zero
I kept the office lights off, it matched my mood, sitting in an old chair, my webbed feet resting on the desk
My bobeeper flashed and a hologram of a great dane materialized in my office
- I have a problem, it said after looking around for a second
- Don't we all, I mumbled
- Listen, penguin, I don't have much time-
The great dane stopped and the hologram flickered, hinting at a cemetery and a dead seagull before switching off completely
Another messy case had started
The flying saucer came down making some sort of oscillating high pitch noise
- Are they aliens out of a 1950s film or what?
- I think they're using outdated info about our expectations
The ship morphed into a futuristic craft
- Ah that's better
- Yeah looks like they've updated their database
The ship then transformed into a giant smartphone, just before landing
- What the?
And so, when the door opened, the first words the aliens said to the humans were: "OMG ROFL!"
The mechabirds landed on the windowsill carelessly
- Out, out! I shouted
They chirped in a way someone, somewhere must have thought sounded like birds, and flew away.
I turned back to Sam
- You can't leave me now. We have ... a mission
- That's your problem Antje. You don't realize the world has moved on. Governments are not the enemy any more.
- It's not like that, you know it
She sighed, took her bag and left. When the door closed behind her, I knew it was for good
Musical holograms came floating out of the old factory into the city sky
- Them pirate artists tryinna make a point
- I like 'em
- Like 'em? They're illegal!
A squad of police droids trotted past and entered the factory only to come back out instants later
- Look, they're dancing
- Dancing? What's wrong with 'em?
Several squads later, the city was full of dancing droids. A figure peaked out of the factory at last and, megaphone in hand, announced:
- The party begins!
The programmer closed her laptop, stood up and shouted: "I wrote the code!"
No reply came. She looked around for the first time in a while: the house was empty. So the programmer went out and, standing in the middle of the town, shouted: "I wrote the code!"
No reply came. The town was utterly empty. The programmer then went to the space observatory and broadcasted a message to the whole galaxy: "I wrote the code!"
The programmer waited for years. No reply ever came.
Soft clouds of candy floss
Moved slowly through the skies
And a robot down across
Got a twinkle in it's eyes
Throwing proud her hands up high
She talked and made a speech,
The gates will open, she said, nigh
To a mysterious rainbow beach
She launched a giant balloon fleet
To find the promised silicate,
Tens of millions of thousand feet,
She flew in structures intricate
Clouds are water I've been told,
But I have seen that beach
Where a robot, oh, so bold
Dances on it's feet
- Listen, I'm your future self. I have come to warn you about-
- Time travel? Yeah right
- I can prove it. You favourite band is The Moo
- That's on my MuzaK profile
- Ah, yes. Let's see... At age 9, you got lost in the woods, and-
- I shared that story on FlapBack
- Ah, right. Erm... There's that thing you do, erm, which is a bit, erm-
- I blog about that! Look I've got to go now
- No, wait! I'm really from the future! It's important and-
- Yeah, yeah, Whatev.
- Are you sure it's here? It's only robots around
The curtain opened, and the play started
"Ah! To grow a beard, but for the metal of my face! Feel my steel limbs and tell me henceforth: robot!"
- It's a robot only cast?
- Looks like it
- You said it got good reviews?
A robot turned to us
- Humans don't watch plays. Too busy fishing. They send us instead. So we might as well make robot plays
- But the reviews?
- Well, humans don't write newspapers anymore...
A rock of over 73 sextillion kilograms slowly came between us and the sun. The solar eclipse was total, and the werewolves frantic.
As usual the humans were out and about enjoying themselves, and had let it down to us robots to handle the mess caused by their Fantastic Creature Revival Program.
I smirked as I imagined a group of humans chased through their idyllic gardens by an angry werewolf pack and, for a moment, my hand hesitated above the cage's lock...
The room through the broken window was lit with a weak, toxic candle. A family of 5 shared the space in medieval poverty.
I knew Hana had made the detour through this neighbourhood to give me some resolve.
We got to the pier and set our neuro-orbs in the water. Oceanet was a strange place as far as networks went: unruled, liquid, unwittingly created by aquatic nanobots.
We went in and set off on our task: to use Oceanet to saturate the Corp's networks out of existence
The castle stands in the mist. It had been setup to oversee the domain, province of a province of a provincial planet
In it's empty grand hall a robot, alone, sits on the throne, a crown awkwardly balanced on it's head
- You'll be a king, they said
Outside there is nothing but a few birds, deer and rabbits. Nobody lives here. Nobody comes here
- Adventure awaits, they said
The voice of the robot echoes in the castle
- But what did I actually win in this competition?
Never heard of Cyber? True, it's pretty far away, even by our standards. A few entangled particles is all the contact we've got.