Tag Archives: fiction

Knarrian’s hesitation

“Flukia! Flukia wake up!” Abhain lightly shook her arm as she began to rouse.

“I’m awake, barely. How long have we been out?” Flukia slowly opened her eyes.

“I don’t know, all of the clocks have stopped.”

“Their magic is gone, all enchantments will be.”

“The people…”  Abhain fell out of his kneeling position as he came to the realization.

 

“They’re all dead.” Flukia managed to pull herself up enough to lean on the wall. “Everyone around the lake will be dead.”

“But we survived?”

“Because we’re young and inside this building, the infused bricks took the brunt.”

“There could be other people then…?”

“Not in Sothwood, only the city walls were designed to withstand magical attacks.”

“But the magic would have just gone over top of them…”

 

They sat in silence for a while. Flukia had just noticed that her dress was white again, it was to be expected.

 

It only took a minute for her strength to return to her and once it had she leapt to her feet, crunching the broken glass. She looked out the window.

 

“We’re still in the else-plane, this wasn’t a phase shift, someone pushed us through.”

“Who could have the power? Who would do such a thing?”

“I don’t know…” Flukia stared out the window taking in the devastation.

 

The lake was drained, only piles of sand and dead red algae. The grass was gone leaving behind only blackened dirt, the trees were bare and their bark as white as Flukia’s dress.

 

She had forgotten that all life on the mortal-plane was dependant on magic, it was their life force. This hadn’t just killed the people, it had killed the very ground they walked on.

 

“We need to go.” Flukia turned back to Abhain.

“Where? Where would be any better?”

“Abby, it’s not just Guardian’s that drain magic, the Else-plane itself is also doing it. We might generate enough to survive but this building doesn’t.”
“What do you mean?”

“The dirt and rock and clay around us will dissipate here, the magic that holds them together is breaking down.” Abhain just nodded, Flukia helped him to his feet.

 

“I should grab my stuff…”
“Believe me, anything you think you might need you wont, or it’s already gone.”

 

Abhain was still uneasy on his feet so Flukia held him up as they half stumbled down the stairs.

 

“Aquiquese!” He shouted the moment they reached the bottom step. Pulling himself off of Flukia he ran awkwardly to the front desk. He fell back to his knees. “Why? She wasn’t that much older than us!”

“She was old enough Abhain.” Flukia put her hand on his shoulder. She wanted to give him the time to grieve but she knew that they didn’t have it.

 

There was a soft rumbling sound coming from outside. Like distant thunder. At first Flukia thought it was the northern storm ever present in the else-plane but she realized they were far too south for that. She let go of Abhain and ran outside.

 

Sothwood city had started to crumble, several of the tallest buildings had fallen, the others that were visible at this distance were noticeably off kilter.

 

Flukia looked down at the road, she could see the cart she had arrived in. It was at the end of sharp turn on its side, the horses were grazing near it, they were now in their true form, pale white with bone spikes protruding from their backs, it wasn’t magic keeping them here. They turned as if to look at her, as if to ask something. Flukia ran back inside.

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I dunno, A Taidan thing

Hyperspace transit isn’t the only way to travel. Obviously I could have just as easily fired up my own hyperspace drive to fly to the Taidan system. It just would have taken me a few months even with the fastest drive on the market.

 

Top speed for a hyperspace drive is relative in the deepest sense of the word. Initially the idea of hyperspace travel meant pushing your ship onto another plain called sub-space. Simply another dimension that the laws of momentum weren’t included in. However no dimension like this has ever been found.

 

Instead we adopted the term to mean our space warping technology, sometimes just called warp drives by those who like to feel superior. What a hyperspace drive does is pull the spacetime around your ship, so that moving at a regular speed still allows you to travel vast distances in a short amount of time. The ‘fastest’ hyperspace drive is just able to pull more spacetime without tearing your ship inside out.

 

Hyperspace drivers are effective for the most part. Soon we found that even that was not fast enough. It only took a decade before humans had settled so far out that traversing to the edge of explored space took months.

 

It was about the same time that the interplanetary government broke down. It wasn’t a coup or a rebellion like the general public like to rumor. There were just too many people. There were enough heads of state that they could have taken up a city by themselves. Trying to elect a central cabinet for the entire human empire would mean Eight hundred trillion voters, an election campaign would take years if you were expected to hold a rally in every major city.

 

So they gave up. It took a while to get back into a steady rhythm but they got there. Planets now control their own governments, in turn those governments vote on system wide governments and those vote on empire wide governments.

 

While this works fairly well in the central planets, the outer colonies often end up with a law of their own for at least a century after being founded. Most planet seeders are trying to escape the long arm of the law, not extend it.

 

This is the case with the Taidan homeworld founded only twelve years ago, the elected government is likely being paid off by some fat cat with a fetish for distopias. They keep laws strict and favour big business.

 

Now able to see the planet, locally named Hiigara, I could make out its reddy brown cloud cover. One couldn’t be blamed for thinking the local industry caused this but this was how the planet was found. The same corrupted government halting atmosphere cleaner production.

 

The existence of an alien culture has attracted archaeological and tourist attention but not central government. I suppose that it wouldn’t be worth the publicity to try and step in this early in their development.

 

Hiigara has two moons, Kushan is in a deteriorating orbit and is going to collide with the planet in about quarter of a century. There are plans to push it back out once it gets close enough but currently its being mined as a good source of Oxygen and Silicates for Hiigara.

 

The other moon, with a disputed name has a similar composure and is also being mined to a lesser extent. It is theorized that these two moons used to be a single body but had been split in half long before the Taidan had emerged as a species.

 

Not much is known about the Taidan, even now. While we have managed to translate some of their texts we don’t know what happened to them. Most evidence points to a worldwide plague but some still believe that they had left due to a worldwide catastrophe. It’s a common joke to say “yeah, the plague.” We know they had the knowledge to see the incoming moon but none of their notes on it seem to hold it in great urgency.

 

They certainly had not developed any form of hyperspace technology, the power requirements for space time manipulation leaves a much bigger mark.

 

It didn’t take long for mass speculation. I haven’t decided what I believe but I’m fairly sure that they didn’t awaken an ancient six dimensional being slumbering in another dimension who proceeded to consume the life force of their planet.

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Not Completely Soulless 4

Sari leaned on the building on the other side of the alley. She patted down the pockets of the coat she was wearing looking for something. It was a men’s small in a dark grey, Cherise was who had initially taken her clothes shopping and had suggested male clothes for more pockets.
Sari was very fond of having places to put things.

From her left pocket she pulled out a packet of cigarettes, removed one and returned the packet to her coat. She continued to pat down herself looking for something else.

 

“Here.” Cherise interrupted noticing Sari’s increasing search speed. Cherise brought up her arms holding her left hand with her palm facing towards herself. She moved her right hand down past her left as though going into a bag that she pretended to hold. Her right hand disappeared as it past the threshold of her left.

 

She brought it back up and it reappeared now holding a light blue safety lighter.

 

“Wouldn’t pyromancy be better?” Sari asked as she lit her cigarette.

“I don’t need to set things on fire very often.”

“Less often than you need to return lost things?”

“Fair point, but I am working on my own endless pocket.” Cherise leaned on the other side of the alley moving her right hand in and out of wherever it went beyond her left arm.

 

“Times really have changed, we never needed to harness magic before.”

“No we just thought we were above it. But more often than not mages witches and warlocks could find a way to beat us.”

“Yeah, I know.”

“Just look at Hank, he doesn’t need a curse to be immortal and he’s not abnormally weak to precious metals”

“or balls of string.”

 

Sari took a long drag on her cigarette. She didn’t mind the habit other than how expensive it was. Even if she could get cancer it wouldn’t kill her. The smell wouldn’t stick to her, it wouldn’t ruin her teeth and the addiction could never form. However the nicotine would give her a short high similar to that of completely consuming a soul casing.

 

There was a time that ravishing a human soul was necessary for Sari to stay alive. With age that dissipated now simply accepting a person’s radiant energy was enough. Even being without it for several days would just put her back into her sleeping state, like her time in the coffin.

 

“So what else were you doing here? Helping with deliveries would only take up an hour or two in the morning.”

“I was going to pop in to help then go shopping. Been saving for some furniture.”

“Well go on then, don’t hang around here.”

“Nowhere is open for like another hour.”

 

*

 

Sari hung around outside smoking cigarettes for a few minutes until she realized she could hang out inside a cafe instead.

 

She went to the nearest one and ordered a Flat White.

 

Although she had tried coffee before her time in the coffin it wasn’t nearly as popular. At the time she had thought it was bitter and could have used something to mellow it out, she had similar opinions to what had been made of the cacao bean during her time in spain before leaving for the new world.

 

Cow’s milk that had been steamed and bubbled probably would not have come to mind. Looking at it now she thought it was probably the idea of a master apothecary but who had left out the magic ingredient when selling the recipe.

 

Supposedly this kind of coffee was invented in this part of the world that Sari found herself in. A clever modification on those types that had come before it.

 

The human’s on this land are very fond of their coffee and Sari could see why. It tasted amazing and would often give her the same buzz as a cigarette only more mellow and long lasting.

 

Being in the coffin for over three hundred years didn’t seem like much time, barely a quarter of the time since she’d been born. But it was a long time for the mortals. Their advancement did not shock her as much as Hank thought it would. Automobiles, cell phones and spaceships are fantastic in comparison to what life was like before but no more amazing than what she had seen magic perform.

 

Sari was witness to the ignorance of her forebears that believed themselves greater than mortals because they were eternal. It was their unwillingness to change that got them all killed. So much for immortal. Sari refused to let that be her end.

 

“Is this seat taken?” Asked a man in a business suit cutting through her fog of thought.

“N-No, it’s not.” The noise of the cafe cutting back in.

 

Sari expected him to take the seat to another table as would normally happen in his circumstance. He sat down in front of her.

 

“Uh?” She couldn’t help but let out an unsure sound. Her shimmer had been turned back on and was at a level which would make any regular human ignore her.

“My apologies, I didn’t mean to startle you.” He had a smooth face but he did not look young, his hair was short slick dark brown and pulled back tightly. The black suit was perfectly cut and retained a perfect shape even as he sat down.

 

“What are you doing here Demon?” Sari finally caught on. This was no mortal, it was another broken soul but inside someone else’s meat puppet.

“Caught up on the new words then I see. I live here. What are you doing here Vampire?”

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Space police in space

They say that fifty percent of all humans are trapped in the Matrix. Not trapped in the, they can’t get out, kind of way. Just in the, they don’t want to leave, kind of way.

The Matrix is virtual world, they say it was named from an old movie but it’s really from something even older than that. A sci-fi television show, one of the first, the Matrix was an artificial, alien after-life. Instead of dying and going on, the aliens would be uploaded to the Matrix. Preserved for all of time and could even be returned to life from it.

The Matrix we have is a little like that I think. At some point in at least half of all people’s lives they decide they don’t like the world as it is. So they sell up all of their belongings, get the required augmentation added and have their consciousness uploaded. It’s a slow process converting a human brain to digital, I imagine in the early days the people who didn’t want it could have thought of it as dying.

Dying, but in a way where you could still see your family on weekends. And you always go what you think heaven would be.

Half seems like it would be a lot. It is, but what I mean is, it’s actually not. A rough census of the human inter-planetary empire puts the population at about eight hundred trillion. So that still leaves four hundred trillion people, still using at least one body.

Walking around on the surface of planets, moons and asteroids. Floating through space in orbiting platforms, mining rigs and hyperspace transit rings. Piloting ships to new worlds, holiday planets and into the side of a transit ring.

I yelled at the grey wall of The Crux in front of me. No-one nearby could hear me, I was staying out of the voice lobbies of the common citizen. I’m sure there was another one or two augmented officers in upper orbit who were quite amused by my history of the Matrix but had thought it best to not reply.

From my AR view outside I could see what was unfolding.

The Transit ring itself was big enough to send a small moon across the galaxy but for commercial flights there were a couple hundred smaller ones attached to the side. Each with the ability to connect to similar rings on this side of Sagittarius A* at the center of the Milky Way.

We can squeeze the fabric of space to travel billions of lightyears in seconds, but we couldn’t stop some people from damaging the pinnacle of scientific exploration.

At least a dozen housing units were between me and my designated departure ring. At least one of them had not lined themselves up correctly and had plowed through the ring as it was turned on. My access to the alerts dashboard of the transit system had given me that much information. And I could see the carnage that was left behind.

Debris was blooming out from the impact like a slow bubble of metal and plastic. There were automated clean-up units already floating out from the ring to begin recycling. One of the terms and conditions of a hyperspace ticket was transfer of ownership in the event of accidents like this. Makes it easier than trying to differentiate between items that may or may not have been altered by torn space.

I kind of hope that the person who crashed died on impact. If they want to be brought back they likely won’t remember what happened unless they were using mental relay. But even so, if they were alive to get pulled through a degrading wormhole with the front of the ship torn off…

There were stories about testing human only hyperspace transmission that I hope are untrue. Without a polarized shell would be bad enough, bending and stretching for what feels like eternity. But unfolding space is chaotic in strongest meaning of the word. It can tear and bulge but theoretically it could create separate plains of space-time outside our own, normally with nothing in them except for what was in the wormhole at the time.

Not that this kind of travel was regularly dangerous. A fully engaged wormhole is as safe to move though as any other region of space, especially when there is another ring on the other side anchoring the connection. There’s never been any reports of malfunctions or even incorrect destinations. Just the occasional customer error, like damaged polarizers or crashes like this.

I should have bought a better class of ticket it will take a while for them to repair this ring. But a hundred credits more still wasn’t worth it, even if it did mean I could choose my transit ring, change the departure time, get a tune up, a meal and accommodation on the other side.

Yeah for a hundred credits in the outer planets I could probably buy an asteroid to live on with the robots to make it nice. Plus I hate transit ring food and I do all my own repairs.

The line started to move to another ring. I checked my AR for messages, the transit ring automation had moved my departure ring.

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Not Completely Soulless 3

“Do you normally walk to work like that? You’ll destroy someone’s personality.” Hank asked.

“Just having a sensitive day. It’s not a permanent effect.” Sari looked but did not sound apologetic.

“In most circumstances. But humans have a complex psychology, a single moment of that could irreparably damage someone’s self image.”

“If their image was that fragile then it would do them good to rebuild it.”

 

Hank sighed and swivelled around in his chair, back to filling out some forms. He was still wearing his big woollen coat so Sari assumed he wasn’t staying long.

 

“What are you doing here anyway, you don’t have a shift till later.” Cherise’s voice came from a short haired ginger cat sitting another chair beside Hank.

“I came in to help with the deliveries. You know having animals in here violates health codes.”

 

The cat gave a little shake as though getting a static shock, then swiftly became a woman. After catching up on recent media Sari started to liken shifter transformations to bad CGI. She had remained clothed through the shift with the help of an amulet that Hank had provided. Unlike Sari, Cherise could feel the cold and as such wore a thick dark jacket, black pants and a scarf almost the same colour as her cat hair.

 

“My fur doesn’t shed unless I fully regress into an animal state.” Cherise looked about Sari’s age but that didn’t really mean anything in this room, each of them being at least a hundred years old. She had her hair down, another health code violation, it was shoulder length and dark brown. Her normal brown-green eye colour had come back but her iris was still a feline slit shape instead of the human round. “Imagine what they would say if they knew about you turning into a big mosquito.”

 

Cherise and Sari enjoyed giving each other a gentle ribbing but it was all in good fun. It was hard to take offence when you’ve outlived a civilization or two.

 

“There are no deliveries today. They’re changing the route so we get them Mondays now.” Hank said without looking up.

“Wait… It’s not Monday?”

“How do you not know what day it is?” Cherise asked tilting her head with her remaining feline intent.

“You try being in a box while the rest of the world changes the calendar on you.”

 

There was a knock at the front door of the shop. “See, deliveries.”

“That’s not a delivery.” Hank fluidly got up from his chair, moved around the front counter and went to the door.

“Wait. What is it then?” Sari asked, genuinely confused. Cherise said nothing but knowingly smiled.

 

Hank opened the door for the new arrival and in the same motion cast a small spell dulling Sari’s shimmer. “No, you can’t be.” Sari started to figure it out.

 

“Travis, hello. You’re here for the interview yes?”

“Yes. I-I-I am.” A timid boy just over eighteen stood in the doorway.

“Cherise, Sari, some privacy please.” Hank motioned his head at Cherise indicating that she should take Sari with her by force if needed.

 

Cherise grabbed Sari by the hand and pulled her out into the alley behind the store.

 

“A human! You’re going to hire a human?” Sari put on some anger as the situation seemed to be something she should be angry at.

“No, we’re just interviewing one for a position.” Cherise didn’t respond to the anger, she knew it wasn’t real.

“Are you interviewing anyone like us?”

“Well we’re definitely not interviewing any vampires.”
“You know what I meant. Like you and me, Cain’s brood.”

“Brood? Is that what you call us?”

“Does Cain’s Children sound any better?”

 

“You’re right.”
“That you’re going to hire a human?”

“No, brood does sound better.”

“I will bite you Cherise.”

“If we get any non-human applicants they have a higher priority at the moment but there hasn’t been any.”

“How can there not be? Every supernatural in this town know about us.”

“But they aren’t looking for what will likely be minimum wage work. We’re a pizza place not the Refuge. Maybe we’ll get lucky and hire someone who doesn’t know they’re like us.”

“A Taniwha? That could be interesting actually.”

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Low Dopamine

“What am I doing here?” Charlie asked himself. The driver couldn’t hear him and had stated as much when she picked him up. There was supposed to be a phone call coming through to him that was apparently classified. The driver didn’t appear to be military but something about her demeanor made Charlie both fear and respect her immediately.

 

This experience was planned, so he wasn’t as freaked out as perhaps he should have been. He had received an email and a call a week ago setting up this meeting. A patient he used to treat for an on and off basis had wanted to meet. Gregory Latimer, he had mild anxiety and depression during some time at university. Initially Charlie thought that maybe Greg had relapsed after going into workforce, which was common.

 

Although Charlie had not provided personal details with his patients the University must have provided them. So whatever Gregory needed him for must have been important.

 

It wasn’t until now that he was sitting in the back of a soundproof limousine that he realised he should have asked for more details before agreeing to be involved.

 

The red telephone beside him chirped. Charlie picked up the receiver and held it to his ear.

 

“Hello Charlie.”

“Gregory? How are you?”

“I’m fine actually.”

“Oh, I see.”
“Yes, but I do have need of your services. However not for myself.”

“You are talking to me on behalf of a friend?”

 

Charlie almost rolled his eyes, it was a usual tactic, not wanting to own our problems. However Greg did not have a history for that nor did it sound like he was lying.

 

“I am hiring you on behalf of a friend actually.”

“Right okay. So who is this person and why are they not talking to be directly?”

“That’s the classified bit I’m afraid. I cannot tell you more details about the patient until you agree to see them and be sworn to secrecy yourself.”

“It’s going to be hard to agree to something if I know nothing about it.”

“You will be moved closer to the patient, living and housing costs paid for. Your regular fee for an hour session will be paid for as ten back to back sessions every business day. However your actual session times will be unscheduled and you may have to do some on weekends. Any details of the patient will be kept classified, you will not be able to publish any findings even anonymously.”

 

Charlie did not reply. The idea of a fifty sessions a week as a salary was good enough but living and housing on top of that. But even without the money this was an interesting case he had found himself with, a patient with a classified mental condition. Even without being able to publish anything on this Charlie wanted to know what that condition was.

 

“I’ll take the job.”
“The driver will have you sign a contract and bring you here. It is very imperative that you start as quickly as possible.”

 

*

 

The driver hadn’t said a single word to him since she had told him that the rest of his belongings would be moved to his new abode. Charlie had been trying to quickly pack a suitcase.

 

They were now miles out of the city, coming upon what seemed to be an abandoned airport.

 

He could just make out Gregory through the tinted windows. Charlie had always thought that Greg had the gait and face of a man who knew something, something that burdened him. Therapy didn’t seem to disrupt that effect.

 

The car came to halt and Greg opened the door.

 

“Hello again Gregory.” Charlie greeted him as he shuffled out of the car.

“Yes, hi. Please, follow me.” He spun around and started to move towards the decrepit hanger

“Sure.” Charlie noticed that he still dragged his feet when he walked. Greg hadn’t been working on the physical exercises that Charlie had prescribed him. He shrugged it off, it was only meant to help in theory.

 

The hanger didn’t hold an airplane, instead in the center of it was what seemed to two smaller hangers. Charlie soon realized that they were just two elevator openings when they got closer and Gregory pressed a button on the outside.

 

“This scans a fingerprint but there is an optical scanner at the bottom. We’ll get you in the system before you leave for your new abode.”

“Is that enough security? It seems like this is a bit more than top secret.”

“This is just a precaution, we’re not expecting enemies of the state to infiltrate this place even if they did know about it.”

 

“So what are you keeping down here there?”

“Your patient obviously.”

“I got that much. Can’t you tell me more about them?”

“I was going to leave it as more of a surprise but I guess it’s important if we expect you to do a good job…”
“So who is he? What does he need me for?”

“She… is an artificial intelligence… And as far as we can tell, she has depression.”

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Not Completely Soulless 2

The wind blew an icy chill over Sari. Her skin responded by popping up with some goosebumps. This reminded her to do a little shiver, rub her arms in a vain attempt to warm herself back up.

 

Just in case someone was watching.

 

She had just stepped out of her apartment building into the little ocean facing alcove at the front. Up here on the top of this hill that was called a mountain barely anyone walked passed. Still, just in case, she performed the ritual of blowing into her hands.

 

A piece of her soul flared up again, though this emotion was not her own, a resonance with another full soul on the edge of her perception. It was amusement. Perhaps someone in the building laughing at a soulless creature pretending to be cold. Or maybe a human in a house nearby watching a comedy show.

 

“It’s going to be one of those days.” Sari didn’t let the emotion creep into her voice so it came out as icy as the wind.

 

With a step forward she went into hyperspeed, the cold wind tried its best to cut into her but she couldn’t feel the temperature of it, only the pressure of it on her skin. Within the space of a few heartbeats she had made it down the hill.

 

No-one would have seen her even if they had been paying attention. She wasn’t sure if it was a function of her shimmer or her speed but she was imperceptible at her highest speeds. Usually her shimmer just made her appear more attractive or less noticeable at will, never had she become fully invisible. Yet, if she was actually moving fast enough to outrun human sight then really her clothes should not have been able to withstand the incoming air.

 

Regardless she had practiced controlling her shimmer every day, there were stories that her Uncle was able to become fully invisible.

 

Sari slowed to a brisk walk as she came upon an alley between two buildings. Now that she was in the more populated area of town it was harder to move that fast without disrupting anyone. Even though she was fairly thin and aerodynamic the air she displaced had previously knocked over several people even a couple of small cars.

 

This had also sparked another idea, could she turn her drag into lift. More study into flight was required for figuring that one out. But she wanted to finish off this game series she had gotten into. There were fourteen games and each of them were hundreds of hours to fully complete. Now that she thought about it they were probably made expressly for soulless like her, surely humans don’t have as much time on their hands.

 

There were several people going her way through town which was fairly normal for this time of the morning. She passed them easily with her quick pace, this got her a few glances but it was probably more because her shimmer was turned to eleven. It was much easier to mentally block the onslaught of human emotion if she was focused on projecting the shell of confidence and beauty.

 

Many would have been unable to look upon her directly without feeling completely inadequate and shamed. But most would only catch the full effect for a moment and just be in awe. This effect would only last seconds and once she was out of their view any negative connotation of the feeling would be gone. A shimmer was able to project an image and influence those who are very suggestible but it was only ever temporary.

 

Even though she wasn’t in hyperspeed it felt like she had made it across town in an instant. She decided to slow down her pace a bit there was plenty of time in the day to do what she needed. First though she was going to pop into work.

 

“Dear Lucifer woman turn down the brightness.” Hank physically shielded his eyes from her Shimmer.

“Sorry, sorry.” Hank was technically human but besides being a landlord and business owner he was a very powerful Warlock.

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The wizard of Coz

I always loved taking the subway, the cool clean Oz of the recyclers, the whooshing sound of the water in and out of the airlock at each station. I haven’t been on one since I was a child. My mother worked at the government building in the centre of the city, far from the Agropolis that our housing unit was docked at.

 

She used to take me and my sister with her because they had an onsite daycare.

 

Looking down from the bottom walkway I could see the rails on which the subway cars travelled. The flashing red lights almost invisible deep under the blue-green water. Air bubbled up as the nearby station prepared to eject one of those cars onto the rail.

 

I couldn’t smell the crisp acidic air of the lower levels because of my filtering mask. But I remembered the burning in my nostrils as clearly as I could see the waves gently lapping at concrete and steel under the walkway.

 

Out here in the open the air wasn’t safe to breathe anymore, not that it really was before even without all the Coz. That was probably one on of the reason Mom stopped bringing us with her. Our housing unit was sealed and the main function of the Agropolis besides making food is producing Oz from the Coz.

 

My filtering mask has an electrolyzer that can convert the Coz on the fly for about an hour before needing recharging. They were originally designed for maintenance men stationed in the high atmosphere monitoring stations but once the Coz got down to sea level it became the new fashion. Mine is a simple black but there are designer ones with angles and pastel colors. I wouldn’t call myself fashionable and I don’t usually venture outside these days anyway.

 

It’s probably been about ten years since the last trip I took on the subway and probably ten months since I last needed to leave the housing unit.

 

I stopped leaning on the railing, turning away from the waves like waking from a dream. The walkway was anything but empty. I’ve heard that our city has the largest population of those above water, I could believe it.

 

It would only take a few full breaths of the Coz out here to give mild nerve damage and that’s if you get your mask back on and don’t faint from mild asphyxiation. But even so hundreds of people walked by, several had full face masks, only one in fifty people used complete body covering suits.

 

I stepped into the crowd and followed the flow until I got to the subway entrance.

 

No-one followed me down the stairs. Usually only commuters took the subway, it was too expensive to use as casual transport around the city. Those who worked in the center of the city had their travel reimbursed as it was the only place you couldn’t live close by to. There were no Housing docks in the Agropolises there as it was all dedicated to filling workplaces or the manufacture of goods that require Oz.

 

My ears popped from the pressure change once I got to the bottom level. The station was clean black and white tile with fluorescent lights reflecting off every plastic advertisement enclosure hung on the walls. The enclosures were empty, apart from one or two which I think were just old PSAs reminding people getting off to put their masks back on now that they were off the subway.

 

The subway guard looked at me with her scanning blue lights. The last vestige of the robotic workforce, standing around looking menacing.

 

I made my way to the airlock separating the stairs from the subway platform.

 

“Please wait for the airlock cycle.” The guard said in her chirpy yet somehow aggressive tone.

 

She didn’t even want to check my ID or ask where I was heading today. I always hated that about the AI swarm, they knew everything there was to know on earth but generally kept it to themselves. No wonder we stopped them from taking all the jobs.

 

“Please enjoy your trip.” That same voice pushing me to get into the airlock and hurry along so it could put its processing power back into undoing entropy or whatever it was that they did with it.

 

I got in the airlock and was immediately blasted with that chilled crisp Oz. I rushed to take my mask off so I could savor the nostalgia for it but was not quick enough. For some reason I blamed the robot guard for this, even though I knew she wouldn’t have cared enough to rush the airlock cycle just for that.

 

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Not completely soulless

Sari lifted her feet off of her desk and swung herself around on her chair. The alarm on her phone had started it’s morning mating call. She switched it off and turned back to what she was doing.

 

The game she was playing pulsed blue and grey light over her. Her research into this pastime suggested that doing this all night every night would not be healthy for a human mind or set of eyes. Luckily she wasn’t exactly human.

 

She reached forward and turned the screen off. She would just leave the game paused, having not reached a savepoint recently. The room went completely dark, her apartment was effectively subterranean, so this room didn’t need curtains to reach this pitch black darkness. It was meant for a different type of inhuman but it had been the last apartment available in the building Hank owned.

 

Not that Sari minded at all. She could still see, light was unnecessary.

 

In the time before her confinement, having light at night time was limited so she hadn’t developed the habit of keeping the light on in her sleepless nights.

 

The thought of her time in the coffin got her moving. Not with her top speed but something approximating normal human movement, there was no need to rush. Sari whipped off her fluffy pajamas and put on some clothes.

 

Doing so she mused again at how much she prefered the modern fashion. Thin fabrics, less layers, less mock proportions and less frills. She pulled on a skirt and top before remembering it was winter. She groaned, like the dead body she was, and pulled out some more clothes from her chest of drawers. Cold was no obstacle for her kind, in fact it was beneficial in some cases. However it was one of the requirements of staying in this apartment that she at least try to blend in.

 

Now armed with a scarf, heavy coat and thick tights she was ready to venture outside. She picked up her discarded clothes and put them in her washing basket. Sari didn’t sweat, at least, not in the conventional sense. Her clothes never get dirty from wearing them even if she has exerted herself, a difficult task in its own right, and her skin repealed grease, dirt and other blemishes. This made it difficult to regularly schedule a human routine even outside the fact that she didn’t sleep.

 

To keep herself from wearing the same clothes or giving away any clues to her nature, she showered every night and washed every item of clothing after wearing it once. It was a waste of time, she admitted to herself, but she had more than enough to burn.

 

Sari pulled open her door, the light in the hallway flooding her room.

 

Looking back she took a mental picture of her apartment for later reference. She was going furniture shopping today.

 

On the left was the bathroom, nothing needed for there. Further in but still on the left was the kitchen separated from the living room by a countertop.

 

Living room was still a little bare, there was space on the wall for a couple of paintings. Sari thought about a plant but it would never get any sun.

 

There would be enough room for a settee or whatever they were called in this era. If she planned on having anyone over they would need somewhere to sit. Her thoughts quickly flicked to the idea of having someone stay the night.

 

Somewhere in the remnants of her soul something half remembered how to feel embarrassed. This only sparked more thoughts about what she would do with anyone handsome enough to fulfill her tastes.

 

The remnant of soul core burned out. Her face did not change expression since she had left the game but now she had a question on her brow.

 

“I don’t even have a bed.” She remarked at the images fleeing from her mind.

 

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It’s only a door

At the edge of the creation, hidden behind the collision of neutron star and black hole stuck in an endless time loop, halfway between the fourth and fifth dimensions, sits a door.

 

The door was made from an abnormally large and abnormally straight Pōhutukawa, a tree only found on two little islands at the bottom of a small blue planet infinitely far from the edge. Thousands of curves were carved into the door, the curves were present even at an atomic level, electrons only popping in and out of existence where the wood had remained.

 

Despite being made from organic material it did not wane, it did not decay. Not many space travelers had come upon the door, the fundamental laws of the universe prevented most approaches to the edge of creation both in time and space.

 

Those who had happened upon the door always remarked about its sturdiness. It could be burned, broken or bent. Even the highest level scan, radar or x-ray couldn’t penetrate even a millimetre of its mass. But it wasn’t locked.

 

The key remained in the hole. It was black and molecular analysis would determine that it was made from diamond yet light did not penetrate it. Not one traveler had been able to remove it, or even turn it, for further study.

 

With only the slightest nudge the door would swing open slamming into the nothing that it was set into, with the sound of a thousand supernovae. The sound would never reach a traveler as there was nothing for it to transfer on.

 

Behind the door was another time, another place, a small restaurant in the Earth year Nineteen Sixty Five. The time was well known to agents of frequent temporal travel as a nexus in time. The place however was unremarkable other than being from the same planet as the Pōhutukawa.

 

The door was also set aside from other natural wormholes in time and space. It did not appear to bend the fabric of the universe, no gravitational wave emission, no heat not even the tiniest amount of gravy radiation.

 

Again unlike a portal, travelers that came through to the restaurant found themselves with a existing booking and a pre-planned meal. Usually five courses but occasionally three. The scallops were delightful but if you got the pasta you would find that your childhood pet was actually still alive and had run away to keep its immortality hidden.

 

There were other patrons and apon interview they would all appear to have arrived through the door.

 

If by some miracle you can eat each course and emotionally survive the onslaught of the most excellent Blues ever played. Then you will be able to leave through the front door onto the busy streets of London even though it appeared like you were in Rome.

 

If you cannot finish a meal or find yourself overcome by the melancholy of the harmonica player whose face could not be seen. Then you will find yourself waking under the stars on a small moon in red dwarf star system, the system with the Restaurant outside of the visible universe.

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