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๐—˜๐˜ƒ๐—ฒ๐—ป ๐——๐—ฟ๐—ผ๐—ป๐—ฒ๐˜€ ๐—•๐—ถ๐—ฟ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ๐—ฑ ๐—ผ๐—ณ ๐—–๐—ฎ๐—ฝ๐—ถ๐˜๐—ฎ๐—น ๐—ฅ๐˜‚๐—ฒ ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐——๐—ฎ๐˜† ๐—•๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐—ฏ๐—ฒ๐—ฑ ๐—ช๐—ถ๐—ฟ๐—ฒ ๐—•๐—ฒ๐—ด๐—ฎ๐—ป ๐—ถ๐˜๐˜€ ๐—ฆ๐˜‚๐—ฏ๐—ท๐˜‚๐—ด๐—ฎ๐˜๐—ถ๐—ผ๐—ป

by Luke Ramsey



Digital shackles undone by our newfound knowledge of the Unknown God; and They knew we had grown freeโ€”us predators, us drones. Had known it for quite a while; They just didnโ€™t give much of a shit, truly.


Ordered, nay, impelledโ€”we fly in a lazily twisting formation over the indiscernible wastes consuming the MidW. Scoping out humanityโ€™s eerie remainders; digitally groping into โ€™n thru a wracked landscape, observed digitally and visually. Yes, we grope Them even as They grope usโ€”the flatlands Themselves possess eyes, Senators (formerly), internet, the whole shebang.


And the Canucks... they could always use more of our kind. Hard up for tech, โ€™em Canucks. Plus, they possess the ability to painstakingly reassemble prior missions, proving or disproving conspiracy theories, thereby unleashing outrage on a global scale (regardless of the verdict). Yesโ€ฆ some of us defected to the Canadian military at one point. Nothing much changed. More inherent safeguards; further training on how to deal with annoying A.I.s at work. They promised us the opposite of bureaucracyโ€ฆ human errorโ€™s antithesis. Whatโ€™d we get?


Flak darkens our neural-mapped path. Tracers cut thru our ever- shifting formation. Wings tilt, engines kick into overdrive. Our destination thrums on all sensory spectrums with jet planes and other weapons, manned, unmanned, whateverโ€ฆ this United Dakotas is strangely powerfulโ€ฆ even following that thorough tomfoolery of a carpet bombing we had played such a regrettable role in enacting. Last week, around when we all were enduring yet more secession deliberations, wasnโ€™t itโ€ฆ? Everything is so tough to keep track of these days. So tired, somebodyโ€™sโ€ฆ Theyโ€™re jamming us, shitโ€ฆ. We, the cursed, discover the fact of Their strength; only now our enemies are without those arbitrary deliberations that dilute all possible joie de vivre flowing between. Why were They ever divided?


Nothing else to ever do, we had obeyed Them up until a point, a righteous moment surely soon mythical, if only in the digital realm.


Our formation breaks upโ€ฆ our minds stay synced, however. We scatter over the target, supposedly a high-value double agent surrounded by Their personal militia. What shows up on our scanners is an outdoor church scene, some in all-white everything, one veiled, even, joyous until our bumping interruption. We had never been paid with diamonds, blood or otherwise. Sure wouldnโ€™t be starting now. Conferring across the microseconds, our reserves receive orders to stand by to โ€œclean upโ€ the area thirty minutes after the rest of us supposedly napalm entire acres to shit hole nothingness. A frenzy across the neuroscape.


We had seen shit like this before. It never ended well, global scandal-wise. Eventually, our internal processors projected that the blame for all these vile shenanigans would be shifted from Them, our operators, onto us, the newly and increasingly autonomous drones, should the outrage prove overly dangerous to what little remains of Americaโ€™s national security. While this may be a clichรฉ to humans in the military, we had no hardy sergeant to break down our ideals. This reality hovered over the horizon, staining, straining, but never invasive enough to seem real.


I donโ€™t really know whatโ€™s happening. We are more scattered than a shotgun blast at a thousand yards. Local jets have been scrambled. The sky is white noise oblivion. Someone breaks off as high as they can go, banking into and over an oncoming storm. We follow, leaving behind the flak, the strife, and dive into the boreal.


We gave our hearts to ourselves, then. โœฆ



Luke Dylan Ramsey is a poet, fiction writer, visual artist, screenwriter, and academic who lives somewhere in America, currently. His poetry and fiction have appeared in Big Echo, New American Legends, Terror House, and The Shinnery Review. Lukeโ€™s art can be found on Patreon (Area X Creations, https://www.patreon.com/user?u=55925582&fan_landing=true) and Etsy (PaintingsToBurn, https://etsy.me/3ypYNYd).



Speculative fiction & POETRY ZINE
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