Throwback Thursday: Broken


Will Smith in I, Robot (2004)

So, in my attempt to create more online content and just be a better author, I’m trying a new feature called “Throwback Thursday,” where I feature chapters/short stories/snippets of stuff that I abandoned for one reason or another. I didn’t know where some of them were going. Others felt too big for the few pages I tried to fit them on. Others I just don’t know what to do with.


I want to show case a few things with this feature. For one thing, I want to show that it’s okay to try something different if a current project isn’t working out. It’s also okay to leave something alone come back to it. Each story has its own journey, so I thought I’d share a few that are still in transit.

First off, we have “Broken.” It came about when I was still trying to write soft sci-fi, which is still an idea in the back of my head. Urban fantasy just comes much easier to me, so that’s what I’m sticking with for now. I started working on this piece when I was just coming into myself as a queer individual and, looking back, it wasn’t going in the sort of direction I would want in a time when so many of us are still struggling to be seen.

With a little world building, reworking of the themes and ideas, and much better writing, it could have some potential. We’ll see. 🙂


The lack of sleep hit me about halfway through the shift. Between the muggy July heat and the rippling of the stream, it’s a wonder I stayed awake that long. The stillness of night didn’t help either. The crickets were oddly quiet: a sure sign of a coming storm.
Allen noticed my nodding and splashed me with stream water. “Wake up, sleepy head. What have I told you about recharging on time?”

I dodged out of the water’s way. There aren’t any compromises in my skin, but water made me nervous. You’d think it was an android thing, but it’s not. It’s just a me thing. You’d also be surprised how most of us adapt to the outdoors. It’s all the space to grow, I suppose. Most of us run on solar-powered batteries too, so that helps.

“I recharge on time,” I argued. “It’s staying in sleep mode that doesn’t seem to work. Knew I shouldn’t have taken this blasted shift.”

“What, did you forget to set your timer or something?”

“I set it right. My brain never really shuts down, I guess.”

Allen chuckled. “You sound like an Ogre.”

“Damn right I do. Proud of it too—”

The sound of snapping branches across the stream grabbed our attention.

Guns drawn and night vision on, we take aim.

Stillness reigns again. Minutes pass. Bundle by bundle, my muscles begin to ease. I glance at Allen and see that he’s in the process of easing up too.

His expression relaxed last. “Must have been a dear or something.”

“Most likely,” I answered, slinging my rifle back over my shoulder. “No one ever enters or attacks the village from this wa—”

A young tree splintered and fell, sending a humanoid figure tumbling into the stream, falling to its hands and knees in the icy water. Judging by the tattered dress, it was female. A soprano timbre confirmed it as she threw up her hands. “Don’t shoot! I’m not armed! Just lost.”

We drew our guns again in spite of how harmless she looked. Last winter, a neighboring village tried to use kid-droids as a distraction while they tied to steal weapons and tools.

Being shot at by an android that looks ten messes with your head, let me tell you.

Still couldn’t help but notice how beautiful those blue eyes were, though.

Allen’s voice made me focus again. “Bull shit,” he growled. “No one’s ‘just lost’ out here..”

“I was following a trail,” she explained. “I admit I don’t know where it was going, but I just needed to get away.”

“From who?”

“The City.”

It’s believable enough, making it the perfect lie. That’s not what made me suspicious, though. It was the chrome plates against her temples. They clashed with the rest of her. Her dress was in ruins, but it must have been a nice evening gown originally, judging by the fabric flowing in the stream and the few sewn-in pearls that remain. She was barefoot, so it would be safe to assume she had been wearing shoes that were meant to be admired rather than used. She’s a bit on the curvy side–a look that the upper classes picked up again when food became limited and tightly controlled. Androids don’t dress up and we usually have very simplistic designs.

With a few blinks, Allen’s vision changed and his eyes widened. “Holy shit. Chris, she’s an Ogre with wiring. Brain and most of the body’s organic, but with synthetic reinforcements pretty much everywhere.”

The girl forgot her fear long enough to look offended. It wasn’t the nicest way to shorten “Organic,” but hell if we cared. Trying to destroy us when we started thinking for ourselves wasn’t very nice neither.

I ignore her expression and shake my head at Allen’s words. “That’s impossible.”

Allen smirks. “That’s what they said about us.”


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