The darkness of the futu.., p.1
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       The Darkness of the Future, p.1
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The Darkness of the Future
he Darkness of the Future

  Jon Becker

  Copyright © 2012 Jon Becker

 

  It is raining. A modern city stretches through the semi-dark caused by the rain clouds. Rain spills rushes along empty streets, flooding through the rusty grates of storm sewers. It is difficult to tell the time exactly, as the intermittent flickering of street lights mixes an orange hue with the gray of the clouds. The only sounds are the soft smacking of raindrops and the gurgle of rushing water. There is none of the usual noise one would expect from a city, no voices or vehicles. Nothing is present, save for a huddled form along the side of a building. The time of day is now evident as night begins to fall across the city, shadows slowly lengthen and drown out any detail the muted gray-orange hue offered before. A white glow sends a misty light from behind the curtain of the rain clouds, hinting at the full moon that is present but hidden. The tall buildings of the city seem more forbidding in the darkness, and no friendly lights flicker on from the silent windows.

  The huddled figure stirs. It is a man, dressed in a bedraggled suit that is soaking wet from the rain. He groans and leans against the wall at his back. He closes his eyes and appears to fall asleep. An hour passes before he stirs again. He slowly stands up, shoulders a backpack and begins to trudge down the street in the gently falling rain. He walks through the empty city, a lone figure against the giant shadows, visible only in strips of orange light from the fading street lamps. A lonely figure in a lonely world, no human presence save for one man.

  He keeps his head down, hair plastered to his face, water dripping down his nose as he continues his walk. The sidewalk passes beneath his feet, step after step. The wet concrete does not have any distinctive characteristics, and fits well with the monotonous city that continues as far as the eye can see. His worn shoes click dully on the sidewalk as he takes each step, this noise serving as a metronome for the silent symphony of the empty city. His next step produces a startling change from this steady pattern, the first change since he began walking. The empty city has disappeared completely, his foot falls in an entirely different location.

  The dark, looming city with its constant rain has been replaced by a vibrant setting characterized by a barrage of colors that assault the eyes, forming a garish change from the previous gloom. This change was completely abrupt, with no warning or transition. The man from the city now stands in a colorful jungle. Large trees tower high overhead, their trunks and foliage colored all combinations of colors possible from eye-piercing shades of yellow to cool blue and purple shades. As much as the jungle contrasted with the city in color, it also contrasted in the amount of life. Swooping, fluttering flocks of multicolored birds split their air with their cheerful calls. Small animals jumped from tree to tree, crossing dizzying heights by swinging on vines overhead. Larger animals move under the trees, some perhaps resembling elephants but their rainbow palette of colors rendered accurate identification difficult.

  "Hello Courser!" The shrill voice rang through the noises of the forest. The man did not flinch, but rather turned to face the source of the voice. A strange sight met his eyes. A short, thin creature stood there, nervously blinking huge, brilliantly blue eyes. It stood perhaps four feet tall, and was clad in loose-fitting clothes that were colored with an explosion of colors. The man addressed as Courser did not speak, but stared steadily at the fidgeting creature. It spoke again: "Courser, will you join us in the hunt at noon?" Courser nodded in assent. "Then you must join us for the meal of the high sun, and then we will pursue the Untager!"

  Some time later, Courser and a group of about 20 of the strange creatures set off down a winding trail, marching steadily into thickening forest. As they walked, Courser thought of the first time he had found himself in this strange world many years ago, and how he had since become accustomed to the sudden shift to the world of Lux Giallo. He had learned to trust the natives, who referred to themselves as Lucians. Trotting along at his side was the Lucian known as Fini, who had attached himself to Courser as a sort of personal guide and assistant. Courser had participated in many hunts with the Lucians and had grown accustomed to their expressive ways of living in these bright jungles. Their main prey was the Untager, a type of large wild goat which they hunted for the meat and hide. The Lucians lived in idyllic cities, made up of a variety of unique houses, from bark huts to stone fortresses to tree houses. The Lucians were governed by a group of 23 of the oldest members of their race known as the Wise Ones. The Lucians were a happy people, embracing the vibrant color of their home world in their dress and mannerisms.

  A whistle rang out, and the hunting party immediately vanished behind the cover of the forest. Courser followed suit, blending in effortlessly thanks to the clothes he was now wearing. The fluorescent colors would have drawn attention anywhere else, but in this forest served as a perfect camouflage. Several bright orange Untagers sauntered into view, their shaggy heads held proudly aloft. The silence was suddenly broken by the leader of the hunting party who jumped from cover, holding his arms out in front of him. Between his hands whirled a ball of color, every color, swirling and mixing so fast it was impossible to tell what the colors were. A brightly colored arrow shot from this ball of color, whizzing through the air and clipping an Untager's ear. The rest of the Lucians burst from cover, each of them creating a ball of color which morphed into any object the handler desired. An Untager broke through the colorful net thrown by Fini and hurtled towards Courser, attempting to escape. Courser took a step forward. Swirling colors enveloped his vision, surrounded him in a cloud of living energy. He began to run...

  It was raining. He was back in the city. The colorful garments were gone, replaced by his tattered suit. A whirring noise echoed through the city as a small machine moved across the windows of a tall skyscraper, cleaning and polishing the dark glass. Courser smiled grimly. This was Earth, or at least what it had become. Throughout time, the human race had advanced in technology at a stunning velocity. Improvements were made in every aspect of life, and the variables normally associated with existence were removed by the onslaught of technology. Diseases had been eradicated, mundane aspects of life had been automated. Human genetics were understood to a point that the human race had become perfect... in a sense. Appearances were carefully sculpted, every single human could have been a supermodel in an earlier time. Life expectancy skyrocketed and with it the population. However, technology once again stepped in and facilitated these increases. Agriculture became a thing of the past, replaced by food labs that produced exquisite food through molecular synthesis. Rural areas disappeared, replaced by endless streets and city. Nobody felt restricted though, the interior of their apartments were composed of display screens that could simulate any environment that had previously existed as well as creative environments programmed for the enjoyment of the human race. Issues such as pollution and waste disposal were also addressed by efficient air purifiers and molecular recycling centers. Vehicles had been developed to a point that the speed of transportation essentially amounted to teleportation. Self-sustaining sources of energy had been developed, resulting in machinery that never wore out and energy that was seemingly infinite, spurring further technological advance. Robots such as this window cleaner were developed to perform literally every task formerly performed by humans. These were governed by intricate algorithms and incredibly accurate sensors. The world had been perfect...had been...

  Eventually, it became evident that the humans did not account for all variables. It proved impossible to genetically remove passions such as greed, jealousy, and hate. Once again, technology served its task as complex chemical weapons were deployed, and robots were dispatched to sabotage food labs, energy sources, and air purifiers. As
fast as these could be destroyed, the repair bots would put everything back in order, cleaning all traces of the damage. But not fast enough to protect the humans dependent on these services. As humans died, they were collected by mortician bots and molecularly recycled, leaving no trace of what had happened. This then was the apocalypse that had been predicted throughout human history. But this was not the dirty, devastated world depicted by films, the reeking remnants of nuclear disaster. No, thought Courser, this apocalypse is even worse. Clean and functioning, but empty.
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