Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Dear Husband

07 July, 2108

My Darling Husband,

I hope this letter finds you well, and that it finds you at all. Forgive the anachronism of ink on paper, but the networks are fraught with danger, and I trust to the vagaries of the flesh-and-blood messengers more than the relative certainty of circuitry and signal. I will leave this at a courier station on our return to the base.

The battle goes poorly. Hell, this whole bloody war is a horrific mess. My only comfort comes from knowing you and the children are safe within the dome of the City. You would not fare well in The Open. We may hold the coasts securely for now, but the interior of our nation is lost to us, possibly forever. The oldtimers tell us this used to be called The Heartland, and America's Breadbasket. I cannot even imagine what it must have looked like in those days, because all around me now is a ravaged dead landscape littered with the bodies of the dead and the rusting shells of our enemies.

Forget what the mediacasts tell you about the war. We are not winning. We never were. For every robot we destroy, the automated factories produce 100 more, each more advanced than the last. And the pollution from the factories kills as many of our soldiers as the enemies' guns. And the guns themselves... how can we fight something that is little more than a walking thinking weapon?

The worst of it is, of course, that this did not have to be. The robots were our creations, built to fight our wars for us and destroy our enemies completely. But they did their jobs too well. With no enemies left to fight, they turned on us. Their brutality, their cruelty, their inhuman capacity for violence... all of it came from us. We programmed them to be what they are, and they have only become more proficient at it in the years since.

Oh, my darling, my heart weeps. The knowledge that we brought this on ourselves is at times more crushing to my spirit than seeing the men and women around me reduced to ash or bits of charred flesh. I believe I have written of Lydia. She bunked beneath me in Basic, and was my gunner when we still had mech suits to pilot. Before the virus that made them the tools of our enemies. After that, we served in the infantry together. Last night we...

Forgive me, husband. Days have passed since I wrote the above. The pain of Lydia's death was too near, and I could not finish. I admit with shame that in my grief I lost myself in drink and the arms of another man. I fear that I am losing myself out here, that even if I return, there will be nothing left of the woman you married. Please do not judge me, or feel anger at my betrayal. It is you whom I love, and always will, but the closeness of another's body, the pressing of flesh to flesh and the ecstasy it brings are often the sole fragile thread that tethers us to that which makes us more than the machines we fight.

But I was telling you of Lydia.

Our unit stormed the largest of the robot factories several nights ago. Our mission was to infiltrate the control center and download the specs for the next generation of robots, so that a weakness might be found. Then we were to plant atomic grenades and vaporize the entire structure.

We were only partially successful. We destroyed the factory, but failed in our mission to gather vital intelligence. Lydia and I were part of the team that infiltrated the command center. We were near to completing our goal, when a sentrybot found us. It laid waste to our unit, only Lydia and I survived. Knowing I had a family, and she with no one at home, Lydia drew its attention to her so that I might escape and plant the grenades, and hopefully one day return home to you.

But what it did to her when it found her... it...

Beloved. More days have passed. I can barely write. My mind is lost in fog. Wonder that I did not lose this letter. Have not been sober. Euphora. It's a drug. I take it every day now. It dulls my pain and misery, and bathes me in chemical joy. I feel colors, see love... the children. How are the children? I miss my babies, but Euphora makes me feel them in my arms. Do not judge me. You cannot know.

Oh, husband. I am tempted to obscure the above, but I need you to know the fullness of our despair. It has been several weeks since the last of the Euphora ran out, and only today am I sufficiently recovered from withdrawal to write this letter. This letter. It is all I have left. We have no mission. Our officers are dead. We live like savages in squalid hovels, leaving only to seek what food can be found. The robots have overrun our positions and we are in enemy territory. I fear I will not live to see you and the children again. I can write no more now.

My dearest love. A scout is being sent to the City, to warn of the coming invasion. The robots move against the coasts, and seek the destruction of all human life. I pray this letter finds you before then. I will entrust it to the scout. I and what remains of my unit are taking the last of our weapons and launching a suicide assault on the advancing robot army. We hope only to slow them down, and we know that none will survive.

You must flee, beloved. Take our children and flee to a safe haven, if such places are to be found in this world. Tell our children of my love for them, and know that your names will be on my lips as I make my final stand against the machines.

I must close now. The scout approaches. Remember me always, dear husband, and see that our children do not forget me.

I love you.

12 comments:

rob said...

Very cool. I am drawn to some sort of beginning in a 'Terminator' style story. I liked it, I liked it a lot.

Lisa said...

Oh my god! I am left breathless and near tears--that was incredible. Your words. Best yet.

Chris said...

Thanks. I wanted to do another robot story, but I also realized all of my stories are in third person, so I wanted to try something personal. I'm glad it's going over well so far.

akropp said...

chris, is your book a collection of short stories like these or is it a big long story? just curious. i think i'm gonna grab one

Chris said...

The book is actually a collection of stories posted on this blog. The first 30, I believe. Thanks for the interest in the book, though. :)

Kat said...

I really like this. It's different.

rohitramgiri said...

'bots r back!

it was cool..........
automated factory part was very good imagination!

Chris said...

Thanks! Glad you liked it. And as for something different, I'm going to try for something really different with my next story: a happy ending.

I know, I know. I doubt I'll pull it off either. ;)

Mattyc said...

Wow, amazing skill. Great!

Chris said...

Thanks, MattyC! And welcome!

Rae Ann said...

Heartbreaking. You convey the emotions so well, and your pacing is perfect.

Chris said...

Thanks, Rae Ann! I appreciate the compliment.