Golem Project Part 13

Draft 1.13

Golem Project In Progress

First Chapter

Previous Chapter

Wessel stood there for what seemed like a solid minute, looking up. He’d never seen the electric plant without that coil at the top, sending out arcs of lightning into the sky. It seemed so empty without that movement. Like he was standing at the bottom of a drained bottle.

The tension he’d felt upon entering the building was going away. The charge in the air, the effect of the wireless power being generated, it no longer made his arms prickle.

It was dead.

Rain fell, splashing and roaring in the windows of the dead tower, and Wessel didn’t know what to do. The city had no power now. What was anyone supposed to do in that situation?

“Hey, kid!” a male voice called. “Kid!”

A moment later, Wessel realized it was calling for him, since nobody else had answered. He turned to look.

“Come on, kid,” the short, overweight man said. He was stocky, bald on the top of his head, but looked to still be young. “It’s dangerous, follow me.”

Wessel nodded, plodding along after the man. A bent-up piece of metal and wire clattered down from floors above and hit the tiled floor, cracking the stone and ringing with the impact. Wessel moved a bit faster.

“Down here,” the man said, pointing Wessel down a smaller stairwell into the basement.

Wessel eased down the stairs, making sure he had solid footing before taking each step. The man followed into the dark chamber. Murmurs surrounded them, people talking in the darkness. One or two smart-watches were emitting a pale light, illuminating a few faces, but those lights were slowly dimming without the tower active.

“Don’t waste it,” Wessel whispered. “Save the light for when you need it.”

It wasn’t even dark outside yet. Heavy cloud cover, but the people could see. What would happen when it got dark, and nobody had light?

A worse thought occurred to Wessel as he sat down on the hard floor against the wall. It was a thought he’d been avoiding.

What about Aizi? What about everyone’s golems?

“Aizi?” he whispered.

“It is alright,” she replied. Her voice seemed tired, dimmed.

Wessel jolted upright and squinted left and right, trying to make out the golem. “Aizi, you’re here?”

“No,” she said. “We are linked, Wessel. I can speak to you. But I am still in the stairwell.”

“Well get down here!” he said, making sure to whisper. He couldn’t let people know he was speaking to an intelligent golem. Even in this crisis, he remembered that.

“I am conserving power,” Aizi said. “Do you wish for me to expend that power to descend? It would take ten percent of my remaining energy.”

Wessel thought for a moment. “Can you do what you think best? I’m not great at making sudden decisions.”

“I do not know the world as well as you do, Wessel. This is an emergency situation that you know more about than I do. The world out there, and how people will react once their golems lose all power, is not something I can simulate. It would be best if I run any decisions by you.”

“Can you at least make suggestions?” Wessel sat back down, hugging his knees against him.

“Certainly,” Aizi said. “In any case, I must descend this tower at some point. It would make sense for me to at least reach the first floor before returning to standby.”

Wessel nodded. “Do that, then,” he said. “Oh, and do you see dad up there?”

“I am descending. I will keep an eye out for Dad Cote.”

“Okay.” Wessel quieted down and focused on breathing, in the nose and out the mouth, counting heartbeats to keep it consistent. Once he had stopped trembling, he put his mind to work.

No power. That meant no golems, no protection. Anyone who wanted to hurt someone or break the law could. Anarchy. That was a problem. Surely the adults had some kind of plan for this, but he didn’t know it. He had to assume that the outside was like a wild frontier, or it would be once the golems all ran out of power.

What was the plan?

Aizi couldn’t get him home. Not enough power, based on what she’d just said. Home wasn’t really safer than anywhere else, but it was home. Wessel’s mom would be there. If he couldn’t find his dad now, before leaving the building, then home would be the place to meet up. Home was where his project was, it was where his life was. He had to make it back there.

But he wanted to take Aizi with him. Wessel frowned. Maybe there was a pod car that would fit her? Or… well, those would be shut down as well. No traffic on the roads, no golems sending traffic across the rails.

Wessel grit his teeth and continued to wait. A few of the people trickled out, including all those who were using the lights on their smartwatches. Wessel had nowhere to go. He stayed put.

“The storm seems to be dying down for now,” Aizi said. “All is quiet. I have reached the first floor, and so far, I have not seen Dad Cote.”

“It’s just Dad,” Wessel muttered. “Everyone else calls him Mr. Cote, but my name for him is Dad.”


Wessel stood. If the storm had let up for now, it was time to go. Or, at least, time to figure out what to do.

“Careful out there, kid,” the short bald guy said as he began to climb the stairs. “Don’t go near the center of the tower. It ain’t stable enough.” After a pause, he said, “It’d be better if you stayed and waited for your daddy or mommy to get here.”

“Okay,” Wessel said, then continued climbing the stairs. He pushed out into the dim lobby of the plant tower. Some light came in the broken windows, but that was it. The tower was still dead. Through the open doorway into the tower center, Wessel could see the rotating bar. It wasn’t moving. It wouldn’t move, without a lot of work done.

It was so weird, how dim everything was. How dead it felt.

A few men were already picking up glass, and assessing the damage to the tower. A woman was at the desk, pulling out papers and trying to organize, fretting over each thing that no longer worked.

The air was heavy with the gloom of the storm, of the city that had ground to a halt, of the common silence. Thunder continued to rumble in the distance.

Aizi was standing by the entrance, her armor gleaming. She stood as still as a statue as he approached. That made sense. She wouldn’t want to spend extra power to do anything that wasn’t required.

“Um… I’m going to check outside,” Wessel said.

Aizi said nothing to acknowledge him. Wessel felt his heart skip a beat.

“You-you aren’t out of power, are you?” He didn’t know what he’d do if she was.

“No,” Aizi said. “I am conserving it.”

Wessel exhaled. “Okay. Be right back.”

He headed past the lobby for the entrance of the building. The arched doorway led back out into the outside world. Wessel got his first eyeful of the destruction that had come upon the city.

The streets were almost clear of people. The doorman that had guarded the entrance was gone. What lay beyond the front steps of the plant tower was debris, and lots of it. Chunks of wood, twisted pieces of what used to be the transport railing, bits of stone and wire, pieces of road signs, and a sprinkling of glass from lights and windows. Buildings were still standing, but they had been damaged in one way or another. Windows, tiles, railings, anything that wasn’t held together with steel and concrete was upended or torn off. The pod cars in the street were demolished, pushed up against buildings or lying upside-down in the road. They wouldn’t be recovered. Some older, more beat-up golems were left in the streets as well, out of power. It looked like someone had taken a building-sized wrecking ball and dragged it through the streets. A total mess.

Ankle-deep puddles continued to drain into gutters, making a gurgling sound. The ground was wet everywhere, drenched from the sudden storm. Though the sky was still heavily overcast with dark gray clouds, it was no longer raining. The tension in the air from before was almost gone. Thunder rumbled in the distance.

Everything was so, so still. Like in the tower. Dead. The power zone was gone.

Wessel returned to Aizi, shaking his head.

“What do you want to do?” she asked.

“I wanna go home.” He swallowed a lump of fear and put his back against Aizi’s chassis. “It’ll be alright there. Everything is there.”

“Not your father,” Aizi said. “Would you rather look for him?”

“I know where home is,” Wessel said. “I don’t know where Dad is, if he wasn’t on the stairs or in the basement. I should do what I know how to do.”

“If that is what you desire.”

Wessel furrowed his brow. What other options did he have? It was the only thing he could do. Go home, be safe, meet up with family. Together they could try to figure out what to do next.

But Aizi wouldn’t make it that far.

“How?” he asked. “How will we get home?”

“I need more power than I have to get that far,” Aizi said. She fell silent, offering no suggestions. Still no movement.

Wessel thumped his head back against her metal carapace. There wasn’t enough power to get home. He was lucky Aizi was still functioning at all, with the tower down. She’d been designed to adapt, and she was handling the loss of power well for the moment. If there was some way to recharge her, he’d be fine. He thought back to what he’d seen. A plan. He needed a plan.

“The pod cars,” he whispered. “Can you drain their leftover power, recharge yourself some on the way?”

Aizi shifted, and one of her hands swiveled and locked into place. A flat, slick metal surface protruded from her palm. “I am able to do that, to some extent. How many cars could you see from the entrance?”

“About five.” Wessel frowned. “Not much traffic, with the storms.”

“Given the average traffic density of this city, and of the path we must take, factoring in the number of intact pods you saw… I think we have a forty-seven percent chance of making it there.”

Wessel’s heart sank. “Is that all?”

“That is all. My power quickly drains with movement, and I had not stored a reserve before the storm came in. If I run out during any stretch, I will lose control on the spot. At that point, we will have failed.”

“Okay.” Wessel clenched his fists, then strode toward the exit. “Let’s do it.”

Aizi quietly followed along behind.

As they exited the broken electric plant, Aizi made a beeline to the nearest pod car. She placed the flat surface of her palm on the nearest upturned car, and a flicker of sparks jumped from the car’s surface to her.

It didn’t look like much power to Wessel, but they had a decent chance of making it home. He followed along.

Aizi led them in a zig-zag path down the ruined street, calmly heading for each downed vehicle and tapping them once for their power. Wessel held his breath as they approached each one, expecting her to stop and sag in powerless defeat. But each time, the sparks flew and Aizi set off again.

There were others in the streets, checking out the damages. More of them, as the two got further from the tower. The damage wasn’t as bad out here, which meant there weren’t as many cars, but they also didn’t have to navigate around rubble or railings.

Five miles or so. That was how far they had to go. Even under better circumstances, it would have taken almost an hour and a half. With the two of them stopping at each car?

Wessel’s stomach began to growl. His mouth was dry, and he wasn’t hurting for water, but seeing it all around him was just the worst.

On top of that, how long had it been since he’d been in a restroom? He didn’t want to think about that too hard, but it was there. The need.

“Aizi,” he said, turning his face away from the puddles and toward a fast-food station they were passing. The place looked closed down, though there were some people inside. “Do you think we could stop for a second? Your power doesn’t drain if you’re still, right?”

There was no answer.

“Aizi?” Wessel looked back for just a moment. Aizi was still. She had stopped midstride, pulling her feet into a standing position. Licking his lips, Wessel stepped back toward her. “Hey,” he said, “If we’re stopping, you have to let me know. Otherwise, I’d think— I’d… think…”

His breath caught. Suddenly, he felt more alone than he’d ever felt in his life. He stepped up and touched Aizi, and looked up into her eyes. There was no spark, no recognition.

Aizi was gone.

Wessel dropped down on his knees, and his hand still down her metal leg until he was holding onto her feet. He stayed there, on the pavement, staring numbly at the burnished gold metal. He couldn’t bring himself to speak. With dull fingers, he tapped at his watch. The charge he’d been saving went to making a call to his father, but after two rings it went out, leaving him alone.

Aizi was gone, and she was not coming back without the power zone running.

She wasn’t coming back.

Next Chapter

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s