Good news, everyone! (I’m chaneling Prof. Fansworth from Futurama! Miss that show, sigh!) Anyway, the good news is that I’ve finally got my foot into Medium’s door. ‘The Weekly Knob’, a publication on Medium recently published a story I wrote exclusively for them.
The prompt was ‘Light Bulb’. Here’s what I made of it.
Vector 13 had not seen such a flurry of activity in a long time.
Its human residents usually rose with the Sun and marched to their jobs dictated by chips in their wrists. Robots had squashed human rebellion by making an example of Crazy Gage. Whip marks on Gage’s back were the stuff of legend. The ‘crazy’ got added to his name after his stint in the underground cells.
Laughter was a sound long forgotten. It was as if an eclipse had stayed on forever.
But that morning, there was a certain lightness in the wind like it was the last day of school. All the humans had been summoned to the Central Square during work time. The overseers seemed distracted. They seemed to be letting minor infractions slide by. Whispers buzzed around and grew louder with every passing minute.
“Silence!” The Administrator’s voice boomed.
Footsteps clattered. This was definitely not a drill. They moved into quadrants like clockwork. Overseers in blue uniforms stood single file in the middle.
“Our diggers,” the Administrator started. He turned his neck towards the quadrant on his left with a metallic creak. He was clearly overdue for an upgrade, but whatever this was, was too important to be put off for later.
“..have found a curious object today.” He held up a round transparent globule attached to a metallic stump. “ We don’t know what it is yet, but it is quite possible we’ve unearthed something prehistoric.”
The quadrants murmured. Feet shuffled. That was it? An archaeological discovery? Here they were hoping for a day off from their drudgery for the Administrator’s fifth manufacture-day.
Old Mr. Murray raised his hand to speak from Quadrant Three. His overseer stared daggers at him. “I have some information about the object.” Mr. Murray persisted. The stares were overruled when the Administrator motioned him to come forward.
“It’s a light bulb.” Mr. Murray’s head shook as he spoke. “My grandfather’s house used to have these.”
“What is its function?” The Administrator asked.
“Bulbs were used to provide light in dark spaces. They run on electricity.”
“Electricity? So they didn’t use sunlight then?” The Administrator turned the bulb upside down. His left eye jutted forward and screeched softly like a camera lens as it focused on the silver stump.
“Its filaments are intact.” Mr. Murray continued. “It might still work if we can get an electrical socket and some batteries.”
At the Administrator’s nod, a particularly resourceful overseer was able to procure the items from the Robot Graveyard.
Mr. Murray hooked up the object. The tungsten filament started heating up. The bulb let out a low whir and started blinking.
The robots stared, mesmerized by the little contraption. It was as if the blinking light bulb was speaking to their very core. Light on, light off, light on, light off, 1,0,1,0…
The overseers and the Administrator himself were in a trance reading into the banal blinking of a simple light bulb. Could the bulb be a messenger from the Supreme Commander, talking to the Robot Overlords in binary?
The bulb finally managed to light up for a few seconds before it died.
Nostalgia warmed Mr. Murray’s insides. He looked up with a satisfied smile, only to see the Administrator and the overseers bowing down to Mr. Murray and the light bulb.
“Mr. Murray, our Supreme Commander has spoken. You are now our new Administrator. We await your orders, Sir.”