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A Battery of Ethics Not Included

Dystopian Short Story

By Steve B HowardPublished 2 years ago 4 min read
A Battery of Ethics Not Included
Photo by Guilherme Stecanella on Unsplash

She stripped the last bit of plastic coating from the copper wires spilling out of the shattered dry wall. “Just enough of a lead to wire it in,” she thought.

She clipped the tiny wires from the busted wall socket and wrapped them tightly to the leads from the tiny data chip.

The tiny room she occupied was on the tenth floor of a burned out factory on the outskirts of Osaka. Evidence from the war, probably the final war, still scarred the surrounding hillsides. The blackened stumps of dead cedar trees marched up the hill behind the factory to a burned out Shinto shrine. The stone Torii Gate was burned black as well.

She had been living and scavenging in this building for a week now. It had once been a water purification plant before the war. Until today though, she hadn’t found anything that might be of value in the Namba trading stalls that ran along the Yodo River in the city center. Her food and water rations were almost gone. If she didn’t something in Namba soon she’d be dead in three weeks or less.

Turning the data chip in her hands she could still see the faint aquamarine tint on the casing. “Designed for a bio-electric gel pack,” she thought.

“I can still Mickey Mouse it to something small like an old watch battery and rip the data. Who ever the hell Mickey Mouse is,” she thought.

She would need some plastic though to seat the data chip in. Metal casings caused too much electrical bleed and the data on old chips like this one corrupted easily.

She made her way down to the third floor of the old factory. She had scouted as much of the building that she felt was structurally safe when she had first arrived here ten days ago. This floor had once been the company day care center for the army of office ladies with small children that worked there. Most of the small classrooms on the west end of the building had crumbled into rubble.

“Makes sense,” she thought. “I’m only five kilometers from a Zero Point Strike.”

On the far east end of a long concrete hallway she found a classroom that wasn’t too damaged. She stepped through the door frame noting the faded pastel rainbow painted on the back wall that bled into a black flash burn opposite the blown out window frames. A dozen tiny skeletons and one larger one draped across a dusty gun metal desk lay about the room.

Against a wall in the back of the classroom she found what she was looking for. A small body, probably a girl she guessed from the tattered and dusty dress she had been wearing when she was alive, sat propped up against the wall. Around her neck tied with a yellow yarn string was a rose colored heart shaped plastic locket. Shards of glass from the shattered windows were embedded in the little girl’s body around her throat and heart.

She used a short switch blade to cut the yarn string and take the locket off the body. She gently rubbed the dust off the locket and pressed the lid with her thumb testing its strength. The heart shaped casing was about eight centimeters wide. It was thin and worn, but seemed strong enough to hold the weight of the data chip and watch batteries she would be putting in it. She opened it to see how she could fit the batteries, wiring, and data chip inside. A small square photograph, faded yellow at the edges, of a young spiky haired boy smiling a toothy grin sat inside of it.

For a moment a memory from before the skies burned of Kenji dancing and smiling while a childhood song she’s nearly forgotten played in the background erupted in her mind.

She quickly peeled the photograph out of the locket, crumbled it to dust, and shut the locket again.

“Dead memories about dead people will get you killed,” she thought.

She put the locket into her pack and went back to her room on the tenth floor.

That evening she left the factory and made her way north towards an old hospital. Armed guards stood out front. A rusted sign above the entrance read, “Imperial Care Facility”

To the left of the entrance a stand of thick bamboo sat in the shadows. Moving slowly taking care to remain in the darkness, she made her way to the stand of bamboo. From a backpack she removed a small pistol with a silencer as long as the gun itself attached. Then she removed a surgical kit from her pack that was wrapped in a leather tool belt.

She watched several elderly people emerge slowly from the building led by a burly orderly. “Pacemakers,” she thought. She’d found her power source. Extraction was always the worst part.

Short Story

About the Creator

Steve B Howard

Steve Howard's self-published collection of short stories Satori in the Slip Stream, Something Gaijin This Way Comes, and others were released in 2018. His poetry collection Diet of a Piss Poor Poet was released in 2019.

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