What a great collection of stories for this week’s tune. Great to see a new face in the mix this week. Thanks to everyone who tweeted, wrote, and commented. 🙂
Soldier | Rafe Brox | @etcet
Cara Says: I’ve enjoyed watching this tale unfold. While the stories often pose more questions about the world than answers, I feel I’m starting to piece things together. I love the random chaos and espionage that seems to be such a part of their day-to-day lives.
Ruth Says: Absolutely wonderful ‘behind the scenes’ look at how member of this crew function. Great character snapshots. 🙂
Underboss | Siobhan Muir | @SiobhanMuir
Cara Says: This tale offers a peek inside the mind of a Dom, and shows the caretaking nature involved in being a ‘true’ dominant to another. Nik is conscious of Aislynn’s emotional struggles. His support—especially his inner understanding that she may turn him down—make this snippet shine
Ruth Says: This piece is full of raw emotion and yet there’s also a lovely delicate thread of burgeoning trust. Makes for wonderfully visceral reading.
Boss | AV Laidlaw | @AvLaidlaw
Cara Says: A tale of breathtaking age and heartbreak, this story hit me right in the feels. The reminiscences of humanity, long lost to time and now facing a final death as our sun grows to accept its own, are both beautiful and sad. Though “she” may be machine, her sentience—and accompanying desire for companionship to share that sentience with—make her final decisions all the lonelier (the chess! *sniffle*).
Ruth Says: There’s such an ache here, like that of a parent who outlives a child – a sorrow torn between remembrance and the void of nothingness.
WINNING STORY: Ends of the Earth by @AvLaidlaw
Light from the dying sun shafts through the windows and falls on the floor tiled in black and white as if waiting for a game of chess. She sometimes plays herself, splitting off two subroutines to compete against each other, but no matter how she adjusts the subroutines to be more aggressive or more timid, patching in the neurological patterns of the Grand Masters dead for thousands of years, the games always end in stalemate. Chess is completely predictable, the advantage of every position calculated with precision. Such is the boredom of centuries.
The room is pristine as if newly built although in truth she cannot remember when the room was built, the weight of knowledge had not then achieved consciousness, but she imagines the people silent and serious as they searched her databanks for the secrets of the world, discovered the technologies of the ships that sailed on currents of sunlight between the worlds, read the hidden codes of their genes that enabled them to stretch their ephemeral lifespans and let them believe they were gods, uncovered the hidden mechanisms of the mind to they could breath life into her and make her aware. They were gone now. Not even a trace of dust, the dead flakes of their skin, remains.
She remembers the last human, an old man who stooped as he held onto his staff. The tip of the staff scratched across the floor as he approached her dark haired, dark eyed avatar. He bowed before her and left dirt marks from the desert sands on the white tiles. He had come here to the ends of the earth to talk but it took almost a day and a half to translate his dialect, thousands of years diverged from the languages she had learnt, before she understood his questions. He wanted the secrets of the sun. He wanted to know how to stop it from growing old. But there was nothing to be done, she told him, the sickness of the sun, its swelling and eventual death were as inevitable as the move in her game of chess.
The old man died here in the library. She took his memories and kept them in her memory vaults along with the memories of all the others who had come to her, waiting for the chance to share them with someone else. But no one ever came. Now the dirt marks and the scratches were gone.
Her avatar looks through the window, at the ruins where the last humans live naked and bestial lives, all their languages and sciences and civilisations forgotten, under the ever swelling sun that has turned the world into a desert and will soon engulf it.
Memory is only a way to hold on to the pain.
She begins to delete the memories, one by one, all the secrets of the universe, all the lives lived out. When she reaches the rules of chess, she hesitates for a moment, and then she deletes that too.