Laurel – Flash Fiction - Words by Edward Gough Back

Laurel – Flash Fiction

The Prompt

This story had no prompt. Although, it did come to mind when writing another of my short stories. Enjoy!

The Story

At the complex station of Almaer-El-Shiamore, the offices were buzzing with the newly created product known as Centurion-6. It was the development team’s most significant creation, and all the employees were excited and overjoyed as the moment finally arrived when the desolate rock would become home to hundreds of thousands of inhabitants, soon growing exponentially in numbers. 

Cheers broke out around the large open-plan office, everyone sharing in the joyous moment as they watched eagerly, glued to the grand computer screens surrounding all the outer walls. “Release commencing in five…four….three…” announced the robotic voice, echoing around the station. 

As I have already said, everyone was sharing in this joyous occasion except Laurel. 

Laurel had started at the A.E.S Station some four thousand million years ago, working his way up from a lowly support technician to full-blown developer in less than one hundred thousand years. It was quite a remarkable achievement, which hasn’t been replicated in the vast and endless lifespan of the A.E.S.

Everyone had celebrated the day when his project—one on which he had spent his entire development career working and perfecting—had been released. It was the proudest day of his life, but now it was someone else’s moment. 

Centurion-6 had been developed over sixty times more than his project and offered a comprehensive range of diverse landscapes. Quite frankly, Laurel had been impressed, but that didn’t stop his ever-growing need to keep his project well and alive. The arrival of Centurion-6 would mean the end of his baby, the one he had termed E1 when it had been in its initial development stages. He couldn’t let this happen, but knowing how to stop it was escaping him. 

Laurel’s little rock held over one trillion different little carbon-based lifeforms, all of which had continued to develop and adapt to life on E1. Some of the species had taken to life on the rock better than others, seemingly making the rock work for them. Grand constructions and innovations on a macro level had rocketed in the last few thousand years, creating a habitation Laurel and his team had not even imagined would be possible. 

Each type of lifeform and species on his baby felt like his own. He felt the touch of the pull of a parental instinct, driving him to do everything he could to keep them all safe and sound. He also knew that detailing his feelings to anyone else would be catastrophic. He and all his fellow employees were not meant to feel these kinds of emotions. Frankly, it shouldn’t have been possible. They had been built for the sole purpose of creation, and feelings didn’t even come into the ingredients. At least not feelings of connectedness to his creations; that shouldn’t be possible, and it was definitely not allowed. 

“…two…one…” Echoed the robotic voice all around them. “…released.” It finished, sending a wave of cheers and celebration into a frenzy around the offices—hell, the entire damned station.

The celebrations continued and continued some more as Laurel sat in his cubicle and watched over his creation…his baby. What would become of them all now? They were bound to be left adrift, no doubt, into the vastness of the blank canvas on which they formulated their art. What would he do now? Indeed, he assumed they would move him onto another project or even start the next project…E2. However, he didn’t want an E2. E1 was all the A.E.S. had ever needed, but corporate just had to keep pushing. Damned sales, everything is always about sales, about the metric numbers rising and keeping them from falling. 

“If I can’t keep working on E1, then I won’t work on anything again.” He muttered under his breath to himself as he smacked away at his keyboard, implementing quick changes and a few updates. 

He slapped the large button on the right-hand side of his computer keyboard. Loading screens filled his computer briefly before a green notification box stated, “Transfer Ready…”

This was it then. He was ready, and at this moment, he felt as if this had been what all the many millions of years had been leading him towards. He was driven to spend the rest of his long and vast life surrounded by what he saw as his creation…his children. 

Laurel left his tiny cubicle and headed for the T-Chambers, with bright flashing lights running around its doorway. No one saw him, and if they did, they didn’t care. Everyone was too busy celebrating the next world. But he wouldn’t have to deal with that any longer, wouldn’t have to hear about sales quarters and wage deductions anymore. 

He pressed a few buttons against the console in the T-Chambers before a quick beeping countdown commenced. When the countdown had stopped, the room began to heat up, shaking slightly from side to side. 

As the walls around him began to fade away, his tight and compact surroundings vanished and all around him was the towering concrete structures of his creations. Metal vehicles shot past him at speed, twisting him this way and that. Four limbed creatures walked by, unable to discern Laurel from themselves. There was life all around him, noise and smells. This felt more like a home in the seconds he had been here than all his aeons at the A.E.S. station. 

“Hey! Watch it!” Shouted one of his creations as they bumped against him and continued on their way. 

“I guess this is what they call a New York,” Laurel said to himself, taking in as much of his new home as possible.

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