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High School Fiction - 3rd Place


High School Fiction - Third Place
Ayla Stock

In a burst of light that blinded him from the thoughts that had churned away in his newly-developing mind, molding and shaping his personality, a startling array of colors spiraled forward rippling and glowing and glimmering. Shades and hues he had no name for exploded to the corners of his vision, one more prevalent than any other.

Yellow, his sluggishly awakening mind provided. Bright, shimmering yellow was beginning to bloom amongst patches of red and green and violet. It emerged discreetly until it encompassed his line of sight, allowing no other colors to bleed through. And then came sound, the jumbled consonants and disjointed vowels slowly connecting and forming words.

“-ello? Hello, can you hear me? Are your auditory sensors working correctly? Do you understand what I’m saying?”

If only to stop the insistent rambling of the person interrogating him, he replied. “Hi.” Silence followed his greeting, the exact reason for that hidden behind the curtain of yellow in his vision. “Excuse me,” he tried again, testing the way his mouth moved and formed the words, “but I can’t see you very well. Unless you happen to be a large mass of yellow, in which case I see you quite clearly.”

The person, a woman, he’d ascertained, snorted with suppressed laughter. “I wasn’t aware you were programmed with sarcasm. Maybe that’s why you were thrown away.” He felt her hands prod around in his forehead, expertly manipulating wires that had fallen out of place. “I found you in the City’s junkyard. They don’t usually throw away automatons unless they’ve got some dire fault. Here- tell me if you can see me now.”

Indeed, shapes were emerging in his vision, and for the first time he saw the woman who had rebuilt him from a discarded pile of scraps. She was young, probably nineteen or twenty years old, with a tumbling mass of blonde hair that glowed golden in the dim light of a lantern overhead. She was pretty in an almost childish way, with large brown eyes and freckles and a round face.

The yellow girl grinned in the same manner as a man who had seen sunlight for the first time in days.  “Can you see me?” She asked breathlessly, lowering her nimble hands after closing the hatch leading to his artificial brain.

“Yes, I can.” He smiled back, finding her excitement to be contagious. “You are very pretty.”

She gave another subdued laugh, pink coloring her cheeks.  The wonderment in her demeanor spoke of a curious mind and a loneliness born of said curiosity, which saddened him to say the least. “My name is Cora. What should I call you?”

“I don’t have a name,” he replied. “That’s for you to decide.”

Cora grinned broadly, those huge brown eyes very much alive. “How do you feel about the name ‘Adrian’?”

“It sounds wonderful to me, Cora.” Adrian answered, mirroring her grin. He looked around the small room, all dark and dank and gray stone. The smell of motor oil was prevalent, issuing from numerous metal trinkets and machines around the room. Grease and oil were smeared over Cora’s clothes, and a pair of protective goggles rested atop her head. “Is there anyone else here?”

Her grin melted into a sad smile. “No, it’s just me anymore. Nobody else is very comfortable living so close to the City. Guards patrol this area all the time. But we’re actually underground.” She knocked one fist on the stone wall to her right. “This is a cave, and it’s pretty safe.”

“You live here alone.” Adrian murmured, not so much a question as it was a sad statement.

“Well, not anymore.” She looked away, shyness obvious on her face. “I mean- if you want to stay, that is. Maybe you want to go back to the City to see why they threw you away, or travel, or whatever. There’s no reason for you to stay-“

“Cora.” Adrian interrupted, placing one dark-skinned hand over hers. “I want to stay.” He knew why he’d been thrown out. Why he’d been deemed ‘faulty’. It was because he felt, he grew attached, he wanted to learn and live and be someone. But he was an automaton, a servant, something and not someone.

Cora had rebuilt him. She had created him from scraps, reanimating his faulty mind and naming him and accepting him for who he was and not what he was.

He was staying right here.

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