Opening day at the fair had been a marked success and fair-goers from all around would stand in line to pay the admission. From the small window, his view from inside the ticket shack was just big enough to see a couple of faces at a time. One by one, each ticket holder would step up onto the deck, reaching up with their ticket in hand to meet his, as he would then tear the stub in half at the perforation and give them back their half. That was all he had to do and for the most part was an easy task, he had become used to the shrills and laughter while the music played in in the background, the smell of fresh popcorn, hot dogs and cotton candy filed the night air along with the rhythmic ching ‘n ching sounds of the arcade games being played nearby. So used to the predictable come and go, to and from the small window, that sometimes he could even watch whatever was on the portable tv just a few feet over — smartphones and the digital age didn’t interest him much because of the tracking methods and privacy intrusion — and there was an old desk phone in the ticket shack too that hadn’t rang in years. But this night would change his life forever.
It was a clear night with the stars shining brightly, as if illuminating the rides and their flashing lights more intensely and checking in this evening he settled into the routine of things. His shift would be four hours and then his co-worker would then take his place while he walked the fairgrounds to monitor or offer help should anyone need assistance with anything. Most of the time spent was giving change or directions to the restrooms. The rattling chains coming off the iron gates signaled the opening and just like that the sounds of the fair-goers stepping up onto the wooden deck already had the first two faces at his window. Mostly teenagers and young adults would make up the attending crowd, filled with excitement and animation as they would point and shriek with excitement. The upbeat atmosphere was enthusiastic, filled with the excitement of chills, energy and adventure. After passing the ticket shack with half of the ticket he had returned to them, they would dart and dash to the left and to the right, disappearing into the maze of rides, lights, music and food. They were fun to watch and he enjoyed the vibes from the young crowd. Sitting down he reached to turn on the portable tv, smiling to himself because all of this brought back memories of days long past, back when he was a younger man and remembering feeling the same way then when he went to the fair.
A few minutes later, the small tv began hazing in and out, as he tried adjusting the antennas, he turned to see if it was still plugged in and was at that moment that he realized there were two faces at his window. Their stillness and lack of animation was odd, he thought maybe they were scared and that this might be their first time at the fair. The teenage boy and girl were dressed as if right from a storybook or movie set, with the red haired boy wearing a red baseball cap, striped red & white shirt and blue suspenders. The young girl was quite different in contrast to the younger boy, wearing a long vintage style one piece dress, silky off white in color, striking black hair fixed into pigtails and thick rimmed glasses that looked like they were purchased at a costume store. Time seemed to stand still and he forgot all about the tv as they reached upwards with their tickets in hand. As he reached out to accept their half, he couldn’t take his eyes off their eyes. Their eyes showed no movements, not even blinking and their eye color was like nothing he had ever seen before. The boy had pale blue opaque white eyes with little color and the hint of a tiny pupil. The girl was again strikingly different from the boy, with oversized large black eyes that were so dark there were no visible pupils.
Finally returning the ticket stub to them, he watched them step off the deck, their movements were mechanical and their very presence was eerie. There were no more fair-goers in line as he stood there in silence, playing the whole encounter again in his mind. He was jolted back to reality when the tv came back on with the volume blasting as loud as it could play, as he scrambled to turn it down, the phone rang just once and it too was set on high. The lights above the rides flickered some too but the rides kept a whiz with the sounds of shrilling laughter never fading. Moments later all would return back to normal as he got himself back together. Still frazzled by the perplexing series of occurrences as his co-worker arrived to take over the last four hours of their shift, and with that he stepped outside and down off the deck, into the night in search of the last two ticket holders.
It didn’t take him long to spot them as they were going into the house of mirrors and he made it just around back to where the private maintenance door was, unlocking and letting himself in. He could survey the whole place from upstairs where the surveillance monitors provided views from all angles, the cameras were located above the mirrored area and hidden from view in the darkness. There he found them, but as if the night couldn’t get any more bizarre, he noticed them not looking in the mirrors at all, but looking upwards above the mirrored area. There would be no way — he thought — for the teen boy and girl to find the small hidden cameras, but it sure looked as if they were looking right up at him as he zoomed in for a close-up shot. Seeing now that not only were they looking right up at him, the reflection of them in the mirror behind them didn’t show them at all in their physical being, but it did show what appeared to be the metal structure of a mechanical skeleton, like viewing an x-ray. As the boy and girl turned around to see the mirror reflection behind them, another close-up view revealed the same eyes that he previously had stared into earlier back at the ticket shack.
He was beginning to realize what he already knew, that he had been in the presence of a generated life form — the man made creation of a physical being combined with harvested artificial intelligence — mechanical humanoid clones . . . The teen boy and girl were evidence of an experimental creation in progress, but not yet perfect specimens. Knowing that the teens would possess senses that were far beyond human capabilities also told him that they were aware of his presence upstairs, along with the security camera system he was using. Time once again seemed to stand still as he couldn’t take his eyes away from them, intensely waiting to see what their next move would be and after a few quiet moments, they headed for the exit door.
Back downstairs and out into the night yet again to catch up to the elusive teens he went. The other fair-goers all were so preoccupied with their smartphones, ongoing fun, food and music that no one seemed to have noticed anything peculiar going on, particularly the mecha-noid teens . . . Once again he spotted them, this time on the other side of the fencing surrounding the fairground property, appearing to be leaving through the neighboring vacant field. He would have to move quickly before they would get too far ahead and out of sight, unlocking one of the exit gates he scurried to catch up to them.
Thinking he may have lost them, he noticed the lights farther up ahead just past a ridge where there was a cluster of trees, crouching down just at the ridge he saw a semi-truck and trailer with the loading ramp dropped down as he continued to watch intensely for any sign of the teen boy and girl. Then they finally appeared, walking up the ramp to the trailer and turning on the inside light to reveal rows of fixed bucket style seating in lines of four as far back as he could see. There must have been about a hundred or more individuals seat-belted in them as they sat motionless, without a sound to be heard. All lavishly dressed in vintage style clothing, the women wearing similar styles of dress from the same era as the girl, the men were also dressed very well in vintage suits while other men were dressed as farmers and factory workers. The youngsters were dressed for playtime and sports, much like the boy, all a bit overdone, as if their information and impression of humans came right out of the clothing catalogs from that time period.
——– * ——–
The infiltration of a generated life form had long been studied by interplanetary tech-science and the idea of replicating a human life form was in the early stages of development. Getting one to mimic human gestures, eye movements and critical thinking was yet to be and by getting the mecha-noids out among the population, they could record the human environment and then be played back from a memory cell that replaced the human brain, housed inside the metal skull. Eventually the perfect specimen would be created, identifying so well into the human population that no one would be aware that a generated humanoid clone with harvested artificial intelligence could be sitting right next to them.
The theory behind all of this however was simple to understand . . . With the distraction of the human population into their smartphones and other digital devices, along with social interaction all being acted out and recorded online, actual physical human social interaction, eye contact, meaningful gestures and critical thinking had all been abandoned by a digitized society that had become cyborgs, attached to the digital revolution, while trading in their privacy for social media entertainment . . . So the idea to infiltrate and essentially control the human population could be accomplished easily because human interaction had become so minimal and limited.
——– * ——–
The girl, aware of his presence just over the ridge, turned to face his direction with the boy next to her, holding his hand she extended her other hand outward as if inviting him inside the trailer. What appeared to be a shooting star –or something else perhaps — dashed through the night sky, casting a sparkle in her eyes as she blinked.
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