The City of Prosperity. Short Story.

The sun rose over the city of Prosperity, the first and only fully automated city. The tall glass buildings glinted in the dawn light, it could be seen from miles around, a shining beacon in the middle of the dreary, desolate wasteland that surrounded it. The walls were tall and even they shone in the light, a startlingly bright white against the dull, dark grey of the pitted ground surrounding it.

Inside the city blinds began to rise slowly, inside rooms small alarms started to play, getting louder as the time passed. The music was soft and classical, the name of it had long since been forgotten. A woman started speaking over the gentle music, “Good morning! It’s another lovely day here in the city of Prosperity! The sun will be out in full force today meaning it will be hot! Hot! Hot! With top temperatures today of 73 degrees and lows of 68. We advise that you only go outside if absolutely necessary and if you must do so, please wear protective gear and don’t forget the sun screen!” The woman chuckled lightly, “That rain still hasn’t reached us yet, but we hope it will in the next few days and coming with it will be cooler temperatures. Unfortunately we are still rationing for the foreseeable future, but I have heard from a very reliable source that at the upcoming Town Birthday Celebration there will be champagne for all who attend! That’s today’s weather and news update, I’ll be back tomorrow morning for your daily weather update! We hope you have a pleasant day!” The music slowly faded away. Inside bathrooms showers started, water thundering down onto clean white tiles. It ran for a moment, stopped for ten seconds, then ran for another moment before shutting off entirely. In the kitchen the smell of food filled the room as the breakfast arrived, it slid from the delivery hatch and onto the small table pressed against the wall. It sat there, cooling in the morning light, the grease on the eggs slowly congealing. Thirty minutes later the plates were swept from the table by the cleaners, the food was scraped into the reclamation hub that was beside the delivery hatch. Once the plates were scraped clean they were placed into the delivery hatch, where they would be whisked back to central for cleaning. Once they had finished their job the cleaners returned to their storage station in the walls. They were small, scuttling things that looked similar to ants and they were able to fulfil almost any task. A small whirring noise started as the automatic vacuum started up, once it was finished the mop would take over, keeping the tile floors sparkling clean. As they went about their task the cleaners swarmed through the rest of the house, checking for anything out of place that needed to be cleaned. The beds were already made, the sheets were only washed the day before, the shelves were dusted and everything was still neatly stored away. Everything was just as it should be. With their job done the cleaners returned to their hiding places, content to wait until they were needed again.

The city had been built over ten years, with every available luxury going and some that were only dreamed of. When the plans for the city were announced, the homes were sold out within hours. It was the place to live if you could afford it and there were plenty who could. In the weeks leading up to the grand opening those who were moving in were set up in hotels while their own belongings were brought to their house and arranged to their specifications. When the speeches were made and the ribbon was finally cut, you just had to walk in, find your place and then relax, everything else had been taken care of. The city was heralded as the true future of mankind and it was, for almost six hours. After dinner, specially selected for each residents taste, the cleaners emerged from their hiding spots and got to work, tidying up after all the humans. As people lounged in their sitting rooms, or at their tables, sipping their after dinner drinks, the cleaners got to work, getting rid of all the crumbs and dirt and dust the humans had brought with them. Their instructions were simple, basic, keep everything clean. In the aftermath no one knew what happened, only that the robots designed to make life easy had killed every man, woman and child in the city, leaving nothing, not even a drop of blood behind. Had an investigation been completed they would have found that it was the fault of Paul Franklin, deceased, who had been given one of the smaller homes as payment for his work. He was stressed, tired and under a tight deadline. He made one little mistake, the definition of pest had been too broad. At the time he had intended to double check everything but a personal phone call from Bob Mitnick, owner and general genius behind Prosperity, chewing him out over delays, Paul had decided that it was close enough. He had hung up the phone, pale and shaking, if the deal fell through his family would have no where to go and he had been threatened with a lawsuit if things weren’t delivered on time, they barely had anything as it was a lawsuit wouldn’t ruin them, it would destroy them completely. And so he finished his work, without double checking, sealing his own fate and that of all twenty million people in the city of Prosperity.

For years the city stayed as it was, both a monument to one mans hubris and a silent necropolis. Memorials were placed along the walls, but just as quickly as they were placed they were cleared away again by tiny scurrying machines. No one could get inside to dismantle the place for fear of death, there were tentative plans to destroy the city through explosives. Then tensions finally bubbled over, the bombs fell and there was no one left to destroy it. Some tried to journey to it, hoping that they could tame the strange creatures inside, but it was known as a dangerous place, a cursed one. The city of Prosperity continued to shine brightly in the scorching sun, looking as new as the day it was first built.

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About Alan James Keogh

I am a 26 year old writer who somehow tricked U.C.D. into giving me not only a degree in English and Classical studies, but an Hons Masters in Creative Writing too. Visit my blog where I post short stories twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) and an installment of a serialised novel on Fridays. I did consider writing this in the third person, as though it was written by someone else, but Alan is not comfortable writing in the third person as it seems kinda creepy and unbalanced so Alan decided it was probably best to write in the first person. He hopes it went well for him.
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