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Paris::15d since last chat::0 New Messages

For months, I'd see her at the clinics for our injections, and online in the therapeutic forums. She kept the same odd hours as me. The others managed to find work on a routine schedule. Think-driving sanitation units, working the inbound tech support lines. Workaday, like regular humans. Safe.

Not us. We were always-on. It had been that way in the Gideon pilot pod, when we were all wired together, our minds fused into a single mosaic. I was intuition, stay a step-ahead of the enemy, guessing the next ten moves.

She was the logic center. She did the math. She was a cascade of formulae, speaking in burn calculations, fire rates, weapon heat signature ratios. She gave me the info I needed to make my lucky guesses.

The others got downtime during the long burns, activated for combat. Not us. We were always-on.

Somewhere along the line, we got too old. All Gideon children get too old. Too big for the pods, too slow to adapt to the upgrades, and the newer generation is just faster.

I'd found a work-at-home gig for an offworld agribusiness outfit. They'd send me stats and weather patterns, I'd give them best-guess for planting and harvesting. Guessing is what I did best. I managed better than a 180% yield improvement my first season, and I worked on my own schedule. The outfit even sent me a framed textile weave made from the red cotton they grew, with a note attached. "Thanks London girl! You're One In a Million."

Paris shook her head the day I showed her the gift over the chatlink. She told me I was actually one in eighty-seven thousand, three hundred forty five. She didn't do idiom. She did the math.

I noticed she'd been pulling out her hair again. That was a week ago. Before, when I'd ask about that, she'd tell me that she didn't need it, and why did they have us grow hair anyway? They would just shave us for the Gideon missions. Every inch. I still remember the itching.

That was before. Now she didn't even address the question.  

Then she didn't even address me. 0 new messages.

It had taken me a week to track her down, and a sizeable sum turned over to a private investigator. At first I was worried she'd gone off-world, some mad quest to get back to the stars. Some of the other Gideon children had tried that in past generations. Hijacked freighters, murdered people. That was before they learned to install a failsafe in the genetics. Auto-degradation. 

I could smell the sea before I heard it, and crossed a few dunes before I saw it. The sand was black. I caught sight of a small hovercraft nestled between the dunes. When i drew near, the squat man smiled at me and pulled off his headset. Shook my hand. Then he pointed down the beach. I nodded at him, drew a credit chip from my pocket and gave him the last of his fee.

I didn't see Paris at first. What I did see was a long row of seashells, pebbles, smooth glass and bits of driftwood. The row was ruler-straight, and the bits were placed type-to-type. Four shells. Three pieces of wood. Five glass shards. Maybe two more shells. Twelve stones. No repetition that I could see, at least until I looked far enough to see Paris at the end.

I called to her. She didn't look up. I ran up to her. She was dirty. Not filthy, but she'd obviously been wandering around the dunes. Collecting bits of things. Her hair was wet. What was left of it.

"Let me take you home, P."

"I'm," she said.

I waited.

I'm. Almost finished."

I nodded. I glanced down the row again. Back at her. "What are you writing?"

"Mmm. Muse. Song. A song."

"I didn't know you were a musician, P."  I closed my eyes. It wouldn't be long. She was at the end. She'd known it, and had given herself a head start.

"M. Muse. Math is music."

And she did the math. She always had.

"If I help you, will you hum it for me, P?"

So the row grew a little longer and less straighter, as Paris, my Gideon Sister, with whom I'd circled asteroids and scooped starlight, hummed her song for me.

Until she stopped.
207 deviations
Nice read, here.

"To love horror movies as an adult is to resign yourself to the probability that you are not going to be scared very often unless what you fear most in the world is nostalgia. It Follows is a better-than-decent, less-than-great genre film whose most original quality is a sick-joke inversion of the premise of Friday the 13th and its 80s-horror ilk that the teenagers who have sex are always the ones who get slaughtered."…
The buildings so tightly packed that the roofs became a city unto themselves, new roofs erected from detritus hauled up from the streets below, built by human versions of same. Old rooftop was floor space now, shingled and tar-papered carpet subfloor under layers of cardboard bedding and lean-tos and currogated shacks thrown up against exhaust vents. The sun was blocked by endless tarpaulin of vinyl sheeting stitched with baling wire and shoestring and power cables from obsolete machines, held aloft by whatever the roof dwellers could prop up.

Cymbal was picking mushrooms under the blue light cast from noon sun filtered through the vinyl overhead. It had once hung on a commercial blimp advertising perfume, clear blue water in a crystal vial fashioned to look like intertwined lovers. Now the blue lovers were mildewed. Cymbal wiped dung from her gloves and hoisted her bag of harvest. It was lighter than she'd like.

She felt a furry brush at her ankle, and an impatient mreaow. Pud was old and blind, but knew the smell of the mushrooms, and knew Cymbal would always be by with a scrap from Cook's buckets. She gritted her teeth, and tried not to think about that.

Cymbal knelt, dropped a few bits of boiled pigeon and a stale bread crust on the cardboard floor, where Pud sniffed around it, sniffed at it, finally chomped it down. He had something tied around his neck. She scratched his ear as she undid the knot.

Boot string, threaded through holes punched in bottle caps. Zany-Zuds! sang the unmistakable, red, spiralled logo. Even through the rust.

Cymbal hadn't had a taste of it for many years. Not since the summer just before the war, when she'd last seen the trees with leaves on them. That's when she and Mom came here. On the train. Where Cymbal met Pel.

Cymbal looked around. The roof was abandoned. They would be here soon. She already heard the boots kicking aside fast-deserted campsites and heavy hands pulling down shacks and tents, searching for contraband, usually. Not this time.

She thought about the permanent gap between Pel's front teeth, his long neck, the way he ended every sentence with a little laugh. Even at the end of the train ride, when they put his sister into a different queue, gave her a different badge, shoved her into a different truck filled with people with the same different badge as her.

Boots nearby.

She thought of the way Pel liked to collect things. Bits of glass. Shoestrings. Bottle caps.

Pud nervously backed away, nostrils flared. Cymbal was relieved when he fled into a familiar-smelling bolthole.

She remembered Pel's smell. The way he felt. The way they both felt, that time when it was the first time for them both, under a vinyl sky.

A pair of boots stopped near her.

"I'm the one you want," she said. "I turned three days ago."  She pulled down her dung-stained shirt collar to show them her badge, burned there eight years ago, right there on the train platform. She was ten then.

The boots shuffled, hestiantly. "You people usually hide. Or run."

She shrugged. "And you people usually rip everything up finding us. I just want you gone. So let's go."

They could have done a lot more than they did, or so the stories went. But the boots just surrounded her, a firm, gloved hand pushed her in the right direction, and she shuffled off in the middle of them, clutching her bag of mushrooms, and Pel's parting gift hidden within.


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RhynWilliams Featured By Owner 21 hours ago   Traditional Artist
Memnalar Featured By Owner 18 hours ago
DrippingWords Featured By Owner Feb 15, 2015  Student Writer
Thanks for the watch, Jay!
Memnalar Featured By Owner Feb 16, 2015
chirkhef-stock Featured By Owner Feb 9, 2015
thank you for the fav :bow: 
Memnalar Featured By Owner Feb 9, 2015
neurotype Featured By Owner Jan 30, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Regal Helmet by Enkased
Memnalar Featured By Owner Jan 31, 2015
neurotype Featured By Owner Jan 31, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
K47454k1 Featured By Owner Jan 6, 2015  Professional Writer
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