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RLG3 Homeworking

by Jubbly 

Posted: 03 March 2004
Word Count: 986

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For sixty years it had remained - buried deep in this aged earth.

There had been nothing but rain for nearly two weeks. The sky was a sludgy grey; it felt as though the whole country had a lid on it.

Ty pulled off his Cyber Educator and peered out of his bedroom window. It was 11.am and time for morning break. Sure enough on queue his door opened and Sir Preceptor, Ty's personal robot entered with a tray.

"Break Time." he announced in vintage robotic speech.

Ty took the tray and muttered thanks, a green light on Sir Preceptors left arm flashed in polite acknowledgement. Ty sat on the bed curling his feet awkwardly underneath him. A mid morning snack of dried fruit and veg washed down with purified water broke the tedium of his school day.

It had been over half a century since the War of De Americanisation and a great deal had changed since.

The gasses that had been unleashed over Europe had damaged the natural world beyond recognition. It was no longer considered safe to venture outdoors for any length of time. Adults were ferried to and from their place of work in Slue Capsules, which they gained access to via converted underground stations. On entry the occupants were de moleculised then then re moleculised once on arrivel at their destination.

Early versions of this now common method of transportation had been disastrous, molecules mixing and regrouping incorrectly. Thereby creating people with the wrong head or longer legs than when they entered the capsule. Sometimes lab technicians did it on purpose, experimenting with people of different races. How they laughed at the white woman with the black mans torso and the old lady with the body of an African supermodel but her own face.

These days the Slue Capsules are a perfect object and mistakes are never made.

Due to the irreparable post war ravaging of the atmosphere, children are required to stay in their homes and complete their education through a virtual mask not dissimilar to the old-fashioned simulator visors that were so popular in pleasure arcades at the turn of the last century.

As Ty sipped his water and stared vacantly through the window, a flash of lightening streaked across the dark sky and a clap of thunder sounded an electrical storm. They were fairly common in this decade, the Stormy Sixties but this one was different.

With little warning Tyís room was plunged into darkness, a sudden blackout engulfed normality. Ty opened his door and saw Sir Preceptor stood mid step in the hall.

Ty remembered this happening once before, years earlier. His father told him that electrical storms could sometimes short circuit household robots, it was easy enough to fix them but Ty decided to take advantage of his minder being out of action.

Why not? Who was to prevent him? The storm had triggered his curiosity and a sudden aptitude for Boy Scout skills had surfaced. He crept downstairs to the back door and tapped in the exterior release code.

The door sprung open and Ty was met by the world. Even though it was a wet miserable day the wall of the outside air smacked him in the face and his overriding emotion was one of pure joy.

He could feel the unfamiliar mud squishing under foot as he braved the path leading to the back garden and it felt good.

The sensations were so peculiar and foreign outside. Even when he played football for his local squad they never went out there, preferring instead plugging into a central sports computer and assuming on screen doppelgangers.

There were no flowers in the garden, hadn't been for many years now. Flowers stopped growing after the CV4 factory explosion back in 38, huge plumes of black smoke had settled overhead, the birds gave up too, giving the circle of life a few major missing links.

The Great War of De Americanisation had brought casualties as well as freedoms.

But they survive, they are human, they have no choice.

Then he saw it, at first just a hand sticking up through the earth, reaching out for a rescuer.

Me, he thought, me. Iíll save you.

Ty pulled at the hand with all his might and out she came. He swore she was smiling. What was left of her hair was blonde, her once flawless face now grimy and her beauty concealed by layers of soil. Heíd never seen anything like her. She wore what could only be described as a faded pink swimsuit, old fashioned, clinging tight to her body, maximizing her fine breasts. Not like the huge billowing modest costumes that women favoured these days.

On her feet were gold shoes with high heels and pointed toes, like the ones he'd seen in old photos, pictures that the state did not approve of. He cradled his darling in his arms and took her into his home.

A crackling noise and the sudden brightness in the kitchen brought him back to his senses, the power cut was over.

He went back inside and flicked a switch in Sir Preceptors back.

"What happened?" asked Sir.

"You fell asleep." said Ty.

If a robot could register shock then Sir did just that.

Ty took his find to his room and placed her carefully in a box then hid it under his bed.

Much later when everyone was sleeping and Sir Preceptor had been de activated for the night, he heard her speak.

Faint at first and indecipherable, but before she stopped speaking for good he caught her last words.

"Hey, surfs up."

"Hey, want to go grab a shake?"

"Helloooo mmaah naaammm issss Baaarrrrbbeeeee.

Then nothing, Ty slept fitfully that night, dreaming of a different time when the world was full of colour and magic and promise and the terrible bleak truth just a morbid prediction of the future.

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Comments by other Members

Elspeth at 11:14 on 03 March 2004  Report this post
Julie, I loved this. Very inventive without going overboard on the new-age details. You give us just enough to picture this strange new world, and tap into the fears we all have about what we're heading towards.
And of course, it's Barbie who survives the apocalypse! That goddamn girl is simply indestructible!


bjlangley at 13:01 on 03 March 2004  Report this post
Jubbly, that was one thing I didn't expect to show up with this RLG, a Barbie.

As Katie said, there's enough of the future in there without going too far down the line. It makes it seem more, real, more believeable as a morbid vision of the future.

All the best


Friday at 14:11 on 03 March 2004  Report this post
Hi Julie, isnít Ty a sweetheart. Although his world is bleak. I loved the Barbie - the perfection of the past. Excellent. Although was also quite shocked at the vision of the future. Very clever, entertaining and totally unexpected.
All the best,

Jubbly at 17:10 on 03 March 2004  Report this post
Thanks Katie, Ben and Dawn. I really enjoyed writing this, sorry it's so grim, I'm hormonal, that's the only excuse.

SamMorris at 19:14 on 03 March 2004  Report this post
Hi Julie,

No need for excuses, another great story - and with such a familiar first line. How curious.

To me the atmosphere is a little reminiscent of the film AI, which I always thought was a great film. I wonder if Ken is out there somewhere in the wilderness driving round in his miniature black Caddy forever looking for Barbie, until his batteries run out of course.

All the best


word`s worth at 19:20 on 03 March 2004  Report this post

At first I thought this was going to be something about cyber games which isn't really my cuppa tea, but I found myself quite disturbed by your portrayal of the future - sixty years from now - mostly because it's not such a far fetched concept and could be a reality. De Americanisation...I don't know why but I smiled knowingly at that - or maybe I do know why ;). There was a film I saw ages ago where there was some sort of nuclear disaster or something (can't remember its name now), and the only things that survived were cockroaches...millions of them! Imagine millions of Barbies...arghhhh!

Great story and fingers crossed it doesn't come true :)


PS Snap on the hormones ;)

Account Closed at 19:57 on 03 March 2004  Report this post
Very nice Julie,
I liked your portrayal of the new world - it worked well. A trip outside becomes a luxury - phew!

and then there was Barbie! Lovely ending.

Well done

roovacrag at 20:47 on 03 March 2004  Report this post
Very inventive, not what i expected.

Jubbly at 07:04 on 04 March 2004  Report this post
Thanks Alice, Elspeth, Nahed and Sam, here's to a better future all round eh?


Sue H at 07:20 on 04 March 2004  Report this post
De Americanisation - what a fantastic thought! And Barbie too! Great story. I really enjoyed reading it.

Jubbly at 15:08 on 04 March 2004  Report this post
Thanks Sue, glad you enjoyed it. I keep a three foot high Barbie on the landing just to frighten visitors, I love her.

haunted at 15:58 on 04 March 2004  Report this post
I also thought of A.I. too. Although i did hate that film, i really love this.

There are people who think Barbie is a bad influence on children, but anyone who can live through a war and still feel like grabbing a shake is worthy of a little respect.

A great read,


Jubbly at 18:06 on 04 March 2004  Report this post
Cheers Louise, I only watched about half and hour of AI, it was just too grim, maybe I was subconsiously influenced eh? I'm glad you liked it, Barbie and I were born the same year so I've always had an affinity with her.

Colin-M at 22:02 on 04 March 2004  Report this post
I liked this. The non-simulatable pleasure of a physical toy in a cybernetic, synthetic reality, and the irony being that in our age, Barbie is the epitome of bodily synthesis.

If I was listening to something else, I might have missed the point and saw the appearance of Barbie (I realised as soon as you mentioned pink swimsuit and maximizing fine breasts) as a punchline, but I was listening to Slayer, Diabolus In Musica, and felt the real impact of this piece.

Can I just say that it is natural for a boy to hate Barbie and everything she stands for, but I had to work with Barbie for far too long, and after a while you wash away the negative tint that the school yard gives you.

Saying that, I still have bloody nightmares about having to work on another Barbie video game.

Colin M.

Jubbly at 22:43 on 04 March 2004  Report this post
Oh Colin, I'm thrilled you had a soundtrack to my story, and such an amazing one at that, considering I wrote this with Radio 3 in the background. My eldest son always had a thing about Barbie, he's nearly 11 and has grown out of it now, mind you he used to dress her in Action mans clothes and position her on the back of an action man motor bike - Action man in front of course, duh.


Becca at 06:48 on 05 March 2004  Report this post
This is a fine inventive piece of writing. I laughed at the Slue Capsules, .. just what Britain would hate right now. I went from saponified human body to shop dummy to Barbie as he put her in a box under his bed. I really enjoyed this.

Jubbly at 07:10 on 05 March 2004  Report this post
Thanks Becca, like saponified, you have a superior vocabulary that puts me to shame. Intitally she was going to be a wedding ring, but as I was walking and thinking through the story I kept getting images of my fave dolly bird, and I couldn't ignore them.

All the best


Richardwest at 15:48 on 05 March 2004  Report this post
Ye gods, doth invention know no bounds? And not merely Barbieís magnificent longevity: the concept of this piece, and its conclusion, is hugely diverting. It made me laugh. It made me think. It made me wonder.

Doesnít get any betterín than that, Julie. Well done!

Richard x

bluesky3d at 15:56 on 05 March 2004  Report this post
Julie, this was great... a very well written and a finely balanced piece. Enjoyed it.
Andrew :o)

Jubbly at 17:12 on 05 March 2004  Report this post
Richard and Andrew, high praise indeed. When I stop blushing I'll write some more.


Richardwest at 17:55 on 05 March 2004  Report this post
Never mind the blushing. Just keep on blooming. That's what all roses do.


PS: For some reason, I always get excessively lyrical at this time of night.

swandale at 20:51 on 05 March 2004  Report this post
I really liked this Julie. The War of De Americanisation - just fantastic!
Sam x

Jubbly at 18:37 on 07 March 2004  Report this post
Thanks Swandale, it was great fun to write.


Jumbo at 00:31 on 12 March 2004  Report this post

Just caught up on this one. Lovely descriptive writing. Very powerful!

And Barbie dolls! What next? Dead parrots.

Brilliant story. Well done!


Jubbly at 06:24 on 12 March 2004  Report this post
Cheers Jumbo, my son took to school to show his teacher, he thought it was a kids story - could be I guess. Hey, I did do a dead parrot, it's in here somewhere.



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