Months ago, almost seems like ages. I made a short story called Arrak’s Purpose. To be critical on myself for a while, I think it looked good on paper, but the execution was clumsy and I didn’t find a good fit for it.
So I decided to give it another stab. Drawing from the desires of creating a different kind of hero, one that isn’t typically seen in today’s media I came up with this.
I doubt many of my readers are the easily offended sort, but if anything in the story misrepresents certain creeds of conflicts with existing beliefs. My intention was never to offend, but to explore and grow as a writer. So please, enjoy, and let me know if this sort of thing strikes true as an interesting twist on a very visited tale.
Humans are the only learning race that defines itself by making judgments they know are poor, but do it anyway. This illogical behavior overrides survival instincts ingrained deep inside of them. While this irrational thought may hold potential a danger index. Several simulations yield tendencies of self destructive behavior. They can be ignored. –The Final Transmission of Prototype Scout, Arrak.
Golem of Glass, Part 1
Jeremy dangled a small glass figurine inches from his face, swinging it like a hypnotic pendulum. The restaurant hadn’t been very good, especially considering how much it cost.
“Aren’t you a little old for toys?” Shamus said, smiling behind a bite of overpriced fish.
“It’s not a toy,” Jeremy said. “It’s important to my healing process.”
“Oh yeah?” Shamus wagged his fork. “What’s it do then?”
“Nothing.” Jeremy said, clenching it in his fist. “Ever heard of the placebo effect? It’s like that. I’ve had it since I was a kid, doesn’t feel right getting rid of it.”
“You haven’t touched your food,” Shamus sighed. “Oh I get it. You came here to break up with me, didn’t you.”
“No.” Jeremy slipped the figurine in his pocket. “You’re fun to be around, but this food is terrible. Let’s get the check, and get something edible. Like a burger.”
“But I wanted something claaassy.” Shamus pouted. Jeremy had been dating him for a little over a month. He had been drawn in by his exotic skin, full lips and athletic body; he stuck with him once he found out he was one of the most sensitive and understanding men he had ever met.
He felt plain next to him, standing a few inches shorter at five eleven. His skin pale and pasty, from wearing coats of sun block. The alternative had been turning beet red on a daily basis. Jeremy was lean and lanky, all knees and elbows as his grandmother once said. No matter how much or how little he ate, he never filled out.
That wasn’t to say Shamus was perfect. He had been the epitome of a diva, and wanted things to be spectacular. That had been the real reason Jeremy loved him. On the contrary he gravitated to the tried and tested.
“Sorry. I tried. I really did,” Jeremy said, “but this tastes like wet garbage. Let me pick the place next time.”
“Fine.” Shamus leaned forward with a grin. “But that means I get to pick other things.”
Jeremy let out a laugh. “You’re better at that than me. No complaints.”
The San Francisco area had been home since he could remember. Though he moved into the city proper when he turned eighteen. Before that he lived in a southern suburb two blocks from the beach, a move inspired by his sickly youth. He had that to blame for his pale and sickly appearance.
He stepped outside of the restaurant and mewled over his lightened wallet. Shamus brushed passed him and settled in front of the mirrored window of a parked sports car, fixing a stray eyelash. Scents of the sea filled the air. Trace bits of pollution did little to mask the healing properties of the sea.
“Penny for your thoughts.” Shamus slipped an arm in Jeremy’s, leading him down the boardwalk. A young couple skirted past them with rollerblades.
“Just wondering how long it’ll last.” Jeremy said, frowning. “My doctor tells me everything is good, but I remember everything you know. You don’t just get over cancer in a day.”
“That again?” Shamus jabbed him with an elbow. “You’re healthy. I can attest to that. Just take it as a miracle and call it a day. I’m just happy my little Jay-Jay is here with me.”
“Don’t call me that.” Jeremy tightened his face into a frown. “I hate pet names.”
“But it suits you so weeeell.” Shamus giggled. “We’ve been dating for about a month now, I should get little liberties like that.”
“A month and four days.” Jeremy corrected. “But it brings up bad memories of an old girlfriend. She even called me that particular name.”
“Women are nothing but trouble you know.” Shamus gave him a squeeze. “But doesn’t mean you can’t have a few friends on the side. I’m fine with that you know.”
“It’s not like that.” Jeremy looked up, the sky had been particularly clear. He pulled the glass figurine from his pocket and held it up.
“That again?” Shamus squinted at it, the sun caught it at all angles, and set it to glitter against the light. “Wait is there something in that thing?”
“Yeah. My cancer.” Jeremy smirked at Shamus’s cringe. “Didn’t you hear about the Southridge incident?”
“Recent? I moved here two years ago.”
“No… when I was a kid.” Jeremy shrugged a shoulder and pocketed the figurine. “Aliens. Right on the shore. “
“Aliens.” Shamus made a face, then burst into a chuckle. “You almost had me there.”
Jeremy did not smile.
“Oh right.” Shamus spotted a vendor near the path to the boardwalk. “Your burger. The usual darling?”
“Yeah.” Jeremy looked up blocking the sun with a palm. A small object caught his eye in the sky above. “Hey, isn’t this a no fly zone?”
“Yeah. Why?” Shamus peeked back from the line.
In a blink, a heavy crash erupted on the street, smashing into a car in motion. Smoke billowed out and upwards filling the street with ash, and sending Jeremy into a coughing spasm. Screams surrounds him, and people fled from the carnage.
Jeremy toppled over and struggled to find scraps of breathable air along the ground. His insides twisted as a heavy foot landed on his back, stepped upon like a common floor mat.
“Jay-Jay!” Shamus’ voice called in the smoke.
“Here… I’m here.” Jeremy choked out, the smoke thinned enough to see Shamus’ silhouette. He pulled him from the ground and fanned away smoke from their face. He grabbed the front of Jeremy’s blazer and raised it to his nose.
“If you’re gonna suffer in the heat with this. You should at least use it.” Shamus offered a smile. “Let’s get out of here.”
“W…wait.” Jeremy pointed at the point of impact. “What the hell happened?”
The smoke thinned, revealing the twisted remains of a car, a great steel ball sat atop it. Along the crater stood a thin coat of shining material. Nearby cars caught in the explosion hung in the air, flash frozen by tendrils of the clear ice. The unfortunate victims of the crash lay mauled inside their cars, blood splattered on windows.
“Ice? In San Fran?” Shamus’ brown eyes widened.
“Not ice, glass.” Jeremy regained his composure and stepped away from Shamus, towards the carnage.
“Jay-Jay.” Shamus hurried over to him. “Don’t go near that. We need to get the hell away from it.”
“No.” Jeremy pulled the glass figure from his pocket and held it up to the array. “It’s the same stuff. I can’t miss the opportunity for answers… and don’t call me Jay-Jay.”
The steel ball stirred, rolling free from the car and onto the pavement. Shamus gave Jeremy’s shoulder a tug, sending him tumbling backwards, and drew a pistol.
Jeremy’s head swam as he made impact with the pavement. He settled some distance away from Shamus.
“Wait, Shamus, that won’t work. And you had your gun?” Jeremy coughed.
“Always, darling, it’s a rough world, guy’s gotta protect himself.” Shamus smiled back at him. “Call for back up, I’ll keep an eye on it.”
“You need to get away… I…” His figurine stood upright on the cement. A dull orange glow pulsed from its center. The steel ball cracked open, arms and legs erupted from it and a lens revealed a glowing orange eye.
A piercing metallic screech filled the air, forcing Shamus to wince, but he held his ground. A pulse of power erupted from the walking eye, sliding Jeremy across the ground.
The figure stood firm.
Mechanical gibberish filled the air, one of the limbs pointed at Shamus. A tense moment passed. “Legen sie ihre waffe. Poner su arma. Anata no buki o oku. Mettere giù la pistola. Déposer votre arme. Put down your weapon.”
Shamus bolstered his resolve, as the machine issued orders in seven more languages. “Like hell. You just killed who knows how many, and–“
“Put down your weapon.” Glass slid from the ground and to its hand. It coalesced and formed a replica of Shamus’ pistol. He panicked and pulled the trigger, two shots rang in unison and at the midpoint between Shamus and the machine. two bullets hung in mid air, collided and suspended by tendrils of glass.
“Your initial aggression has been anticipated. Cease all hostilities or this immediate area will be cleansed.” The machine parroted Shamus’ grip on the pistol, and maintained a careful bead. However, its lone eye scanned the area, and hinted the arms worked independently. “Your disdain for loss of life has been noted. Thus, mercy has been applied.”
“Who are you? Or what are you rather.” Jeremy pulled himself to a stand and approached with a limp.
“Designation of this unit is classified. Objective: confirmation of conflicting data received from faulty unit.”
“Mission: verification of viability of humans as potential energy source.”
“Oh hell no.” Shamus clenched his jaw.
“What do you mean faulty unit?” Jeremy eyed the steel creature.
The glass at the point of impact reverberated, and a low somber song filled the air. The single orange eye turned to settle on Jeremy’s figurine. He flinched as a voice screamed in his mind. Humans. Dangerous. Adaptive. Distrusting. Easily swayed. Naïve. Resourceful. Violent. Flippant. Fragile. Their means are contagious, their will absolute. They are a threat. But Arrak… wants them to exist. Arrak will protect them.
Jeremy struggled towards the figurine, his body acting on its own will.
“What are you doing? Run!” Shamus called to him.
“I can’t.” Jeremy winced. “I’m being drawn in.”
The sphere creature turned it’s glass pistol towards Jeremy and fired. The bullet swerved and slammed into the figurine, leaving a misshapen blob atop it.
Jeremy relaxed, realization washed over him, he wasn’t being controlled. His fear held him back where his will drove him forward. His body felt light, and pushed into a sprint.
Shamus fired, but his bullet ricocheted helplessly off the sphere creature while it fired several times. Each shot peeled a piece of the gun away until it’s hand sat empty and curled into a shooting position. The glass absorbed formed a blob around the figurine, and lifted it from the ground.
Jeremy reached towards it, sunk his hands in the swirling mass.
“Jay-Jay. I told you to get back up.”
“I am.” Jeremy turned to Shamus. “…and don’t call me Jay-Jay.”
The glass around them shattered, flying towards Jeremy, and settled on the swelling sphere at his hands. In grew until it enveloped him, and lifted him from the ground.
Light flooded the street, and nearby windows burst in unison.
“Arrak system. Online.” A mechanical voice, with tones of Jeremy’s voice filled the air. The light settled to reveal a figure, standing nearly twenty feet tall and composed of pale white glass, too clouded to see into.
Its structure appeared carved of a single piece, no seams or edges, and retained a distinct human appearance save for an additional set of arms jutting out at the sides.
The sphere creature screeched a mechanical noise. But Jeremy could comprehend it somehow.
Desist. Arrak scout unit, you are malfunctioning. Report corrected findings and execute shut down protocols.
The Golem of Glass raised a hand in response, a beam of energy punched through the steel, scattering bits of mechanical parts onto the road. It erupted into an explosion, and sent Shamus flying.
A lower arm contorted and caught Shamus, waited out the blast and set him down. The Golem approached, slow and deliberate, and held its four hands over the wreckage. It softened the steel of the machine, turning it to white hot glass, and drank it’s remains.
The Golem’s four arms began to work, patching the crater formed by impact, reshaping the car that had been struck, and repairing the ones formerly held by the web of glass.
The cars stood empty, without trace of their drivers nor their remains.
The three cars idled quietly as everything returned to normality. The rolling smoke had been drawn in and removed and the smell of the sea fell over the area once more.
“What about the people inside?” Shamus approached, eyeing the empty cars.
“Dead humans are unable to be repaired. Their remains have been used for efficiency of repairs,” The Golem said. “Living ones however… can be repaired.”
The golem’s lower hands eased two people from the cloudy mass off energy. Shamus approached them, and confirmed their breathing.
“Sleeping?” Shamus smiled faintly.
“The healing process requires copious amounts of sleep,” The Golem said, “other imperfections have been corrected as well.”
The light returned, to a lesser extent, and the Golem began to shrink. White light returned to the windows nearby and the glass reformed better than new. The golem remained, though only seven feet tall and with but one set of arms.
“Is Jeremy all right?” Shamus walked over to the Golem, hesitant to touch it.
“Sleeping due to exhaustion.” The Golem receded its ‘face’ to reveal Jeremy’s sleeping body. Arrak unit is now analyzing upgraded components of scout unit. Symbiotic link will be maintained for this time.”
“That won’t do…” Shamus waved a hand. “As much as I like the taller look for him, you’ll draw too much attention like that.”
“Understood.” The golem nodded. The pale white exterior flooded with color, forming a convincing human form: A muscled, tall, human male complete with a facsimile of Jeremy’s chestnut hair.
Shamus glanced over him and offered an approving smile. “You still need clothing Goga.”
“Understood.” Tendrils of glass erupted about him and formed a tight fitting white muscle shirt, a pair of board shorts and sandals. As a finishing touch, a pair of wraparound glasses formed covering his eyes. “Request for clarification; What is Designation: Goga?”
“Your name of course, well a shortened version.” Shamus smiled. “Golem of Glass, Arrak.”