"Small" writing challenges for my small writing talent. Hotel note pads are the only space allowed. Let's see if I can strip it down and tighten it up to learn something. Improving my skill of weird fiction.
Whooshing thumps in a fog.
I remember yesterday. I finished a night shift in shaft fifty-seven with the rest of that night’s crew. We wrestled with unregulated humidity for the last week since parts for the air cycle machine had not arrived. We had something to do with that – until captured. POW’s are to be treated with respect and fed in accordance with the Geneva Convention. This country barely complied.
A chemically dense mud, from the tunnels through which we mined, covered all of us. We thought that if we made it out of the mines alive, the chemicals would get us shortly after. Guards waited for us to emerge and electrically cattle prodded us into line, marching us back to our beds. I don’t remember reaching my cell last night. I do remember Phom, a guard leader with wild dark eyes, cattle prodding my gut. He gave a swift boot to the cheekbone; an easy feat when cramps double me over. All legal.
Wooshing thumps in a grey mist.
I do remember a dream about the last of my war days. My unit fought against the machines. Any modern army has them including ours. Revelatory. We no longer grunted it out, dodging fire, sneaking around building corners and throwing grenades. Although the machines made fighting precise and something we could call . . . sanitary, it was combat. My unit destroyed only enemy machines. We were having a field day, all of us, and racking up the kill markings on our own machines, driven by programs, kept in check by humans. As regulated by the Geneva Convention. They decided as long as people were present to ensure machine protocol, the machines could fight as programmed. I knew it was a farce but it did keep us away from collateral damage. Schools were not bombed. Hospitals were safe. It was easy work. They called it humane.
Geneva knew everything, didn’t they? Regulating killing; legally destroying armies; world courts could declare accidents, involvement or dis-involvement.
One day everything changed. The enemy must have revised software. Our tactics didn’t work. We were shot down – all of us. Our schools and hospitals would occasionally take fire. When a strike on civilians happened, there were no war crimes. The enemy didn’t do it on purpose.
Wooshing thumps in a bright light.
My hazy vision comes back like a shot when I realize I’m flying above the ground, freezing cold with wind. I still wore the dried mud from the mineshaft. Broad section blades whoomped before my body pulsing blasts of air past and chipping the mud off my rashed skin. I heard a machine language speak.
“haldang daesang hoegdeug” it muffled through a lexan canopy by my face, inside of which screens displayed rectangles flashing around a hospital.
I could not interpret, but I knew the language. Realization fueled fear and throttled my conscious. I’m now fully awake, strapped tightly outside an enemy machine and I can’t move to take control. A large rocket launched from my side, singing my flesh with a hot solid fuel spray. The war machine circled the fireball fountain of hospital pieces, locking on to another target, repeating the same words and firing another large missile. A town market. I could not stop crying at the warfare as my skin broiled with each missile launch and alternately chilled by the rotor blast. Raw and skirting the convention, realization flooded forth without anyone near to hear my screams at a few hundred miles per hour.
I now knew I had been fighting what Geneva language did not define. The only thing required was an occupant – my own captured compatriots strapped outside. The world courts or politic would never know about the independent autonomy killings of anything enemy-like; a strapped-on occupant unable to intervene while witnessing horrible murders until their own death from exposure, or destruction, whichever first. It would appear to all parties I just switched sides and took personal revenge – Geneva language loopholes absolving the enemy fault. Regulating war always was futile. It’s war.
(Authors notes) 29 Apr, 2016. Home.
I read an article this morning on the NPR website about emergency Geneva Convention meetings concerning autonomous killing robots in war. We all have watched the Terminator movies. We all know the dangers of such a thing and it’s much closer than we think it is. Ridiculous is the word that I like to characterize the Geneva Convention with. Instead of making any war a crime, they regulate how people can be killed and use the word humane to describe it.
“It would undermine human dignity to be killed by a machine that can’t understand the value of human life.”