Concept Art Writing Prompt: The Wall of Helmets

Illustration for article titled Concept Art Writing Prompt: The Wall of Helmets

In a shadowy corner, lit by a strand of blue and purple lights, sits the wall of heads. Perhaps they are trophies from a long-forgotten war, perhaps helmets that have been retired, perhaps robotic heads waiting for someone to talk to.

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This piece, by concept artist Eddie Del Rio, was actually made for the film Mars Needs Moms (via Concept Art World). See what story this inspires you to write and post it in the comments.

Belmo hated visiting the Oracle. He could never remember Daniela's instructions about the heads. Was it the first head that spoke the truth you didn't want to hear? Or did it speak with the voice of a worried mother? There were procedures, specific questions you could ask each head in order to suss out which head was which, but Belmo didn't have the patience for such games.

"Where is Daniela?" he demanded, as if the Oracle had taken her itself.

The fifth head immediately chirped up. "Daniela Aarons of Chicago, Earth, is in sector 346, aboard the Jacobi. Daniela Aarons of Singapore, Earth, is in Hong Kong at the Mandarin Hotel, located at…"

"Enough!" Belmo wagged a finger at the head. "You're the head who talks too much."

"Ooh!" The third head began jerking its head up and down. "He doesn't know which head is which!"

"Now, now," cooed the seventh head. "I'm sure he's just stressed. Now dear, tell us what's wrong."

Belmo covered his face. "Daniela, she…" He remembered the fifth head. "Daniela Setrakian. Of Aldrin City, Mars. We were at Curiosity Landing, and she just vanished. I don't know where she is." He glanced down at the seventh head. "I'm so worried."

"There, there," said the seventh head. "It'll be okay."

"Don't tell him that!" snapped the eighth head. "Empty platitudes won't do him any good. Look," the head telescoped its neck out a few feet, "you're better off without her. Go to Clarke Station, a little bar called HAL's. There will be a girl there, eight feet tall with skin dyed blue. She'll be the best sex of your wretched little life, believe me."

Belmo pushed the eighth head back to the wall, still trying to appeal to the seventh. "Just tell me she's okay."

"How did she seem when you last saw her?" asked the second head. "What did she have with her?"

"Okay, I guess?" Belmo let out a small chuckle. "She bought me a bacon-wrapped soya kabob, which she never does. She had her rucksack with her. Said she was worried her stuff would get stolen from the hotel."

All the heads murmured at once. Even the third head sounded a little sad.

"What?" Belmo asked.

And the first head replied, "If she wanted you to find her, you would."

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The uncomfortable silence hung in the air.

"Uh, sarge, can I ask a question?" The rookie squeaked.

"Sure, kid. " The stereotypical gruff all-knowing sarge replied gently.

"Uh, what are we doing here, and what are those?"

The kid pointed his chin at the "wall of helmets".

"Kid, those are former squadmates of team bravo."

The rookie's eyes almost popped out of his head. You can see him couldn't quite decide whether to panic and run, or stay and be fascinated by the macabre situation.

"That one on the upper left, kid, is Darryl See." Sarge clapped the rookie in the shoulder. "He bought it in our last fight, opened up a spot for you, in fact."

"But, but... " the Rookie stammered. "Shouldn't that be buried or something?"

"Ah, but you see, kid, these armor suits we wear? You talk to it and all, sure. But that AI is a learning AI. They kinda... absorb your personality after a while. If you're nice to it, it'll be nice to you. If you treat it rough, it will be rough. If you died, the suit retain a bit of who you are. " The sarge sighed, looking almost old.

"Sometimes, when everybody's asleep, I sometimes come down, wear one of these helmets, and talk to an old friend."

The rookie's chin just dropped down and drool is about to fall out of his mouth. He looked like he's about to go into a seizure.

The sarge suddenly had a change of demeanor, "Just messing with you, kid." He slapped the rookie in the back. "It did give you a funny mental image, huh? Ha!"

The kid gave a few chuckles, as he couldn't quite decide if the sarge is really crazy, or just PTSD.

"Come on, kid, the mess hall's this way."

The rookie followed behind, then called out, "But sarge, what are the helmets doing here?"

The sarge turned around and looked directly into the rookie's face, "I already told you, kid."

"But you also said you're messing with me, sarge."

"Well, there's a bit of both. "

"But which part is which?"

"That's for me to know and for you to find out, kid. Let's go before charlie team drank all the good beer."

The rookie followed meekly, but couldn't resist taking another look back as "the wall".

Further research is required.