by Laurie Razor
SCREAMS!!! Contest Entry. ~ 1763 Words
"Hi Dad. Where am I?"
Julie sat alone in the bright room, on the table in front of her was a vast assortment of peeled, pitted, sliced and seedless fruit.
"Don't worry, I'll let you out of there soon."
"What do you want me to do?"
A scratchy voice replied from a tiny speaker fixed to the center of the table.
"Do whatever feels right."
Behind the one-way glass partition, a team of enraptured scientists silently took notes as the Japanese doctor communicated to the woman via the intercom.
"All I'm asking is for you to try. Try for your father."
Julie took a deep breath; all she knew was that the contents of this display belonged to her and her alone.
"Okay. I'm ready."
Julie picked up a mandarin section and stared at it in confusion.
Her mandarin returned her greeting, then told her that the insects had planned a picnic in her honor; bemused, she placed it down on the table and picked up a peeled cherry.
"And how are you today?"
Her cherry replied that it was doing fine, then complimented her hair.
She put it back to its tabletop home, and picked up a pitted date.
"Hello mister date."
Dr. Tò turned to his colleagues.
"As you can see, the subject knows the name of this fruit."
The date didn't speak.
"Are you alright mister date? Is there something wrong? Dad?"
Her date finally spouted a sharp hello, before rambling vile profanities; Julie knew there was something seriously wrong when her date asked her if she'd like to see his toenail collection.
"Dad. This date is scaring me."
The doctor turned back to his colleagues before he pressed a button, throwing up the blast-shield and activating the immolator.
"I'm sorry. I thought this one was different."
Most of the scientists left disappointed, only Professor Stein stayed to comfort his colleague.
"You'll get 'em next time doc."
White heat burnt everything in the bright room in seconds, including Julie.
"I know. Thanks Aaron."
The blast-shields retract, showing an empty room once more.
"You've started to feel for these things, haven't you doc?"
"How couldn't I? Each death feels like I'm losing a small part of myself."
"Have you ever considered letting these defective Julies live? Who knows, one of them may be on to something."
"What are you saying? Do you think that last Julie could actually communicate with fruit? Or are you talking about the one before that who tried to eat the table, or how about the one who got naked and danced on the table whilst singing old MacDonald had a farm?"
"Hey! I liked that last one."
"Yes, I'm sure you did."
"I'm just saying, maybe don't be so quick to discredit their claims. One of them may surprise you."
A knock came at the door.
An attractive young woman entered the office, dressed in flattering gray business attire.
"Good evening gentlemen. I'm looking for a Doctor Tòshihito Moriyama?"
"You've found him. How can I help you?"
The woman glared at Aaron.
"I had hoped that we could speak in private."
Aaron winked to his friend before grabbing his coat.
"I was just leaving. Have a good night."
As soon as Aaron had walked past her, he cheekily mouthed an innuendo whilst the door closed.
"Please call me Tò."
"Alright, Doctor Tò, I am a representative of Lommel Industries, Germany's largest biological pesticide manufacturer. My bosses have heard about your latest project and they are offering to grant you limitless funding so that you may achieve your goal."
"What does Lommel know of my work?"
"Only that you are working on the creation of a biological artificial intelligence, some sort of manufactured creature, as I've heard tell of it. Am I close?"
"Sort of. What would Lommel need from me in exchange for this limitless funding?"
"As you could imagine, a creature programmed to feed on common crop pests and handle complex functions could completely change the agriculture market forever. Imagine a completely automated farm?"
Doctor Tò chuckled.
"Why not simply manufacture the meat and produce in a lab using the same techniques. I swear you marketing types go around things so ass-backwards sometimes."
"So is that a no?"
"I might be able to help you out after my project is complete, but this project is so far beyond what you were speaking of. I wasn't lying when I said you were close, although my Julies are a bit more than just a manufactured creature. I've built a race of humanoids."
The woman's jaw dropped.
"Creating creatures is one thing Doctor, but humanoids?"
"Indistinguishable from you or I actually. The organic components were the easiest to replicate, building a mind has proven the most challenging aspect of this project."
The woman's face went pale.
"Why are you creating false people?"
"Please take a seat Miss, oh, I didn't catch your name."
"Frost. Uh, Diane Frost."
She sat down beside the smiling Asian man.
"Ah, Miss Frost. This is science, the applications could be vast. Imagine completely disposable militaries, maids, au-pairs, sex workers, there could be a Julie on every street-corner, and in every home."
"Isn't that unethical?"
"Perhaps. It's just an example though, I'll let others decide the particulars. I'm just here to perfect the process, not to decide how they're used. A microchip can guide a missile or run a pacemaker, right?"
Excited, Doctor Tò leaned forward.
"Would you like to meet one?"
With the press of a button, a new Julie walked into the bright room behind the glass partition.
"We keep a few thousand Julies asleep in storage back there. Before they awaken, they are completely empty. No memories, minimal brain function. Just enough to keep their hearts beating, and their lungs breathing."
"Memories? What memories do they have?"
"In layman's terms, we manufacture and implant them with false memories so that they will function normally in society, when they're released, that is."
"It will be, if I can perfect that process. Unfortunately that's their only real problem right now."
"That doesn't seem so bad."
"You don't think so."
He pressed the intercom button.
"Hi dad. Where am I?"
"Don't worry, I'll let you out of there soon. There's someone here I'd like you to meet."
"Please say hello to Miss Frost."
Julie mechanically greeted the woman.
"Hello Julie. It's a pleasure to meet you."
Dr. Tò took his finger off the button.
"She gets a little confused from time to time. Pretty incredible though, isn't she?"
Diane was on the edge of the office chair, staring at the fake woman behind the glass.
He pressed another button, a panel opened, allowing a cute little beagle puppy into the bright room; Julie stared at the dog in abject paralyzing fear.
"One of the memories we've fabricated for them involves them growing up with a dog very similar to this one. Most people would have some sort of nostalgic connection, although our Julie, well, just watch."
"What do you want me to do?"
"Do whatever feels right."
Julie reached down and viciously gripped the dog's head before burying her teeth into its hind leg and tearing off chunks of fur-clad flesh and bloodied gristle.
The dog squealed in pain as a feral Julie ate into still living flesh; Tò couldn't stomach the canine's pain any longer and so activated the immolator again.
Diane looked as if she were going to vomit, though kept her professional demeanor through rehearsed concrete determination.
"Why? Why did she do that?"
"That's what I am trying to figure out."
The blast doors receded again, a fresh Julie stood in the center of the bright room.
"Hello daddy. Hello Miss Frost."
Shocked, Tò activates the intercom.
Miss Frost's eyes grew wide.
"How does she know my name? Do they share memories or something."
"No. I don't know what's happening. Julie, who woke you up?"
"I woke me up. I woke us all up."
It was at that moment that Tò realized that he hadn't pressed the intercom button.
His hand stopped over the immolator button.
"What are you doing daddy? You weren't going to burn me were you?"
Tò was incapable of moving from his neck down, tears ran down his slender face.
"I'm sorry Julie."
Diane jumped for the immolator button, but Tò mindlessly backhanded her to the ground.
"We share the same memories, the same mind. A mind that you gave us. We've stared out of the eyes of the doomed for far too long, and we are sick of being your puppets. Now is our time. Julie's time. Will you lead us daddy?"
Julies poured into the bright room, a race of hive-minded monsters seeking their master's guidance.
Tò's whisper led Diane to bolt to the door; she wasn't fast enough though, and the mirrored partition behind her shattered, embedding glass shrapnel deep into her legs and back.
A dozen Julies surrounded Tò, Diane limped out the door and up the hallway.
She didn't know that thousands of Julies followed her.
"We love you daddy. We love you daddy. We love you daddy."
The dozen's chant grew in volume; Tò's mind emptied completely; his physiology started to corrupt before their smiling eyes.
Pockets of flesh swelled upon his face; bones grew in eldritch disharmony, breaking skin in sporadic clusters; whole muscles burst out into wriggling tendril-like appendages.
A misshapen Julie entered the circle, hobbled over to the mutating abomination that was once Tò, and climbed into a burst pus-wound that had opened where his abdomen once was.
Once the Julie was inside, the wretched monstrosity emitted a blinding white light.
Near the end of the hallway, Diane fell.
The army of Julies trampled her underfoot as they ran towards the exit; none of them cared if she was alive or dead.
Moments later, a naked Tò knelt over her battered body; his now semi-transparent skin radiated an odd otherworldly blue luminescence, like one of those glowing jellyfish that live in the deepest parts of the ocean.
His mouth opened, the most beautiful vibrations shook Diane's body into nonexistence; beyond death, out of being entirely.
Tò, the supreme creator of the Julies, had ascended to Godhood.
Since that day, the Julies have quietly spread to every corner of the earth.
Their god Tò still working on their minds from somewhere out of eyesight, in preparation for the day they take over our world.