Saturday, March 30, 2013

Prompt: Fantasy Island City

Thanks to Ran D on for the gorgeous visual prompt

“Descent clear in three, two, one. Clear of mercury cloud cover. Ladies and Gentlemen in the starboard quarters, you have the first view of your new home. Port side, we’ll be coming around in our minutes for your first look.”

Pentig—he still thought of himself by his old name, not his new designation as P5932—stared out the tiny window. The world below looked lush and green, not as deadly as he had heard.

“But everything there will try to kill you if you leave the island, including the water and the green stuff,” his companion said. Pentig must have spoken aloud. He turned to look at C3861, stretched on his back with his arms crossed under his head.

“Aren’t you even curious?” Pentig asked.

“Why? Once we’re inside, it’ll be just like any other prison back home.” C3861 said bitterly. He was a clone, respected throughout the art world for his photography until the Human Right-to-Work Unions got the clones outlawed and rounded up under marshal law.

Now clones and criminals alike were stripped of their identities and rights, and shipped offworld to prison colonies like Fantasy Island. Pentig shrugged and looked back out the window. He didn’t know when he might get a chance to see the outside world again, and he wanted to memorize every feature while he could.

The prison city rose on platforms high above the island in the miles-wide river that coursed across the southern continent. The river itself glinted silver in the cloud-filtered sunlight. Pentig shivered at the thought of the acid stripping through skin and bone in minutes if he went in. There was one giant tree on the island, otherwise it was covered in what looked like grass, but he knew it was sharp-bladed silicon. Under the city platforms were arrays of mechanical centers, cisterns for the precious fresh water, turbines for the wind power, and even solar panels, which he could see on top of pretty much every building the stretched into the sky, away from the deadly planet.

He has surprised by how graceful it looked. He had imagined a sprawling, squalid prison hell hole, but the view below looked more like one of the most sought after resorts on Earth.  The city, for all it was a prison, was renowned for its clean tech design and energy efficiency. There were three platforms staggered in height, with towers of all shapes and sizes, looking for all the world like a sophisticated metropolis. As the prison cargo ship curved around the island, preparing to land, Pentig saw a huge black statue with outstretched arms on the crest of the hill opposite the island. It looked human, but it predated the prison colony, and no one knew its origins.

They landed and waited for their cell door to open. C3861 mockingly motioned Pentig to go first. He turned every social nicety into mockery since his imprisonment. As they walked into the receiving terminal, Pentig thought it looked more like an old airport than a prison intake center. He’d seen plenty of those on Earth, and none were designed with domed glass ceilings and carved columns stretching up to support them. All the incoming prisoners wore standard issue fatigues, but Pentig saw the locals were in a variety of colorful tunics and loose pants, even some women in long dresses. He saw flashes of long hair, jewelry, and then he stopped in his tracks and stared. C3861 pushed his back to keep him moving.

There was a child, spinning a long rainbow ribbon on a stick. Pentig remembered his sisters playing with something like that. The little girl looked up and smiled at him as he passed. He looked away, feeling an uncomfortable sense of confusion and even unease. He had become used to the strict, monotonous regimen of prison life. What was this place? It didn’t look like a prison. And the people didn’t look—or act—like prisoners.

TBC (maybe)

Dogs in house:

Time writing:
~30 minutes

March word count:


  1. Prompt: Fantasy Island City

    Gwen peered through the hole in her back garden. The engineers had claimed it was only an access hatch, and would rarely be used. But it had opened of its own accord three times in the last week. And if it was a hatch to access something, it must be off to the sides, because she could see straight down to the city's lower level.

    She straightened. It was a good thing she didn't have a dog, or children, that could fall through. Although one would hope such a hole would have standard anti-grav protection. But she wasn't about to drop something living to check--a childhood of chucking various items, including supermarket fish and Polly's poor hamster, off the edge of the city had taught her the anti-grav did, indeed, only recognising living things (the hamster survived, if traumatized).

    She returned to the house and keyed in the number for the council's complaint line. It was a statement to how well things worked (hah!) on Fantasy Island that she knew it by heart.

    The council picked up, showing only a standard visual of the city from the stratosphere. "What is your complaint?" said a bored female voice.

    "The access hatch in my garden has been opening," Gwen said.

    "Say again?" said the voice, more animated.

    "The access hatch--"

    "Opening? The hatch? Don't move! A team is on the way." The screen went blank.

    1. Very nice! Good touch of backstory (and humor), and an unexpected teaser/hook at the end! I like the bored woman suddenly getting excited!