Pride In Chains

Author : J.R.Blackwell, Staff Writer

“Are we slaves?” said Marixix, sliding out of Lilria’s slick bed. “Or do we freely choose our lives?”

Lilria rolled over onto her side, admiring her lovers muscular naked back. “Ooooo…Such deep inquiry directly after our ‘little deaths.'”

Marixix turned and bowed to Lilria. “It is when my mind seems clearest.”

Lilria blushed and slipped a silk shift over slender body. “Do not confuse your pride with chains. You toss the word of slave too easily. You are free to leave the service, a slave would not be free to go as he pleases.”

“You are bound by words too easily.”

“Maybe.” said Lilria, gracefully stepping across the stone floor to where Marixix stood. “Why do you think you’re a slave?”

“Even though I could leave the service, I would not, because it’s what I’m good at. My genetic code has destined me to this work. I was bred to it. Why would I leave knowing my code makes me the best to be a warrior of first rank?”

She put her small hands on his large, tattooed arm. “There are other professions. You would be an excellent martial instructor.”

“I would be good, but not great. Would you leave your job as chief librarian and become a hostess at a brothel?”

Lilria backed away from him. “Are you saying that my work is that of a whore? Is that how you see me?”

“No. I never said-”

“You compared yourself to a slave, and your lover to a whore.” She walked to her closet and pulled on a heavy robe, crossing her arms in front of her.

“You are not a whore Lilria. I just wanted to show you that you would no more leave your work than I would. Both of us were bred to our work, and we perform it well, better than anyone else, better because they have been perfecting us over centuries.”

“That is destiny. There is still freedom in destiny.” At that moment, the sun choir that rehearsed at dawn in the great hall of the library started to sing. The lovers paused and listened to the rising voices. They were only a few doors away from the main hall, and the echo of those strong young singers came clearly, resounding off the stone walls. The chorus was singing the wordless salute to the rising sun, as the first light touched the great stairs of the library. Marixix found himself moved to stand next to Lilria. He put his arms around her waist and she leaned back onto his chest.

Marixix spoke softly. “Do you think that every time they breed us, making little tweaks, do you think we choose each other every time?”

“I don’t know. I don’t think so. My predecessor was not me. We are different.”

“I think you would know if we did. You are a record keeper, your predecessor would keep some record of it.”

She squeezed his hands in hers. “It is against the rules for warrior class and scholar class to have relations. If anyone found out, we would be exiled. All my predecessors had a spotless record, no suspicion ever touched them. Besides, we may have a destiny, but love cannot be scripted. I knew my predecessor, she raised me, and she had no relations with the warrior class.” Five generations the chief librarians had loved five generations of first rank warriors.

“If we are the first to have loved each other, then maybe I do have freedom, slight as it is, to choose my own way.”

Lilria turned to face him, reaching her hands up to his face. “You are free to stay or leave me, as you will.”

His dreadlocks fell down over his shoulders as he leaned close to her. “I will never leave you. I will love you till I am killed in battle.” They kissed and Lilria willed herself to believe him in that moment. She knew about the records. If this one lived another year, he would leave her. But Lilria was different from her predecessors; she could will herself not to cry.

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Coincidental Probability

Author : B. York, Staff Writer

Being in a think tank wasn’t easy. Dev never saw it as easy but he lived it because of his pursuit for the perfect equation. Life in pursuit of such a grand dream was not without its quirks however.

No one could have predicted the probability of Dev’s broken arm and how he’d been hit with a shiny purple Cadillac not two days prior. Certainly no soul under God would have seen that driving such a thing was a nun.

Bones heal, however, and God forgives nuns who hit skinny, weak mathematicians with their cars.

It would have been a forgotten case if both the tires of the ambulance bringing him to the hospital and the tires of the cab bringing him home were not similar in the fact that they blew out (yes, all four) simultaneously each trip. Hospitals have extra ambulances, however, and cab drivers can swear themselves into four new tires.

What happened next would send poor Dev into near psychosis as he sought to figure out the exact probability one would have of a Czechoslovakian Spy Satellite falling into their room and on their bed when one was away buying groceries. The numbers were mind-boggling.

Despite all this, Dev would continue his work to find the perfect formula, the one that could help him understand the universe.

Coincidence, a known fable of mathematicians, was not yet done with the poor boy. That nun with the purple Caddy came to warn him every day of dreams she had been having, dreams of Dev being killed in some horrible manner. Everyday the logical number-cruncher would usher the nun out his door with a fear that he’d heard too many ghost stories from her to concentrate on his work. Yet, everyday she returned with renewed vigor.

Dev worked in the think tank with two roommates that he never once gave notice to beyond whether they would shell out the cash for his latest excursion to the grocery store across the street. These roommates never once asked him about the nun or about why the apartment was shut down for two weeks by NASA to extract an object of import from Dev’s room. They were good roommates blissful in their ignorance.

One day, Dev had thought of the absolute best completion for his formula on his way home. Getting home he found Sam, one of his rather reclusive roommates, standing with a gun in his hand, pointing it at Dev and standing in front of his computer.

“I tried to off you, Dev, tried to steal your formula but no… my equation was too imperfect! Finish the formula, Dev… do it and maybe I’ll take you out of the equation.” Sam cocked the gun.

“Now start typing those numbers.”

Poor, poor Dev.

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Persistence of Vision

Author : Steve Smith, Staff Writer

The human eye is made up of two different types of photoreceptive elements known as rods and cones. These elements convert the light from everything you look at into information that is passed electrochemically to the brain for interpretation.

An interesting characteristic of this mechanism of data capture and delivery is that each time the rods and cones fire, they must reset before firing again. This creates a constant repeating pattern of image data interspersed with microscopic moments of the absence of data. The human brain fills in these moments of blindness in order to maintain the illusion of a constant uninterrupted visual reality. This phenomenon is known as the persistence of vision.

We know that these microscopic voids in data extend to the other mechanisms of human sensory perception. Your brain maintains a ghost or echo of the sight or sound it captures to fill in the gaps while the input mechanism is offline, readying itself for more real data. The brain is highly adept at compensating for and thus hiding the staccato gapping of your senses.

The amount of time spent by the brain waiting for real data from your senses is considerable. We are going to capitalize on these moments of sensory inactivity. We are going to teach you things in the troughs of the sensory wave.

We will teach you languages. We will bestow upon you skills. You will learn how to build things, and to deconstruct things. You will know how to organize and execute plans you would not now dream possible.

We are going to prepare you.

You will learn of the people you will be entrusted to protect. You will come to know the operational mandate. You will accept it as truth.

We will show you how your leaders have lied.

When the time comes, you will be ready.

We will impart all of this knowledge unto you while no one is looking.

Not even you.

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In Remembrance

The Lethe was plastic, white. It bore the black logo of Mnemoprises and a large yellow caution sticker that warned ebayers and Chinatown chopshop owners that it was illegal to use without proper company-granted certification. None of them listened, of course. The list of warnings was seemingly endless, but Xiu knew that most of the threats were empty. Permanent neurological damage. Wasn’t that what the machine was for?

She operated out of a small room in the back of a tourist dump, and every day she had to brush past curtains of t-shirts (“3 for $10!” the handwritten sign informed) and “Vacation souvenir’s!!!” (punctuation intact). The store had belonged to her father, and his father before him, and now it belonged to her brother. As the oldest, it should have gone to her, but they were a traditional family. A woman couldn’t be trusted to run the business. This didn’t bother Xiu, who made more money from one appointment than her brother made in a week. They were different businesses, tourist dumps and memory holes. People paid more to forget than to remember.

Her appointment book that day was filled with the usual: witnesses who didn’t want to take the stand, thieves who didn’t want to know where their money came from in case the feds mindmined them. She was an expert, though she lacked the certificate Mnemoprises offered. The man who had sold her the Lethe had taught her the subtleties of memory. Her first appointment wanted to forget a night in Atlantic City, where he’d gambled away half of his child’s college fund. “I’m going to claim I was robbed,” he told her. Implausible, but it wasn’t Xiu’s job to question. She used the device like a surgeon, precise and cool as a sharp scalpel. There was no collateral damage.

The second was a love story, a woman whose husband had left her for a history teacher. A male history teacher, no less. “How could I have known?” she sobbed. Again, the scalpel.

The last client, the one at the end of the day, was a woman with straight brown hair and a child in tow. He couldn’t have been older than eight. Xiu motioned to the chair in front of the Lethe, but the woman nudged the boy forward. He sat on the stool. His eyes were red and he sniffed, rubbing his nose on the sleeve of his sweatshirt and leaving a sparkling line of mucus. Xiu gestured the woman back into the tourist dump.

“I don’t do this on kids,” she said.

“It’s nothing bad,” the woman told her. “He just needs someone to help. I’ll pay well.”

Xiu needed to be paid well. “What’s the case?”

“It’s my husband’s father,” she said. “His grandfather. They were very close.”

Xiu frowned and tugged at the hem of her shirt, suddenly nervous. “He died,” she said. It was more of a statement than a question.


Xiu considered this, silently weighing her options. “His mind is still growing,”

“He’s been crying for months.”

“He misses his grandfather. It’s natural.”

“It’s not natural to cry for months.”

Her fingers knotted around the elastic hem. “And you need him wiped. Everything.”

“Can’t you just make him forget that he’s dead?”

“If he knows he had a grandfather, he’ll wonder where that grandfather went. Wiping’s the only solution.”

The woman was silent for a long time. Slowly, she reached into her purse and withdrew a thick envelope. Only cash had value here. Xiu accepted it with a subtle bow of her head. “He’ll regret this,” she warned. “Never knowing his grandfather.”

“He won’t know to regret it,” the woman told her. Somehow, the woman knew more about this procedure than she did.

Xiu led her back into the room and sat down opposite the boy, whose eyes were dark and pink from endless rubbing. “Give me your hand,” she said, and placed his small palm against the larger palm outline on the Lethe. Xiu turned on the machine and it hummed to life, ready to swallow the past.

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Flight Test

Author : James Mallek

It was with a running leap that he finally brought himself to do it. John hurled himself off the top of the eighty-story Hertz Building.

5 seconds of free fall before he righted himself, face down, parallel to the ground.

Terminal velocity achieved, no more acceleration. Immediately reversing his acceleration would splatter his guts against the inside of his suit. A twitch of his calf ignited the chemical rockets sticking out of his ankles. Horizontal velocity increasing, thus a complete increase of net velocity.

“Shut up Computer.”

The suits A.I. promptly stopped giving a narration of his actions.

Spreading his arms granted lift, and he swung gently upward between the towering skyscrapers. An optimal state of powered flight had been achieved.

“Damnit Computer I told you to shut it!”

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