Lift: Our Story (1000 Word Challenge)

 

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I could sense he wanted to say something by the way he was looking at me, eyes wide open. But I waited patiently, brushing his hair with my fingers, until he gathered his strength. “Why… Lift?” I smiled with melancholy when memories started flowing through. There were so many of them, still fresh like it had happened yesterday… “Well, where should I start? You know most of the story, I could just jump to the conclusion-” “No. I know all of it, but I want to hear everything from you… Please.” He smiled, the same smile with perfect white teeth that intimidated me at the beginning, when I had no idea what role he was about to play in my story. I sighed.

“A couple of months ago, one of the most powerful companies in the city was going through a pilot study. Some employees were about to receive a personal assistant, shaped for their personality, which was supposed to help them increase productivity at the workplace. Of course I was sceptical. I didn’t want any help, I thought I could do everything by myself, even if that meant working more hours. But oh, how wrong I was! After endless questionnaires, I was about to meet him, or her, or… it. The day came when I had to spend some time with my new assistant, to check if any changes were to be made, if I’m fully satisfied… Someone knocked at my desk. ‘Come in!’ I said, unsure what to expect. I was afraid I would feel uncomfortable, I thought I would be able to tell the difference… That’s when I met you. When that tall, dark-haired man entered my office, smiling shyly at me, remember what I asked you?… Of course you remember, you don’t forget anything, I know.”

A white smile flashed on his face.

“Yes, that’s the smile you were wearing! Although it became more amused when I asked if the robot wasn’t ready yet…”

I was feeling emotional again, but I knew he wanted me to continue, to live everything once again, together. So I told him about how exhausted I was feeling because of working extra hours, even with his help, since I still preferred to do most of the job myself. About how he approached me, joking that I was the machine, not him, and about how close we soon became.

“I knew I wasn’t supposed to call you by a human name, to avoid becoming too attached. But we were getting along really well together and I started to get bored with just using your unique ID number. So one day after you made me blush with your compliments – and it wasn’t about my pretty blue dress, but about how smart I was for solving that annoying system error – I was standing alone in the office after you had left, with a stupid smile on my face and a familiar feeling. You know I usually take the elevator in the office from the 10th floor, and halfway through I have that sensation when my stomach is dropping, falling… but then, standing there, I knew that time it was my heart that was actually falling – falling in love with the wrong species.”

I sighed again. It’s always easy to get lost in the past, especially if the past is full of warm, happy moments. What’s more difficult is to come back, to face the cold, blue reality… He smiled at me. “And?”

“Well, that’s when I found your nickname: Lift. Because I realised that when I was with you, I felt either the happiest or the saddest I’d ever been. My moods and feelings were going up and down, I knew we weren’t supposed to be together, but I just couldn’t help it…” I could feel tears forming at the corners of my eyes, then my sight got blurry. I didn’t want to cry. So while Lift’s hand was carefully brushing my tears away, I tried to focus on happier memories.

“The day we kissed for the first time was almost a dream. I knew it was forbidden, you knew that too, didn’t you? It’s imprinted in your mind… But that didn’t stop us from sharing another kiss the next day, then another. I remember how much more confident I was feeling, I thought everything was possible with you by my side… Work became almost a pleasure, we were so much more productive than anyone had anticipated. But it was still just like a dream… I woke up when we got caught, I could see the terror in their eyes, it suddenly struck me that no one would understand that love doesn’t care about such differences. We were split apart, I got fired, they took you away. I never heard back from you, I begged them to let me speak to you one more time, but they looked at me as though I was the lowest person in the universe. And now you’ve come to my door after so long, and without any word you just collapse in my arms – you scared me, Lift! And telling me that they’ve started the shutting down procedure – that you’ve been labelled as faulty because you kept saying my name… Oh, Lift! How on earth did you manage to run away and come here?! I mean with just only hours, maybe minutes left until-”

My voice broke. I couldn’t say it. Tears were now running down my face, but this time no one was making any effort to wipe them; my hands were still holding his head. I could see the lights in his eyes dimming slowly, and I knew I had to be brave. Like he taught me to be. I leaned down closer to him, hoping he could still hear my whispers. “I love you, Lift. And I swear I will bring you back to life.” Between tears filling my eyes I saw him, smiling shyly for a split second, before becoming just another soulless machine.

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Searching for My Other Half (1000 Word Challenge)

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The following is a 1000 words story written for a contest (1000 Word Challenge) last month. The theme was “29”, which was definitely a challenge since any topic could fit under it, but after a couple drafts I managed to finish a version I really liked. It also looks like the jury was impressed as well with my originality: they decided to mention my name although I haven’t won anything – which was good enough for me. 🙂 Enjoy reading!

 

Day 29

And then I did something I wasn’t supposed to do: I looked back.

 

Day Zero

New house. New city, new country. New personal mission. Feeling impatient, I wish I could just finish it all soon. But I can’t rush. A trace of doubt crosses my mind. What if he wouldn’t like me?… I quickly reject the thought. He needs to.

 

Day One

He is a nice neighbour, but you can’t believe the first impression. Never believe the first impression, I usually think while looking in the mirror. Blonde hair, blue eyes, angel face. And smiling, always smiling, they like seeing you smile. Although you know inside is nothing like that at all.

We talk about weather – I make sure I laugh occasionally. I know what I have to do: get closer, let him know you, but not all at once, because men find it exciting when you keep a few bits hidden. Who’s the prey though?… Who’s hunting who? I’m sure I know which side I‘m on, but I still blush at his compliments.

 

Day 25

I feel so strange when I’m with him, so… euphoric. I can’t wait to see him, to hug him, to kiss him, to talk to him about everything and nothing at all. I find myself smiling for no reason – which is nice, although today something strange happened. I was smiling at my own reflection in the mirror, when suddenly a thought crossed my mind: This is wrong, it shouldn’t be like this. But before I could grasp the meaning of it, I hear him coming and I forget anything else apart from him, and me, and us…

 

Day 10

We are eating dinner in his favourite restaurant. I know stuff about him already – like his status: single – but I let him speak, while listening carefully in order to get updates on any new information he may say or show. He’s always looking at me. Me, whose story I had to struggle not to say in a mechanical way, after repeating it so many times: Russian, moved to London… single.

Would this be the night he makes the next big move? Or shall I make it? But before I can properly plan my next steps, something happens. We are on our way back to the car, when I feel something. Like electricity through my whole body, starting with my right hand. What’s wrong, what happened? I try not to panic and quickly look down at my fingers, which are now curling naturally between his owns. He’s staring at me while I stare at our hands. Something has changed… Raising my head, I meet his eyes and it’s like the world stopped. I can see him so clear and for the very first time I become aware of his electric blue eyes, and I feel lost again, and then it’s something about the way he bites his lower lip… Anticipation? Nervousness? What is it? I’m quickly looking for the answer but I can’t find it, and it’s too late anyway, he leans forward and presses his lips against mine, and I suddenly feel lost.

 

Day 29

I knew rewinding my memory was forbidden. “It can change you”. “It will make you forget your true purpose.” I could feel hot steams raising inside me; my purpose had been forgotten beforehand anyway. So one more time, I did what I wasn’t supposed to do: I searched through my brain for the memories before day 0.

 

Day Minus 290

This is the day I am born, the day all my components are bounded together, and I am finally switched on. I have everything programmed inside me, starting with my clear purpose: win and bring fame to my master. Everyone has failed before me – they were transferred to another centre afterwards, so I never had the chance to talk to them. But it doesn’t matter, I know what I’m supposed to do: follow the rules and destroy the target. Which target, though? Well, I will find out when the time comes – for now, it’s just an ordinary guy.

The mission was to kill him in 29 days or less: to smash his heart and possibly his mind, no questions asked… but in a complex way that took me a while to understand – and I still wasn’t sure about it when I started. Apparently there is a highly effective way of hurting someone, and what makes it perhaps worse than death is the fact that the victim has to live with marks for the rest of his life. But not skin marks, as I thought at the beginning. Inside scars, where his heart was broken into pieces, where his mind still tries to make sense of what happened, what he did wrong. It’s called non accomplished love. No questions asked.

 

Day 29

The hot steams inside me are getting out now, they’re tears slowly filling my eyes before starting rolling on my checks. What have I done? How did I manage to become so… human? This is my end now, they’ll come get me back, leave him a message in which I say Adieu, and he’ll be left heartbroken… Exactly like they wanted him to. Why? Why do I have to do this? What was the purpose of my training? What did he actually do wrong, to deserve this? I know we’re different species, but we can still co-exist… Suddenly I realise I can’t do it, I can’t hurt him. It took me 29 days to figure it out, but now I know I need to tell him the truth, even if there’s a punishment for that…

I wipe the tears away when my internal system receives a message; nothing about failing and disappointment, but something completely different: Congratulations, V101-eT. You’re the first one to pass. You’re free to go home. Keep in touch. Without even blinking, I start running towards the other half of me – the human completing the machine.