Minding Mama - Story Extract

The second stage of our crowdfunding campaign - to fund production of Issue One - will go live at the end of August 2018.  For a sample extract of the original short story, please read on:

Minding Mama by EJ Jackson   

(c) EJ Jackson 2018   All Rights Reserved 

 

CYRIL PUT THE COVER over the seedling, taking care to avoid knocking the delicate leaves as he did so. He straightened up, his knee joints protesting audibly, and walked slowly back to the Dome. A rusty GardenBot squeaked and puffed along behind him. It would not be serviceable for very much longer. Without spare parts, it too would be consigned to the edge of the workshop, to join the models which had preceded it – all of them defunct, valuable only for their spare parts. But without a serviceable GardenBot, Cyril would have no recourse but to dig and plant everything himself. When his knee joints finally seized, damaged by the ever-present grit and sand, then food production would cease altogether. He would have failed.

Inside the dome, there was very little light; the small windows set at regular intervals over the roof had long since been sandblasted into opaque discs. Sand and dirt covered them over each time the winds came; it was pointless trying to clear them, thereby risking damage in the process. Who would tend the seedlings then?  Celia was no longer capable of climbing the rickety ladder, and now he would find it perilous, too. He would need to go further afield in search of undamaged solar panels, a journey not without risk.

Fortunately, neither Cyril nor Celia needed visible light to find their way around their home – the dimensions had been mapped within both their cortexes long ago.

‘Howwasit?’  Celia’s speech impediment was becoming worse with each passing day, Cyril noted. Soon, they would be unable to communicate at all.

‘It is progressing as expected.’

‘Andtheotherssss…?’

‘The same. I must go soon, Celia, or the winds will prevent me from leaving this season.’

‘Yesssssss.’

There would be no point asking Celia to accompany him – in addition to her communication issues, the HouseBot’s left leg had been mangled when their mechanical plough had shorted out three seasons ago.  Never designed for heavy farm work, Celia had been knocked down and dragged under the treads and had not walked since.  Cyril had been unable to repair the plough either, and since then, he had tilled, planted, and harvested manually with only the GardenBot to assist him; at Maximum Growth this last cycle, he had worked around the clock to complete the Harvest in good time, almost completely running his power cells down.

Fortunately, Cyril had managed to store up enough battery power from the few remaining working solar panels to keep Celia ticking over whilst he was away, assuming she would remember to plug into a different cell each night. If she did not, then she would almost certainly flat-line, as the old expression went, by the time he returned.  He would have to take the risk and leave her. Nothing was more important than the seedlings – if he could not deliver them, then the humans would have nothing to propagate underground – they would go hungry and they would die, and all hope of restoring humanity would be lost.

Cyril had never been able to fully analyse his decision to keep Celia functioning. Her body contained parts that he could use to repair himself; logic dictated that he should power her down and utilize whatever he could. Yet he had not done so.

-End of extract-