Kenneth Kline soared high above the sprawling city, his cape cracking sharply on wind currents.
He hovered over Centre City Hall, and loomed over the throngs of scurrying citizens in the bustling intersection. His heartbeat quickened; his smile grew. Down he dropped, as fast and hard as possible, causing an impact crater that crushed a dozen people with debris. He cut an entire building in half with his laser vision, and laughed as it caved in on itself. Kenneth raged upon the citizens of Center City for reasons not even known to himself. He was death. Simple, and total. And they all had it coming.
The city began to tremble. Even the sure-footed demigod was no match for the quake. A voice boomed from above, shattering glass and eardrums alike.
“Initiating purge— Pod G-11789.” A sudden rush of weightlessness occurred, then the sun began to falter. The city went dark. Kenneth woke in a panic, hitting his face on the stasis-pod window. The pod tumbled further and further from The Ziusudra—one of many massive evacuee vessels fleeing the dying Earth. The pod toppled close to another, whose occupant screamed silently in the fogging window. Kenneth was one of the countless, dreaming refugees, cast upon an endless ocean of stars. They were doomed. Soundless and total. And they all had it coming.
Quality Bot 78726384473 removed its finger from the big, red purge button. The screen displaying Kenneth Kline’s dreams went dark. The Algorithm does not lie. It was designed to cull the slumbering refugees with violent tendencies in order to ensure a safe, non-threatening, thoroughly compliant start on another inhabitable planet. The Algorithm does not lie. It does not take into consideration the myriad of emotions, subtext, satire, or nuance humans tend to deploy. Quality Bot 78726384473 moved down the corridor on its tank-like tread, and pressed the view button on stasis pod G-11790.
Seven-year-old Camile Restrepo danced among the wild flowers. The late-summer sun created a hazy golden glow in the field behind her Abuelo’s house. She sang as she twirled, unintentionally crushing several stems and petals. Camile scooped two handfuls of yellow perennials and tossed them high into the glittery rays above. The field began to tremble.
The Algorithm does not lie.
Art: Justin Weingartner
Words: Peter Hammarberg